A Day in the Life with Ivy Meadows by Cindy Brown

The Sound of MurderI should never do anything pre-coffee.

“It was only a teeny fire,” I told my uncle over the phone. I sat outside on the steps of my apartment complex, watching the Phoenix Fire Department carry equipment out of my second-floor apartment. Black smoke trailed behind them. The air smelled awful, like the time I’d fallen asleep in front of a campfire and melted the bottom of my sneakers. Except this smelled like an entire Nike factory.

“Teeny fire?” Uncle Bob said. “Isn’t that an oxymoron or something?”

“Nah,” I said. “That’s firefighter language for no one got hurt. Right?” I asked an especially cute guy carrying a heavy-looking hose.

“Yep,” he said over his shoulder as he passed me. “Teeny. No one hurt.”

I smiled at him again and watched him descend the stairs. On the back of his firefighter’s helmet was a sticker that said, “Be Nice.”

“Olive,” said my uncle with a sigh. “Stop flirting with firemen and tell me what happened.”

“I’m not entirely sure.” I was not a morning person. “I got up early to go to that meeting you put on my calendar.”

Since acting didn’t always pay the bills (okay, rarely paid the bills), I worked part-time at my uncle’s private investigation business. Right now I was mostly filing and writing reports, but Uncle Bob promised he was going to give me some real detective work soon.

“You got up early?” I could hear the skepticism in my uncle’s voice. “What time?”

“Eight.” There was a pause on the other end. “Ish,” I finished.

“To go to this meeting that starts in…” I could almost see him squint at the old clock on the office wall. “Twenty minutes?”

“Uh huh.”

“Right. Go on.”

“I put the kettle on the stove.” When my old coffeemaker bit the dust, I had replaced it with a French press, a much better fit for my minuscule galley kitchen. “Then I got in the shower.”

Another pause. Then, “You usually do that? Turn on the stove and get in the shower?”

“Sometimes. Then when I get out, the kettle’s boiling and I make coffee. No waiting.” Not only was I not a morning person, I was not a patient person. Especially in the morning. “Since the water was running, I didn’t hear the smoke alarm.”

“That’s why you didn’t hear the alarm? You were in the shower?” said the cute fireman, who was going back up the stairs. I nodded, though it did seem sort of obvious. I was wearing only a towel.

“So you turned on a gas stove, left the room, and put yourself in a situation where you couldn’t see or smell smoke or hear an alarm,” said Uncle Bob. I could tell he was trying to make a point. “And what happened when you got out of the shower?”

“The apartment was full of black smoke. Really nasty. I could taste it.” I scraped the top of my tongue with my front teeth. I knew I probably looked like a dog that just ate peanut butter, but I really wanted the greasy bitter smoke taste out of my mouth.

“Here,” the cute fireman came back and sat down next to me on the stairs, pulling a Day-Glo green bottle of Gatorade from a pocket in his voluminous firemen’s coat. “Helps with that awful taste,” he said, opening the bottle for me. Not only was he chivalrous, he was even better looking up close, with light brown eyes and the longest lashes I’d ever seen. I was wowed and envious at the same time.

“Thanks.” I hiked up my towel, grateful that I’d sprung for the large bath sheet. I twisted open the Gatorade. It was lukewarm, but it did make my mouth taste better. Like pleasant, lemony-limey smoke. The fireman shrugged out of his heavy firefighter’s coat. The t-shirt he wore underneath showed off strong muscled arms. I tried not to stare.

“Olive?” Uncle Bob was still on the line. “Was it really a teeny fire?”

I looked at the big fire truck and the half dozen firefighters going in and out of my apartment. “Yeah,” I replied, sticking with the definition of “no one got hurt.”

“Good. I want you at this meeting. Can you make it?”

“I’ll be there,” I said. “A little late, but I’ll make it.”


I didn’t make it. It wasn’t entirely my fault–the client arrived early and left just a few minutes later. The meeting wasn’t important after all, Uncle Bob said, and I believed him.

We were wrong. That meeting could have saved a man’s life.

You can read more about Ivy in The Sound of Murder, the second book in the “Ivy Meadows” theater mystery series, published by Henery Press. The first book in the series is Macdeath.

