Monthly Archives: November 2012

How Damon Lassard Found His Calling by Stephen Kaminski

I’m not certain whether I’m running from ennui or just can’t help sticking my foot into a pile of someone-else’s business. My name is Damon Lassard and I have more free time than any thirty-one-year-old has a right to have. I was a mediocre baseball player in the Japanese leagues who hit pay dirt with an advertising campaign for chewing gum. So when I moved back to the States and joined my twice-widowed mother in the community of Hollydale, I needed to find something to fill my days.

My mother thought that “something” should come in the form of a “someone”—Rebecca Leeds who owns The Cookery in Hollydale. Instead, Rebecca became my best friend. I love her to death but just can’t bring myself to date her. That’s probably because I spend so much time pining over Bethany Krims who forecasts the weather on one of the local broadcast stations. Not that Bethany has ever given me the time of day.

When I moved to Hollydale, I took on the role of local Citizens Association President. I thought I might be the first person ever to lose an uncontested election. But Hollydale needed someone to argue that not all potholes are created equal when it came time for the County Board to dole out its pittance of road repair fees. I have to admit, being President has its perks. It allows me to liaise with Gerry Sloman, my friend who works on the Arlington County police force. And police work is fascinating.

Gerry was recently promoted to detective and just landed his first homicide. The owner of the carnival operating this week’s Arlington County Fair was found strangled in his trailer yesterday morning. Gerry feels overwhelmed. He came to me for information because I helped the carnival crew with the fair’s logistics, so I know a number of the travelling workers. Earlier this evening, I provided Gerry much-needed sustenance in the form of store-bought pasta, and he clued me in to one detail that the police haven’t made public—there were two distinct ligature marks on the carnival owner’s neck. That can only mean one thing—he was strangled twice.

One person could have started with one implement of death and moved to another when the first failed to get the job done. But if that didn’t happen, then two people independently tried to kill the same person on the same night by the same method. Wait, there’s another possibility. A pair of killers could have worked together to snuff out the man’s last breath. The machinations seem endless and I haven’t even considered the motives yet. But I’m intrigued beyond belief. And unlike Gerry, I’m not bound by police protocols. It looks like I’ve finally found the passion I’ve been seeking in Hollydale.

Follow Damon’s efforts to dabble his way to amateur heroics and the path of his capricious love life in It Takes Two to Strangle: A Damon Lassard Dabbling Detective Mystery.

** Stephen is giving away one (1) copy of IT TAKES TWO TO STRANGLE. Contest open to US residents only and ends December 2. Leave a comment to be included in the giveaway. Book will be shipped directly from the author. **

Meet the author
Stephen Kaminski is the author of It Takes Two to Strangle, the first book in the Damon Lassard Dabbling Detective series. He is a graduate of Johns Hopkins University and Harvard Law School. Stephen has practiced law for over a decade and currently serves as General Counsel to a national non-profit organization. He is a lifelong lover of all types of mysteries and lives with his wife and daughter in Arlington, Virginia.

Visit Stephen at or on Facebook.

Books are available at retail and online booksellers.

Ellery Tinsdale Says Laissez les Bon Temps Roules by Jayne Ormerod

by Jayne Ormerod

I have fifty women coming to my house to play Bunco. What? You’ve never heard of Bunco? Allow me to enlighten you. Bunco (or Bunko) is a social dice game involving 100% luck and zero skill. It was originally a Victorian parlor game that made its way to the U.S. in the mid 1850s and has been a part of Braddocks Beach society ever since. Okay, so it has a bit of a bad rap as it was introduced to the California gold fields as an efficient method of separating hard-working citizens from their money (aka gambling.) And yes, it’s true that the term Bunco Squad was coined to refer to the detectives who raided these gaming establishments. While we do have a $5 buy-in and a few will win cash prizes, the modern version is less of a crap shoot and more of an excuse to eat, drink and gossip while rolling the dice. Hence our catchphrase Laissez les Bon Temps Roules, which translated means, “Let the Good Times Roll”.

