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

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

September 22: Embellished to Death by Christina Freeburn
September 23: Wouldn’t It Be Deadly by D.E. Ireland
September 24: Forty & Out by Cyndi Pauwels
September 25: Cypher by Cathy Perkins
September 26: Murder at Marble House by Alyssa Maxwell
September 27: Not A Chance in Helen by Susan McBride

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

  • The Wolfe Widow by Victoria Abbott
  • The Coniston Case by Rebecca Tope
  • The Counterfeit Lady by Kate Parker
  • The Skeleton Takes a Bow by Leigh Perry
  • Hard Return by J. Carson Black
  • Lost Legacy by Annette Dashofy

Recent contest winners

  • The Corpse with the Emerald Thumb by Cathy Ace – Mary B.
  • Of Merlot and Murder by Joni Folger – Barbara G.
  • The Wolfe Widow by Victoria Abbott – Beverly G.
  • Headlines in High Heels swag pack – Sally S.

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

A Day in the Life of Pete Adams by Annette Dashofy

LOST LEGACYOccupation: Chief of Police for Vance Township, Pennsylvania

Most people see the title “Chief of Police” and assume I spend my day in my office, supervising my officers and doing paperwork. Not true. Not in my case. We don’t have the budget or the manpower for me to have the luxury of sitting on my—um—backside all day. From 8:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m., I’m the officer on duty. The only officer. At least Vance Township has police coverage 24 hours a day. A lot of local municipalities around here can’t claim that.

I arrive at the station about an hour early as a rule. Gives me time to make some coffee. I miss the days when Sylvia Bassi was my secretary. No matter how early I arrived, she’d already be there with a fresh pot brewed. The young woman who replaced Sylvia is competent enough, and I can count on her being here a few minutes before eight. But as for the coffee? I’m on my own. Note to the powers-that-be at Starbucks: Have you considered opening a franchise in Dillard? I’d be a regular.

Last night, Officer Seth Metzger worked the midnight shift. He rolls in from patrol about 7:30 and we sit and discuss anything I need to know about the calls he handled overnight. This morning that amounts to a report of a prowler over on Covered Bridge Road—Seth checked it out and didn’t find anything, but I’ll head over there later and talk to the neighbors—and several reports of kids driving around and bashing mailboxes up on Ridge Road. I have a sneaking suspicion who those kids are and will pay a visit to their parents first thing.

Most days life here is quiet. Oh, we have our fair share of crime, but it’s rarely anything like what I had to deal with when I worked with the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police. I like the slower pace, except when we do have a big case, I don’t have access to the crime lab like we had there. There’s this young hotshot Monongahela County detective who takes entirely too much pleasure in stepping in and taking over those cases, claiming to be “helping.” What makes him really maddening is—damn it—he’s good. Then again, I trained him.

By 8:30, I’m ready to head out on patrol with plans to follow up on those overnight calls. I’ll touch base with you later.

Noon. I think I solved the case of the prowler. A masked bandit. With four feet. Yeah, a raccoon was raiding trashcans making a racket and a mess. No arrest was made. As for the kids and the mailboxes? Neither the parents nor the kids were admitting to anything. But from the looks on their faces when I pointed out tampering with mailboxes constitute a federal offense, they were guilty as hell. Hopefully I scared them straight by quoting the penalties for such foolishness.

Now I’m grabbing some lunch at Parson’s Roadhouse, a not-so-well-kept secret. It’s not on the main drag, by any means, but the parking lot is always full. I admit, I had hoped Zoe would be here. Zoe Chambers. She’s a local paramedic and deputy coroner. We’re…friends. Just friends. Her idea. But considering my history with women is almost as bad as hers with men, that might be for the best. Still, a fellow can dream, can’t he?

Anyhow, she’s not here. So I eat alone.

I may not spend all my day doing paperwork, but I do have to work on some reports after lunch. Have I mentioned I hate paperwork? There have been days I’ve let someone off with a stern warning, not just because I’m a nice guy and the idiot wasn’t likely to be a repeat offender. But because I didn’t want to have to write up a report. If you repeat that, I’ll deny it.

