weekly update
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I got great news this past week. I’m the recipient of the MWA 2017 Raven Award, which recognizes outstanding achievement in the mystery field outside the realm of creative writing. Here’s the link to the press release.

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Week of Dec. 4, 2016 ~ New Releases
bartlett childs copperman flower
haggerty husom jaffarian kales
kelly lee lotempio macrae
orgain rendahl

Congratulations to our winners!
$10 Amazon gift card plus magnifying glass from Karen Rose Smith – Laura I.
$10 Amazon gift card from Annette Dashofy – Libby D.
Chasing Shadows by Karen Harper – Della W.
First Degree Mudder by Kate Dyer-Seeley – Brian F.
Walk Into Silence by Susan McBride – Deanna S.
Walk Into Silence by Susan McBride – Jan K.

Last week on dru’s book musings
Skydive by Susan O’Brien
Chasing Shadows by Karen Harper
First Degree Mudder by Kate Dyer-Seeley
Walk Into Silence by Susan McBride
Self-Serve Murder by D.E. Haggerty
A Very Private High School by Mar Preston


My Musing ~ Plaid and Plagiarism by Molly MacRae

Plaid and Plagiarism by Molly MacRae is the first book in the NEW “Highland Bookshop” mystery series. Publisher: Pegasus Books, December 2016

plaid-and-plagiarismA murder in a garden turns the four new owners of Yon Bonnie Books into amateur detectives, in a captivating new cozy mystery novel from Molly MacRae.

Set in the weeks before the annual Inversgail Literature Festival in Scotland, Plaid and Plagiarism begins on a morning shortly after the four women take possession of their bookshop in the Highlands. Unfortunately, the move to Inversgail hasn’t gone as smoothly as they’d planned.

First, Janet Marsh is told she’ll have to wait before moving into her new home. Then she finds out the house has been vandalized. Again. The chief suspect? Una Graham, an advice columnist for the local paper—who’s trying to make a name for herself as an investigative reporter. When Janet and her business partners go looking for clues at the house, they find a body—it’s Una, in the garden shed, with a sickle in her neck. Janet never did like that garden shed.

Who wanted Una dead? After discovering a cache of nasty letters, Janet and her friends are beginning to wonder who didn’t, including Janet’s ex-husband. Surrounded by a cast of characters with whom readers will fall in love, the new owners of Yon Bonnie Books set out to solve Una’s murder so they can get back to business.

A delightful and deadly new novel about recognizing one’s strengths and weakness—while also trying to open a new book shop—Plaid and Plagiarism is the start of an entertaining new Scottish mystery series.

This was an enjoyable drama that kept my interest from beginning to end. It has a comfortable tone and the pacing made it easy to follow all that is happening within the pages. We are introduced to four women starting over with a new business and the action starts when this group of amateur sleuths set out to find a killer. I like how this story was set up with a solid plot, a good mystery was that nicely done, plenty of suspects and some intriguing twists and turns that enhanced the telling of this tale. The author did a great job in giving us some insight into each woman and I like that it was used in how they sought out clues to the murder. With engaging conversation, a good supporting cast with the small town as a backdrop, this was a delightfully charming debut and I can’t wait to read more adventures with Janet and her friends.

FTC Full Disclosure – I received a digital ARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley.

A Day in the Life with Dave Mason by Mar Preston

a-very-private-high-schoolI’ve written four—and soon five novels—set in the world of the Santa Monica Police Department. Homicide Detective Dave Mason is 37, and Santa Monica is an upscale glitzy seaside suburb of Los Angeles. Santa Monica is home to the homeless, a city of haves and have nots, ripe for dirty politicians, psychopathic homeowners, car thieves, and celebrity troublemakers.

Mason’s 10-hour shift, four days a week, starts with checking for a message from his nine-year-old daughter who lives too far away with her mother and new stepdad, a comic book artist. Finding something from her in his email box makes him smile. Most days he meets with his partner Art Delgado at the Public Safety Building two blocks from the ocean in downtown Santa Monica.

