Monthly Archives: April 2014

Fleeing New York City with Miss Felicity Prim by Steven Rigolosi

The Outsmarting of CriminalsMy parents, Mrs. Charity Prim and Mr. Cornelius Prim, raised me to believe that I am in charge of my life. “You are fortunate to have been born at a time of women’s progress,” Mother used to say. “You and your sister have choices that were unavailable to me. Make the most of them, Dearest.” Meanwhile, Father would nod sagely, not quite sure what to make of this so-called “women’s movement” in which his wife participated so vigorously.

So I made a life for myself in the city of my birth, New York, developing friendships, taking my degree at Barnard, and working in the office of Dr. Amos Poe, a much-beloved, old-world Manhattan doctor with a devoted staff and a set of equally devoted (and very demanding) patients (or, as we sometimes call them, “impatients”). In my spare time, I have tried to surround myself with the books I love while not getting too involved in this so-called “Internet,” which seems these days to attract an unhealthy level of attention and to have a distressingly large number of aficionados.

Then, in the blink of an eye, everything changed. While walking along East 32nd Street, minding my own business, I was mugged. The miscreant broke my arm and stole my purse; but worse than that, he took my dignity and my self-confidence. I saw this as a sign from the heavens that perhaps it was time to make a change, to move to the type of New England village I have always loved. So, hearing Mother’s words of encouragement in my head, I did it: I bought a small cottage in the lovely hamlet of Greenfield, Connecticut, which had come highly recommended by the Times Sunday Magazine.

The situation became much more complicated when, out of the blue, Doctor Poe admitted that he loves me and wants to marry me. What was I to do? I’d spent my life savings on that cottage, and I had the idea that I could do some good by outsmarting the not-very-violent criminals one can expect to find in a New England village. Having read my share of all the great mystery writers, past and present, I felt confident I had all the tools I needed to make a success of my new career. So I promised to consider Doctor Poe’s proposal – one cannot make these decisions quickly or lightly – and removed myself to Connecticut. Upon my arrival I immediately adopted a high-spirited Boxer named Bruno from the Greenfield Animal Shelter. One needs a bit of protection when one lives alone in the country…

Things started to unravel rather quickly after my arrival. My new home was not what I expected it to be. I discovered a secret passage and a hidden basement … and in that basement I found a dead man. I’d planned to start my career in criminal outsmarting helping to catch petty thieves and perhaps graffiti artists; I had not expected (nor had I wanted) murder so soon. And it quickly became apparent that someone has been watching me, perhaps waiting for the right moment to strike. I am now a “woman in jeopardy,” as devoted readers call their beloved heroines; but I will not be a victim a second time. I will not.

You can read more about Miss Felicity Prim in her debut, The Outsmarting of Criminals, published by Ransom Note Press. The book is available in hardcover and as an ebook for Kindle, Nook, and iPad.

Comment on this post by 6 p.m. EST on May 3, and you will be entered for a chance to win a signed copy of THE OUTSMARTING OF CRIMINALS. One winner will be chosen at random. Unless specified, U.S. entries only.

Meet the Author
Steven Rigolosi is the director of market research and development for a science publisher based in Manhattan. He Steven Rigolosiis also the author of Circle of Assassins, Androgynous Murder House Party, and Who Gets the Apartment? He received his B.A. from Manhattan College and his M.A. from Rutgers University. Library Journal has called him “a completely fresh voice in the mystery genre” and described The Outsmarting of Criminals as “a pleasure from cover to cover.” He maintains a blog, with occasional pieces of short fiction, at You can reach him at srigolosi AT yahoo DOT com.

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Stressin’ with Maureen O’Brien by Susan Furlong Bolliger

Murder on ConsignmentHello, everyone! Maureen O’Brien here. The last time one of the O’Briens made an appearance on Dru’s blog was a year ago when my daughter stopped by to explain her new career choice to readers. I have to admit, as much as I love our daughter, that blog appearance was a little embarrassing. I mean, she went on and on about upcycling, recycling, and heaven forbid, she even mentioned her nasty little habit of dumpster diving. Why, ever since that blog posted, I’ve hardly been able to show my face in Chicago’s social circles.

