A day in the life of Claire Conover by Margaret Fenton

Hi! My name is Claire Conover and I’m a child welfare social worker at the Department of Human Services (DHS) in Birmingham, Alabama. I’m thirty years old and I’ve been doing this job—longer than I can remember. Most days are pretty routine. I do the initial investigations when a call comes in about a child in danger. I visit the child, assess the situation, get them medical help and shelter if needed. It sounds more horrific then it really is. I get to work with a lot of wonderful children. It’s a state job, so there is more paperwork than anyone should have to do, ever, and that takes up a lot of my time. That, and court appearances for reviews.

Some days aren’t as routine. I remember I had this one case last summer. The child’s name was Michael Hennessy and he was not quite two. He was poisoned. The cops were a hundred percent sure that his mother had killed him but I knew that couldn’t be true. Ashley had gotten herself clean and worked two jobs to get her son back after DHS removed him. She loved him more than anything. Seeing her behind bars was tough, so I had to figure out what happened. That turned into a big mess that didn’t get me in good favor with my bosses, either.

And last September I had a case that kept me frantic. The police picked up a girl who was sleeping behind a grocery store. I picked her up and got her into foster care, and then she disappeared. Her mother turned up murdered, so I had to find her and figure out what was going on.

In the midst of all this I try to have a life. I’m very close to my father, Christopher, who is a therapist here. He was a Freedom Rider back in the sixties and he’s an advocate for anything that needs advocating for—anti-war, the environment, racial equality, you get the idea. I have a boyfriend, Grant Summerville, who I met while investigating Michael’s death. It’s a new relationship and we are feeling our way through it. Then there’s Kirk Mahoney. He’s a reporter that just about drove me over the edge in the Hennessy case. He always seems to be around when I don’t need him. But boy, he’s smokin’ hot.

My cases are being turned into books that I hope you will check out and enjoy. I’d like to thank Dru Ann for letting me introduce myself today. She’s amazing and it’s been fun!

You can read more about Claire in Little Girl Gone, the second book in the “Claire Conover” mystery series.

Claire Conover is back in the sequel to Little Lamb Lost. She has taken a 13-year-old girl into custody after she is found sleeping behind a grocery store. The girl’s murdered mother is found at a construction site owned by a family friend, then the girl disappears. Her mother worked in an illegal gambling industry in Birmingham. Things only get more complicated from there. Is it possible the girl pulled the trigger? She doesn’t have a lot of street smarts, so where could she have run? Claire has to find the answers, and the girl, fast.

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Meet the author
Margaret Fenton grew up on the Mississippi Gulf Coast and moved to Birmingham in 1996. She received her B.A. in English from the Newcomb College of Tulane University, and her Master of Social Work from Tulane. Fenton spent nearly ten years as a child and family therapist before taking a break to focus on her writing. Her work tends to reflect her interest in social causes and mental health, especially where kids are concerned. She serves as planning coordinator of Murder in the Magic City, a one-day, one-track annual mystery fan conference in Homewood, Alabama. She is President of the Birmingham Chapter of Sisters in Crime and a member of the Mystery Writers of America. Margaret lives in the Birmingham suburb of Hoover with her husband, a software developer.

All comments are welcomed.

My Musing ~ Come High Water by Susan McBride

Come Helen High Water by Susan McBride is the fourth book in the “River Road” mystery series. Publisher: Witness Impulse, coming June 27, 2017

Spring has sprung, the river is rising, and when Luann Dupree, the head of River Bend’s Historical Society, vanishes into the night, everyone in town is convinced she’s run off with her Internet Romeo. But her lifelong friend, Sarah Biddle, is convinced Luann is the victim of foul play. No one believes her—not even her husband, the local sheriff, so she turns to Helen Evans for help.

As River Bend’s resident puzzle-solver, Helen’s tackled many a local mystery before. So she agrees to help Sarah, even though she’s not so sure herself that Luann is really in trouble. But as the town’s flood waters slowly recede, dead fish and muck aren’t the only things Helen finds. She begins to uncover town secrets, false identities. . .and the very real chance that Luann might not be discovered alive. . .

