My Musing ~ Musseled Out by Barbara Ross

Musseled OutMusseled Out by Barbara Ross is the third book in the “Maine Clambake” mystery series. Publisher: Kensington, April 2015

The busy summer tourist season is winding down in Busman’s Harbor, Maine, but Julia Snowden senses trouble simmering for the Snowden Family Clambake Company. Shifty David Thwing–the “Mussel King” of upscale seafood restaurants–is sniffing around town for a new location. But serving iffy clams turns out to be the least of his troubles.

When Thwing is found sleeping with the fishes beneath a local lobsterman’s boat, the police quickly finger Julia’s brother-in-law Sonny as the one who cooked up the crime. Sure, everyone knows Sonny despised the Mussel King. . .but Julia believes he’s innocent. Proving it won’t be easy, though. It seems there’s a lot more than murder on the menu, and Julia needs to act fast.

I love this book. Julia is on the case when her brother-in-law is implicated in a murder and in the pursuit of justice, Julia learns more about her family, her friends and herself.

I love how the author uses the narrative to let me visually see the town and the people of Busman’s Harbor from Gus’ restaurant, from Morrow Island, the multi-use police building, the fresh salty air and just walking the streets in the small town. I so want to visit this coastal town. The author did a great job in serving up multiple mysteries that grabbed my attention and kept it going until the last page was turned. This fast-paced drama had me caught up in all the action and it was fun watching it all come together, especially with that surprising twist that I did not see coming. Boasting an eclectic cast of characters, good conversation and a small town feel, this is my favorite book in the series. I really like the direction this story is taking and I’m looking forward to more exciting new adventures with Julia and her friends in this delightfully charming series.

Thank you, Barbara, for the appearance of my name in the acknowledgment section.

My Musing ~ Manhattan in Miniature by Margaret Grace

Manhattan in MiniatureManhattan in Miniature by Margaret Grace is the 8th book in the “Miniature” mystery series. Publisher: Perseverance Press, April 2015

Perhaps Manhattan, like Christmas, is best seen through the eyes of a child. Gerry Porter provides both magical experiences for granddaughter Maddie when a SuperKrafts manager takes them to New York City for a huge crafts fair. They get to work on both making miniatures and solving crimes, the detecting duo’s favorite pastimes. All this, plus Rockefeller Center and Radio City, too! But a crafty murderer wants to make sure they don’t make it safely home again to California.

I loved it. It was fun watching Maddie take in Manhattan with her grandma and Bebe by her side giving her the experience of a lifetime. I love how they both became involved in two mysteries and with keen observations were able to help in solving the crimes. The author did a great job in the telling of this story, placing me right in the middle of all the non-stop action. There were one tense moment when I was feeling the emotions that Gerry was feeling in trying to reach Maddie, but it all worked out well in the end. This is by far, my favorite book in this delightfully entertaining series. I can’t wait to see what awaits Gerry, Maddie and friends in their next miniature adventures.

My Musing ~ The Return of the Fallen Angels Book Club by R. Franklin James

The Return of the Fallen Book ClubThe Return of the Fallen Angels Book Club by R. Franklin James is the third book in the “Hollis Morgan” mystery series. Publisher: Camel Press, May 2015

Hollis Morgan is a survivor. She married young to flee an unloving family and ended up in prison, paying the price for her charming husband’s embezzlement. After finally obtaining a California judicial pardon, Hollis has climbed the ladder from paralegal to probate attorney at a respected law firm in the Bay Area. Unfortunately her first two cases are trials by fire. One involves a vicious family dispute over a disinheritance of family members who seem ready to stop at nothing to get their share. The other is the murder of her former parole officer, Jeffrey Wallace, whose will and family trust she is retained to file with the court. Too many people have motives and family mourners are few, so she resists processing the estate.

Without Jeffrey, Hollis’ successful reentry into society would never have been possible. It was he who introduced her to the Fallen Angels–his other white-collar ex-parolees seeking a second chance. The book club they formed was a comfort and a distraction, until two murders forced them back under the scrutiny of the law. The group disbanded during the ensuing investigation. Now, realizing their debt to Jeffrey, they come together once more, determined to uncover the truth.

Although Hollis has met a great guy–a police detective who knows about her past yet accepts her unconditionally–she is afraid to trust again. Naturally he doesn’t want to see her put her life in danger for the sake of a case, but he also knows she won’t stop until Jeffrey’s murderer is discovered. As both cases heat up, Hollis finds that probate law can bring out the worst in people and sometimes expose a killer.