Of course, this is all my husband’s fault. Things started going awry the day he named our baby daughter. You see, Phillip always wanted a namesake, but after four girls he gave up and dubbed our fifth daughter with a weird feminism of his own name—Phillipena. Right then and there I should have realized all hope for raising a normal child was lost.

Nonetheless, we trudged through her grade school years, tolerated her rebellious teen years, saw her through higher education and into adulthood. I know what you’re thinking. We’re good parents, we did our part, and we can stop worrying now, right? Well, pssh! All you mothers out there certainly understand how impossible that is–a mother never stops worrying. This is especially true when it comes to our daughter, Phillipena.

I’ll explain. First of all, she quit a perfectly good job managing stock portfolios to work as … oh, how shall I put it? A used merchandiser. That’s right. She takes other people’s castoffs–their junk actually–and upcycles it to sell on-line. Oh, I suppose she’s doing alright. She does seem happier now and rarely asks Phillip and me for loans anymore. Of course, we practically allow her to live rent free in the apartment above our garage. Still, our other four daughters are so … normal. They’ve married nice men, settled in respectable jobs and have even given us grandbabies. Why can’t Phillipena be more like them?

You think I’m being too harsh? Well, let me tell you something. It’s not just Phillipena’s unique choice of careers that has me worked into a tizzy. It’s this new issue she’s developed—solving crimes. I swear, I don’t know where I went wrong, but somewhere down the line, she’s come up with the idea that it’s okay to get involved in police business. Maybe it’s because she used to date a police detective. Or perhaps it’s from watching too much crime television. Who knows? Of course, she would argue that there’s good reason to get involved in these matters, but I know better. I always know better; I’m her mother.

Anyway, this time around she’s taken it upon herself to figure out who murdered a local consignment shop owner. To make matters worse, she’s using the most unconventional detecting methods. Just the other day, I was peeking over the privet hedge and saw her leave her apartment dressed in a hideous disguise. Egad! Her sleuthing antics almost make me wish she’d just stick to rummaging around in peoples’ garbage cans.

Sigh. I could go on and on, but if you want to see for yourself why I’ve been tearing out my hair with worry, just read about her latest misadventure in Murder on Consignment. Or, if you happened to miss her first folly as a wanna-be detective, check out Murder for Bid. Then you’ll see exactly what I’m talking about.

By the way, please don’t mention last year’s post to anyone. (I think it was called something like Chillin’ with Phillipena O’Brien). I’m trying to keep it under wraps.

You can read more about Maureen in Murder on Consignment, the second book in the “Pippi O’Brien” mystery series, published by Martin Sisters Publishing. The first book in the series is Murder for Bid. Books are available at retail and online booksellers.

Comment on this post by 6 p.m. EST on May 2, and you will be entered for a chance to win a signed copy of both Murder for Bid and Murder on Consignment. One winner will be chosen at random. Open to everyone.

Meet the author
Susan lives in the Midwest with her husband and four children. All her kids are still in school, but she’s hoping one day, unlike her main character, they choose sensible careers and pick normal hobbies. For more information about Susan’s writing, visit her website at

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A Day in the Life with Laurel McKay by Cindy Sample

Dying for DaiquiriAloha, everyone. My name is Laurel McKay. I’m so excited that my best friend, Liz, decided to get married on the Big Island of Hawaii. After a hectic winter, including a snowmobile chase with a crazed killer in Lake Tahoe, I couldn’t wait to fly 2,000 miles across the Pacific Ocean to celebrate her wedding.

As far as I’m concerned, there isn’t a more romantic spot to exchange vows than a sunset ceremony on the beach. Afterward, we all celebrated at their reception, held at Daiquiri Dave’s Lounge, a cliff side restaurant in Kailua-Kona owned by my brother. The location was the perfect setting for a wedding.

Unfortunately, those cliffs also provided the perfect setting for –– murder.

At first, the police thought Keiki, the beautiful hula dancer who worked at the restaurant, had accidentally fallen over the barrier wall, landing on the lava rocks below. But why was she still at the restaurant hours after the reception ended? And who would want to harm the beautiful dancer?