This is a typical day for me. Not necessarily Bunco, but I’m active in local society. On any given day I’m either hosting or attending one or more social engagements, be it Mahjongg or Sewing Circle (we sew teddy bears to give to children cuddle with after surgery) or a fancy afternoon tea. I inherited this role–along with a house, a crazy neighbor and a couple of million dollars–when my Aunt Izzy died of unnatural causes.

The role of Queen Bee fell to me as I’m the last living descendant of one of the town’s founding fathers. I’m the “official” leader of society and the smiling face of Braddocks Beach, Ohio. A more unlikely Queen Bee you could not find. But I’m easing my way into the role, thanks to my mentor in the social graces, Samantha Greene (the aforementioned inherited crazy neighbor.)

Here comes Sam now. I suppose she wants to check that everything is in order for party. It would look very bad for the Queen Bee to have the knife blade facing the wrong way or a kitchen towel hanging askew. Yeah, it’s a high-pressure gig.

“Ellery?” Sam walks through the door, without benefit of a knock or doorbell ring. Thank goodness I’m not dancing naked on the tables at the moment. Not that I’ve ever done that, but now, as the Queen Bee, it is verboten.

Sam looks elegant in black dress pants and coral-colored sweater set and pearls. “That’s not what you’re wearing tonight,” she says.

I look down at my cozy, white sweater and freshly washed black denim jeans. I thought it clever of me to dress in keeping with the black and white theme tonight.

“I’ve told you before, Queen Bees don’t wear jeans.”

“Never?” I ask.

“There’s a time and place for them. Say if you were tending the local community garden or working at the therapeutic horseback riding program for handicapped children. But never when you’re hosting an event. Oh, and Queen Bees don’t serve Chex Mix, either.”

I tried not to sigh, because Queen Bees Don’t Sigh. It’s one of the ten Queen Bee Commandments. But my Chex Mix was not the stuff out of a bag but prepared by my own two hands opening boxes of ingredients. I’d worked all morning baking batches of it. The aroma still hung pleasantly in the air.

Sam picked up the large pink Tupperware bowl and carried it off towards the kitchen. “Run upstairs and put on the Calvin Klein satin-trimmed pleated-skirt suit and red top that you wore to the governor’s mansion. And if I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a thousand times, Queen Bees don’t slouch.”

Being told what Queen Bees do and don’t do is a big part of my day. On a good day, I only hear it once. On a bad day, maybe five times. My personal best-or worst, depending on how you look at it—is eleven. That was on the 4th of July when I was the Grand Marshall of the parade. In my defense, I’d never been a Grand Marshall before.

I straighten my spine and head upstairs to change.

“Oh my God!” Sam screams from the kitchen.

I don’t know whether to run to see what’s wrong or run away from what’s wrong. Sam and I have a nasty habit of stumbling across dead bodies. Last I checked there hadn’t been one in the kitchen, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t one there now. I’m sometimes unlucky that way.

Before my fight or flight instinct kicks in, Sam yells (in her loud, bossy Sam voice), “Ellery Elizabeth Tinsdale. I thought it went without saying that Queen Bees do not hide dirty dishes in their ovens!”

Sometimes Sam really rubs my last nerve. I mean, what right does she have poking her nose in my oven? And since I don’t have a dishwasher, where else am I supposed to stack dirty dishes? Even the worst housekeeper wouldn’t leave dishes on the counter when company is expected.

Small comfort that it’s only dishes and there aren’t any dead bodies in my kitchen.

“Ellery. Get in here. Now!”

But that doesn’t mean there won’t be one before the night is over.

Laissez les Bon Temps Roules.

You can read more about the sleuthing adventures of Ellery and Sam in The Blond Leading the Blond, available in hardcover, trade paperback or ebook for Kindle through Amazon.