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

Meet the author
CindyBrownCindy Brown has been a theater geek (musician, actor, director, producer, and playwright) since her first professional gig at age 14. Now a full-time writer, she’s the author of the Ivy Meadows series, madcap mysteries set in the off, off, OFF Broadway world of theater. Macdeath, Ivy’s first adventure is “a gut-splitting mystery…a hilarious riff on an avant-garde production of the Scottish play” Mystery Scene Magazine). Cindy and her husband live in Portland, Oregon, though she made her home in Phoenix, Arizona, for more than 25 years and knows all the good places to hide dead bodies in both cities. She’d love to connect with you at cindybrownwriter.com (where you can sign up for her Slightly Silly Newsletter) or on Facebook or Twitter.
[photo credit: AJC Photograph]

My Musing ~ The Sound of Murder by Cindy Brown

The Sound of MurderThe Sound of Murder by Cindy Brown is the second book in the “Ivy Meadows” mystery series. Publisher: Henery Press, October 2015

All Ivy Meadows wants is to be an actor. And a private investigator. Plus she’d really like a pair of clean underwear, a place to stay since her apartment burned up, and to overcome her fear of singing in public. Also, she’d really like to knock the socks off the big New York producer who’s coming to Arizona to see her in the world premiere of “The Sound of Cabaret”—featuring singing nuns and Berlin burlesque—at Desert Magic Dinner Theater.

Ivy’s cast mates come through with singing lessons, a pair of granny pants, and a housesitting gig in a retirement community. And her P.I. uncle even assigns her a real case. But all is not raindrops on roses. During her investigation, Ivy clashes with the local posse, stumbles upon a firebug and a snoring pug, and finds herself smack in the sights of a serial senior-killer.

Ivy is an aspiring actress and part-time PI working for her uncle when she is handed her first case and stumbles upon something more sinister. The pacing was very comfortable making it easy to read and follow along in this amusing tale that was hard to put down. The mystery kept me glued to the pages and I enjoyed all facets as each clue got me closer to the killer’s identity with some red herrings meant to deter me from my suspicions. Ivy is a hoot as are the other quirky characters that she interacts with. This was a fun read that had me roaring with laughter with some of the antics that befalls Ivy. Bonus amusement in the title of the musical that that Ivy is performing in…”The Sound of Cabaret“ — too funny. A delightful read and I can’t wait to see what happens next in this amusingly entertaining series.


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

I hope you are enjoying today’s A Triple Boost of Appreciation. Make sure to visit all three blogs that includes Lesa’s Book Critiques and BOLO Books.

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This week on dru’s book musings (10/5 – 10/11)
October 5: Ivy Meadows from ” Ivy Meadows” series by Cindy Brown
October 6: Ruth Clagan from “Clock Shop” series by Julianne Holmes
October 7: Lilah Drake from “Undercover Dish” series by Julia Buckley
October 8: Carmela Bertrand from “Scrapbooking” series by Laura Childs
October 9: Carly Bell Hartwell from “Magic Potion” series by Heather Blake
October 10: Elsie Langton from “Retired Witch” series by Joyce and Jim Lavene
October 11: Sedona O’Hara from “Sedona O’Hara” series by Maria Schneider

Last week on dru’s book musings
– Abigail Mackenzie by Meera Lester
– Savannah Webb by Cheryl Hollon
– Andy Kendricks by Susan McBride
– An’gel Ducote by Miranda James
– Nicki Valentine by Susan O’Brien
– Aimee Machado by Sharon St. George

Congratulations to these contest winners –
“Move Your Blooming Corpse” by D.E. Ireland – Kari C.
“Move Your Blooming Corpse” by D.E. Ireland – Laurie I.
“Move Your Blooming Corpse” by D.E. Ireland – Amy G.
“The Bark Before Christmas” by Laurien Berenson – Eleanor J.
“Spectre Black” by J Carson Black – Sue F.
“Cop Job” by Chris Knopf – Reine C.
“Blood Red” by Wendy Corsi Staub – Becky S.


A Triple Boost of Appreciation

What happens when three established book advocates join forces to call attention to some underappreciated writing? You get this: the start of an occasional feature where Lesa Holstine, Dru Ann Love, and Kristopher Zgorski gather together to highlight books which might have been missed. Thanks to Krisopher who came up with this idea.

In the first post of this type, we have decided to discuss underappreciated series. We determined that we would each choose five of our favorites and share them on each other’s blogs. In order to see the entire list – and why would you not want to see the entire list? – you will have to visit each of the participating blogs.

Visiting dru’s book musings today is Kristopher Zgorski of BOLO Books. Included with each of Kris’ suggestions is a list of the books in the proper order. Let’s see which series Kris thinks we should all check out:

Sandra Brannan – The Liv Bergen Mystery Series
In the belly of jonah

I am starting with this series because it is probably the least well known on my list. I suspect people may be scared away by the religious sounding titles of these books, but they should not be. Sandra Brannan takes more risks than most new authors and that is what makes this series so addictive. For example, the two main characters in the series hardly interact in the first two books and the fourth book reads more like a thriller with a very tight two-day time frame. There is nothing predictable or clichéd about anything in this series. Beyond that, Liv is a character who feels very relatable and readers will find it impossible not to root for her.

