On The Case with Billy Two-Feathers by Keith Donnelly

Three Dragons DoomedMy name is Billy Two-Feathers. I am a full blooded Cherokee Indian adopted and raised by white parents in Wilton, Connecticut. I met my best friend, Donald Youngblood, in college. We attended the University of Connecticut. Most of the time I call Don, “Blood.” Most of the time Don calls me “Chief.”

After we graduated, Don went to Wall Street and made a fortune. I made some bad choices and went to prison. In five years my only visitor in prison was Donald Youngblood. Don gave me a second chance for a good life and I took it.

After my release from prison, a series of events led us back to Don’s hometown, Mountain Center, Tennessee where we opened Cherokee Investigations, a private investigative firm. A lot has happened since then. I am now a deputy sheriff in Swain County, North Carolina; a long story best told another time.

This particular day started innocently enough; a minor drug bust, a break-in and a domestic disturbance. I had them all taken care of before lunch. Then I got a call from Don asking for backup on a serial killer case that was coming to a head. Late that afternoon, I was making the trip over the Smoky Mountains down through Gatlinburg and on to Mountain Center and thinking as I went about all the cases we had been involved in.

I sometimes worry about Don. He can be reckless when it comes to personal safety so I need to watch his back. He calls me a “mother hen” but beneath the protest I know he feels safer when I am around. I have saved his life on more than one occasion, although he would scoff at that and say he had it all under control. The facts are he has been assaulted more than once, beaten unconscious to a comatose state and wounded in a gun battle. He has been hospitalized at least three times that I know of since he became a private investigator. Donald Youngblood has a gift for finding trouble.

When Don called he told me he was temporarily staying at the Fleet Mansion, not a good sign. Joseph Fleet is a rich and powerful business man in Mountain Center whose inner circle includes Don and me because Don tracked the killer of Joseph Fleet’s daughter, Sarah Ann.

* * * * * * * * * *

I found Don and Mr. Fleet in the first floor study. They were in quiet conversation having drinks in front of the fireplace.

“Good to see you again, Billy,” Joseph Fleet said, when Roy Husky escorted me in.

Roy is Fleet’s right-hand man and has become a friend to both Don and me and supported us on a few of our cases.

“You too, sir,” I said.

“I take it this is not a social call,” Joseph Fleet said.

“No, it’s not, “I said. “ I need to speak with Blood.”

Joseph Fleet stood. “Gentlemen,” he said. “I’m turning in for the night. Billy, you’re welcome to stay.”

“Thank you, sir,” I said. “I believe I will.”

He left us alone.

Moments later, Don and I left the study and went to his third floor suite to plan our strategy for tomorrow. Don thought he knew exactly where James Hyde would be set up for him. Mary, Don’s wife and Mountain Center police detective, didn’t seem surprised to see me when I walked in. Don began to share his plan with me when Mary interrupted.

“About tomorrow,” Mary said, her voice determined. ”I’m going with you and it’s not negotiable.”

I caught the look between them and sensed the beginning of an argument.

“I promised him I would come alone,” Don said, with little conviction.

“He doesn’t deserve your promise,” Mary said. “And besides, I didn’t promise him a damn thing.”

“Me, either,” I said.

It was pointless for Don to argue, Mary wasn’t going to give in and something about having Mary with us felt right.

“Okay,” Don said to Mary. “You follow me in and cover my back. Chief comes in from the front in my Pathfinder.”

He showed Mary and me our route in and how we would play it. He explained my part. We all agreed.

“You think he’s going to try and ambush you?” Mary asked.

“I do,” Don said.

I nodded agreement.

“In the end they’re all cowards,” I said.

“I thought he wanted a face-to-face,” Mary said.

“He wants me dead,” Don said. “He doesn’t want to gamble with me out in the open. This is his version of a face-to-face.”

We went over it a second time then I left for my room knowing that tomorrow, one way or another, we were going to bring down a serial killer.

You can read more about Billy Two-Feathers in Three Dragons Doomed, the fifth book in the “Donald Youngblood” mystery series, published by John F. Blair. The first book in the series is Three Deuces Down.

GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 6 p.m. eastern on July 23 for the chance to win a copy of Three Deuces Down. (US entries only, please.)

Meet the author
Keith Donnelly grew up in Johnson City, TN where he graduated from East Tennessee State University with a degree in Economics and soon after found himself in the New York City world of publishing.

Keith and wife, Tessa, divide their time between Gatlinburg, TN, Singer Island, FL and Salt Lake City, UT where Keith indulges in his passion of downhill skiing. His motto: have laptop, will travel!

Donnelly is currently working on book six in the Donald Youngblood Mystery series. Visit Keith at www.donaldyoungbloodmysteries.com

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

Mind Over Murder by Evelyn David

Mind Over MurderMind Over Murder by Evelyn David. Publisher: Trace Evidence Press, June 2014

The last time the police knocked on psychic Valentine Zalmanzig Cohen’s door they ignored her advice and the wrong man ended up in prison for murder. Five years later the knock comes again. Another couple killed in the same house. A copycat killer? Or has the original killer struck again? The police are willing to consider that perhaps they’d been wrong, but is Val willing to risk her marriage, career, and maybe even her life to try again?

I like it. When both she and her husband becomes the main person of interest in several vicious murders, Val does what she needs to do in order to clear their name, this despite being threatened and discovering some painful news. The mystery was well played out and kept me glued to the pages as I had to know what happens next. The author did a good job in hiding the killer in plain sight, which gave me a surprise. I like Val and Jake and a nod to the author because I figured out who Ruth was. Will we see more of Val and Jake? I hope we do, as this was a very good read.

A Day in the Life of Erin Murphy by Leslie Budewitz

Crime RibHere in Montana, we love our festivals. Summers are short and stunning—and in every corner of the state, we celebrate. The Festival of Nations. Mule Days. Homesteader Days. Buzzard Days—honoring ‘nature’s cleaners’. The Strawberry Festival. Rendezvous Days. Pow Wows. The Sweet Pea Festival of the Arts. Dog and Grog, celebrating hot dogs and cold beer. Lewis & Clark Reenactments. Music festivals: jazz, bluegrass, Celtic, guitar, Mozart. And on and on—not to mention Huckleberry Days in half a dozen towns, celebrating the tart, purple jewels Montanans fight the bears for every August.

So earlier this summer, not long after I came back to Jewel Bay to take over my family’s century-old general store, I talked the village merchants into starting a new festival. The Festa di Pasta, to kick off summer and celebrate the Merc’s transformation into a market filled with local foods and treats. A weekend celebrating Italian fare, with music in the streets and fun and games for all ages, seemed perfect. But when I found our former manager dead in the alley on opening night and my mother was accused of murder—well, not so perfect. (You can read how I managed to save both Fresca and the store, after confronting a chef bent on keeping his past a secret, challenging my old friend, now the local sheriff’s detective, and rescuing my new boyfriend and my shop assistant from permanent cold storage in Death al Dente.)

So when the 35th Annual Jewel Bay Summer Art and Food Festival rolled around, I decided to take a backseat. Sure, Fresca and Old Ned Redaway started the Festival, years before I was born, and yes, its success to vital to the village economy. And I’ll help—the tiny, unincorporated town would be nothing without its volunteers, and my family’s always been among the first to raise our hands. But I’m just going to enjoy the fun. I’ll scout for new vendors for the Merc. I’ll drool over the pottery—maybe even pick up a piece or two. I’ll be glad to assist the crew of the TV show Food Preneurs, in town to film the event and give the local cooks and artists some national attention. And I’ll eat my fill at the Grill-off, the friendly competition to see which village chef serves up the best steak. But that’s it. I’m not taking charge of anything.

But you know it doesn’t turn out that way. When the show’s producer is killed in a hit-and-run, Erin is drafted to step in. Then one of the contestants is attacked and dies. To keep the town’s reputation from crashing and burning on national TV, Erin must grill a few suspects to smoke out the killer. It might not be pretty, and it might not make Undersheriff Ike Hoover or Detective Kim Caldwell happy. But you know she’ll do it—as Fresca says, “Murphy girls don’t quit.” And you know that in the end, Erin will serve up truth and justice. All for the love of the Merc and Jewel Bay.

