Category Archives: A DAY IN THE LIFE

a place where characters give you a glimpse into their day

A day in the life of Barbara Marr by Karen Cantwell

My name is Barbara Marr and I’m a soccer mom living in the boring, predictable suburbs. The only thrills in my day should be the frantic road races between ballet lessons and the much-too-closely-scheduled orthodontist appointment on the other side of the universe. But here’s the thing: my life isn’t so boring and definitely not predictable. See, I seem to have a gift for stumbling upon the messy remnants of lurid crime scenes.

I suppose my real problem in life isn’t the fact that I find dead people, but rather the chaotic events that follow. In fact, I have such a talent for attracting trouble, that my husband Howard has developed an emergency code system for alerting friends and family when danger is imminent. I was unaware of this alert system until the first time it was put into use. This is how the system works: A text goes out to my best friends Roz and Peggy, family friend and business partner, Colt Baron, and my mother and Howard’s mother who share a condo and are collectively referred to as “The Grandmas.” Code yellow is just a precaution whereas a code red basically means “Call in the SWAT team, Barb is at it again.”

So you may be wondering if all of my days are emergency alert days. No, but most are at least a little crazy.

A more typical day in my life goes something like this:

My eyes open at the break of dawn when the sound of a quacking duck awakens me before the alarm.

Husband Howard, nudges me. “Your duck is back.”

“Vito Corleone is not my duck,” I protest.

“You gave him a name, he’s your duck,” Howard says.

I crawl out of bed, knowing he’s right, but not without having the last word. “When a duck saves your life, you kind of have to give him a name, don’t you think?”

After taking Vito the duck back to his den on the lake, I return home to find my two youngest daughters sitting at the kitchen table eating cereal. Middle-schooler, Bethany, reads a book while she chews, and nine-year-old Amber is video-chatting with her big sister, Callie, a freshman in college.

My cell phone buzzes. It’s a text from my mother. I hear sirens. Are you okay?

I type back. Am fine. Not every siren means I’ve been kidnapped. Then I turn my attention to the video-chat.

Callie’s pretty face looms large on the tablet. “What is his name?” she asks Amber

“Marcus,” Amber answers around milk and corn flakes. “I love him.”

“Wait a minute,” I interject. “You’re nine years old, Amber. You can’t be loving any boys yet. Not allowed.” I wave at the tablet. “Hi, Callie!”

She waves back. “Before you get worked up, Mom, ask Amber to show you a picture of Marcus.”

Bethany lifts her gaze from the book long enough to add her two cents. “He’s disgusting. Don’t do it, Mom.”

Amber hands me a picture. “Meet Marcus, Mommy. Can I have him?”

The picture doesn’t give me much information. All I see is an aquarium without water. I pull the paper closer, finally spotting something suspicious. “What’s that brown thing? Is that a dried up banana peel?”

“That’s Marcus,” Amber says.

Callie bursts out laughing. “He’s a cockroach.”

“Hissing cockroach,” Amber corrects her, as if that makes it better.

I cringe. “No way, José. I found two ants on the kitchen counter last night—domesticate them, instead.”

“But, Mommy,” Amber urges. “Willow Jones can’t keep Marcus because her own mommy is allergic. Marcus needs a home.”

I sigh, wondering when Amber traded her fairy fascination for a twisted insect obsession. “Tell Willow Jones that your mommy is more allergic than her mommy. Now say goodbye to your sister. The bus will be here soon.”

Minutes after the girls head out for the bus, I am looking out the kitchen window drinking a cup of coffee. I spot a figure of a man dashing into the woods from the corner of our backyard. Howard enters the kitchen to grab his travel mug before leaving for the day. “What are you looking at?”

“I think I just saw Moyle,” I answer.

“The crazy guy who thinks he’s a time traveler?”

“Don’t be mean,” I say. “Moyle isn’t crazy. He helped me solved that murder case last year. He’s just unique.”

Howard gives me warm, enticing kiss. “Whatever you say. But stay out of trouble until I get home, okay?”

“I read my horoscope,” I tell him. “No dead bodies today.”

But two days later. . . well, that’s another story.


You can read more about Barbara in Dial Marr For Murder, the sixth book in the “Barbara Marr” mystery series.

A flu epidemic seems to have wiped out the volunteer force at the Rustic Woods Nature Center. Never fear, Barbara Marr to the rescue! When Nature Center activities director, Bunny Bergen finds herself without a crew to decorate for the annual Halloween Nature Walk, she dials Barb for assistance. Always the helpful friend, Barb rises to the occasion. Of course, this is Barbara Marr we are talking about. Five minutes into her task, and she discovers a dead body by the frog pond. Five hours later, she’s a trending hash tag. How does Barb do it? Read this sixth book in the Barbara Marr Murder Mystery series, and find out! #ThatBarbaraMarr

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About the author
Karen Cantwell is a comedienne at heart. She loves to make people laugh with her Barbara Marr Murder Mystery series and Sophie Rhodes Ghostly Romance series. You can learn more about Karen and her works at KarenCantwell.com.

All comments are welcomed.

A day in the life of Ruby Proulx by Jessica Estevao

Only a few weeks ago I could never have predicted my day-to-day life would change so completely. Which presents some degree of difficulty as I profess myself to have psychic abilities. One could reasonably argue that I should have had some inkling I would soon find myself settled into sumptuous accommodations at my aunt’s hotel in Maine rather than rattling the roads working with my father on a Canadian medicine show. It seems like one moment I was living the life of an impoverished wanderer with nowhere to call home and a list of aliases so long I hardly remembered my real name. The next moment I had a luxurious bedroom all to myself complete with a fireplace and a sweeping view of the sea.

Perhaps I should explain. After a harrowing incident involving an electrified medical device I found myself in dire need of sanctuary. Preferably some place where the Canadian police would be unlikely to look for me. Just before abandoning me to my own devices my father suggested it was a fortuitous time to introduce myself to my Aunt Honoria who happened to live across the border from where we hawked miracle medicines and I read tarot cards for rubes that visited the medicine shows.