Today he’s scheduled for a krav maga training, the Israeli self-defense system. Mason and his partner Art pull themselves away from the minutia of the four or five cases they’re working for an hour or so of dirty street fighting practice. With the high tension anxiety/sudden low tension life he leads, the irregular meal times, and too much coffee–Mason struggles to keep his weight down. He played beer league hockey until a few years, but then his knees went.

He heads down later to the basement forensic specialist lab to check the white board where hits on cases they’re working are displayed. He hounds the forensics people on fingerprints they sent in two weeks ago. Ginger, his long-time lady love calls 10:15. Another non-profit fundraising job has collapsed under her, no fault of Ginger’s. Mason doesn’t always say the right thing to Ginger—he always knows how to talk to some dirt bag in the interview room–but this time he does. They arrange to meet for lunch on the bluff above the ocean. Both of them know a detective’s life is iffy. Anything could happen at the last minute—and does this time as well.

When one of the occasional whodunit murders comes along that eats up the budget and gives Mason hives, Laura Fredericks is assigned to them. Fredericks is an over-eager, loud and brassy investigator with a crush on Mason. 11:15 a.m. and they get a report of a dead body in the high-end real estate part of the town. Is it a natural death, a suicide, or a homicide? Fredericks fusses and fumes, cursing slow drivers. Even cops can’t get through the traffic in Santa Monica quickly.

Fredericks brags about taking down the krav maga instructor. She could put Mason down in a heartbeat, and she knows he knows it. Finally he tells her to tame down her mouth, or get out and walk. Her red-head, freckled face goes pink with embarrassment. Mason makes a string of short calls on his cell phone keeping other cases going. Illegal use of cell phones while driving really sets a good example for the citizens.

The dead body is a suicide, so Mason and Fredericks are back at the station for a meeting to update the Sarge. Then a call comes in that the new light rail line that’s in the test phase from downtown L.A. to the ocean has crashed into a truck. What’s it going to be like on hot August weekends when the train brings half a million people to the beach looking for a good time?

Back at the station at 3 p.m., Mason snatches a half-hour to write reports. Report-writing, a major activity in a cop’s life, never seems to appear on TV cop dramas. Eighteen new emails: updates from the forensic specialists, stupid cop jokes, BOLOs, notifications from the FBI and Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department. Four insistent phone messages he can’t ignore. He postpones his weapons qualifying test for another week. Gnawing hunger pains at 4 o’clock. He clatters downstairs to the vending machine in the lobby for a candy bar.

Another call: a disgruntled girlfriend diming out the cheating boyfriend that Mason’s been dogging in a case involving a two-year-old gang murder. Is she believable? Will she change her mind if this goes to court? Move it, Mason. Down to a beach parking lot…more traffic. She isn’t there, but now he’s got a name and a phone number.

More report writing. More knock and talks on doors looking for a witness to an assault on a Korean tourist staying at one of the luxury hotels overlooking the ocean and the pier. His daughter calls and Mason’s face brightens.

His day ends with a call from the victim of a carjacking. His spirits sag. No, nothing new to tell her. He slaps his partner on the shoulder as he passes his cubicle, checking out for the day.

Mason passes the Watch Commander’s office with the dancing display of the map of Santa Monica showing the location of all the cars out on patrol around the city.

He accomplished something today, he hopes.

Here’s a link to reading more about my Dave Mason and Santa Monica novels.

A Very Private High School is the fourth book in the Detective Dave Mason mystery series, published by Pertinacity Press, July 2015.

Santa Monica, California, is home to the homeless, a city of haves and have nots, ripe for dirty politicians, psychopathic homeowners, car thieves, and celebrity troublemakers. A vicious carjacking maims a firefighter that Homicide Detective Dave Mason of the Santa Monica Police Department used to tomcat around with.

Carjackers up the stakes when a hit-and-run linked to them leads Mason to an elite private high school where a boiling controversy is already erupting over financial shenanigans.

The investigation suggests the school’s director likes bad boys and dark, hidden places. On sketchy evidence, Mason needs to convince the brass that funds from the embezzlement are filtering into a Russian carjacking and theft operation. Everything changes when Ginger, the love of Mason’s life and the school’s fundraiser disappears.

