Author Showcase ~ The Haunted Season by G.M. Malliet

The Haunted Season

A DEMON SUMMER makes the case that [Malliet] may be the best mystery author writing in English at the moment (along with Tana French). She’s certainly the most entertaining…(Cleveland Plain Dealer)

Something sinister is stirring at Totleigh Hall, the showcase of the English village of Nether Monkslip. Usually, the Lord and Lady of the manor are absent-high tax rates, it is murmured with more than a trace of envy, force them to live on the continent for most of the year. But Lord and Lady Baaden-Boomethistle have been in residence for some weeks now, and the villagers are hoping for a return to the good old days, when the lord of the manor sprinkled benefits across the village like fairy dust. Father Max Tudor’s invitation to dinner at the Hall comes as a welcome novelty; it will be his first time meeting the famous family that once held sway in the area. But before he has time to starch his clerical collar and organize a babysitter, a sudden and suspicious death intervenes, and the handsome vicar’s talent for sorting through clues to a murder is once again called into play in this charming and clever novel.

Release: October 2015
Series: Max Tudor #5
Genre: Mystery
Publisher: Minotaur

GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 12 a.m. eastern on Tuesday, October 20 for your chance to win a print copy of The Haunted Season. (US entries only, please.) Good luck everyone!

Meet the author
Malliet did post-graduate work at Oxford University after earning a graduate degree from the University of Cambridge, the setting for her earlier series, the St. Just mysteries. Raised in a military family, she spent her childhood in Alaska, Colorado, New Mexico, and Hawaii and has lived also in Japan and Europe, but she most enjoyed living in the U.K. She and her husband live across the river from Washington, D.C., in the “colonial village” of Old Town, Alexandria. As Kenneth Graeme writes in The Wind in the Willows, it is a jolly life:

‘I beg your pardon,” said Mole. “. . .So—this—is—a—River!”
“THE River,” corrected the Rat.
“And you really live by the river? What a jolly life!”‘

Her hobbies include reading, hiking in the Blue Ridge, cooking vegetarian meals, and planning the next vacation. She writes full time nearly every day, and is writing a screenplay in addition to her mystery novels and short stories. She gets her ideas from people watching, particularly in airport waiting areas, train stations, parks, and restaurants. She changes her mind frequently about who would be the best actor to portray St. Just or Max Tudor. Currently, Hugh Grant for Max Tudor is tied with Colin Firth and Rufus Sewell. She feels Jude Law would make a perfect DCI Cotton (Max’s crime-solving sidekick). She feels the same about Laurence Fox, although she imagines he is tired of playing sidekicks. She spends an inordinate amount of time worrying about this.

Visit G.M. at, on Twitter and on Facebook

Honeymoon with Cait Morgan by Cathy Ace

The Corpse With The Diamond H andWhat’s better than waking up next to your spouse on your honeymoon? For me, nothing. The fact Bud and I have a sumptuous stateroom on the luxury cruise ship Stellar Sol makes it even better. Oh yes, cruising the Hawaiian Islands has been a thoroughly enjoyable break from redecorating our new home.

My husband’s just dashed to the gym to work off last night’s five-course dinner. I’ve decided those particular delicacies can linger on my hips until we get back home; I expect clambering up ladders with pots of paint will shift the pounds. Or ounces, at least. Meanwhile, I’ll allow myself to lay here for fifteen minutes and let the headache pills work their magic—maybe one less cocktail tonight?

It’s a challenge to not overindulge: restaurants and bars at almost every turn; service levels meaning I have to lift no more than a finger to get anything delivered to my lounge-chair, table, or room, and the weather? Blissfully warm. I can sit and read while I catch some sun, the ocean breezes keeping me cool-ish.

Onboard libraryI’ve enjoyed browsing the ship’s library, but have to admit my love of people-watching often makes me peer beyond the pages of my book. That’s what comes of being a psychologist, I suppose—I always want to know why people do what they do.

It means I build life-stories for folks I stand beside in elevators, or spy across the deck. I can’t help myself. Bud’s indulgently patient about my staring, then telling him about the back-story and current lifestyles I’ve deduced for my targets.

