Monthly Archives: May 2014

All in a Day’s Work with Grace Wilde by Laura Morrigan

A Tiger's TaleThere are days when my job puts me in an awkward position. Physically, this happens quite frequently. I have to crawl under houses to talk to terrified raccoons or go out on a limb– literally– to untangle a fishing line from nesting egret’s leg.

But worse, is when I’m forced into awkward social positions– like the one was currently facing.

“Of course it was Ziggy, who else could have done it?” my client, Mr. King, asked.

Feigning thoughtfulness, I looked down at my feet, then cast a glance at the kid sitting at the kitchen peninsula. The boy was around ten and was ignoring the conversation I was having with his dad. Or at least pretending to. He swung his feet, thumping the toe of his tennis shoe against the wood cabinet base in an incessant rhythm, thump-thump-thump, as he deftly navigated both a smart phone and the inside of his nose.

“Well…” I began, then stopped myself.

I knew who the guilty party was– Ziggy had told me. The fact that Ziggy was a boxer and currently accused of the crime was the problem.

You see, I can, and do, communicate with animals. My telepathic ability– and the fact that I keep it a secret– is why I’m so good at my job. I’m very good at talking to animals. People? Not so much.

“The front yard is fenced,” Mr. King went on. “We keep the gate locked. There’s no way another dog could have gotten in.”

“Probably not,” I agreed.

The kid paused for a moment to regard the tip of his finger then– looking directly at me– wiped whatever he’d mined from his nasal cavity under the seat of the stool.

Nice.

The boy started up with the kicking again.

Thump- thump- thump.

I looked at the accused. Ziggy, like his owner and the kid, was a few pounds north of a healthy weight. The dog sat next to the bar stool looking up at the boy with a goofy, doggy smile.

Loyal as the day was long. Ziggy had no idea the kid was throwing him under the bus.

I couldn’t tell my client the truth– that his bratty kid had been the one to tear a hole in his wife’s giant, inflatable Easter Bunny yard ornament. Though that was exactly what had happened.

Offering solutions to an animal’s problem behavior is my job. What was I supposed to do when the problem behavior didn’t belong to the animal?

“You know what, Mr. King,” I said as a flash of inspiration struck. “I think this is a case of a dog with a little too much energy. Your son here looks like a nice, strong young man. I think I have a solution.”

I suggested the boy walk Ziggy twice a day in addition to the dog being allowed constant access through the doggie door to the yard.

The kid stopped the rhinotillexis and stared at me.

“If we let him out, he’ll do it again, won’t he?” Mr. King asked.

I angled my head and looked at Ziggy, then up at the kid. “If he does, he’ll have to be taken on longer walks until his behavior improves.”

The boy’s eyes went wide. My psychic ability doesn’t work on people. I couldn’t flood the kid’s mind with calm guidance or even compel him with a dose of because-I-said-so alpha energy, but I’d made my point.

Now, I just had a couple of crazy house cats to chat with and a paranoid parrot to council and I could call it a day!


You can read more about Grace in A Tiger’s Tale, the second book in the “Call of the Wilde” mystery series, published by Berkley Prime Crime. The first book in the series is Woof at the Door. Books are available at retail and online booksellers.

GIVEAWAY
Comment on this post by 6 p.m. EST on June 4, and you will be entered for a chance to win a copy of A TIGER’S TALE. One winner will be chosen at random. Unless specified, U.S. entries only.

Meet the author
Spending the first years of her life on a Costa Rican coffee farm blessed Laura Morrigan with a fertile imagination and a love for all things wild.

Later she became a volunteer at a local zoo, helping out with everything from “waste management” to teaching an elephant how to paint. Drawing from her years of experience with both wild and domestic animals and her passion for detective novels, Laura created the Call of the Wilde series. She lives in Florida with her husband and far too many cats, loves the Blue Angels, wearing flip flops in November, and thunderstorms.

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Another Sit-Down with Colleen McCabe by Kathryn O’Sullivan

Murder on the HoofThanks for inviting me back to chat with you and your readers, Dru. A lot has happened since our last sit-down and I appreciate the opportunity to clear the air and address rumors about recent events in our little Outer Banks village of Corolla. As you may have heard, this summer we have the famous actress Hayley Thorpe and a film company in town, our first ever fundraising production of the community theatre and Lighthouse Wild Horse Preservation Society’s play Wild and Free, and – oh yeah – a couple of unsolved murders.