It turns out that many folks held a grudge against Keiki. Suspects walked, swam, four-wheeled, and zip-lined into the story. All with a motive for murder. Then my sister-in-law, Regan, accused my brother of having an affair with Keiki. Which he denied, of course. When the police arrested Dave for murder, I decided it was time to put down my tropical drink, get out of my lounge chair and come to my big brother’s rescue.

With my homicide detective boyfriend stuck on a case back home in California, I gratefully accepted an offer of assistance from my brother’s best friend. Steve is the captain of the Sea Jinx, a vessel that is almost as gorgeous as he is. But I soon discovered Steve also employed Keiki as a dancer on his boat. When I fell overboard during a huge storm, I didn’t know if it was due to a gust of wind or if a member of the crew pushed me over the railing. Thank goodness, those fishermen showed up and rescued me seconds before that huge shark made me his sushi appetizer.

Despite the fact that my vacation was becoming more deadly than the calorie count in my daiquiri, I was determined to get my brother out of jail before we all had to return home. Even if it meant swimming with sharks, getting pushed off a cliff, zip-lining with a murderer, and worst of all –– having my hula video go viral!

It could take a few pots of highly caffeinated Kona coffee to help us solve this case.

Or, better yet, a pitcher full of strawberry daiquiris!

You can read more about Laurel in Dying for Daiquiri, the third book in the “Laurel McKay” mystery series, published by Cindy Sample. The first book in the series is Dying for a Date. Books are available at online booksellers.

Comment on this post by 6 p.m. EST on May 1, and you will be entered for a chance to win a digital copy of DYING FOR DAIQUIRI. One winner will be chosen at random.

Meet the author
Cindy Sample is a former corporate CEO who retired to follow her dream of becoming a mystery author. Her humorous cindyromantic mystery series features Laurel McKay, a single soccer mom. Dying for a Date and Dying for a Dance, the winner of the NCPA 2011 Fiction Award are set in the California gold country. Dying for a Daiquiri, a 2014 finalist for the LEFTY Award for Best Humorous Mystery, moves the crime scene to the Big Island of Hawaii. This book was definitely the most fun to research! Cindy is a past President of the Sacramento Chapter of Sisters in Crime. She has served on the boards of the Sacramento Opera and YWCA.

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A Day in the Life of Lieutenant Michael Stoddard by Suzanne Adair

A Hostage to HeritageLead Criminal Investigator for Major James Henry Craig

This morning, Sunday, the first of April in the year 1781, I have awakened in a cot at the barracks in the port town of Wilmington, North Carolina. The odors of sour breath and unwashed stockings greet my nose—surely a fitting start to Fools’ Holy Day. Such is to be expected when one shares sleeping quarters with men of rank and file in the Eighty-Second Regiment, but this is not the usual arrangement for me. I had ridden back to town too late to claim my comfortable bed on Second Street, at the home of Mrs. Chiswell, a loyalist. My long night involved surveillance of a tavern eight miles northeast of town. There I obtained information vital to my investigation of the abduction of a young English lord two days earlier and the rebel fanatic who holds him hostage.

I decline to partake of what oozes from the cauldron in the regimental kitchen—gray corn mush—and meet straightaway with two teams of ten soldiers. We discuss plans for their systematic and stealthy search of the sand-and-pine wilderness northeast of town, where I suspect the boy is being held. I send them on their way, and while most folk of Wilmington are in church, I pore over Major Craig’s register of local miscreants and rebel spies and sympathizers in hopes of learning about several persons of interest in the investigation. Alas, the register isn’t helpful, and I confess to a sinking of my spirits. However my next stop is Mrs. Chiswell’s home, where her housekeeper feeds me biscuits and sausage gravy, and I obtain clean teeth, a clean shirt, and a clean shave. How a man’s mood does improve when his base needs are met.

I had set up a mid-afternoon meeting with the kidnapper so I could ascertain the identity and well-being of the hostage. My men and I ride out to the site with the boy’s tutor. The kidnapper’s well-armed party outnumbers ours, so we do not attempt a rescue, but the tutor does confirm the boy’s identity. Even more importantly, the fanatic who abducted him is foolish enough to let slip some peculiar workings of his mind and beliefs. I ponder it the entire trip back to town.