Meet the Author
Raised in a 150-year-old farmhouse in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, Jayne honed her story-telling skills at a tender age, convincing herself and others her home was haunted. She wove epic sagas: of buried treasure guarded by spirits of slain pirates; and the soul of a crazed aunt locked in the attic pacing the floorboards for all eternity.

Urged by her parents to forge a career in something that would enable her to be financially independent, Jayne dutifully went off and earned a B.S. in Accountancy from Miami University. She then began her professional career as a CIA (not the sexy secret agent thing, but a Certified Internal Auditor.)

But Jayne’s parents hadn’t foreseen her marriage to a naval officer. Nineteen moves in conjunction with his career did not offer Jayne the stability she needed to be a successful CIA, and when the moving box filled with her pinstripe suits was lost in a move, it seemed like a sign that it was time to make a career switch. So Jayne started thinking about what kind of job could be packed up and schlepped across the country at a moment’s notice and somehow combine her passion for reading (and secretly writing) mysteries.

Jayne now writes cozy mysteries with a beach setting from her home in Norfolk, VA.

Connect with Jayne through her website or via her blog or on Facebook or Twitter.

Books are available at retail and online booksellers.

A Day With Sydney Fitzpatrick, FBI Agent and Forensic Artist by Robin Burcell

So you’d like to know what my typical day is like? There’s my work with ATLAS, a covert government organization, in which I do the occasional forensic art: identification sketch from a skull, sketch of a murder suspect, maybe even lending a hand in an investigation. Unfortunately I can’t go into details, because ATLAS takes that whole national security stuff seriously. What I can discuss are the more mundane cases I work as an FBI agent when I’m not teaching forensic art at the FBI Academy in Quantico: money laundering, white collar crimes, that sort of thing. For instance, that bank robber I helped to arrest last week after I sat down with the teller and sketched the suspect from her description. Not the brightest crook, since he had a cobra tattooed on his neck and didn’t bother covering it up during the robbery. His landlord saw my sketch on the news and called our tip line, saying it looked a lot like one of his less-than-stellar tenants, Thomas “Snake” Collins, who recently paid his overdue rent in cash that happened to be damp with some sort of red dye.

Mind you, we get a lot of tips, most of them bad, but considering we never mentioned the bank’s red dye pack in the details we released to the media, this tip moved to the top of our priority list. We drove out to Snake’s house, parked down the street with a view of his front door, then notified the local police that we were in the area. Since Snake’s criminal history was rather extensive, my partner, Tony Carillo, thought we should come up with a more creative method of making contact. “I’ve got a couple packets on voter registration,” he said. “How about we go up to his door and pretend to be doing our civic duty?”

I studied an old booking photo of Snake, thinking he wasn’t the open-the-door-and-politely-listen-to-our-pretend-spiel-on-politics type. He was more the open-the-door-and-shove-a-gun-in-our-face kind of guy. “I vote we skip the ruse, and—”

“Hold on. Someone’s coming out the side gate.”

I looked up, saw a reed-thin white male in blue jeans strolling across the lawn to the motorcycle parked in the driveway. He was digging in his jeans pocket, probably for the keys. Unfortunately he wore a long blue and black plaid Pendleton shirt, which covered his waistband and any obvious signs of a weapon he might be hiding. What it didn’t cover was the telltale cobra tattooed on the side of his neck. I picked up the radio, keying it. “Suspect’s about to leave on a motorcycle. We’re making contact.”

“Ten-four,” the police dispatcher said. Then to the responding police backup, she asked, “Five-eight, copy?”

“Five-eight copies. ETA about two blocks away.”

“FBI copies,” I radioed. “We’re approaching now.”

Carillo shifted to Drive, hit the switch to activate the emergency lights, then pulled out. He stopped at the edge of the driveway. The suspect looked up, his eyes going wide. We threw our doors open, jumped out, drew our guns.

“FBI!” I called.

Snake’s gaze flicked from me to Carillo. And then he ran.

He feinted left toward Carillo, then darted past me at the last second. I holstered my gun and chased after him. The patrol car rounded the corner, tires screeching as it skidded to a stop.

