Another Day in the Life of Franki Amato by Traci Andrighetti

Prosecco  PinkIt’s hard to describe a day in my life, because it’s anything but typical. For starters, I’m a PI for Private Chicks Inc. in New Orleans, which is Anglicized French for “highly unusual.” Plus, I live in a fourplex with my best friend and employer, Veronica Maggio, my sixty-something ex-stripper landlady, Glenda O’Brien, and her collection of stripper costumes (they occupy the fourth apartment, and trust me when I say that it’s for the best). To top it all off, we’re right across the street from a creepy cemetery, which often drives me to drink at the bar conveniently located next door.

What I can tell you is that things have changed since the last time I was on Dru Ann’s blog. I’m now in a relationship with Bradley Hartmann, that handsome bank president I told you about? At least, I think we’re in a relationship. His sexy new secretary, Pauline Violette, is doing her darnedest to drive us apart, and I’m playing right into her pernicious plan. How? Well, I drove my car into a swamp while I was secretly following them to one of their business meetings—which Pauline had scheduled at a bed and breakfast—and Bradley saw me! I’d tell you what happened next, but I can’t bear to relive it. Let’s just say that it involves horny alligators and a gun (don’t worry, the gators are fine, but I’m not so sure about Bradley).

The worst thing about the whole Pauline situation is that she’s got my meddling Sicilian grandma’s number. You see, my nonna is up to her usual antics, trying to get me married off before I turn 30 (I’m 29, which is apparently 45 in Italian years). Thankfully, she isn’t setting me up on dud dates with Sicilian suitors anymore, but she is planning my wedding—and Bradley hasn’t exactly popped the question yet. Bradley is blissfully oblivious to nonna’s scheme, but Pauline is patently aware of it. In fact, she’s threatening to tell Bradley all about our Machiavellian marriage, and I have no doubt she’ll finger me, and not my nonna, as the marital mastermind.

As anxious as I am about Pauline dropping that not-so-little bomb on my boyfriend, the truth is that I have bigger things to worry about, like my continued existence. This morning when I was buying a dozen beignets (for everyone at the office, that is) I ran into Chandra Toccato, the self-proclaimed “Crescent City Medium.” And believe you me, this psychic is psycho. The minute she saw me, her eyes rolled back in her head and she started vibrating. Then she claimed that a female spirit had done something terrible that had put me in danger. If all that wasn’t proof enough that this woman is wacko, “Toccato” is Italian for “touched,” as in “crazy.”

I’d just managed to escape the mad medium when Delta Dupré showed up at the office. She’s the executive director of Oleander Place, an antebellum sugar cane plantation, and a descendent of its founder, General Knox Patterson. Now, Delta might be descended from sugar, but she’s far from sweet. She has the manners of Maleficent, and she’s a dead ringer for Cruella De Vil. Unfortunately, Delta just hired Private Chicks to investigate the murder of Ivanna Jones, a beautiful cosmetics CEO who was found dead in the very same bed that General Patterson’s wife, Evangeline Lacour, was poisoned in almost two centuries ago. Oddly enough, Ivanna was clutching a bottle of pink lip gloss and wearing Evangeline’s pink crinoline dress!

Now, I’ll give you one guess who Veronica appointed lead investigator on the case. That’s right, me! Normally, I would be ecstatic to work a high-profile murder like this. But there is one teensy detail I haven’t told you about: Oleander House is rumored to be haunted by the spirits of General Patterson, Evangeline, and the pirate she cheated on him with—the notorious Beau the Black, who just happens to be the general’s brother. So, this is no Casper-the-Friendly-Ghost kind of haunting, y’all. These ghosts are freakin’ angry.

Of course, I don’t really believe in ghosts and psychics and all that. It’s just that where the supernatural is concerned, I make it my policy to be safe rather than sorry. And I’m more than a little spooked at the moment because it’s looking like that spirit the medium mentioned (you know, the one who managed to jeopardized my life?) is connected to this murder somehow.

Anyway, I’m on my way to the plantation to start the investigation. It’s going to be a piece of cake.

Right?


