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

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

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!


Cover Reveal ~ Dark Signal by Shannon Baker

I’m excited to reveal the cover for the second book in the “Kate Fox” mystery series, coming October 17, 2017.


Series: Kate Fox
Genre: Mystery
Publisher: Forge Books
Website: Shannon Baker

Dark Signal by Shannon Baker is the second installment in the Kate Fox mystery series, called “A must read” by New York Times bestselling author Alex Kava, starring a female Longmire in the atmospheric Nebraska Sandhills.

Reeling from her recent divorce, Kate Fox has just been sworn in as Grand County Nebraska Sheriff when tragedy strikes. A railroad accident has left engineer Chad Mills dead, and his conductor, Bobby Jenkins in shock. Kate soon realizes that the accident was likely murder.

Who would want to kill Chad Mills? Kate finds that he made a few enemies as president of the railroad workers union. Meanwhile his widow is behaving oddly. And why was his neighbor, Josh Stevens, at the Mills house on the night of the accident?

While her loud and meddling family conspires to help Kate past her divorce, State Patrol Officer Ridnour closes in on Josh Stevens as the suspect. Kate doesn’t believe it. She may not have the experience, but she’s lived in the Sandhills her whole life, and knows the land and the people. Something doesn’t add up―and Kate must find the real killer before he can strike again.

About the author
Shannon Baker is the author of Stripped Bare, the first in the Kate Fox mystery series (Tor/Forge). Set in the isolated cattle country of the Nebraska Sandhills, Kirkus says, “Baker serves up a ballsy heroine, a colorful backdrop, and a surprising ending.” She also writes the Nora Abbott mystery series (Midnight Ink), featuring Hopi Indian mysticism and environmental issues. Shannon was voted Rocky Mountain Fiction Writer’s 2014 Writer of the Year.

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

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

My Musing ~ Lowcountry Crime edited by James M. Jackson

Lowcountry Crime by Jonathan M. Bryant, Polly Iyer, James M. Jackson, Tina Whittle, published by Wolf’s Echo Press, February 7, 2017

lowcountry-crimeLowcountry: That portion of the Southeastern United States characterized by low, generally flat country, whether barrier island, tidal marsh, tidal river valleys, swamps. piney forests, or great cities like Charleston and Savannah.

Crime: An act, forbidden by a public law, that makes the offender liable to punishment by that law.

These four novellas capture the unique aspects of Lowcountry with stories incorporating Charleston high life and Savannah low life, island vacations and life on boat. You’ll be treated to thieves doing good and rapscallions doing bad, loves won and loves lost, family relations providing wonderful support and life after divorce.

“Trouble Like A Freight Train Coming” by Tina Whittle
“Last Heist” by Polly Iyer
“Blue Nude” by Jonathan M. Bryant
“Low Tide at Tybee” James M. Jackson

This is a great collection of novellas taking place in low country states where anything can and will happen. All four stories kept me engaged and riveted to the drama unfolding from Tai’s search for her *not-so-dead* cousin; to Paul uncovering a sinister plot; to Brad becoming entangled with artwork (felt sorry for him at the end) and to Seamus and the condo. This is a tantalizing taste of the low country and I look forward to reading more stories from these terrific authors.

FTC Full Disclosure – I received an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) from the author.

My Musing ~ 15 Minutes by Larissa Reinhart

15 Minutes by Larissa Reinhart is the first book in the NEW “Maizie Albright Star Detective” humorous mystery series. Publisher: Past Perfect Press, January 2017

15-minutesWhen ex-teen star Maizie Albright returns to her Southern hometown of Black Pine, Georgia, she hoped to rid herself of Hollywood tabloid and reality show hell for a new career as a private investigator. Instead, Hollyweird follows her home. Maizie’s costar crushing, but now for her gumshoe boss. Her stage-monster mother still demands screen time. Her latest rival wants her kicked off the set, preferably back to a California prison.

By entangling herself in a missing person’s case, she must reprise her most famous role. The job will demand a performance of a lifetime. But this time, the stakes are real and may prove deadly.

I love this book. Maize has been ordered to get a job and since her TV persona played a detective, that’s the job she finds and that’s when the fun begin. I love her determination as she takes on her new role with some missteps along the way. The author did a great job in staging this mystery keeping me involved in all that was happening on the pages. Maize is a wonderful character and I love her vulnerabilities which help take her to a different level all to the betterment of her personal growth. This is a great start to a new series that boasts a quirky cast of characters, engaging dialogue and the liveliness that befits this delightfully amusing and fast-paced drama.

The case as told to D.J. Schuette by Special Agent Nicholas Keegan, F.B.I.

chaosThe Case: The Medallion Hunt Murder

Ice crystals sheathed my eyelashes and tugged at the hairs in my nostrils. Every breath was like an inhalation of flame. Ten below will do that. Tack on a fifteen-mile-an-hour wind carrying shrapnel shards of snow and ice, and it feels a bit like a scythe carving the flesh right off your body.

