A day in the life with Julia Gooden by Jane Haseldine

duplicityConcrete, grey, cold, and quickly passing is the only thing I see. I’m Julia Gooden, and I cover the crime beat in the city of Detroit. My runs started as just one lap around the rugged coastal loop of Lake Huron last summer. But when I migrated back to the Detroit suburbs for a second shot at my rocky marriage with assistant district attorney David Tanner, my runs progressed and three times a week turned into seven and the start times became earlier and earlier.

Five a.m. I conquer the stretch of my Rochester Hills comfortable suburban neighborhood within five minutes. I expand my perimeter to downtown and then all the way to the Auburn Hills border. Ten miles today. No negotiation.

I race through the darkness just starting to break and ignore everything I pass, the funky downtown stores, the tidy homes with daily papers waiting on the icy driveway blacktops and the Assembly of God church with its bulletin board warning “Sin: It Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time.”

None of the scenery matters. The steady rhythm of my sneakers pounding against the concrete pushes me forward, getting me closer to some invisible finish line as I race my one constant opponent: myself.

Spring officially arrived in Michigan a week ago, but the depressing mounds of frozen grey snow from another cruel Midwestern winter obviously didn’t get the memo. I push myself harder as I pass my oldest son Logan’s elementary school, my half-mile mark to home.

A car drives slowly by, reaches the corner and then turns back around in my direction. I instinctively move away from the curb and reach into my waist pack. Instead of a water bottle, I pack protection, pepper spray and a folding knife with a three-inch blade. Paranoia always ran hard and deep after my brother Ben’s childhood abduction—a case that has never been solved—compounded by twelve years covering the crime beat. For me, it all adds up to one thing: Trust no one.

I watch the suspect car drive past and then turn out of sight at the cross street. A small shiver runs through me, as my brother’s nine-year-old voice echoes in my head, reminding me never to take a ride from a stranger.

The sudden childhood memory jolts me, and I start to sprint as if I could race fast enough to outrun the passage of time and warn my younger self to lock the door the night Ben was taken.

I finally reach home, nowhere left to run. I drop onto the front step and choke back a sob. I know how to get through the pain. I always have. I push my emotions down deep and concentrate on what I can control.

I focus on my upcoming day-one trial coverage of Nick Rossi, Detroit’s most ruthless criminal whose illegal empire was just brought down. I kick the frozen ground with the toe of my sneaker as I try to figure out how to maintain professional boundaries with my husband, who is first chair for the prosecution on the Rossi case, while trying to simultaneously get David to give up the identity of his star witness, who will likely upend the case and get Rossi locked up for good.

I click off the pieces of the Rossi story I will have to assemble and file into some kind of compelling piece to run in the paper’s website before opening statements later this morning. The facts will be the bones of my story: Nick Rossi’s illegal empire is believed to encompass hijacking and shipping stolen goods, mainly computers and electronics, illegal gambling and drug trafficking. Both the feds and the Detroit PD had been trying to nail him for years. Rossi finally got busted in a city police sting led by Detective Raymond Navarro, my best source and former flame, courtesy of hidden cameras placed in the VIP suites of the MGM Grand Hotel. Images on the tapes showed payoffs to the former Detroit mayor and a city councilman, in addition to drug trafficking and cash exchanges for high-stakes gambling bets.

I head into the warmth of my house that hits me like a blowtorch. I strip off my jacket and check in on my still sleeping sons, Logan and Will. I linger in front of Logan’s door and feel a melancholy ache over his uncanny resemblance to my brother.

As I hurry to the shower, I wonder how I’ll be able to pull off covering the opening statements of the Rossi trial and also manage to meet Logan’s school bus when it arrives at the courthouse for his class field trip this afternoon.

This worry will seem trivial, when in a matter of hours, a bomb will detonate on the courthouse stairs as I race to greet Logan’s bus, the bomb killing the prosecution’s star witness and critically injuring my husband, leaving me to untangle a thick web of political ambition, greed and payback. . . if only I can live long enough to tell the story.

You can read more about Julia in Duplicity, the second book in the “Julia Gooden” mystery series.

In Jane Haseldine’s new novel of riveting suspense, Detroit newspaper reporter Julia Gooden is up against the city’s most devious criminal—and her own painful past.