You can read more about Franki in Prosecco Pink, the second book in the “Franki Amato” mystery series, published by Gemma Halliday Publishing. Books are available at online booksellers.

Book blurb:

For Franki Amato, life in New Orleans is anything but “The Big Easy.” When she met handsome bank executive Bradley Hartmann, she knew she’d finally found a man she could trust. But she can’t say the same for his sexy new secretary, who is about as trustworthy as Mata Hari and every bit as seductive. Meanwhile, Franki’s best friend and employer, Veronica Maggio, has named her the lead investigator in the murder of a gorgeous cosmetics CEO who was found lying dead in the master bedroom of a historic plantation home. Now the pressure is on Franki to figure out what a bottle of pink lip gloss and the legend of a pink diamond have to do with the bizarre killing. The problem is that the plantation is notorious for being haunted, and Franki is less than enthusiastic about the prospect of meeting a ghost. Adding to her stress, her Sicilian grandma is up to her usual meddling antics—this time planning Franki’s engagement to Bradley before he’s even considered popping the question. As Bradley grows distant and plantation employees begin dropping like Southern belles during a sweltering summer, Franki turns to a psychic with a phobia of ghosts to solve the mysterious murders and her own relationship fears.

GIVEAWAY: Comment on this post by noon eastern on December 3, and you will be entered to win (winner’s choice) a copy of either the print OR digital version of PROSECCO PINK. Two winners will be chosen at random. Print copy U.S. only; otherwise open to everyone.

Meet the author
Traci Andrighetti is the author of the Franki Amato mystery series. In her previous life, she was an award-winning literary translator and a Lecturer of Italian at the University of Texas at Austin, where she earned a PhD in Applied Linguistics. But then she got wise and ditched that academic stuff for a life of crime—writing, that is.

If she’s not hard at work on her next novel, Traci is probably watching her favorite Italian soap opera, eating Tex Mex or sampling fruity cocktails, and maybe all at the same time. She lives in Austin with her husband, young son (who desperately wants to be in one of her books) and three treat-addicted dogs.

To keep in touch with Traci (and Franki!), be sure to sign up for her newsletter at her website or on her Facebook page.

Author Showcase ~ Turkeys, Tuxes, and Tabbies by Kathi Daley

Turkeys Tuxes and Tabbies

When the cat lady of Ashton Falls is found dead in her home just days before Thanksgiving, Zoe must track down a killer while dealing with a house full of socialites who have come to Ashton Falls to bid on Zak in a high class bachelor auction.

Release: October 2014
Series: Zoe Donovan #10
Publisher: Kathi Daley Books

GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 6 p.m. eastern on December 2 for the chance to win either a print or kindle copy of TURKEYS, TUXES, AND TABBIES. The print is open to U.S. residents only. The kindle copy is open to everyone.

About the author
Kathi Daley lives with her husband, kids, grandkids, and Bernese mountain dogs in beautiful Lake Tahoe. When she isn’t writing, she likes to read (preferably at the beach or by the fire), cook (preferably something with chocolate or cheese), and garden (planting and planning, not weeding). She also enjoys spending time on the water when she’s not hiking, biking, or snowshoeing the miles of desolate trails surrounding her home.

Kathi uses the mountain setting in which she lives, along with the animals (wild and domestic) that share her home, as inspiration for her cozy mysteries.

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Unbelievable by Cindy Blackburn

UnbelievableUnbelievable by Cindy Blackburn is the first book in the new “Cassie Baxter” mystery series. Publisher: Cindy Blackburn, November 2014

Small sleuth, tiny town, unfailing fun.

Welcome to Lake Elizabeth, Vermont, where the water is blue, the mountains are green, and Cassie Baxter is going nuts. Who wouldn’t go nuts in a town this size? What possessed Cassie to move in with her father? And why do they have to live next door to a mad scientist? A sexy mad scientist. Does such a thing even exist? And speaking of existing, what happened to the dead redhead? You know, the one Cassie found, and then lost? What’s up with that? Cassie Baxter intends to find out. Read Unbelievable and you will, too.