Only in Minnesota are there souls crazy enough to venture out for hours in such conditions to search for the Winter Carnival medallion. At least eight hundred of us huddled together near the anticipated spot. The glow of cellphones hovered on a vapor of breath as thick as smoke, casting us all in a shimmering, ghostly light.

It wasn’t the prospect of the $10,000 prize that had drawn me out that night, though that was how the whole thing started. As a forensic criminologist with the FBI—a profiler—I used the annual treasure hunt as a fun way to match psychological and intellectual wits with someone whose intentions weren’t intrinsically coupled with violence and/or death.

But this year, the nightly riddles took a decidedly sinister turn. Admittedly, the clues are vague and can be interpreted any number of ways—so much so that hunters are often in the wrong park right up to the very end. But as the clues progressed, so did the ripple of unease crawling over my skin. Something wasn’t right. Still, it was just a hunch. Nothing I could prove, and certainly nothing I was prepared to officially act on.

I’d tried to unravel the mystery before everyone else, but the clue writer had other plans. He’d forced the hunt to go to the very end. His ego demanded a spectacle. And I knew he was there among us, waiting to see how his little drama would unfold.

I refreshed the Pioneer Press webpage again, and there it was. The twelfth and final clue. A mad dash to a small bowl-shaped valley ensconced in the trees ensued. Bundled as we were against the cruel elements, we stumbled through the deep snow, looking like a crazed, charging battalion, hunting implements of choice slung over our shoulders.

By the hundreds, people collapsed onto their knees and began to hack at the snow, their tools—pitchforks, rakes, shovels, spades, and jimmy-rigged things I couldn’t begin to define—glinting in the light of a thousand lanterns, flashlights, and headlamps. The air smelled of kerosene. Metal sang off of ice. Overrun as the space was with writhing bodies jockeying for position, I marveled that people weren’t slashed to bits in the melee.

I watched as people crumbled clumps of snow between gloved fingers and inspected hunks of tree bark and trash. Across from me I noticed a man whose interest was intently focused on the confusion below. He was filming the chaos. I slowly began to circle toward him.

Seconds later a woman shrieked. A collective groan went up from the crowd, who’d assumed she’d spirited away their chances at the prize. But I heard the quaver in her voice that signaled it was a scream of terror and not one of triumph. She screamed again, and a chorus of “Oh my Gods!” and “Holy shits!” filled the night. As people staggered back in horror, I caught a glimpse. Atop a bed of crimson snow lay a man’s head. The medallion was stuck between his blue-gray lips.

Ballsy, but even I had to admit, if the killer hoped to get away with the murder, this wasn’t a bad play. Physical evidence would be all but impossible to gather after damn near a thousand people had trampled and contaminated the scene.

“FBI!” I shouted over the commotion, keeping my eye on the voyeur not twenty yards ahead of me. “Everyone step away. Now!” The man’s head shot up, and his eyes met mine for a brief second before he bolted. I drew my Glock and gave chase. “Call the police!” I yelled, dodging people as they stumbled out of the valley. Most had their phones pointed toward the vic, taking pictures and video. I only just avoided crashing into a woman as she doubled over and puked in the snow at my feet.

Up ahead, my subject escaped the glow of the lamps and became nothing more than an indistinct shadow crashing through the trees. But he was headed in the right direction. I cut around the wooded area just in time to hear my boss, Bill Quentin, shout, “FBI, stop right there!”

A spotlight from a nearby Crown Vic exploded to life. The man faltered and threw his arms up in front of his face.

“On your knees. Hands behind your head,” I yelled. He quickly complied.

“Holy hell, Keegan, I can’t believe it,” Quentin said as I frisked and cuffed the suspect. “I thought for sure you’d lost your damn mind.”

I yanked down the balaclava covering the guy’s face and checked the ID in his wallet. Just as I’d suspected.

“David Davenport, crime writer for the Pioneer Press, you’re under arrest for murder.”

Chaos is the author’s debut novel published by Critical Eye Publishing, December 2016.

Aleksandr Zorin is a sadistic psychopath and one of the most prolific killers in United States’ history. Exploiting the flaws in an ineffective ViCAP database, he has remained invisible for nearly fifteen years. No one knows he exists. But that’s about to change in a horrifying way.

Special Agent Nicholas Keegan is a forensic criminologist working for the FBI’s Violent Crimes Squad in Minnesota. An expert in the field of abnormal psychology, he employs his unique expertise to profile and capture society’s most dangerous and violent offenders. An unusual case sent his way from a friend in California sets Nick on the path of a killer unlike any he’s ever faced.

An innovative overhaul of ViCAP reveals the staggering enormity of the case, and Nick quickly comes to a disturbing realization—his unsub isn’t just a killer. He’s a profiler.