Julia Gooden knows how to juggle different lives. A successful crime reporter, she covers the grittiest stories in the city while raising her two young boys in the suburbs. But beneath that accomplished façade is another Julia, still consumed by a tragedy that unfolded thirty years ago when her nine-year-old brother disappeared without a trace.

Julia’s marriage, too, is a balancing act, as she tries to rekindle her relationship with her husband, Assistant District Attorney David Tanner, while maintaining professional boundaries. David is about to bring Nick Rossi to trial for crimes that include drug trafficking, illegal gambling, and bribery. But the story becomes much more urgent when a courthouse bomb claims several victims—including the prosecution’s key witness—and leaves David critically injured.

Though Julia is certain that Rossi orchestrated the attack, the case against him is collapsing, and his power and connections run high and wide. With the help of Detective Raymond Navarro of the Detroit PD, she starts following a trail of blackmail, payback, and political ambition, little imagining where it will lead. Julia has risked her career before, but this time innocent lives—including her children’s—hang in the balance, and justice may come too late to save what truly matters…

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About the author
Jane Haseldine is a journalist, former crime reporter, columnist, newspaper editor, magazine writer, and deputy director of communications for a governor. Jane graduated from Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications with a degree in journalism. She resides in Southern California with her husband and two sons. You can find her at janehaseldine.com, Twitter, Goodreads, and Facebook.

All comments are welcomed.

Duplicity is available at retail and online booksellers or you can ask your local library to get it for you.

Giveaway: Leave a comment below for your chance to win a print copy of Duplicity. US entries only, please. The giveaway ends March 31, 2017. Good luck everyone!

An Excerpt with Robbie Jordan by Maddie Day

when-the-grits-hit-the-fanRobbie Jordan, here. I had a couple of intriguing discoveries while renovating the second floor of my Country Store restaurant, so I thought I’d share them with you. My boyfriend Abe came over to help.

Abe pressed his lips to my ear, sending a zing of heat through me. I turned to face him. “Seriously. If you keep that up, I can’t be held accountable for my actions.” I smiled. “Come on, let’s tear out some lath and plaster.”

He mock-rolled his eyes. “I love it when you talk dirty to me.”

“We’re going to get dirty all, right.” I’d tied a hot pink bandana over my hair to keep the dust out. I picked up a heavy flat pry bar from the pile of tools I’d laid on a drop cloth in the corner. “You can use this or a crow bar. Let’s start over there.” I grabbed a hammer, too, and headed to the back wall, the one overlooking my apartment. “It’s a shame to take off this wallpaper, but it’s going to have to go.”

The paper featured a background of tiny pink flowers with larger puffy bouquets at regular intervals. The covering was faded, stained, and torn, though. And I needed to rewire and insulate before installing new sheetrock. I pried off the window trim and then went to work on the wall. The wallpaper covered crumbling plaster that had been pressed into the inch-wide slats called lath. The screech of nails pulling out from the studs behind the lath grated on my ears.

A wide swath of plaster and lath came off all at once and I jumped back to avoid getting hit. As it fell, I saw an object drop down into the wall between the studs. Something black and odd-shaped, neither plaster nor lath. I peered into the cavity but couldn’t see it.

“What are you looking for?” Abe asked.

“I don’t know. Something got dislodged and fell down. I’ll find it when this section is cleared.” I kept prying and pulling, working down, even though it made more sense to work horizontally. When a coughing fit interrupted me, I went back to my tool tarp and grabbed a couple of white cupped face masks. I handed one to Abe.

“We should’ve been wearing these from the start. Plaster dust isn’t good for anybody’s lungs.” I slid the elastic over my head and pinched the little metal strip on the bridge of my nose, then resumed work. When I got down to about a foot off the floor, I peered in again. Part of the plaster had fallen into the cavity, so I dug that out and dumped it on the growing pile of refuse. Finally, I reached in and felt around.

“Aha.” I straightened, holding a ladies shoe in my hand. It was a small size, maybe a five, but definitely a shoe for an adult woman. A high heeled black shoe, with a chunky sole, cutout toe, and squared off three-inch heel that made me think of an elegant woman in a tailored suit swanning down a street. In 1947.

Abe pushed his mask down to his neck. “That looks sort of high fashion, doesn’t it?”

