A Day in the Life of Mary Louise by Mary McHugh

High Kicks, Hot Chocolate, and HomicidesWho would have thought I’d be dancing at Radio City Music Hall in New York City with the Rockettes? I’ve loved them since I was a little girl, when my mother would take me to see them dance between movies and shorts and westerns at that incredible theater.

Now my four friends – Tina, a bridal magazine editor, Gini, a documentary film maker, Janice, an actress and director, and Pat, a family therapist — and I were hired to dance with the Rockettes in their Christmas show. We were going to dress up in Santa jackets and hats, and be part of their “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” number. Sounded like the best job we’d ever had, even better than dancing on a cruise ship in Russia, on a luxury train in Spain, a bateau mouche in Paris or at the Copacabana Palace in Rio de Janeiro.

It turned out to be the hardest work we’ve ever done. Those Rockettes don’t fool around. They work their toes off achieving the perfection the audience sees at every show. We were all out of shape and it took every ounce of strength we had to keep up with them. We practiced for hours, which didn’t always make my husband George happy when I got home to New Jersey too late to fix him dinner. He grumbled and groused about my dancing, which he wished I would stop doing. I could never make him understand how important it was to me, how much dancing meant to me.

As if the hard work and George’s complaining weren’t enough, three of the Rockettes were killed. Somehow the killer thought I knew more than I did, and my life was in danger several times in the book I narrated about all this, High Kicks, Hot Chocolate and Homicide. If you’ve been following the adventures of me and my four friends through the first four Happy Hoofer books, you will want to know how I escaped.

In between murders, I cooked, so there are lots of recipes in this book, which is a cozy mystery that welcomes good food. If you get this book, you will learn how to make: Lobster salad, salmon with anchovies, crabcakes, snickerdoodles, veal piccata, croque madame, veal cordon bleu, blanquette de veau, oatmeal pancakes, spaghetti with swordfish in tomato sauce, trout and bacon, vinaigrette salad dressing, cheese puffs, and pastry shells with caviar.

There’s also a cat named Ranger who is a heroine in our story.

Join me in New York and visit the Frick museum, the Alice in Wonderland statue in Central Park. Ride a horse-drawn carriage through the park with me and see the John Lennon memorial. Take a boat ride around the end of the island in Tina’s fiance’s yacht. Listen to the music in Washington Square. You’ll feel like you’re in New York, savoring its variety, its beauty, its excitement. A little too much excitement for me when the killer closes in, I must say.

Are you up for it?


High Kicks, Hot Chocolate, and Homicides is the fifth book in the Happy Hoofers mystery series, published by Kensington, August 2016.

Murder takes center stage . . .

It’s a Christmas miracle for the Happy Hoofers—Tina, Janice, Pat, Mary Louise, and Gini. They’ve scored a gig at New York City’s Radio City Music Hall with the legendary Rockettes, complete with sexy Santa suits and microphones on their shoes. But when a dazzling diva of a dancer is found dead under the stage, there’s quite a lineup of suspects. In between rehearsals and seasonal sightseeing—and the discovery of a multi-talented, multi-colored cat—the toe-tapping troupe has to sort out the intrigue before another victim kicks the bucket . . .

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About the author
Mary McHugh has published 27 books, most recently the first four books in her Happy Hoofer series of cozy murder mysteries for Kensington Books.

She worked for The New York Times, and her article, “Telling Jack,” in the Sunday Times magazine was nominated for an award for best personal essay by the American Society of Journalists and Authors.

Her book “Special Siblings: Growing Up with Someone with a Disability,” was awarded a prize for Special Recognition of a National Project by the Arc of New Jersey.

She worked as an articles editor at three national magazines and was a contributing editor for Cosmopolitan magazine. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Good Housekeeping, Family Circle and seniorwomen.com.

Visit Mary at www.marymchugh.org.

All comments are welcomed.