About Crime Rib (second in the Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries, July 1, 2014, Berkley Prime Crime):

“Gourmet food market owner Erin Murphy is determined to get Jewel Bay, Montana’s scrumptious local fare some national attention. But her scheme for culinary celebrity goes up in flames when the town’s big break is interrupted by murder…

Food Preneurs, one of the hottest cooking shows on TV, has decided to feature Jewel Bay in an upcoming episode, and everyone in town is preparing for their close-ups, including the crew at the Glacier Mercantile, aka the Merc. Not only is Erin busy remodeling her courtyard into a relaxing dining area, she’s organizing a steak-cooking competition between three of Jewel Bay’s hottest chefs to be featured on the program.

But Erin’s plans get scorched when one of the contending cooks is found dead. With all the drama going on behind the scenes, it’s hard to figure out who didn’t have a motive to off the saucy contestant. Now, to keep the town’s rep from crashing and burning on national television, Erin will have to grill some suspects to smoke out the killer…”

GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 6 p.m. eastern on July 22 for the chance to win a copy of CRIME RIB. (US entries only, please.)

About the author
Leslie Budewitz is the national best-selling author of Death al Dente, first in the Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries set in northwest Montana, and winner of the 2013 Agatha Award for Best First Novel. Crime Rib, LeslieBthe second in the series, was published by Berkley Prime Crime on July 1, 2014. Her Seattle Spice Shop Mysteries will debut in March 2015.

Also a lawyer, Leslie won the 2011 Agatha Award for Best Nonfiction for Books, Crooks & Counselors: How to Write Accurately About Criminal Law & Courtroom Procedure (Quill Driver Books), making her the first author to win Agatha Awards for both fiction and nonfiction.

For more tales of life in the wilds of northwest Montana, and bonus recipes, visit her website and subscribe to her newsletter.

Website | Facebook

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

The Great Feral Emu Roundup by Donna Andrews

The Good The Bad and the EmusOne of my favorite characters in the Meg Langslow series is her grandfather, Dr. J. Montgomery Blake, the eminent zoologist and environmentalist. Dr. Blake first entered Meg’s life in The Penguin Who Knew Too Much. While on a visit to Caerphilly, he saw a picture of Meg in the local paper and was stunned to realize that she was a dead ringer for his long-lost college girlfriend, Cordelia. And when his research revealed that Meg’s father was found as an infant in the fiction section of the very library where he used to meet Cordelia, Dr. Blake deduced—and a DNA test subsequently confirmed—that he and the Langslows were related. Dr. Blake has been a part of Meg’s life—and my books—ever since.

Here, Dr. Blake reveals a few details about what happens in The Good, the Bad, and the Emus.

Remarks by Dr. J. Montgomery Blake to the members of SPOOR (Society for the Preservation of Owls and Raptors)

[With editorial comments by Caroline Willner of the Willner Wildlife Sanctuary.]

Caroline—I’ve got to give a speech at that wretched SPOOR meeting. Can you take quick look at my draft—M

Monty—only if you actually pay attention to what I say this time—C

Fellow bird lovers.

Thank you for coming this evening. I think we can promise you a fascinating discussion on our recent rescue and rehoming of a large flock of Dromaius novaehollandiae

They’re not all ornithologists. Forget the Latin—just tell them it’s emus.

—better known as the emu. As I’m sure most of you know, emus are native to Australia, and at up to two meters in height, they are the largest extant species after their ratite relatives, Struthio camelus, the common ostrich.

Meters schmeters. Tell them the blasted things are well over six feet tall.

In other words, over six feet tall, while ostriches, which are native to Africa, can be up to eight feet. In the 1990s, farmers in the United States began commercially farming both ostriches and emus for the feathers, meat, eggs, leather, and in the case of the emu, the oil, which is reputed to have medicinal properties. However, ostrich and emu farming did not prove to be as profitable as anticipated, and over the last two decades the number of emu farms has dropped precipitously.