What I have learned is significant enough to help me refine my strategy against him—a strategy tailored to what I believe is the criminal’s personal credo. Of course, I risk a good deal, limiting myself to this particular understanding of my opponent. Unless the Eighty-Second finds the boy by the next night, he’ll be murdered, or his mother will have to pay the criminal an exorbitant amount of money.

Fools’ Holy Day? I no longer believe so. That night, back in my bed again, I sleep well, confident that on the morrow, I will rescue the hostage alive and imprison a miscreant who is a scourge to everyone for miles around.

You can read more about Michael in A Hostage to Heritage, the second book in the “Michael Stoddard American Revolution” thriller series, published by Suzanne Adair. The first book in the series is Regulated for Murder. Books are available at retail and online booksellers.

A Hostage to Heritage:
A boy kidnapped for ransom. And a madman who didn’t bargain on Michael Stoddard’s tenacity.

Spring 1781. The American Revolution enters its seventh grueling year. In Wilmington, North Carolina, redcoat investigator Lieutenant Michael Stoddard expects to round up two miscreants before Lord Cornwallis’s army arrives for supplies. But his quarries’ trail crosses with that of a criminal who has abducted a high-profile English heir. Michael’s efforts to track down the boy plunge him into a twilight of terror from radical insurrectionists, whiskey smugglers, and snarled secrets out of his own past in Yorkshire.

Meet the author
SuzanneAdairAward-winning novelist Suzanne Adair is a Florida native who lives in a two hundred-year-old city at the edge of the North Carolina Piedmont, named for an English explorer who was beheaded. Her suspense and thrillers transport readers to the Southern theater of the Revolutionary War, where she brings historic towns, battles, and people to life. She fuels her creativity with Revolutionary War reenacting and visits to historic sites. When she’s not writing, she enjoys cooking, dancing, hiking, and spending time with her family.

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A Conversation with Maggie MacGowen by Wendy Hornsby

Color Of Light“I always told you to be careful what you wish for, Maggie dear,” Mom said with a wicked little smile as she handed me the keys to the front door of the big old house in Berkeley where I grew up. Ever since my father died I had wanted her to move down closer to me, into a place that would be easier for her to manage alone. I’ll be damned if, after a couple of years of nudging and nagging, I didn’t get my way. Having won, I had no right to complain, then, when Mom kissed me on the cheek and, with a happy wave, pulled out of the driveway behind the truck carrying the few things she was taking with her, left me to clear out the rest of the house.

So, there I was, with a film project in limbo, a lovely new lover four-hundred miles away in Los Angeles, and a home of my own to look after, spending a July week—maybe two—alone in the house where I had been only an occasional visitor for many years, stirring up dust and occasional ghosts buried among the family’s accumulated treasures and detritus as I cleared everything out for the next tenant, the university’s housing office; the University of California, Berkeley, where my father had taught, was only a few blocks away.

Homes are private places. You may think you know everything there is to know about your family and closest friends, but you never know what secrets they might harbor. A year earlier, when I learned the truth about the messy circumstances of my birth, I began to understand that my nearest and dearest had a genius for keeping secrets. Maybe I shouldn’t have been as surprised as I was when, while clearing out my father’s desk, I discovered that he had locked away potential evidence in a brutal unsolved murder that thirty years ago rocked our close-knit community, and had said nothing to the police investigators.

I am an investigative filmmaker. I ask questions for a living. As I began looking into the case, it quickly became clear there were people in that seemingly tranquil university town who would go to lethal lengths to prevent the truth from coming out.

I found out the hard way that going home again can be deadly.

You can read more about Maggie in The Color of Light, the ninth book in the “Maggie MacGowen” mystery series, published by Perseverance Press. The first book in the series is Telling Lies. Books are available at retail and online booksellers.

Meet the author
WENDY HORNSBY is the Edgar Award-winning author of the Maggie MacGowen and Kate and Tejeda mysteries and many short stories. The early Maggie MacGowen books are again available via and are available in most E-book formats. Her most recent book, is The Color of Light.

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Cover Reveal of Deadly Assets by Wendy Tyson

I’m thrilled to share the cover for DEADLY ASSETS, the second Allison Campbell mystery, on dru’s book musings. Thanks so much for having me here today, Dru!