I took his advice and caught the first train from New Brunswick to Old Orchard, Maine. As the miles slipped by I considered the dangers of my way of life and I vowed to go straight. That is until I arrived at the Hotel Belden only to discover that Honoria ran an establishment that catered exclusively to metaphysical practitioners. Despite my good intentions, before I knew it, I found myself employed as the hotel medium.

While it is true that I do not have the exact skill set I purport to possess I should not like you to think less of me for stretching the truth concerning my abilities. I assure you I really do have otherworldly experiences. I do hear a voice from the other side that advises me; I just don’t always hear the things I share with my clients. I do, however, pride myself in delivering the sorts of messages that encourage the sitter to follow courses of action they wish to pursue but do not feel sure they should take.

Most days I give readings for guests at the hotel. Sometimes I use my trusty tarot cards with sitters and other times I rely on small twitches and squeezes I feel when linking hands in a séance circle. It is exhausting work but Honoria assures me it has been a boon to the hotel. I also help my aunt and the hotel housekeeper with various jobs around the hotel like arranging the seating and welcoming the new arrivals. I host a table in the dining room every evening. From time to time I organize and lead outings for some of our long-term guests. Recently the hotel has become a hub of the suffrage movement and that has kept me busier than ever attending rallies and marches.

I also use my position to assist a local police officer in solving some cases that have come his way. I have found that many people are far more likely to share confidences with those they believe are in touch with the world of spirit and although I say it myself, my contribution to thwarting the criminal element in my new hometown has been of considerable value. It has been surprisingly satisfying to find myself on the opposite side of the law from where I usually have operated. I intend to continue to do so as long as Officer Yancey does not uncover the secrets of my past. I very much doubt even help from the spirit world will save me from an upright officer like him.


You can read more about Ruby in Whispers of Warning, the second book in the “Change of Fortune” mystery series.

Ruby Proulx’s new life in Orchard Beach, Maine, faces some sinister complications in the next Change of Fortune Mystery by Jessica Estevao. . .

Free from the clutches of her con artist father, Ruby Proulx is starting to settle in at the Belden, her aunt Honoria’s seaside hotel. She loves finally being rooted in one place and also feels a sense of purpose as she helps Honoria keep her business afloat by acting as a psychic medium for the hotel’s metaphysically inclined guests.

When one of the guests, renowned Spiritualist and outspoken suffragist Sophronia Foster Eldridge, checks into the hotel for a monthlong stay, Ruby finds her sense of purpose expands outside the confines of home and family. Sophronia takes Ruby under her wing and mentors her in the mediumistic abilities, encouraging her to fight for women’s rights.

But not everyone is as happy with Sophronia’s appearance in Old Orchard. When a dangerous act of sabotage is carried out and a body is found floating in the pool of a local bathhouse, Ruby takes it upon herself to find answers— and in the process learns that her new friend has been hiding some deadly secrets of her own. . .

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Giveaway: Leave a comment below for your chance to win a print copy of Whispers of Warning. U.S. entries only, please. The giveaway ends September 21, 2017. Good luck everyone!

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About the author
Jessica Estevao writes the Change of Fortune Mysteries. She loves the beach, mysterious happenings and all things good-naturedly paranormal. While she lives for most of the year in New Hampshire with her dark and mysterious husband and exuberant children, she spends summers on the coast of Maine where she keeps an eye out for sea monsters and mermaids.

As Jessie Crockett she’s the author of the nationally bestselling Sugar Grove Mysteries and the Daphne du Maurier Award winner, Live Free or Die.

Connect with Jessica at jessicaestevao.com.

All comments are welcomed.

A Day in the Life of Melanie Hamilton by Sally J. Smith and Jean Steffens

My name is Mel. That’s short for Melanie. I earn my living from inking tattoos at The Mansion on Mystic Isle. It’s a resort across the river from New Orleans in the Louisiana bayou but not a resort like any you’ve ever heard of.

The Mansion is owned by Harry Villars. In fact that particular piece of property has been in the Villars family just about forever, since halfway through the eighteenth century. When it fell on hard times, Harry had it remodeled and turned it into a resort that caters to lovers and zealot fans of the supernatural and paranormal. He hired a whole slew of folks (like me) who could contribute to the bizarre atmosphere of ghosts and soothsayers—mostly it’s all fake. But I have to say that with a lot of the weirdness that goes on at The Mansion, there are days I truly wonder about that.

Me? I just design and ink tattoos—tattoos of fairies and other fantastical creatures, astrological signs, beloved family members who’ve gone on to the spirit world and might be haunting their loved ones, whatever the guests ask me to paint on their skin. And some of the things I’ve been asked to create you’d have trouble believing if I showed you the photos I took when I was done.

But the weirdest and wildest, the absolute piece de resistance was the time a woman in her sixties booked a week at the hotel specifically to have several sessions at Dragons and Deities, the tattoo parlor. That wasn’t the weird part, people came to the resort specifically for the ink all the time. If I say so myself, I’m kind of well known throughout the culture for coming up with innovative designs to match the very specific requests of the Mystic Isle guests.

The unusual part of this job was that the woman—to protect her identity, I’m going to call her Jane Doe—wanted a portrait of her husband on her chest so she could keep him closer to her heart.

“Don’t you have any romance in your soul, Mel?” you ask. “I think it’s charming,” you say. “What’s so weird about that?” you wonder.

The answers, in order are: Yes, I’m very romantic. Yes, wanting to keep your spouse close to your heart is charming. And finally, the weirdness of it comes from the content.

Jane Doe insisted she’d once been abducted by aliens, and during that time had been claimed by one of them and married in a formal ceremony. The two had fallen in love and had been happy living together in her Rocky Mountain high Colorado cabin. That is until E.T. phoned home and found out he’d been drafted. He’d left her with the promise to return and carry her back to his home planet where she’d never age another day and they’d live in matrimonial bliss for hundreds and hundreds of what she called Earth years. She was still waiting. That was when she showed me her dearest.