Around 3:00 I head back out to make another pass through the township before my shift ends. As quitting time nears, it looks like a storm is brewing. Maybe I’ll get home before the clouds open up. Uh-oh. My secretary Nancy has just radioed me. Earl Kolter, Zoe’s partner on the ambulance, called in a request for police. Dead body. A hanging. Damn. Responding with lights and sirens…

And if you’re interested in what Pete finds when he responds to this call, pick up Lost Legacy, the second book in the “Zoe Chambers” mystery series, published by Henery Press, available now. The first book in the series is Circle of Influence.

GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 6 p.m. eastern on September 24 for the chance to win a copy of LOST LEGACY. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only.

About the author
Annette Dashofy, a Pennsylvania farm gal born and bred, grew up with horses, cattle, and chickens. After high school, she spent five years as an EMT for the local ambulance service, giving her plenty of fodder for her Zoe Chambers mystery series including Circle Of Influence (Henery Press, March 2014) and Lost Legacy (Henery Press, September 2014). Her short fiction, including a 2007 Derringer nominee, has appeared in Spinetingler, Mysterical-e, Fish Tales: the Guppy Anthology, and Lucky Charms: 12 Crime Tales.

You can visit Annette at her website, on Twitter or on Facebook

A Day in the Life of Cyril Landry by J. Carson Black

Hard ReturnLandry likes San Clemente California well enough for now–a small town tucked inside a large sprawling chain of cities and freeways—quickly accessible to airports and freeways out of L.A. When he came here, the first thing he did was look up the famous natives of San Clemente. It was disappointing. Yes, there was Dick Nixon’s Western White House. The other famous people: Lon Cheney and Lon Cheney Jr; Cara Fawn—a porn star—and Carl Karcher, the guy who founded the restaurant chain Carl’s Jr. Not very auspicious. You’d think San Clemente could have done better than that.

Landry likes the bustle of the California town: surfers, baby boomers, beach bums, working stiffs, Maserati-owners, chefs, charter boat captains, and the younger families who came from the bland neighborhoods across the San Diego Freeway where houses measure more in square feet than originality. Landry doesn’t like the fact that there are more of these houses every day, perched on the buff and gray hills like Monopoly hotels. But who is he to judge? The Millennials make good money. Landry sees them coming in to town for dinner and shopping with their spacious SUVS and collapsible strollers and very cute offspring.

He likes the fact that he can walk among them, unnoticed. He blends in, just another beach bum/surfer type. His long hair has gold streaks in it, which he applied himself. A beard covers half his face. Every picture tells a story and he has made his own story. Even his car, a 2000 Subaru Outback, fits the mold—middle-aged surfer drop-out.

He rents a seventies-era bungalow on Avenida de la Estrella, a short walk up the hill from the main drag and the pier and the ocean. His new passion is paddle-boarding.

He’s retired.

Del Mar Thoroughbred Club is a short drive up the freeway. He could watch his brother’s racehorses run, but he wouldn’t be able to go to the barns. He can’t drive in through the horsemen’s gate—no license. To apply for one, he’d have to be fingerprinted.

Worse, he would be recognized. He’s dead. He’s fish-food in Florida, and plans to keep it that way.

As he walks up the steps to his bungalow, his OnStar beeper sounds. He ignores it, scanning the pocket yard, looking at every potential hiding place, his roof and the roof next door. He ducks under the banana tree and, key ready, eyeballs the pebble he’d set on the middle of the doorstep: still in place. Only then does he unlock the door.

Inside the bungalow, Landry makes a visual sweep of the room—the configuration of the furnishings. Everything looks the way he left it. He eyeballs the kitchen alcove. Nothing has been touched.

He takes the hallway to his bedroom and opens the walk-in closet, where he keeps his “run bag.” His run bag is packed for a moment’s notice: shampoo and bath soap, pain meds, first aid, an extra phone battery, a suit and a dress shirt laid out and folded neatly, dress shoes and socks, work boots, jeans, a baseball cap, and an emergency medical kit. Twist-tie plastic cuffs, a Scarab OTF knife, and loaded magazines. There is also a burner cell phone. Walking back to the living room, he punches in the number for the answering service and enters his security code.