Deadly Assets

Allison Campbell is a successful image consultant living on the Philadelphia Main Line. Not the first profession you’d think of when it comes to solving crimes? Probably not, but Allison sure finds herself in a lot of trouble, first with Killer Image and now in Deadly Assets (available July 22, 2014). In both novels, Allison draws on her own experiences as an outsider and her psychology background to uncover the dangerous truth.

Here’s the exclusive on DEADLY ASSETS:

Allison Campbell’s latest clients seem worlds apart in every respect.

Rooted in Italian nobility, schooled abroad, the aging Francesca Benini is thrust into the corporate limelight when her brother suffers a stroke and she becomes the new head of Benini Enterprises. Her family insists she decline the role, but Francesca, determined to leave her crumbling New York Finger Lakes mansion for the first time in decades, turns to Allison for help.

Tammy “Swallow” Edwards is a newly discovered eighteen-year-old pop singer from Scranton, Pennsylvania. Music producers see star potential, but the gangly, rough spoken Tammy must first transform from a swallow into a swan. And that’s where Allison comes in.

When both clients disappear on the same day–and Allison’s business manager, Christopher Vaughn, is the last to have seen each–Allison races to find her clients and clear Vaughn’s name. Her search uncovers an intricate web of family secrets, corporate transgressions, and an age-old rivalry that crosses continents. The closer Allison gets to the truth, the deadlier her quest becomes. All paths lead back to the sinister Benini estate and the suicide of a woman thirty years ago. Allison soon realizes that the lives of two clients and the safety of those closest to her aren’t the only things at stake.

**Praise for the Allison Campbell Series**

“This cleverly revealing psychological thriller will keep you guessing…as the smart and savvy Allison Campbell (love her!) delves into the deadly motives, twisted emotions and secret intrigues of Philadelphia’s Main Line.” – Hank Phillippi Ryan, Mary Higgins Clark, Agatha, Anthony and Macavity Award-Winning Author of The Wrong Girl

“An intriguing psychological thriller. The book reminded me of Jonathan Kellerman’s Alex Delaware series…I loved the book, it’s dark and hopeful at the same time. Five stars out of five.” – Lynn Farris, Mystery Books Examiner for

“Wit, charm, and deliciously clever plot twists abound in Wendy Tyson’s Killer Image, first in her new series of mysteries featuring intrepid image consultant Allison Campbell. The author has a knack for creating characters with heart, while keeping us guessing as to their secrets until the end. Readers will eagerly await her next book in the series.” – Mary Hart Perry, Author of Seducing the Princess

“An edgy page-turner that pulls the reader into a world where image is everything and murder is all about image. Great start to a new series!” – Erika Chase, Author of The Ashton Corners Book Club Mysteries

“Nancy Drew gets a fierce makeover in Wendy Tyson’s daringly dark, yet ever fashion-conscious mystery series, beginning with Killer Image. Tyson imbues her characters with emotional depth amidst wit, ever maintaining the pulse rate.” – Deborah Cloyed, Author of What Tears Us Apart and The Summer We Came to Life

“This is hands down, the best mystery I have read so far this year. If you are fans of writers like Sara Paretsky, Particia Cornwall or Sue Grafton, you are going to love new author Wendy Tyson. I can’t wait for her next book.” – Kate Shannon, Rantin’ Ravin’ and Reading.

Leave a comment below and you will be entered for a chance to win an “ALLISON CAMPBELL” combo pack: a signed copy of KILLER IMAGE and an advance reader copy of DEADLY ASSETS. Giveaway ends by 6 p.m. EST on April 28, 2014. One winner will be chosen at random. Unless specified, U.S. entries only. Thanks for stopping by!

Haven’t read the Allison Campbell series? You may want to start with:
Killer Image2

Philadelphia’s premier image consultant, Allison Campbell helps others reinvent themselves, but her most successful transformation was her own after a scandal nearly ruined her. Now she moves in a world of powerful executives, wealthy, eccentric ex-wives and twisted ethics.

When Allison’s latest Main Line client, the fifteen-year-old Goth daughter of a White House hopeful, is accused of the ritualistic murder of a local divorce attorney, Allison fights to prove her client’s innocence when no one else will. But unraveling the truth brings specters from her own past. And in a place where image is everything, the ability to distinguish what’s real from the facade may be the only thing that keeps Allison alive.