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Meet the author
Mar Preston is the author of 5 police procedurals and four writing craft books. Her whodunits celebrate the mean streets of Santa Monica and a fictional California mountain village somewhat like where she lives. She is a co-founder of the local SPCA, a dog park, a network of low-power radio stations, and picks up road kill for her wildlife rehab buddies to feed the big raptors.

All comments are welcomed.

Giveaway: Two people (US entries only, please) selected at random will receive a print copy of A Very Private High School. Leave a comment below for your chance to win. The giveaway ends December 5, 2016 at 11:59 AM EST. Good luck everyone!

A Day in the Life with Kristie by D.E. Haggerty

self-serve-murderMe? You want to hear about a day in my life. Are you sure you have the right person? I think you may want to hear about Anna’s day, not mine. Even my boss, the nerdiest person on the planet, is more interesting than me. My life is just plain boring. I work two jobs and go to graduate school. Being that busy doesn’t exactly lead to blood-thumping, heart-stopping adventures.

If you think I’m crazy for working two jobs while going to school, you’ll think I’m even crazier when you hear I turned down a free ride as well. My parents were willing to pay for school for me – all the way through med school. But that’s just it. They were only willing to pay for med school. At least that’s what they say. I’m pretty sure if I said I wanted to go into general medicine and join Doctors Without Borders, they would have had a fit.

I may be soft spoken and not have much of a temper, but I am a bit stubborn. Okay, a lot stubborn because I flat out refused my parents’ money. Support shouldn’t come with conditions. Why can’t I just study what I want to? You can only imagine the arguments this lead to. Despite the arguments (read: guilt trips), I refused the money my parents were ‘willing’ to provide. In their words: ‘I turned my back on them’. They do love to exaggerate. Anyway, I was admitted into the School of Social Work and never looked back. I finished my Bachelor’s of Social Work in May and now I’m working on my masters.

In the meantime, bills have to be paid. I work 20 hours a week at a youth center in a shabby part of the city. I’m required to do a field placement and the youth center is mine. I’m hoping to work there full-time after I finally graduate. Can you keep a secret? I’m totally getting hired full-time when I get my masters. The job is pretty much guaranteed. Just don’t tell the cupcake girls.

The cupcake girls, Anna and Callie, are my colleagues at Callie’s Cakes where I work most mornings and weekends providing the liquor of the gods to college students and stressed-out business workers. Anna and Callie are my best friends. I love the girls, but those two could find trouble at a nunnery! There’s more than one reason I call them the troublesome twosome. They’re forever sticking their noses into places they are most definitely not welcome. Callie even ended up in some danger when she got herself embroiled in a murder investigation.

That’s not for me. Pretending to be some private investigator or super spy or something and solving murders? No way. Although, if I’m being perfectly honest, I have been dipping a toe into the investigations business lately. I heard more than a few rumors about something absolutely atrocious happening on campus. Promise not to tell Anna or Callie?

Okay, here’s the deal. Do you mind if I just whisper in your ear? Come closer. Rumor has it that someone is drugging girls on campus and . . . er. . . abusing the girls – if you know what I mean – while they’re incapacitated. Well, I couldn’t let something like that just go, could I? I tried to find out from the campus police what they’re doing to stop these horrible crimes, but they were not helpful at all. In fact, they kind of kicked me out of their station.

Well, fine then. If they’re not going to help, it’s going to be up to me. Anna does always say that I’m out to save the world. I usually roll my eyes at her saying that, but I’ve got to admit she’s got a point this time. I’ve tried to ask other students what’s going on, but no one’s talking to me. So this Friday, it’s on. I’m heading to the campus bar up the road from my apartment and I am going to find out what in the name of coffee is happening on this campus – no matter what.

I never go to bars – let alone by myself. Wish me luck.

Self-Serve Murder is the third book in the Death by Cupcake mystery series, December 2016.

