A day in the life of Virginia Knightly by Christina Kovac

I’m Virginia Knightly, Executive Producer of the top-rated newscast in Washington, DC. (There, I said it, and still get the chills: Virginia Knightly. EP. My own show.) A dream come true. The best job in the world, doing important work—telling the truth about the lives of people and their happenings in our city, AKA, producing news—and I get to do it with brilliant people.

It’s the only job for me.

Every day is an adventure, and it’s also fun. That’s because of my staff: Ben Pearce, our evening news anchor, who’s beautiful and talented and my best friend when he’s not driving me crazy with his diva ways. (Or when I’m trying very hard not to notice how handsome he is. This happens more frequently than I’ll admit, and it’s a problem).

He shares the anchor desk with Moira Jones. Ice runs through her veins, which I admire, if you really want to know, and she’s got an androgynous beauty and calm, cool delivery that’s perfect for TV.

My second-in-command, Isaiah, is one of the first black journalists to break into DC television, back in the day. He knows everything about DC, local politics and crime stats and history of the city, the changing technology, who’s who and what’s what, and I’d be lost without him. He taught me everything I know.

There’s also Nelson Yang, our Emmy-winning photographer who looks through the camera lens with the eye of a god. And street reporter, Alexa Lopez, who can get anyone to talk. We have a new reporter-trainee, Heather, who I don’t trust. She was hired under mysterious circumstances by our new News Director. He’s a bad guy. Mind you, not as bad as that dude fired last year from Fox News—I’ve never seen or heard anything so bad as that—but our guy’s not helpful to the cause, either. For him, news is all business, only about the profits and therefore the ratings.

For me, news is so much more.

He wants to cut costs, and what he means, he wants to fire the people I just told you about. These people are the best journalists in the city, and they’re more than my staff.

They’re my family. Maybe a little dysfunctional at times, but I love them. You protect the people you love, don’t you?

A news day is long, unforgiving. It starts early. Every morning, I rise before the sun does, and during that first pot of coffee I prepare by reading local papers and news websites to see what the competition is reporting. My walk to work through the National Cathedral grounds lands me to the office by 8am. There, I got through overnight stories and faxes and emails and snail mail, looking for any story with a hook, anything that’ll stand out, something different, that might strike a nerve. It’s like an excavation.

One day, I see a press release of a missing woman. Her picture is blurry, but I feel like I’ve seen her before, somewhere, in a clip of video, but I can’t remember which. It drives me crazy. My brain is like a library for moving pictures. I remember every shot of video I’ve ever used, a terrific gift at deadline, but the picture of this woman? I can’t place it.

The rest of my crew thinks I’m acting a little obsessive, and maybe I am. Every year thousands of women are reported missing in the District of Columbia. Many of them are killed. I’m not naïve about the way the world works. And yet—why can’t I get this woman’s face out of my head?

I make a few phone calls on the sly. Nothing earth-shattering. Just to a coworker, another to the missing woman’s home, a routine call to the cop shop. The answers lead to more questions. The whole thing doesn’t make sense. And though I’ve got a show to produce, people to manage, a difficult news director to please, I think, why don’t I go out to this woman’s neighborhood and bang on some doors? What could it hurt?

When that leads to more questions, I call a few sources, including the one I swore I’d never talk to again, the guy who did me wrong.

How bad could it get?

You can read more about Virginia in The Cutaway, the author’s debut novel.

The Cutaway draws you into the tangled world of corruption and cover-up as a young television producer investigates the disappearance of a beautiful Georgetown lawyer in this stunning psychological thriller, perfect for fans of Paula Hawkins and Gillian Flynn.

When brilliant TV news producer Virginia Knightly receives a disturbing “MISSING” notice on her desk related to the disappearance of a beautiful young attorney, she can’t seem to shake the image from her head. Despite skepticism from her colleagues, Knightly suspects this ambitious young lawyer may be at the heart of something far more sinister, especially since she was last seen leaving an upscale restaurant after a domestic dispute. Yet, as the only woman of power at her station, Knightly quickly finds herself investigating on her own.

Risking her career, her life, and perhaps even her own sanity, Knightly dives deep into the dark underbelly of Washington, DC business and politics in an investigation that will drag her mercilessly through the inextricable webs of corruption that bind the press, the police, and politics in our nation’s capital.

Harkening to dark thrillers such as Gone Girl, Luckiest Girl Alive, and Big Little Lies, The Cutaway is a striking debut that will haunt you long after you reach the last page.

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Meet the author
Christina Kovac worked for seventeen years managing Washington, DC, newsrooms and producing crime stories in the District. Her career as a television journalist began with Fox 5’s Ten O’Clock News, followed by ABC affiliate in Washington. For the last nine years, she was employed at NBC News, where she worked for Tim Russert and provide news coverage for Meet the Press, Nightly News, the Today show, and others. Christina lives with her family outside of Washington, DC. The Cutaway is her first novel. Visit Christina at christinakovac.com.

All comments are welcomed.

A day in the life with Thea Kozak by Kate Flora

My immediate crisis was a humongous black Suburban driving too fast in the slow lane by a driver obviously too young, and too stupid, to have been allowed out on a day like this. She’d gone whipping past me moments earlier, cell phone to her ear, and now, having come upon a driver driving slowly and carefully in the slow and careful lane, had discovered she couldn’t shove herself into my lane because it was already occupied by a truck. She’d stomped on her brakes and the resulting chaos was ensuing.

Ah. ABS brakes. The responsive shudder, the car’s pulsing attempts to stop. Good, but not miraculous. The black babe-mobile fishtailed, swung into the breakdown lane, caught a wheel in a wave of slush, and flew back across the lane, heading straight toward me.

