The Cat, The Vagabond and The Victim by Leann Sweeney

The cat, the vagabond the victimThe Cat, The Vagabond and The Victim by Leann Sweeney is the sixth book in the “Cats in Trouble” mystery series. Publisher: Obsidian, August 2014

Heir of the cat…

When Clyde the cat travels two hundred miles back home only to find his former owner dead, the story makes national news. While everyone seems eager to tell Clyde’s incredible tale, someone needs to step up to care for him. Because the media attention is creating chaos at the local shelter, cat quilter Jillian Hart agrees to foster the loyal orange tabby, hoping his location is kept secret.

But while the media circus around Clyde continues, Jillian learns the real story behind his owner’s death—he was murdered. Why would an eldery man already dying from a serious illness become a murder victim? As the local police search for an answer, Clyde makes another escape. Jillian is drawn into the case when she finds Clyde has returned to his home again—and he’s found another body. When the motive behind these murders is finally revealed, Jillian understands Clyde is in danger of becoming the next victim, and she must help find the killer before the claws really come out.

Leann continues to deliver a dynamic and light whodunit that always leaves me filled with warmth towards a diverse cast of characters that engaged and entertained me from the first page to a finale that I wanted to re-live over and over again. The tone was very comfortable and refreshing and I liked how easily the chapters flowed from one scene to the next in this mystery were the suspects were few with some surprises that culminated in an ending that picked up speed as the story came to a close. The small town atmosphere adds to the warmth of this character-driven drama as well as the dialogue between Jillian and those she encounters. This is the best one yet and I’m thrilled there is another book forthcoming in this delightfully charming series.

A Day in the Life with Riley Cooper by Stacy Allen

Expedition IndigoHello. I am Dr. Riley Cooper. Riley. It is a sincere pleasure to meet you. I teach Archaeology and Mediterranean History & Trade at Boston College. I live in a house I inherited from my maternal grandmother, and where I grew up from the age of fourteen. My parents, professional photographers, were killed in a plane crash in the Sahara desert. Sometimes they seem so close to me I swear I can smell my father’s woodsy aftershave, or my mother’s delicate blend of Dove, bath powder and Joy parfum.

On my last day with Mom & Dad, we ate breakfast before sunrise. They had hired a plane. They were going to shoot aerials of The Valley of Kings. I was feeding baby goats behind our rented home when the caretaker’s wife came in, whooshed me to my room and allowed me only one small bag of clothes. I was put on a plane to Boston, and was simply told my parents were dead. It’s been twenty-four years, and I am still in a state of numbed acceptance.

I was told to keep my grief to myself. Grandmother had no use for a cry-baby. I did what I was told. I always do what I am told. Grandmother was no-nonsense.

With two deaths so close together (my grandfather had died only months before my mother) she become stern. Not a soft edge anywhere. I was in the throes of adolescence and that was a recipe for disaster. I struggled with the adjustment. I did my best to win her over. I just couldn’t manage it. She was rigid and controlling. There were no spontaneous trips, no carefree afternoons doing next-to-nothing. I became obsessive-compulsive, and while people who know me find it humorous, I find it annoying and a gigantic pain in the ass. There are many times when I hate myself because I can’t be any other way. Things have to be a certain way or I can’t even think. It is crippling at times, especially if I am interacting with other people who just regard me as a carnival act.

Trying to work and socialize and move through the world of the normal person is extremely exhausting to me, and I hide it as best I can. But people close to me know how I am and for the most part they are understanding.

Swimming was my one solace. I had always been a strong, skilled swimmer, and my grandmother, in her one act of kindness, allowed me to join a swim team. I made friends easily, and I was at an age where friends were critical. I couldn’t talk to my grandmother about anything except social obligations, etiquette, and proper, lady-like pursuits such as playing classical piano or working on fund raisers for every charity known to man.

I had no interest in playing piano under a spotlight at the Met. That was my grandmother’s vision. She was not pleased I chose archaeology for my life’s work.

I taught at Arizona State until Grandmother died. Returning to Boston, I reunited with Dr. Peter MacAbee, my Doctorate adviser from Arizona, who was now as Boston College. He offered me a professorship and I jumped. I have been here ten years. I was about to become as Interim Dean, but now I am packing my bags for Italy!

I am joining with UnderWaterSeaAdventures – UWSA – as their Team Archaeologist for Expedition Indigo. We have located a shipwreck off the coast of Sorrento, close to Capri. After reading through some pages of an old journal, I am convinced that the Indigo was carrying trunks of personal as well as state belongings of Charlemagne, First Holy Roman Emperor.

The lead Dive Master, Stefano Abruzzi, and I have grown very close. I can’t wait to see him again. He’s Italian, gorgeous, charming, he makes me feel like I am the only woman in the universe. I think I have found the man I want to spend the rest of my life with. We are going to have a blast working together.

I have never dived in the deep ocean before. The Big Blue. I’ve never lived on a research vessel. That is, not for months at a time. And it won’t all be smooth sailing. We’re going to have some trouble from an unsavory character named is François Gustain. He’s really bad news.

I hope you follow along as we head to Italy and excavate the Indigo from the depths of the sea. I hope I make it interesting for you. Please drop me a line at and let me know how you are and if you have any questions about our expedition. I’d love to hear from you!

You can read more about Riley in Expedition Indigo, the first book in the new “Riley Cooper” mystery series, published by Fiery Seas Publishing.

GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 6 p.m. eastern on August 21 for the chance to win a copy of EXPEDITION INDIGO. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only, unless specified.

Meet the author
Stacy’s passion for adventure has taken her to five continents to explore over fifty countries. Stacy also plays guitar and sings, when she isn’t traveling around the world in search of new locales and new stories.