Kristie is kind with a capital K, so it’s quite the surprise when she wakes up next to a dead man with no recollection of the previous night. Even worse? She’s naked. Kristie may be a sweetheart out to save the world, but sticking her nose into an investigation of rapes across campus makes her the target of a murderer. Before she knows it, Kristie is smack dab in the middle of a murder investigation with her colleagues Callie and Anna. If that’s not enough to drive a sane person up the wall, a friend has decided he’s going to keep her safe whether she wants him to or not. And, oh yeah, he’s her man and that’s that.

Come join us at Callie’s Cakes, where murder investigations are on the menu. You are most welcome, but you may need to serve yourself as our barista Kristie is busy trying to save the world.

Warning: Although there are plenty of moments that will make you shake your head and laugh at the antics of the ladies of Callie’s Cakes, the subject matter – rape on college campuses – is very real and somewhat darker than your usual cozy mystery.

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About the author
I grew up reading everything I could get my hands on from my mom’s Harlequin romances to Nancy Drew to Little Women. When I wasn’t flipping pages in a library book, I was penning horrendous poems, writing songs no one dena-haggertyshould ever sing, or drafting stories which have thankfully been destroyed. College and a stint in the U.S. Army came along, robbing me of free time to write and read, although I did manage, every once in a while, to sneak a book into my rucksack between rolled up socks, MRIs, t-shirts, and cold weather gear. After surviving the army experience, I went back to school and got my law degree. I jumped ship and joined the hubby in the Netherlands before the graduation ceremony could even begin. A few years into my legal career, I was exhausted, fed up, and just plain done. I quit my job and sat down to write a manuscript, which I promptly hid in the attic after returning to the law. But being a lawyer really wasn’t my thing, so I quit (again!) and went off to Germany to start a B&B. Turns out being a B&B owner wasn’t my thing either. I decided to follow the husband to Istanbul for a few years where I managed to churn out book after book. But ten years was too many to stay away from ‘home’. I packed up again and moved to The Hague where I’m currently working on my next book. I hope I’ll always be working on my next book.

Learn more about D.E. Website ~ Blog ~ Facebook ~ Twitter ~ Amazon author page ~ Goodreads ~ Pinterest ~ Google+

All comments are welcomed.

Giveaway: Leave a comment below for your chance to win a kindle version of the previous two books in the Death by Cupcake series: Never Trust a Skinny Cupcake Baker and Bring Your Own Baker. The giveaway ends December 4, 2016 at 11:59 AM EST. Good luck everyone!

A Day in the Life of Jo Larsen by Susan McBride

walk-into-silenceMy life was never perfect. But whose life is anyway?

I had more than the typical Mommy Issues, although I have a pretty good excuse. Momma was never quite right after my daddy walked out. I’m not sure whether she blamed him more. . .or me. She started going out at night and leaving me alone. And when she was home, she was drinking.

Was it wrong to want my mother to see me? To be with me? But when I tried to engage her, her reaction was always the same. She’d wave her glass and tell me in a slurred voice to go outside and play, that my restlessness annoyed her.

I learned early on about being alone, about relying on myself. If I was the only one responsible, then I was the only one to blame. Things that happen early on, the loss of control, the loss of innocence, they end up shaping us, don’t they? Trying to put the past in the past is work, and it’s not easy.

I’m not good at trusting others much less leaning on them. There are just two people who’ve ever seen me let my guard down, two men who couldn’t be more different and whom I couldn’t do without.

The first is my partner, Hank Phelps, a combination of goofy big brother and overprotective dad. Hank’s a family man with a wife, two kids, and a car that reeks of French fries from weeks-old Happy Meals. He likes watching Jerry Springer in the wee hours of the night. Endlessly riding Space Mountain is his idea of a great vacation.

But I would trust him with my life.

The second man, Adam McCaffrey, is a medical examiner for the county. We met when I was with the Dallas P.D., and he had my vic on his table. I wouldn’t say it was love at first sight, but there was chemistry. It might have worked way back then if he hadn’t been married. I walked away rather than screw up his life—God knows, I didn’t need to further screw up mine—and I don’t regret it. When he showed up on my doorstep, telling me his divorce was final, I let him in. I don’t regret that either.