Snake faltered when he saw the black-and-white. He tried to cut across the neighbor’s yard, jumping over a low hedge. He stumbled but recovered. I caught up to him, grabbed at his flannel shirt. He twisted, swung his fist at me. The officer jumped on him from the other side and down we all went.

The moment Snake started struggling, Carillo walked up, put his foot on Snake’s back. “Try not to move. It’ll just piss me off.”

Snake’s face was pressed into the grass, the tattooed cobra hood on his neck seeming to widen with each pulse of his carotid. “I didn’t do anything.”

I reached for his hand, pulled it down into a wrist lock, then cuffed him. “How about evading?”

“Evading?” he said. “You two race up and pull guns on me? How am I supposed to know you’re cops?”

“Besides that I told you? If the badges on our belts weren’t a clue, maybe the flashing red light on the car?”

“You don’t look like no cops.”

Carillo laughed. “As many times as you’ve been arrested? You try and use that excuse for running, they’re gonna add five years to your sentence for being stupid.”

“Yeah, well, I didn’t do nothing.”

I double-locked the cuffs. “Then how’d your fingers turn red?” I asked, noticing his stained digits as I pulled him to his feet, then walked him to the patrol car. “Dyeing Easter eggs in December?”

“I like to get an early start.”

“Right,” Carillo said. “Hope you didn’t hide them yet, ‘cause they’re gonna stink by the time you get out of prison.”

I buckled him in, closed the door, then watched as the officer drove our suspect to the jail.

After that, Carillo and I returned to the office for the not so exciting part that always followed. Hours and hours of paperwork.

And that pretty much covers a typical day in my life.

Let me know if you have any questions—about the cases I can talk about. I’m always glad to answer!

You can read more about Syndey in The Dark Hour, the fourth book in the “Sydney Fitzpatrick” mystery series. The first book in the series is Face of a Killer.

** Robin is giving away one (1) copy of “THE DARK HOUR”. Contest open to US residents only and ends November 30. Leave a comment to be included in the giveaway. Book will be shipped directly from the author. **

Meet the author
Robin Burcell worked as a police officer, detective, hostage negotiator, and forensic artist. The Dark Hour is her latest international thriller about an FBI forensic artist. The Black List will debut in January 2013. Visit her at, Twitter, and Facebook.

Books are available at retail and online booksellers.

A Day in the Life of Gigi Goldman by Laura DiSilverio

Those of you who have teens and dogs know that they can drive you crazy and upend a perfectly well-planned day. Not that I’m very good at planning, but still. Back before Les ran off with that tramp Heather-Anne, it didn’t matter much if Dexter forgot his homework and needed me to bring it to the high school. (I was so surprised and pleased he’d done his homework, I really didn’t mind.) Or if Kendall suddenly remembered an ice skating practice and needed me to drive her to the Ice Hall this minute, I could do it because I didn’t have much else on my plate, not counting mani-pedis and hair appointments. (My hair isn’t naturally this blond anymore, you know. Ssh.) But now that Les is gone and I need to earn a living—I’m a private investigator with Swift Investigations—it’s a different story.

So when Nolan—he’s my Shih tzu—didn’t come back this morning after I let him out to do his chores, I knew finding him would make me late. My Stella McCartney pumps were not made for hiking around the neighborhood and I was seriously annoyed with Nolan by the time I caught up with him trying to get frisky with the Klamerers’ standard poodle.

“You are a naughtly little doggie,” I told him when he trotted over to me. He licked my chin and I forgave him. “You’re coming to work with Mommy today.” Scooping him up, I carried him home and plopped him into the Hummer, not noticing that he’d left muddy paw prints on my cream-colored Pringle cashmere sweater until I got to the office. Charlie pointed them out in her usual blunt fashion. Charlie’s not much of one for mincing words; she pretty much tells it like it is, so don’t ask her if your new dress makes you look fat unless you want to hear the truth.

“Mud splotches—very chic.”