I recently learned of the existence of a large flock of feral emus in Riverton, Virginia–

You learned? How about giving Cordelia and Annabel some credit?

—thanks to a communication from two long-time residents of Riverton, Mrs. Cordelia Mason and Miss Annabel Lee. Apparently the owner of the nearby Biscuit Mountain Ostrich and Emu Ranch fell into financial difficulties and simply turned his birds loose. Some of them were reported to be surviving in the wild.

Reported? The ladies were feeding them for years.

We had no idea how well they were surviving. It was possible they were hanging on, but not thriving, in which case we needed to rescue them and rehome them in a place that could give them proper care. And if they were thriving, then we knew they were probably having a detrimental effect on the native ecosystem, in which case we needed to capture them and confine them in a place that would care for them without letting them damage the environment.

Now would be a good moment to mention who’s taking care of the birds, you know.

I am happy to say that the birds are now living at the Willner Wildlife Foundation, whose director, Caroline Willner, was instrumental in helping round them up.

That’s better.

As I’m sure you are aware, emus are taller than we are, with razor-sharp talons and a kick like a mule, and can reach speeds of thirty miles an hour, so this expedition was a little more difficult than, say, sheep herding. In fact, it proved to be an unusually dangerous project, not just because of the emus—

You’re not going to get into the murders, are you? Isn’t this supposed to be about the emus?

—but also because we once more encountered human foes more interested in commercial gain than in the emus or the environment.

Well, okay, but that’s probably enough about the creeps. They could still try to sue you, you know.

But we’re here to talk about the emus! So without further ado, let’s get to the video. Can somebody dim the lights? Anybody? Until somebody finds the light switch—

Don’t worry. Meg will take care of it.

[The lights dim.]

Now, in this first shot . . .

You can read more about Dr. Blake in The Good, the Bad, and the Emus, the 17th book in the “Meg Langslow” mystery series, published by Minotaur. The first book in the series is Murder with Peacocks.

GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 6 p.m. eastern on July 21 for the chance to win a copy of THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE EMUS. (US entries only, please.)

Meet the author
DonnaADonna Andrews is the author of seventeen (soon to be eighteen!) books in her Meg Langslow series from Minotaur. After The Good, the Bad, and the Emus (July 2014) comes The Nightingale Before Christmas (October 2014).

You can reach Donna at her website, on Twitter or on Facebook.

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

Phantom Instinct by Meg Gardiner

Phantom InstinctPhantom Instinct by Meg Gardiner is a new stand-alone thriller where an injured cop and an ex-thief hunt down a killer nobody else believes exist. Publisher: Dutton, June 2014

When shots ring out in a crowded L.A. club, bartender Harper Flynn watches helplessly as her boyfriend, Drew, is gunned down in the cross fire. Then somebody throws a Molotov cocktail, and the club is quickly engulfed in flames. L.A. Sheriff Deputy Aiden Garrison sees a gunman in a hoodie and gas mask taking aim at Harper, but before he can help her a wall collapses, bringing the building down and badly injuring him.

A year later, Harper is trying to rebuild her life. She has quit her job and gone back to college. Meanwhile, the investigation into the shoot-out has been closed. The two gunmen were killed when the building collapsed.

Certain that a third gunman escaped and is targeting the survivors, Harper enlists the help of Aiden Garrison, the only person willing to listen. But the traumatic brain injury he suffered has cut his career short and left him with Fregoli syndrome, a rare type of face blindness that causes the delusion that random people are actually a single person changing disguises.

As Harper and Aiden delve into the case, Harper realizes that her presence during the attack was no coincidence—and that her only ally is unstable, mistrustful of her, and seeing the same enemy everywhere he looks.