It helped, more than I’d like to admit, having them both watching my back when I took the lead on a case involving a missing housewife named Jenny Dielman. Her husband claimed she’d gone shopping and had never come back. She’d been married before, had lost her only child, which had led to the divorce. She’d apparently never healed, or so Patrick Dielman insisted.

“Jenny had problems dealing with Finn’s death. It was hard for her to accept, especially since she couldn’t have any more children.”

“Why’s that?”

“They did a hysterectomy after Finn was born because of bleeding. She said it didn’t matter because no child could replace her son.” He squirmed. “Sometimes she acted like she’d lost—” He stopped himself.

“Lost what?”

“Everything,” he said and shook his head. “I don’t know. She’d been acting upset and confused lately. She complained that things weren’t where she’d left them, that stuff was missing.”

“Like what?”

“Her keys, a photograph, even the scarf I gave her for her birthday. Sometimes she’d swear she’d locked the door, but it was left open.” He pinched the bridge of his nose. “I told her she was being paranoid.”

I wondered if Jenny had just run away for a while, to find breathing room apart from her current spouse who struck me as smothering. But Patrick Dielman rejected that idea. When I asked him if Jenny could have been involved with someone else, he bristled and denied it. When I asked the same about him, Mr. Dielman got up and walked out.

Where are you, Jenny? I found myself asking, itching to know more about her: who she was and if the death of her son had driven her to do something bad, like harming herself, perhaps. Or had something bad happened to her?

With Hank’s help—and Adam’s as well—that’s exactly what I aimed to find out.

Walk Into Silence is the first book in the Jo Larsen mystery series, published by Thomas & Mercer, December 2016.

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About the author
Susan McBride is the USA Today bestselling author of the Debutante Dropout Mysteries and the River Road Mysteries. She has won a Lefty Award, been twice nominated for the Anthony Award, and received the RT Reviewers’ Choice Award for Best Amateur Sleuth. She lives in St. Louis with her husband and daughter. Walk Into Silence is her first mystery with Thomas & Mercer. It was a November Kindle First Pick in the US, UK, and Australia. For more on Susan, visit SusanMcBride.com.

All comments are welcomed.

Giveaway: Two people (US entries only, please) selected at random will receive a signed copy of Walk Into Silence. Leave a comment below for your chance to win. The giveaway ends December 3, 2016 at 11:59 AM EST. Good luck everyone!

A Day in the Life of Meg Reed by Kate Dyer-Seeley

first-degree-mudderIt had to be mud. Mud—gooey, sticky, oozing mud. Mud squished in the soles of my cute pink kicks that had turned the color of chocolate. Come to think of it, I could go for a pound or two of dark chocolate about now. Instead I huffed and puffed my way up the hill past the haunted old Army hospital and toward the creepy little old lady’s house.

I had no one other than myself to blame. It was entirely my idea to sign-up for my first mud run, aptly named Mud, Sweat and Beers. This is Portland, Oregon after all. You can’t go more than a block without bumping into a pub or artisan coffee shop. Or, worse a team of hipsters. Portland had become a mecca for twenty-somethings, like myself, who were drawn to the city’s laidback vibe, abundant outdoor adventure opportunities, craft beer, and coffee. Unlike me, many of Portland’s newest transplants weren’t interested in building their careers. They were much more focused on hitting the slopes or heading to the coast to catch some killer waves.

I was a serious journalist with a bona fide job writing for Northwest Extreme, one of the country’s leading outdoor magazines. Sure, maybe I wasn’t the most athletic member of our small team, and maybe I wore a tad too much pink, but every time I saw my byline with the words: Meg Reed, reporter, on the magazine’s glossy pages I had to smile. I was living the dream.

Of course at the moment all I could dream about was a double mocha with extra whipping cream. I had to pick up the pace and beat my training mates back to the showers. Let’s just say that I might have taken a bit of a shortcut. It wasn’t cheating. I had been tagging along on the grueling pre-dawn training runs for the past week as an observant journalist, not for the actual workouts. My trainer, Billy the Tank, didn’t see it that way. He pushed me as hard—if not harder—than everyone else. I could almost hear his booming voice and blaring whistle in my head as I hurdled over a waist-high fence and made a beeline for the grassy hill that led to the barracks.