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Meet the author
D.J. Schuette is an author and editor residing in the oft-chilly northern suburbs of Minneapolis, Minnesota. His work covers a wide variety of genres—from dark thrillers, to horror, to YA Fantasy and beyond. He is a published and award-winning songwriter and poet and the creator of, a fictional blog written from the perspective of Aleksandr Zorin, the serial killer featured in his first novel Chaos. D.J.’s personal blog, a comprehensive list of works in progress, features on some of his friends in the Minnesota writing community, and pictures of his adorable dog Pogo can all be found on his author’s page at

All comments are welcomed.

A day in the life of Mallory Shepard by Stephanie Blackmoore

murder-wears-whiteThere’s no such thing as ghosts, right? I mean, sure, strange things have been going on in the mansion-turned-B-and-B I’m currently renovating. But it must just be the creaks and moans and clicks and rattles that come with a century-old house settling. I used to be an attorney before I became a wedding planner, and I like to analyze things. So if I think about it long enough, and hard enough, I’m sure I can come up with a dozen reasons why all of these strange things are happening that have nothing to do with the supernatural. Because ghosts are not something I’m willing to deal with right now. Good thing the Port Quincy Paranormal Society is up to the task of figuring out whether the ghouls and ghosts are the real deal or not. Because if it’s not haunted, I don’t want to contemplate the only other explanation: this house is downright cursed.

What else has been going on this October? Besides the strange noises that return each night, my current bride’s aunt was poisoned at the wedding tasting. I swear it wasn’t my fault. If only the police would exonerate me and my sister Rachel. We didn’t cook with any of her allergens, and I don’t know how they crossed her lips. It’s not like the poor woman didn’t have a whole host of enemies.

This isn’t the first murder in the bride’s family, either. I’m not sure how they’re connected, but the bride’s mother was also murdered twenty years ago. My boyfriend defended her killer, and as you can imagine, there’s no love lost between him and the bride. And to top it all off, my mom is in town from Florida. She’s helping me renovate my newly inherited mansion so it’ll be ready in time for the first wedding. Let’s just say our ideas on how to decorate aren’t exactly the same.

All I have to do is finish renovating my mess of a mansion into a glorious B and B, move up a wedding eight months and finish planning it in mere weeks, hunt down a pesky poltergeist, and dodge my mom’s meddlesome ways. Easy-peasy! Wish me luck!

MURDER WEARS WHITE is the second book in the Wedding Planner mystery series published by Kensington, January 2017.

Mallory Shepard’s wedding planning business is off to a shaky start when a member of the bridal family drops dead at a food tasting . . .

Mallory hopes to unveil her new B&B just in time for her first ceremony as a wedding planner. The renovations to Thistle Park—the mansion she inherited in small-town Port Quincy, Pennsylvania—are almost complete. But what Mallory didn’t plan on is the bride’s aunt being poisoned at the wedding tasting and her perfect venue becoming a crime scene.

Adding to the mystery is the discovery that this is not the first murder in the bridal family, and as Mallory becomes engaged in her own investigation she learns the man convicted of the crime may not be guilty. Now she has two crimes to solve before the bride walks down the aisle—but a killer has other plans to ensure that Mallory forever holds her peace . . .

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About the author
A native Pittsburgher, Stephanie Blackmoore now lives in Missouri, with her husband, son and two spirited cats. She was an attorney in Pittsburgh and a librarian in Florida before becoming a writer. Stephanie is a fan of everything black-and-yellow. She is hard at work on her next Wedding Planner mystery. Connect with Stephanie at

All comments are welcomed.

Giveaway: Leave a comment below for your chance to win a print copy of Murder Wears White. US entries only, please. The giveaway ends January 30, 2017. Good luck everyone!

Cover Reveal ~ Blu Heat by David Burnsworth

It is my pleasure to reveal the cover for the novella that introduces Blu Carraway, the main character in a new series Henery is launching in September.

Release: March 28, 2017
Genre: Mystery
Publisher: Henery Press
Website: David Burnsworth

A man walks into a bar, and dies. It isn’t just any bar, it’s the Pirate’s Cove located on the Isle of Palms, a barrier island just north of the Charleston, South Carolina harbor. Ex-Marine Brack Pelton tries to stop the murder and almost dies himself. The victim, Skip Romeo, has a shady past and some interesting friends. The friend he’d planned on meeting at the bar before he got shot was lowcountry Private Investigator Blu Carraway.

Brack Pelton hates that someone shot up his bar and Blu Carraway hates that someone gunned down his friend. Both want revenge and justice. And both tend to leave a lot of collateral damage in their wake. Their team-up is inevitable. Individually, they’re each a force to be reckoned with. Together, they’re like an atomic bomb blast at ground zero. Pelton and Carraway and Charleston will never be the same.

About the author
David Burnsworth became fascinated with the Deep South at a young age. After a degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Tennessee and fifteen years in the corporate world, he made the decision to write a novel. Southern Heat is his first mystery and the sequel, Burning Heat, debuted in January. Having lived in Charleston on Sullivan’s Island for five years, the setting was a foregone conclusion. He and his wife call South Carolina home.

All comments are welcomed.