Giveaway: Leave a comment below for your chance to win a print copy of High Kicks, Hot Chocolate, and Homicides. U.S. residents only, please. The giveaway will end September 28, 2016 at 12 AM (midnight) EST. Good luck everyone!

Bouchercon 2016 Recap

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Bouchercon 2016: Blood On The Bayou
Location: New Orleans, Louisiana
Date: September 15 – 18, 2016

Bouchercon is the world’s finest annual crime fiction event, bringing together more than 1,500 authors, fans, publishers, reviewers, booksellers, editors, and every other part of the community for a fantastic four-day event.


I arrived in New Orleans a couple of days before the start of the convention to get in some sightseeing. First on the agenda was a 2-hour highlights tour of New Orleans. We stopped at Willies for our first taste of New Orleans foods eating Chicken Fingers and it was delicious. Then onto our tour where we saw the sights and sounds of New Orleans that included a stop at St. Louis Cemetery #3, a stop in City Park where we had our first taste of beignets amid a thunderstorm and lightening. Then off to tour Katrina and it’s aftermath. Our final meal of the day was at Creole House where I had the Taste Of The Bayou which is a combination of bayou traditions: Chicken & Andouille Gumbo, Crawfish Etouffée, Red Beans & Rice and Cajun Jambalaya.

The next day we walked to the Aquarium only to find it closed. Then we took the railroad to Jackson Square. We strolled in several of the stores on our way to Café du Monde. We sat in Jackson Square Park and enjoyed the shade and then headed back to the hotel. We had lunch at Palace Café and for our evening meal, we went to Mimi’s for TAPAS. I always wanted to know what it was. I sampled the duck, salmon and broccoli, and steak; I didn’t even look at mushroom plate. Then back to hotel for conversations with other early Bouchercon attendees.

Tuesday was my day to volunteer, so I helped stack books for the Book Bazaar and was impressed with how it was set-up. Then we took a trip to Central Grocery, home of the Original Muffuletta Sandwich. A traditional-style muffuletta sandwich consists of a muffuletta loaf split horizontally and covered with layers of marinated olive salad, mortadella, salami, mozzarella, ham, and provolone. Then a group of use headed to Napoleon House where I. ATE. ALLIGATOR. It was very gamey but good as I ate all of it while left the regular sausage on my plate.

Wednesday, I went on another on another 2-hour tour, this time St. Louis Cemetery #1, where we saw plenty of mausoleum and shrines. We even saw the tomb that actor Nicholas Cage has built. Then it was off the the BOLO Books soiree where we dined on appetizing snacks and imbibed Lemoncello. A good time was had by all.

Thursday was the first official day of the convention and my panel was at noon. We were given a 3-section room and I was surprised that it filled up as it did. The opening ceremony featured the guest arriving on floats. That was fun.

Saturday I attended Ellen Byron’s book launch for Body on the Bayou at Hall-Barnett Gallery where the appetizers were appetizing and the drinks flowing. Another good time was had.

I could tell you more, but I don’t remember much, but these pictures highlight my first trip to New Orleans. Enjoy!

*** SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 11, 2016 ***

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*** MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 12, 2016 ***

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*** TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 13, 2016 ***

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*** WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 14, 2016 ***

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img_2522Nicholas Cage’s tomb

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*** THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 15, 2016 ***

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*** FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 16, 2016 ***

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*** SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 17, 2016 ***

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*** SOCKS ***

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Have you ever attended a reader/author convention?

My Musing ~ Death By Pumpkin Spice by Alex Erickson

Death By Pumpkin Spice by Alex Erickson is the third book in the “Bookstore Café” mystery series. Publisher: Kensington, September 27 2016

Death by Pumpkin SpiceBookstore café owner Krissy Hancock would rather spend Halloween serving pumpkin goodies than wearing costumes with Pine Hills’ wealthiest at Yarborough mansion, especially when the soiree shapes up to be more trick than treat . . .