Luckily the lane to my left was open, and I steered carefully over the slush ridge and into it, while she squiggled and swirled, missing me by inches and sending drivers careening in all directions. It happened with stunning speed and passed just as quickly when the SUV flew across two lanes and spun out in the snow beyond. The rest of us, grateful to be alive and undamaged, were not minded to stop and help.

There was a rest area ahead. I pulled in and stopped to let my heart rate slow and to unclench my poor burned hands from the steering wheel, thinking I’d sooth myself with a nice café mocha. I noticed other cars from the same almost pile-up pulling in to decompress. I was getting out to get my coffee when the black SUV pulled into the parking space beside me. The stupid young driver got out of the car, still on her phone, laughing as she said, “And I like, spun out and almost ran into like six cars. It was so funny!”

It wasn’t funny. She’d caused fear and misery and put a blight on many people’s days. I very ostentatiously pulled out my phone and snapped a photo of her—yoga pants, Uggs, elaborate model hair that she must have gotten up at four a.m. to style, and a wholly impractical puffy white jacket—and then of her license plate. To the person on the other end, she said, “Hold on,” and to me, “Hey, like what do you think you’re doing?”

She couldn’t, like, tell?

“Taking a picture of your license, and of you. To go with my report to the state police about your reckless driving.”

“Oh, right. Sure you will. Like you really think they’ll care?”

She said into her bejeweled pink phone, “Hey, Shy, I gotta go. Some old bitch is giving me a hard time about my driving.”

Old bitch? I knew this job was aging me, but was it really that bad?

She shoved the phone into an oversized red purse. “Look, lady,” she said, all chin-jutting, butt-twitching attitude, “what’s your problem?”

“My problem? I like people to pay attention when they’re driving. You could have killed someone. You should be ashamed and apologetic, not proud of yourself.”

She waggled her yoga-panted butt and tossed her hair. “You’re like not really going to tell the police, are you?”

“I absolutely am.” I like, really already had.

People had gotten out of their cars and were standing behind me. One said, “Honey, you nearly ran me off the road, and I’ve got a baby in the back.” There was a tremble in her voice. The terror of the experience hadn’t left her. “And I did call the police.”

An older man said, “Girlie, don’t you get it? You can’t drive like that on winter roads.”

“Honestly.” She drew the word out to about six syllables. “It’s no big deal.” A flounce of her hips. Another toss of her hair. “The cops aren’t going to care.”

“I think they might,” I said. “My husband is a state trooper.”

But that wasn’t why I thought the police might take an interest. I’d spotted one of those stealth unmarkeds the police were using. A gray Camaro. The staties were already here.

I gave up on coffee. I walked away from her sputtering, got in my car, and headed back to the turnpike, my fog lights painting the tunnel made by my headlights an eerie yellow. Proving what an old fart I was becoming by wondering how we could turn the world over to her generation, to a kid without the decency to apologize to the woman who’d experienced terrible fear for her baby’s life. Before I got to the exit, the ignorant babe sped by me like she was being chased. And behind her, poised for the right moment to stop her, was a state trooper in a mean gray muscle car.

Sometimes the gods are good.

You can read more about Thea in Death Warmed Over, the eighth book in the “Thea Kozak” mystery series.

Arriving to view what will hopefully be her dream home, Thea Kozak finds her real estate agent, Ginger Stevens, tied to a chair, surrounded by fiery space heaters. Just before the woman dies, she utters the indistinct words: Bobby. So long. Safe. Sorry.

Then a stranger, claiming to be Ginger’s boyfriend, corners Thea, demanding a package that Ginger gave to her, a package Thea never received.

Determined to get justice for Ginger, Thea begins her own investigation. Ginger’s colleagues know little about her, her apartment has been professionally sanitized, Ginger Stevens is the name of a child who died many years ago, and the Maine police have no idea who real-estate agent Ginger Stevens really is.

But Thea is sure the two men following her know Ginger’s true identity, and will stop at nothing to keep her from uncovering the truth behind the woman’s dying words.

Meet Thea
Thea Kozak is a tall, thirty-something woman who consults to private schools. She’s Jane Wayne, the trouble-shooter they call in when there’s a campus crisis. She loves her work, but right now, she’s tired of apartment living and longs for a house, and to find more time in life for her husband and activities other than work. But her dream home is forever tainted when she finds her realtor, Ginger Stevens, tied to a chair, surrounded by glowing space heaters. While she’s trying to help the police figure out who the mystery woman who claimed be Ginger Stevens is, she’s also up to her ears in a crisis at a client school, and heading out on slushy New England roads to help them manage it.

“Maybe it’s because Flora’s books are so thoroughly grounded in reality and accurate in detail that Thea Kozak never really slips the surly bonds of real life –though she sure pushed the envelope. Her exploits smack of the superhuman, but her emotions, thoughts, feelings, reactions and responses are instantly recognizable to the rest of us ordinary beings.” – Carolyn Marsh, editor of the Camden (Maine) Herald

Janet Evanovich says: Thea Kozak is a terrific, in-your-face, stand-up gal in the moving and compelling story of a grown-ups who fail the students in their care. Stephanie Plum and Thea Kozak would have a lot to say to each other.”

S.J. Rozan says: “If you like your heroines smart, brave, tough, and exuberantly aware of the possibilities of the human heart, look no further than Thea Kozak.”