The Cassie Baxter Mysteries: They’re not Cue Balls, but they are screw balls.

This mystery was hard to put down quickly becoming a page turner, with its quirky cast of characters and zany and witty conversations, amid a perfect setting in Lake Elizabeth, Vermont. The list of potential suspects continued to grow and the author did a great job disseminating it down to a few and I enjoyed following the clues to the big reveal. Be prepared to chuckle at the situations Cassie finds herself in as she tries to prove what she saw is murder despite what others may think. This was an enjoyable read and I look forward to reading the next book in this amusing series.

Honora McAfee’s Day in the Life by Joanna Campbell Slan

Kicked To The Curb“Rats.”

The curse came from my new boss, Cara Mia Delgatto, as she shuffled through papers on her desk. With a trembling hand, she pushed back a curl of her dark auburn hair from where it was hanging over her eyes. The frown on her face darkened her pretty eyes to a deep hazel.

“What’s wrong, Cara, dear?” I asked gently. She’s not really a morning person, even though she does get up early to start coffee for all of us, her workers.

I’m Honora McAfee, Cara’s most recent hire here at The Treasure Chest. Since I once knew Cara’s grandmother, I have maternal feelings toward my new boss. Cara’s own mother wasn’t very nurturing, and sometimes I sense that the girl needs the tender ministrations of a mother-figure.

Gracious! Listen to me. Calling Cara a “girl.”

She’s in her thirties, and a single mother herself.

But then, I’m a woman of a “certain age.” Seventy-six to be exact. And I’m a miniaturist, a maker of tiny (but wonderful!) objects. Sometimes my new employer seems like a young girl to me. Like now, when she’s fuming and growling at the papers on her desk.

“It was around here somewhere!” Cara huffed and shoved a wodge of papers back into her in-box. “I can’t believe I lost it!”

Instead of standing there and watching her fretting, I hurried over to the tea kettle, filled it with water, and turned on the burner. What Cara needed was a nice cup of Green Tea with Yerba Mate. It would help her concentrate. I often drink Yerba Mate when I’m working on my miniatures. It doesn’t have caffeine, but it does improve one’s focus. Working with tiny pieces can be quite demanding. Caffeine causes my hands to shake. A tremor turns into an earthquake when dealing in a small scale. Most of my work is done in one-twelfth, one-inch-to-a-foot. Quite simply, for every foot in RL (Real Life), my items measure an inch. For example, a ceiling height of eight feet is re-sized to eight inches.

“Here you go, Cara, dear,” I said, sliding the cup of tea next to her hand. She was impatiently drumming her fingers on her desktop. “Now what is it that you’re missing?”

She sighed. “The check from my old restaurant in St. Louis. Our old manager is buying the business and the building. He always mails me his payment at the last possible minute. It came yesterday. I wanted to deposit it this morning as soon as the bank opened.”

“You don’t trust the man?” I pulled up a chair across from her desk and sipped my tea.

“I do. Sort of. I know he’s having a rough go of it. He thought he knew more about the restaurant business than he actually does. But he’s a fast learner. It’s just that I don’t want him to get behind,” and she paused. “To be frank with you, I depend on that payment. Right now, I’m using it to live on. I don’t want to take money out of this business, The Treasure Chest. I want to keep re-investing.”

I nodded. Cara is an astute businesswoman. When she took over The Treasure Chest, it was a defunct antique store in a dilapidated building here on the Treasure Coast of Florida. Since then, she’s remodeled, redecorated, and reinvigorated the place. Now we specialize in upcycled, recycled, and repurposed décor items. Even my miniatures get their start as discards. Right now, I’m working on a dollhouse made entirely from cast-off items. This morning I hope to finish shingling the roof. I’m using recycled cardstock for the shingles. It’s going to be fabulous!

“The check arrived yesterday in a priority mail envelope. I put it down right here,” she said, as she tapped the edge of her desk. “I opened it. Glanced at the amount. Set it aside because it was after banking hours. The envelope was white with blue and red lettering.”

“Oh, my,” I said, sitting bolt upright. “Oh, dear!”