As if a run-in with an old flame and a failed marriage proposal weren’t enough to horrify Krissy for one night, a woman is found strangled to death in a room filled with ominous jack-o’-lanterns. All signs suggest a crime of passion—but when the hostess’s jewelry disappears, malevolent intentions seem way more likely . . .

With the estate on lockdown and a killer roaming the halls, Krissy must help Officer Paul Dalton investigate each nook, cranny, and guest for answers—while also confronting a few demons of her own. Someone has lots of skeletons in the closet, and Krissy better tread lightly to expose them . . .

Once again, the author delivered a likable story that had a comfortable tone and the pacing made it easy to follow the story from beginning to end. The light drama pulled me in immediately and quickly became a page-turner as I had to know what happens next. The author did a good job in presenting this engaging mystery with some surprising twists that kept me involved in all aspects in the telling of this whodunit. With a good plot and good conversations, this was a good read in this pleasantly appealing series.

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

My Musing ~ Murder of a Cranky Catnapper by Denise Swanson

Murder of a Cranky Catnapper by Denise Swanson is the 19th book in the “Scumble River” mystery series. Publisher: Penguin Random House, September 2016

murder-of-a-cranky-catnapperIn the latest from the New York Times bestselling author of Murder of an Open Book, a school psychologist has her hands full after a school board sourpuss meets a bitter end. . .

With her morning sickness finally abated, Skye Denison Boyd is ready to pounce on the pertinent problems she faces as Scumble River School’s psychologist. After trying almost every trick in the book to aid a handful of socially awkward fourth grade boys, Skye opts for the innovative approach of pet therapy with the assistance of the local vet, a Siberian husky, and a Maine coon cat.

Unfortunately the first session only breeds disaster and draws the ire of cantankerous school board member Palmer Lynch. But Skye’s worry over the episode changes to dread after Lynch is found dead in his home with the therapy cat hidden in his garage. With a clowder of questions unleashed, Skye finds herself dealing with a killer who isn’t pussyfooting around. . .

In the latest visit to Scumble River, a man is murdered and subsequent criminal activities seems to be connected or are they? That is what is found in this intriguing fast-paced and action packed drama that faces Wally, Skye and the Scumble River PD. The multi-plot mystery was well-written and set-up nicely with most of the leads playing pivotal roles that led to the closure of these criminal acts. The author did a very good job in ferreting information needed to solve all that transpired. With suspects abounding, it wasn’t clear who was involved until that critical junction when it all made sense and I enjoyed watching Skye put it all together. The Dooziers, once again, make an appearance and of course, it’s as entertaining as it can be when this dysfunction family enters the scene. This is one of the best books in this endearing series and I love that the author continues to keep this series fresh and engaging.

My Musing ~ No Farm, No Foul by Peg Cochran

No Farm, No Foul by Peg Cochran is the first book in the NEW “Farmer’s Daughter” mystery series. Publisher: Penguin Random House, September 2016

No Farm No FoulFirst in the Farmer’s Daughter mystery series set on a picturesque farm in Michigan, where Shelby McDonald runs a popular lifestyle and cooking blog, from the national bestselling author of the Cranberry Cove Mysteries.

On her blog, The Farmer’s Daughter, Shelby McDonald is growing her audience as she posts recipes, gardening tips, and her experiences raising two kids and running Love Blossom Farm in the small western Michigan town of Lovett.

Working the farm is demanding but peaceful—until that peace is shattered when the minister’s wife is murdered on Shelby’s property during a fund-raiser for a local church. But the manure really hits the fan when Shelby’s good friend veterinarian Kelly Thacker emerges as the prime suspect. Shelby decides to dig in and find the murderer by herself. As more suspects crop up, she’ll have to move fast—before someone else buys the farm. . . .

When murder occurs in her mudroom, Shelby becomes a reluctant amateur sleuth determined to find the person responsible for murdering Prudence and threatening her and her family.

