A Day in the Life of Rena Hamilton by Annie Knox

Groomed For MurderGood morning, fellow humans. And I do mean morning. My best friend and business partner, Izzy McHale, insists on getting moving at the crack of dawn. No one in Merryville lets me forget that I have quite a mouth on me, so I’d give Izzy heck if I really cared about the long hours. Honestly, though, I’m having the time in my life. Turns out baking organic pet treats satisfies something in my soul. Plus, I get to work with Izzy.

Right now I’m enjoying a leisurely walk from my dad’s house on the wrong side of the tracks (literally) to the heart of Merryville, 801 Maple Avenue, a sprawling Victorian building that houses Izzy’s apartment and our store, Trendy Tails. I’ve got a pan of my famous pecan sticky buns in my messenger bag, and I can almost smell Izzy’s coffee from across town. Hey, we work hard, but we take time out for the finer things.

Lately, the finer things have included gossiping about Daniel Colona, the darkly handsome man who has moved into the second floor of 801 Maple. He says he’s a writer, but that’s all we can get out of him. And, believe me, we’ve tried. Izzy’s aunt Dolly and I have been the most persistent. I try to be discreet, subtly drawing out clues to his past. Dolly takes a more forthright approach: “So, tell me about your life.” Neither of us has had any success.

So, while Izzy knits pug-sized argyle sweaters and stitches zippers into cat parkas, I dust the display shelves and keep an eye on my baking treats, and the two of us speculate—in careful whispers—about the man on the second floor. Thankfully, we can always hear him coming because his Weimaraner Daisy May tumbles down the steps, all legs and energy. Daniel may as well sound a bullhorn when he exits his apartment.

In any event, my personal theory is that Daniel was in the mob. Somehow he’s retired—maybe he’s in witness protection? that would be so cool!—and he’s writing his memoirs. Izzy thinks he’s a novelist. Yawn. Izzy’s had stars in her eyes for the past few months. I’ve never seen a girl so ready to meet a boy. (Actually, she’s met a couple, but nothing much is happening with either one.) Anyway, Izzy’s convinced he’s hiding himself away while he recovers from a broken heart.

So which story do you like better? The mobster in witness protection or the lovelorn novelist? Any other possibilities you want to toss around?


You can read more about Rena in Groomed For Murder, the second book in the “Pet Boutique” mystery series, published by Obsidian. The first book in the series is Paws For Murder.

GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 6 p.m. eastern on September 4 for the chance to win a copy of GROOMED FOR MURDER. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only.

About the author
Annie Knox lives in North Texas with her husband and three spoiled felines (who refuse to wear clothes).

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WEEKLY ROUND-UP: No. 35

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

This week’s guest post on dru’s book musings

September 1: Groomed for Murder by Annie Knox
September 2: Fat Cat At Large by Janet Cantrell
September 3: Nightmares Can Be Murder by Mary Kennedy
September 4: Caught Dead Handed by Carol J. Perry
September 5: The Wedding Soup Murder by Rosie Genova
September 6: Organized for Homicide by Ritter Ames

Last week’s guest post on dru’s book musings

Recent contest winners

  • Bewitching Boots by Joyce and Jim Lavene – Kiki W.
  • Dead on Her Feet by Lisa Fernow – Denise Z.
  • Ma Tutt’s Donut Hut by Lyn Perry – Angie Y.
  • Death by Devil’s Breath by Kylie Logan – Kari C.
  • Murder on Bamboo Lane by Naomi Hirahara – Sue F.
  • Death of a Dog Whisperer by Laurien Berenson – Mary H.
  • Death of a Dog Whisperer by Laurien Berenson – Lynn H.