As he waits, he stands inside the doorway looking out at the patch of ocean off to the north. The air, redolent of the ocean, blows past him, fluttering the banana tree leaves. The sky has turned the color of a red plum. It would be a nice night to sit out on the terrace with a beer.

The message plays: a female voice.

“I’m at an old Circle K outside Branch, New Mexico. Mile Marker 138. I need you to come get me. Hurry.”

He tries the number. The phone rings but there is no answer–

He’ll need his run bag.

You can read more about Cyril in Hard Return, the second book in the “Cyril Landry” thriller series, published by Thomas & Mercer. The first book in the series is The Shop.

GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 6 p.m. eastern on September 24 for the chance to win either a print copy or kindle copy of HARD RETURN, winner’s choice.  Print copy is U.S. residents only; kindle copy open to everyone.

Meet the author
Hailed by bestselling author T. Jefferson Parker as “a strong new voice in American crime fiction,” J. Carson Black has written fourteen novels. Her thriller, The Shop, reached #1 on the Kindle Bestseller list, and her crime thriller series featuring homicide detective Laura Cardinal became a New York Times and USA Today bestseller. Although Black earned a master’s degree in operatic voice, she was inspired to write a horror novel after reading The Shining. She lives in Tucson, Arizona.

Visit J. Carson at her website, on Twitter and on Facebook.

A Day in the Life with Sid the Skeleton by Leigh Perry

The Skeleton Takes a BowYou probably think that being a walking, talking skeleton is the best gig imaginable. I can stay up all night, I never need bathroom breaks, and I can’t have weight problems. But there are a couple of downsides. One is having to share a house with Byron, an Akita who eyes me far too covetously whenever he sees me. But the dog I can handle. What I don’t like is that I don’t get out of the house much.

Hard though you may find this to believe, a lot of people freak out when they see me. Though the literature says the condition is rare, there are a surprising number of cartilogenophobics around the town of Pennycross, Mass. Or maybe it’s necrophobia, because technically, I am dead, but you’d think my being both ambulatory and extremely personable would chase that fear away. But some people still find me threatening, even when I smile my biggest smile and reach out to give them a big hug. So in deference to their issues, I stay at home a lot more than I’d like.

Recently, however, I happened upon a place I could go out and about without anybody blinking an eye. In fact, people seemed happy to see me. They laughed, they sent their children over to hug me, they posed for selfies. Admittedly, for some reason people kept calling me Jack Skellington instead of Sid, but that’s a small price to pay for such a warm welcome.

I’d share some of the pictures they took, but Georgia, my best pal and housemate, says I should keep it quiet that I went to this world-famous vacation spot. Something about not being able to sneak me in again. All I can say is that it’s the happiest place on earth.

Of course, I can’t go to Dis—to that wonderful “world” every weekend. That’s why Madison, Georgia’s daughter and my other housemate, and I came up with the brilliant idea of hiding me in plain sight. On stage, in fact. I’m going to star in a play at Madison’s high school!

Okay, maybe starring is exaggerating a bit, but I will be in a featured role. I’m going to be in Hamlet as Yorick, of “alas, poor Yorick” fame. Unfortunately, I don’t have any lines, and only my skull will be involved, but it’s a start. Madison reminds me that there are no small parts, and actually, my skull is one of the bigger parts of my frame, whether or not it’s the biggest part in the play.

When I’m not in rehearsal, I get to hang around backstage, which is great! I’ve been hearing about all the hot games, the best movies, the funniest cat videos on YouTube. And the gossip! Since I don’t actually remember being alive, I’d never realized that most high school happens off stage, not on.

So for the past couple of weeks, my daily routine has been to get up in the morning and help Georgia and Madison fix breakfast, then plop my skull into a bag for Madison to carry to school. I spend the first part of the day in her locker, listening in and peering out through the vents, and after classes are over, Madison takes me to rehearsal. Once that’s over, it’s back home again. I just hope she doesn’t forget to pick me up one day.

It is a little weird not having the rest of my bones around. If I were to hear anything requiring manly action—like a fire alarm or a theft in progress—I wouldn’t be able to do anything but yell. Still, what are the chances of that happening? How likely is it that anybody would, for instance, commit murder in a high school auditorium?