“Oh, no,” I wailed, trying to sponge the prints off in our tiny bathroom. The mirror told me I’d only been partially successful and the soggy cashmere clung damply to the girls. I tugged at the neckline, trying to cover a few of the brown spots on my chest that had sprung up like mushrooms after a good rain, practically the minute I hit menopause. I have yet to find one single solitary thing about aging that I like. All that stuff about greater wisdom and insight? Hooey! Not worth the hot flashes, sagging chin, puffy ankles and forgetfulness.

Speaking of which . . . I dashed out of the bathroom and snatched up a folder from my desk. “Gotta run,” I called to Charlie as I headed through the door. “Need to deliver this subpoena by noon.”

Process serving brings in steady cash, which we need since real PI work is kind of hit and miss. Today, I had a subpoena to serve to a Winston Saunders. He had a pet grooming business, which is why I’d brought Nolan with me. You’ve no idea how wily people can be when they’re trying to avoid being served. Nolan would help me blend in and get close to Saunders. He panted happily and smeared the windows with his nose as we drove to the Posh Pets Pampering Pavilion that Saunders owned.

Inside, the space smelled like damp dogs. Fur floated through the air and immediately attached itself to the damp spot on my bosom. I sneezed. A crated bichon yapped when it spotted Nolan and Nolie growled until I put my fingers around his muzzle. Two groomers worked at adjacent tables, one shearing an Old English sheepdog and the other trying to get what looked like gum out of a long-haired cat’s tail. The cat did not seem to appreciate his efforts.

“Um, I’m looking for Winston Saunders?” I said, unsure which of the men was my target.

The skinny man working on the cat looked up. He had very blond brows and ears that stuck out a bit. He wore an exasperated expression. “Yeah?”

I stepped closer, tucking Nolan under one arm to fumble in my purse for the subpoena. Saunders’ eyes widened and I knew I was busted.

“Oh, no you don’t,” he yelled.

Before I could guess what he meant to do, he picked up the black cat and flung it at me. I got an impression of hair and claws and yowling before it landed smack on my chest. Nolan wriggled and growled, I yelped when the cat’s claws sank into my shoulder, and we all tumbled to the floor. Ow! This was not going as I had planned. Saunders disappeared through a back exit, the cat streaked away with Nolan chasing it, the sheepdog woofed loudly, the other groomer said something about calling the police, and I lay flat on my back coated in so much pet hair that I looked like a woolly caterpillar, thinking that it wasn’t even noon yet. It was going to be one of those days.

You can read more about Gigi in SWIFT RUN, the third book in the “Swift Investigation” mystery series. The first book in the series is Swift Justice.

Meet the author
The author of ten mystery novels, Laura DiSilverio is a former Air Force intelligence officer. She writes the Mall Cop series (Berkley Prime Crime) and the Swift Investigations humorous PI series (Minotaur), teaches for MWA’s Mystery University, and serves as vice president for Sisters in Crime. She plots murders and parents teens in Colorado, trying to keep the two tasks separate. Find her at, on Facebook or Twitter.

Books are available at retail and online booksellers.

A Day In the Life of Kelly O’Connell by Judy Alter

Hi! I’m running on a tight schedule—got to get my daughters Maggie and Em to elementary school on time. So far, in spite of some family crises, they’ve been on time every day, and I want to keep it that way. Come with me, and then we’ll go to my real estate office, and we can visit unless Keisha, my assistant, decides she needs to take over the conversation. She’s good at that, but she’s wonderful, a student I snatched from the Fort Worth school vocational program.

This morning Keisha justified my description, and I know you were surprised to say the least. Keisha’s African American, large—not fat, but big all over, and today she’s wearing a turquoise muumuu and turquoise sandals with her trademark spiked heels, lots of turquoise at her neck, on her wrists, in her ears. Luckily, she has not tinted her hair turquoise—the spikes are usually blonde. Keisha has the sixth sense, and she’s saved me more than once from my own folly.

