Category Archives: A DAY IN THE LIFE

a place where characters give you a glimpse into their day

A day in the life of Jane Norton by Jeff Abbott

I’m an outcast. Once I had family, friends, a future—now I’m the young woman whose gaze you don’t want to meet as we pass on the street.

Today I’m homeless, sleeping occasionally in a dorm room at St. Michael’s University in south Austin, where my friend Adam lets me crash when I crawl through his window. I used to have a normal life like yours–before I became an amnesiac. No, I’m not a soap opera character and I’m not Jason Bourne. I’m just someone like you—with a chunk of my history missing. Perhaps forever lost.

I grew up in Lakehaven, a wealthy suburb of Austin. I went to the best schools, had great friends, my whole life a glowing hopeful promise in front of me. Then two years ago, when I was seventeen, I crashed my car on a deserted road in the hills above Lakehaven. My passenger and neighbor, my childhood friend David Hall, died. I suffered a brain injury and lost the last three years—including why David and I were even together in a car that night.

We’d grown up together, but we had grown apart. Why were we even in my car? What were we doing, where were we going on that lonely road that led to nowhere? And why was there a note found at the crash site, in my own writing, saying I wish we were dead together.

I can’t imagine I wrote it or that I would hurt David. But I don’t know who I was then. The Jane of now might not be the same person as the Jane of then.

My mother wants me off the streets and in a mental institution—I keep moving so she can’t find me. David’s mom and dad—our next door neighbors I once loved as surrogate parents—hate me and blame me for David’s death. My best friend, Kamala, was also David’s girlfriend and mounted a campaign to destroy me when I returned to our high school. My one friend Adam seems to have his own set of secrets and a classmate named Trevor might hold the clues to who I really was that night—but he won’t tell me. And Kevin, a psych grad student, seems very interested in the peculiarities of my case. All of them will try to tell me who I once was—but are they rewriting my lost history to suit their needs?

Today, the second anniversary of the crash, someone has posted on my abandoned Facebook page I know what you claim you don’t remember. I know what happened that night. Someone—who blames me for David’s death—is trying to hurt me. It’s not going to work. I’ve decided to investigate that night, amnesia be damned. I’m going to find the truth even if I never find my memories.


You can read more about Jane in Blame, a psychological suspense novel.

Sometimes the person you thought you knew best.
Turns out to be someone you never really knew at all.

The crash that killed him
Two years ago, Jane Norton crashed her car on a lonely road, killing her friend David and leaving her with amnesia. At first, everyone was sympathetic. Then they found Jane’s note: I wish we were dead together.

A girl to blame
From that day the town turned against her. But even now Jane is filled with questions: Why were they on that road? Why was she with David? Did she really want to die?

The secrets she should forget
Most of all, she must find out who has just written her an anonymous message: I know what really happened. I know what you don’t remember.

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Meet the author
Jeff Abbott is the New York Times bestselling author of eighteen novels. He is the winner of an International Thriller Writers Award (for the Sam Capra thriller The Last Minute) and is a three-time nominee for the Edgar award. He lives in Austin with his family. You can visit his website at www.JeffAbbott.com.

All comments are welcomed.

A day in the life of Juliet Langley by Caroline Fardig

To sum up a day in the life of Juliet Langley in one word would be. . .tiring. A career in food service is not for the weak. I start most days alone in the kitchen of the Java Jive Coffeehouse in Nashville, making our daily selection of delicious pastries. Aside from being painfully early, it’s not a bad part of my day. I love to bake, and the quiet time centers me for the fast pace I’m going to have to keep throughout the rest of the day. Plus, if I’m having a rough week, it’s nice to have some unsuspecting dough to pound out my aggression on.

Once my employees arrive, it’s a mad dash to get the place ready for the surge of customers we get when the doors open. There’s not much time to think about anything besides slinging ‘spros as our regulars bustle in to get their morning jolt of java. When the craziness dies down, that’s usually when my best friend (and the owner of Java Jive) Pete Bennett and his grandmother Gertie come in. Nothing like seeing the smiling faces of my surrogate family across the counter to remind me why I do what I do everyday.

Speaking of jobs, I have two. Not only am I the full-time manager of Java Jive, I’m also a private investigator. I know—the two don’t exactly go hand in hand. But for some reason, ever since my first day in charge of Java Jive, crime seems to follow me wherever I go. So, I decided to turn the tables and follow it around for a while, this time getting paid to do it. Working with my PI friend Maya, I find the dirt on cheating spouses, underhanded business partners, and general scumbags of every kind.

