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.

October 2014 Books

OctRel

Week of October 1
Close to the Bone by Lisa Black – Theresa MacLean #7
Louise’s Blunder by Sarah R. Shaber – Louise Pearlie #4
Stages of Grey by Clea Simon – Dulcie Schwartz #8

Week of October 5
Death of a Blue Blood by Donald Bain – Murder She Wrote #42
One Potion in the Grave by Heather Blake – Magic Potion Mystery #2
Catwalk by Sheila Webster Boneham – Animals in Focus #3
A Crafty Christmas by Mollie Cox Bryan – Cumberland Creek #5
Gossamer Ghost by Laura Childs – Scrapbooking #12
Picked to Die by Sheila Connolly – Orchard #8

Bless Her Dead Little Heart by Miranda James – Southern Sisters *New series*
A Midwinter’s Tail by Sofie Kelly – Magical Cats #6
The Legend of Sleepy Harlow by Kylie Logan – League of Literary Ladies #3
Weave of Absence by Carol Ann Martin – Weaving #3
Off Kilter by Hannah Reed – Scottish Highlands *New series*
Murder Off the Beaten Path by M.L. Rowland – Search and Rescue #2

An Intimate Murder by Stacy Verdick Case – Catherine O’Brien
The Question of the Missing Head by E. J. Copperman – Asperger *New series*
Dick Francis’s Damage by Felix Francis – #4
Ghost Wanted by Carolyn Hart – Bailey Ruth Ghost #5
The Old Deep and Dark by Ellen Hart – Jane Lawless #22
Death of a Christmas Caterer by Lee Hollis – Hayley Powell #5
Black Thursday by Linda Joffe Hull – Mrs. Frugalicious Shopping #2
Spectrum by Alan Jacobson – Karen Vail #6

Lost Under a Ladder by Linda O. Johnston – Superstition *New series*
Demon Summer by G.M. Malliett – Max Tudor #4
Finding Sky by Susan O’Brien – Nicki Valentine *New series*
Truth Be Told by Hank Phillippi Ryan – Jane Ryland #3
Deadline by John Sandford – Virgil Flowers #8
Dead Broke in Jarrett Creek by Terry Shames – Samuel Craddock #3
Trick or Deadly Treat by Livia J. Washburn – Fresh-Baked #9
Desert Rage by Betty Webb – Lena Jones #8
Paris Match by Stuart Woods – Stone Barrington #31

Week of October 12
The Corpse with the Platinum Hair by Cathy Ace – Cait Morgan #4
Bet Your Bottom Dollar by Karin Gillespie – Bottom Dollar *New series*
The Missing Place by Sophie Littlefield

Week of October 19
Oven Baked Secrets by Tyora Moody – Eugeena Patterson #2
The Nightingale Before Christmas by Donna Andrews – Meg Langslow #18
Double Strike by Gretchen Archer – Davis Way #3
A Haunting Is Brewing by Juliet Blackwell – Haunted Home Renovation/Witchcraft #1.5

Week of October 26
Ho-Ho-Homicide by Kaitlyn Dunnett – Liss MacCrimmon #8
Treacherous Tart by Ellie Grant – Pie Shop #2
The Handsome Man’s Deluxe Cafe by Alexander McCall Smith – No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency #15

A few words from Melanie Todd by Rebecca Tope

The Coniston CaseFebruary 21st.
A week since Valentine’s Day, when everything went so badly wrong for my boss, Persimmon Brown. (Simmy, we all call her, except for her mother.) She opened a flower shop in Windermere a year ago, nearly, and I started working there last summer. Anyway, she’s new to the area and doesn’t altogether understand the way things work up here in the North. She worries about all the wrong things, like weather and how to get hotels to promise to take fresh flowers every week. I tell her to think a bit more about herself, and what she’s planning to do for the rest of her life.

Well, Valentine’s was all about flowers, obviously, and poor Sim ran herself ragged, making up all those bunches of red roses and driving on icy roads to deliver them – and got precious little thanks for it, either. She’s ended up back at her parents’ place, just like she did at Christmas, where there was some trouble over an incident in Ambleside. This time it was Coniston, and I got involved in it – which I mainly don’t, despite hating to miss any of the excitement. There were a few very nasty moments, I can tell you, with people who ought to know better behaving appallingly. But then, there’s also a lot of grateful messages flying around as well, and a few surprising heroes coming out of it smelling of roses – except the roses they use these days don’t smell much at all.