Meg has done it again. She’s written a fast-paced, action-filled and an intense drama that kept me riveted to the pages of this fascinating story of two lost souls who fight a fight that ends in a hail of an emotional tug of war. Every time I pick up a book my Meg Gardiner, I know she’s going to take me on a high-stakes roller coaster ride that keeps on going until the ride comes to a hard stop and I’m left wondering how it is all going to end. The author did a great job in capturing my attention that I did not want to put this book down and then she blew my mind with a surprising twist that I did not see coming. Whoa! This was a great read and I can’t wait to see what adventure Meg will take me on next.

A Letter from Hattie Davish by Anna Loan-Wilsey

A Sense of EntitlementMy Dearest Friend,

I’m writing at your bequest to describe a typical day in my life. Why I have no idea but who am I to question such a dear friend’s request? As Sir Arthur was called away suddenly to England, I have taken a new position, as social secretary to Mrs. Charlotte Mayhew. Yes, that Charlotte Mayhew, wife to one of the richest men in America. After the terror of the boat ride from New York, (I’ve vowed to never ride another boat again!) I have settled into Rose Mont, the Mayhew’s Newport summer “cottage” and established a comfortable routine that quite suits me. As you may know, I rarely sleep well, so my day starts well before sunrise. I slip my hand lens over my head, use an extra pin in my hat, shove a few specimen jars in my bag and go hiking. As a private secretary, every other part of my day is occupied by the will and whims of my employer so I relish this time by myself. Of course, you will remind me of those exceptional instances when I found a dead body instead of a new species for my plant collection. I do regret ever having any association with murder. Who would? The images of those bodies still haunt me. Thank goodness I had Walter to turn to. (You will be pleased to know that his affection has not waned during our time apart. He writes every day.)

But now I’m in Newport, the Queen of Resorts as it’s called and I don’t have to time to think about dead bodies. Mrs. Mayhew expects me to attend to her straight after breakfast. As she lounges in her sitting room, petting her cat, Bonaparte, I sort through her correspondences (you’d be astounded by the volume that arrives every day): calling cards from women hoping to rise in society, dozens of invitations to outings such as dinner parties, lawn tennis tournaments, or yachting picnics, and almost as many bills, (you cannot imagine how exorbitant the amounts!), for the latest silk dresses or hats from Paris, for fresh flowers delivered each morning or for any number of daily luxuries. I read them to her and she dictates her response which I write, sign her name to and mail later.

Once we’ve accomplished that, we embark on to the most challenging task of my new position as social secretary- planning parties. And Mrs. Mayhew loves to have parties! I’ve been told by Miss Lucy, (Remember I wrote to you about her and her sister, Miss Lizzie, the dear, elderly ladies I met in Eureka Springs? They happen to summer in Newport, as well.) that Mrs. Mayhew “would dance on the lawn of Beechwood in the nude” if that’s what it took for Mrs. Caroline Astor to accept and attend one of her soirees. Supposedly Mrs. Astor’s calling card is the key to the highest circles in society. (And to think all I want is for Walter’s mother to respect me for the professional I am. Did I tell you she thinks me completely unfit for her son’s attentions?)

First there was a garden party with live peacocks strolling loose about the garden, hundreds of imported cut flowers intricately woven into outdoor walls of color and a famous musician brought in from Europe because her husband admired the man’s work (Her husband stayed in New York to work). And then there is the upcoming ball! I’d never realized how many details must be attended to and how dependent they are on the fluctuations of society- Mrs. Mayhew changes the seating arrangements almost every day! Once dismissed, I spend the rest of the day attending to all the details we discussed in the morning.

So there, dearest friend, is my day. It has varied little except for last night, my first night off. After accompanying some of the maids to festivities at the Forty Steps (Can you believe I saw a man with a pet monkey on his shoulder? Only in Newport!) we were witness to an explosion at one of the banks near the harbor. What a spectacle! And the firemen suspect it wasn’t an accident! Luckily it’s not my place to speculate- I have to address thirty more invitations to the Mayhew ball before I can attempt to sleep.

Ever your friend,
Hattie Davish

You can read more about Hattie in A Sense of Entitlement, the third book in the “Hattie Davish” mystery series, published by Kensington. The first book in the series is A Lack of Temperance. Books are available at retail and online booksellers.

