Category Archives: A DAY IN THE LIFE

a place where characters give you a glimpse into their day

A Day in the Life with Verna Crowell by Ruth Moose

Wedding Bell BluesVerna is now a resident in Glen Arbor Acres retirement complex, which is down the street from the Dixie Dew.

“Lordy, Lordy, those Betts boys are the sweetest things. Sweet as can be. Why they hug and squeeze an old lady like you’re their grandma or something. They were raised right. Manners! They hold the door for wheel chairs, pick up your cane if you drop it. Don’t act a bit uppity or stuck up even if their mama was a world famous writer living right here in Littleboro. There was a movie made out of one of her books and she got an Academy Award for it. Then that same story was turned into a Broadway play and a musical. She got to see it before she died and she’s buried right here in Littleboro, that little tiny cemetery behind the ARP church just across from the courthouse.

She always said ARP stood for All Right Presbyterians and she grew up one in Statesville where they do a festival in her name every year. She wrote a lot of stuff and raised those boys on a horse farm a hop and skip from Littleboro. Wonder if those Betts boys ever read any of her stuff? They don’t look nor act much like readers. Neither of them wear glasses, but maybe they will when they get old, if they don’t work themselves to death first. Wear out. They’re over here at Glen Arbor at least once a week, sometimes, most times, more, bringing in some new green potted plant for our atrium, which I think is just a fancy word for a sun room.

In our “living room,” which is just a parking place to read the News and Observer or do a puzzle or just sit and stare into space as some people around here like to do, those Betts boys put more green plants and little grow lights in the dark corners so that room looks about like an atrium. When the plants get all leggy and bushy at the same time, they come in with smaller ones to replace them. I’ve always believed green plants not only just make and decorate a room, they are living, breathing things that give out good oxygen and take in the bad.

And just about every time they come, one of those boys will bring me or one of the girls a bouquet of fresh flowers they grew themselves. They have their own greenhouses or it would cost them a pluperfect fortune. And they put a vase of something fresh and full of color on the front desk. They keep us cheered up as if anything in this place can cheer a body up. We’re all headed for the “great beyond” and taking either the “up” escalator or the “down,” depending. And I can guess who is taking which.

Our “warden”, is headed straight down as fast as the thing can go. Smiles so sweet butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth, then turn around and behind your back lie and cheat and steal and if I had the proof I’m trying to get, I’d go to somebody with it. Lordy, Lordy, I’ve always been suspicious of these women who like to play up to the powers that be, who are usually male. In this case it’s when Mr. Harmon visits to checks on the books, our grounds and facilities. Those are the days she makes sure we are up and dressed to the “nines” by breakfast. And breakfast those days are twice as much as any other time, except Mother’s Day and Christmas. We get eggs Benedict and omelets to order with mushrooms, fresh spinach or asparagus out of season. And berries. Blueberries. Melon. She outdoes herself and Cook goes into a huff for a week, all that extra work just to impress some man from the home office.

Does he even look at the books? See how she’s cutting corners every way she can? Instead of having the van take us places for free as the brochures say, we get charged! It takes money to get old. I know the brochures say the facilities offer “all your needs” but this place gets to you after a while. These same old faces. A body needs to see what the rest of the world is up to, building and tearing down. Go to a movie once in awhile. A shopping mall for pity’s sake. Even if we don’t dress up much, except when Mr. Harmon comes, underwear and night clothes get sprung and holey. That’s holey with an e. Ain’t nothing else around here holy. Especially the preacher who comes on Fridays and we have to sing to that godawful piano playing. Sometimes I think we’ve all got on that down escalator and this is where we landed up. Hell. And there’s nothing green and growing down here.


Wedding Bell Blues is the second book in the Dixie Dew mystery series, published by Minotaur Books, August 2016.

Beth McKenzie, owner of the Dixie Dew Bed and Breakfast, is enjoying an exciting affair with her new love, Scott. Meanwhile, the town of Littleboro, North Carolina is abuzz with gossip about Crazy Reba’s upcoming nuptials. Most brides go crazy at some point, but Littleboro’s resident homeless lady has had a head start: she’s beloved, indulged, and most of all, eccentric. But at almost 60―or thereabouts―her marriage seems a little peculiar. Sure, she’s sporting a diamond big enough to choke a horse, but no one can tell if it’s real, or just a Cracker Jack prize she pilfered from a yard sale.

Crazy Reba’s wedding plans go confirmedly awry when the bride-to-be is arrested for her fiancé’s murder. Beth, determined to clear Reba’s name, gets in over her head when a lady wrestler who threatened to kill her books a room at the Dixie Dew, and Robert Redford, her neighbor’s white rabbit, disappears.