Even though I work every night until well after Java Jive’s closing time, evening is always my favorite time of day. Pete comes back to the coffeehouse after he gets off work (he’s an über-talented sound engineer at one of Music Row’s big recording studios), and we hang out together, like we always did in college when we both worked for his dad at Java Jive. And if it’s Wednesday, that means it’s open mic night and Pete and I are up on stage performing music together, also like we did in college. We make a great team. And although each night I collapse into my bed, exhausted and asleep before my head hits the pillow, I couldn’t imagine my life any other way.


You can read more about Juliet in Brew or Die, the fourth book in the “Java Jive” mystery series.

Nashville’s perkiest private eye—coffeehouse manager Juliet Langley—goes undercover in the party-planning industry to solve a suspicious death in this thrilling cozy mystery from USA Today bestselling author Caroline Fardig.

Inspired by her past sleuthing successes, Juliet Langley has officially joined the ranks of Nashville’s licensed private investigators. Her best friend, Pete Bennett, doesn’t worry that her detective work might interfere with her full-time job running his coffeehouse, Java Jive. He just wishes she would spend her free time rejoining the local music scene instead of tailing cheating spouses. But when one of Java Jive’s baristas, Shane, asks Juliet to look into the suspicious death of his fiancée, Pete encourages her to plow full steam ahead.

Since his fiancée died on the job, Shane suspects that her party-planning colleagues are up to something criminal—and will do anything to keep it quiet. After Juliet recruits Pete to go undercover with her at a wedding showcase, she discovers that white lace and black satin have a way of hiding big, fat secrets.

If that weren’t enough to fill her plate, her latest P.I. job has her crossing paths with her ex, Detective Ryder Hamilton. They’re barely on speaking terms, but to solve the case, they might have to cooperate. No matter where Juliet goes, she’s brewing up trouble.

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Meet the author
Caroline Fardig is the USA Today bestselling author of the Java Jive Mystery series and the Lizzie Hart Mysteries. Fardig’s Bad Medicine was named one of the best books of 2015 by Suspense Magazine. She worked as a schoolteacher, church organist, insurance agent, funeral parlor associate, and stay-at-home mom before she realized that she wanted to be a writer when she grew up. Born and raised in a small town in Indiana, Fardig still lives in that same town with an understanding husband, two sweet kids, two energetic dogs, and one malevolent cat.

Murder over Mochas, the fifth book in the Java Jive series, will be released on October 24, 2017. In early 2018, Fardig’s new Southern B&B Mysteries will take readers to sultry Savannah, Georgia, in the start of a Southern-flavored original mystery series.

Connect with Caroline Fardig on Facebook and Twitter, on her Amazon Author page, or through her website at www.carolinefardig.com. While you’re there, don’t forget to check out the author’s original recorded songs that are featured in the books of the Java Jive series!

All comments are welcomed.

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A day in the life of Maggie McDonald by Mary Feliz

Decluttering can be deadly

If you’ve been living on this planet, or even in a nearby solar system, you’ve been barraged by messages from news outlets, best sellers, and talk shows about decluttering, downsizing, and tidying up. They may have inspired you or, more likely, made you feel like a hoarder, a slob, or worse.

Rest assured, you’re probably neither. As a human being, you’re subject to the laws of physics, among them those involving entropy. Entropy is just a science-y word for the fact that disorder has a way of winning out over order. Always. It’s the law.

For me, that means job security. I’m a professional organizer, and I’m here to bust a few myths. Decluttering won’t make you happier, thinner, or more successful. It won’t make your teenager confide in you or solve a problem with a cheating spouse. If you’re seriously allergic to dust mites, it might make you healthier in the long run, but as you dig through your stuff, you’re going to inhale a lot of dust. It won’t be good.

Marie Kondo’s blockbuster The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing makes a case for the sheer joy of tidying up, as if it’s a new designer drug. It’s not. Tidying up is tedious. It’s hard work, it takes too long, and it’s relentless.

So why hire an organizer?

Because I can shorten the process for you. I can help you focus on your goals and keep you from getting sidetracked by your high school yearbook while you’re clearing your bookcase. I can prevent you from diving into an Internet black hole to discover what your prom date is doing now.

Once you’ve done the hard part of sorting, organizing, and paring your belongings to only what you need and want, I can set up a system to help you keep it organized with as little effort as possible. I can get rid of all the items you no longer want in a jiffy, no matter how bulky those items are.

