McLean Thoughts by Jenny Milchman

As Night FallsDru Ann’s wonderfully creative “Day in the Life” column gives characters a chance to appear outside the events of the book, but it also does something else pretty cool. It gives lesser seen characters in the book a chance to have more of a day in the sun. In the excerpt below, I let the family’s dog—who becomes a hero by the end of As Night Falls—show you what one terrible night was like for him.

While the Man kept trying to open the Door, McLean clawed long ruts into it. The warm forest smell of wood was comforting.

He rolled over, then got up. His tail wagged, hitting the tips of bottles, deep and dark green glass containing a tart, grapey smell.

McLean stood patiently, his tail pendulum-swinging.

There was a loud noise against the door that separated McLean from his People. The Girl, the Woman, and the Man who was down here with him in the basement.

Then the noise stopped.

A familiar smell rose from the space beneath the door, a dying smell, which would’ve made McLean run away if he’d scented it on an animal in the wild.

But McLean loved the Man and from him he wouldn’t run.

The round circle of metal began to turn.

McLean watched it almost complete a rotation. His ears were aimed like darts, and he was panting. The circle swiveled back. A noise came from outside, the kind of grunt only a human made.

The circle started to turn again.

McLean didn’t care how long it took. He didn’t have the same scale of time as people did. In some deep down place, he knew he had less of it than the People he loved, but that wasn’t a bad thing. It made him free. McLean’s life wasn’t broken into chunks of days, weeks, years. Whatever amount of time something took had to be that way, couldn’t be any other.

The circle spun all the way around.

Then something struck the wood—another loud thud—and the door swung open.

The Man began to pull himself inside.

A sense of confusion descended over McLean.

The Man was not on two feet. He wasn’t even on all fours. He lay flat and moved like another sort of creature entirely. A worm, or the snakes McLean had learned to hate after being bitten by the one the First Man he belonged to kept in a cage.

The Man McLean now loved was the source of the dying smell, but beneath it his familiar odor still lingered. McLean stalked in his direction, careful not to tread upon him, though he couldn’t angle his paws as precisely as he once could, back when he had more of the thing called time.

He didn’t touch the Man. Not because McLean was afraid of the dying smell, but because he couldn’t bear to cause the Man pain.

McLean knew pain, but this Man had never caused him any, and for that and other reasons, McLean loved him.

The Man pulled himself the rest of the way into the room, McLean nudging him ever so lightly, stopping when the Man let out a noise like McLean used to make when the First Man yelled at him.

The Man lay there, heaving on the floor for another length of unmarked time.

McLean stood over him. He would do this for however long the Man needed him to. Until that smell changed or went away.

But the Man began to speak, not in his usual voice; this was more like a growl.

One word repeated over and over in a nest of sounds that formed a soothing hum, despite the Man’s low moans and shivering mutters, which were far less comforting.

One word.


McLean leaned down. He licked the Man’s face until it was completely clean.

Then he moved into the open space, which felt bigger and colder than the Arctic plain where his ancestors had come from. McLean didn’t want to go out there on his own. But he had made it a long way by himself already.

McLean turned back once, sniffing.

Then he trotted up the stairs to find the People he and the Man loved.

You can read more about McLean and his family in As Night Falls, published by Ballantine Books.

GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 12 a.m. eastern on July 6 for the chance to win a copy of AS NIGHT FALLS that will be personally signed at NYC’s greatest mystery bookstore, Mysterious Bookshop. 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.

About the author
jenny-milchmanJenny Milchman is the Mary Higgins Clark award-winning author of two prior psychological thrillers, Cover of Snow and Ruin Falls. For the past two years, Jenny has gone out on what Shelf Awareness calls “the world’s longest book tour”. She invites readers to find her on the web at–and then come find her on the road!

A Day in the Life with Angelo DiNapoli by Sherry Harris

The Longest Yard SaleMy name’s Angelo DiNapoli and in Italian “Angelo” means Messenger of God, so if I seem like a bit of a know it all, it comes to me directly from the Big Guy. I own DiNapoli’s Roast Beef and Pizza in Ellington, Massachusetts, it’s a hub for our small town and sits right across the street from the town common.