This was very enjoyable. I like the way the story flowed easing me into a drama that quickly accelerated as time was running out and the need to know what was behind the murder was top of mind. I like the premise of an attorney and friends who are white collar ex-cons getting together to help the police solve their friend’s murder and of course there’s more going on that is uncovered as the story progresses. The author’s use of the plot twists that appeared gave me pause and made the telling of this story much more rewarding, especially the widow’s reason for why she did what she did. I like the way the author portrays Hollis a strong and determined protagonist; guarded yet shows a vulnerable side which keeps her grounded. This fast-paced, action-filled drama propels you to the end in this exciting mystery that leaves you wanting more. This was a great read and I hope there are more exciting challenges to come with Hollis and her friends.

From The Personal Journal Of Kathy Briscow by Anne Louise Bannon

Fascinating RhythmDecember 8, 1924

What a tiresome day this has been! I am very glad that I decided not to work tonight and went to see Lady Be Good instead. (Mem – Adele Astaire was very good. And I think the composer, a George Gershwin, also composed that Rhapsody in Blue experiment that was so talked about last spring.)

I suppose I shouldn’t complain so much. I know plenty of women at Healcroft House who would be thrilled to be editing, even with their bosses getting the credit. But Mr. Selby decided not to come in to work again today, and on a Monday, of all days! I had to call him to remind him about the editors’ meeting and he said I should cover it. Well, of course, I should cover it. I’m the one doing his work! Sadly, I didn’t think Mr. Healcroft would agree. At least the old goat let me stay at the meeting.

But he is getting suspicious about Mr. Selby (who is almost never at the office these days, I wonder what he does all day?) And after fighting Mr. Trimble this afternoon about the Keller print run, I am very close to telling Mr. Healcroft what is going on.

Maybe after I finish editing The Old Money Story. Mr. Little (or his ghost writer) has written such a wonderful novel. I have no idea how Mr. Selby acquired that for the firm (could he really be working when he’s gone after all?), but I’m glad he decided I should do the work on it. It’s pure joy to work on, even if the story wanders off track. That will be easy to fix. Well, we’ll have to see what Mr. Little writes back in response to my letter.

I just hope I can keep Mr. Healcroft from finding out about me until after the book is printed and selling well. I should go to bed. Tomorrow will be upon me far too quickly as it is, but maybe I’ll do a few quick edits on The Old Money Story. Maybe I’ll get lucky and Mr. Selby will find himself out of a job and I can finally take credit for what I’m doing.


You can read more about Kathy Briscow in Fascinating Rhythm, the first book in a NEW series featuring Kathy and millionaire author Freddie Little, published by Robin Goodfellow Enterprises. Look for the sequel Bring Into Bondage to come out this fall.

GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 12 a.m. eastern on May 1 for the chance to win either a print or an e-book copy of Fascinating Rhythm–winner’s choice. The print giveaway is open to U.S. residents only. The e-book giveaway is open to everyone. Winner will be notified within 48 hours after giveaway closes and you will have three days to respond after being contacted or another winner will be selected. Make sure to check your SPAM folder.

Meet the author
Anne Louise Bannon is an author and journalist who wrote her first novel at age 15. Her journalistic work has appeared in Ladies’ Home Journal, the Los Angeles Times, Wines & Vines, and in newspapers across the country. She was a TV critic for over 10 years, founded the YourFamilyViewer blog and created OddBallGrape.com, a wine education blog, with her husband, Michael Holland. She also writes the romantic fiction serial WhiteHouseRhapsody.com. She lives in Southern California with her husband and various critters. You can find out more about Fascinating Rhythm and Anne’s other mystery novel Tyger, Tyger at www.annelouisebannon.com.

A Day in the Life of Wallace Prescott by Dawn Eastman

A Fright to the DeathHello. I’m Wallace Prescott, the manager of Carlisle Castle, where every guest is treated like royalty. At least that’s what it says on our new brochures. We used to be a small country inn nestled in the woods located just outside of Kalamazoo, MI. Jessica and her mother Linda converted their family home to an inn ten years ago and they’ve built a loyal following. But since Clarissa Carlisle (niece and cousin) moved in, things have changed. She wants Carlisle Castle to become a destination spa experience. I don’t know if it’s working.

Even with Ms. Carlisle’s modifications, the knitters are back again this year. They booked the entire castle for their weekend workshop. I thought it would make my job fairly easy. I thought they’d entertain themselves with the workshops. I thought, “how much trouble can a bunch of knitters be?” Plus, winter conferences help to keep the lights on and the bills paid.