Will I make you get rid of your grandmother’s collection of ornamental china? Or your childhood teddy bear? Or that pile of decaying rubber bands that you just might need one day? I’ll probably encourage you to toss the rubber bands. They tend to rot with age and become useless. But you can keep whatever you need to keep. My job is to help you decide, stay on task, and find a great way to store the items you’d like to preserve.

Will I judge you? Never. Talk shows and flashy magazines might make you feel guilty about your clutter, and many shops will urge you to ease that guilt with the purchase of matching hangers and nesting storage boxes. But I’m here to help however I can. For instance, if you love your grandmother’s figurines, I can help you find a way to safely display them, dust free, instead of keeping them stashed in a box in the attic. Or if you’re tired of packing them up with every move, I can help you sell them.

Many potential clients avoid calling an organizer because they fear what will happen when the expert goes home. Let’s look at that. If you’re like most of my clients, I’ll work with you as long as you’re willing to pay me and until you’ve got a firm handle on an organizing system that you understand and can use.

But if you’re like most people, your dedication to your new system will wear off. Life will intervene, and you’ll choose to comfort a crying child instead of sorting your bills. Or you’ll call 911 and get out of the house when a fire starts instead of folding all the clean laundry and putting it away. Life happens. Physics happens. It’s the law.

And that, again, means job security for me. If I’ve done my job well, I hope you’ll call me back from time to time to restore order and give your system a tune up. We can look at how things have changed in your life and what challenges you have. Maybe you have a puppy who likes to chew and you can’t store things on low shelves any more. Or you’ve had shoulder surgery and can’t reach any of those pretty hats you stashed on a high shelf. We’ll resolve those problems together to make things easier.

Organizers aren’t magic. But we can help quickly and without judgment. For some of us, receiving help without judgment is a mystical experience, but decluttering won’t solve all your problems. In fact, for some of my clients it can be downright deadly, but that’s another story.

To find an organizer in your area, consult the National Association of Professional Organizers at www.napo.net.


You can read more about Maggie in Dead Storage, the third book in the “Maggie McDonald” mystery series.

As a professional organizer, Maggie McDonald brings order to messy situations. But when a good friend becomes a murder suspect, surviving the chaos is one tall task . . .

Despite a looming deadline, Maggie thinks she has what it takes to help friends Jason and Stephen unclutter their large Victorian in time for its scheduled renovation. But before she can fill a single bin with unused junk, Jason leaves for Texas on an emergency business trip, Stephen’s injured mastiff limps home—and Stephen himself lands in jail for murder. Someone killed the owner of a local Chinese restaurant and stuffed him in the freezer. Stephen, caught at the crime scene covered in blood, is the number one suspect. Maggie finds herself in the middle of a political hot-button issue when she discovers that only witness is an undocumented teen. Should he come forward and risk deportation or stay mum and let bad guys run amok? Or can Maggie come up with a unique solution before putting her friends, family, and herself at risk?

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About the author
Mary Feliz writes the “Maggie McDonald Mysteries” featuring a Silicon Valley professional organizer and her sidekick golden retriever. She’s worked for Fortune 500 firms and mom and pop enterprises, competed in whale boat races and done synchronized swimming. She attends organizing conferences in her character’s stead, but Maggie’s skills leave her in the dust. The third novel in the series, Dead Storage, was released July 18, and is available in all eBook formats. Paperbacks can be ordered from any bookstore and online.

All comments are welcomed.

A day in the life with Gethsemane Brown by Alexia Gordon

I’m in a mess, in real danger of losing Carraigfaire Cottage. My landlord plans to sell it to a slick hotel developer who wants to turn this lovely, historic home into a tacky tourist trap. So, instead of resting over the Christmas holidays—my reward after I solved a string of murders and won an important music competition—I’m trying to find a way to stop the sale.

My one hope to nix the deal is to scare the developer away. He’s terrified of ghosts and Carraigfaire is haunted. Was haunted. I haven’t seen my ghost—Eamon McCarthy, the famous composer—since I proved he didn’t murder his wife or kill himself. This is no time for him to rest in peace. He shared Carraigfaire with his wife until they were murdered and he loved it. I know he’d want to save it. But I’ve no idea how to get him back. I tried a conjuring spell Father Tim gave me but, so far, it hasn’t worked. Other than a few disembodied footsteps upstairs, I’ve gotten nothing. It’s like a recipe with a few key ingredients missing.