It was a still photo of the alien from the movie Predator, in all his gruesome glory without the mask and in spectacular Technicolor. His grimacing green and yellow countenance, toothy fanged snarl (which Jane Doe insisted was a loving grin) and bizarre shell-like dreadlocks would have taken me a very long time over many sessions. The cost to Jane Doe would have been staggering, and the commission would have paid my half of the rent for a couple of months—but I just didn’t have the heart to do it.

She took it hard, telling me how much she missed him and sat crying inconsolably for a long time. It was heartbreaking.

I thought about calling someone to help her out of her strange fantasy world, but she seemed harmless enough, and after talking to her for over an hour (after all, she had booked the time), I felt confident that her hubby from another planet was her only leap from reality (even though it was a beaut, f’sure).

I decided to let her be, and to comfort her suggested that in this day and age of CCTV and government stalking everywhere she might be better off not letting on to anyone about her spouse, that it might turn out bad for him if she did.

She wiped her eyes and blew her nose and looked up at me with pure gratitude in her eyes. “You’re right, Miss Hamilton. You’re absolutely right. But I’d still like to have a tattoo to remind me of him.” She sat quietly for a few moments then squared her shoulders, and drew her mouth into a tight line before saying, “How about if I get one of Arnold Schwarzenegger instead?”


You can read more about Melanie in Mystic Mischief, the third book in the “Mystic Isle” mystery series.

Just when Melanie Hamilton thought things couldn’t get stranger at The Mansion at Mystic Isle, she finds herself in the middle of a true pirate treasure hunt! Fortune hunters have arrived Indiana Jones-style at the New Orleans resort where she and boyfriend Jack Stockton work, with their eyes on the prize of a long-lost and priceless letter stolen from the famous pirate Jean Lafitte. Two archeologists, a Hollywood camera crew, and a marauding gator suddenly have Melanie so busy she almost doesn’t even have time to quarrel with Jack over the arrival of his ex-girlfriend… Almost. But her romantic issues take a back seat when a dead body shows up at the home of the resort’s owner. Now it’s up to Mel and the rest of the odd crew at Mystic Isle to bring order back to the bayou and solve the murder. But if someone would kill once for a piece of parchment, would they kill twice? And could Mel wind up at the bottom of Davy Jones’ Locker?

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Giveaway: One (1) U.S. reader will win a frosted glass coffee/tea mug and print copy of Mystic Mischief; one (1) U.S. reader will win a 3-book set of Mystic Isle Mysteries; and two (2) readers will win a Kindle/Nook/Kobo copy of Mystic Mischief. The giveaway ends September 20, 2017. Good luck everyone!

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About the authors
Sally J. Smith and Jean Steffens, are partners in crime—crime writing, that is. They live in the Valley of the Sun in Arizona, awesome for eight months out of the year, an inferno the other four. They write bloody murder, flirty romance, and wicked humor all in one package.

Connect with them at smithandsteffens.com, on Facebook, and on Twitter.

All comments are welcomed.

A scene from THE MYSTERY OF HER by Patricia Catacalos

Mayfair Section of London – Saturday, September 1, 1888

“I am Noah Zane and this is my brother Evan.” Noah mimed for Kiera to sit on the ladder-back chair positioned in front of his desk. “Please have a seat, my Lady. And we extend our condolences at the loss of your father. If I recall correctly, he died a little over a year prior.”

Kiera complied with Noah’s suggestion and gracefully sat on the wooden chair while Noah resumed his cushioned seat. She clasped her gloved hands together on her lap as, out of the corner of her eye, she caught a slight moment of the curtain behind and to the right of the desk. She suddenly realized that someone was hidden behind those drapes and she surmised who that someone might be. The right side of her mouth slightly lifted hinting of a mischievous smile.

“Yes, you are correct, Mr. Zane. My beloved father died thirteen months prior.” She paused as the mention of her father caused fissures of pain to spread across her heart and was the reason for today’s visit. But she firstly needed to feel perfectly comfortable with these brothers before broaching the possibility of hiring the detective agency. And her humor was always her chosen means of establishing rapport. She tilted her head, closely inspecting Noah’s face. “I do not believe that you are both identical as I clearly seeing distinguishing differences.”

“You do?” Evan appeared incredulous at her statement. “Not even our brother’s butler Mortimer can tell us apart on most occasions.”

Kiera’s right eyebrow rose in silent questioning. “I doubt that very much.”

Noah laughed as he concurred, “I have long since suspected that our brother’s dutiful butler has been playing us the fools. He is perfectly capable of identifying one brother from the other.”

“Well, I can certainly tell you apart.” She continued to scrutinize Noah’s face. “You, Mr. Noah Zane, have a dimple on your upper right cheek and when you smile or laugh, it deepens.”

Noah unconsciously touched his right cheek as a slow grin graced his face.

Kiera angled her head toward Evan before observing, “And you, Mr. Evan Zane, have waver hair than your brother has and I dare say, it probably slightly curls in damp weather.”

Evan grinned, obviously pleased with Kiera’s powers of observation. “You are correct.”

“Your brother is Zachery Zane, the Earl of Belfry, is he not?” She thought she sensed slight movement behind the curtain and that confirmed her earlier supposition as to who hid from view. . .the third brother.

“Yes, he is. Are you acquainted with him, my Lady?”

Kiera shook her head. She knew that she could not let this opportunity for levity pass her by. She possessed an incurable penchant for playful teasing. “No, no, I have never met his lordship. Does he look like the both of you?”

“Yes, he does but alas, he is the least handsome of the three brothers,” Noah jokingly commented.

She nodded her head and an errant blonde curl, escaping her bonnet, bounced with the movement, kissing her smooth forehead. “No offense intended, as I have never met your brother but. . .” She paused dramatically. “I would tend to agree with you as your brother has a reputation for being rather. . .how shall I put this delicately?”

“Brooding. . .?” Noah chimed in.

“Yes, yes, that is the word I sought to use. He has a reputation for being both brooding and rather intimidating.”