Meet the author
Anna Loan-Wilsey lives in a Victorian farmhouse in the Iowa countryside with her patient husband, inquisitive daughter and my old yellow dog. She was born and raised in Syracuse, NY but have lived in Finland, Canada and Texas. She has a BA in Biology from Wells College in Aurora, NY and a MLIS from McGill University in Montreal. She’s a biologist, librarian, information specialist and now with the Hattie Davish Mysteries Series, a novelist.

Website | Facebook

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 Rebecca Mayfield by Joanne Pence

One oclock hustleThe name’s Rebecca Mayfield, and I’m a cop. A San Francisco Homicide Inspector, to be precise, and I’m a stickler for following the law. “By the book,” was my motto for the first ten years of my career.

But then I met Richard Joseph Francis Amalfi, aka “Richie.” Suddenly, my well-order life went to …well, I won’t say. Before I met Richie, I never even swore, despite the many provocations caused by my job. I like my job; it’s interesting and, I believe, helpful. Also, I’m the only female in Homicide, a situation that has its upsides, and down–such as when my co-workers all warn me about Richie, and tell me I should stay away from him.

How was I supposed to do that, I’d like to know, when it was my job to arrest him for murder? How was I supposed to put handcuffs on him and keep away from him at the same time, hmm? Not to mention what he did with the handcuffs with me. (No … not what you’re thinking!)

I must admit, however, that there are a few things about Richie I do like. I mean, I’m not completely innocent about men. I’ve had a few serious relationships, but all eventually turned sour, which is why, at age 35, I’m still SBL—single but looking. At least my love life wasn’t tragic, like Richie’s who, by the way, is about 40 and still unmarried as well. Not to mention tall, dark, handsome, charming, funny, good company, and a great dancer.

Not that his attributes, situation, or past, matter to me in the least.

Besides, he’s made it perfectly clear that he would never, ever, want to get serious about a cop. In the same vein, I know I could never be serious about a man who isn’t involved in law enforcement. In other words, I’m looking for a man who is able to understand me and what my job is all about.

I spend my days in some real hellholes. Most murders aren’t pleasant or bloodless. They’re more likely to take place in a gutter or tenement than at a country club. I’ve seen it all, and what I’ve faced in San Francisco is a far cry from the way I grew up, on a farm in Idaho. They aren’t two separate worlds, they’re separate universes.

Maybe that’s why I keep letting Richie into my life. He is, in many ways, the bad boy next door that I was always warned about. Unfortunately, I never listen to warnings. Not in my work; not in my personal life.

So when Richie was named—by eyewitnesses, in fact—as a woman’s killer, something told me he was innocent.

I tried, I really did, to continue with my “by the book” ways, but something came over me. I can’t explain it. And suddenly, the “book” went flying out the window, just like …

I’d better not say.

Oh … are you wondering what Richie does for a living? How he pays for his home, his flashy cars, and the “business associates” who are always at his beck and call? Join the club. That’s one of the problems with him. Just what is he? Who is he? And why, for pity’s sake, am I unable to stay away from him?

Maybe, one of these days, I’ll find out.

You can read more about Inspector Rebecca Mayfield in One O’Clock Hustle, the first book in the new “Rebecca Mayfield” mystery series. E-books are available on Amazon; paperbacks are available online and at retail booksellers. A Christmas novella called the Thirteenth Santa tells how Rebecca and Richie Amalfi met, and became the genesis for the series. The next book in the series, Two O’Clock Heist, comes out this summer.

Meet the author
Joanne Pence is an award-winning and USA Today best-selling author of the Angie Amalfi mysteries, the new Rebecca Mayfield mysteries, as well as historical fiction, romance, romantic suspense, a fantasy, and most recently, a supernatural suspense set in the empty, roadless, no-one’s-ever-lived-there “River of No Return” area of Idaho. Born and raised in San Francisco, she has been a journalist, analyst for the Federal government, taught school in Japan, and now makes her home in the foothills north of Boise, Idaho, with her husband, two dogs, four cats, and a peahen (female peacock) who showed up one day and refuses to leave.

Website | Twitter | Facebook

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