As if all that weren’t bad enough, my brother-in-law, Jackson, is coming for a visit. He’s curator of a textile museum back in Virginia. He’s coming here to bid in an auction on an antique sampler embroidered by a free black schoolgirl in the eighteenth century in Williamsburg, Virginia. The sampler’s priceless. I hope Jackson’s too busy trying to win the sampler to pay attention to my ghost conjuring. He’s a skeptic, like I used to be. I’d never be able to explain Eamon to him. If the auction isn’t enough to distract him, maybe I can get him to help Niall—Inspector O’Reilly—with his art fraud investigation. Seems a gang of art thieves is stealing genuine antiques and paintings and replacing them with forgeries. Honest customers are unknowingly buying the forgeries. Dishonest ones are cooperating with the gang to buy the fakes cheap, have the gang steal them back, then file bogus insurance claims. It’s a complex scheme and, if the prices in Jackson’s auction catalogs are anything to judge by, a lot of money is involved. The kind of money people would kill for.

On second thought, maybe I don’t want Jackson to help with the investigation. I’ve dealt with enough murders for a lifetime. I don’t want to be even peripherally mixed up in another one. With my luck, someone would try to pin it on me. So I’ll let Jackson stick to museum work and I’ll stick to trying to save Carraigfaire. If I could just figure out the secret to making this spell work. I’d hate to mess things up and conjure the wrong ghost.


You can read more about Gethsemane in Death in D Minor, the second book in the “Gethsemane Brown” mystery series.

Gethsemane Brown, African-American classical musician and expatriate to an Irish village, solved a string of murders, led a school orchestra to victory in a major competition, and got used to living with a snarky ghost. She can rest easy over the Christmas holiday. Right? Wrong. The ghost has disappeared, her landlord’s about to sell her cottage to a hotel developer, and her brother-in-law is coming for a visit—with one day’s notice.

She scrambles to call her spectral roomie back from beyond and find a way to save the cottage from certain destruction. But real estate takes a backseat when her brother-in-law is accused of stealing a valuable antique. Gethsemane strikes a deal with a garda investigator to go undercover as a musician at a charity ball and snoop for evidence linking antiques to a forgery/theft ring in exchange for the investigator’s help clearing her brother-in-law. At the party, she accidentally conjures the ghost of an eighteenth-century sea captain, then ends up the prime suspect in the party host’s murder. With the captain’s help, she races to untangle a web of phony art and stolen antiques to exonerate herself and her brother-in-law. Then the killer targets her. Will she save herself and bring a thief and murderer to justice, or will her encore investigation become her swan song?

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About the author
A writer since childhood, I put literary endeavors on hold to finish medical school and Family Medicine residency training. Medical career established, I returned to writing fiction. I completed SMU’s Writer’s Path program in Dallas, Texas. Henery Press published my first novel, Murder in G Major, book one of the Gethsemane Brown mysteries, in September 2016. Book two, Death in D Minor, released July 11, 2017.

Murder in G Major won the Lefty Award for Best Debut Novel, was nominated for an Agatha Award for Best New Novel, and was selected one of Suspense Magazine’s Best Debuts.

I listen to classical music, drink whiskey, and blog at www.missdemeanors.com, voted one of Writers’ Digest magazine’s 101 best websites for writers.

All comments are welcomed.

A day in the life of Hank Worth by Claire Booth

“Where you goin’?”

I froze. Caught. I should’ve thought to grab a file folder off my desk – then it’d look like I was on my way to a meeting. Instead, all I had in my hands was a set of car keys. Which quite plainly indicated that I was making a break for it. I slowly turned around.

It wasn’t Sheila, my chief deputy. Instead, Sam stood in the hallway with a puzzled look on his face. Then he saw the keys and laughed.

“Sheila said you were working on the deputy duty schedule.” My pup of a deputy grinned. “She said I couldn’t bother you, because you needed your full concentration. To finally figure out how to do it proper.”

Sheila was technically not wrong about that. I’d been here almost nine months, and I still hadn’t managed to do it correctly. But it was a task that drove me crazy. Actually, anything that involved being trapped in an office with the paperwork equivalent of the Leaning Tower of Pisa drove me crazy. Especially on such a beautiful day in the Ozarks. When a Branson County Sheriff’s Department cruiser sat right outside, just waiting to be driven somewhere.

“I thought I’d do a little patrol work. There’ve been some speeding problems out on that stretch of Highway 76 near Powersite.”

I shrugged nonchalantly and took a step toward the door. Sammy started laughing full out.

“She’s not going to buy that,” he said.

“I know,” I said. “But if I can get out of here before she catches me…”

I could see him thinking about it. His young face was so transparent, so eager. He scratched behind his ear, then turned back the way he’d come. “I never saw you. Just make sure you drive out the back way. I think she’s in the front of the building.”