While to some tourists’ eyes the common might be your typical New England common — large green, beautiful, soaring church — to me it’s the heart and soul of our town. Just the other day my friend Sarah Winston turned the common into New England’s Largest Yard Sale. It was the biggest event here since the Revolutionary War and brought a lot of tourists into town. It was a huge success — never mind the murder, art theft, and arson.

Ellington’s also special because it borders Fitch Air Force Base. The people from the base shop and eat here in Ellington which helps our local economy thrive. It’s how I got to know Sarah, who used to be married to CJ Hooker, our current police chief and former commander of the Fitch security force. Sarah’s a great kid—well, she’s 38, but that’s seems young to me—and she always has a good attitude. Even when she went through her divorce last year she kept her sense of humor and told me she was happy not to be a Hooker anymore.

The kid’s been through some tough times: husband troubles, she’s found a dead body or two, her best friend’s been accused of murder and theft. On top of that our county’s young DA — Mr. “Massachusetts’s Most Eligible Bachelor” two years running — has taken an interest in Sarah. It gets a little awkward considering her ex and Mr. Most Eligible have to work together when there’s a crime. I don’t see what the big deal is with the guy, but even my Rosalie gets a little blush on her cheeks when the he walks in. I, myself, am keeping an eye on him.

Sarah comes to DiNapoli’s when she needs a meal but more importantly when she needs a friend. Her family’s all the way out in Pacific Grove, California. So I impart my wisdom, things like “you mess with the bull, you get the horns” and “never talk to the police without a lawyer.” She’s a little too trusting when it comes to the police, and sometimes, seeing as her ex is the chief of police, it’s hard to get that through to her.

Her best friend, Carol, is a suspect in the murder of the guy killed right after New England’s Largest Yard Sale. He turned up dead in the back room of her shop, Paint and Wine. I made sure Sarah got in touch with my cousin, Vincenzo, who’s a lawyer. The guy’s good. He got Mike “The Big Cheese” Titone off multiple racketeering charges. If he can do that he should certainly be able to get one of Sarah’s friends off the hook. I have to confess though, Sarah doesn’t seem like she wants to sit back and let Vincenzo do his job. I’m a little worried that she might poke her nose in the wrong place at the wrong time. And if she does that, she might get more than she bargained for. Then even my famous pizza won’t be able to save her.

You can read more about Angelo in The Longest Yard Sale, the second book in the “Sarah Winston Garage Sale” mystery series, published by Kensington. The first book in the series is Tagged For Death.

GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 12 a.m. eastern on July 6 for the chance to win a print copy of Tagged For Death and The Longest Yard Sale. 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.

About the author
Sherry Harris started bargain hunting in second grade at her best friend’s yard sale. She honed her bartering skills as she moved around the country while her husband served in the Air Force. Sherry uses her love of garage sales, her life as a military spouse, and her time living in Massachusetts as inspiration for the Sarah Winston Garage Sale series. Tagged for Death, the first in the series, was nominated for an Agatha Award for First Best Novel. The Longest Yard Sale is available on June 30, 2015. She lives with her husband and Westie, Lily, in Northern Virginia. Visit Sherry on her website and on the Wicked Cozy Authors blog.

My Musing ~ The Longest Yard Sale by Sherry Harris

The Longest Yard SaleThe Longest Yard Sale by Sherry Harris is the second book in the “Sarah Winston Garage Sale” mystery series. Publisher: Kensington, June 2015

When Sarah Winston turns Ellington, Massachusetts, into New England’s largest garage sale for a day, it’s the small town’s biggest event since the start of the Revolutionary War—but without the bloodshed. That is, until a valuable painting goes missing…and the lifeless body of an Air Force officer is found in Carol Carson’s painting studio, his face perfectly framed with the murder weapon—a metal picture frame.