“Have you seen it?” Cara sounded hopeful.

“Yes.” I swallowed the last of my tea and got to my feet. “I think I have. I think I pulled it from the trash can next to your desk. I remember thinking at the time that you usually recycle all your paper and card. I was shocked to see that envelope in the trash!”

“I must have knocked the envelope off my desk and into the waste basket,” said Cara. “Okay, so where is the envelope now?”

“I’m not sure,” I said. “It might be…roofing material.”

“WHAT!” Cara’s eyebrows shot up in surprise.

roof close upI beckoned for her to follow me over to the dollhouse. One half of the roof was covered in tiny cardstock shingles. The other half was bare, waiting for me to cut and glue down the individual pieces.

“Did you cut up the priority envelope?” she asked.

“I don’t know. I hope not!” With that, I began rummaging through my “stockpile” of cardstock. I’ve turned an old dish drainer into a storage unit, setting cardstock into the slots where plates would go. I have the card sorted by thickness and color. My fingers paged through the pieces. Cereal boxes, packaging, corrugated card, Bristol board, mat board, and the backs of notepads were all there. But no mailing envelopes. I started to feel a little ill.

Then I remembered. “The thickness was perfect for eaves. For the gullies between the dormers!”

“Okay,” said Cara cautiously. “And that means…what? You have it? You don’t have it? It’s glued to that dollhouse somewhere?”

Quickly, I pushed my dollhouse supplies to one side and located my Fiskars personal paper trimmer. Sticking out from under the blade was a US postal service priority envelope.

Half of it.

The top half.

In the bottom half was the check.

“Wow,” said Cara, with a laugh. “That was almost a very, very expensive roof!”


The Cara Mia Delgatto Mystery Series by Joanna Campbell Slan is set on the east coast of Florida and features Cara Mia Delgatto, the owner of The Treasure Chest. This cozy mystery series includes historical Florida lore, craft ideas, recycling tips, and recipes, as well as a strong female protagonist who occasionally is called upon to act as an amateur sleuth. Kicked to the Curb is the second book in the series.

GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 6 p.m. eastern on December 1 for the chance to win a kindle copy of KICKED TO THE CURB. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only.

Free gift!
Author Joanna Campbell Slan is offering a special free gift for readers who join her newsletter list. You’ll receive two recipes, two craft tutorials, and an outtake scene from Kicked to the Curb automatically when you send an email to KTTCBonus@JoannaSlan.com Once you’re on her newsletter list, you’ll be notified about free reads and other special offers.

About the author
Award-winning and National Bestselling author Joanna Campbell Slan is the creator of three mystery series. Her first mystery—Paper, Scissors, Death—was shortlisted for the Agatha. The first book in her historical romance mystery Joanna CSseries is Death of a Schoolgirl, winner of the 2013 Daphne du Maurier Award for Literary Excellence. Her latest series, featuring Cara Mia Delgatto and beginning with Tear Down and Die, has quickly become an Amazon Bestseller. In her past life, Slan has been a television talk show host, an adjunct professor of public relations at Illinois State University, a sought-after motivational speaker, and a corporate speechwriter. Sharing Ideas Magazine named Joanna “one of the top 25 motivational speakers in the world.” Visit her website at www.JoannaSlan.com Go to www.tinyurl.com/JoannaSlan for details.

A Day in the Life of Caroline Thompson by Eva Lesko Natiello

The Memory BoxMy eyes meander around the desk and stop on a framed photo of Andy and me at the beach, taken when we were dating, when I was still Caroline Spencer. Before I became Caroline Thompson. Both of us are tanned a golden brown, the color of Andy’s eyes, and I’m wearing a rather skimpy bathing suit, which I hold onto just in case my body ever looks like that again. As I stare at this photo, it occurs to me that the people in this town don’t know my maiden name. Do they? When we moved here, I had already changed my name to Thompson. They would never Google Caroline Spencer. I don’t even think Meg, the best friend I have in this town, knows my maiden name.

I quickly type Caroline G. Spencer into the Google search box. A visceral sense of promise gushes through me. Maybe I’m a somebody after all.