I took the steps down to the parking lot two at a time, feeling ridiculously like a kid just let out on summer vacation. I pulled out of the parking lot and headed south over the bridge at Bull Shoals Lake. Free to finally do some real police work.

An hour later, I’d stopped two people for speeding and had a nice chat with an elderly couple sitting out on their front porch. And I was feeling much better. I really did need to get out and do this more often.

To me, that was what being the county sheriff was all about – not sitting in meetings or pouring over budget documents. Those things made me feel like a paper pusher. Which was not what I was expecting when I accepted the job.

I’d planned to apply for a position as a regular deputy when we moved down here from Kansas City to help out my widowed father-in-law. But just when we’d gotten the kids settled in their new preschool classes, the former sheriff resigned his post and the county commissioners offered me the job.

Apparently they were dazzled by my big city-ness. They have since come to regret that. Possibly because I’m not quite the yes man they expected. I also might have called one of them names.

But they’re stuck with me. At least until the next election, when the sheriff’s position will be up for grabs. I’m going to have to run. I need to keep my job. There are no other open law enforcement positions in southern Missouri, so going somewhere else isn’t an option. No one has filed to run against me, though, so I think I might be able to skate through without actually having to do anything horrible, like campaign.

I’d almost reached Kirbyville when an idiot in a Camaro cut in front of me and then disappeared over a rise in the road. I was reaching to flip on my lights when I saw the sign. Billboard big and star-spangled gaudy.

“Gerald Tucker for Sheriff. Put Your Trust in the Local Boy.”

Underneath the writing was a photo of the fifty-two-year-old, paunchy, badly mustached “boy.” I slammed on the brakes.

Tucker? The deputy who abandoned his guard post when the Branson Beauty showboat sank and then mysteriously exploded? The deputy who was, at every turn, a complete jerk? The deputy who everybody in the county knew because he’d lived here his whole life? I groaned and bonked my head on the steering wheel. I should’ve just stayed in the office.


You can read more about Hank in Another Man’s Ground, the second book in the “Sheriff Hank Worth” mystery series.

It starts out as an interesting little theft case. Branson, Missouri’s new Sheriff Hank Worth is called out to look at stands of trees that have been stripped of their bark, which the property owner had planned to harvest for the booming herbal supplement market. At first, Hank easily balances the demands of the investigation with his fledging political career. He was appointed several months earlier to the vacant sheriff position, but he needs to win the fast-approaching election in order to keep his job. He thinks the campaign will go well, as long as he’s able to keep secret the fact that a group of undocumented immigrants – hired to cut down the stripped trees – have fled into the forest and he’s deliberately not looking for them.

But then the discovery of a murder victim deep in the Ozark backwoods sets him in the middle of a generations-old feud that explodes into danger not only for him, but also for the immigrants, his deputies, and his family. He must rush to find a murderer before election day, and protect the vulnerable in Branson County, where politicking is hell and trespassing can get you killed.

In Another Man’s Ground, her next novel featuring Sheriff Hank Worth, acclaimed author Claire Booth delivers a taut, witty mystery that will grip readers from the opening pages to the breathless conclusion.

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About the author
Claire Booth spent more than a decade as a daily newspaper reporter, much of it covering crimes so convoluted and strange they seemed more like fiction than reality. Eventually, she had enough of the real world and decided to write novels instead. Her Sheriff Hank Worth mystery series takes place in Branson, Missouri, where small-town Ozark politics and big-city country music tourism clash in, yes, strange and convoluted ways. For more about Claire, her books, and some of the true crimes she’s covered, please visit www.clairebooth.com. Or connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, or at her Amazon author page.

All comments are welcomed.

A new day in the life with Carol Childs by Nancy Cole Silverman

Hi, my name is Carol Childs, and I’ve just been given a tremendous opportunity. Something I’ve been working towards for the last several years. You see, I’m an on-air reporter at a talk radio station in Los Angeles and my boss, Tyler Hunter, who up until recently had referred to me as the World’s Oldest Cub Reporter, has assigned me to a show of my own on Sundays nights. This is a big deal, and I’m really excited about it. Particularly since the station is under new ownership and I want to make sure they like me.

The trouble is, a couple days ago, I got called out to report about a body on the Hollywood Sign. I think it was a murder, but the police have been quick to call it a suicide. Which means the station wouldn’t be following up on it. We don’t cover suicides. However, it appears I’m not alone in my suspicion. There’s this private detective, named Gerhardt Chasen, Chase for short, who’s a bit of a conspiracy theorist, and he’s been nosing around. He’s convinced the police are covering something up. Even worse, now that he knows I have a live radio show, he’s pestering me to put him on the air so he can talk about it. He’s convinced someone out in radio-land might know something about it.