Sarah is mad as heck that someone used her town-wide garage sale to commit a crime—and frame her good friend Carol. She is definitely on this case…but it’s not easy rummaging through increasingly strange clues that point to cheating spouses, downright dirty investment schemes—even the mob. And Sarah will have to be very careful if she wants to live to bargain another day.

This was a nicely paced drama that abounds in deception in all forms at the Air Force base. Getting the task of organizing the biggest yard sale is a bonus to Sarah that is until small incidents and murder mars the festivities. When her friend is accused, Sarah puts on her amateur sleuth cap to clear her friend’s name. The author does a very good job of pulling me into all aspects of this action-packed drama with a solid plot and a mystery that kept me as entangled in the overall story. Sarah is a determined heroine with a mind of her own and it is evident as her interactions lead her closer to the apprehension of the killer. When this book was read and done, it was a nicely woven work of art where all the puzzling pieces finally fit together like when you score a good bargain and in this case, solve the mystery. An enjoyable read and I look forward to the next adventures with Sarah and her friends.


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

On my Facebook page, I’ve been posting pictures of literary plaques that adorn the streets leading towards the NY Public Library where Patience and Fortitude guards the doors. Located nearby is The Library Hotel that when you enter the threshold, it looks a library with a walled filled with books and the concierge decor reminds of the card catalog of yesteryear. Anyway, next to that is their restaurant and thanks to a friend (SRS) visiting, we dined there for lunch and my dish was delicious.

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

June 29 – July 5, 2015 on dru’s book musings
June 29: Angelo DiNapoli from “Sarah Winston Garage Sale” series by Sherry Harris
June 30: McLean from “As Night Falls” by Jenny Milchman
July 1: Danish Jensen from “Pineapple Cay” series by Junie Coffey
July 2: Thumper from “Black Cat” series by Elaine Faber
July 3: Benjamin Nance Cobb from “Spicing Up Trouble” by Mary Jo Burke
July 4: Fred Fields from “Danger Cove” series by Gin Jones
July 5: Sophie Florine from “Culinary Competition” series by Janel Gradowski

June 22 – June 28, 2015, last week on dru’s book musings
– Juliet Capshaw from “Bakeshop” series by Ellie Alexander
– Jill Gardner from “Tourist Trap” series by Lynn Cahoon
– Roy Agnew from “Southern Spectral” series by Cynthia Lott
– Val Deniston from “Five-Ingredients” series by Maya Corrigan
– Mavis MacDonald from “WISE Enquiries Agency” series by Cathy Ace
– Sophreena McClure from “Family History” series by Brynn Bonner
– Jamie August from “Jamie August” series by Kim Kash

Congratulations to these contest winners –
“Bodice of Evidence” by Nancy J. Parra – Barbara T.
Zoe Donovan’s Wedding Trilogy by Kathi Daley – Annette G.
“The Diva Steals a Chocolate Kiss” by Krista Davis – Jack G.
“Tying The Knot” by Elizabeth Craig – Loni C.
“Operation Stop Hate” by Jessie Chandler – Nora D.
“Operation Stop Hate” by Jessie Chandler – Risa R.
“A Nate To Remember” by Barbara Jean Coast – Nancy F.
“A Nate To Remember” by Barbara Jean Coast – Deb F.
“Seniors Sleuth” by J.J. Chow – Betty G.

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Happy Hour with Jamie August by Kim Kash

Ocean City Cover-upHey, I’m Jamie August. It’s great you could meet me for a drink, and I’m glad you found the place. It’s kind of hard to describe how to get to my favorite watering hole on the Ocean City boardwalk—mostly because the bar is kind of dark and doesn’t seem to have a name. It’s down by the inlet, past the arcade where the Skee Ball lanes are so old that my grandma played ’em when she came down here from Baltimore as a teenager.

First round’s on me. I usually drink Coors Light, but your visit calls for a celebration. I’m trying to decide between a mai tai and a fuzzy navel. Do you want to go on the Haunted House carnival ride later? That’s going to factor into my drink decision. The last time I rode one of those coffin-shaped cars through the spooky, black-lit funhouse I was with my best friend Tammy. She laughed so hard at the skeleton (or is it a zombie?) getting flushed down the toilet that she lost her cookies. She’d been drinking Piña Coladas, so I’m just saying you might want to be careful. Plus, there’s Kohr Brothers Frozen Custard to be had on the boardwalk later, and Thrasher’s fries with vinegar, so don’t fill up too much on those bar peanuts.