“I’ll follow Thea Kozak anywhere. She is simply one of the most refreshing and original heroines in mystery fiction today. And Kate Flora is the rare, graceful writer who pays close attention to how long it takes the body and the heart to heal.” Laura Lippman, NYT Bestselling Author

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About the author
Maine native and recovering attorney Kate Clark Flora writes true crime, strong women, and police procedurals. Led Astray is her latest Joe Burgess police procedural; Death Warmed Over is her latest Thea Kozak mystery. Her fascination with people’s bad behavior began in the Maine attorney general’s office chasing deadbeat dads and protecting battered children. In addition to her crime fiction, she’s written two true crimes and a memoir with public safety personnel. October will bring Shots Fired: The Myths, Misconceptions, and Misunderstandings About Police-Involved Shootings, co-written with former Portland assistant chief Joseph Loughlin, and a story in a collection entitle, The Obama Inheritance. Flora has been an Edgar, Derringer, Agatha and Anthony finalist and twice won the Maine literary award for crime fiction.

Visit Kate at kateclarkflora.com.

All comments are welcomed.

A day in the life of Maria Dolores by Gin Jones

“Maria Dolores! Maria Dolores!” My young assistant, Cary Baines, burst through the flaps of the first aid tent to announce, “I found you, Maria Dolores!”

His enthusiasm was so infectious, I had to smile, even as I wished he wasn’t quite so good at finding me. Of course, his ability to track me down had probably saved my life over Labor Day Weekend when I’d confronted a killer. Besides, it wasn’t as if I were in a truly private space at the moment. I was seated in the back of the first aid tent at the folding table that served as the on-site office for the farmers’ market manager.

“The mayor wants to talk to you,” Cary said, before racing back out of the tent.

Mayor Edward Kallakala came through the tent flaps a moment later. “I wish I had half the energy that young man does.”

“Don’t we all?” I picked up my sling bag filled with emergency supplies—from duct tape and coin rolls to chocolate—and hugged it as if there were something in there for responding to an impromptu job performance review. We hadn’t spoken in the two weeks since Labor Day, and I’d been hoping to have some warning before I had to explain why there’d been another murder during my tenure as the market manager.

The mayor settled into a folding chair with as much grace as it were an ergonomic office chair on level ground. “You know that I supported creating the farmers’ market and I supported the decision to hire you as the manager.”

“I appreciate that.” Unfortunately, I could hear a but coming.

“And you know that I’ll be blamed if the market fails.”

I nodded. “But that won’t happen. People are forming strong bonds with the vendors. One woman told me her kids threatened a hunger strike if they couldn’t have fresh tomatoes from Tommy Fordham’s farm.”

The mayor waved his hand dismissively. “I’m not worried about the vendors. They’re amazing.”

Most of them were, at least. There was always a rotten apple or, in the market’s case, a rotten potato farmer, in every barrel. “So what are you concerned about?”

I held my breath, waiting for him to mention the various disasters that had occurred this summer. He couldn’t blame me for the earthquake, but everything else was fair game. Dark secrets, greed and resentment had all combined to result in people dying, and I hadn’t been able to prevent any of it.

“Two things,” he said. “First, a number of people have mentioned their disappointment that there’s no honey vendor at the market.”

“I’m working on it.” I tried to project confidence, but the mayor had hit on a sore spot. I’d been told by my least favorite vendor that my inability to sign a beekeeper to the market was proof that I didn’t deserve the job. “I’ve got some leads, but the local beekeepers are struggling to keep up with demand and don’t need additional distribution points.”

“I’m sure you’ll find someone by the end of the season.”

It was more an order than a vote of confidence, and it made me nervous that his second topic of discussion would be even more challenging. “And your other concern?”

“I wouldn’t ask if I weren’t desperate,” he said. “And I’d appreciate your discretion. It wouldn’t look good if this got out.”

“As long as you’re not asking me to do anything illegal.” My friend Merle was a lawyer. The good kind, not a shyster.

“It’s nothing that Merle would advise you against.” The mayor glanced over his shoulder as if expecting Cove Chronicles reporter Duncan Pickles to jump out from behind the first aid supplies. Satisfied that no one was listening, he nevertheless leaned forward to speak barely above a whisper. “It’s my sister-in-law. She thinks she’s a really good baker, but she’s the sort who mistakenly uses salt instead of sugar. I do love home-made sweets, but I can’t eat hers, and I can’t be seen buying anything at the baked goods stall here. Could you possibly get me a fruit pie?”

“I can do that.” Relieved, I let my sling bag slide back to the ground.

I’d get the mayor a dozen pies if that was what it took to keep my job as the market manager for the next few weeks. After that, my career would depend on my keeping the final event of the season on Halloween weekend from turning into the Day of the Dead. I might need an extra sling bag or two for all my preparations.

You can read more about Maria Dolores in A Death in the Flower Garden, the first in the Danger Cove Farmers’ Market Mysteries, available now, and the second in the series, A Slaying in the Orchard, also available now, as well as in A Secret in the Pumpkin Patch (October 3).

Labor Day weekend starts with a bang in Danger Cove when a dead body is found in the orchard of Maria Dolores’ mentor and maybe-boyfriend, Merle! While it’s clear the murder took place long ago, the police are still keeping Merle tied up, leaving Maria on her own to run the local farmers’ market. She’s prepared for the petty squabbles, disorganized vendors, and even a rowdy group of costumed pirates—it comes with the territory. But what she isn’t prepared for is the fresh body found in an isolated corner of the market!

Maria would like to leave the investigation to the local homicide detective, but he’s stretched thin with two separate murders, and her nemesis—the farmer who lost out to her for the manager’s job—is demanding quick answers or else. With a nearly endless array of suspects, since the victim had upset just about everyone at the market, Maria has her work cut out for her! Can she prevent another murder in the market… or will she end up the next victim?