In the Belly of Jonah (2010)
Lot’s Return to Sodom (2011)
Widow’s Might (2012)
Noah’s Rainy Day (2013)
Solomon’s Whisper (2015)

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Yrsa Sigadardoitter – The Thóra Gudmundsdóttir Series
Last Rituals

This is the only translated series on my list. Set in Iceland, the crimes in this series are very tied to their country of origin and make for fascinating reading for those of us less familiar with life in Iceland. Thóra is a lawyer and single mother who has a strict moral compass and refuses to see injustices go unpunished. Talking with Yrsa at Malice this year, she informed me that The Silence of the Sea was the final book in Thóra’s journey. I, for one, will certainly miss Thóra. Fortunately, Yrsa’s stand-alone novels are also excellent.

Last Rituals (2007)
My Soul To Take (2009)
Ashes to Dust (2012)
The Day is Dark (2013)
Someone To Watch Over Me (2015)
The Silence of the Sea (2016)

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Sophie Hannah – The Zailer/Waterhouse Series
Little Face

Probably the most well known of the authors on my list, Sophie Hannah has yet to break through in the US market to the level that she deserves. Sophie writes some of the most complex psychological domestic crime dramas out there. Different from other series, Sophie Hannah makes the players in each new case the focus of the novel and has her detectives act as supporting players. Because of this, they read more like stand-alone novels, but the continuing developments in Charlie Zailer and Simon Waterhouse’s relationship do link these novels together. The cases in Sophie Hannah’s books are always convoluted and idiosyncratic; and because of this they become a sort of drug one becomes addicted to. Many of the novels were published under different names in the UK, so check out Sophie Hannah’s webpage for clarification.

Little Face (2007)
The Truth-Teller’s Lie (2008)
The Wrong Mother (2009)
The Dead Lie Down (2010)
Cradle in the Grave (2011)
The Other Woman’s House (2012)
Kind of Cruel (2013)
The Carrier (2014)
Woman with a Secret (2015)

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Michael Robotham – The Joe O’Loughlin Mystery SeriesShatter

Michael Robotham is an Australian author whose reputation continues to grow in the United States. The dates included are from editions released by his current US publisher, Mulholland Books. Joe O’Loughlin is one of my favorite fictional heroes. Joe is a clinical psychologist, but what makes him so unique is that from the first book in the series, Joe is well into his struggle with Parkinson’s disease. As the series progresses, reader watch how this degenerative condition affects both his personal and professional life. The cases he is called in to assist on are unusual and the solutions are always unexpected. There is also a sub-series featuring Joe’s friend Vincent Ruiz which is also well worth checking out.

Shatter (2012)
Bleed For Me (2012)
The Wreckage (2012)
Say You’re Sorry (2013)
Watching You (2014)
Close Your Eyes (forthcoming in US)

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Lauren Henderson – The Scarlett Wakefield Series
kiss me kill me

This choice is different than the others. First off, this is a young adult series. Also, this selection is actually a closed series; the three books that are currently out complete it. Lastly, Lauren Henderson has written one longer story broken into three interconnected novels. What makes this series stand out is Scarlett. Unlike many YA heroines, Scarlett does not fall into any stereotypes. Scarlett is a strong young woman who does not depend on the males in her life. Once reading the set-up for the overarching story, there is no turning back: Scarlett Wakefield has a major crush on Dan McAndrew, but when they share their first kiss and Dan dies in her arms, she finds herself both a pariah in British society and the lead suspect in his murder.

Kiss Me, Kill Me (2008)
Kisses and Lies (2009)
Kiss in the Dark (2010)
Kiss of Death (2011)

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Book Reviewer Kristopher Zgorski is an avid reader devoted to crime fiction who presently works as a Production Coordinator for Johns Hopkins University Press located in Baltimore, Maryland, USA and is also the founder of the mystery and crime fiction book review blog BOLO Books (www.bolobooks.com).

Thank you for stopping by dru’s book musings today. Please journey over to Lesa’s Book Critiques and BOLO Books to explore more of our suggestions.

A Day in the Life of Aimee Machado by Sharon St. George

Checked OutOccupation: Health Sciences Librarian, Timbergate Medical Center, Timbergate, California

When I moved back to Timbergate, my hometown in rural northern California, after earning my Librarian’s degree in New Haven, Connecticut, the first thing I noticed was the absence of tall buildings. Unless you consider a five-story jail a tall building. I don’t. I consider it sad that the major growth industry in Timbergate is crime.