No way was I going to put some crazy conspiracy theorist on the air, but my show was dying. I was forty-five minutes into a report on the LA River Project – a subject Tyler had assigned me to cover and drier than the riverbed itself – when the switchboard lit up. Thinking I might have a live caller on the line, I answered. It was Chase, the crazy PI, along with a queue of callers he’d lined up to talk about the body on the Hollywood Sign.

Believe me, there was plenty of Room For Doubt, for what I was about to hear. And it would forever change how I viewed my job as a reporter. Stay tuned.


You can read more about Carol in Room For Doubt, the fourth book in the “Carol Childs” mystery series.

When radio reporter Carol Childs is called to a crime scene in the Hollywood Hills at five thirty in the morning, she’s convinced it must be a publicity stunt to promote a new movie. That is, until she sees the body hanging from the center of the Hollywood sign. The police are quick to rule it a suicide, but something doesn’t add up for Carol. Particularly after a mysterious caller named Mustang Sally confesses to the murder on the air and threatens to kill again.

With the help of an incorrigible PI, her best friend, and a kooky psychic, Carol is drawn into the world of contract killers and women scorned. As she races to find the real killer, she finds herself faced with a decision that will challenge everything she thought she knew.

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About the author
Nancy Cole Silverman credits the fact both she and Edgar Allen Poe share the same birthday, along with her twenty-five years in talk radio, for helping her to develop an ear for storytelling. After writing everything from commercial copy to news Silverman retired from radio in 2001 to write fiction. Today, Silverman has written numerous short stories and novelettes some of which have been produced as audio books. Silverman’s new series, the Carol Childs Mysteries (Henery Press) takes place inside a busy Los Angles Radio station. Silverman lives in Los Angeles with her husband, four adult children, and thoroughly pampered standard poodle. Connect with Nancy at nancycolesilverman.com.

All comments are welcomed.

A day in the life of Katherine Harper by Paige Sleuth

My day took quite a turn not long after I moved back to my childhood hometown of Cherry Hills, Washington. It started off innocently enough. I woke up, ate, showered, and dressed. Then I stepped out of my apartment to find my neighbor’s cat Matty sitting in the common hallway.

This might not seem so unusual, but you have to understand that Matty was like a child to Mrs. Tinsdale. And as with any child, you don’t let her wander off on her own.

So, what could I do? I had no choice but to investigate.

My day only went downhill from there. First, I discovered that Mrs. Tinsdale was dead. And not just any dead, but murdered. Then I ran into several people who could have killed her. On top of all that, I had to adopt Matty since the poor thing was now homeless. Okay, that part wasn’t so bad—until I had to take Matty to the vet. Boy, did she put up a fight. But I won’t get into that now because a murderer is still on the loose, and I won’t be able to rest until I know he or she is behind bars.

So, yeah, overall my return to Cherry Hills hasn’t been off to a great start. But I did get to reconnect with my old friend Andrew Milhone. He’s a police detective now, and he looks pretty darn good. I just keep reminding myself that I’ve only been back a few weeks. I’ll give it some more time and see what happens.

Little did I know this was just the start of my involvement in some very serious crimes.


Cozy Cat Caper Mysteries and “Buy in July”
Murder in Cherry Hills is the first book in Paige Sleuth’s Cozy Cat Caper Mystery series featuring Kat Harper and her feline pals. As part of Paige’s second annual “Buy in July” event, you can read the book for free and enter her July giveaway for a chance to win another one of Paige’s books plus a surprise mystery book. In addition, Paige is donating $1 from every July book purchase (for books priced above $0.99) to the Community Cat Coalition of Clark County (C5). C5 is a volunteer-powered organization that seeks to reduce the number of cats euthanized every year by trapping and spay/neutering feral cats in the Las Vegas area before releasing them back into their communities.

Click HERE to enter the book giveaway and follow the instructions in the first entry option to download Murder in Cherry Hills for free. Good luck!

Meet the author
Paige Sleuth is a pseudonym for mystery author Marla Bradeen. She plots murder during the day and fights for mattress space with her two rescue cats at night. When not attending to her cats’ demands, she writes. She loves to hear from readers, and welcomes emails at paige(dot)sleuth(at)yahoo.com.

Connect with Paige at marlabradeen.com and at Cozy Cat Caper Mystery books.