There are a lot of fires that need squelching right now, but they have nothing to do with my job as Corolla’s Fire Chief. Speaking of the fire station, Bobby Crepe is now training to be a firefighter. Surprising, right? Nobody is more astonished than Myrtle, his mother, who hasn’t been all that encouraging. I have to say I had my doubts at first, but I’m quite proud of the job he’s doing … although he really should lay off the sweets if he wants to get his weight down for the tests. He has a lot of heart, though, and has won over the men. The teasing he gets from them is just part of his probie initiation. In fact, the only tension I have at the station has to do with one of my guys and his pretty girlfriend, Fawn. Fawn’s an interesting girl – did a reading of my aura – but I’d rather not get into that.

Last time we spoke, I invited you down to check out our beautiful beaches and take a ride on the engine. If you do decide to visit, you’ll definitely want to tour the Whalehead in Historic Corolla. It’s a historic house and museum built in the 1920s and located in Currituck Heritage Park along with the Currituck Lighthouse. I like to think of Whalehead as Corolla’s answer to Downton Abbey. I’m not really into frilly stuff but I gotta admit the Tiffany dining room and Art Nouveau architecture are pretty spectacular. The Whalehead is where Myrtle, Myrtle’s best friend Nellie, and the rest of the community theatre group have been rehearsing their play, most of the time not too harmoniously. Myrtle’s been having a lot of run-ins with Lane Walker, one of the other actors who has more theatre experience than she does and who is a bit of flirt… with everyone but Myrtle. I thought they’d put their personal drama on hold given the fact someone is killing members of their group but it seems the show – and the show intrigue – must go on.

As for our wild Spanish mustangs … it took a little work but we finally rounded the horses up and safely returned them to the sanctuary in Carova’s four-wheel drive access area just north of Corolla. Thanks for asking. While we’re on the subject of Carova, I just want to say one thing. It was wrong of me to drive Hayley Thorpe up, over and around the Carova dunes. I feel bad for making her sick, but I wasn’t in my right mind. It’s just that she’s added some complications to my life. Ask my friend Bill Dorman, the Currituck County Sheriff. On second thought, don’t. He’ll tell you I went on a date with Pinky Salvatore, one of Corolla’s biggest developers. For the record, it was a meeting and I only wore a dress because I had to. And besides, I’m not the one that’s kept secrets. Bill should have told me about… oh, never mind. I’ve said too much. I don’t have time for personal matters. There are murders to solve.


You can read more about Colleen in Murder on the Hoof, the second book in the “Colleen McCabe” mystery series, published by Minotaur. The first book in the series is Foal Play. Books are available at retail and online booksellers.

Click HERE to see trailer for Murder on the Hoof

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

Meet the author
Kathryn O’Sullivan’s debut Foal Play was winner of the Malice Domestic Best First Traditional Mystery Novel Competition. Murder on the Hoof is the second book in the series featuring feisty Fire Chief Colleen McCabe. She is a playwright, co-executive producer/creator/writer of the Western web series THURSTON (www.thurston-series.com), and a theatre professor at Northern Virginia Community College. She lives in Virginia with her husband, a director and cinematographer, and their rascally rescue cat, Oscar. She is currently working on the third book in the “Colleen McCabe” series. To learn more, please visit her website at www.kathrynosullivan.com and find her on Facebook.


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A Day in the Life of Vivian Tremont by Jenn McKinlay

Death of a Mad HatterRibbons, feathers, sparkly beads, and colors so rich you could take a bite out of them and let their juices run down your chin, these were just a few of the reasons I became a milliner.

The other reason was my grandmother Mim. She was, like me, an odd duck. Flights of fancy took wing on her carefully crafted hat forms where she molded brims and crowns of sinamay, ramie and, of course, wool into the foundations of her artwork. From the time I could peek over the edge of her workroom table, I loved to watch her create her magic and I knew that I would be a milliner just like her someday.

Sadly, Mim passed away five years ago, leaving her shop Mim’s Whims to me and my American cousin Scarlett Parker. Scarlett spent all of her school holidays with Mim and I in the hat shop, but honestly, she has no talent for millinery. She is more of a people person.

It is Scarlett’s affection for people that seems to be getting us embroiled in one mad adventure after another, much to the chagrin of our business manager Harrison Wentworth. He bellyaches quite a bit, but I see how he looks at Scarlett. He has never gotten over the crush he had on her when we were children. Since Scarlett’s last disastrous relationship, she has made a vow not to date anyone for at least a year. Fiona Felton, my apprentice, and I have a bet going on whether the two can stay away from one another that long.

Currently, I am working on restoring a bridal hat that was made by Mim thirty years ago. Ariana Jackson, the daughter of the original bride, is hoping to wear it in her upcoming wedding. Unfortunately, when Scarlett went to her office to discuss the cost of refurbishment with her, she found Ariana crouched over the dead body of her boss. Usually, I avoid getting involved in these matters, but I so want to restore Mim’s original design to its former glory that I have thrown my lot in with Scarlett and am doing everything I can to help prove that Ariana is innocent.