I’m Kelly O’Connell, sole owner of O’Connell and Spencer Realty, a real estate firm that specializes in renovating the Craftsman houses as well as other vintage structures in historic Fairmount neighborhood in Fort Worth, Texas. Fairmount is a wonderful place to live, like living in a small town within a big city. Fifteen or twenty years ago it was a neighborhood in decline, but young professionals discovered the charming old houses and the neighborhood’s close proximity to downtown and the hospital district. An active neighborhood association oversaw the development of classy commercial areas, and now, among other things, Fairmount has one of the best dining strips in the city.

The Spencer part of my firm name is my ex-husband who was killed a few years ago—but that’s a story long since told in Skeleton in a Dead Space I married Mike Shandy, the neighborhood police officer when I met him and now a detective with the Narcotics Squad after a bad automobile crash left him unable to run fast enough to be a patrol officer (Trouble in a Big Box). Mike and I married after a close call with a serial killer nearly left me and my mom dead, and shortly thereafter, Mike adopted my girls (No Neighborhood for Old Women). The girls adore him—and so do I.

Mike says, however, that I have a real talent for trouble. I maintain that I’m looking out for my beloved neighborhood. He says I should let the police do their work and stay out of things. I argue that I would if they’d move fast enough and act on the tips I give them. I admit I have been vandalized, stalked, almost shot, almost asphyxiated, and kidnapped and kept in a dungeon-like basement. Mike reminds me of those things when he thinks I’m crossing the line into police concerns.

In spite of Mike’s irregular schedule and my brushes with disaster, we try to maintain an orderly life for the girls—homework in the afternoon, dinner at a regular time. I am no kitchen maven. Before Mike and I married, I mostly fed the girls pizza, turkey burgers from the Old Neighborhood Grill, and peanut butter-jelly sandwiches. My repertoire has grown since then. I make a cheeseburger meatloaf that Mike loves, and my beef stroganoff is pretty good. Still, there are nights when he says, “Creamed tuna again? Must have been a bad day!”

On Sunday nights, we often have a potluck supper—sometimes Mike grills, sometimes I make a ham or something, and everyone brings potato salad, cheese grits, green salad, whatever. My mom often brings extravagant Italian cream cakes—along with her companion, Otto, with whom she swears the relationship is platonic. Me, I’m not so sure about that. Anthony, my carpenter/renovator/do it all, comes with his two young sons and an ice cream cake—or bottles of wine. And Theresa, Anthony’s daughter, and her new husband Joe join us—now there’s a separate story and one yet to be completely told. Last but not least, there’s my friend Claire—we’ve rescued each other from time to time, and she’s important to me, even if Mike remains a bit skeptical about whether or not she deliberately murdered her husband.

You come join us some Sunday night. You can meet all these fascinating people I love, the people who try to keep me out of trouble. They’ve got a hard job.

An award-winning novelist, Judy Alter is the author of three books in the Kelly O’Connell Mysteries series: Skeleton in a Dead Space, No Neighborhood for Old Women, and Trouble in a Big Box. With Murder at the Blue Plate Café,due next February, she moves from inner city Fort Worth to small-town East Texas to create a new set of characters in a setting modeled after a restaurant that was for years one of her family’s favorites.

Before turning her attention to mystery, Judy wrote fiction and nonfiction, mostly about women of the American West, for adults and young-adult readers. Her work has been recognized with awards from the Western Writers of America, the Texas Institute of Letters, and the National Cowboy Museum and Hall of Fame. She has been honored with the Owen Wister Award for Lifetime Achievement by WWA and inducted into the Texas Literary Hall of Fame at the Fort Worth Public Library.

Judy is retired after almost 30 years with TCU Press, 20 of them as director. She holds a Ph.D. in English from TCU and is the mother of four grown children and the grandmother of seven.

Visit Judy at her website or her two blogs: Judy’s Stew or Potluck with Judy.

Books are available at retail and online booksellers.

