Double Strike by Gretchen Archer

Double StrikeDouble Strike by Gretchen Archer is the third book in the “Davis Way Crime Caper” mystery series. Publisher: Henery Press, October 2014

Bellissimo Resort and Casino Super Spy Davis Way knows three things: Cooking isn’t a prerequisite for a happy marriage, don’t trust men who look like David Hasselhoff, and money doesn’t grow on Christmas trees. None of which help when a storm hits the Gulf a week before the most anticipated event in Bellissimo history: the Strike It Rich Sweepstakes. Securing the guests, staff, and property might take a stray bullet. Or two.

Bellissimo Resort and Casino Super Spy Davis Way has three problems: She’s desperate to change her marital status, she has a new boss who speaks in hashtags, and Bianca Sanders has confiscated her clothes. All of which bring on a headache hot enough to spark a fire. Solving her problems means stealing a car. From a dingbat lawyer.

Bellissimo Resort and Casino Super Spy Davis Way has three goals: Keep the Sanders family out of prison, regain her footing in her relationship, and find the genius who wrote the software for futureGaming. One of which, the manhunt one, is iffy. Because when Alabama hides someone, they hide them good.

DOUBLE STRIKE. A VIP invitation to an extraordinary high-stakes gaming event, as thieves, feds, dance instructors, shady bankers, kidnappers, and gold waiters go all in. #Don’tMissIt

In the quirky and eccentric world of Davis Way I found laughter throughout this delightfully humorous tale. The exploits, the antics, the trial and tribulation of doing the right things keeps this story fresh as scene after scene we are guaranteed a fun time with Davis and her friends. What was supposed to happen in Davis’ personal life hits a roadblock and I laughed at her attempts to fix the problem and that’s where we got to meet the craziest people that Davis encounters while also doing her job. Gold paint; bull doo; and a Smerle simply wreaks havoc where laughter and trouble ensues. The author did a great job in providing me with an engaging and entertaining experience in that I’m looking forward to the next exciting escapades with Davis and her friends. #LoveIt #BestOneYet

A Day in the Life of Elizabeth Polk by Karin Gillespie

Bet Your Bottom DollarHey ya’ll. My name is Elizabeth Polk, and I’m the assistant manager of the Bottom Dollar Emporium located in Caybook Creek, South Carolina. We’re an old fashioned dollar store, selling everything from penny candy (Charleston Chews, Swedish Fish, and lengths of licorice pipes) to tins of Cloverine Salve to Clabber Girl Baking Powder. We used to be a Kress Dime store back in the day; we still have the original pressed tin ceiling and a brass spittoon by the door. (Although we’ll thank you not to use it; it’s just for show.)

I work here with the owner Mavis Loomis and Attalee Gaines, the most obstinate octogenarian you’ll ever meet. (She complains about wearing her dentures to work on Fridays because it’s casual Fridays.) The three of us are known around our sweet little borough as the Bottom Dollar Girls.

We’re all on edge because a corporate dollar store is coming to town threatening to put the Bottom Dollar out of business. That’d be a crying shame seeing how we’re practically the only community center in town with everyone dropping by for coffee and a little bit of gossip.

The threat of losing my job isn’t the only burr in my shoe. Not too long ago my fiancé Chip Jenkins wrote me a Dear Jane letter on the back of a Hardees bag and stuck it under the windshield wipers of my Chevy Geo. Talk about your coldhearted kiss-offs.

One of our customers, Gracie Tobias, the wealthiest woman in town, set me up with her grandson Timothy but I’m a little worried about the differences him and me. His family lives in a mansion in the fancy part of town, and I live in an old mill house on Scuffle Road with my dog Maybelline (So called because she’s black and messy like mascara).

Also my kin can be a bit embarrassing. In fact, you may have seen my daddy on TV. He owns the Bargain Bonanza, a rent-to-own furniture place and calls him himself Insane Dwayne. (Yes, he’s the one who is always blowing up ottomans and La-Z-Boys). His slogan is, “Our savings are explosive.” Honestly sometimes I don’t want to claim him.

But the most important thing on my mind right now is saving the Bottom Dollar Emporium. If it goes under, Mavis says she moving to South Dakota to be with her sister. I can’t let that happen. Mavis is a Southern gal, born and bred. She should be surrounded by magnolias, not moose. And South Dakota is so far away it might as well be Jupiter. I’d probably never see her again if she moved.