PS – Now that I think about it, Georgia only said I couldn’t post photos taken of me at that place I went for fun. This, however, isn’t a photo—it’s a drawing by the soon-to-be-famous artist Maggie Kelner. I can’t help it if you figure out where it is we went. (I’d totally be winking right now if I had eyelids. Or eyes.)

You can read more about Sid in The Skeleton Takes a Bow, the second book in the “Family Skeleton” mystery series, published by Berkley Prime Crime. The first book in the series is A Skeleton in the Family.

GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 6 p.m. eastern on September 23 for the chance to win a copy of either THE SKELETON TAKES A BOW or A SKELETON IN THE FAMILY, winner’s choice. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only.

About the author
Leigh Perry is Toni L.P. Kelner in disguise, or maybe vice versa. As Toni, she’s published eight books in the Laura Fleming Southern Mystery series and three novels in the “Where are they now?” series; written a couple of dozen short stories, many of which were nominated for awards; and co-edited seven urban fantasy anthologies. As Leigh, she’s still a newbie. The Skeleton Takes a Bow, a September 2014 release from Berkley Prime Crime, is the second in the Family Skeleton series, and Leigh is hard at work on the third. No matter who she is, she lives north of Boston with her husband, fellow author Stephen P. Kelner; their two daughters; two guinea pigs; and many many books.

Visit Toni at her website, on Twitter or on Facebook

Murder with a Twist by Allyson K. Abbott

Murder With a TwistMurder with a Twist by Allyson K. Abbott is the second book in the “Mack’s Bar” mystery series. Publisher: Kensington, August 2014

The regulars at Mack’s Bar love putting their heads together to solve a good mystery. But Mack is learning there’s a big difference between barroom brain teasers and real-life murder…Milwaukee bar owner Mackenzie “Mack” Dalton has a unique neurological condition that gives her extra perceptive senses, and police detective Duncan Albright is convinced Mack’s abilities can be used to help catch crooks. Mack may be at pro at mixing drinks, but she’s still an amateur when it comes to solving crimes – and she’s not sure she should mix business with pleasure by working with a man who stirs up such strong feelings in her. At her first crime scene – a suspicious suicide – she experiences a heady cocktail of mixed sensations and emotions that make her question whether police work is right for her. But when Duncan asks her to help find a kidnapped child, she knows she has to give it a shot.

This was very enjoyable read. It definitely was a murder with a twist, especially when the murder case turned a corner and I immediately knew an underlining hand was behind the disappearance and murder, which came to a head when it all played out. The author did a great job delivering an exciting and engaging whodunit that entertained me from beginning to end. Overall, this was a wonderful book, but the ending left me a bit disappointed and sad and I hope the one story arc gets back on track in the next book.

Investigating with Georgia Fenchurch by Kate Parker

The Counterfeit LadyHi, I’m Georgia Fenchurch and I’d like to show you a typical day in my current investigation. Kate Parker tells you all about the murder and theft in The Counterfeit Lady, but I’d like to tell you what I went through to solve those crimes.

I’m a bookshop owner, but as part of my work with the Archivist Society, I had to abandon my bookshop to play a widow who’s won the heart of the Duke of Blackford. The bookshop is my only source of income; I didn’t like handing its operation over to fellow Archivist Society members. I rose early before the day began in my role as an upper-class lady to check on Fenchurch’s Books. Today, I discovered the newly arrived gothic novel, The Ruined Castle by Mrs. Hepplewhite, hadn’t been put out for sale. My customers were furious! No reader wants to wait for new books from their favorite authors.

After I solved that problem, the Duke of Blackford arrived on his way to look for a man believed to be the man in the sketch of a burglar. Could the investigation end so easily? I went along and spoke to the burglar’s prostitute sister, but the duke’s men didn’t catch the burglar.

Then I began my day as a wealthy widow, paying calls on society women when I’d rather take a nap in this terrible summer heatwave. I returned to the rented house that was part of my disguise, only to meet up with the Duke again. He had two surprises for me.