My Musing ~ Playing With Poison by Cindy Blackburn

Playing With Poison by Cindy Blackburn is the first book in the new “Cue Ball” humorously romantic mystery series. Publisher: Cindy Blackburn, September 2012

Pool shark Jessie Hewitt usually knows where the balls will fall and how the game will end. But when a body lands on her couch, and the cute cop in her kitchen accuses her of murder, even Jessie isn’t sure what will happen next. Playing With Poison is a cozy mystery with a lot of humor, a little romance, and far too much champagne.

This was a good read. I love the way the story flowed as it progressed from one scene to the next in that I could not put this book down. The author did a good job with the mystery keeping me guessing until nearly the end. Jessie is a strong protagonist who happened upon being an amateur sleuth and I loved how she handled that role and her ongoing conversations with Captain Rye was fun to watch. With a good supporting cast and the promise of more exciting time, I can’t wait to read Double Shot, the next book in this enjoyable debut series.

Murder is a Piece of Cake by Elaine Viets

Murder is a Piece of Cake by Elaine Viets is the eighth book in the “Josie Marcus, Mystery Shopper” mystery series. Publisher: Obsidian, November 2012

Mystery shopper Josie Marcus is thrilled to be getting married. But when a deranged bride meets a grim end, Josie will have to catch a murderer before she tosses the bouquet.

As a bride-to-be, Josie’s latest assignment is absolutely fitting—investigating wedding flowers and wedding cakes. Josie can’t wait to pick out the details to make her own wedding perfect, even as her fiancé Ted’s outrageous mother has plans to turn the celebration into an over-the-top extravaganza. Still, the pistol-packing Lenore does come in handy when she draws her gun on Molly—a homicidal bridezilla who threatens to kill Ted unless he agrees to marry her—and saves the day.

Josie thinks the worst pre-wedding disaster is behind her—until Molly is shot and Lenore becomes the prime suspect. With her mother-in-law behind bars and her wedding on hold, Josie’s about to become fully engaged in finding the bridezilla killer and getting her own wedding back on track.

I love this series. I enjoyed watching Josie investigate the murder of a stalker bride while continuing to plan her own wedding. The strong plot kept me entertained as the mystery kept me guessing and the humor and romance of Josie and Ted played out on the pages. Elaine’s words are so vivid that, it made me feel like I was part of the action, rooting as Josie closed in a killer and cheering as her wedding day approached. Boasting a great cast that includes lovable Josie, handsome Ted, maturing Amelia and her mother Jane, this is the best book yet in this delightfully charming series and I can’t wait for the next adventures with Josie and her new family life.

A Day in the Life with Becki Green by Melodie Campbell and Cynthia St-Pierre

In A Purse to Die For, Melodie Campbell and Cynthia St-Pierre set up a series featuring me and my friend Gina. In case you haven’t read it, let me introduce myself. I’m ever so pleased to meet you. I’m Becki Green. I’m the sidekick.

As good people in my adopted home town of Black Currant Bay in northern Ontario, Canada, say, and as I’ve come to embrace myself, rather than try and deny, I’m an artsy-fartsy, tree-hugging, vegetarian amateur detective. With my half-sister Anne, I run a design shop called Beautiful Things. Oh, and I’m married to the Chief of Police.

Here on Dru’s Book Musings and under the banner “A Day In The Life”, I’d like to shed light on what it’s like to be as Conan Doyle’s Watson is to Holmes, or as Christie’s Hastings is to Poirot. See, I’ve solved a whole bunch of mysteries at home in Black Currant Bay all by myself…or…maybe with just a tad of info dragged out of hubby Karl. The novel A Purse to Die For recounts the story of the first time ever I’ve been occupied with murder away from home and—how can I say this without sounding like an ego-maniac which I assure you I’m not—I’ve played the role of sidekick and not the central figure.