I pulled my own mask off my nose and mouth, too. “Yes, but fashion from a long time ago. I wonder if there’s another one.” I reached back into the cavity. What I came up with was an entirely different kind of shoe. Two, in fact. I dusted them off and showed Abe my find: two miniature pink moccasins, complete with a tiny star of beads sewn onto their tops. Baby’s first shoes. The leather, once smooth, had stiffened and the side of one was brown from water damage or another trauma. What was their long-ago story?

You can read more about Robbie in When The Grits Hit The Fan, the third book in the “Country Store” mystery series.

Despite the bitter winter in South Lick, Indiana, business is still hot at Robbie Jordan’s restaurant. But when another murder rattles the small town, can Robbie defrost the motives of a cold-blooded killer?

Before she started hosting dinners for Indiana University’s Sociology Department at Pans ‘N Pancakes, Robbie never imagined scholarly meetings could be so hostile. It’s all due to Professor Charles Stilton, who seems to thrive on heated exchanges with his peers and underlings, and tensions flare one night after he disrespects Robbie’s friend, graduate student Lou. So when Robbie and Lou go snowshoeing the next morning and find the contentious academic frozen under ice, police suspect Lou might have killed him after their public tiff. To prove her friend’s innocence, Robbie is absorbing local gossip about Professor Stilton’s past and developing her own thesis on the homicide—even if that means stirring up terrible danger for herself along the way . . .

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About the author
Agatha-nominated and national best-selling author Edith Maxwell writes the Quaker Midwife Mysteries and the Local Foods Mysteries; as Maddie Day, she writes the Country Store Mysteries and the Cozy Capers Book Group Mysteries. Her award-winning short crime fiction has appeared in many juried anthologies and journals. She is President of Sisters in Crime New England.

A fourth-generation Californian and former tech writer, farmer, and doula, Maxwell now writes, cooks, gardens (and wastes time as a Facebook addict) north of Boston with her beau and three cats. She blogs at Wicked Cozy Authors, Killer Characters, and with the Midnight Ink Authors. Find her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and at www.edithmaxwell.com.

All comments are welcomed.

Giveaway: Leave a comment below for your chance to win a print copy of When the Grits Hit the Fan. US entries only, please. The giveaway ends March 30, 2017. Good luck everyone!

When the Grits Hit the Fan is available at retail and online booksellers.

Sarah’s Search: A Prequel to Tightening the Threads. by Lea Wait

tightening-the-threadsA high dark concrete wall separated the ancient brick building from the busy street on the edge of London. Perhaps once the nursing home had been a hospital. Perhaps fields and flowers had surrounded it. I liked to think that. But today the neighborhood was run down, and those in the streets looked as though they, too were destined for the building designated “INDIGENT HOME” on a plaque next to the creaking gate.

My home in Australia had been small, but bright, and open, and our little town was surrounded by grasslands. What would my life have been if my father hadn’t been taken from here? Would I have grown up in these dreary streets?

I’d come so far. But what would I find behind that wall, in that building?

I glanced down at the address I’d been given, hoping I was mistaken. This couldn’t be where my ninety-year-old grandmother was living.

But the address was correct. I couldn’t turn back.

I walked through the open gate and up the stone steps to the wide paneled doors and pushed one open. The hall inside was dark, covered with old photographs and plaques. Faded drapes covered the four tall windows.

I longed to tear down the drapes and wash the windows and let what light there was on this dismal day inside these walls.

“May I help you?” The gray-haired woman behind the reception desk looked as dour as the walls.

“I’m here to see Serena Byrne. I’m her granddaughter.” What had my great-grandmother been thinking when she named her little girl “Serena” ninety years ago, in another time and world? Whatever it was, it hadn’t guaranteed a good life for her child, although, at ninety, my grandmother had survived more than most. More than any should have to.

The woman looked through a file box of names. Nothing computerized here.

“Ms. Byrne is in Ward 37. Up the staircase to the third floor, and to your left.”

“Thank you.” How old was this building? How many feet had worn down the stairs I climbed so they were lower in the middle than on the sides? How many people had lived here? Had died here?

On the third floor, I explained who I was visiting to a nurse at a wide nurse’s station. The air smelled musty, a mixture of urine and detergent and porridge. No other nurses were in sight, but in the background I heard the low murmur of voices, like a swarm of bees descending on a field of clover.

“I don’t remember seeing you before,” she said. She checked a list taped to the white washed plaster wall behind her desk. “I don’t believe Ms. Byrne has ever had a visitor. Her papers said she had no relatives.”

