Monthly Archives: January 2017

A sizzling summer day in the life of Veronica Justice with Sybil Johnson

a-palette-for-murderVeronica Justice here, reporter for the Vista Beach View, the weekly newspaper here in town. You might know me from my blog, VB Confidential, where I give the latest scoop on what’s happening around the area. Or you might remember me from those two books that Johnson woman wrote about how Rory Anderson solved those murders. I didn’t have a starring role, but I dug out information vital to the investigation. She wouldn’t have solved either crimes without me.

It’s hot, hot, hot here along the California coast, way hotter than usual for August. Everyone’s doing everything they can to stay cool. The city’s got air-conditioned cooling centers where people can stay during the day. Residents without their own a/c (which is practically everyone) and the homeless are taking advantage of the centers. But everyone’s on their own at night. Lots of people are keeping their windows open while they sleep. Not the best idea when there’s been a string of burglaries in nearby towns. It’s only a matter of time before the perps make their way here. I’m on top of the story, as always. I’ll let you know everything I find out.

Hold on a sec. I’ve got to take this call. It’s one of my informants. I’ve got eyes and ears throughout the city. How else do you think I keep on top of things?

Yep, that was a hot scoop, all right. Police activity over on Seagull Lane. Why don’t you come with me and see how a real reporter works? It’s only a few minutes’ drive.

Look at the police tape and the crowd around that house. Something’s happening all right. And just a few doors down from Rory Anderson’s place. Hmmm. You stay here. I work better alone. I’ll see what I can find out.

You won’t believe it. It’s a body and guess who found it? That’s right. Rory Anderson. Coincidence? Seems like they’ve been dropping like flies ever since she moved to town. Makes you wonder.

It’s been nice talking to you, but I’ve gotta go. That’s Detective Green coming out from the back yard. Don’t worry. I’ll let you know what’s going on. Just follow my reports in the View or check my blog.


You can read more about Veronica in A PALETTE FOR MURDER, the third book in the Aurora Anderson mystery series.

A killer heat wave settles over Seagull Lane. . .

Summer’s sizzling in Vista Beach, the home of computer programmer and tole-painting enthusiast Aurora (Rory) Anderson. The abnormally high temperatures are hard on everyone in the quiet Los Angeles county beach community, especially the city’s homeless population. Residents are doing everything they can to stay cool, including leaving windows open to catch the faintest breeze. Not the best idea when a string of burglaries is plaguing nearby towns.

Still, Rory doesn’t expect to find her neighbor’s body just a few doors down. When suspicion falls on a friend and fellow painter, Rory must discover the truth before the police paint the wrong picture and send her friend away permanently.

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About the author
Sybil Johnson is the author of the Aurora Anderson Mystery Series set in the world of tole/decorative painting (Fatal Brushstroke, Paint The Town Dead and A Palette For Murder). A past president of the Los Angeles Chapter of Sisters in Crime and co-chair of the 2011 California Crime Writers Conference, Sybil wields pen and brush at her home in Southern California. Visit her online at www.authorsybiljohnson.com.

All comments are welcomed.

Books are available at retail and online booksellers.

A day in the life with Maggie Gardiner by Lisa Black

unpunishedI love newspapers. I always have. So even though overtime calls are not my favorite things in life I was a little excited to enter the huge building which houses the staff, reporters and printing press of the Cleveland Herald. Usually I am entering broken-down old homes and ratty apartments with dishes in the sink and cockroaches in the corners, where the heat and/or air conditioning does not work—which can be more or less a problem depending on the season, which on the shores of Lake Erie can change every ten minutes. Or I’m picking through a vacant lot where a body has been left atop a molding mattress, or a cramped car’s interior where someone decided to end their life with a bullet to the brain. Or—well, you get the idea.

So, the well-lit, climate-controlled, spacious Herald building would have come as a welcome relief in any case, but filled as it was with images of Lois Lane, Humphrey Bogart and Lou Grant, well, I didn’t mind losing a little sleep. Yes, someone was dead, but after ten years as a forensic specialist, I’ve learned not to get that get to me.

Most of the time.