Then Littleboro’s First Annual Green Bean Festival gets up and running, a famous food writer becomes deathly ill, and Beth must battle through madcap mayhem to apprehend the culprit and save the day.

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About the author
Ruth Moose was on the Creative Writing faculty at UNC-Chapel Hill for 15 years. She’s published three collections of short stories, The Wreath Ribbon Quilt and Dreaming in Color and Neighbors and Other Strangers with individual stories in Atlantic, Alaska Quarterly Review, North American Review, Southern California Review and other places including publications in Holland, South Africa, England and Denmark. Moose has published six collections of poetry, most recently, The Librarian and Other Poems and Tea. She’s received a MacDowell Fellowship, a North Carolina Årtist Fellowship and a prestigious Chapman Award for Teaching. She lives in Pittsboro, NC. Her novel, Doing it at the Dixie Dew won the Malice Domestic Best First Traditional Mystery Novel Competition and was published by St. Martin’s Press in 2014, with a sequel Wedding Bell Blues to be out late August, 2016. She has also published in Ellery Queen Magazine. Connect with Ruth at www.ruthmoose.com

All comments are welcomed.

A Day in the Life with Rosalie Hart by Wendy Sand Eckel

Death at the Lily CaféA dense mist rose from the curving river adjacent to the road as I drove into the heart of Cardigan, Maryland, my recently adopted home. Despite my best efforts, I was running late. I squeezed the steering wheel. Today was the debut of my new restaurant, the Day Lily Café. I’m Rosalie Hart and opening this café was a dream realized.

The paint was barely dry on the ochre-tinted walls that glowed in the sun like a Tuscan hillside and I prayed we were ready for prime time. I had spent endless days and weeks designing the space and experimenting with recipes and menus. Today’s breakfast special:

Mini cinnamon muffin and coffee appetizer
Omelet with applewood smoked cheddar, scallions and fresh oregano
Cantaloupe wedge topped with blueberries and creme fraiche
Thick slice of seven grain bread slathered with butter
And the best potato cake, if I do say so myself, your mouth will ever encounter

I scrolled through my contacts on my hands free phone menu, careful to keep my eye on a pair of cyclists weaving along the road in front of me, and clicked on Glenn’s number.

“Rosalie, where are you? People are already reading the menu outside.”

“I’m on my way,” I said. “Have you started the coffee?”

“Of course,” Glenn said and I felt instantly soothed by his calm, confident tone. He was my path to zen.

“There are a couple of bikers in the road in front of me. They must think we Eastern Shore folk have nothing better to do.”

“Careful,” Glenn said. “You’re starting to sound like a native. And I think they prefer the term cyclists.”

“Has Custer put in the first batch of muffins?”

“The aroma of that cinnamon is making me salivate.”

“Thank you, Glenn. I don’t know what I would do without you.”

“No need to find out. All right, dear. Crystal is setting the tables. She’s doing some fancy thing with the napkins. It looks pretty good. Be safe and remember to share the road.”

I ended the call and exhaled a deep breath in an attempt to calm my nerves. Glenn, who at the age of seventy-two was able to keep orders in his head, soothe ruffled feathers, and pour a cup of West African blend without spilling a drop, was my best friend.

It had been almost two years since I learned my husband of over twenty years was having an affair. Unable to bear it, I escaped to the large farm and very old house on the Eastern Shore of Maryland my Aunt Charlotte had bequeathed to me that I had heretofore, chosen to ignore.

Lost and feeling as alien as ET, I had rattled around the house for weeks wondering how I would reinvent myself. But everything changed when I discovered the body of a young coed in the marsh grasses of the Cardigan River. When the sheriff ruled her drowning an accident and closed the case, I wasn’t convinced. With Glenn’s help, we solved the mystery and I discovered a resiliency I never knew I possessed.

My road to recovery began with finding a yellowed index card of Aunt Charlotte’s seven grain bread recipe. The kneading and aromas triggered my love of cooking. For me, cooking was my way to nurture others and baking that bread reignited my passions and unlocked the door to living again.

I stared at the cyclists, willing them to turn. That was a lot of spandex. A little too much information for my taste. One of them pointed to a farm house. The other wobbled as he turned to look at it. I eased off the accelerator. At least the fog was lifting. A lazy flock of Canada Geese flew in a low V over the river—their out of sync honks piercing the quiet. Enjoy this moment, Rosalie, I thought. And I did.