I love a story that has a comfortable tone where everything that transpires warmed my heart as I followed Shelby through her motions as she seeks out answers to the murder. The author did a great job in presenting this mystery that kept me glued to the pages as I had to know what happens next. The pacing was evenly set until that crucial moment when the tempo increased as this drama reached the climax and the killer was revealed. That part had my heart racing. Very good job. I love the cast that includes Shelby, Bert, Kelly and her children. There’s also two gentlemen vying for her affection and I really hope this does not become a triangle. Boasting a great cast of characters, engaging dialogue and a feel good atmosphere, I can’t wait to read the next book in this delightfully charming series.

My Musing ~ Cancelled by Murder by by Jean Flowers

Cancelled by Murder by Jean Flowers is the second book in the “Postmistress” mystery series. Publisher: Penguin Random House, September 2016

Cancelled by MurderCassie Miller returned to her sleepy hometown in the Berkshires to start over as the new postmistress. But she soon finds that dead letters are nothing compared to murder victims. . .

With a massive storm about to hit North Ashcot, Massachusetts, threatening floods and widespread wind damage, Cassie is forced to close up the post office along with the rest of the local business owners and residents, who are battening down the hatches and bracing themselves for the worst.

Although the storm proves not to be as bad as predicted, fabric shop owner Daisy Harmon is found dead, seemingly killed by a fallen branch. But the police quickly determine that her death had nothing to do with foul weather and everything to do with foul play. After Daisy’s widowed husband approaches her to help solve his wife’s murder, Cassie vows to find the killer before another innocent victim is taken by storm.

This was an exciting and fun read that I enjoyed. Once again, Cassie is involved in looking for clues into the murder in this fast-paced and well-written drama. The plot was nicely divided with details that included plenty of suspects and some surprising twists and turns that ratcheted the telling of this tale up a notch. Cassie proves to be one determined amateur sleuth, all for the betterment of her small town. The author does a terrific job with setting up this mystery with great narrative, engaging dialogue with a small-town feel. The characters are lovable and friendly and I can’t wait to read the next book in this pleasantly appealing series.

My Musing ~ Cheddar Off Dead by Julia Buckley

Cheddar Off Dead by Julia Buckley is the second book in the “Undercover Dish” mystery series. Publisher: Penguin Random House, September 2016

Chedder Off DeadCaterer and cook Lilah Drake is up to her elbows in deadly trouble in the latest mystery from the author of The Big Chili. . .

The Christmas holidays are one of Lilah’s favorite times of the year, filled with friends, family, and, of course, tons of food orders for her Covered Dish clients. But Lilah’s Yuletide cheer ends when she sees a most Grinch-like crime: the murder of a Santa in a school parking lot.

It turns out the deceased Kris Kringle was a complicated tangle of naughty and nice, with a long list of people who might have wanted him dead. And whoever did the deed wants to make sure that Lilah keeps quiet. Now, Lilah will have to team up with her former fling, Detective Jay Parker, to unwrap the mysteries of a deadly Christmas killer and stay alive long enough to ring in the New Year. . .

Julia has done it again by delivering an engaging and entertaining whodunit that was hard to put down. The pacing was perfectly paired with how well this story was written with a comfortable tone and narrative that put me smack dab in the middle of all the action. The author did a great job with setting this drama up in a manner that kept me intrigued with suspects here and there and plot twists that sneaked upon me, spinning a web of deceit that enhanced the telling of this tale. This was a fun read that boasts a wonderful cast of characters and enjoyable conversations.

WEEKLY UPDATE #39

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This past week, I was in New Orleans at the Bouchercon convention. It was my first time in NOLA and they were not kidding about the humidity down there. My recap with photos will post later today.