Harrison’s friend Alistair Tucker is Ariana’s attorney, and I can tell by the way he has been loitering around the shop that he is interested in more than my hats. Scarlett has been hounding me about my personal life, or lack thereof, for weeks and now she is trying to push me at Alistair. I want to confide in her, I do, but I can’t tell her what I’ve done. I can’t tell anyone…


You can read more about Vivian in Death of a Mad Hatter, the second book in the “Hat Shop” mystery series, published by Berkley Prime Crime. The first book in the series is Cloche and Dagger. Books are available at retail and online booksellers.

GIVEAWAY
Comment on this post by 6 p.m. EST on June 2, and you will be entered for a chance to win a copy of DEATH OF A MAD HATTER. One winner will be chosen at random. Unless specified, U.S. entries only.

Meet the author
A true Anglophile, Jenn McKinlay loves all things British. In her idea of a perfect world, every day would include high tea or wearing a fabulous hat, or both. This adoration of all things U.K. inspired her to write the Hat Shop Mysteries, which are set in London, one of her most favorite cities in the world. She now gets to visit London regularly—for research purposes, of course. Jenn is the New York Times bestselling author of the Library Lover’s mysteries, the Cupcake Bakery mysteries and writes under the names Josie Belle and Lucy Lawrence as well.

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A Day in the Life of Skeet Bannion by Linda Rodriguez

every hidden fearThings have been tense around my little town, Brewster, Missouri, lately, what with local-boy-made-good Ash Mowbray returned, threatening to destroy the town square businesses and claiming my son Brian’s schoolmate as his illegitimate son—very publicly. I headed out for my morning run hoping for peace and got a nasty surprise.

My Cherokee grandmother was pulling biscuits out of the oven when I arrived home. Brian wandered in toweling his hair dry after a shower.

“That smells great, Gran,” he said. When Gran first arrived to live with us, he’d struggled with what to call her until she told him since he was mine and I was hers that he should call her Gran just as I did.

She smiled at him and frowned at me. “You’re late. Wash your hands and sit down to eat. You can take your shower after breakfast. I’m not going to have everything get cold because you lost track of time this morning.”

Slamming the oven door with one hand, she set the pan of biscuits on the counter with the other. I headed to the sink to wash up.

“I didn’t lose track of time. Found a body on the golf course while running along the river. Had to call it in and wait until the crime scene techs got there.” I dried my face and hands on the dishtowel and tossed it on the counter.

“Was it anyone we know?” Brian asked.

Gran set a baked egg-cheese casserole, a plate of bacon, and a basket of biscuits on the table. “Brian, get the butter and jelly and that bowl of fruit out of the fridge.”

I grabbed a cup of coffee on my way to the table. “It was Ash Mowbray.”

“Sit down and say grace,” she said sternly. “Before you start talking about evil things like that, bless your food and give thanks for it.”

I dropped my head. I’d violated one of her cardinal rules. Gran believed it was important to start the day off right. What you did at the beginning of the day could determine what kind of day you’d have.

We all sat at the table and bowed our heads while she prayed. “Creator, thank you for another day of breath and for this food. Bless it to strengthen and nourish us. Help us to say and do right things in the right way.”

Gran might welcome the dawn with cornmeal to the four directions, but she was also an active member of the D.D. Etchieson United Indian Methodist Church and never saw any contradictions.

We filled our plates and started to eat—I began with a big gulp of burning coffee, of course—but Brian couldn’t contain himself any longer.

“What happened to him? Wish whatever it was had happened before he screwed everything up for Noah and his folks.” He frowned in disgust and snatched two strips of bacon. “He was a mean old creeper. How’d he die?”

“It looks very much as if he was murdered. You’re not to say anything to anyone at school, though. I know it will be all over town in a flash. But not from this house.” I reached for more of Gran’s fruit compote and paused to give him a stern look. “Okay?”

He shrugged. “Sure. Last thing I want is to be the guy who tells Noah that his real dad he never knew about and cussed out all over the place is dead.” He shook his head. “Talk about stuff that could warp you!”

“People in this town like to talk,” I said. “There will be all kinds of gossip once the word gets out. I just don’t want any of us adding to it.”

“You mean I can’t talk about it, even after they all know about it?” Brian sounded incredulous.

“Of course not. But don’t speculate or build it up any worse than it is.” I sighed and drank some more badly needed coffee. “People may think you know more than you do because you live with me. Just be careful when you talk about it.”

“Are they looking at Noah and his family?” asked Gran as she polished off her single piece of bacon.

I shook my head at her, but Brian had stopped eating to stare at me. “They won’t think Noah did it, will they?”