“I’m her granddaughter.” I said. “Sarah Byrne. She doesn’t know about me.”

The woman looked at me a bit sideways. “I see. Ms. Byrne is not well, you know. I hope you won’t do anything to upset her. At her age, she doesn’t need any undue excitement.”

“I understand,” I said. “But I’ve come a long way.”

“Australia?” the nurse asked.

I couldn’t hide my accent. “Yes.”

“Come with me, then. Your grandmother doesn’t have much time left. And she may not understand who you are. Some days she’s not sure who she is herself.”

I’d waited so long to meet this woman – maybe too long. She’d been told her son died of measles seventy years ago. No doubt she’d believed that. She wouldn’t be expecting to meet a granddaughter born around the world from London.

I swallowed deeply, and followed the nurse down the long corridor to Ward 37.

You can read more about Sarah in Tightening The Threads, the fifth book in the “Mainely Needlepoint” mystery series.

In the coastal town of Haven Harbor, blood runs thicker than water—and just as freely . . .

Antique dealer Sarah Byrne has never unspooled the truth about her past to anyone—not even friend and fellow Mainely Needlepointer Angie Curtis. But the enigmatic Aussie finally has the one thing she’s searched for all her life—family. And now she and long-lost half-brother, Ted Lawrence, a wealthy old artist and gallery owner in town, are ready to reveal their secret connection . . .

Ted’s adult children are suspicious of their newfound aunt Sarah—especially after Ted, in declining health, announces plans to leave her his museum-worthy heirloom paintings. So when Ted is poisoned to death during a lobster bake, everyone assumes she’s guilty. If Sarah and Angie can’t track down the real murderer in time, Sarah’s bound to learn how delicate—and deadly—family dynamics can truly be . . .

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About the author
lea-color-2Maine author Lea Wait writes the 5-book Mainely Needlepoint series, the 8-book Shadows Antique Print Mystery series, and historical novels for young people. She invites you to read her website, leawait.com, for more about her and her books, to friend her on Facebook and Goodreads, and to read the blog she writes with other Maine mystery authors, Maine Crime Writers. Tightening The Threads will be released by Kensington Publishing on March 28.

All comments are welcomed.

Tightening The Threads is available at retail and online booksellers.

Cover Reveal ~ Etched in Tears by Cheryl Hollon

It is my pleasure to reveal the cover for the fourth book in the “Webb’s Glass Shop” mystery series, coming November 28, 2017.

Title: Etched in Tears
Series: Webb’s Glass Shop #4
Genre: Mystery
Publisher: Kensington
Website: Cheryl Hollon

When a famous glass artist is murdered at his own exhibit, deadly secrets are put on display, and it’s up to glass shop owner Savannah Webb to see through a killer’s cover.

Celebrated glass artist Dennis Lansing is returning to St. Petersburg, Florida, for an exhibit at the world-renowned Salvador Dali Museum. His unique style of embedding document images in his art is at the vanguard of contemporary glasswork. But as Savannah’s first boyfriend and a former apprentice to her father, Dennis’s return home has her reflecting on the past—a trip down memory lane that takes a dark turn when Dennis is found murdered at the museum with an old reference letter from her father in his pocket. A search through her father’s records sheds new light on Dennis’s history, but it seems his present life wasn’t so transparent either. Now, with a gallery of suspects to consider, it’s up to Savannah to figure out who fits the mold of a murderer.

About the author
Cheryl Hollon writes full-time after an engineering career designing and installing military flight simulators in England, Wales, Australia, Singapore, Taiwan, and India. Living her dream, she combines a love of writing with a passion for creating art in the small glass studio behind her house in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Book is available for pre-order at retail and online booksellers.

Left Coast Crime Recap 2017

Left Coast Crime 2017: Honolulu Havoc
Location: Honolulu, Hawaii
Date: March 16 – 19, 2017

Left Coast Crime is a convention of fans and authors who gather during the first quarter of the calendar year in Western North America (as defined by the Mountain Time Zone and all time zones westward to Hawaii) to celebrate crime fiction.


First Class – that’s how I flew from New York to Hawaii. It was recommended that I fly first class and nonstop. On the trip to Hawaii, I had a 3-hour layover in Los Angeles, this after changing my original flight on Tuesday to Monday due to a pending snow storm on the east coast. First Class is awesome on a long flight. You get to sit in their private lounge where the food is free; you get to board the plane first; you get your own overheard storage bin; you get an offer a beverage as soon as you board the plane and your meal is really, really good. But the best part is the seat…wide for those of us who are not of average size with plenty of leg room and the seat either reclines or turns into a flat bed. Nice.