With an approaching flood on the rise, Helen is on the case when a woman goes missing and a neighbor’s husband is later found dead, perhaps murdered. Who is behind these two incidents? Well step inside Come Helen High Water and you’ll find a story filled with suspense, intrigue, trepidation and heartbreak as Helen looks for answers. The author did a great job in telling this story with visually descriptive narrative that pulled me in immediately from the impending flood, to Bernie who suffers from Alzheimer, to the happenings at the Historical Society, and to that surprising double twist at the end. This was a well-written drama and a terrific story in a series I enjoy reading.

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

My Musing ~ Lowcountry Bonfire by Susan M. Boyer

Lowcountry Bonfire by Susan M. Boyer is the sixth book in the “Liz Talbot” mystery series. Publisher: Henery Press, coming June 27, 2017

Private Investigators Liz Talbot and Nate Andrews have worked their share of domestic cases. So when Tammy Sue Lyerly hires them to find out what her husband is hiding, they expect to find something looney but harmless. After all, this is the guy who claims to have been a DEA agent, a champion bull rider, and a NASCAR driver. But when he turns up dead the morning after Liz and Nate deliver the incriminating photos, Tammy is the prime suspect.

Questioning the truth of Zeke Lyerly’s tall-tales, Liz and Nate race to uncover small town scandals, long buried secrets, and the victim’s tumultuous past to keep Tammy Sue out of jail and the case from going up in flames.

This is one of my favorite series and whenever I read the latest book, it feels like homecoming has arrived. Liz and Nate investigates a murder and with each step forward, their suspect list grows and it’s their tenacity that leads them to a killer.

The author has a way with the narrative that wrapped me up in a cocoon filled with southern charm and mayhem. Any book that makes me feel what the characters feel is a testament to the author’s ability to pull me in and create long-lasting moments to cherish.

The pacing fits the tempo of this enticingly intriguing tale where the mystery was executed nicely, keeping me in the throes of what was happening with the residents of Stella Maris, especially that tense moment when I couldn’t read fast enough to learn the outcome of the incident involving one of the duo. As always, I enjoy time spent with Liz’s parents who light up any scene they are featured in.

Boasting a superb cast of characters, engaging dialogue and a small-town atmosphere, this was one of the best book in this wonderfully endearing series.

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

My Musing ~ Murder at the Puppy Fest by Laurien Berenson

Murder at the Puppy Fest by Laurien Berenson is the 20th book in the “Melanie Travis” mystery series. Publisher: Kensington, coming June 27, 2017

Frolicking with dogs is Melanie Travis’s idea of heaven. So when she’s invited to be a “puppy wrangler” at a benefit for a local dog rescue, the last thing she expects is to be chasing after a tricky killer.

As a busy mom and pedigree Poodle owner, Melanie has little time to spare. Still, she doesn’t mind helping out at Puppy Fest, an annual fundraiser to benefit Puppy Posse, a local dog rescue organization. Considering the venue–Belle Haven mansion, owned by wealthy philanthropist Leo Brody–it’s shaping up to be the can’t-miss charity event of the summer. Unfortunately, when Melanie’s breeding background lands her in the doghouse with Jane, Leo’s snappy daughter who runs the rescue, Melanie finds herself simultaneously managing Puppy Fest and the millionaire’s hopelessly fractious family.

But once Puppy Fest kicks off, Leo is nowhere to be found–until Melanie discovers his current mistress crouching over his dead body. According to police, the father of nine’s severe nut allergy went into overdrive after he accidentally consumed a contaminated cookie. However, Libby, one of Leo’s children and a friend of Melanie’s Aunt Peg, believes someone deliberately put him down for good. And now, she’s begging a reluctant Melanie to unearth the secrets hidden by the Brody pack. But the closer Melanie gets to fetching answers, the higher the stakes become–and the more she realizes that she’s chasing a criminal who’s been groomed to win.