All comments are welcomed.

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A day in the life with Amy Simms by J.R. Ripley

Hi, I’m Amy Simms and, if you don’t know me yet, let me fill you in. I’m CEO of a multimillion dollar, multinational corporation specializing in leveraged buyouts when I am not busy moonlighting as a crime-solving super sleuth. Okay, a slight exaggeration. There are no millions (unless I win the lottery-fingers crossed!), and the only thing multinational about my business are the few products I import. The last thing I leveraged was the trowel I used to remove a rock from the hole I was digging to plant a beautyberry bush. And super sleuth? Well, I have stumbled upon a dead body or two here in the Town of Ruby Lake. Not that I wanted to. Never my fault. I like to think I helped bring a killer or three to justice, not that our chief of police, Jerry Kennedy, would agree with that statement or ever thank me. I believe his less than appreciative attitude towards me has something to do with that one date we had in high school.

The truth is, I own a small retail store catering to the bird, bee and bloom loving crowd, aptly called Birds & Bees. You love birds, bees and blooms don’t you? Sure you do. So come on in and say hello, buy a little bag of birdseed to take home and feed the birds in your yard. Who couldn’t use a little birdseed in their life?

My employees are my mom, my best friend and a crotchety septuagenarian I like to call Esther the Pester. She prefers to be called Ms. Pilaster or just plain Esther. Personally, I think Esther the Pester has a nice ring to it, but why quibble? Esther was already living in the house when I bought it. She has a lease so we’re stuck with each other. She did once accuse me of murder in front of the police no less, but I’ve made my peace with that. Why? Like I said, she has a lease. Besides, I was standing in my own house with bloody weapon in my hands. I couldn’t blame Esther for jumping to the wrong conclusion.

It is summertime now in Ruby Lake, a real jewel of a town, nestled in western North Carolina. This is peak tourist time, if not peak bird watching time. Like most locales, we get our biggest numbers of birds in the spring and fall migrations. Not that there isn’t plenty of avian activity the rest of the year. There is. On a regular basis, I spot bluebirds, titmice, goldfinches, house finches, mockingbirds, cardinals (North Carolina’s state bird) and more. And that’s without ever lifting my binoculars to my eyes! Then there are the special treats. Like now, for instance. The front yard is aflutter with summer birds, including a dozen or more ruby-throated hummingbirds.

Birds & Bees occupies the first floor of an old Queen Anne Victorian (is there such a thing as a new Queen Anne Victorian?) located on Lake Shore Drive, our town’s main road. The second floor is occupied by Esther and another renter. My mother and I take up the top floor. I normally open the store at nine. Prior to that, Mom and I breakfast upstairs.

Next, I head downstairs. After making sure the store is shipshape, I step outside to check the bird feeders and refill them as necessary. That’s not as quick and simple as it sounds. I’ve got two hanging tube feeders, a hopper feeder, a bell feeder, a thistle sock and birdbaths galore. I rinse the basins out and top them up with fresh water every morning with the garden hose. If you want to attract birds to your yard, you need more than food sources. You need plenty of close-by shelter and fresh water, so there is always some gardening to do too.

In the winter, I also hang a couple of suet cages. If you aren’t familiar with suet, those cages aren’t for capturing the occasional wild suet, they’re for hanging suet cakes, which I generally only put out in the coldest months. Held together with such gooey delights as peanut butter and lard, the stuff tends to melt when it’s warm. Besides, there’s lots of other summertime food available for the birds. The neighborhood woodpeckers love suet although other, such as chickadees and nuthatches, seem equally fond of it.

I’m delighted today to see so many hummingbirds in the yard and not just because all the feeding and bathing birds warms my heart (okay, it attracts customers to our store, too) but my friend and former college professor, a real mentor of sorts when it comes to birds, is coming to town today. His name is Professor Mason Livingston and he is a world-class expert on hummingbirds. In fact, Mason is on a tour promoting his latest book, Hummingbirds and Their Habits. My friend Rose Smith and her daughter, Amber, will be hosting the book signing at Bookarama, our local bookstore.

Good friends, good books, cute little birdies…what could go wrong? Surely not murder. I mean, not again. Right?


You can read more about Amy in To Kill a Hummingbird, the fourth book in the “Bird Lover’s” mystery series.

For Amy Simms, owner of Birds & Bees, nothing is more important than impressing her old professor, but this odd bird is about to fall to earth . . .