Little did I know that just as the café were opening, Doris Bird, who had helped me out of a pickle more than once, would appear in the doorway asking me to help clear her younger sister of murder charges. The husband had been shot in the chest and the sheriff was certain she was guilty. What I didn’t know at the time was he would stop at nothing to prove it.

These muffins were inspired by my favorite breakfast as a child: buttered toast topped with a mixture of sugar and cinnamon.

CINNAMON MUFFINS

muffin2 cups unbleached flour
3/4 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup (1 stick) melted and cooled unsalted butter
1 cup organic milk
2 eggs

Topping

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) melted unsalted butter
2 teaspoons cinnamon
3/4 cup sugar

Makes 12 large muffins.

Preheat oven to 325º
Grease a muffin tin with cooking spray or line with paper cups.
Whisk together dry ingredients in a large bowl. Whisk wet ingredients in a medium-sized bowl. Make a well in the dry ingredients and add wet ingredients. Stir until just combined. Spoon batter into muffin cups and bake for 15 – 20 minutes until inserted toothpick comes out clean. Let stand 5 – 10 minutes. Remove from tin. Meanwhile prepare the topping. Melt the remaining 1/4 stick of butter. Whisk together cinnamon and sugar. When muffins are cool, brush the tops with a generous amount of butter. I believe the word slather is appropriate. Dip tops in the sugar/cinnamon mix. Sprinkle remaining mix over muffins. Test kitchen feedback says the more topping, the better the muffin, so really pack it on.


Death at the Day Lily Café is the second book in the Rosalie Hart mystery series, published by Minotaur, August 2016.

Rosalie Hart has finally opened the café of her dreams. Decked out with ochre-tinted walls and stuffed with delicious organic fare, the Day Lily Café is everything Rosalie could have hoped for. But not five minutes into the grand opening, Doris Bird, a dear and trusted friend, cashes in on a favor–to help clear her little sister Lori of a first degree murder charge.

With the help of her best friend and head waiter Glenn, Rosalie is on the case. But it’s not going to be easy. Unlikable and provocative, murder victim Carl James Fiddler seems to have insulted nearly everyone in town, and the suspect list grows daily. And when Rosalie’s daughter Annie gets caught in the crossfire, the search for the killer becomes personal in this charming cozy perfect for fans of Diane Mott Davidson and Joanne Fluke.

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Meet the author
Wendy Sand Eckel is the author of the Rosalie Hart mystery series set on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. Murder at Barclay Meadow, the first in the series, was published by Minotaur Books in July, 2015. Death at the Day Lily Café was released by Minotaur on July 26, 2016. A member of the Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and the International Association of Crime Writers, she has degrees in criminology and social work and a passion for words and their nuanced meanings. Find out more at wendysandeckelauthor.com.

All comments are welcomed.

Giveaway: Leave a comment below for your chance to win a signed copy of Death at the Day Lily Café plus a Day Lily Café coffee mug. US entries only, please. The giveaway will end August 30, 2016 at 12 AM (midnight) EST. Good luck everyone!

A Day in The Life of Bertie Bigelow by Carolyn Wilkins

Melody for MurderMy name is Bertie Bigelow, and I am the choir director at Metro Community College. The school where I teach is located in an African-American neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago. I wear designer suits to work, keep my attitude professional, and try not to badmouth people – even when I know they deserve it. I’m determined to show my students that someone who grew up in the ‘hood can actually amount to something.

I am a curious person by nature – one of those dogged types that, when confronted with a problem, can’t rest until they’ve gotten to the heart of the matter. My late husband, Delroy Bigelow, used to joke that I was part Earth Mother, part Diva and part Bloodhound. My husband was a brilliant lawyer. So smart that here on the South Side, folks used to call him the “black Perry Mason.” Since Delroy died in a car crash last year, I’ve cried myself to sleep nearly every night.

My boss, Chancellor Humbert X. Grant, wants to fire me because my best student cussed out a prominent Chicago politician in the middle of last week’s Christmas concert. Why my student did this, I have no idea. But you’d best believe I intend to get to the bottom of it.

I’ve been pretty upset lately. My friend Ellen Simpson tells me I need to forget my troubles. As it happens, I’ve been invited to a fancy dress ball given by one of black Chicago’s fanciest social clubs. The man who’s invited me to go is nearly twice my age, an inveterate snob and a pompous bore. Still, Ellen thinks I should go.

“Get out and kick up your heels,” she tells me. “So what if he wears the ugliest toupee in the city? A date is a date.”

I suppose she’s right. I’ve got to start going out sooner or later. Anyway, what could possibly go wrong?