Killer Image is available at Henery Press, retail and online booksellers.

About the author
Wendy Tyson’s background in law and psychology has provided inspiration for her mysteries and thrillers. Originally from the Philadelphia area, Wendy has returned to her roots and lives there again with her husband, three kids and two muses, dogs Molly and Driggs. Wendy’s short fiction has appeared in literary journals, including KARAMU, Eclipse, A Literary Journal and Concho River Review. DEADLY ASSETS, the second novel in the Allison Campbell series, will be released July 22, 2014. Find Wendy on Facebook or Twitter, or visit her at

Spending Time With Penelope Sutherland by Shawn Reilly Simmons

Murder on the Red CarpetYou’d think working with movie stars every day would be a glamorous gig. And sometimes it is, like when I get invited to a wrap party or as a plus one to a movie premiere. But most of the time my job is hard work. I’m the owner and head chef of Red Carpet Catering, and I work behind the scenes cooking on movie sets. My team is responsible for providing every meal during filming, which boils down to many more long days on my feet and dirty dishes to wash than glamorous nights out on the town.

Don’t get me wrong, my job definitely has its perks. Every day brings new challenges and a sense of adventure. It’s hard to get bored in my particular line of work, because no two days are ever the same. I never know where we’re going to end up, but I do know that I have to take my kitchen with me wherever the party goes.

Take today for example. My crew of four chefs packed up our three mobile kitchen trucks before dawn and drove to a busy downtown street corner where the day’s filming will take place. Three hundred cast, crew members, executives and extras will be expecting lunch and dinner, fresh, hot and on time, so we have a long day ahead of us. We have to prep, cook, and plate the food, serve lunch, clear everything down, clean everything up, and then repeat the entire process for the dinner rush. So we’ll be out here working for fifteen hours at least, more if the filming goes into overtime. Hopefully the movie crew will get the scene shot that they need today. Otherwise we’ll be back here again tomorrow, déjà vu all over again, except we will offer different menu choices.

I do enjoy watching the sunrise in the mornings when we begin our early days. My crew is up and working, chopping vegetables and portioning out proteins when most people still have hours left to sleep, or when some more ambitious club-goers are making their way home from a late night out. But you get used to working the long days, cooking in all types of weather and in different locations. That’s where the adventure comes in.

After lunch, I take a walk down to the corner and watch the crew roll through a scene on the sidewalk. Three cameras are pointed at my best friend and roommate, Arlena Madison and her handsome co-star, Sam Cavanaugh, as they walk slowly down the street, reciting their lines. They’ve proven to have great chemistry, both on screen and off. Sam has been spending a lot of time at our house the past couple of weeks. I hope for Arlena’s sake the relationship lasts after the cameras stop rolling. She’s fallen hard for Sam already.

Watching Arlena and Sam, I wonder if I would have time for a relationship. I’m never quite sure how Joey Baglioni, a childhood friend of mine who is now a police detective, feels about me. There was always something special about Joey…he sure has turned out well since those awkward grade school days. The fact that we’ve just reconnected while he’s investigating a murder that might involve Arlena’s famous family puts us in an awkward position. Like Sam and Arlena, I wonder if Joey and I will have anything to talk about if and when the murder of Holly Anderson is solved.

I should probably just focus on work. Heaven knows it’s hard enough to find the time to date someone when you have a regular job, much less when you have a job that barely leaves you enough time to get a few hours of sleep between shifts. But then again, a day off with Joey would really be nice…

Time to head back to the trucks. Dinner has to be ready soon.

You can read more about Penelope in Murder on the Red Carpet, the first book in the “Red Carpet Catering” mystery series, published by Lit Girl Publishing. Books are available at retail and online booksellers.

Comment on this post by 6 p.m. EST on April 26, and you will be entered for a chance to win a digital copy of MURDER ON THE RED CARPET. One winner will be chosen at random.