However, it’s been one difficulty after another since the knitters arrived. The first problem is the yarn-bombing contest. Every time I think I’m caught up on my work, another knitter is here at the desk wanting me to climb a ladder to install more knitting in precarious places. I’ve begun sending them to the maintenance guy – he ought to be good for something. Fixing things is apparently not one of his talents. Another worry is that there is a huge snowstorm on the way. We sent most of the staff home to avoid the snow and now we’re down to a skeleton crew. I hope we have enough food to last through the weekend. If we lose power, things are going to get tense. I don’t think people can knit in the dark and then what will they do?

Violet Greer, one of the knitters, has been badgering me about the Carlisle ghost. We do have a ghost, but I’m not supposed to talk about it. I don’t know how she did it, but she dragged the story out of me and now I seriously regret it. If Ms. Carlisle finds out I told the story, she’ll be furious. She seems to think she can stamp out all knowledge of the ghost just by ignoring it.

And then, two new guests showed up with no reservations. Clyde Fortune and Mac McKenzie didn’t seem happy to discover that Ms. Greer was staying here. At least she offered to share her room overnight or I don’t know where we would have put them. I think we’ll just about survive the storm, as long as nothing else goes wrong. . .


You can read more about Wallace and Carlisle Castle in A Fright to the Death, the third book in the “Family Fortune” mystery series, published by Berkley Prime Crime. The first two books in the series are Pall in the Family and Be Careful What You Witch For.

GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 12 a.m. eastern on May 1 for the chance to win a print copy of A Fright to the Death. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only. Winner will be notified within 48 hours after giveaway closes and you will have three days to respond after being contacted or another winner will be selected. Make sure to check your SPAM folder.

About the author
Dawn Eastman lived in Michigan for many years, in a house full of animals, unusual people, and laughter. She now lives in Iowa with her family and one extremely bossy small dog. She is the national bestselling author of The Family Fortune Mystery Series, which features psychics, animal communication, quirky characters and murders. For more information, visit www.DawnEastman.com

Spending Time With Dani Greene by Jessie Crockett

A Sticky SituationEven though there are still snow banks higher than my head here in New Hampshire spring is in the air. It may not be easy for everyone to spot but if you’re a fourth-generation sugar maker like me you really notice the subtle changes in the season. Every year, just as you think you can’t take one more minute of cold, it’s time to tap the maple trees and to boil down sap into syrup.

Since it requires forty gallons of sap to produce just a single gallon of finished syrup, I put a lot of miles on my snowshoes every sugaring season, placing taps and running tubing to collect the sap. But I don’t mind. In fact, I look forward to it. After all the months cooped up in the house nothing beats being out in the fresh air and sunshine, listening to the chirps of birds and chatter of frisking squirrels. At this time of year the sugar bush is my favorite place to be.

I like it even more once my great-aunt Hazel arrives for a visit. Every year she shows up in Sugar Grove in time for the annual Maple Festival. The festival is famous all over the region. Unfortunately, Hazel is even more infamous. People in town talk about her in hushed tones, like they don’t want to tempt fate by being overheard saying her name.

Hazel may be in her eighties but she still ends up at the police station and the emergency room at least once every visit. The only place you can count on her not getting into trouble is out in the woods because she’d have to pitch in and be useful there.

Even with Hazel’s visit and the responsibilities I have for my business and for helping to put on the Maple Festival, I wouldn’t trade a day of it with anyone. After all, when you spend your time making maple syrup, life seems very sweet indeed.


You can read more about Dani in A Sticky Situation, the third book in the “Sugar Grove” mystery series, published by Berkley Prime Crime. The first two books in the series are Drizzled with Death and Maple Mayhem.

GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 12 a.m. eastern on April 30 for the chance to win a copy of A Sticky Situation. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only. Winner will be notified within 48 hours after giveaway closes and you will have three days to respond after being contacted or another winner will be selected. Make sure to check your SPAM folder.

About the author
As a nearly lifelong resident of the Granite State, Jessie Crockett naturally adores black flies, 98% humidity, killing frosts in August and snow banks taller than the average grandmother. When not working on her next murderous adventure she combs the beach, designs bento lunches ad throws parties. She delights in mentoring young writers at local schools. Jessie lives with her dark and mysterious husband and exuberant children in a village so small many other New Hampshire residents have never heard of it. Hearing from readers makes the winters seem shorter so please visit her at www.jessiecrockett.com.

A Conversation with Sophie Medina by Ellen Crosby

Ghost ImageThe Byzantine-style church of Mount St. Sepulchre on the grounds of the old Franciscan monastery in Washington, D.C. always looked to me as if it had been plucked from the Holy Land where it had stood in the shadow of a sacred shrine and set down in Brookland, a working-class neighborhood of Craftsman bungalows and wood-framed houses, the way Dorothy’s house landed in Oz. It was nearly the end of a day of meetings when I parked across the street from the main gates, grabbing my camera bag as I got out of the car.