Stacy served on the Board of Trustees of the Pacific Northwest Writers Association, the Pacific Northwest Mystery Writers of America chapter, and currently serves as Vice President of the Southeast Mystery Writers of America (SEMWA) chapter. She is represented by Jill Marr of Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency. She lives in Georgia with her husband and a very large house cat named Valentino.

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Expedition Indigo by Stacy Allen

Expedition IndigoExpedition Indigo by Stacy Allen is the first book in the new “Riley Cooper” mystery series. Publisher: Fiery Seas Publishing, August 2014

Archaeologist Riley Cooper is offered the chance of a lifetime: a chance to find the Crux Fidelis, the coronation cross of Charlemagne. Under Water Sea Adventures members believe they have found remains of the Indigo, a heavily laden cargo ship commissioned by Charlemagne and presumed lost on its maiden voyage off the coast of southern Italy in the early 800s. If Riley can find the cross, it will prove Charlemagne’s coronation as the First Holy Roman Emperor by Pope Leo III on Christmas Day had not been a spontaneous act, but rather a desperate political maneuver by a Pope in need of protection.

When Riley joins UWSA off the coast of Sorrento, Italy, tensions and tempers fly as a competing team arrives in search of the treasure and an approaching hurricane gains strength and heads straight toward the dive site. And when one of the crew is murdered, Riley must find the strength to fight back and keep the treasure out of the other team’s hands.

I like it. This was a nicely paced drama that the more I read, the more I became involved in the storyline that started in the States and ended on an oceanic dive in the Mediterranean filled with the intrigue of a treasure yet to be discovered as Riley Cooper explored nature’s beauty. The unfolding exploits kept me glued to the pages and that one twist that I did not see coming, made the story even more exciting as I had to know how it was all going to play out in the end. The author did a great job in visually describing each scene, putting me right in the middle of all the action as the frantic search and recovery hasten the plot to a crescendo above the ocean floor. The was a great read and I look forward to more exciting adventures with Riley.

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

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

August 18: Expedition Indigo by Stacy Allen
August 19: Dead Stock by Tim Hall
August 20: Bewitching Boots by Joyce & Jim Lavene
August 21: Dead on Her Feet by Lisa Fernow
August 22: Crooked Numbers by Tim O’Mara
August 23: Death by Devil’s Breath by Kylie Logan

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

Recent contest winners

  • Well Read, Then Dead by Terrie Moran – Becky P.
  • Death of a Crabby Cook by Penny Pike – Yifat C.
  • The Cat, The Vagabond and The Victim by Leann Sweeney – Cynthia B.
  • Death, Taxes, and Silver Spurs by Diane Kelly – Nancy F.
  • Cozy Food edited by Nancy Lynn Jarvis – Cynnara T.
  • Taken In by Elizabeth Lynn Casey – Alicia F.
  • If Catfish Had Nine Lives by Paige Shelton – Kari C.

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Remains of Innocence by J.A. Jance

Remains of InnocenceRemains of Innocence by J.A. Jance is the 16th book in the “Joanna Brady” suspense series. Publisher: William Morrow, July 2014

Sheriff Joanna Brady must solve two perplexing cases that may be tied together in New York Times bestselling author J. A. Jance’s thrilling tale of suspense that brings to life Arizona’s Cochise County and the desert Southwest in all its beauty and mystery.

An old woman, a hoarder, is dying of emphysema in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. In cleaning out her house, her daughter, Liza Machett, discovers a fortune in hundred dollar bills hidden in the tall stacks of books and magazines that crowd every corner.

Tracing the money’s origins will take Liza on a journey that will end in Cochise County, where Sheriff Joanna Brady is embroiled in a personal mystery of her own. A man she considers a family friend is found dead at the bottom of a hole in a limestone cavern near Bisbee. And now there is the mystery of Liza and the money. Are the two disparate cases connected? It’s up to Joanna to find out.

When a beloved friend is found dead, suspicions abound and it will take careful police work to uncover the truth behind his death. Meanwhile another death befalls Cochise County and again, Joanna and her team will pull out everything necessary to close this case before another body turns up…dead.

This book was great and I love the fast-paced and action filled drama that kept me riveted to the pages as I had to know what happens next. The mystery was well done and I liked the style in which each chapter was presented taking us closer to the finale. The author did a great job in keeping the suspense fresh with some surprising twists that I did not see coming. Joanna is one of my favorite characters and is surrounded by a great ensemble cast of characters. This series continues to get better and better like fine wine and I’m looking forward to my next visit to Bisbee, Arizona.

Margaret Truman’s Undiplomatic Murder by Donald Bain

Undiplomatic MurderMargaret Truman’s Undiplomatic Murder by Donald Bain is the second book in the “Capital Crimes” series. Publisher: Forge, July 2014

Private investigator Robert Brixton has always hated Washington. Against his better judgment, he decides to stick around and take a job as an agent in a new State Department security agency headed by his former boss at the Washington P.D. After work one day he meets his youngest daughter, Janet, for a drink at an outdoor cafe. Shockingly, a young Arabic woman blows herself up, killing Janet and a dozen others. Seeking revenge for his daughter, Brixton follows the tracks of the bomber to a powerful senator’s son.

Brixton finds himself digging deep into what turns out to be a small but powerful cabal whose goal is to kill embassy workers from nations involved in the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan. Donald Bain thrills again with Undiplomatic Murder, the riveting next installment in the Margaret Truman’s beloved Capital Crimes series.

I’m getting back to this series and I like it. The action is pulsatingly fast and the drama kept my adrenaline at a premium as I advanced towards the conclusion in this terrific read that quickly became a page-turner. The author did a great job in providing plenty of twists and turns that ratcheted the suspense and intrigue up several notches. The dialogue was engaging and the nation’s capital added to the thrill in this explosively riveting novel. I look forward to the next on in the series.