Meet the author
Shawn Reilly Simmons was born in Indiana, grew up in Florida, and began her professional career in New York and ShawnNew Jersey after graduating from the University of Maryland with a BA in English. Over the years, Shawn has been a sales executive, book store manager, fiction editor, convention organizer, and a caterer. In 2006 she worked with the catering crew on a major motion picture that filmed in the DC area, which perfectly combined two of her great loves, movies and food. Shawn currently resides in Maryland with her husband, son and two English Bulldogs. Murder on the Red Carpet is her first novel.

If you’re a mystery fan you might know me from my work with the Malice Domestic mystery convention. I’ve been either a Board Member or a Committee Chair for the past 11 years working in Public Relations and Registrations.

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Blog Tour With Cait Morgan by Cathy Ace

THE CORPSE WITH THE EMERALD THUMB jpegI need a holiday. A vacation. I use both words. Being Welsh Canadian, I’m allowed.

In any case—I need a break. Fortunately, on Sunday morning Bud and I will be flying to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. YAY! We’re spending a week at an apartment about an hour from the airport, that’s being loaned to us by a colleague from Bud’s time as a homicide cop in Vancouver. I can hardly wait.

But first, I have to get through today, and it’s not going to be pleasant. I’ll explain. I’m a professor specializing in criminal psychology at the University of Vancouver, and I’ve just finished teaching an inter-sessional semester—which has all the work of a full-length semester squashed into half the time. I had a particularly tough group for the “Deviant criminal behavior: background and insights” course. Real criminals some of them. I kid you not.

I’ve never made it publicly known, but I have an eidetic memory, and I’m also very adept at reading people. I’ve used these abilities to help solve some puzzling murder cases in the past, but this semester, I’d noticed that one particular group dynamic in my class was “off” from the start—all popular, but lazy, kids working with one bright, diligent girl, who’s very much a loner. Not normal. For those of you who never went, or have chosen to forget, university is just like high school on steroids. Students categorize themselves, then don’t mix. It makes me smile sometimes—they think they’re being terribly independent in their style of dress, speech, and so forth, yet they’re all wearing “uniforms” that clearly mark them as a member of one group or another. Rebelliousness as tribal membership.

Back to today. I see plagiarism as theft. A crime. And no-one who’s as interested in justice as I am wants to see theft run rampant in their class. So I set a final report challenge that could only be be responded to in an original form, not pinched from the internet. I wondered how my target group would tackle it. I suspected they’d get their one bright member to do all the work, then copy her paper in such a way that they’d hide their theft. To be fair, given that there were eighty seven people taking the course, they could reasonably hope that I wouldn’t note any similarities. But that’s because they don’t know the real me, they just see a professor who’s there to be manipulated.

To cut a long story short, they bit. Two of them had done a pretty good job of covering their tracks, three hadn’t bothered much at all, and the poor girl who’d done all the work hadn’t written it up very well. Today they get their comeuppance.

They’ll be here any minute. They must have guessed what’s going to happen, and I dare say they’ll be developing their cover stories. But they won’t work. Not on me. The bright girl will be their weak link—I’ve already deduced that she’s been dragged into this situation against her will. I had a casual chat with her in the hall the other day and her body language was screaming at me that she wanted to tell me something, but didn’t dare. Her micro-expressions, her picked and nibbled fingers, the cold-sore she kept licking—they all spoke volumes about the stress she was under.

She was gripping her phone at the time. The screen saver behind the keypad showed a smoke-colored, long haired cat. I’ve spotted similar cat hairs on the clothing of one of the group members, and a couple of scratches on the neck of another. But the bright girl hasn’t had a single cat hair on her for weeks. I suspect the slackers are holding her cat, to make her do what they want. Cat-nappers, and thieves. Criminals.

Yes, grades matter that much, especially when parental pressure is applied, but no oversight provided. It should be an open and shut case. The bright girl will pass the course, the others will fail. I’ll make sure they return the cat. And if they want to duke it out with me in front of the departmental head, so be it. But not today. Nor next week.

Next week, I’ll be lying beside the pool at the Rocas Hermosas Resort near Punta de las Rocas, sipping something cold, with a little umbrella in it. Bud will be beside me, and we’ll be chatting about almost nothing, in the most wonderful way. At least, that’s the plan. I really hope nothing happens to spoil it—like I said, I need a break.