Melody For Murder is the first book in the Bertie Bigelow mystery series, published by Pen-L Publishing, June 2015.

When recently widowed college choir director Bertie Bigelow accepts a date with Judge Theophilous Green, she never imagines the civil rights pioneer and inveterate snob will be found shot to death the next morning. She’s even more surprised when her favorite student is arrested for the crime.

Bertie suspects that someone else in her tight-knit social circle is really the killer.

Is it hot-tempered Patrice Soule, voluptuous diva and recent winner of the Illinois Idol contest? Is it Charley Howard, the Hot Sauce King, a self-made millionaire with Mafia connections? Is it the mysterious Dr. Momolu Taylor? Newly arrived from Africa, he’s invented a new sex drug that’s got some powerful politicians feeling frisky. Could it be Alderman “Steady Freddy” Clark, corrupt South Side ward boss and would-be patron of the arts?

One thing is certain: Bertie Bigelow will need to keep her wits about her to avoid becoming the killer’s next victim.

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Meet the author
Carolyn Wilkins is a Professor of Ensembles at Berklee College of Music. She is the author of Melody For Murder, the first in a series of murder mysteries featuring Bertie Bigelow, an African American choir director on the South Side of Chicago. Mojo For Murder, the next book in this series, will be released by Pen-L Publishing in the fall of 2016.

Carolyn is also the author of They Raised Me Up: A Black Single Mother and the Women Who Inspired Her and Damn Near White: An African American Family’s Rise from Slavery to Bittersweet Success. Both books are available from the University of Missouri Press.

In addition, Carolyn is an accomplished jazz pianist, composer and vocalist whose performance experience includes radio and television appearances with her group SpiritJazz, a concert tour of South America as a Jazz Ambassador for the US State Department, performances with the Pittsburgh Symphony as a percussionist under Andre Previn, and shows featuring Melba Moore, Nancy Wilson and the Fifth Dimension.

For further information, visit Carolyn’s website: carolynwilkins.com, on Twitter, and on Facebook.

All comments are welcomed.

Giveaway: Carolyn is giving away one paperback book (US entries only, please) and one free download (open to everyone) of Melody to Murder to two lucky readers who write in and comment on this post. The giveaway will end August 29, 2016 at 12 AM (midnight) EST. Good luck everyone!

A Day in the Life of Calamity Barnstable by Judy Penz Sheluk

Skeletons in the AtticMy name is Calamity Doris Barnstable. I was named after Calamity Jane, a Wild West frontierswoman of dubious reputation, although my mother actually named me after the considerably softened version of Calamity Jane played by Doris Day in the 1950s. Be that as it may, no one calls me Calamity and gets away with it. I’m Callie, and this is my story.

My life was actually quite ordinary for a long time. I worked at a bank call centre in Toronto, in the fraud investigation unit, which may sound exciting but in reality is mostly desperately dull. People losing their credit cards or forgetting their PINs, that sort of thing. Sure, the odd time there’s a case of identity theft, but that usually got bumped up to someone with more seniority. As for my social life, I have been cursed with the Barnstable loser radar; my last boyfriend dumped me on Valentine’s Day, if you can believe that. Some people will do anything to get out of buying flowers.

Then one day I received a phone call from a woman who informed me that my father had died in an unfortunate occupational accident. That’s how she phrased it. An unfortunate occupational accident. Which is why I ended up in the office of Leith Hampton, lawyer, for the reading of my dad’s will.

I am the only child of two only children, and my grandparents on both sides disowned my parents when my mother became pregnant at the age of seventeen. When I was six years old, my mother left us, not that I was ever given any reason. So yes, I was expecting to inherit everything, everything meaning my dad’s dreary 1970s townhouse in suburbia, his olive green brocade sofa, and his collection of Clive Cussler paperbacks.

What I wasn’t expecting was this: a house I had known nothing about, in Marketville, a commuter town about an hour north of Toronto, where the average family had two kids, a cat, and a collie. If that wasn’t enough, Leith Hampton informed me that in order to inherit the house, I had to move into it for a period of one year, during which time I would be paid a weekly salary as long as I searched for the person who murdered my mother thirty years before.

Murdered? And here I thought she’d gone off with the milkman or some other male equivalent. But I’m ready for the challenge. At least I thought I was until I went into the attic and found that skeleton. . .


Skeletons in the Attic is the first book in the NEW Marketville mystery series, published by Imajin Books, August 2016.

What goes on behind closed doors doesn’t always stay there. . .