The nice printing supervisor walked me through the building, explaining and/or griping about the difficulties of print journalism today—readership that’s been declining since the 40’s, the loss of the cash cow known as classified advertising to sites like Craigslist and MSN, lay-offs left and right, the harm done a society when there’s no one watching the gatekeepers—but I didn’t get to see Lois or Humphrey. It was the middle of the night, the stories written, the reporters home, only the printing and delivery to thousands of doorsteps left to do before their workday began anew.

We arrived at the print towers. The three-story high ceiling allowed for four towers of steel machinery to function, squeezing an unbroken stream of moving newspaper between huge, horizontal rollers. The rollers were stacked vertically inside the steel-framed towers, and not all the towers were the same size. The tallest had four sets of rollers, others two or one. The paper ribbon stretched from the top of one to the bottom of the next like a spider’s web. The noise drowned out everything else as the printing manager had to shout to explain: “The aluminum sheets are wound around the rolls, there, but they print on a rubber roll next to it, which then prints on the paper. That’s why it’s called offset. There’s one on each side of the paper, so it prints on both sides at once. Every turn prints eight sheets of newspaper.”

I could see the rolls and the paper but there seemed to be much more than that, from the huge boxes feeding the paper in and suspended vats of what must be ink, feeding through metal tubes to a mechanism that ran parallel to the rollers, an array of scaffolding and even steps surrounding each tower. What appeared to be super heavy duty skateboards moved around in a set of tracks that wound around the bottoms of the roller towers. They carried the huge rolls of paper into place. The manager continued: “The taller towers with more rollers are doing the color printing, the shorter ones, all black. Four colors, of course—red, blue, yellow and black. The paper roll then feeds into the folder, where the paper is folded and cut and sent to binding.”

I could have watched the mesmerizing action all day, but my gaze faltered when I saw the body. An unlucky copy editor hung from a long strap tied to the railing at the highest tower. A sad, silent figure against the cacophony of the press—and perhaps, given all the stresses in the industry which had just been described to me, not that surprising.

But then my empathy turned back on myself when I saw who else awaited on the highest tower—Jack Renner. I stopped in my tracks and my heart began to pound in time with the pounding of the huge metal rolls.

Because Jack Renner is a killer.


You can read more about Maggie in UNPUNISHED, the second book in the Gardiner and Renner suspense series.

Maggie Gardiner, a forensic expert who studies the dead, and Jack Renner, a homicide cop who stalks the living, form an uneasy partnership to solve a series of murders in this powerful new thriller by the bestselling author of That Darkness.

It begins with the kind of bizarre death that makes headlines—literally. A copy editor at the Cleveland Herald is found hanging above the grinding wheels of the newspaper assembly line, a wide strap wrapped around his throat. Forensic investigator Maggie Gardiner has her suspicions about this apparent suicide inside the tsunami of tensions that is the news industry today—and when the evidence suggests murder, Maggie has no choice but to place her trust in the one person she doesn’t trust at all . . .

Jack Renner is a killer with a conscience, a vigilante with his own code of honor. In the past, Jack has used his skills and connections as a homicide detective to take the law into his own hands, all in the name of justice. He has only one problem: Maggie knows his secret. She insists he enforce the law, not subvert it. But when more newspaper employees are slain, Jack may be the only person who can help Maggie unmask the killer– even if Jack is still checking names off his own private murder list.

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About the author
Lisa Black has spent over 20 years in forensic science, first at the coroner’s office in Cleveland Ohio and now as a certified latent print examiner and CSI at a Florida police dept. Her books have been translated into 6 languages, one reached the NYT Bestseller’s List and one has been optioned for film and a possible TV series. Connect with Lisa at lisa-black.com.

All comments are welcomed.

Giveaway: Leave a comment below for your chance to win a print copy of Unpunished. US entries only, please. The giveaway ends February 1, 2017. Good luck everyone!

Books are available at retail and online booksellers.

Free From Henery Press – Double Jinx by Gretchen Archer

In celebration of Gretchen Archer’s 2016 Agatha-nominated short story, DOUBLE JINX is free at Instafreebie.

Click HERE to download a copy for your e-reader and enjoy!

double-jinx