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Giveaway: Leave a comment below for your chance to win your choice of either a digital copy of A Slaying in the Orchard or a digital ARC of A Secret in the Pumpkin Patch. The giveaway ends September 23, 2017. Good luck, everyone!

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About the author
Gin Jones overcame a deeply ingrained habit of thinking and writing like a lawyer in order to write fiction. In her spare time, Gin makes quilts, grows garlic and serves on the board of directors for The XLH Network, Inc. Connect with Gin at ginjones.com.

All comments are welcomed.

A day in the life of Barbara Marr by Karen Cantwell

My name is Barbara Marr and I’m a soccer mom living in the boring, predictable suburbs. The only thrills in my day should be the frantic road races between ballet lessons and the much-too-closely-scheduled orthodontist appointment on the other side of the universe. But here’s the thing: my life isn’t so boring and definitely not predictable. See, I seem to have a gift for stumbling upon the messy remnants of lurid crime scenes.

I suppose my real problem in life isn’t the fact that I find dead people, but rather the chaotic events that follow. In fact, I have such a talent for attracting trouble, that my husband Howard has developed an emergency code system for alerting friends and family when danger is imminent. I was unaware of this alert system until the first time it was put into use. This is how the system works: A text goes out to my best friends Roz and Peggy, family friend and business partner, Colt Baron, and my mother and Howard’s mother who share a condo and are collectively referred to as “The Grandmas.” Code yellow is just a precaution whereas a code red basically means “Call in the SWAT team, Barb is at it again.”

So you may be wondering if all of my days are emergency alert days. No, but most are at least a little crazy.

A more typical day in my life goes something like this:

My eyes open at the break of dawn when the sound of a quacking duck awakens me before the alarm.

Husband Howard, nudges me. “Your duck is back.”

“Vito Corleone is not my duck,” I protest.

“You gave him a name, he’s your duck,” Howard says.

I crawl out of bed, knowing he’s right, but not without having the last word. “When a duck saves your life, you kind of have to give him a name, don’t you think?”

After taking Vito the duck back to his den on the lake, I return home to find my two youngest daughters sitting at the kitchen table eating cereal. Middle-schooler, Bethany, reads a book while she chews, and nine-year-old Amber is video-chatting with her big sister, Callie, a freshman in college.

My cell phone buzzes. It’s a text from my mother. I hear sirens. Are you okay?

I type back. Am fine. Not every siren means I’ve been kidnapped. Then I turn my attention to the video-chat.

Callie’s pretty face looms large on the tablet. “What is his name?” she asks Amber

“Marcus,” Amber answers around milk and corn flakes. “I love him.”

“Wait a minute,” I interject. “You’re nine years old, Amber. You can’t be loving any boys yet. Not allowed.” I wave at the tablet. “Hi, Callie!”

She waves back. “Before you get worked up, Mom, ask Amber to show you a picture of Marcus.”

Bethany lifts her gaze from the book long enough to add her two cents. “He’s disgusting. Don’t do it, Mom.”

Amber hands me a picture. “Meet Marcus, Mommy. Can I have him?”

The picture doesn’t give me much information. All I see is an aquarium without water. I pull the paper closer, finally spotting something suspicious. “What’s that brown thing? Is that a dried up banana peel?”

“That’s Marcus,” Amber says.

Callie bursts out laughing. “He’s a cockroach.”

“Hissing cockroach,” Amber corrects her, as if that makes it better.

I cringe. “No way, José. I found two ants on the kitchen counter last night—domesticate them, instead.”

“But, Mommy,” Amber urges. “Willow Jones can’t keep Marcus because her own mommy is allergic. Marcus needs a home.”

I sigh, wondering when Amber traded her fairy fascination for a twisted insect obsession. “Tell Willow Jones that your mommy is more allergic than her mommy. Now say goodbye to your sister. The bus will be here soon.”

Minutes after the girls head out for the bus, I am looking out the kitchen window drinking a cup of coffee. I spot a figure of a man dashing into the woods from the corner of our backyard. Howard enters the kitchen to grab his travel mug before leaving for the day. “What are you looking at?”

“I think I just saw Moyle,” I answer.

“The crazy guy who thinks he’s a time traveler?”

“Don’t be mean,” I say. “Moyle isn’t crazy. He helped me solved that murder case last year. He’s just unique.”

Howard gives me warm, enticing kiss. “Whatever you say. But stay out of trouble until I get home, okay?”

“I read my horoscope,” I tell him. “No dead bodies today.”

But two days later. . . well, that’s another story.

You can read more about Barbara in Dial Marr For Murder, the sixth book in the “Barbara Marr” mystery series.

A flu epidemic seems to have wiped out the volunteer force at the Rustic Woods Nature Center. Never fear, Barbara Marr to the rescue! When Nature Center activities director, Bunny Bergen finds herself without a crew to decorate for the annual Halloween Nature Walk, she dials Barb for assistance. Always the helpful friend, Barb rises to the occasion. Of course, this is Barbara Marr we are talking about. Five minutes into her task, and she discovers a dead body by the frog pond. Five hours later, she’s a trending hash tag. How does Barb do it? Read this sixth book in the Barbara Marr Murder Mystery series, and find out! #ThatBarbaraMarr

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About the author
Karen Cantwell is a comedienne at heart. She loves to make people laugh with her Barbara Marr Murder Mystery series and Sophie Rhodes Ghostly Romance series. You can learn more about Karen and her works at KarenCantwell.com.

All comments are welcomed.