Our next tallest building is the four-story Timbergate Medical Center, where I work. Medicine is our second-largest industry. It gets a hefty share of its business either directly or indirectly from crime: Robberies, exploding meth labs, DUIs, domestic disputes, road rage—I could go on, but it’s depressing.

On balance, the other industry worth mentioning is outdoor recreation, and we have plenty of that. We’re surrounded by snow-capped mountains and abundant lakes for hiking, biking, hunting, fishing, swimming, and skiing.

Speaking of outdoor pastimes, a typical day in my life involves rising early enough to do the morning chores on my grandparents’ llama ranch. That’s where I live, because I’m deep in grad school debt. Helping them out earns me free rent in the small apartment above their llama barn. I feed the llamas and freshen their water before I go to work. I also watch the ranch whenever Amah and Grandpa Jack are traveling, which they do pretty often. They leave me in charge of their eight llamas, an insubordinate cat, a cockatiel, and a pet king snake. Sounds easy, but the snake and the cat both have designs on that little bird. He’s come close to being someone’s dinner more than once.

I’ve lived in the llama barn for several months, since breaking up with my boyfriend, Nick Alexander. Nick is that guy you steer clear of, if you’re smart, because you know every woman wants him. Who needs that kind of competition? But he’s come in handy more than once when I found myself involved in solving a mystery with ties to Timbergate Medical Center. Nick’s a sucker for adventure. He flies corporate jets for a living. To say his boss, Buck Sawyer, is rich, is like saying King Midas has a coin collection. Buck is rolling in it.

What else happens on my typical day? It might be a jujitsu workout at the dojo where my brother, Harry, volunteers as a sensei. We’re both black belts, but his rank is one degree above mine. Harry’s a busy architect. He’s also a bachelor with a full datebook. We’re both Portuguese on our father’s side and Chinese from Mother’s side. It’s a bit of a double-edged sword to be born multi-ethnic, but we’re not complaining. In the gene lottery, we got the best of our parents’ looks and smarts, if I do say so, which makes up for the occasional sidelong glances or outright questions from tactless or unthinking folks who ask, “So what are you?” Harry answers, “I’m an architect.” I say, “I’m a librarian.”

Working as the health sciences librarian at Timbergate Medical Center is the greater part of what I do on a typical day. I’ve spent most of a year upgrading the collection and adding a forensic component. It keeps me pretty busy, but I get a lot of satisfaction out of providing doctors and other health care professionals with the information and resources they need to do their best for our hospital’s patients.

Some of my colleagues still get the wrong idea about my job because of my work with forensic resources. I’m not a crime scene investigator, I’m a librarian! I will admit that what I’ve gleaned about forensics from my work has come in handy a time or two, when a suspicious death involved TMC and the people who work there. I keep hoping there won’t be a next time, because there have been a couple of close calls.

Who knew being a librarian could get you killed?

You can read more about Aimee in Due For Discard and Checked Out, the first two books in the “Aimee Machado” mystery series, published by Camel Press.

About Checked Out

When rodeo cowboy Cody O’Brien is found dead in his horse trailer, it appears that his horse, Game Boy, is the culprit. Aimee Machado, health sciences librarian at Timbergate Medical Center, has no reason to doubt the preliminary finding–not at first. Cody had been in the hospital awaiting an operation the night he died, but he checked himself out. Had he reason to believe his surgeon, Dr. Phyllis Poole, was incompetent? Or is his death related to his complex relationship with his family? It turns out his father is dying, and four people other than Cody stood to inherit: his young trophy wife Echo, his son James, his daughter Keely, and her fiancé Tucker. How does Dr. Poole fit into all this? Her surgical outcomes have not been the best. Not to mention that Laurie Popejoy, TMC nurse and Poole’s rival in the hospital’s blues combo, disappeared the night of Cody’s death.

Aimee is highly motivated to investigate. She once had a crush on Cody’s brother James, who has now set his sights on her. The missing nurse, Laurie, left Aimee a desperate phone message the night she disappeared. Moreover, Aimee’s friend and co-worker Cleo has elicited her help to discredit Dr. Poole.

Aimee is already confused romantically. Although it pains her, she is trying to keep Nick, the pilot she loves but does not trust, at arm’s length. But his help proves too invaluable to refuse. Can Aimee ferret out the truth without losing her job and her life?

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Meet the author
Sharon St. George is a member of Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America. She serves as program director for Writers Forum, a nonprofit organization for writers in Northerm California. For more about Sharon, go to www.sharonstgeorge.com.