After arriving Monday evening in Hawaii, my friend, Eleanor J. and I dined in the airport hotel’s restaurant where we were amused by our waiter before heading to our room for the evening. Tuesday morning Mary R. , a long-time resident of Honolulu, was our tour guide on the island.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

On the first day of our trip towards the North Shore we started at Green World Coffee where we took a little walking tour (5 minutes) through their garden. Then we headed to the most magical place on the island, the Dole Plantation where we took the Pineapple express train ride (20 minutes) and sampled the Dole Whip. Then it was off to Haleiwa where we had lunch at the Breaker’s Restaurant and Bar. Next stop was Three Tables Beach and scenic views of Pupukea and then we drove by several shrimp farms in Kahuku. Then it was off to see the sea arch/cutout in the rock at La’ie Point State Wayside. Next up was the ranch at Kualoa Private Nature Reserve, where they filmed parts of Jurassic Park and King Kong. Right across the street was Chinaman’s Hat island and lastly but not least, we visited the Byodo-In Temple where we gonged the bell and saw a black swan, before heading to our final destination at the Hilton Hawaiian Village Resort in Waikiki.

Green World Coffee Farm

Dole Plantation

Three Tables Beach

La’ie Point State Wayside

Kualoa Private Nature Reserve, where they filmed parts of Jurassic Park and King Kong

Chinaman’s Hat island on Oahu Hawaii

The Byodo-In Temple

Standing near the gong at The Byodo-In Temple


Wednesday, March 15, 2017

On Day 2, we started out early from the hotel and headed to Leonard’s Bakery to get a couple of delicious Malasadas as our breakfast treat. The first tourist stop of the day was to see Dog’s the Bounty Hunter’s house in Portlock. Then we enjoyed the scenic wonders of nature that included Hawaii Kai and Koko Crater. We, along with other visitors stopped by Halona Blowhole to see it spout, but alas there wasn’t enough waves to accomplish this feat and on the opposite side is the Secret Beach, where the beach scene from the movie “From Here to Eternity” was filmed. Then off to Makapuu Beach park and then to Rabbit Island and the eastern side of island. We stopped at Waimanalo Beach for some frolicking and then drove to Kailua; and then up to Nu’uanu Pali State Wayside Lookout. We headed back to downtown Honolulu to the Iolani Palace and to King Kamehameha statue that is seen in the opening credits of Hawaii Five-O. Yes, Eleanor and I hummed the theme song as we took our photos. Our last stop of the day was up a steep and winding road to Mount Tantalus for an awesome view of the city and of Diamond Head.

Leonard’s Bakery, home of the malasadas

The door of Dog, The Bounty Hunter’s house

Koko Crater

The coastline from Lanaʻi Lookout

Secret Beach at Halona Beach Cove, Oahu, where the beach scene from the movie “From Here to Eternity” was filmed

Rabbit Island, also known as Manana Island

The view from Nu’uanu Pali State Wayside

Other view from Nu’uanu Pali State Wayside – notice the small island in foreground – that is Chinaman’s Hat Island

King Kamehameha statue that is seen in the opening credits of Hawaii Five-O

Mount Tantalus with an awesome view of the city and of Diamond Head

March 15 – 19, 2017

From the Thursday to Sunday, my time was spent watching the sunrise over the ocean, attending panels, and socializing at Left Coast Crime. On Friday was my panel: Reviewers & Critics: Are authors at their mercy? with Jen Forbus moderating a panel with Les Blatt, Daniel Boucher, me and Jane Stillwater. On Saturday we went on a whale watching tour and yep, we saw some whales. Then on Sunday before heading home, we made a detour to check out Pearl Harbor  Historic Sites.

Author speed dating round

LCC Panel: Reviewers & Critics: Are authors at their mercy?

Whale going back into the water

whale spout

LCC banquet

Pearl Harbor Historic Sites

The USS Arizona Memorial, at Pearl Harbor in Honolulu, Hawaii

Diamond Head – view from plane headed back home

This was a trip of a lifetime that I never thought I would take and I’m so glad that I got the chance to experience Hawaii. Mahalo!