A day in the life of Ruby Proulx by Jessica Estevao

Only a few weeks ago I could never have predicted my day-to-day life would change so completely. Which presents some degree of difficulty as I profess myself to have psychic abilities. One could reasonably argue that I should have had some inkling I would soon find myself settled into sumptuous accommodations at my aunt’s hotel in Maine rather than rattling the roads working with my father on a Canadian medicine show. It seems like one moment I was living the life of an impoverished wanderer with nowhere to call home and a list of aliases so long I hardly remembered my real name. The next moment I had a luxurious bedroom all to myself complete with a fireplace and a sweeping view of the sea.

Perhaps I should explain. After a harrowing incident involving an electrified medical device I found myself in dire need of sanctuary. Preferably some place where the Canadian police would be unlikely to look for me. Just before abandoning me to my own devices my father suggested it was a fortuitous time to introduce myself to my Aunt Honoria who happened to live across the border from where we hawked miracle medicines and I read tarot cards for rubes that visited the medicine shows.

I took his advice and caught the first train from New Brunswick to Old Orchard, Maine. As the miles slipped by I considered the dangers of my way of life and I vowed to go straight. That is until I arrived at the Hotel Belden only to discover that Honoria ran an establishment that catered exclusively to metaphysical practitioners. Despite my good intentions, before I knew it, I found myself employed as the hotel medium.

While it is true that I do not have the exact skill set I purport to possess I should not like you to think less of me for stretching the truth concerning my abilities. I assure you I really do have otherworldly experiences. I do hear a voice from the other side that advises me; I just don’t always hear the things I share with my clients. I do, however, pride myself in delivering the sorts of messages that encourage the sitter to follow courses of action they wish to pursue but do not feel sure they should take.

Most days I give readings for guests at the hotel. Sometimes I use my trusty tarot cards with sitters and other times I rely on small twitches and squeezes I feel when linking hands in a séance circle. It is exhausting work but Honoria assures me it has been a boon to the hotel. I also help my aunt and the hotel housekeeper with various jobs around the hotel like arranging the seating and welcoming the new arrivals. I host a table in the dining room every evening. From time to time I organize and lead outings for some of our long-term guests. Recently the hotel has become a hub of the suffrage movement and that has kept me busier than ever attending rallies and marches.

I also use my position to assist a local police officer in solving some cases that have come his way. I have found that many people are far more likely to share confidences with those they believe are in touch with the world of spirit and although I say it myself, my contribution to thwarting the criminal element in my new hometown has been of considerable value. It has been surprisingly satisfying to find myself on the opposite side of the law from where I usually have operated. I intend to continue to do so as long as Officer Yancey does not uncover the secrets of my past. I very much doubt even help from the spirit world will save me from an upright officer like him.

You can read more about Ruby in Whispers of Warning, the second book in the “Change of Fortune” mystery series.

Ruby Proulx’s new life in Orchard Beach, Maine, faces some sinister complications in the next Change of Fortune Mystery by Jessica Estevao. . .

Free from the clutches of her con artist father, Ruby Proulx is starting to settle in at the Belden, her aunt Honoria’s seaside hotel. She loves finally being rooted in one place and also feels a sense of purpose as she helps Honoria keep her business afloat by acting as a psychic medium for the hotel’s metaphysically inclined guests.

When one of the guests, renowned Spiritualist and outspoken suffragist Sophronia Foster Eldridge, checks into the hotel for a monthlong stay, Ruby finds her sense of purpose expands outside the confines of home and family. Sophronia takes Ruby under her wing and mentors her in the mediumistic abilities, encouraging her to fight for women’s rights.

But not everyone is as happy with Sophronia’s appearance in Old Orchard. When a dangerous act of sabotage is carried out and a body is found floating in the pool of a local bathhouse, Ruby takes it upon herself to find answers— and in the process learns that her new friend has been hiding some deadly secrets of her own. . .

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Giveaway: Leave a comment below for your chance to win a print copy of Whispers of Warning. U.S. entries only, please. The giveaway ends September 21, 2017. Good luck everyone!

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About the author
Jessica Estevao writes the Change of Fortune Mysteries. She loves the beach, mysterious happenings and all things good-naturedly paranormal. While she lives for most of the year in New Hampshire with her dark and mysterious husband and exuberant children, she spends summers on the coast of Maine where she keeps an eye out for sea monsters and mermaids.

As Jessie Crockett she’s the author of the nationally bestselling Sugar Grove Mysteries and the Daphne du Maurier Award winner, Live Free or Die.

Connect with Jessica at jessicaestevao.com.

All comments are welcomed.

A Day in the Life of Melanie Hamilton by Sally J. Smith and Jean Steffens

My name is Mel. That’s short for Melanie. I earn my living from inking tattoos at The Mansion on Mystic Isle. It’s a resort across the river from New Orleans in the Louisiana bayou but not a resort like any you’ve ever heard of.

The Mansion is owned by Harry Villars. In fact that particular piece of property has been in the Villars family just about forever, since halfway through the eighteenth century. When it fell on hard times, Harry had it remodeled and turned it into a resort that caters to lovers and zealot fans of the supernatural and paranormal. He hired a whole slew of folks (like me) who could contribute to the bizarre atmosphere of ghosts and soothsayers—mostly it’s all fake. But I have to say that with a lot of the weirdness that goes on at The Mansion, there are days I truly wonder about that.

Me? I just design and ink tattoos—tattoos of fairies and other fantastical creatures, astrological signs, beloved family members who’ve gone on to the spirit world and might be haunting their loved ones, whatever the guests ask me to paint on their skin. And some of the things I’ve been asked to create you’d have trouble believing if I showed you the photos I took when I was done.