Mud runs had been touted as “fun runs” but in my humble opinion there was nothing fun about slogging through thick, smelly mud, running in wet shoes, and trying to clamber up and over a variety of excruciating obstacles. Where was the fun in that? I’d call my training sessions nothing short of punishment. People actually paid to be tortured like this, I thought as I slid down the wet grass slope.

Fort Vancouver’s historic barracks were in sight. I was almost out of the woods. If all went according to plan I could drown the slimy mud coating every inch of my body in a scalding hot shower and hit the nearest coffee shop before any of my teammates realized I was missing. However not much in my world ends up according to plan. Mud was about to be the least of my worries. I was soon to be in thick of a murder investigation.

First Degree Mudder is the fourth book in the Pacific Northwest mystery series, published by Kensington, November 2016.

When a mud marathon champion bites the dust, Meg Reed has to go the distance to make sure a killer comes clean . . .

Back home in Portland, Oregon, Meg is ready to take her career as an outdoor writer for Extreme magazine to the next level. Lesser journalists sling mud—Meg plans to run through it. To train hard for Mud, Sweat & Beers, an extreme 5K mud run, she’s signed on with the Mind Over Mudder team, run by ten-time mud marathon champ—and former drill sergeant—Billy the Tank. But when Meg finds her tenacious trainer dead in the locker room, she has a sinking feeling someone may have been pushed too far. Digging through the hidden secrets at Mind Over Mudder is a dirty job, but somebody’s got to do it. Meg will have to tread carefully, though—or she may soon be running for her life . . .

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About the author
Kate Dyer-Seeley writes the Pacific Northwest Mystery Series for Kensington Publishing, featuring a young journalist, Meg Reed, who bills herself as an intrepid adventurer in order to land a gig writing for Northwest Extreme. Only Meg’s idea of sport is climbing onto the couch without spilling her latte.
She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and son, where you can find her hitting the trail, at an artisan coffee shop, or at her favorite pub. Better yet—at all three. Connect with Kate at katedyerseeley.com, on Twitter and on Facebook.

All comments are welcomed.

Giveaway: Leave a comment below for your chance to win a print copy of First Degree Mudder. US entries only, please. The giveaway ends December 2, 2016 at 11:59  AM EST. Good luck everyone!

A Day in the Life with Claire Britten by Karen Harper

chasing-shadowsI am forensic psychologist Claire Britten. Although a lot of my work in the past has been helping corporations or individuals ferret out fraud, I am now employed by criminal lawyer Nick Markwood here in Naples, Florida. My new job is one I hope won’t take me too far from home, as I’m a working mom, recently divorced, with a four-year-old daughter. I promised myself and my ex that I wouldn’t take an assignment far from home, but here I am at the other end of the Sunshine State, helping Nick prove whether a death was an accident, murder or suicide.

My motto is “The dead still talk if you know how to listen.” If you don’t know, a forensic psych does not do lab or autopsy work but dissects people’s lives, usually after they are dead. I interview people they left behind—enemies, family—sometimes those are one and the same. I’m a handwriting expert and read body language. The thing is, my work can be dangerous if the person I interview is a so-called person of interest or, worse yet, the murderer.

Nick is totally dedicated not only to his law firm, but to a private endeavor called South Shores. When he was a boy, he found his father dead of an apparent suicide, but has always been certain it was a murder, and by a trusted friend. So, besides his public cases, he is on a covert mission to expose the billionaire who set his father up—and ruined lives.

I don’t know whether it’s good or bad that I’m falling for Nick. The dangers we are in here on this first case are pulling us closer together. Who would think that a beautiful Civil War era plantation would be treacherous? Worse, it’s supposed to be haunted. And what are Nick’s ties to the woman he’s defending who owns it?