We’ll see how it all shakes out. I have a head for business so I’m organizing a meeting of all the community leaders in town. Maybe we can stop big corporations from swooping into Cayboo Creek and taking over. Jerry Sweeney of Stuff and Mount Taxidermy, Jewel Turner of the Chat and Chew Diner, and Orson Hobbs of the Bait Box and Tanning Salon will all be in attendance. We’re a town that cares about each other.

You should swing by Cayboo Creek sometime. Little Southern towns life ours are a dying breed. We have more churches than bars. (Although if you like to imbibe, the Tuff Luck Tavern is open every night except Sundays. Steer clear from the hard boiled eggs in a jar on the bar; I think some of them eggs have been there since the Carter administration.)

Most everyone in town knows everyone, and we occupy ourselves with football games, parades and pot luck suppers. If we see you on the street, we’ll hug your neck and ask you about your mama and them. Cayboo Creek is a great place to get your Southern on. We like our chicken fried, our cathead biscuits flaky, and our tea so sweet, it’ll make your teeth ache into next Tuesday.

I’ve got plenty of adventures to share with you in Bet Your Bottom Dollar, but no need to rush off when we wrap it up. Put up your feet and settle your tush into one of the rocking chairs on the porch of the Bottom Dollar Emporium. We got two more installments in the series. There’ll be husband stealing, a visit from a movie star and road trips to Myrtle Beach and South of the Border. Never a dull day around here.

Ding! That’s the bell over the front door. Got me a customer so I best go. Stop by. I’ll be more than happy to give you a personal tour of Caybook Creek and introduce you to all my friends.

You can read more about Elizabeth in Bet Your Bottom Dollar, the first book in the new “Bottom Dollar” mystery series, published by Henery Press.

GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 6 p.m. eastern on October 20 for the chance to win a copy of BET YOUR BOTTOM DOLLAR. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only.

About the author
Karin Gillespie is national bestselling author of five novels. Her nonfiction writing had been in the New York Times, The Writer Magazine and Romantic Times. She maintains a writing blog at Follow her at @gillespiekarin or friend her on Facebook.

Finding Sky by Susan O’Brien

Finding SkyFinding Sky by Susan O’Brien is the first book in the new “Nicki Valentine” mystery series. Publisher: Henery Press, October 2014

She’s a parent. She’s (almost) a P.I. No one gets on your case like mom.

Suburban widow and P.I. in training Nicki Valentine can barely keep track of her two kids, never mind anyone else. But when her best friend’s adoption plan is jeopardized by the young birth mother’s disappearance, Nicki is persuaded to help. Nearly everyone else believes the teenager ran away, but Nicki trusts her BFF’s judgment, and the feeling is mutual.

The case leads where few moms go (teen parties, gang shootings) and places they can’t avoid (preschool parties, OB-GYNs’ offices). Nicki has everything to lose and much to gain — including the attention of her unnervingly hot P.I. instructor. Thankfully, Nicki is armed with her pesky conscience, occasional babysitters, a fully stocked minivan, and nature’s best defense system: women’s intuition.

From the start, Susan O’Brien fresh new drama pulled me in immediately and quickly became a page-turner, as I had to know it was going to end and boy was it worth the wait in this pleasantly appealing debut novel. This was a good mystery that kept me busy sifting through the clues as I followed the twists and turns that the author presented to deter my own sleuthing. Surrounded by a diverse cast of characters and engaging dialogue, this was a very enjoyable read and I can’t wait to see what new exciting cases await Nicki Valentine.

previously posted on the Cozy Chicks blog

Lost Under a Ladder by Linda O. Johnston

Lost Under a LadderLost Under a Ladder by Linda O. Johnston is the first book in the new “Superstition” mystery series. Publisher: Midnight Ink, October 2014

Is it Luck? Or is it Destiny?

Rory Chasen never thought superstitions were real—until her beloved fiancé is killed after walking under a ladder. To find closure and the truth about superstitions, Rory takes her dog Pluckie to a town called Destiny, where superstitious beliefs are a way of life.