“They have to look at everybody who had any grudge against him.” I got up to pour myself more coffee and refilled Gran’s cup, as well. “And he went out of his way to give lots of people grudges against him. So they’ll be looking at a lot of people.”

I leaned back against the kitchen counter for a minute. “They’ll probably question Noah, but that doesn’t mean anything with this many people angry at the victim.”

Brian nodded, looking relieved, and turned back to the food. “Do either of you want the last piece of bacon?”

Gran leaned back in her chair and looked up at me. “That man’s going to keep on making trouble for everyone, even from the grave, isn’t he?”


You can read more about Skeet in Every Hidden Fear, the third book in the “Skeet Bannion” mystery series, published by Minotaur. The first book in the series is Every Last Secret. Books are available at retail and online booksellers.

GIVEAWAY
Comment on this post by 6 p.m. EST on May 31, and you will be entered for a chance to win a copy of EVERY HIDDEN FEAR. One winner will be chosen at random. Unless specified, U.S. entries only.

Meet the author
Linda Rodriguez’s third Skeet Bannion novel, Every Hidden Fear, was published May 6. Her second Skeet mystery, Every Broken Trust, was a selection of Las Comadres National Latino Book Club and is currently a finalist for both the International Latino Book Award and the Premio Aztlan Literary Prize. Her first Skeet novel, Every Last Secret, won the Malice Domestic Best First Traditional Mystery Novel Competition, was a Barnes & Noble mystery pick, and was a finalist for the International Latino Book Award. Her short story, “The Good Neighbor,” has been optioned for film. Find her on Twitter, on Facebook, and on blogs with The Stiletto Gang, Writers Who Kill, and her own bog, Linda Rodriguez Writes.


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Losing the Farm with Albert St. Pierre by Edith Maxwell

Til Dirt do us PartMy name is Albert St. Pierre, and I was never so happy to lose a farm. Let me explain.

My late wife Marie and I grew the usual assortment of New England summer crops on our small property for many years together. We planted one field to sweet corn, another to squashes, and raised up a great many tomatoes and peppers. We produced some darn tasty sweet onions, too. Folks weren’t so keen on salads at that time, so that wasn’t part of the mix and nobody but my Italian friend Vinnie had much use for garlic.

Spring_flower_gardenMy Marie, she had the green thumb with flowers. Why, back in the day her perennial garden was the envy of the county, and she also had a way with annuals like zinnias and sweet peas. We raised chickens for some twenty-odd years, too, but they finally got too smelly for us. Their eggs surely were tasty, though.

But Marie passed about three years ago now, and then my consarned foot had to be amputated from the diabetes. So when our great-niece Cammy got laid off her job as a programmer, I thought she just might want to take over Attic Hill Farm as a change of pace. She grew up summering with us, she’s always been a smart cookie, and she absorbed a good bit of farming knowledge along the way. She’s already gathered quite the group of regular customers, even some of those nutty ones who call themselves locavores. It’s a shame she’s had to run into a murder or two in the last year, but she managed to use that brain of hers to figure out who did it before even the police did.

I spend my days now in the lap of luxury over at Moran Manor Assisted Living. I have a nice big sunny room, a kitchenette, a computer, and a whole raft of folks who do the cooking and cleaning. It’s not fancy, but it’s clean and friendly. You ought to stop by and join me for a meal or a mean game of Scrabble. I’d welcome you.


You can read more about Albert and Cam in Til Dirt Do Us Part, the second book in the “Local Foods” mystery series, published by Kensington. The first book in the series is A Tine to Live, a Tine to Die. Books are available at retail and online booksellers.

In the second Local Foods mystery, Til Dirt Do Us Part (May, 2014), the growing season is winding down and the fall days are cold and dark. The produce is local – and so is the crime – when long-simmering tensions lead to murder following a farm-to-table dinner on Cameron Flaherty’s farm. It’ll take a sleuth who knows the lay of the land to catch this killer. But no one ever said Cam wasn’t willing to get her hands dirty.

GIVEAWAY
Comment on this post by 6 p.m. EST on May 30, and you will be entered for a chance to win a copy of TIL DIRT DO US PART. One winner will be chosen at random. Unless specified, U.S. entries only.

Meet the author
Former organic farmer Edith Maxwell writes the Local Foods Mysteries about farmer Cam Flaherty, a Locavore Club, and locally sourced murder (Kensington Publishing). Under the pseudonym Tace Baker she writes the Speaking of Mystery series (Barking Rain Press), featuring Quaker linguistics professor Lauren Rousseau in small-town Massachusetts. Edith holds a PhD in linguistics and is a long-time Quaker. She also writes award-winning short crime fiction. A technical writer and fourth-generation Californian, she lives north of Boston.

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