Smarty’s now in the kitchen, nudging his metal bowl across the tile floor—dog speak for “I’m hungry.” My mind strays to think about when I last filled the bowl while my finger clicks “search.”

A tsunami of “Caroline G. Spencers” cascades before my eyes. I blink and cock my head. Come on! My heart giggles. I click page two, then page three, then page four. “Yes!” Fist pump in the air. If only they could see me now. The Caroline Spencers don’t stop. Is this juvenile? Am I acting like a teenager who’s counting Prom Queen votes? No. Worse. I’m acting like a catty, immature gossipmonger mom. I gloat for another minute. It’s not like I’m going to count them and brag to everyone at school on Monday. I’m just having a private me-moment of reassurance, that I too have been interesting. So there.

Before my head swells any more, I should verify that these “Caroline Spencers” are me. But I can’t, nor do I want to, spend all day on this. I check the egg timer. Good, only a seventeen-minute diversion. My eyes sweep over the page. Midway down the screen, it’s my sister’s name, directly beneath mine, that catches my eye.

Jane Dory Spencer deceased at age 28 Lanstonville Press, April 21, 2000. She is survived by …www.lanstonvillepress.com/…/jane-dory-spencer-deceased…

What?

What is this?

I blink hard, once—twice—the third time pausing with my eyes squeezed closed to the count of five before I open them. I read again.

This can’t be. This isn’t my sister. My heart leaps up in my chest and goes cold. With flurries. Like it’s a snow globe with a wind chill factor. Saliva floods my mouth. I try to gulp it down, hoping it’ll push my heart back into place. I can’t be reading what I’m reading. I let out a barking laugh to cut through my nerves. This is not true, of course. I just spoke to my sister. When was that? I struggle to remember. It seems like it was just . . . I don’t know exactly. For some reason, I can’t pinpoint it. But my sister is not dead. That’s for certain. She didn’t die. Oh my God, is this some kind of sick joke? Could someone have done this? People can’t plant a Google, can they?


You can read more about Caroline in The Memory Box, published by Fine Line Publishing.

Post a comment by 6 p.m. eastern on November 28, and one lucky person will win a copy of THE MEMORY BOX either in paperback or Kindle version, winner’s choice. (Print U.S. only)

Meet the author
Eva Lesko Natiello is an award winning author and graduate of The State University of NY at Albany with a degree in EvaNpsychology. She is a native of Yonkers, NY and currently lives in suburban New Jersey with her husband and two children. The Memory Box is Ms. Natiello’s debut novel. It is a recipient of the Houston Writers Guild 2014 Manuscript award. Her short story, The Wordsmith, was a finalist in The Writer Magazine 2012 Best Short Story.

When Eva is not writing suspense novels, she enjoys writing humorous musings about life’s ironies, which can be found on her blog.

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Another Day in the Life of Holly Miller by Krista Davis

The Ghost and Mrs MewerHave you ever moved to a place where you knew you were meant to be? At the moment, I’m energized and content and happier than I probably deserve. I just gave up city life for the Sugar Maple Inn on Wagtail Mountain. The inn has been in my family for decades. My grandmother, whom I call Oma (German for grandma) offered to make me a partner in the inn, and I’ve taken her up on it.

I started my first day by stepping onto the balcony outside my bedroom to look out over the town of Wagtail. Once a resort where people came for the mineral water (supposedly even Thomas Jefferson and family visited!) Wagtail had to reinvent itself when mineral springs lost popularity. Now it’s the premier vacation spot for people who want to travel with their dogs and cats. The entire town caters to them with specialty shops and activities for people and their pets. Restaurants even have dog and cat menus!

The mountain air is crisp and clear. Nothing is beeping or revving or honking, except the geese, because Wagtail is an electric golf cart community. There’s a broad pedestrian zone with a park-like area in the middle of town that’s bordered by stores. Some of the coffee shops and bakeries are already open. Early risers are running and walking with dogs and cats. And in the distance, over the tops of the roofs, the mountains shimmer in sunlight like an undulating quilt of oranges, reds, and golds.