A day in my life? Every one is different, and lately, dangerous. Although I’ve promised myself that, if I live through this, I will just return to my little girl and my tame fraud fighting—hopefully, mostly on line through my Clear Path website. But the allure of adventure and Nick makes that hard. I love helping people and families in need, but I know I need to help my own family. If I survive this Chasing Shadows case, there is the Mangrove Murder case looming, a case that may change my life again forever.

Chasing Shadows is the first book in the NEW South Shores romantic suspense series, published by MIRA, November 2016.

The dead still talk if you know how to listen. . .

Every case that Claire Britten cracks is a win, not only professionally but personally. The forensic psychologist has spent a lifetime fighting a neurological disorder, and her ability to conquer it is a testament to her razor-sharp intuition.

Nick Markwood is used to winning in the courtroom, so when his latest case is overthrown by Claire’s expert testimony, he can’t help being impressed by her skill. He needs her on the team of his passion project—investigating unusual cases involving mysterious deaths. Her condition doesn’t deter him, and neither does the attraction that sparks between them. . .even if it should.

As they join forces to investigate a murder in St. Augustine, Florida, Claire is thrust into a situation far more dangerous than she’d anticipated, pushing her disorder to a breaking point. Just when she fears she can’t trust her own mind, she discovers Nick’s personal connection to the case—and wonders whether she can trust anyone at all.

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Meet the author
Karen Harper is the NY Times and USA Today bestselling author of contemporary romantic suspense and historical novels about real British women. Winner of the 2006 Mary Higgins Clark Award, Karen and her husband divide their time between Florida and Ohio. Chasing Shadows is the launch book for her new South Shores Series with two more books following in February and May.  Connect with Karen at karenharperauthor.com, on Facebook.

All comments are welcomed.

Giveaway: Leave a comment below for your chance to win a print copy of Chasing Shadows. US entries only, please. The giveaway ends December 1, 2016 at 11:59 AM EST. Good luck everyone!

A Day in the Life with Nicki Valentine by Susan O’Brien

skydiveDoesn’t it seem like just when life gets comfortable, something has to rock the boat? Okay, maybe “comfortable” is an exaggeration. I mean, life as a private investigator, single mom, and girlfriend to an unnervingly hot guy is a lot to juggle. But recently, life has felt “routine”. . .in a good, reliable way. That’s why I don’t know what to do about this letter I got from jail.

Part of me wants to pretend it didn’t arrive—that there isn’t an incarcerated mom desperately worried about her endangered daughter, Kat, who just “aged out” of foster care. The other part of me is an expert at worrying, both as a mom and a P.I. And when my worries feel instinctual, they’re impossible to ignore. Kind of like a screaming child when you just got on the phone with your best friend. (No surprise I’m also an expert at differentiating types of screams. What mom isn’t?)

Speaking of best friends, that’s who I need to call about this whole thing: my BFF Kenna. Sure, she can be startlingly blunt and pushy, but I haven’t walked a mile in her six-inch heels. (I have pole danced in them, however, thanks to her shenanigans.) In fact, Kenna’s the perfect match for my more cautious personality. Also, she just finished her private investigator training, so maybe she’ll want to help me out. Now that would be interesting. . .as long as she doesn’t get us into trouble.

The kids will be home from school soon, which means I better get going. I need to finish some work, make snacks, plan dinner, and shower before heading to the bus stop. Not that the other parents/caregivers would judge my frazzled style. (Elementary school bus stops should be more like mini support groups.) But my boyfriend is coming for dinner, and I’d rather smell like soap than the sweaty soccer uniforms I just threw in the washer, at least at this stage of our relationship. Hm. I can’t help but wonder where that’s going, too.

Things are more peaceful than ever right now, but I have a feeling that’s going to change. I’m not sure if it’ll be for the better (excitement, progress, and making a difference!), for the worse (danger, destruction, and failure!), or a mix both. No matter what, I know it will be an adventure.

Skydive is the third book in the Nicki Valentine mystery series, published by Henery Press, November 2016.

Life is finally settling down for private investigator Nicki Valentine, her kids, and her boyfriend Dean. But when a jailed mom seeks help for her endangered biological daughter, who just “aged out” of foster care, Nicki can’t say no.