Rory’s visit to Destiny takes an unexpected turn when Pluckie saves Martha, the owner of the Lucky Dog Boutique. While Martha recovers, Rory reluctantly agrees to manage the pet shop for her. But when Martha becomes the prime suspect in the local bookshop owner’s murder, Rory can’t believe that the sweet old woman would do it. Convinced the real killer is still roaming Destiny’s streets, Rory resolves to crack the case before Martha’s luck runs out.

Do you believe in superstitions? In this new series by Linda O Johnston, she takes us to Destiny, California to see if the rumors are true. What we find is a charming and delightful tale featuring Rory and her furry friend Pluckie who plays a pivotal role in this light and fresh whodunit. The author did a great job in setting up the scenes where a murderer hides in plain sight and I enjoyed watching it all come together. With a likable cast and the idiosyncrasies and uniqueness of this small town is a perfect fit to this entertaining series.

previously posted on the Cozy Chicks blog

A Day in the Life of Lena Jones by Betty Webb

Desert RageIn a way, Lena doesn’t have “typical” days. She’s a workaholic who works seven days a week, but whenever possible, she goes horseback riding and target shooting in the desert outside Phoenix. And she tinkers with her vehicle, which is a 1945 (mostly) Jeep she bought from a desert touring company and repainted its original pink color to sandstone, overlaid with Pima and Hohokam pictographs. Lena’s just not a pink kinda gal. In fact, every piece of clothing she owns is black.

For the past 10 years, Lena has lived upstairs from her office, Desert Investigations, in Old Town Scottsdale, where she spends most of her day working with her business partner Jimmy Sisiwan, a full-blooded Pima Indian. To keep herself in shape, she jogs five mile a day – even in Arizona’s scorching summer heat – and works out two different gyms: L.A. Fitness for the weights and the pool; and Scottsdale Fight Pro, where she studies various forms of martial arts, including the Israeli armed forces discipline of Krav Maga. In case the bad guys want to play rough, she also carries a .38 revolver, but she is thinking about upgrading to a Glock.

As far as romance goes, Lena prefers being a loner. Sure, she’s had lovers, but her relationships don’t last. Her longest attachment was with Dusty, a Clint Eastwood look-alike cowboy who wrangled for a nearby dude ranch, but one weekend Dusty got drunk in Vegas and married a woman he met at the craps table. That relationship ended in a shoot-out at Lena’s apartment.

Mostly, Lena just works, which is what she’s doing in Desert Rage (Poisoned Pen Press, release date 10/07/2014). She’s been hired by a high-profile politician to intervene in the case of Alison Cameron, a 14-year-old girl who has confessed to the torture murders of her mother, father, and 10-year-old brother. Convinced that the girl is lying, Lena spends her days interviewing the wealthy people who ran in the same set as the Camerons, where she learns that Dr. Cameron, the girl’s father, had been living a secret – and dangerous — life. This shocking discovery points Lena towards the anguished families of several recently-executed killers, any one of whom might be connected to the Cameron slaughter. Lena’s Krav Maga skills have never been more needed as during this case.

While Lena’s daily routine keeps her in the vicinity of Scottsdale throughout Desert Rage, other cases have had her ranging further afield. In Desert Wives, she went undercover as a “sister wife” in a polygamy compound on the Arizona/Utah border. Desert Wind took her to Utah’s Snow Canyon, a picturesque place with a deadly history. Desert Run had Lena researching the history of an Arizona WWII prison camp, where in 1944, 28 German prisoners of war escaped into the desert, and might have been involved in the murder of a family living near the camp. In Desert Cut Lena found herself in a small southern Arizona town, caught up in a part of the immigration crisis that is so ugly it seldom makes the newspapers.

With each case Lena solves, her investigative skills are further sharpened, so that one day, she just may find out who she is – and why she was abandoned to die on a Phoenix city street.