I’m trying hard to ignore the fact that the rest of my apartment on the top of the inn is cluttered with moving boxes. I’ll get to them eventually but I’m eager to jump into my new job. I don’t want Oma to think I’m a slacker! After feeding my calico kitten, Twinkletoes, and letting Trixie, my Jack Russell Terrier, out, I join Oma in the dining room for breakfast. Talk about luxury – a gourmet breakfast every morning and no dishes to wash!

The special this morning is spiced pumpkin waffles. I eye the syrup and whipped cream that comes with it. They even have a doggie version! Trixie watches me hopefully, wagging her little tail. I know I should eat something healthy but it’s my first day here. I should celebrate, right? I cave in and order the waffles with a bowl of fresh fruit salad to make me feel better about it. That will counteract the whipped cream and syrup, won’t it? Trixie is having the little doggie version for her breakfast.

Oma tells me that the Apparition Apprehender ghost hunters are arriving today. She has to go to a meeting, so it will fall to me to make sure everything goes smoothly. No problem. I don’t believe in ghosts but it seems like everyone else in Wagtail does. I guess that’s not surprising in a town as old as Wagtail. There’s even a creepy legend about a murder at the abandoned Wagtail Springs Hotel on the other side of town. I might not believe in ghosts but I’ve learned not to spoil everyone else’s fun. After all, it’s not as though the ghost hunters could actually conjure up some old ghosts. Could they?


You can read more about Holly in The Ghost and Mrs. Mewer, the second book in the “Paws and Claws” mystery series, published by Berkley Prime Crime. The first book in the series is Murder, She Barked.

GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 6 p.m. eastern on November 27 for the chance to win a copy of THE GHOST AND MRS. MEWER. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only.

Meet the author
Like her characters, Krista Davis has a soft spot for cats, dogs, and cupcakes. She lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia with three dogs and two cats. The Ghost and Mrs Mewer is the second book in her Paws and Claws Mystery series. Three of those books have been nominated for Agatha awards and three have made the New York Times Bestseller list.

Visit Krista at Website | Facebook | Pinterest | Mystery Lovers’ Kitchen | Twitter | Killer Characters

WEEKLY ROUND-UP: No. 47

Weekly Roundup* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Last week I attended the Bouchercon 2014: Murder on the Beach and had a wonderful time. It was fun catching up with old friends and meeting new ones. The highlight of my stay was sitting next to J.A. Jance at dinner and then at the opening ceremony, helping her sign books (no, I didn’t sign the books, I handed the books to her so she can sign them for those who stopped by. Another highlight was for the first time ever, sitting on a panel and then moderating another one. It was a cool week for me. Click HERE to read my recap.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

This week on dru’s book musings
Nov 24: Holly Miller from The Ghost and Mrs Mewer by Krista Davis
Nov 25: Caroline Thompson from The Memory Box by Eva Lesko Natiello
Nov 26: Honora McAfee from Kicked to the Curb by Joanna Campbell Slan
Nov 27: Author Showcase from Turkeys, Tuxes, and Tabbies by Kathi Daley
Nov 28: Franki Amato from Prosecco Pink by Traci Andrighetti
Nov 29: Nina Bannister from Frame Change by T-Gracie and Joe Reese

Last week on dru’s book musings
Martha Rose from Knot In My Backyard by Mary Marks
Rory Anderson from Fatal Brushstroke by Sybil Johnson
Molly Pink from Knot Guilty by Betty Hechtman
Queensville Emporium from No Mallets Intended by Victoria Hamilton
Jill Gardner from If the Shoe Kills by Lynn Cahoon
Celeste Farmington from The Cunning Cruise Ship Caper by Sally Carpenter

Recent contest winners
Chorus Lines, Caviar, and Corpses by Mary McHugh – Sandra K.
The Bullet Catch by John Gaspard – Joshua W.
Dae’s Christmas Past by Joyce and Jim Lavene – Nanette S.
Bluffing is Murder by Tace Baker – Deanna S.
Invisible Magic by Mary Buckham – Terri C.
Knot In My Backyard by Mary Marks – Kay B.


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