“And therein lies the major differences between us. . .our personalities,” Noah laughingly stated.

“Ah, yes. . .your personalities. If I may make a candid observation, I would describe you, Mr. Noah Zane, as the prankster whose eyes sparkle with mischief and whose attitude toward life is generally rather cavalier.”

Evan stepped forward into Kiera’s line of vision, negating the need to angle her head when speaking to him, and laughingly complimented, “You have characterized Noah perfectly.”

“And you, Mr. Evan Zane, possess a grounded sense of responsibility but also easily follow your impish brother’s lead and enjoy a bit of naughtiness.”

“You have just aptly described Evan. But please address us by our given names.”

“Very well, Noah. I assume that the brooding and intimidating nature displayed by your elder brother, Lord Belfry, is indicative of his innate seriousness.”

“Oh, yes, he is overly serious and staidly duty-bound,” Noah groaned.

“And I surmise that he is extremely intelligent and awfully clever.”

“Intelligent, yes, but as to clever, what do you mean?” Evan interjected.

“He is most likely acting sullen and intimidating to ward off the marriage-minded mamas who seek an affluent lord for their marriageable daughters.”

Both Noah and Evan laughed heartily.

“That is a very logical assumption, sincerely holding merit, were it not for the fact that our brother Zachery is a very intense personality not only in public but also in private,” Evan explained.

“He perpetually scowls and that is why he is the least attractive brother,” Noah added while raising his voice to ensure that everyone present, be he visible or not, could hear.

She knew full well that the two brothers were thoroughly enjoying the teasing of their elder brother who obviously wished to remain hidden, negating his ability to respond to their jesting. She lowered her head and hid a burgeoning smile behind a gloved hand before innocently adding, “Oh, dear, a scowl could detract from one’s attractiveness. But perhaps his lordship has weighty issues on his mind. Does he take an active part in your detective agency?”

“No, not exactly, as his involvement would not be viewed as politically correct,” Evan diplomatically responded.

“But as our agency is titled ‘The Zane Brothers Detective Agency’, he helps us behind the scenes with research and finances.”

“Ah, as a silent partner?” Kiera innocuously asked.

“Yes, yes, as a silent partner,” Evan volunteered. “However not quite as ‘silent’ as Noah and I would wish.” He, too, raised his voice so that all might clearly hear his mocking comment.

“Then his presence would not be required for you to take on my case?” Her smile quickly faded as she mentally prepared herself to discuss business.

“His presence is not necessary but we would seek his counsel regarding your case before agreeing to accept the assignment. Which brings me to a pointed question. Why are you here, Lady Everett?” Noah bluntly asked. “How can we be of service to you?”

The moment of frivolity was over and she could no longer procrastinate in seeking their help. She liked both men and now felt comfortable baring her soul and stating a belief that they may find improbable and even ludicrous as others had when she had previously shared her suspicions and voiced allegations.

Suppressing her sudden self-consciousness, she lifted her chin and clearly stated, “I wish to hire you to prove that my father was. . .murdered.”


You can read more about Zane Brothers in The Mystery of Her, the first book in the “Zane Brothers Detective” historical mystery series.

London, 1888. . . Two serial killers, Leather Apron (Jack the Ripper) and the Torso Killer are mutilating women in the slums of Whitechapel. But even in the bedchambers of the peerage, a killer is claiming lives. A determined Lady Kiera Everett wishes to hire the Zane Brothers Detective Agency to prove that her sickly father, and two other ailing members of the peerage, were murdered by their attending nurse, named in each man’s Will. But only if Kiera can be involved in the investigation, much to Zachery Zane’s chagrin. And soon the murders of Whitechapel intersect with the investigation conducted by the Zane brothers.

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About the author
Patricia Catacalos holds a BA in Theatre from Seton Hill University and a MA in Theatre from the University of Denver. Years ago, when still single, she acted in and directed plays in the Philadelphia area but suffered the fate of many artists, struggling financially. So, she entered a career in sales but her creative spirit needed to express itself. So approximately eight years ago, she started writing historical romances. Many of the historical romances have a subgenre of mystery and/or the paranormal. She discovered that writing historical romances and ultimately, mystery/intrigue is her passion. Currently, she has written twenty novels and novellas and is currently working on Book 4 in The Zane Brothers Detective Series.

She has been happily married for over twenty-eight years to a loving and supportive man with a Greek heritage (which influenced a couple of her novels) and they live in southern New Jersey.

All comments are welcomed.

A day in the life with Lieutenant Piotr Kazimierz by James R. Benn

A day in the life? That is quite a challenge for any colleague of Captain Billy Boyle. There is seldom a normal day to be had at the Supreme Headquarters, Allied Expeditionary Forces. And when we are out on assignment, every day is different. And often deadly.

But where are my manners? Allow me to introduce myself. I am Lieutenant Piotr Kazimierz of the Polish Army-in-Exile, and I work at SHAEF headquarters, Grosvenor Square, London, in General Eisenhower’s Office of Special Investigations. I am also a baron of the Augustus clan, and likely one of the few members of that ancient nobility left alive today.

When the Germans and the Russians invaded Poland, I was at university in England.

My family was not. Now they are dead, murdered by the invaders, both Nazi and Soviet, as they eliminated all forms of opposition to their rule.

But there may be a survivor. I have recently learned that my younger sister Angelika may be alive, and working with the Underground Army in occupied Poland. A dangerous undertaking, after five years of Nazi rule. I hold out hope that we will be reunited one day, if we both survive the war.

Or, if we both do not.

But enough of my family history. You want to know what a normal day in the life of Billy Boyle is like. Today is an anomaly. We are at SHAEF, recently returned from a mission to Switzerland. The Swiss are famous for neutrality, chocolate, and cuckoo clocks. We found their neutrality over-stated, although the chocolate was quite good. I never did hear a cuckoo clock (perhaps it was the gunfire). Our job was to investigate reports of looted gold being laundered by Swiss banks, in order to keep the Nazi war machine well-funded. The Swiss bankers and politicians were not particular about where the gold came from, be it assets of conquered nations or pulled from the teeth of victims in concentration camps. But that is a long story, and has nothing to do with today.