A good example would be our conversation last night about one of the two couples who sit close-by at dinner. We’ve been on the ship for well over a week, and the foursome met at the table the first formal night. Polite conversations have graduated to what appears to be a happy camaraderie. One couple’s young—only in their thirties, which is well below the average age of the guests on the ship, but they are the more experienced cruisers, as evidenced by how relaxed they are in this opulent setting. The other two are in their late sixties, and it’s obvious that they, like us, are enjoying such a vessel for the first time.

Onboard library and card games areaI face the older couple, so I’ve grown more familiar with their ways. As our shared mealtimes have passed I’ve built a mental story for them, largely based on the woman’s engagement ring. It’s not an imposing piece, though its small, dark sapphire surrounded by tiny diamonds speaks volumes. It tells me the couple got engaged in the early 1980s, when Lady Diana Spencer’s choice set a trend that encircled the globe.

They have money now, though they’re still getting used to it—their clothing shows me that much, as do their new, expensive watches and jewelry, and the gold card they use almost apologetically when ordering wine at their table. They’re delighted by the dazzling surroundings, but not quite at ease within them; they’ve lived simply until quite recently. Their body language speaks of them being a complete unit, alone in the world, which leads me to suspect parental deaths have filled their coffers, and they probably don’t have children or pets—they haven’t shown off photos on their phones at their table like many others have.

Onboard library and pool at nightThe ring’s inexpensive stones suggest it didn’t require a substantial budget, and the accompanying narrow wedding band probably means they didn’t have much money when they married. Given the likely age of the ring they didn’t wed until they were in their thirties, and I feel a fair assessment is that neither one of them was ever what might be called good-looking, so a late first, and only marriage.

I have no doubt they could now afford to “trade up” as jewelry salesmen like to say, but she treasures that ring for what it represents. Even now, after wearing it for more than thirty years, she touches it gently on occasion, almost as though she’s making sure it’s still there. She often strokes it, then absently reaches for her husband’s hand. Without a word, their eyes meet briefly, a shadow of a private smile passes from one to the other, then they refocus on the conversation.

Cruise ship in portWhen I told Bud my theories, he confirmed the history I’d worked out for them—her husband is a gym-mate of my husband, it seems. We shared a grim chuckle as we agreed it made a pleasant change that I haven’t had to use my skills to solve a murder on this trip.

As for today? I won’t let a little hangover spoil our penultimate day at sea, so I’m going to haul myself out of bed and pop to the library before joining Bud, later on. He’s going for a session with the chap who teaches card games; watching people play cards can be very dull, so I’ll pick up a thriller to stop myself nodding off—because who knows what I might miss if I did that.

Cruise photos courtesy of Cathy Ace

The sixth Cait Morgan Mystery, The Corpse With The Diamond Hand, is published on October 13th 2015. In it you can find out how Cait’s day progresses.

GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by noon eastern on Monday, October 19 for your chance to win a signed copy of The Corpse With The Diamond Hand. The giveaway is open to U.S. and Canadian residents only.

About the author
Cathy Ace’s criminal psychologist, foodie sleuth, Cait Morgan, has stumbled upon Corpses with a Silver Tongue, a Golden Nose, an Emerald Thumb, Platinum Hair, Sapphire Eyes and, now, a Diamond Hand during her globetrotting. A bestselling author, Cathy won the 2015 Bony Blithe Award for Best Canadian Light Mystery for Cait Morgan Mystery #4, The Corpse with the Platinum Hair. Like Cait Morgan, Cathy was born and raised in Wales, but now lives in Beautiful British Columbia.

Visit Cathy at, at @AceCathy and on Facebook


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

This past week I was at 2015 Bouchercon, the world mystery convention held in Raleigh, North Carolina.  Bouchercon is the world’s finest annual crime fiction event, bringing together more than 1,000 authors, fans, publishers, reviewers, booksellers, editors, and every other part of the community for a fantastic four-day event.