But the weirdest and wildest, the absolute piece de resistance was the time a woman in her sixties booked a week at the hotel specifically to have several sessions at Dragons and Deities, the tattoo parlor. That wasn’t the weird part, people came to the resort specifically for the ink all the time. If I say so myself, I’m kind of well known throughout the culture for coming up with innovative designs to match the very specific requests of the Mystic Isle guests.

The unusual part of this job was that the woman—to protect her identity, I’m going to call her Jane Doe—wanted a portrait of her husband on her chest so she could keep him closer to her heart.

“Don’t you have any romance in your soul, Mel?” you ask. “I think it’s charming,” you say. “What’s so weird about that?” you wonder.

The answers, in order are: Yes, I’m very romantic. Yes, wanting to keep your spouse close to your heart is charming. And finally, the weirdness of it comes from the content.

Jane Doe insisted she’d once been abducted by aliens, and during that time had been claimed by one of them and married in a formal ceremony. The two had fallen in love and had been happy living together in her Rocky Mountain high Colorado cabin. That is until E.T. phoned home and found out he’d been drafted. He’d left her with the promise to return and carry her back to his home planet where she’d never age another day and they’d live in matrimonial bliss for hundreds and hundreds of what she called Earth years. She was still waiting. That was when she showed me her dearest.

It was a still photo of the alien from the movie Predator, in all his gruesome glory without the mask and in spectacular Technicolor. His grimacing green and yellow countenance, toothy fanged snarl (which Jane Doe insisted was a loving grin) and bizarre shell-like dreadlocks would have taken me a very long time over many sessions. The cost to Jane Doe would have been staggering, and the commission would have paid my half of the rent for a couple of months—but I just didn’t have the heart to do it.

She took it hard, telling me how much she missed him and sat crying inconsolably for a long time. It was heartbreaking.

I thought about calling someone to help her out of her strange fantasy world, but she seemed harmless enough, and after talking to her for over an hour (after all, she had booked the time), I felt confident that her hubby from another planet was her only leap from reality (even though it was a beaut, f’sure).

I decided to let her be, and to comfort her suggested that in this day and age of CCTV and government stalking everywhere she might be better off not letting on to anyone about her spouse, that it might turn out bad for him if she did.

She wiped her eyes and blew her nose and looked up at me with pure gratitude in her eyes. “You’re right, Miss Hamilton. You’re absolutely right. But I’d still like to have a tattoo to remind me of him.” She sat quietly for a few moments then squared her shoulders, and drew her mouth into a tight line before saying, “How about if I get one of Arnold Schwarzenegger instead?”

You can read more about Melanie in Mystic Mischief, the third book in the “Mystic Isle” mystery series.

Just when Melanie Hamilton thought things couldn’t get stranger at The Mansion at Mystic Isle, she finds herself in the middle of a true pirate treasure hunt! Fortune hunters have arrived Indiana Jones-style at the New Orleans resort where she and boyfriend Jack Stockton work, with their eyes on the prize of a long-lost and priceless letter stolen from the famous pirate Jean Lafitte. Two archeologists, a Hollywood camera crew, and a marauding gator suddenly have Melanie so busy she almost doesn’t even have time to quarrel with Jack over the arrival of his ex-girlfriend… Almost. But her romantic issues take a back seat when a dead body shows up at the home of the resort’s owner. Now it’s up to Mel and the rest of the odd crew at Mystic Isle to bring order back to the bayou and solve the murder. But if someone would kill once for a piece of parchment, would they kill twice? And could Mel wind up at the bottom of Davy Jones’ Locker?

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Giveaway: One (1) U.S. reader will win a frosted glass coffee/tea mug and print copy of Mystic Mischief; one (1) U.S. reader will win a 3-book set of Mystic Isle Mysteries; and two (2) readers will win a Kindle/Nook/Kobo copy of Mystic Mischief. The giveaway ends September 20, 2017. Good luck everyone!

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About the authors
Sally J. Smith and Jean Steffens, are partners in crime—crime writing, that is. They live in the Valley of the Sun in Arizona, awesome for eight months out of the year, an inferno the other four. They write bloody murder, flirty romance, and wicked humor all in one package.

Connect with them at smithandsteffens.com, on Facebook, and on Twitter.

All comments are welcomed.

A scene from THE MYSTERY OF HER by Patricia Catacalos

Mayfair Section of London – Saturday, September 1, 1888

“I am Noah Zane and this is my brother Evan.” Noah mimed for Kiera to sit on the ladder-back chair positioned in front of his desk. “Please have a seat, my Lady. And we extend our condolences at the loss of your father. If I recall correctly, he died a little over a year prior.”

Kiera complied with Noah’s suggestion and gracefully sat on the wooden chair while Noah resumed his cushioned seat. She clasped her gloved hands together on her lap as, out of the corner of her eye, she caught a slight moment of the curtain behind and to the right of the desk. She suddenly realized that someone was hidden behind those drapes and she surmised who that someone might be. The right side of her mouth slightly lifted hinting of a mischievous smile.

“Yes, you are correct, Mr. Zane. My beloved father died thirteen months prior.” She paused as the mention of her father caused fissures of pain to spread across her heart and was the reason for today’s visit. But she firstly needed to feel perfectly comfortable with these brothers before broaching the possibility of hiring the detective agency. And her humor was always her chosen means of establishing rapport. She tilted her head, closely inspecting Noah’s face. “I do not believe that you are both identical as I clearly seeing distinguishing differences.”

“You do?” Evan appeared incredulous at her statement. “Not even our brother’s butler Mortimer can tell us apart on most occasions.”