When her favorite ornithology professor comes calling, Birds & Bees owner Amy Simms hangs six hummingbird feeders around the shop to welcome Professor Livingston with a flock of his favorite flying creatures. But Amy soon finds that the sugar water in the feeders brings more than a swarm of hummingbirds. It also attracts murder.

Professor Livingston is just as friendly as Amy remembers, but something seems to be troubling him. When Amy pays him a visit that night, she finds the professor slumped over a table with a pair of scissors buried in his neck. And standing over his body is Rose Smith, the local bookseller, who claims she killed him. But while the police believe they have a bird in hand, Amy thinks the real killer may still be in the bush . . .

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Meet the author
J.R. Ripley is the critically acclaimed author of multiple series and currently pens A Bird Lover’s Mystery Series, the Maggie Miller Mysteries and the Kitty Karlyle gourmet pet chef mysteries. J.R. is a member of the American Birding Association, the American Bird Conservancy, and is an Audubon Ambassador with the National Audubon Society. Before becoming a full-time author, J.R. worked at a multitude of jobs including: archaeologist, cook, factory worker, copywriter, technical writer, editor, musician, entrepreneur and window washer. You may visit jrripley.net for more information or visit JR on Facebook.

All comments are welcomed.

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A day in the life of Penny Brannigan by Elizabeth J. Duncan

Have you ever noticed that most amateur sleuths aren’t locked into rigid nine to five jobs?

We need flexibility in our working lives (or the daytime situation as a good friend of ours calls it) because when a detecting opportunity knocks, we have to spring into action. So most of us are entrepreneurs and run our own businesses – restaurants, bakeries, and shops that trade in products of every description: antiques; books; Christmas decorations; collectibles; hats; flowers; sewing, knitting and craft supplies; and goodness knows what else. As for me, I co-own a spa with my business partner Victoria Hopkirk in the North Wales town of Llanelen. I’m also an amateur watercolour artist.

We used to do the sleuthing together, Victoria and I, but over the last couple of years, because I’ve been more involved with Gareth Davies, now a retired police officer, Victoria and I haven’t been doing as much. I missed her involvement on my most recent cases. She’s wonderful for exploring scenarios: ‘what if the killer did this . . . because . . .?’

I’ll admit that sleuthing occasionally gets in the way of my work at the Llanelen Spa; Victoria gave me a right ticking off about this in my most recent outing, Murder Is for Keeps. She reminded me that the rest of the staff shouldn’t be expected to hold the fort while I’m hot on the trail of a local killer. But hey, I’m entitled to a day off every now and then!

And then, when I really needed her, and for reasons that are a bit too complicated to go into here, Victoria decided that we should have a day off together, and drive through the lush Welsh countryside to the town of Llanddulas, where I wanted to speak to someone who might know something about a recent murder. Not only did we have a great day out, but our little adventure put me the right track to catching a killer.

There’s an old saying that a good friend is the one who helps you hide the body. My good friends are the ones who help me unmask the killer.


You can read more about Penny Brannigan and her friend and business partner Victoria Hopkirk in Murder Is for Keeps, number eight in the “Penny Brannigan” mystery series set in North Wales.

Local artist Penny Brannigan has been spending her summer painting Gwrych Castle and its surrounding landscapes. A privately owned, castellated Welsh country house, Gwrych has been sadly neglected for decades and is in a heartbreaking state of disrepair. So when she learns architectural historian Mark Baker is leading a team of enthusiastic volunteers to restore the castle grounds and gardens to their former grandeur, Penny is thrilled.

But it’s not long before disagreements over the restoration turn deadly, and Penny is horrified to discover the body of a volunteer hidden in a castle outbuilding. Penny enlists her friend Gareth Davies, recently retired from the North Wales Police Service, to help investigate. As the two dig deeper into the castle’s history, including its glamorous heyday in the 1920s, they find startling connections between an old, unsolved murder and Gareth’s own family, and as they solve the present-day murder, Penny recovers a stunning piece of the castle’s architectural heritage.

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Giveaway: Leave a comment below for your chance to win a copy of Murder Is for Keeps. Open to Canada, USA, and UK residents. The giveaway ends July 14, 2017. Good luck everyone!

About the author
Elizabeth J. Duncan is a two-time winner of the Bloody Words Light Mystery Award (Canada) and has been nominated for Agatha and Arthur Ellis awards. She is the author of the long-running Penny Brannigan series set in North Wales (St. Martins Press), and the Shakespeare in the Catskills series (Crooked Lane Books). She lives in Toronto.

Visit her website at www.elizabethjduncan.com, like her Facebook page: and follow her on Twitter: @elizabethduncan

All comments are welcomed.

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