Congratulations to all the winners of the Anthony Award. dru’s book musings was nominated in the category for Best Critical or Non-Fiction Work and it was a honor to be among this illustrious field. And the winners are:

  • Best Novel: After I’m Gone – Laura Lippman [William Morrow]
  • Best First Novel: The Black Hour – Lori Rader-Day [Seventh Street]
  • Best Paperback Original: The Day She Died – Catriona McPherson [Midnight Ink]
  • Best Critical or Non-Fiction Work: Writes of Passage: Adventures on the Writer’s Journey – Hank Phillippi Ryan, ed. [Henery]
  • Best Short Story: “The Odds Are Against Us” Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, Nov 2014 – Art Taylor [Dell]
  • Best Anthology or Collection: In the Company of Sherlock Holmes: Stories Inspired by the Holmes Canon – Laurie R. King & Leslie S. Klinger, eds. [Pegasus Crime]


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

This week on dru’s book musings (10/12 – 10/18)
October 12: Cait Morgan from “Cait Morgan” series by Cathy Ace
October 13: Author Showcase with G.M. Malliet
October 14: Richard Wilson from “Bridal Bouquet Shop” series by Beverly Allen
October 15: Janet MacPhail from “Animals in Focus” series by Sheila Webster Boneham
October 16: Rory Chasen from “Superstition” series by Linda O. Johnston
October 17: Ellison Russell from “Country Club Murders” series by Julie Mulhern
October 18: Cara Mia Delgatto from “Happy Homicides” by Joanna Campbell Slan

Last week on dru’s book musings
– Ivy Meadows by Cindy Brown
– Ruth Clagan by Julianne Holmes
– Lilah Drake by Julia Buckley
– Carmela Bertrand by Laura Childs
– Carly Bell Hartwell by Heather Blake
– Elsie Langton by Joyce and Jim Lavene
– Sedona O’Hara by Maria Schneider

Congratulations to these contest winners –
“A Beeline to Murder” by Meera Lester – Barbara H.
“Pane and Suffering” by Cheryl Hollon – Elaine R.
“Say Yes to the Dress” by Susan McBride – Tammie G.
“Say Yes to the Dress” by Susan McBride – Barbara H.
“Deal With the Wind” by Miranda James – KT H.
“Sky High” by Susan O’Brien – Linda H.


Research and Sedona O’Hala by Maria E. Schneider

Executive DirtMaria Schneider is the author of the humorous Sedona O’Hala mystery series. Like any author, she engages in intense research for every single book she writes. No task is too big or too small. Learn to shoot a gun? Not a problem. Hike the wilderness in search of just the right setting? Boots on, let’s go!

Learn to sew? Well, erm. When Sedona needed to learn to sew for the plot of Executive Dirt, I knew I was in trouble. That one didn’t go so well.

You know how MacGyver could fix anything with duct tape and a paperclip? Well, I’d like to see him fix my attempt at sewing a new pair of shorts. I’ll even give him organic cotton thread, and he can use my sewing machine. Yes, I decided to tackle finishing those shorts I started making six months ago. Oh, we all knew there wasn’t much hope. I can buy nice fabric with the best of them. I’m high class–in what I’d like to own, if not in actual results. The good news is that these shorts turned out to be in my actual size. They are long enough, unlike the last pair which became a pair of short underwear with pockets. And when was the last time anyone needed underwear with pockets???

These shorts fit around the waist. . .er, well. . .no, no, they fit. I do kind of have to tuck this extra bit of material up under the waistband on one side so that it doesn’t poof out as if I got caught with a cheese roll and stuffed it in there to hide it. No idea how that air pocket ended up there. And it is true that the waistband doesn’t exactly cover up the seam where the shorts and the waistband meet. I take it that in real shorts, that seam is up under the waistband so that it doesn’t appear here and there like secret sanskrit writings. So I’ll wear a long shirt.

One pocket sags. The other pocket. . .well, I had to fold over the seam to make the back fit to the front. See above where I said I’ll wear a long shirt.