Kiera’s right eyebrow rose in silent questioning. “I doubt that very much.”

Noah laughed as he concurred, “I have long since suspected that our brother’s dutiful butler has been playing us the fools. He is perfectly capable of identifying one brother from the other.”

“Well, I can certainly tell you apart.” She continued to scrutinize Noah’s face. “You, Mr. Noah Zane, have a dimple on your upper right cheek and when you smile or laugh, it deepens.”

Noah unconsciously touched his right cheek as a slow grin graced his face.

Kiera angled her head toward Evan before observing, “And you, Mr. Evan Zane, have waver hair than your brother has and I dare say, it probably slightly curls in damp weather.”

Evan grinned, obviously pleased with Kiera’s powers of observation. “You are correct.”

“Your brother is Zachery Zane, the Earl of Belfry, is he not?” She thought she sensed slight movement behind the curtain and that confirmed her earlier supposition as to who hid from view. . .the third brother.

“Yes, he is. Are you acquainted with him, my Lady?”

Kiera shook her head. She knew that she could not let this opportunity for levity pass her by. She possessed an incurable penchant for playful teasing. “No, no, I have never met his lordship. Does he look like the both of you?”

“Yes, he does but alas, he is the least handsome of the three brothers,” Noah jokingly commented.

She nodded her head and an errant blonde curl, escaping her bonnet, bounced with the movement, kissing her smooth forehead. “No offense intended, as I have never met your brother but. . .” She paused dramatically. “I would tend to agree with you as your brother has a reputation for being rather. . .how shall I put this delicately?”

“Brooding. . .?” Noah chimed in.

“Yes, yes, that is the word I sought to use. He has a reputation for being both brooding and rather intimidating.”

“And therein lies the major differences between us. . .our personalities,” Noah laughingly stated.

“Ah, yes. . .your personalities. If I may make a candid observation, I would describe you, Mr. Noah Zane, as the prankster whose eyes sparkle with mischief and whose attitude toward life is generally rather cavalier.”

Evan stepped forward into Kiera’s line of vision, negating the need to angle her head when speaking to him, and laughingly complimented, “You have characterized Noah perfectly.”

“And you, Mr. Evan Zane, possess a grounded sense of responsibility but also easily follow your impish brother’s lead and enjoy a bit of naughtiness.”

“You have just aptly described Evan. But please address us by our given names.”

“Very well, Noah. I assume that the brooding and intimidating nature displayed by your elder brother, Lord Belfry, is indicative of his innate seriousness.”

“Oh, yes, he is overly serious and staidly duty-bound,” Noah groaned.

“And I surmise that he is extremely intelligent and awfully clever.”

“Intelligent, yes, but as to clever, what do you mean?” Evan interjected.

“He is most likely acting sullen and intimidating to ward off the marriage-minded mamas who seek an affluent lord for their marriageable daughters.”

Both Noah and Evan laughed heartily.

“That is a very logical assumption, sincerely holding merit, were it not for the fact that our brother Zachery is a very intense personality not only in public but also in private,” Evan explained.

“He perpetually scowls and that is why he is the least attractive brother,” Noah added while raising his voice to ensure that everyone present, be he visible or not, could hear.

She knew full well that the two brothers were thoroughly enjoying the teasing of their elder brother who obviously wished to remain hidden, negating his ability to respond to their jesting. She lowered her head and hid a burgeoning smile behind a gloved hand before innocently adding, “Oh, dear, a scowl could detract from one’s attractiveness. But perhaps his lordship has weighty issues on his mind. Does he take an active part in your detective agency?”

“No, not exactly, as his involvement would not be viewed as politically correct,” Evan diplomatically responded.

“But as our agency is titled ‘The Zane Brothers Detective Agency’, he helps us behind the scenes with research and finances.”

“Ah, as a silent partner?” Kiera innocuously asked.

“Yes, yes, as a silent partner,” Evan volunteered. “However not quite as ‘silent’ as Noah and I would wish.” He, too, raised his voice so that all might clearly hear his mocking comment.

“Then his presence would not be required for you to take on my case?” Her smile quickly faded as she mentally prepared herself to discuss business.

“His presence is not necessary but we would seek his counsel regarding your case before agreeing to accept the assignment. Which brings me to a pointed question. Why are you here, Lady Everett?” Noah bluntly asked. “How can we be of service to you?”

The moment of frivolity was over and she could no longer procrastinate in seeking their help. She liked both men and now felt comfortable baring her soul and stating a belief that they may find improbable and even ludicrous as others had when she had previously shared her suspicions and voiced allegations.

Suppressing her sudden self-consciousness, she lifted her chin and clearly stated, “I wish to hire you to prove that my father was. . .murdered.”

You can read more about Zane Brothers in The Mystery of Her, the first book in the “Zane Brothers Detective” historical mystery series.

London, 1888. . . Two serial killers, Leather Apron (Jack the Ripper) and the Torso Killer are mutilating women in the slums of Whitechapel. But even in the bedchambers of the peerage, a killer is claiming lives. A determined Lady Kiera Everett wishes to hire the Zane Brothers Detective Agency to prove that her sickly father, and two other ailing members of the peerage, were murdered by their attending nurse, named in each man’s Will. But only if Kiera can be involved in the investigation, much to Zachery Zane’s chagrin. And soon the murders of Whitechapel intersect with the investigation conducted by the Zane brothers.