I’m kind of obsessed with that Haunted House. In the second Jamie August adventure, Ocean City Cover-up, the Haunted House plays a ghoulish role. There’s a crime spree going on during the height of summer at Maryland’s favorite beach resort. The tourists are getting nervous, and the bodies are piling up. One of ‘em is sprawled by the tracks at the Haunted House, and it’s hours before somebody realizes—hey, that body next to the tracks is not a new Haunted House feature. It’s a real corpse.

Anyway, it’s good that we got here early, before the big crowds arrive for the evening. You may have noticed a lot of interesting accents as you walked down the boards. These days many of Ocean City’s summer workers—you know, cashiers, carnival barkers, cocktail waitresses, Whack-a-Mole attendants—are college kids from Eastern Europe. They come to town for summer work exchange programs. Ocean City Cover-up takes a peek into the world of those summer workers, and one glamorous frozen custard server, in particular, who is not at all what she seems.

When the Russian mafia shows up, and a Billboard Top Ten rap star rolls into OC, the clash of cultures gets a little ridiculous—and very dangerous. I’m a Maryland girl, born and raised in Baltimore. Until I made friends with these summer workers, I didn’t know the difference between Azerbaijan and Abu Dhabi. Certainly I couldn’t have pointed to either of them on a map. All that has changed now. If I spill any more details I’ll spoil Ocean City Cover-up’s many surprises! So, enough said.

Well, okay, I’ll tell you one more thing. I met a guy. Crap, this is the drink talking. Is this really my second mai tai? How’d that happen? Anyway, the guy. I met him around the same time I got tangled up with those summer workers. Really threw a wrench in the works, I gotta say. I was doing fine with my sexy surfer friend-with-benefits. He was fun, he was hot, and he was just a text message away. No fuss, no drama. And then I met Sam, and things got messy, dramatic, and really complicated. I even uttered the “L” word. Oh, man. I don’t know where that whole thing is headed.

So things are different now. I guess I don’t have any more of life’s answers than I ever did, but I sure have a lot more questions. My eyes are open to a much wider world than I had ever before considered. The Old Line State is a beautiful place—I can say that with more confidence now that I’ve seen a little more of the world.

You can read more about Jamie in Ocean City Cover-up, the second book in the “Jamie August” mystery series. The first book in the series is Ocean City Lowdown.

GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 12 a.m. eastern on July 3 for the chance to win a Kindle version of Ocean City Cover-up. The 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.

Meet the author
Kim Kash is a 1991 graduate of the College of Creative Studies at the University of California Santa Barbara. She is the author of two Jamie August mystery novels: Ocean City Lowdown and Ocean City Cover-up, and the best-selling travel guide Ocean City: A Guide to Maryland’s Seaside Resort. She divides her time between Maryland and the Middle East. Which can be weird. Visit Kim at

A Day in the Life of Sophreena McClure by Brynn Bonner

Picture Them DeadSome days I weary of chasing down dead people. They can be cunningly elusive. But I’m good at what I do and I usually get my quarry. And anyhow this is the career I chose and I’m never tempted to give it up.

My name is Sophreena McClure and I’m a genealogist. I help people trace their family histories. Some people think this sounds like a big snooze and it can be if names and dates are all you’re after. But I like to dig deeper and find out about the people who bear those names. Which can be an emotional and enlightening series of revelations to our clients. People tell me they understand a lot more about who they are and how they came to be that way after we investigate their lineage.

My business partner, Esme Sabatier, says I get too emotionally involved, and I suppose she’s right. Esme and I are the odd couple of family historians. I’m in my mid-thirties, Caucasian, small in stature, fashion backward and a card-carrying nerd with a degree in research. Esme is 6 foot plus of latte-toned, 50-something woman who carries herself like royalty, is fashion forward and brooks no nonsense. Plus she has something that all my training can’t give me–the gift. The dead occasionally visit her for a chat. This may seem like a sterling quality to possess in our profession, but the truth is that though on rare occasions it gives us an edge mostly it’s so vague it only complicates things. The dead, it would seem, are not all that articulate.