This is the first stop on the The Corpse with The Emerald Thumb Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour. For other stops on this tour, click HERE

You can find out how Cait’s break in Mexico works out in The Corpse with The Emerald Thumb, the third Cait Morgan Mystery, published by TouchWood Editions. The first book in the series is The Corpse with the Silver Tongue. Books are available at retail and online booksellers.

GIVEAWAY: Comment on this post by 6 p.m. EST on April 25, and you will be entered for a chance to win a copy of THE CORPSE WITH THE EMERALD THUMB. One winner will be chosen at random. Open to U.S. and Canadian residents only.

Meet the author
Welsh Canadian mystery author Cathy Ace is the creator of the Cait Morgan Mysteries, which include The Corpse with the Silver Tongue, The Corpse with the Golden Nose, and The Corpse with the Emerald Thumb. Born, raised, and 2cathyeducated in Wales, Cathy enjoyed a successful career in marketing and training across Europe, before immigrating to Vancouver, Canada, where she taught on MBA and undergraduate marketing programs at various universities. Her eclectic tastes in art, music, food, and drink have been developed during her decades of extensive travel, which she continues whenever possible. Now a full-time author, Cathy’s short stories have appeared in multiple anthologies, as well as on BBC Radio 4. She and her husband are keen gardeners, who enjoy being helped out around their acreage by their green-pawed Labradors. Cathy’s website can be found at Follow her on Twitter, or on Facebook.

Follow dru’s book musing on Facebook for book giveaways, contests, posting about discounted books and some of my reading musings.

A Day in the Life of Dulcie Schwartz by Clea Simon

Grey HowlTalk about herding cats! I never thought a three-day conference could be quite so crazed. But the guests are just arriving and already everything is going wrong. I may be book smart, but suddenly, I’m in over my head: What’s with the sound system in Hall A? Why is the acting director being such a space case? And I know Stella Barnes is a rising star – but must she be such a diva? All my friends are telling me about her fling with Marco Tesla but is the hunky Professor Barnes under her spell as well? And is that the only reason all these academics come to these conferences? Mr Grey, I’m going to need all the help your feline spirit can send my way if I’m to get through this one alive.

If I can only keep everything under control, this could be my big break. Even though I’m only a grad student (fifth year), I’ve been named the department’s liaison to the conference – which means that I’ll get serious face time with all these stars, scholars from all around the world. When I finish my dissertation – I’ve got to stop saying “if” – these contacts will be invaluable. Surely, someone will want another newly minted PhD with an expertise in Gothic novels. At least, if I can keep everyone on track and at the right venue.

That’s worth my time, surely. Even if I’d much rather be working on my own thesis or, even better, at home with Esmé the cat. She’s not a kitten anymore, but she still deserves some play time, and really, I can concentrate better when I’ve got a purring kitty by my side. Maybe tonight, after the Moonlight Party, I’ll be able to do some work. Maybe Chris, my boyfriend, will be home – those strange disappearances of his are beginning to worry me. This should be easy, right? A cocktail party in one of the university’s most beautiful courtyards. It’s not like somebody could die there… could it?

You can read more about Dulcie’s adventures in Grey Howl, the seventh Dulcie Schwartz Feline Mystery from Severn House. The first in the series is Shades of Grey, and the books (all of which feature the feline spirit, Mr Grey) are available at bookstores and online outlets.

GIVEAWAY: Comment on this post by 6 p.m. EST on April 24 and you will be entered to win a copy of one of the earlier books in the Dulcie Schwartz feline mystery series (Shades of Grey, Grey Matters, Grey Zone, Grey Expectations, True Grey, Grey Dawn). Three (3) lucky winners will be chosen at random. U.S. residents only please.

Meet the author
Clea Simon is the author of 15 mysteries in the Theda Krakow(4), Dulcie Schwartz (7), and Pru Marlowe pet noir (4) series, as well as three nonfiction books. The latter two mystery series are ongoing and include her most recent books, Grey Howl (Severn House) and Panthers Play for Keeps (Poisoned Pen Press). A former journalist and nonfiction author, she lives in Somerville, Mass., with her husband, the writer Jon Garelick, and their cat Musetta. She can be reached at and is on Twitter.

Follow dru’s book musing on Facebook for book giveaways, contests, posting about discounted books and some of my reading musings.