I always like my annual visit with Melanie and her friends and family. Murder is afoot and Melanie finds herself once again involved and it’s her interactions with humans and our furry friends that makes this book a delight to read.

I love the comfortable tone and the evenly paced tempo of this whodunit that grabbed my attention with the first sighting of “Bud.” The author did a great job in delivering a well-written mystery with plenty of suspects and enough clues to keep me glued to the pages as I had to know what happens next. The narrative was visually descriptive, putting me in the middle of all the action and I liked that when I thought I had a handle on the person behind the murder, the author changed the direction with some twists and turns, all to the betterment of this captivating story. I enjoyed my time with this story and look forward to the next one is this wonderfully appealing series.

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

My Musing ~ Booked 4 Murder by J.C. Eaton

Booked 4 Murder by J.C. Eaton is the first book in the NEW “Sophie Kimball” mystery series. Publisher: Kensington, coming June 27, 2017

Never judge a book by its cover. . .

Sophie “Phee” Kimball is not a cop. She’s a divorced, middle-aged mom who works as an account clerk for the police department in a small city in Minnesota. But her retired mother, Harriet Plunkett, is convinced Phee is the only one who can solve the mystery of a cursed book. According to Harriet, four members of her book club have already succumbed to the deadly curse. Harriet insists Phee catch the next plane to her retirement community in Sun City West, Arizona, to investigate.

Is her mother just bored and lonely? She does have a new pet—a long-haired chiweenie (half Chihuahua, half Dachshund)—for company and a host of pals (although that number is admittedly dwindling). Phee is certain that their book club selection isn’t cursed, but is somebody really knocking off the ladies? As Phee starts to uncover dark secrets hidden in plain sight under the blazing Arizona sun, she’ll need to read between the lines before it’s someone else’s final chapter. . .

This was such a fun book that I devoured all that was happening in a few sittings. I like the writing style of this book and the comfortable tone that made it easy and enjoyable read. The pacing set the tone to how well this whodunit was executed with narrative that was visually descriptive putting me in the middle of all the action. The mystery was staged perfectly giving me enough clues to follow and it was fun watch it all play out with the suspects until there was only one person left standing. . .the killer. I loved the camaraderie and interactions between Phee and her mother which amused me dearly. Boasting a wonderful cast of characters, engaging dialogue and a small town atmosphere, this was a delightfully charming addition to the cozy genre and I look forward to more exciting times with Phee and her friends.

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FTC Full Disclosure – I received an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) from the publisher.

My Musing ~ Gone with the Wings by Leena Clover

Gone with the Wings by Leena Clover is the first book in the NEW “Meera Patel” mystery series published in June 2017

Author Leena Clover announces a brand new cozy mystery series set in a small Oklahoma college town. Mystery readers will enjoy this culinary cozy murder mystery featuring plenty of yummy recipes like Masala Fried Chicken and Shish Kabob Blue Plate Special.

Meera Patel is back home with the family after she dropped out of graduate school. Now she shelves books for a living and rustles up fusion recipes at Sylvie’s Cafe & Diner. Everything is fine until her old nemesis Prudence Walker floats up in the local pond. Meera is accused of murder! Well, she did publicly declare Prudence would drop dead.

Meera cries foul and screams police harassment. But she has no defense when she is accused of a second crime. Flanked by pals Tony and Becky, Meera puts in the leg work, trying to solve clues and discard red herrings.

Fall in Oklahoma has never been more exciting.

Cozy mystery fans will love this new mystery series featuring an Asian American amateur sleuth. There is a full cast of characters with a professor father, young sibling, old grandparents, loyal friends and a candid glimpse into South Asian culture.

We are introduced to Meera Patel who suddenly finds herself the prime suspect in the murder of her childhood nemesis and of a missing student. With the help of her two best friends, Meera sets out to clear her name and bring a killer to justice.