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Coming up on dru’s book musings (9/26 – 10/1)
September 26: Mary Louise by Mary McHugh (Happy Hoofers)
September 27: Amanda Doucette by Barbara Fradkin (Amanda Doucette)
September 28: Aaron White by LynDee Walker (Headlines in High Heels)
September 29: Liv McKay by Vickie Fee (Liv and Di In Dixie)
September 30: Jared McKean by Jaden Terrell (Jared McKean)
October 1: Mr. K. by Susan Elia MacNeal (Maggie Hope)

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“Triple Shot” by Klavan, O’Mara and Salzberg – Carl S.
“Body on the Bayou” by Ellen Byron – Pauline B.
“The 90s Club & the Secret of the Old Clock” by Eileen Haavik McIntire-Nancy S.
“Missing Mom” by Cherie O’Boyle – Mari H.
“Killer Finds” by Vicki Vass – Marilyn W.
“By Familiar Means” by Delia James – Cynthia W.

 

A Day in the Life of Moriah Dru by Gerrie Ferris Finger

American NightsMy best friend, Portia Devon, folded her hands on her desk. The tilt of her head and her scheming eyes reminded me of our young days when we planned midnight excursions to forbidden clubs. That was before she became a juvenile court judge and I became a child finder. She said, “Your fame has caught the attention of a prominent person.”

“You called me here to tell me that?”

“Also to explain the nature of his attention.”

“And who would this prominent person be?”

“An international figure who wants you to find his daughter.”

So like Portia to draw out a mystery. Wriggling into the leather chair designed for the discomfort of adversaries to her chambers, I thought, this could mean a free trip, courtesy of the Internal Revenue Service. Atlanta was weighing on my well-being. My fame, as Portia labeled it, came about because of a horrendous case the city had offered up owing to its drug and gang wars.

I said, “I get that it’s a him who wants to hire me to find his missing girl. Where internationally?”

“Starting here, in this fabulous international city.” Her sarcasm illustrated she meant Atlanta, a city that was trying hard to wipe the slate of its quasi-genteel Southern roots. “More precisely, his wife disappeared with their daughter.”

I opened my mouth to ask a pertinent question, but she raised a hand. “I don’t know much more than I’m telling you, but the trace appears to be straightforward, not much danger.”

I thought about other child traces. Danger could be and often was an issue. I said, “You know I don’t do heights and tight places, like jumping out of planes or diving in caves.”
“There is a cultural element.”

“Cultural in what way?”

“Ethnic customs, religious differences.”

“All right, Porsh, out with it—your prominent person by name, and those of the wife and daughter.”

You are familiar with the Middle East?”

Involuntarily my shoulders drew back. No wars or terrorists, please.

“This is not about absconding fathers,” Portia said.

Portia could be so tedious when she wanted to be. “How old?”

“Four.” Portia tapped her expensive ballpoint pen as she spoke the words, “I don’t know where she’s taken the child, but there will be no State Department involved.”

My agency, Child Trace, Inc., has had many clients and much experience in all that can happen in abduction cases, but I’ve never had a dual citizenship case. I’ve had cases where girls were brought here for the slave trade, primarily from Eastern Europe, South America and China. But no one was looking for them.

Portia sat back. “If you accept the case, you will be told all you need to know, but you must understand the father insists on no FBI, no state police, no Homeland Security, no CIA.”

I didn’t hesitate to tell her, “I’ll have to confide in Lake.”

“No Lake.”

“Then, no me.”

“Come on, Moriah. You and Lake aren’t joined at the belly.”

“Hmmm.”

“You know what I meant. Lake will be duty-bound, legally, to advise his commander.”

“Not if the Atlanta Police Department isn’t involved. Lake does have a private life. When can I talk to the your—uh—connection?”

“When I assure him of your discretion.”

I got up. “I’ll see you Saturday. You are coming to the ball game with us, aren’t you? We’ve got a ticket for Walker, too.” Walker was her son.

“Moriah, sit your ass down and listen to me.” I sat. “You are the best person for this task.”

“How did your connection know about, and choose, me?”

“Although he resides in New York, he read or heard about the shoot-out in the churchyard.”

“Lake was part of the shoot-out, too.”