I was here for an appointment with Senator Ursula Gilberti and her beautiful spoiled-child daughter Yasmin, yet another discussion of what photographs they expected me to take in the monastery’s magnificent gardens when (please God, finally) Yasmin married Austrian Archduke Victor Haupt-von Véssey here in June. Me, I thought he was making a mistake—but it was none of my business.

Let me be clear: I, Sophie Medina, am not a wedding photographer. Whether the bridal gown should be Alençon or Guipure lace or the bouquet an old-fashioned Biedermier arrangement or a nosegay are not my areas of expertise. But here are some things I do know: the difference between a hijab and a shayla because I have worn them both to cover my hair when working in Muslim countries and—this is important—how to distinguish live gunfire from fireworks or merely a car backfiring.

For the last twelve years before I moved home to Washington I lived in London, working for an international news agency that parachuted me into war zones and world hotspots, photographing heads of state, two popes, Cannes movie stars, and assorted royalty, none of whom required as much stage managing as this wedding. But I couldn’t turn down Victor when he asked me to do this favor, especially when Brother Kevin Boyle, a mutual friend who lived here at the monastery, had seconded the request.

Earlier this morning I’d gone to the Tidal Basin to meet Kevin, a controversial environmentalist and bestselling author, where we’d walked along the promenade under the bare branches of Washington’s famous cherry trees. As partial payback for saddling me with Ursula Gilberti’s micromanaging demands, Kevin promised to help me put together a coffee table photo book of D.C. gardens for a charity fundraiser.

But when I arrived he’d looked worried. “Someone has been following me for the past couple of days, Soph,” he said. “Maybe they’re here right now, watching us.”

I shuddered and looked around. Washington in late March can be temperamental and fickle. Some days the weather is glorious and the warm, silky breeze makes you believe it’s finally spring. Or it can be like today, when the wind slices like a knife and the damp chill settles into your bones. Just now there was no one at this memorial except the two of us.

“Kevin,” I said, “first, are you sure? And second, why?”

“I found something while I was doing research for a new book,” he said. “At least, I think I did. If I’m right, it could be worth millions, maybe billions, to the right people.”

I caught my breath. “What is it?”

“Can’t tell you,” he said. “Until I’m positive I’m right.”

And then he was gone.

By the time I spotted the little key near the old stone lantern that had once belonged to a shogun, Kevin was out of sight. Had he dropped it, or did it fall from the pocket of one of the women who’d been inspecting the lantern just before we arrived? Either way, I could show up early for my monastery meeting with Ursula and Yasmin and ask him. But though I saw his car on the street, the security guard at the entrance to the friars’ residence hadn’t seen him and suggested I check the garden and its many shrines.

What made the monastery unique—and because the Franciscans had been caretakers of the Holy Land’s sacred sites ever since the Crusades—was a decision when it was built in the late 1800s to create exact reproductions, down to the last detail, of those same shrines here in Washington. Meaning it is possible to “visit” the grotto at Lourdes, the Tomb of Christ, and the house in Old Cairo where Jesus, Mary and Joseph lived in exile, among other places. Some called it Catholic Disneyland; others found peace and serenity in a beautiful garden.

I searched everywhere for Kevin, but the grounds were empty at five o’clock in the afternoon. By the time I found him, he was lying outside the Gethsemane Grotto—where Jesus prayed on his last night—and I was too late.

Now I had his key—and a puzzle. What had been so valuable to someone who had taken a vow of poverty that he needed to hide it, especially living in a house whose only residents were religious men of God?

Before long I had my answer and it led to an international treasure hunt. Because whoever had murdered Kevin was now after me.


You can read more about Sophie in Ghost Image, the second book in the “Sophie Medina” mystery series, published by Scribner. The first book in the series is Multiple Exposure.

GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 12 a.m. eastern on April 29 for the chance to win a copy of Ghost Image. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only. Winner will be notified within 48 hours after giveaway closes and you will have three days to respond after being contacted or another winner will be selected. Make sure to check your SPAM folder.

Meet the author
Ellen Crosby is the author of Multiple Exposure and Ghost Image (Scribner, April 2015), a mystery ECrosbyseries featuring international photojournalist Sophie Medina. She has also written six books in the Virginia wine country mystery series and Moscow Nights, a standalone mystery published in the UK. Previously she worked as a freelance reporter for The Washington Post, Moscow correspondent for ABC News Radio, and as an economist at the U.S. Senate. Learn more about her at www.ellencrosby.com, on Facebook and on Twitter.  Photo credit: Jackie Briggs