This was a good read and I liked how the author set the stage in telling this tale where the mystery kept me intrigued as to who would want to murder Prudence and why. It was fun to follow along with Meera as each clue took her closer to the truth. Her interactions with the various characters that crossed her path were interesting and I did enjoy the scenes at home and at the diner. I also like the snippets of culinary delights that were sprinkled throughout this story that had me salivating at the description of the meals. A minor subplot popped up while Meera and her friends were out sleuthing and I hope the author explores the possibility of how this may relate to the Patel family.

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A day in the life with Val Deniston by Maya Corrigan

My latest encounter with a murderer started when my grandfather came into the kitchen a transformed man. He looked as if he belonged in a fountain-of-youth drug ad, not at all like the man who’d welcomed me as a housemate a year ago. Only yesterday he’d resembled Santa Claus, with a fluffy beard, white curls fringing his head, and wire-framed bifocals slipping down his nose. Now he had shorter hair, a trimmed beard, rimless glasses with tinted lenses, and a tweed driver’s cap covering his bald spot on top.

I pointed my wooden spoon at him. “Who are you, and what did you do with the real Don Myer?”

“I got a new look for the New Year and a new client.” He sauntered across the kitchen as if on a runway in a fashion show. Then he shed his black wool car coat, hung it over his chair at the breakfast table, and showed me his shirt and pants—black, hip, and expensive.

“You look . . . fantastic, Granddad. What are you doing that requires a stylish wardrobe?”

“That’s confidential. I’m finally attracting the right type of business. No more tracking down runaway tabbies or stolen garden gnomes.”

I suppressed a smile. “With a business card that identifies you as a problem solver and sleuth, you have to be prepared for any challenge. Mrs. Smith was very grateful you found her cat.”

“She wasn’t grateful enough to pay me with cash, just cookies. I want to earn back some of the money I forked over for that online private-eye course. My client is paying my expenses and gave me an advance. Big bucks.” He adjusted the angle of his driver’s cap.

I turned the burner down as I digested his words. Hard to believe he merited upfront payment based on his dubious online training and a minor role in solving a murder or two. Granddad refused to tell me who was paying him and what he was supposed to do. I only hoped he wasn’t getting in over his head.

My hope was dashed later that afternoon. After parking at an outlet mall, I spotted a bearded man in a black coat and a driver’s cap at the other end of the mall’s sprawling parking lot. Granddad in his new clothes. Could he have been hired as a mystery shopper? A car turned into the lane where he was walking. He paid no attention to it. He staggered. Then he disappeared as if a stage trap door had swallowed him.

You can read more about Val and Granddad in The Tell-Tale Tarte, the fourth book in the “Five-Ingredient” mystery series.

It’s a cold January in the Chesapeake Bay area, but Cool Down Café manager Val Deniston has plenty to sweat over—like catering a book club event, testing recipes for her Granddad’s cookbook, and catching the author of a deadly tale of murder. The last thing Val needs in her life is an unsolved murder, especially when the victim, an actor famed for impersonating Edgar Allan Poe, happens to be dressed exactly like her Granddad. To keep an eye on Granddad, whose latest job takes him to the home of Rick Usher, a local author inspired by Poe, Val gets herself hired as a cook in Rick’s House of Usher. When she discovers the actor wasn’t the only one doing an impersonation, separating the innocent from the murderous becomes a real-life horror story. But Val must decipher a killer’s M.O. sooner rather than later . . . or she can forget about finding poetic justice.

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About the author
Maya (Mary Ann) Corrigan, lives outside Washington, D.C., an easy drive from Maryland’s Eastern Shore, the setting for her culinary mysteries: By Cook or by Crook, Scam Chowder, Final Fondue, and The Tell-Tale Tarte. Her Five-Ingredient Mysteries feature a café manager and her grandfather. Each book includes five suspects, five clues, and Granddad’s five-ingredient recipes. Visit her website at mayacorrigan.com, for more about the series and for trivia about mysteries.

All comments are welcomed.

Giveaway: Leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of The Tell-Tale Tarte (print copy for US entries, e-book outside the US). The giveaway ends June 27, 2017. Good luck everyone!

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