I admit I was intrigued, but no way was I going to withhold details of an assignment from Lake. Even if I could, I wouldn’t. From our beginning—as partners when I was with the Atlanta Police Department—we shared information. After we started sharing our bodies, I resigned the shop and started my own agency. Many times he’s been a valuable asset, but that isn’t the reason I would not hold out on him. We simply share everything. Portia knows that.

She returned to her chambers and sat with exaggerated effort. “Stubborn cuss,” she mumbled. “All right. You and Lake, but no APD. You both meet with him as soon as you can. This evening okay?”

“What’s his name?”

“Husam bin Sayed al-Saliba.”

“I think—a dark, striking male face comes to mind—he was in the news.”

“For years he’s been listed as one of the most handsome princes in the world.”

“I thought that man was single, most marriageable.”

“He is, by Saudi law.”


American Nights is the second book in the Moriah Dru/Richard Lake mystery series, published by Five Star Publishing, August 2016.

The investigation begins when Husam tells of falling in love with Reeve, of turning his back on his ascendancy to the Saudi power structure for the woman he loves. He talks of his king’s disapproval of him marrying and siring an infidel. But does he really want to return to the good graces of the royal family and marry Aya and be an heir to kingship? Confused Dru thinks she’s fallen into a fairy tale. After all the prince is fond of reciting tales from the Arabian Nights.

The investigation had just begun when Reeve’s parents, Lowell and Donna Cresley are killed. That brings the Atlanta police into the case and it’s soon evident infidelity abounds and everyone has something dreadful to hide.

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Meet the author
Retireed journalist for The Atlanta-Journal Constitution, Gerrie Ferris Finger won the 2009 St. Martin’s Gerrie FingerPress/Malice Domestic Best First Traditional Mystery Novel for The End Game. The Last Temptation is the second in the Moriah Dru/Richard Lake series. She lives on the coast of Georgia with her husband and standard poodle, Bogey.

Connect with Gerrie at gerrieferrisfinger.com, on Facebook, on @gerrieferris and on Goodreads.

All comments are welcomed.

Diary of Alistair, the Witch’s Cat by Delia James

By Familiar Means12:00 AM
Finally got the new human to sleep. Honestly. Why do humans have to sleep all at once instead of taking regular naps like rational beings? I mean, if she keeps staying up this late on the phone talking about dead people, how is she ever going to get up in time to fill my food bowl? I’ve got places to be and she needs to respect that. I explained this this through a series of conversational remarks and interpretive song while she was doing that thing where she sticks a brush in her mouth. She made no rational response. Sigh. Humans. Will try again later.

1:00 AM
Nap. Groom. Time to go out. House opens the door. Good House. The night awaits.

2:00 AM
Quality time with Miss Boots.

2:30 AM
Nap. Grooming.

3:00 AM
Check on human. Check on house. All good. No one says thank you at 2:00 am, not even House. Or fills the food bowl. House is useless. House laughs at me. Stupid House.

3:30 AM
Quality time with Col. Kitty.

4:30 AM
Nap. Grooming.

4:00 AM
Check on human. Check on House. Check on food bowl. Empty. Consider waking human, but last time that did not go so well. She is not very sympathetic at four in the morning. Sigh. Well. That’s a basic human character flaw. Poor creatures. They can’t really help it. They’ve got little natural stamina and don’t take enough naps.

5:00 AM
Quality time with Ruby.

5:30 AM
Nap. Serious grooming.

6:00 AM
Garden patrol. Just missed the rabbit. Must keep closer eye on that rabbit. It’s got plans, I can feel it in my whiskers. Inform house. House says I am paranoid. House does not seem to realize I am a cat. We are not paranoid, we are just very, very alert in extra special ways not immediately evident to other beings. Attempt to demonstrate point by running back and forth very fast. House, as usual, fails to understand. Stupid House.