P.I. Lena Jones bio:
Lena Jones is a 35-ish private eye who lives in Scottsdale, Arizona, but that’s pretty much all she knows about herself. She carries few childhood memories, because at the age of four, she was found by an undocumented worker lying in a Phoenix street, comatose from a bullet in her head. The worker rushed the little girl to the closest ER, then left her there. Lena – originally called Jane Doe No. 4 — remained in the coma for two months. When she finally regained consciousness, she couldn’t remember how to walk or talk, couldn’t remember her name, who her parents were, who shot her – or why. Frustrated, one social worker dubbed the child “Lena Jones,” and after deciding that Lena’s many physical and emotional problems rendered her unadoptable, turned her over to Child Protection Services. Some of the CPS placements were not the best. In several homes she was beaten. In another home, at the age of nine, she was repeatedly raped by an abusive foster father. But Lena’s intelligence and courageous spirit helped her survive. She earned a full ride scholarship to Arizona State University, where she studied Police Science, and after graduation, took a job with the Scottsdale Police Department. Now an ex-cop (she still carries a bullet in her hip from one drug bust), Lena continues to solve crimes. But Lena’s most difficult case in attempting to discover her own true identity.

You can read more about Lena in Desert Rage, the 8th book in the “Lena Jones” mystery series, published by Poisoned Pen Press. The first book in the series is Desert Noir.

About the author
Betty Webb is the author of the nationally best-selling Lena Jones mystery series (Desert Rage, Desert Wind, Desert Wives, Desert Noir, etc.) and the humorous Gunn Zoo mysteries (The Koala Of Death, The Llama Of BettyWDeath, etc.). Before beginning to write full time, Betty worked as a journalist, interviewing everyone from U.S. presidents, astronauts who walked on the moon, Nobel Prize-winners, and polygamy runaways. She has taught creative writing classes and workshops at Arizona State University and Phoenix College, was a nationally syndicated literary critic for more than 20 years, and for the past 10 years has been a columnist and review for Mystery Scene Magazine. She has also served as an Edgar judge. In addition to other organizations, Betty is a member of the National Federation of Press Women, Mystery Writers of America, and Sisters in Crime.

Visit Betty at her website, on Twitter or on Facebook

Lost Legacy by Annette Dashofy

LOST LEGACYLost Legacy by Annette Dashofy is the second book in the “Zoe Chambers” mystery series. Publisher: Henery Press, August 2014

On a sultry summer afternoon, Paramedic Zoe Chambers responds to a call and finds a farmer’s body hanging from the rafters of his hay barn. What first appears to be a suicide quickly becomes something sinister when Zoe links the victim to a pair of deaths forty-five years earlier. Her attempts to wheedle information from her mother and stepfather hit a brick wall of deception, one that brings into question everything Zoe knows about her late father, who died in a car crash when she was eight. Or did he?

Police Chief Pete Adams fears Zoe’s inquiries are setting her up for deeper heartbreak and putting her in danger. As Zoe and Pete inch closer to the truth, they discover that a missing gun links the crimes which span more than four decades. But the killer isn’t done. Two more Vance Township residents fall victim to the same gun, and when tragedy strikes too close to home, Zoe realizes her family is in the crosshairs.

This is the best book yet in this fast-paced and action-filled drama that took me my storm and I did not want to end. The author set up this story with the perfect atmosphere of a dysfunctional family where the past taints the present with a question of what are they hiding. It’s the questions that I sought as I followed the tense scenes between Zoe and her parents and her pursuit of justice and as it boiled down to a frenetic conclusion, I was breathless with anticipation as to how it all would end. This was an emotion-filled drama that had me comforted by warmth and in the next scene filled with dread. Zoe is a great heroine and I’m so glad I’m given this opportunity to get to know her better and I can’t wait to see where we go next with Zoe and the new possibilities that awaits her.

A Day in the Life of Carmela Bertrand by Laura Childs

Gossamer GhostIt was Halloween in New Orleans. A week-long, rabble rousing celebration that grew bigger, badder, and crazier every year. A time for would-be werewolves, witches, and zombies to throw on a wig, howl at the moon, and paint the town the bright red color of fake vampire blood.

Carmela Bertrand, the owner of Memory Mine Scrapbook Shop, was no exception. This year she was debating the merits of wearing a Medieval costume versus a sexy witch dress.

Because what’s a girl to do when she has dozens of party invitations and was dating one of the hottest police detectives in the Big Easy?

Carmela grinned to herself as she grabbed her jacket and latched the door behind her. Stepping out onto Governor Nicholls street, she exhaled softly. Evenings in the French Quarter never failed to impart a sweet contentment. After all, who wouldn’t love to gaze at a purple-black sky that served as a dramatic backdrop for two hundred year-old brick buildings? Or wander through courtyard gardens with pattering fountains and giant froths of jasmine and magnolias?