Recently posted on dru’s book musings

  • Designated Daughters by Margaret Maron
  • Hit and Run by Sandra Balzo
  • Deception in Strange Places by Judy Alter

At The Request Of…For Review

  • The Night Visitor by Dianne Emley
  • Double Strike by Gretchen Archer

Reading Round-Up

  • August 2014: 21 books
    • 10 cozy mysteries
    • 9 traditional mysteries
    • 2 suspense/thriller
  • Year to Date: 166 books

Follow dru’s book musing on Facebook for posting about discounted books, giveaways and some of my reading musings.

Author Showcase ~ Hit and Run by Sandra Balzo

Hit and Run
AnnaLise’s philandering father’s attempt to ‘do right’ by his many heirs goes deadly wrong

Journalist AnnaLise Griggs’ return to her hometown in North Carolina’s western mountains has led to some unexpected surprises – most notably the discovery that legendary womanizer Dickens Hart is her birth father, and she an heir to Hart’s huge fortune.

Founder of the White Tail Lodge – a High Country knock-off of the Playboy concept – Hart now claims he wants to ‘do right’ by his offspring. To that end, he’s invited all his former lovers and potential heirs, including AnnaLise and her own mother, Daisy, to what Hart envisions as a festive Thanksgiving weekend at his sprawling lakeside mansion.

But not everyone is in a celebratory mood, and when a body is discovered, AnnaLise is left with the impossible task of identifying a vicious killer.

Release: September 2014
Series: Main Street #3
Publisher: Severn House

GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 6 p.m. eastern on September 3 for the chance to win a kindle copy of RUNNING ON EMPTY, the first book in the series. The giveaway is open to everyone.

About the author
Sandra Balzo is an award-winning author of crime fiction, including eleven books in two different mystery series from Severn House–the Wisconsin-based Maggy Thorsen Mysteries and Main Street Murders, set in the High Country of North Carolina and featuring journalist AnnaLise Griggs.

Film rights for the Maggy Thorsen Coffeehouse Mysteries have been optioned toward development for television or film. Garnering starred reviews from Kirkus and Booklist, Balzo’s novels are recommended to readers of Janet Evanovich, Charlaine Harris, Harlan Coben, Joan Hess and Margaret Maron.

Find Sandy online at www.SandraBalzo.com, Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter.


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Hit and Run by Sandra Balzo

Hit and RunHit and Run by Sandra Balzo is the third book in the “Main Street” murder mystery series. Publisher: Severn House Publishers, July 2014

Journalist AnnaLise Griggs’ return to her hometown in North Carolina’s western mountains has led to some unexpected surprises – most notably the discovery that legendary womanizer Dickens Hart is her birth father, and she an heir to Hart’s huge fortune.

Founder of the White Tail Lodge – a High Country knock-off of the Playboy concept – Hart now claims he wants to ‘do right’ by any other children he may have fathered. To that end, he’s invited all his former lovers and potential heirs, including AnnaLise and her own mother, Daisy, to what Hart envisions as a festive Thanksgiving weekend at the sprawling lakeside mansion.

But not everybody is in a celebratory mood, and when a body is discovered dead in the bed, AnnaLise is left with the impossible task of identifying the killer.

I really love this evenly paced and well-executed drama with its comfortable tone and a small town southern atmosphere. This light whodunit was hard to put down, as I had to know who did what to whom in this darling of a mystery. The author did a great job in pulling it all together with a bevy of suspects who could have done the dastardly deed and I was a bit surprise not at who did it, but at how and why it was done. AnnaLise who tries to do the right thing, does a good job at solving this puzzle, is supported by a quirky cast of characters that includes her mother, her mama and her best friend Joy who is an absolute hoot. I look forward to more adventures with AnnaLise in the next book in this delightfully charming series.

A Day in the Life of Tina Shaw by Jan Christensen

Buried Under ClutterHi, my name is Tina Shaw. I live in the wonderful town of Newport, RI, where my typical day is filled with sunshine, the scent of the ocean, and old mansions. Plus some stunt kite flying at Brenton Point if the winds are just right.