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About the author
Patricia Catacalos holds a BA in Theatre from Seton Hill University and a MA in Theatre from the University of Denver. Years ago, when still single, she acted in and directed plays in the Philadelphia area but suffered the fate of many artists, struggling financially. So, she entered a career in sales but her creative spirit needed to express itself. So approximately eight years ago, she started writing historical romances. Many of the historical romances have a subgenre of mystery and/or the paranormal. She discovered that writing historical romances and ultimately, mystery/intrigue is her passion. Currently, she has written twenty novels and novellas and is currently working on Book 4 in The Zane Brothers Detective Series.

She has been happily married for over twenty-eight years to a loving and supportive man with a Greek heritage (which influenced a couple of her novels) and they live in southern New Jersey.

All comments are welcomed.

September 18-23, 2017 – New Releases

Gia In The City Of The Dead by Kristi Belcamino

A Part of the Pattern by L.L. Bartlett

Whispers of Warning by Jessica Estevao

As To Grind by Tonya Kappes

From Beyond The Grave by Daniella Bernett

October 2017 Releases

Click HERE for a printable copy

October 1
A Tangled Web by Mike Martin (Sgt. Windflower #6)
Skeletons in the Attic by Judy Penz Sheluk – re-release

October 2
Playing the Angles by Devon Ellington
Scrapbook of Murder by Lois Winston (Anastasia Pollack Crafting #6)

October 3
Death on Tap by Ellie Alexander (Sloan Krause) *new series*
The Witches’ Tree by M.C. Beaton (Agatha Raisin #28)
Ghost on the Case by Caroly Hart (Bailey Ruth Ghost #10)
Familiar Motives by Delia James (Witch’s Cat #3)
Fixing to Die by Miranda James (Southern Ladies #4)
A Secret in the Pumpkin Patch by Gin Jones (Danger Cove Farmers’ Market #3)
Death, Taxes, and Pecan Pie by Diane Kelly (Tara Holloway #12)
The Ninja’s Illusion by Gigi Pandian (Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt #5)
A Room With a Brew by Joyce Tremel (Brewing Trouble #3)

October 8
The Question of the Absentee Father by Jeff Cohen & E.J. Copperman (Asperger’s #4)
Mining for Justice by Kathleen Ernst (Chloe Ellefson #8)
Weycombe by G.M. Malliet
Hunting the Five Point Killer by C. M. Wendelboe (Bitter Wind) *new series*

October 10
Death in St. Petersburg by Tasha Alexander (Lady Emily #12)
Death Overdue by Allison Brook (Haunted Library) *new series*
Death of the Kona Man by Catherine Bruns (Aloha Lagoon #10)
A Cajun Christmas Killing by Ellen Byron (Cajun #3)
Fireworks in Paradise by Kathi Daley (Tj Jensen #8)

October 10
Murder on the Toy Town Express by Barbara Early (Vintage Toyshop #2)
Twelve Slays of Christmas by Jacqueline Frost (Christmas Tree Farm) *new series*
The Skeleton Paints A Picture by Leigh Perry (Family Skeleton #4)
Perilous Poetry by Kym Roberts (Book Barn #3)
Nine Lessons by Nicola Upson (Josephine Tey #7)
Running Out Of Time by Suzanne Trauth (Dodie O’Dell #3)

October 11
Back to the Fajitas by Leena Clover (Meera Patel #4)

October 16
The Masque of the Red Dress by Ellen Byerrum (Crime of Fashion #11)

October 17
Dark Signal by Shannon Baker (Kate Fox #2)
Mrs. Jeffries and the Three Wise Women by Emily Brightwell (Victorian #36)
Crazy Like a Fox: by Rita Mae Brown (Jane Arnold #10)
Killing Season by Faye Kellerman
Cold As Ice by Julie Mulhern (Country Club Murder #6)
16 Millimeters by Larissa Reinhart (Maizie Albright Star Detective #2)
The Lost Spy by Kate Moira Ryan (Slim Moran #1)
Best-Laid Plants by Marty Wingate (Potting Shed #6)

October 20
Happy Homicides 6: Cooking Up Crime edited by Joanna Campbell Slan

October 24
How The Finch Stole Christmas by Donna Andrews (Meg Langslow #22)
Gia and the Forgotten Island by Kristi Belcamino (Gia Santella #2)
Someone’s Mad at the Hatter by Sandra Bretting (Missy DuBois #3)
Gin and Panic by Maia Chance (Discreet Retrieval Agency #3)
Murder over Mochas by Caroline Fardig (Java Jive #5)
Bones to Pick by Linda Lovely (Brie Hooker) *new series*
Hunger Moon by Alexandra Sokoloff (Huntress/FBI #5)
Dying To Live by Michael Stanley (Detective Kubu #6)

October 31
The Secret, Book, & Scone Society by Ellery Adams (Secret, Book & Scone) *new series*
Knit To Kill by Anne Canadeo (Black Sheep & Company #9) *new publisher
Deck the Halls with Fudge by Nancy Coco (Candy-Coated Novella)
Two Kinds of Truth by Michael Connelly (Harry Bosch #22)
White Sand Blues by Vicki Delany (Ashley Grant) *new series*
Murder in an English Village by Jessica Ellicott (Beryl and Edwina) *new series*
Blackberry Burial by Sharon Farrow (Berry Basket #2)
Death, Taxes, and a Shotgun Wedding by Diane Kelly (Tara Holloway #12)
Death Comes To The Fair by Catherine Lloyd (Kurland St. Mary #4)
Cremains Of The Day by Misty Simon (Tallie Graver) *new series*
Slay Bells Ring by Karen Rose Smith (Caprice De Luca #7)
Thread The Halls by Lea Wait (Mainely Needlepoint #6)
Ring In the Year with Murder by Auralee Wallace (Otter Lake #3)
The Quiche and The Dead by Kirsten Weiss (Pie Town) *new series*