Esme had been trying to get me to throw in the towel on our present job. We’d been hammering at it for weeks trying to find information on a great-grandmother for our client, Claudia Riggs, but we’d met a brick wall at every turn. Claudia’s beloved grandmother, Nadine, was gravely ill and the one thing she held as a regret in her life was that she’d never been able to discover her own mother’s troubled background. Nadine wanted to know what had happened to her mother to help her understand her own life better and face her end with a peaceful heart.

Which explains why I’d spent hours at Nadine’s bedside asking endless questions to try to pick up a lead. Sometimes people know more than they think and if you ask enough questions a tidbit of info may straggle out like a loose thread on a sweater. Pull it and things get revealed. Yesterday, as the sun was slanting between the blinds and the amber hues of twilight were dancing along the walls I found that loose thread when Nadine asked Claudia to wet the tea, a phrase I’d heard in Ireland.

I’d spent the entire night on the computer pulling at virtual strings to unravel the story. Nadine’s mother, Sophia, had been born in Ireland in the early 1900s to a 17-year-old unwed mother. The mother was deemed unfit solely because the child had been born out of wedlock. The baby, Nadine’s future mother, was taken away and sent to one of the infamous Irish orphanages. This practice was not the finest hour for either the church or the government. The orphanages were little more than workhouses and the children grew up in horrendous conditions.

“I’m sorry I don’t have a more uplifting store to share,” I’d told Nadine and Claudia when I’d visited this morning to tell them what I’d found. When I finished the tale Nadine, who’d been quiet throughout the telling, suddenly let out a sound somewhere between a laugh and a cry.

“This explains so much,” she said, her weak voice filled with both sadness and wonder. “And in a way it is uplifting, Sophreena. My mother overcame so much in her life. You know, I don’t think she ever told even my father any of this.

After all these years of finding skeletons in family closets it always strikes me as incomprehensible that people can live together intimately for years and manage to keep secrets from those they love. But it happens in lots of families. And horrible as Nadine’s mother’s secret was, it wasn’t t the worst I’d encountered.

So, though I get weary of chasing dead people sometimes, today had been worth the long hours of tedious research. Esme opines that it says something about me that I count this outcome as a happy ending, but I know, both personally and professionally, how strong the longing to know who you are and where you come from can be. So the next time a client calls on me I’ll be right there to take on the job of chasing down the dead.

You can read more about Sophreena in Picture Them Dead, the third book in the “Family History” mystery series, published by Pocket Books. The first two books in the series are Paging The Dead and Death In Reel Time.

GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 12 a.m. eastern on July 3 for the chance to win a copy of Paging The Dead and Death In Reel Time. 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.

Meet the author
Brynn Bonner grew up in Alabama and is a long time resident of North Carolina. Both her literary fiction and mysteries reflect the landscapes and the genuine people of her southern heritage. Bonner currently pens the Family History Mystery series for Gallery Books. Writing as Ellen Harris, Bonner wrote six books for the Mysteries of Sparrow Island series published by Guidepost Books. Her short stories have been featured in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, Now and Then, Crossroads, and other publications.

Visit Brynn on Facebook

Meet the Women of the WISE Enquiries Agency by Cathy Ace

The Case of the Dotty DowagerDuring her journey on the number 19 bus from Finsbury Park to Sloane Square, Mavis MacDonald had a lengthy, silent chat with herself about how she enjoyed the company of her three colleagues, but that she was under no illusions about the fact that the WISE Enquiries Agency was facing a challenging time. She was well aware they needed A Serious Chat about their future, and, by the time she alighted at her bus stop, she’d decided that this would be the day for that discussion.