Yesterday we landed outside of London, after a long flight from neutral Portugal. We have been allowed a few day’s rest, which at SHAEF means catching up on paperwork. I am reading intelligence reports concerning the activities of various factions of the French Resistance in Normandy, which is our next destination. Billy is reading Stars and Stripes, his feet up on his desk, a cup of coffee close at hand. He would say a cup of joe, in that marvelous way Americans have of mangling the English language while at the same time using the perfect words to do it.

Billy is a detective. A very good one, from a family of detectives. He is related, in some distant fashion, to General Eisenhower. Some people say he was appointed to the general’s staff because of that. Perhaps. But contrary to what many thought when he first arrived in England two years ago, he has not avoided danger. Far from it.

Myself, I courted it. After all those I loved in this world were taken from me, I did not care if I lived or died. Billy has been a good friend, and has watched out for me through good times and bad. And in a world at war, there are many bad times.

So, Billy is a good detective, as I said. But when it comes to reading intelligence summaries, he is less well suited. As an academic, I quite enjoy it. This is what makes us such a good team. My brains (if I may be so bold) and his instincts. Not to mention his bravery.

We will likely need all those attributes in this next assignment. It has been a month since D-Day, on the sixth of June, 1944, and the Allied forces are stuck in the bocage country of Normandy, where the Germans are putting up a stiff defense. There is something afoot with the various Resistance factions, and we are being sent to investigate. As areas in France have been liberated, a violent surge of reprisals and executions has taken place against collaborators, real and suspected. It seems some old scores are being settled, which may or may not have anything to do with the Occupation. These excesses are being called the épuration sauvage, or the Wild Purge. According to accounts, it is aptly named.

This is a normal day, then. I read reports, and Billy drinks coffee. But once we arrive in Normandy, I think our days of rest will be at an end. The Wild Purge awaits.


You can read more about Piotr in The Devouring, the 12th book in the “Billy Boyle WWII” mystery series.

A murder in wartime Switzerland reveals Swiss complicity with the Nazis during World War II

Europe, 1944: Captain Billy Boyle and his friend Lieutenant Piotr “Kaz” Kazimierz are sent to neutral Switzerland to work with the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), investigating Swiss banks that are laundering looted Nazi gold. The US and Swiss governments are about to embark on diplomatic discussions regarding the Safehaven Protocols, aimed at limiting the amount of war materials exported by Switzerland to the Nazis, stemming the tide of looted gold, and preventing postwar use of Nazi wealth by war criminals. With the talks about to begin and the Gestapo ever present, the OSS wants Billy and Kaz to protect the participants, which turns out to be a very deadly task.

The plans go wrong from the beginning when Billy and Kaz crashland in France. As they make their way through occupied territory to the border, they meet Anton Lasho, a member of the Sinti ethnic group, whose family was slaughtered by the Nazis, and who is, in turn, a one-man Nazi-killing machine. They’ll need his help, because as they find once they make it across the border, Swiss banks are openly laundering gold “harvested” from concentration camps, and those who are profiting will do everything they can to protect their wealth and hide their dark secrets.

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Meet the author
James R. Benn is the author of the Billy Boyle World War II mysteries. The debut title, Billy Boyle, was named a top five mystery of 2006 by Book Sense and was a Dilys Award nominee. A Blind Goddess was long-listed for the Dublin Literary Award; The Rest Is Silence was a best novel nominee for the Barry Award. The twelfth and most current novel (9/12/17) is The Devouring, which recently garnered a starred review in Publisher’s Weekly.

He and his wife Deborah Mandel divide their time between Connecticut and the Gulf Coast of Florida. Benn lives by two writing quotes: one from Oscar Wilde; “The art of writing is the art of applying the seat of one’s pants to a chair.” The other from novelist Rachel Basch; “The story has to move down, as well as forward.” Both are simple, profound, and complex. Connect with James at jamesrbenn.com

All comments are welcomed.

A Day in the Life of Gemma Doyle by Vicki Delany

I always enjoy hosting authors in the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop and Emporium. Readers love meeting them, and I’ve found most writers to be nice, friendly people, happy to have the chance to be here, meet readers, and talk about their books.

Today, we’re having not just any author, but none other than Renalta Van Markoff herself, creator of the hugely successful Hudson and Holmes series of pastiche novels. Her newest book, Hudson House, came out only this week, and she cancelled all her scheduled appearances when she decided on a whim to come to Cape Cod for the weekend. Her publisher and publicist must have been tearing their hair out. They persuaded her to do one book signing at least. And the closest store to her vacation destination happened to be mine. It was a bit of a scramble to put something on at the last minute, but it all fell into place.

Van Markoff herself came in on Thursday, supposedly to make sure my shop could accommodate an author of her standing. Can’t say I was impressed: rude, obnoxious, demanding are words that come to mind. I felt rather sorry for her publicist and personal assistant.

Her books are not for everyone. They are certainly not for me – overwrought and overwritten, in my opinion, and veering dangerously toward an excess of purple prose – but they’re a publishing phenomenon.

They are also not for the more serious-minded members of the Sherlockian community, and that has me slightly worried. Donald Morris was in the shop the other day, exclaiming over what a disgrace Van Markoff’s interpretation of the Great Detective is to the memory of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I think Donald was about to proclaim it was a disgrace to the memory of Holmes, but he remembered at the last minute that Sherlock is not a real person.

Still, it’s just a short talk and a book signing. What could possibly go wrong?


Find out if anything does go wrong in Body on Baker Street, the second Sherlock Holmes Bookshop mystery.