With Dean by her side and her free-wheeling BFF eager to investigate too, Nicki braves back alleys, drug dens, and the strip-club scene, all while wondering if any risk is too great when it comes to finding a teen in trouble.

As if navigating the mean streets of King County, Virginia, isn’t enough, Nicki also faces the realities of dating as a single mom, including “sleepover” requests she never anticipated. Ultimately—in both relationships and work—Nicki must decide, “How much am I willing to risk for love?”

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About the author
Susan O’Brien has been passionate about reading and writing since childhood, when she started a neighborhood newspaper and escaped tween stress with mysteries. Since covering her first big story (the birth of gerbils next door), she has worked with USA TODAY, PI Magazine, The Parent Institute and others. Her debut mystery, Finding Sky, was nominated for a Best First Novel Agatha Award. Among Susan’s diverse interests are photography, gardening, loud R&B music, healing prayer and reality TV. She lives with her husband and children in a D.C. suburb and donates part of her earnings to missing children’s organizations. Visit her online at www.SkywritingSusan.com, on Twitter and on Facebook.

All comments are welcomed.

Giveaway: Leave a comment below for your chance to win a digital copy of Finding Sky. US entries only, please. The giveaway ends November 30, 2016 at 11:59 AM EST. Good luck everyone!


weekly update
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Week of Nov. 27, 2016 ~ New Releases
burke cleland dyer haggerty
harper kales mcbride obrien
pressey shaber smith talley

Congratulations to our winners!
Marry in Haste by Susan Van Kirk – Gail A.
Maggie Dove’s Detective Agency by Susan Breen – Cathy I.
Murder at the Book Group by Maggie King – Robin C.
The Cupcake Caper by Kelle Z. Riley – Sharon F.
Huntress Moon/Blood Moon/Cold Moon by Alexandra Sokoloff – Connie R.

Last week on dru’s book musings
“Maggie Dove’s Detective Agency” by Susan Breen
“Murder at the Moonshine Inn” by Maggie King
“The Cupcake Caper” by Kelle Z. Riley
“Bitter Moon” by Alexandra Sokoloff
“Shades of Wrath” by Karen Rose Smith
“Share The Darkness” by J.R. Lindermuth


My Musing ~ Walk Into Silence by Susan McBride

Walk Into Silence by Susan McBride is the first book in the NEW “Jo Larsen” mystery series. Publisher: Thomas & Mercer, December 2016

walk-into-silenceA woman vanishes from a Texas town. Did she simply run off, or is something darker at play?

When Patrick Dielman shows up at Detective Jo Larsen’s desk insisting that his wife, Jenny, is missing, Jo wonders if it’s a case of a bored housewife running away.

But as she digs deeper into Jenny’s life, Jo learns that Dielman keeps a stranglehold on the family finances, down to the last nickel, and that Jenny’s first marriage dissolved following the death of her young son. By all accounts—including her doctor’s—she never recovered from the loss. Between a controlling husband, a tragic past, and a callous ex-husband, Jo can’t be sure if she should suspect foul play or accept that the woman may have wanted to disappear.

For Jo, whose own demons are shadowing her every step, finding Jenny becomes more than the typical protect-and-serve.

We are introduced to Jo Larsen whose past haunts her, particularly in this case that she is working, where the past is breaking to be free for both Jo and the victim. What an excellent and well-written plot that bridged two worlds to a conclusion that is worth the wait. This action-packed drama had me immersed in all that was happening from the words written by the victim, from Jo’s internal thoughts and from the supporting players who played a vital part in the telling of this captivating story. The mystery was staged perfectly to pull you in where the deviousness of the suspect was told in the victim’s words. Amid a kaleidoscope of dogged determination and police work, the case took on an interesting twist that truly enhanced the telling of this tale and the culmination exposed a killer with fallout from other contributing factors. Boasting a great cast of characters with engaging dialogue, this grippingly entertaining debut was a fantastic read and I look forward to more adventures with Jo and her friends.