On this particular morning, the stairs from the street to the office were also proving to be a challenge, and Mavis felt all of her sixty-odd years as she tried to maintain a steady pace upward. She told herself she was thankful that Christine Wilson-Smythe’s father, the viscount, had been allowing them to use the office space for almost nothing, but the income just wasn’t, well. . .coming in. She then told herself that was understandable, because Annie Parker had been laid up for some time after being stabbed while in pursuit of a vicious kidnapper a few months back, and Carol Hill – the woman whose computer skills were quite amazing – was happily pregnant.

Mavis smiled as she recollected Carol’s delight when she’d told them all about the baby – Carol and her husband had been trying for so long, and it seemed that their doctor had been right after all; Carol had given up her stressful, high-powered job in the City to join the team and had fallen pregnant within the year. “Good for you, Carol,” thought Mavis as she approached the door to the office. Having two grown sons and now two grandsons herself, she knew how fulfilling family life could be, though she still mourned the loss of her poor, dear husband.

Before she opened the door, Mavis drew herself up to her full five feet and straightened her serviceable navy blue gabardine. It wouldn’t do for the girls – which was how she thought of them, even though Annie was in her fifties and given to the odd bout of unenviable perspiration – to see her looking anything less than her best. Her decades as an army nurse had taught her that appearance matters; to be taken seriously, first one has to take oneself seriously. She was pretty sure there must be an old Scottish saying along those lines, but she couldn’t recall it at that moment.

She hoped there’d be a pot of tea ready, and was pretty confident that both Carol and Annie would already be at their desks. As for Christine? It was difficult to berate her for her lack of punctuality because she was a delightful wee girl. Ah, to be beautiful, rich, titled and in your twenties. . .Mavis envied her, but she was such a bright, happy, and thoughtful person, she just couldn’t find it in herself to be cross with her. Annie Parker on the other hand – now she was a real handful. Like Pooh’s friend Tigger, that was Annie – always bounding about the place, and tripping over her own feet on many an occasion. But also a good woman, at heart. Sharp tongue on her though, and always running off with that cockney rhyming slang nonsense. Mavis tried to keep her under control, but she just wouldn’t be silenced sometimes. No discipline.

Carol was a delight. Pure and simple, a country girl originally, Mavis had warmed to her the day they’d met. Mavis had known a lot of Welsh men and women in the armed forces, and had always been aware of their often-intense intelligence and quick wits – plus their ability to sing or fight at the drop of a hat. Carol was like that, though much more likely to sing than fight, thought Mavis. But with a wee bairn on the way, she might be off and leaving them before they knew it. Then where would they be?

Sighing heavily, Mavis opened the door, ready to face the day. There was Carol, her head bent over her computer, twirling one of her short blonde curls with a finger, and Annie’s tall, angular frame was jerking about on her chair as she battled with the running shoes she wore for her tube journey every morning. No sign of Christine. Not a surprise; she was probably trying to park her Range Rover somewhere. Mavis hooked her practical, short-bobbed hair behind her ears, then unbelted her coat, placing it carefully on a hanger.

The day had begun. She wondered what it would hold for the women of the WISE Enquiries Agency.

You can read more about Mavis and her friends in The Case of the Dotty Dowager, the first book in the NEW “WISE Enquiries Agency” mystery series, published by Severn House Publishers.

GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 12 a.m. eastern on July 3 for the chance to win a signed copy of The Case of the Dotty Dowager. The giveaway is open to U.S. and Canadian 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
Born and raised in Swansea, South Wales, Cathy Ace is the author of the Cait Morgan Mysteries. Her new series is The WISE Enquiries Agency Mysteries – featuring four female professional investigators, one of whom is Welsh, one Irish, one Scottish and one English (hence the acronym). They tackle quirky British cases from their base at a Welsh stately home – the ancient seat of the Twyst family, the Dukes of Chellingworth, set in the rolling countryside of the Wye Valley in Powys, Wales. Cathy now lives in Beautiful British Columbia, where her ever-supportive husband and two chocolate Labradors make sure she’s able to work full-time as an author, and enjoy her other passion – gardening.

Visit Cathy at, on Facebook and on Twitter