Simmy’s Mum is a real character. It’s a sort of test I secretly put people through – whether or not they like her, and what that says about them. She’s big on breaking rules and saying exactly what she thinks and if she doesn’t want to go to a party, she says so right out, without inventing an excuse. She runs a Bed & Breakfast place on Lake Road, with Simmy’s dad, and gets loads of people staying, even though she lets them smoke, and bring their dogs, and she plays with their kids and doesn’t call them by their first names unless they insist. The parents, that is, not the kids. She calls it a home from home, with someone doing all the cooking and washing and not making them get up at any special time. The other B&B people in town really hate her.

So, today I’m going to drive Simmy back to her own house in Troutbeck, because she’s not ill, and not a child and she needs to get back on the horse, as they say. She’s hardly been into work all week, after what happened, but come Monday, she’s going to be fine. After all, I’ll be there to help her. And there’s not going to be any more trouble, after this. Now is there?


You can read more about Melanie in The Coniston Case, the third book in the “Lake District” mystery series, published by Allison & Busby. The first book in the series is The Windermere Witness.

Meet the author
Rebecca Tope lives on the border between England and Wales, and writes two series set in rural England. The first is the Thea Osborne Cotswolds stories, with twelve titles published so far. The other is the Lake District series, of which The Coniston Case is the third. All her titles are in print. Also available as an ebook is The Indifference Of Tumbleweed which is an historical novel set on The Oregon Trail in 1846.

Visit Rebecca at her website.

A Day in the Life of Jordan Kelly Bingham by Victoria Abbott

The Wolfe WidowThanks so much for inviting me to dru’s book musings. I know you love books and I am always happy talking about my job, because I am very lucky in my world of books.

Sometimes I think that life can’t get any better. Take today: it started as a typical morning at Van Alst House where I work as a researcher for Vera Van Alst, reclusive book collector and the most hated woman in Harrison Falls, New York. I awoke in my attic room with the cabbage rose wallpaper and edged my way out from under the flower-sprigged quilt. Walter the Pug, who continues to visit, offered a panting good morning smile. Good Cat purred at the end of the bed. Apparently cat and dog and woman can co-exist in peace.

I cannot believe my good fortune that this wonderful little apartment comes as part of my compensation ‘package’ as well as the two fabulous meals a day. It’s the best job in the world. I’d kind of hit rock bottom after my former boyfriend maxed out my credit cards and drained my bank account. I had to delay my dreams for grad school until I put my life back in order. But after limping home to my uncles and spending some time in my childhood bedroom (back to Hello Kitty and My Little Ponies too) I landed this dream job. It’s a real break for me, as I am the first person in my family to go straight. But that part of my life is a story for another day, as they say.

Now, I’m working on upgrading Vera’s collection of Nero Wolfe mysteries, by the great Rex Stout. I think they should be called the Archie Goodwin books because that dashing and witty Archie is my favorite character. Vera hates it when I say that, but I can’t resist teasing her across the vast Sheraton table over dinner. She, herself, is more than a bit like Nero Wolfe without the charm.

So besides finding fine first editions for Vera’s collection of mysteries from the Golden Age of Detection, I also get to live in a huge, historic home, and eat in the grand dining room every night. If I remember to wear my high leather boots and avoid ankle swipes from Bad Cat, it’s pretty close to heaven. Tonight, we’re having a mountain of gnocchi with fresh grated Parmesan. Signora Panetone, Vera’s cook, is quick to heap our plates. Everything smells wonderful.

Outside, the wind howls and the snow swirls. The temperature plummets. The windows rattle a bit.

But with a sweater on, it’s warm and cozy inside Van Alst House this late November night. In fact, things are perfect until the doorbell rings. But it’s just a doorbell, right? It’s not like a simple DING DONG! could cost a girl her dream job and bring death and destruction all around. Is it?

In retrospect, perhaps if I hadn’t answered it . . .


You can read more about Jordan in The Wolfe Widow, the third book in the “Book Collector” mystery series, published by Berkley Prime Crime. The first book in the series is The Christie Curse.

GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 6 p.m. eastern on September 18 for the chance to win a print copy of THE WOLFE WIDOW. The giveaway is open to everyone.

About the author
That shadowy figure Victoria Abbott is a collaboration between artist and photographer, Victoria Maffini, and her mother, Mary Jane Maffini, author of three mystery series. Their Book Collector series blends contemporary mystery, humor and classics from the Golden Age of Detection. Of course, there are also dogs and cats. The Christie Curse, The Sayers Swindle and The Wolfe Widow (September 2014) will be followed by two more book collector mysteries: The Marsh Madness is taking shape now. Be warned!

You can keep up with their characters on the thirtieth of the month over at Killer Characters and their culinary adventures at Mystery Lovers’ Kitchen or by signing up for their newsletter at www.victoria-abbott.com or www.maryjanemaffini.com.

Death Is Like a Box of Chocolates by Kathy Aarons

Death is like a box of ChocolateDeath Is Like a Box of Chocolates by Kathy Aarons is the first book in the new “Chocolate Covered” mystery series. Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime, September 2014

Whether it’s to satisfy a craving for chocolate or pick up the hottest new bestseller, the locals in charming West Riverdale, Maryland, are heading to Chocolates and Chapters, where everything sold is to die for.

Best friends Michelle Serrano and Erica Russell are celebrating the sweet rewards of their combined bookstore and chocolate shop by hosting the Great Fudge Cook-off during the town’s Memorial Day weekend Arts Festival. But success turns bittersweet when Main Street’s portrait photographer is found dead in their store, poisoned by Michelle’s signature truffles.

As suspicion mounts against Michelle, her sales begin to crumble and her career seems whipped. With Erica by her side, Michelle must pick through an assortment of suspects before the future of their dream store melts away.

I enjoyed this tantalizing sweet whodunit that whetted my appetite for chocolate and murder. With a scattered list of suspects, it was easy to succumb to the early clues but once the story moved forward, the killer’s identity inch closer as suspect after suspect were alibied. The author did a good job in presenting a well-fermented drama that was easy to follow with the perfect backdrop of a bookstore and chocolates. There’s a backstory between Erica and Bobby that I can’t wait to read more about and the possibility of a romance blooms for our heroine. Boasting a lovable cast of characters and engaging dialogue, this delectable treat is a welcomed addition to the cozy genre. Bonus chocolaty recipes are included.

previously posted on the Cozy Chicks blog

Fat Cat At Large by Janet Cantrell

Fat Cat At LargeFat Cat At Large by Janet Cantrell is the first book in the new “Fat Cat” mystery series. Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime, September 2014

When she’s not dreaming up irresistible dessert bars for her Minneapolis treatery, Bar None, Charity “Chase” Oliver is running after her cat, Quincy—a tubby tabby with a gift for sniffing out edibles. But what happens when this cat burglar leads Chase to the scene of a real crime?

The jig is up for Chase’s adorable plus-size cat, Quincy. His new vet says “diet”—that means no more cherry cheesecake bars. From now on he gets low-calorie kibble only. But one taste of the stuff is all it takes to drive him in search of better things. Quincy’s escape is the last thing Chase needs after the nasty run-in she has with underhanded business rival Gabe Naughtly.

Chase tracks Quincy down in a neighbor’s kitchen, where he’s devouring a meatloaf, unaware of the much more serious crime he’s stumbled upon. Gabe’s corpse is lying on the kitchen floor, and when Chase is discovered at the murder scene, she becomes suspect number one. Now, with a little help from her friends—both human and feline—she’ll have to catch the real killer or wind up behind bars that aren’t so sweet.

This was a fun read that kept my interest from beginning to end. The mystery was teasingly adventurous from the suspects, to the interaction between the cast and to the frequent surprise mentions of fictional characters from cozy series that I read. I love the way the story flowed and the comfortable tone that created a lovely atmosphere as the story moved forward. Chase is great character and I would like to know more about her and Anna and Julie. Quincy adds a dash of excitement with his escapes and discoveries in this debut novel. I look forward to more good times and murder with the next book in this delightfully appealing series.

previously posted on the Cozy Chicks blog