Gemma Doyle and Jayne Wilson are busy managing the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop and Emporium on Baker Street and adjoining Mrs. Hudson’s Tea Room in anticipation of the store’s upcoming book signing with the illustrious Renalta Van Markoff, author of the controversial Hudson and Holmes mystery series. But during the author Q&A session, dedicated Sherlockian Donald Morris verbally attacks Renalta and her series for disgracing Sherlock’s legacy, only to be publicly humiliated when the author triumphantly lashes back and gains the upper hand. That is until Renalta collapses on the table―dead.

Donald insists he didn’t do it and pleads to his friends to clear his name. Fortunately, Gemma and Jayne have no shortage of suspects between author’s bullied personal assistant, her frustrated publicist, the hapless publisher, a handsome rare book dealer, an obsessively rabid fan, and a world of other Sherlock enthusiasts with strong objections to Renalta’s depiction of the Great Detective. It’s up to the shrewd sleuthing duo to eliminate the impossible and deduce the truth before the West London police arrest an innocent man in Body on Baker Street, the second Sherlock Homes Bookshop mystery perfect for fans of Miranda James and Kate Carlisle.

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Giveaway: Leave a comment below for your chance to win a hardcover copy of Body on Baker Street. U.S. entries only, please. The giveaway ends September 18, 2017. Good luck everyone!

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About the author
Vicki Delany is one of Canada’s most prolific and varied crime writers and a national bestseller in the U.S. She has written more than twenty-five books: clever cozies to Gothic thrillers to gritty police procedurals, to historical fiction and novellas for adult literacy. Under the name of Eva Gates, she writes the Lighthouse Library cozy series for Penguin Random House. Her newest novel is Body on Baker Street, the second in the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop series from Crooked Lane.

Vicki is the past president of the Crime Writers of Canada. Her work has been nominated for the Derringer, the Bony Blithe, the Ontario Library Association Golden Oak, and the Arthur Ellis Awards.

Visit Vicki at vickidelany.com, on Facebook and on @vickidelany

All comments are welcomed.

The many adventures of Rags Ivey by Patricia Fry

They tell me I’m a cat. But I’m not just an ordinary cat. I star in the Klepto Cat Mystery series.

Patricia Fry created me—well, in a sense. She says that I remind her of a cat named Smokey, a large, confident part-ragdoll cat who looks nothing like a ragdoll. That’s why she calls me Rags. She patterned aspects of my purrsonality after Lily, a tabby who carries her stuffed toys and even Patricia’s slippers around in her mouth. But I don’t pick up just anything in my mouth—no way. I discriminate. I find interesting and sometimes quite valuable things to take from ladies’ purses, a gentleman’s jacket pocket, and even crime scenes. I hide these things in my stash until just the right time, then I might show something important to my friend Detective Craig Sledge or my favorite person, Savannah Ivey. I must say that my timing is purrfect and the treasures I snatch often help to solve the current mystery.

Sometimes I have to take things into my own paws in order to help the detective nab a bad guy. With people, you see, subtlety doesn’t work. I’ve had to use my cunning to escape in order to paw a killer or lead the detective to a missing person. They say I have good instincts. But how can I miss clues they leave right under my whiskers?

Savannah isn’t always happy with me. Sometimes a cat’s gotta do what a cat’s gotta do and she doesn’t always approve. Like the time when we went on a road trip for a book signing tour. Yeah, I star in some children’s books and the kids get a kick out of seeing me in purrson. Well, along the way, we stopped so everyone could stretch their legs. Everyone but me, that is. So when no one was looking, I stepped out of the car to do a little leg-stretching of my own. And Savannah took off down the road without me. Now, that was a shock.

But it didn’t take long to find other people who liked me. One lady wanted to take me home with her. But I wasn’t too sure about her motives and I was awfully glad when Savannah and her cranky aunt Margaret showed up. While they were all arguing with the police about who should get me, I slipped away, found Savannah’s car, and we were allowed to continue on our way.

Would you believe that lady found me again? Yeah, while we were at one of my book signings. She took me against my will and shut me in a small house with a bunch of other cats. I knew I didn’t belong there and I got homesick for Savannah real quick. When no one was looking, I clawed my way out of there and walked back to Grammy’s house. Boy was Savannah surprised. Boy was I tired. And my paw pads were so sore.

Now there are a lot of things that Savannah will tell her husband, Michael, about me. But she doesn’t reveal all of my catscapades. I think that’s so he doesn’t get mad at me. He likes me okay, but I see a lot of eye-rolling and hear a lot of deep sighs when Savannah tells him about some of the things I do. So a few days later when we saw Michael again, he noticed my paws and became worried. He’s a veterinarian and he does keep a close eye on me. He asked Savannah if I’d stepped in some sort of dangerous chemical or something.

I don’t think Savannah was going to tell him about my adventure in Los Angeles, but when she saw how worried Michael was about my sore paw pads, she had to tell him. He was not happy with me. But everyone was happy a few days later when I helped find a little girl who had run away.

You should have seen how everyone treated me after that—like I was a royal cat—like I’d done something really spectacular. But it was a no brainer. I knew where the child was hiding and all I did was show them.

Oh-oh-oh, once—no, actually twice, Detective Sledge took me to the sheriff’s station where I identified someone who I’d seen hurt other people. One of them kicked me. Boy, I wasn’t about to forget that guy. I helped the detective save our good friend, Colbi from some really bad people who were holding her hostage in a basement. I helped to reunite twin girls who had been separated when they were just babies. But my specialty is helping animals. Hey, there’s a cat rescue place named for me—Ragsdale—that’s my full name. That’s because I helped to save Ms. June’s kitty from freezing one night. She opened Ragsdale Cat Ranch shortly after that to help homeless cats.

Yeah, I guess I am more savvy than most cats or I happen to be in the right place at the right time with the right clue. I know I have more fun than most cats. And that’s thanks to Patricia. Maybe one day she’ll actually give me a speaking role in one of our stories.


You can read more about Rags in Cattywampus Travels, the 23rd book in the “Klepto Cat” mystery series.

A rollercoaster ride of kitty-cat escapades.