I used to live by a schedule and most of my days were typical. But things changed when I moved back to my mother’s old Victorian house in Newport just before I turned thirty. I’d been away, except for visits, since I left for college back when I was eighteen. My mother’s a bit controlling and likes to keep secrets, but we generally get along okay. My great-uncle Bob also lives with us along with Princess, his golden Lab hearing assistance dog. He’s an old Navy guy, and so much fun to be around. He likes to use clichés a lot, both twisted and regular, and the biggest words he can think of.

The only drawback to living back home is the food. Neither my mother nor our uncle can cook (cliché alert) worth a hoot. So, unfortunately, since I never learned to wield a spatula, there are no recipes in my stories. And I’m often a big hungry.

However, since I came home, I’ve taken up a new profession—that of personal organizer and time management helper. Jan includes a few hints in her stories about me as problems dealing with those things pop up. It’s been interesting so far. You’d be amazed at the secrets you’ll find in people’s jumble. I mean, like a dead body in a perfect baby’s nursery in an otherwise badly cluttered home (Organized to Death). Or the secrets to her murder in the hoarder’s house next door (Buried Under Clutter). Or maybe a ghost in a friend’s old Victorian’s attic (upcoming next spring, Cluttered Attic Secrets).

I’m fortunate to have lots of help figuring out who the villains are from my old school chum who wants to be more than friends, Hank (called Hank the Hunk by my girlfriends). Like my mother, he has a few secrets, so I’m not quite sure what he does for a living, but he says he’s a police consultant. I’m pretty sure once you find out more about him, you’ll be as skeptical about that as I am. But he does hang out around the police station and seems to know a lot about police procedure. You can forgive a guy a lot of things when he’s as yummy as old Hank.

The downside to this new profession has been my mother’s dislike/disdain for the whole idea of “mucking around in other people’s messes,” plus, of course, the dead bodies. The upside is, I’m never bored.

Now that we’ve cleared up the whole ghost-in-the-attic thing, I’m looking for a new job. Lucky for me, it’s almost spring here on the island, so I’ll probably go kite flying while I wait. My uncle loves to tell me to “go fly a kite.” And I like making my uncle happy, so I’m off. ’Bye!


You can read more about Tina in Buried Under Clutter, the second book in the “Tina Tales” mystery series, published by Jan Christensen. The first book in the series is Organized to Death.

GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 6 p.m. eastern on September 3 for the chance to win a kindle version of BURIED UNDER CLUTTER. The giveaway is open to everyone.

About the author
Jan Christensen grew up in New Jersey and now resides in the Texas Coastal Bend. Published novels are: Sara’s Search, Revelations, Organized to Death, Perfect Victim, Blackout, and most recently, Buried Under Clutter. She’s had over sixty short stories appear in various places over the last dozen years. She also writes a series of short stories about Artie, a NY burglar who gets into some very strange situations while on the job. Visit Jan at her website, on Twitter or on Facebook.

The Day in the Life of Abby Rollins by Norma Lehr

Deadly ShuffleToday I’m standing outside of my Aunt Ginny’s green stucco bungalow in Palm Springs wondering what’s going on here. I flew to the Springs yesterday to spend a much needed short vacation (possible romantic weekend) with my private eye friend Blade Garrett. He’s working a case here and invited me to join him to attend The Bob Hope Celebrity Ball. When I arrived here, things were not going as planned.

I’m a former dancer of the Manhattan Toppettes. Now in my early fifties, and single, I opened my business, SUPERDUDS DANCE TOG SHOP in the Galleria Mall near Sacramento. Last week, the first week of January, the escalators were filled with “after the holiday shoppers” and I hoped to ring up lots of sales at my store. Customers were lining up beautifully and the stock moving quickly when I heard and unexpected familiar voice. I glanced over my shoulder. “Mom! What are you doing here?”

“Hey Sugar. Do I have to wait for an invitation to visit my only daughter? I drove up here because I need your help. You’re the best dancer ever, and right now it’s real important I learn a few dance steps.”