6:30 AM
Human is awake and engaged in the terrible ritual of the running water. This is a superstition sadly common in humans. She could at least fill the food bowl first. It’s been a long night. Pacing and sitting on slippers is doing no good. May have to resort to sitting on damp feet and singing the saddest songs so she knows I am serious.

6:45 AM
The bowl is full! The bowl is full! Human tells me she’s going out for a run to clear her head. I wish her luck. She seems to understand. The bowl is full!

7:00 AM
Nap in sunbeam.

7:30 AM
Shift position to fresh sunbeam, continue nap.

8:00, 8:30, 9:00 AM
Nap. Don’t judge me.

10:00 AM
Quality time with human. She is very good at scratching ears and very responsive to purr-rewards, but she keeps trying to get up. Something about work. Which she does with her hands, usually before I am properly scratched. Sigh. Training her properly is proving an uphill battle.

11:00 AM
Human still at her drawing board. Batting gently at her wrist elicits no useful response. Will have to come up with another tactic. Complain to House. House suggests that I should relax. If all I had to do was stand around and keep the doors shut, maybe I could, but somebody has to keep that rabbit out of the garden.

12:00 PM
Nap. Groom. Nap. Human still working. How much paper is there in the world? And how much of it has to be covered with colored lines?

2:00 PM
House patrol. Garden patrol. Evidence of rabbit’s return. Curse that rabbit. Inform house. House is unresponsive.

5:00 PM
Guide two ferals toward friendly homes. Good luck, brothers, but this one’s mine.

5:05 PM
Nap

6:00 PM
Red-headed human is here. So is human partner of Maxamillian and Leopold. Dogs, both of them, but I am broad-minded and do not let that color my opinion of them. They cannot help it if they talk too much and have no respect for boundaries. It’s just who they are. House keeps letting them in. There is much talk of mystery and magic. Many laps to be sat on. Extra patrols required. Exhausted.

8:00 PM
Nap

9:00 PM
Nap

10:00 PM
Human has remembered to get more tuna, AND put it in the bowl. I give her extra lap time and purring to let her know she is a very good human. I tell House believe she is demonstrating her basic teachability. House laughs at me. Stupid House. I am going out. House opens door. Good House. Night awaits. This time, I will get that rabbit.


By Familiar Means is the second book in the Witch’s Cat mystery series, published by Penguin Random House, September 2016.

In the latest from the author of A Familiar Tail, a witch and her familiar find trouble brewing at a coffee house.

After discovering her mystical heritage—and being adopted by furry feline familiar Alistair—artist Annabelle Britton has decided to make picturesque Portsmouth, New Hampshire, her new home. Now, she can take the time to figure out her new abilities and welcome her grandmother, who is visiting Portsmouth, and her old coven, for the first time in thirty years.

But being a witch doesn’t magically put money in the bank. When she’s hired to paint the murals for a new coffee house, it seems like a wish come true. But then a series of spooky sounds and strange happenings convince the owners that their new shop is haunted. They want Anna and her coven to evict the restless spirit before the grand opening.

Annabelle is certain the haunted happenings at the shop are just hocus pocus. But when her search reveals hidden smugglers’ tunnels beneath the shop—and a dead body—Annabelle, Alastair, and the coven suddenly find themselves in a cat and mouse game with a killer. . .

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Meet the author
Delia James has been a writer almost as long as she’s been anything. She started putting stories on paper by drawing stick figures comics based on Maurice Sendak cartoons and never stopped. These days, she writes her magical mysteries from her home near Ann Arbor, Michigan, assisted by her loving husband, Tim, her magnificent son, Alex, and her vocal cat, Buffy the Vermin Slayer. Connect with Delia at deliajamesmysteries.com, on Twitter, and on Facebook.

All comments are welcomed.

Giveaway: Leave a comment below for your chance to win a print copy of By Familiar Means. US entries only, please. The giveaway will end September 25, 2016 at 12 AM (midnight) EST. Good luck everyone!