Rags accompanies his human family and friends on an extended vacation and manages to find plenty of trouble along the way. But, in typical Rags fashion, he also discovers ways to help in the most unexpected manner. Follow Rags on his first book-signing tour. Get ready for his first cross-country flight. Tag along with this most unpredictable cat as he meets new people and manages to touch their lives as only Rags can do.

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The Klepto Cat Mysteries are light, fun cozy mysteries full of adventure, intrigue, and a little romance. They feature Rags, an ordinary cat who just can’t keep his paws off other people’s things. Often, the treasures he finds are clues in a mystery. Follow Rags’s fascinating life path from when he and Savannah were single and he roamed the neighborhood stealing everything from toys belonging to large dogs to jewelry and bathing suits.

Rags and Savannah don’t stay single long. After meeting Michael, a handsome veterinarian, Savannah settles down, but the cat doesn’t change his thieving ways. Even though his kleptomaniac habit is annoying and embarrassing to his family, he has earned the respect of the local sheriff’s department and he was even asked to star in a documentary.

About the author
Patricia Fry has been writing for publication for over 40 years, and she’s the authors of 65 books. This is the 23rd in the Klepto Cat Mystery series. Patricia lives in California with two cats, Sophie and Lily. Connect with Patricia at patriciafry.com, her blog at Catscapades and on Facebook.

All comments are welcomed.

A day in the life of Melanie West by Kate Kingsbury

I will start by saying one thing – my days are never boring. What with running a bed and breakfast inn, trying to keep up with my peppy grandmother and solving a murder now and then, things can get complicated real fast. Throw in a very large, excitable dog and a ghost who laughs at the most inopportune moments, and you begin to get the picture.

My name is Melanie West, though my grandmother, Liza, calls me Mel, and together we own the Merry Ghost Inn on the Oregon coast. Yes, the inn is named for the aforementioned ghost.

You would never know Liza is in her seventies. She looks and acts at least twenty years younger than that, and has the capacity for getting us into more trouble than an igloo in a heatwave.

Take last month, for instance. It was bad enough when our dog, Max, found one of our guests lying dead in the driveway, but when the rest of our guests were suspected of murdering him, Liza was off and running on an investigation. Of course, Detective Tom Dutton wasn’t too thrilled about that. He’d already given us a lecture about interfering in police business when we found that gruesome skeleton behind a wall of the inn – but that’s another story. Liza calls the detective Grumpy Dutton. She doesn’t like him much.

Anyway, our day always starts with a mad dash to get breakfast cooked and on the tables by nine a.m. We both like cooking, and serve an assortment of quiches, frittatas, stratas, fruits, pastries and muffins, and sometimes a concoction that Liza throws together and can never repeat.

Cindi, our assistant, waits on tables, and Liza and I work in the kitchen. Cindi is very young, and very mod. She sometimes raises eyebrows with her wild outfits, but works really hard and the guests seem to like her. Max adores her, and follows her around, hoping for a treat or a pat on the head. After breakfast Cindi cleans the rooms while Liza and I tidy up the kitchen. After that, Cindi leaves for the day and we are free to indulge in our favorite pastime – solving murders.

One of the best things about our hobby, if you can call it that, besides the satisfaction of seeing justice served, is that it usually involves a very good-looking and charming police officer. Ben is divorced, like me, and we have been on a few dates.

No, we’re not serious. Much as I enjoy Ben’s company, I’m not planning on a wedding. There’s a reason for that, but you’d have to be a visitor to the inn to know what that is. Liza’s husband, my grandfather, died a few years ago. She really likes the owner of the local hardware store.

Doug, the owner, also has a small pub in the store, and we often have lunch there. Liza pretends she goes there for the wine, but I know she goes there to see Doug. They’re still at the flirting stage, but I’m expecting them to date any time now.

Anyway, let’s get back to our hobby and the dead guy in the driveway. Things got really tense when all our guests were suspects in the murder. They were all members of a reading group, and had booked for the entire week. Which was fortunate, as the investigation was taking far too long.

We were running out of time, with new guests booked and our current guests ordered not to leave. So we had to step in and solve the darn thing, right? We chased after clues with the help of Max and Orville, our laughing ghost. Oh, didn’t I tell you Orville leaves clues for us? I don’t know how he finds out these things, but since he’s invisible, I guess he can go where we can’t.

Anyway, after a series of incidents, including an “accident” on the cellar stairs and a creepy séance we held for all the guests, we eventually figured it out. We were both shocked when the killer was revealed, but I’m really glad we solved the case in time to welcome our new guests.

So, if you happen to visit the Oregon coast, stop by Sully’s Landing. You will love the little town, and the views of the rocky shore, forested mountains and miles of sandy beaches. If you call in at the Merry Ghost Inn, we’ll share a recipe or two. You might even get to hear Orville chuckling.

Don’t worry, he’s harmless.

I think.

Wishing all of you comfort and joy in the upcoming months!

Kate Kingsbury


You can read more about Melanie in Doom with a View, the second book in the “Merry Ghost Inn” mystery series.

With the arrival of six senior reading group members at the Merry Ghost Inn, the long-awaited Grand Opening week has finally begun for Melanie West and her grandmother, Liza. All is well with the Oregon coast-side B&B until Melanie’s dog, Max, finds the dead body of one of their guests.

Everyone at the inn immediately falls under suspicion, including the innkeepers themselves. Melanie and Liza are not sure who they can trust, and the idea of cohabitating with a murderer is enough to send chills down anyone’s spine. To make matters worse, the curmudgeonly town detective wants them to steer clear of the investigation, but doesn’t seem too inspired to solve the case in a timely fashion himself. To clear their own names and to avoid the blight on the inn’s reputation that yet another dead body will bring, Melanie and Liza dive headlong into the murder investigation.

With a little help from their chuckling ghost, Melanie and Liza dodge the detective, tip-toe around their suspicious guests, and still serve up delicious Bed & Breakfast meals on time in Kate Kingsbury’s delightful second Merry Ghost Inn mystery, Doom with a View.