My mother, Trish, currently a real estate broker from Yucca Valley, formerly lead singer of The Malones, a popular radio and TV singing trio during the Fifties and early Sixties, blew into my shop with the personality and stage presence of Debbie Reynolds to inform me she’s filling in at the Palm Springs Fabulous Follies for her sister Ginny who is on leave recuperating from hip replacement.

So, okay, okay. Not a good time during Starduds after Christmas sales, but I’ll help. Maybe I sound like my shop comes before family, but that’s not always the case. I have twins in college and I’m there for them whenever they call. But my relationship with my mother is testy, and I struggle with resentment stemming from my childhood. I was raised by Trish’s mother, my grandmother while Trish was on the road performing with the trio. I’ve never known who my biological father is, a fact that has always been kept hush, hush. Maybe Trish doesn’t know who he is. She does drink! And that’s being polite. Trish Malone is an alcoholic, and has been in the Betty Ford Clinic more than once. During this current visit to Starduds, she assured me that she has been sober for some time. She also tells me she’s worried about an old friend, a plastic surgeon from Florida who is in Palm Springs to speak at a conference. He called upset to let her know he’s deeply concerned that his life is in danger. Trish belongs to a poker group, the doctor does too, along with three other men from her past. The plan? They all meet in Palm Springs at a condo when she returns for her Follies audition. And they have unanimously requested her to be the card dealer.

So here I am at my Aunt Ginny’s, the aunt with the hip surgery, and she doesn’t know where my mother, Trish is, who should be over at the theater auditioning today for next weekend’s Follies performance. After calling around, it appears she’s missing. Now I’m standing out here waiting for my detective guy, Blade Garret to pick me up, hoping I can run all or any part of this info by him. We worked a murder case together last fall at the Cal Neva in Tahoe, but If he’s too involved in his own case today then my plan is to find out where the poker party was held.

Before I take off, after Ginny and I checked out the Betty Ford Clinic again, my aunt hands me a local news paper and points to an article on the front page. A prominent plastic surgeon in town for the conference collapsed and was pronounced dead during a poker game at a dentist’s condo. Natural causes or not—the article doesn’t say.

Okay, all right! That did it! I’m off to the local police station to report my mother missing.


You can read more about Abby in Deadly Shuffle, the second book in the “Abby Rollins” mystery series, published by Camel Press. The first book in the series is Timestep to Murder.

Meet the author
Norma Lehr, a former nurse and health food store owner from the Bay Area, has four children and five NormaLgrandchildren, and now lives in Auburn, California in the beautiful Sierra foothills. She is a multi-genre author of short stories, a middle-grade ghost series, and an adult supernatural suspense novel, Dark Maiden published by Juno Books. Her current Abby Rollins mystery series: Timestep To Murder and Deadly Shuffle are available from Camel Press and Amazon.

Visit her website or Facebook.

Deception in Strange Places by Judy Alter

Deception in Strange PlacesDeception in Strange Places by Judy Alter is the fifth book in the “Kelly O’Connell” mystery series. Publisher: Turquoise Morning Press, July 2014

A woman desperately seeking her biological mother, a televangelist determined to thwart that search, a hired hit man, and in the midst of it all, a reclusive diva. Kelly has gotten herself involved in a dangerous emotional tangle this time, and Mike doesn’t tell her to back off, even when events take them from Fort Worth to San Antonio.

I enjoyed the latest adventures with Kelly and her friends in this suspense-fully-driven and fast-paced drama that made me feel like I also part of the action. I liked how the mystery was not who did it, but how they catch the villain and bring him to justice. The build-up, with its intensifying moments, to the climatic conclusion was nicely done and I applaud the author in how it all turned out. With a comfortable tone, a small-town atmosphere, great dialogue and a wonderful cast, this was one of the best books in the series and I can’t wait to see what capers are in store Kelly and her friends.