Pausing outside her front window, Carmela eyed her display of scrapbooks, memory boxes, and altered books. Over the past few years, she’d built Memory Mine into a thriving business, discovering along the way that she actually enjoyed being a small business owner. One of many here on Governor Nicholls Street with its plethora of gift shops, antique shops, and what have you.

What have you?

That thought caused her to pause outside the window of Oddities, the shop next door to hers. Oddities was a strange business run by the even stranger Marcus Joubert. His macabre mix of merchandise included taxidermy animals, funeral jewelry, steam punk, and bleached animal skulls. She’d once spotted an apparatus that looked suspiciously like a thumbscrew.

Tonight, Carmela noted a pair of old leather goggles, piece of scrimshaw, and a top hat and dagger.

For some reason the top hat and dagger struck her as something Jack the Ripper might have had in his possession. Might have even treasured.

Carmela was about to walk away when she heard a funny and slightly ominous series of noises emanating from inside. What might have been a muffled scream followed by a dull thump.

She stepped closer to the window, to see what was happening. No luck. Lights from the street created a nasty, kaleidoscopic glare.

Still . . . she’d heard something, right?

Carmela, who was generally practical in nature but blessed (cursed?) with a giant dollop of inquisitiveness, decided it might be smart to investigate.

What if Marcus Joubert had taken ill? What if the sounds she heard were of him staggering and falling? So . . . just a quick peek?

Turning the brass doorknob, Carmela stepped inside to total darkness. Unnatural warmth washed over her, as if a space heater had been left on. A clock ticked monotonously. Moments passed and she realized the shop wasn’t completely dark after all. Pinprick spotlights glowed from rafters like bat eyes, illuminating a suit of armor and a candelabra. A stained glass lamp cast a dim orange circle on a shelf alongside frayed leather books.

Unfortunately, none of those lights pumped out any real power. It was like walking into a dark cocktail lounge without the benefit of strong liquid refreshments.

“Marcus?” Carmela called out.

No answer.

“It’s Carmela from next door. I thought I heard something . . .” She advanced a few steps.

There was another noise.

Carmela drew back. Could it have been the soft snick of the back door? Had someone just now slipped out the back?

A prickly feeling, as if being watched by unseen eyes, made Carmela crank her head sharply to the left. And she found herself staring into the grimacing face of a stuffed capuchin monkey perched precariously on a shelf, condemned forever to wear a hideous purple vest and fez.

Startled by the snarling mouth and beady eyes, Carmela whirled away, caught her toe on the Oriental carpet, and stumbled. Her arms flailed in a last ditch effort to save herself, knocking hard against a tall, wooden curio cabinet.

As her hands skittered against wooden doors, the cabinet teetered. Fearing the entire piece was about to fall, Carmela fought to steady it. But the weighty cabinet was slowly tipping forward as its two front doors creaked open.

And like a corpse spilling out of Dr. Caligari’s closet, the dead, bloody body of Marcus Joubert suddenly lurched out at her!

Carmela jumped backwards in shock. No matter, the body tumbled relentlessly toward her in horrible slow motion. There was a low moan, like the stinking sigh of a zombie, as a final air bubble released from the deep recess of his lungs. And then Joubert’s body flopped cold and bloody into Carmela’s outstretched arms!

You can read more about Carmela in Gossamer Ghost, the 12th book in the “Scrapbook” mystery series, published by Berkley Prime Crime. The first book in the series is Keepsake Crimes.

GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 6 p.m. eastern on October 17 for the chance to win a copy of GOSSAMER GHOST. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only.

Meet the author
Laura Childs is the New York Times bestselling author of the Scrapbook Mysteries, Tea Shop Mysteries, and GerrySCackleberry Club Mysteries, and a recent recipient of the Romantic Times Book Review’s Award for Best Amateur Sleuth. In her previous life, she was CEO/Creative Director of her own marketing firm and authored several screenplays. She is married to a professor of Chinese art history, loves to travel, rides horses, enjoys fund-raising for various non-profit organizations, and has two Chinese Shar-Pei dogs.