The fabric is really soft. It’s stretchy too, so I can sit and stand without bunching. Then again, that could be because some of these seams have rather more give than not. That happens when instead of sewing all the way around or up and down complete seams, you stop after a short section and then remeasure and start again a quarter inch over. After the third or fourth try you give up and just fold the damn fabric to get it to fit. I call it a “gather.” Then I wear a long shirt.

I haven’t hemmed them yet. But I know how to stand if the legs aren’t exactly the same length. Oh yes, I will too. This is really nice, soft material and I am not going to waste it. And maybe someone in the grocery store will give me a referral for an inexpensive seamstress. Even if the seamstress wanted to charge me a lot, after she sees these shorts, she might just make me a pair for free. It’s that or call the cops because she thinks I robbed a homeless lady. But I didn’t. I swear. I made these myself.

I wonder??? Will Sedona have any better luck with her sewing projects in Executive Dirt? Does it matter so long as Sedona solves the murder mystery or are these dangerous tasks somehow entwined???

You can read more about Sedona in Executive Dirt, the 4th book in the “Sedona O’Hara” mystery series, published by Bear Mountain Books. The first three books in the series are Executive Lunch, Executive Retention and Executive Sick Days.

GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 12 a.m. eastern on October 16, 2015 for the chance to win a digital (epub or kindle) copy of Executive Dirt. (US entries only, please.) Good luck everyone!

About the author
Maria Schneider also writes the Moon Shadow series (paranormal mysteries–a dash of magic, humor and romance) and the Dragons of Wendal series (fantasy that includes dragons because dragons are nearly as much fun as cats). You can find her at her blog:

Elsie Langton and The New Witch by Joyce and Jim Lavene

Looking for Mr. Good WitchI’m not going to harken back to the ‘good old days’ as many my age would at this point. I’m a fifth generation witch and a retired school teacher – I thought I’d seen it all!

That was until a new sea witch came to my hometown, Wilmington, North Carolina. Water witches are especially powerful here because we are situated between the Cape Fear River (home of Blackbeard and other pirates) and the Atlantic Ocean. To make a long story short, she thought she could just come in and waltz away with my good friend, and almost coven mate, Brian Fuller.

Brian is a very powerful air witch but he can’t help himself. The magic is too strong that she’s woven around him.

Now my friend of many years, Molly Renard, is also a water witch. I’m hoping between us and our new friend, Dorothy Dunst (an earth witch in training), that we’ll be able to keep Brian away from the sea hag. We have a few other friends – a cream horn eating mermaid and a surly Selkie. Together, we should be able to save Brian.

Did I mention that the sea witch stays with her mate only until he dies from her passions?

Now you understand why we have to find a way to help him. We also have to keep the sassy sea witch from killing again when she’s done with him. We can’t depend on Molly’s husband, who is a homicide detective, to take care of the matter. He barely knows about magic at all.

And wouldn’t it be a pity if Brian died before he and Dorothy knew for sure that they were in love?

It’s a mess, friends, but I’m sure we’ll figure something to do about it. We have right on our side – now if we can just decide on the right spell!

You can read more about Elsie in Looking for Mr. Good Witch, the second book in the “Retired Witches” mystery series, published by Berkley Prime Crime. The first book in the series is Spell Booked.

GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by noon eastern on Friday, October 16 for your chance to win a print copy of Looking for Mr. Good Witch. (US entries only, please.) Good luck everyone!

About the author
Joyce and Jim Lavene write award-winning, bestselling mystery and urban fantasy fiction as themselves, J.J. Cook, and Ellie Grant. Their first mystery novel, Last Dance, won the Master’s Choice Award for best first mystery novel in 1999. Their romance, Flowers in the Night, was nominated for the Frankfurt Book Award in 2000.

They have written and published more than 70 novels that are sold worldwide for Harlequin, Penguin, Amazon, and Simon and Schuster. They have also published hundreds of non-fiction articles for national and regional publications. They live in Midland, North Carolina with their family and their rescue pets—Rudi, Stan Lee, and Quincy.

Visit them at:, on Amazon, on Facebook and on Twitter