To be sure, in A Purse to Die For, Gina is the one with an eye for fashion and it’s that particular skill that provides a major clue when bodies start to pile up. My friend Gina is a fabulous, endearing, young woman. I’ve known her all her life. We’re family in a convoluted sort of way. We love each other. Let me say this loud and clear, there’s no competition or jealousy between us. I’m just a little disappointed in myself that I didn’t live up to my full potential in that case.

Here’s the crux of the matter with regard to what it’s like to play backup when solving crime. Gina has so many wonderful characteristics that are unique to her alone, and at the same time I dare say that I have my own particular qualities. Aren’t we all exceptional in different ways? If we were all exactly the same with the exact same talents, what a boring, not to mention overcrowded world this would be. Right?

So superhero one day, sidekick the next. But in the spirit of “A Day In The Life” sharing, let me reveal a headline activity that I am involved in every day. Vegetarian cooking. My blog Vegetarian Detective is a food diary that includes recipes and—I’ve been told—mouth-watering photos. I invite you to come by, you’re more than welcome! I look forward to hearing from you and chatting more. Here’s the link: PS I have a recipe for vegetarian Brownies.

Meet the authors
Cynthia: in marketing Cynthia wrote promotional, packaging and communications materials; penned articles for business periodicals; and a chapter of How to Successfully Do Business in Canada. Currently a member of Crime Writers of Canada, she has one award for fiction and has been a writing contest judge. Best of all for a mystery writer, Cynthia has received a York Regional Police Citizens Awareness Program certificate, presented and signed by Julian Fantino, former Commissioner of the Ontario Provincial Police. Cynthia grows vegetables in her backyard, makes recipes with tofu, and speaks English-accented French with husband Yves.

Melodie: Melodie Campbell has a Commerce degree from Queen’s University, but it didn’t take well. She has been a bank manager, marketing director, comedy writer, college instructor and possibly the worst runway model ever. Melodie has over 200 publications, including 30 short stories and 100 humour columns. She has won six awards for fiction. Her first novel, Rowena Through the Wall (Imajin Books) went No.2 on fantasy, futuristic in Aug. 2011. A Purse to Die For (Imajin Books), co-written with Cynthia St-Pierre, is her second novel. Her third novel, The Goddaughter, is published by Orca Books. Melodie is the General Manager of Crime Writers of Canada.

A Purse to Die For debuts the Fashionation with Mystery series—

Book is available at retail and online booksellers.

Nightshade on Elm Street by Kate Collins

Nightshade on Elm Street by Kate Collins is the 13th book in the “Flower Shop” mystery series. Publisher: Obsidian, November 2012

Enjoy her wedding shower…or receive a cold dunking?

In addition to running her flower shop, planning her wedding, and juggling two mothers who both want to host an elaborate bridal shower, Abby Knight is facing another complication. Her ditzy cousin Jillian asks her and her longtime beau, Marco, a private detective, to find a woman who’s gone missing from the exclusive beach house belonging to Jillian’s in-laws, the Osbornes. The missing woman is also the fiancée of Pryce Osborne, a wet noodle with a big bank account who dumped Abby just before their wedding several years ago. Merely being anywhere near Pryce makes Abby’s insecurities grow like kudzu….

Then a woman’s drowned body surfaces, and Pryce becomes a prime suspect in her death. Unless Abby and Marco can get a killer to come clean, their bridal shower will turn into a complete washout…and Pryce will be exchanging a sunny beach for a prison cell.

There’s magic in the hands that writes this series, because Kate has done it again. She’s delivered a knockout, entertaining and wonderfully crafted book that I could not put down. This book quickly became a page-turner as I had to know what happens next. This book was filled with humor and I especially enjoyed the witty repartee between Abby and Jillian. The naming game was a hoot and I laughed and laughed.

Abby is at her best in this book surrounded by a great supporting cast that includes the handsome Marco, her friends Lottie and Grace, the two mothers Maureen and Francesca and of course her cousin Jillian. This is an awesome read in a series that continues to get better and better with each book written. I’m looking forward to my next visit to New Chapel, Indiana for more exciting times with Abby and her friends in this delightfully charming series.