He brushed my words aside. “I won’t be her anything. Now, we need to keep an eye on them. Or rather, you do. I’m too obviously involved in the hunt for the blueprints. So we’ll be leaving Friday morning for a stay at Lord Harwin’s.”

“We will what?”

The maid entered with the tea tray as I shrieked out the last word. She looked from me to the duke with widened eyes, but she set down the tray without spilling and fled the room, shutting the door quietly as she left.

“I suspected you’d need heavily sugared tea,” Blackford said as he fixed a cup and handed it to me.

I took a sip. It was sugary, but it revived me from a state of sputtering disbelief to full blown fury. “How did you manage to get us invited?”

“I applied economic and social pressure. Lord Harwin enjoys my help in finding the best investments for his dwindling fortune, and Lady Harwin enjoys mentioning the presence of a duke at her home. Then I simply invited the three of us, and your maid and my valet, to stay with the Harwins for a few days. Don’t worry. They have plenty of room. “

Was no one immune to Blackford’s charm and power? “How long are we going to be there?”

“Four or five days. Phyllida will of course go with us, as will your maid, Emma.”

I set down the cup with a clatter. “Who’s going to manage the bookshop?”

“Whoever’s managing it now.”

“Emma and I are spending our mornings there, taking care of problems.” Such as not shelving The Ruined Castle.

“I wondered why you looked so exhausted. Ladies are supposed to sleep all morning.”

“I’m not a lady. Remember?”

“It’s too late to back out now, Georgina.” He stressed my assumed name.

And then, if that weren’t enough for one day, he told me how I’d spend my evening. We’d be at the Royal Albert Hall in very illustrious company.

“Oh, he’ll come to us. Everyone will. I’ve invited Lord and Lady Salisbury to sit in our box. They accepted.”

My gulp of tea lodged painfully halfway down my throat. I managed to swallow without choking and said, “You’ve invited the Prime Minister and his wife to sit with us? I have to perform as Mrs. Monthalf in front of the Prime Minister?”

He smiled. “Think of this as playing your role on a larger stage.”

“What’s next? Dining with the Queen?”

“No. That wouldn’t help with the investigation.”

Dear heavens. He was serious.

Read about the rest of Georgia’s investigation in The Counterfeit Lady, the second book in the “Victorian Bookshop” mystery series, published by Berkley Prime Crime, on sale now. The first book in the series is The Vanishing Thief.

GIVEAWAY: One autographed copy of THE COUNTERFEIT LADY will go to a winner in the US or Canada when a comment is left by 6 p.m. eastern on September 22.

About the author
After many false starts, Kate Parker has found her dream job writing mysteries in bygone London. When she returns to reality, she’s on the Carolina coast. She can be found at www.KateParkerbooks.com, on Twitter or on Facebook.

Nightmares Can Be Murder by Mary Kennedy

Nightmares Can Be MurderNightmares Can Be Murder by Mary Kennedy is the first book in the new “Dream Club” mystery series. Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime, September 2014

Dream Team
Business consultant Taylor Blake has returned to Savannah, Georgia, to help her sister Allison turn her dream of running an old-fashioned candy store into a reality. Allison is also interested in dream interpretation and invites Taylor to her Friday night Dream Club, where members meet once a week to share and analyze their dreams.

When a local dance instructor, Chico Hernandez, is found dead in his studio, and the murder scene has an eerie resemblance to one of the dreams shared at their meeting, Taylor can’t help but be intrigued. And when her sister, who was briefly involved with the dance teacher, becomes the prime suspect, Taylor and their fellow club members can’t be caught napping. It’s up to them to dream up a solution to the murder before Allison faces a real-life nightmare.

I enjoyed this evenly paced drama immensely with its creative use of dream interpretation expertly woven into this well-executed storyline. The tone was comfortable putting me right in the middle of the action and the ease at the storytelling flowed beautifully from scene to scene as we got to know a little bit about the members of this ensemble cast. The author did a great job in planting clues that pointed at each member of this group as well as those who interacted with them, as to motive warranted enough to kill, and it was the way the author flushed out the culprit that kept me glued to the prize of the killer’s identity. Boasting great dialogue and the most charming setting of Savannah, Georgia, this was a great read and I look forward to more sweet times with Taylor, Ali and their friends.