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About the author
Kate grew up in London, England, and at a very early age began telling stories to her school friends while huddling in bomb shelters during the Blitz of WW II. Since then she’s written over sixty romance and mystery novels. She now lives in Oregon with her husband, Bill. Watch for Doom with a View, the second book in Kate’s popular new series, The Merry Ghost Inn Mysteries, releasing in September 2017. You can find Kate’s website at www.doreenrobertshight.com

All comments are welcomed.

A day in the life with Charity Penn by Dorothy St. James

Granny Mae, dressed in a fluffy pink robe the color of cotton candy, with matching fluffy pink slippers, disappeared on the other side of the kitchen island to pull a tray from the oven. “I thought he said he’d call by now,” she said, her voice bouncing around in the metal oven.

“He did.” Whenever he was near a beach, “first thing” for Skinny McGee meant before the sunrise. After the sun came up, I could forget about getting in touch with him because his daytime hours were dedicated to surfing, or thinking about surfing, or planning his next surfing trip.

Last night he’d called when I was in the shower and left an odd message: “Penn, I need to talk with you.” He’d sounded out of breath. “I know why you won that fake contest. I know who sent the letter. And it’s really cool. No, I’m not going to tell you in a message. Don’t want to miss hearing your reaction. I can tell you this—start packing your bags. You need to come down here and see for yourself. I’ll give you a call first thing in the morning. We can talk then.”

I’d tried to call him back right after listening to the message but had been sent to voice mail.

“He hasn’t responded to any of the texts I’ve sent either.” With a frown, I settled at the kitchen island where I usually drank my morning coffee.

“I’m sure he’ll get in touch soon. Have a scone. They’re fresh from the oven.” Granny Mae dropped a rock-hard lump of cooked dough onto a ceramic plate. The loud clang made Stella—the little fluff of a Papillon—bark as if armed intruders had burst through the back door.

“I think I’ll just stick with coffee.” I loved Granny Mae to pieces, truly I did, but no matter how hard she tried, she could not cook, bake, or broil to save her life. Nor could I, for that matter. The scone recipe was the same one she’d encouraged me to try last week. At least her attempt didn’t smell as if brimstone had escaped from the depths of hell. Despite the freezing temperature outside, I’d had to open all the windows to get rid of the stench.

In many ways we were two peas in a pod, which didn’t surprise me. Even though Granny Mae wasn’t really my grandmother, I’d known her my entire life. She was working as my paternal grandmother’s personal assistant when I was abandoned as a newborn on Cristobel Penn’s doorstep. It was Granny Mae who’d convinced Cristobel to let me stay by volunteering to take responsibility for my care.

When Granny Mae completed her first PhD and left Grandmother Cristobel’s service to teach at the University of Wisconsin, she kept in touch with frequent letters, phone calls, small gifts, and surprise visits.

She acted more like a devoted family member than any of my blood relatives. So when I was offered the position of chief executive of marketing for a firm in Madison, Wisconsin, Granny Mae had immediately invited me to stay with her in her vintage cottage. It had started out as a temporary living arrangement. Three years later, I still hadn’t moved out.

“These scones will be perfect for dipping in coffee.” Granny Mae picked one up and tapped it with her finger. She shook her head. The pink curlers in her hair clanged. The noise got Stella barking again.

“Hush.” Surprisingly she stopped and looked up at me. Her huge, dark-brown ears tilted left and right. Her black eyes sparkled with mischief.

For a moment I thought she might obey. Silly me. Stella jumped up and nipped my big toe. “Son-of-a—”

I jumped off the stool and chased after her. Even though Stella’s legs were much shorter than mine, it didn’t slow her down. Not one bit. We ran around the kitchen until I felt like a complete nut.

I finally opened the back door. With a happy yip-yip, the tiny Papillon hurried outside. Sometime during the night, a sparkly white blanket of Wisconsin snow had covered the tidy backyard. Stella wouldn’t stay out long. It was too cold out there for a dog that could literally fit in my pocket. But she seemed to enjoy bouncing around the freshly snow-covered bushes.

I watched her for a moment before pushing the door closed.

“Oh, dear,” Granny Mae said. While I’d chased Stella, Granny Mae had picked up her iPad. “Oh, dear; oh, dear,” she said again and handed me the tablet.

On the screen was a newspaper headline:

Man Murdered in Vat of Chocolate.

“What is this?” I asked.

Granny Mae had three PhDs—one in biochemistry, one in astrophysics, and the third in journalism. Strange or sensational news simply wasn’t her thing.

It’s Skinny,” she whispered.

“What?” I dropped like a heavy weight into the nearest kitchen chair. A frigid cold that had nothing to do with the outside air settled deep into my bones. I read the entire article. Skinny? What did he find?


You can read more about Charity in Asking for Truffle, the first book in the NEW “Southern Chocolate Shop” mystery series.

When Charity Penn receives a letter saying she won a trip to Camellia Beach, South Carolina complete with free cooking lessons at the town’s seaside chocolate shop, The Chocolate Box, she’s immediately skeptical. She never entered any contest. Her former prep school friend offers to look into the phony prize―only to end up drowned in a vat of chocolate.

Struck with guilt, Penn heads to the southern beach town to investigate why he was killed. But as wary as she is of the locals, she finds herself lured into their eccentric vibe, letting her defenses melt away and even learning the art of crafting delicious chocolates. That is, until delight turns bittersweet as she steps straight into the midst of a deadly plot to destroy the seaside town. Now, only Penn’s quick thinking and a mysterious cask of rare chocolate can save the town she’s learning to love.

Rich and decadent, Asking for Truffle, the first in a new cozy series by Dorothy St. James, is sure to be a delectable read for fans of JoAnna Carl and Joanne Fluke.

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About the author
Dorothy St. James, known for the White House Gardener Mystery series, is going back to her roots and setting a mystery series in a Southern beach town much like the one she’s called home for the past 20 years. The Southern Chocolate Shop Mysteries combine her love of fine chocolates, quirky Southern charm, with a dash of danger. Asking for Truffle hits bookstore shelves September 2017.

All comments are welcomed.