Calamity (Callie) Barnstable isn’t surprised to learn she’s the sole beneficiary of her late father’s estate, though she is shocked to discover she has inherited a house in the town of Marketville—a house she didn’t know existed. However, there are conditions attached to Callie’s inheritance: she must move to Marketville, live in the house, and solve her mother’s murder.

Callie’s not keen on dredging up a thirty-year-old mystery, but if she doesn’t do it, there’s a scheming psychic named Misty Rivers who is more than happy to expose the Barnstable family secrets. Determined to thwart Misty and fulfill her father’s wishes, Callie accepts the challenge. But is she ready to face the skeletons hidden in the attic?

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About the author
Judy Penz Sheluk’s debut mystery novel, The Hanged Man’s Noose, was published in July 2015. Skeletons in the Attic, the first book in her Marketville Mystery Series, was published in August 2016.

Judy’s short crime fiction appears in World Enough and Crime, The Whole She-Bang 2, Flash and Bang and Live Free or Tri.

Judy is a member of Sisters in Crime, Crime Writers of Canada, International Thriller Writers and the Short Mystery Fiction Society.

Find Judy on her website/blog at www.judypenzsheluk.com, where she interviews other authors and blogs about the writing life.

All comments are welcomed.

Giveaway: Leave a comment below for your chance to win a signed print copy of Skeletons in the Attic. US and Canada entries only, please. The giveaway will end August 28, 2016 at 12 AM (midnight) EST. Good luck everyone!

A Misty Day in the Life with Merrit Chase by Lisa Alber

Whispers in the MistSome days, I can’t believe that I’ve lived in Ireland for a year. I had no long-term plans when I arrived. I simply wanted to meet my biological father and sort out the mysteries of my family. It was a question of identity, I suppose. Who am I?

Well, who I am, as I learned, is the daughter of a celebrated matchmaker in rural County Clare. Despite my misgivings, my father, Liam the Matchmaker, as he’s called, is grooming me for the position because he “won’t be here forever.” His sorry words, not mine. As part of my training, I’m acting as his right-hand woman during this year’s Matchmaking Festival.

As a matter of fact, here I sit under a caravan tent in the Lisfenora village plaza. Beside me, Liam wears his signature purple top coat with tails and a fluffy scarf to ward off the September chill. He’s slender, frail almost, but still holds himself erect. He sits with lovelorn singles and performs a kind of conversational magic to get them to open up to him. I take notes in his matchmaking ledger and try to learn the “trade” by example.

I don’t feel confident in my abilities, or that I’m necessarily meant to stay in Ireland for the rest of my life. I need to figure out what I want, and I will one way or the other before the end of the festival.

Meanwhile, here I sit shivering because an unaccountable mist has descended on us. It creeps in over the fields and around the corners of the buildings that surround the plaza. It’s clammy, oppressive, reminding me that even after a year, I’m an outsider here. Worse, in some circles I’m an outcast. No one wants an ex-Californian as matchmaker. A pretender to the throne, that’s what I am in the eyes of the locals.

The barest whisper of a breeze brushes my skin, almost tickling me. I feel bare—revealed, as it were—before the gaze of the skeptical locals who hang out in the plaza, eyeing me as if I’m about to spread a pox through their ranks. Without thinking, I reach up to fiddle with my talisman necklace and touch skin instead.

The moonstone necklace is the only memento I have from my mother, and a few days ago I thought I’d lost it forever when that troubled woman who doesn’t talk—Gemma—yanked it off my neck right here in the plaza. Thankfully, I found her in Alan’s pub and she returned it—but without a proper explanation. Now, it’s getting repaired.

Moonstones are said to enhance intuition, and I could use a little of my moonstone’s intuitive powers about now. There’s something about Gemma . . . I don’t know anything about her—yet—except that she arrived with her brother last week. I have the strangest feeling about her. As if she’s somehow connected to the boy who was murdered in Blackie’s Pasture a few days ago.


Whispers in the Mist is the second book in the County Clare mystery series, published by Midnight Ink, August 2016.

There’s a whisper in the mists
In Lisfenora, Ireland, a strange fog has rolled in off the Atlantic. Along with the fog comes tales of the Grey Man, a predatory faery of local lore who snatches innocent souls into his deadly gloom.

And with the mists come murder
When a teenage boy dies in Detective Sergeant Danny Ahern’s arms, Danny finds himself pursuing his own grey man, a killer who becomes more elusive the closer Danny gets to the truth. A mute woman may be the key to solving the murder and helping Danny heal his own broken life, but first she must unlock the memories from her past.

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About the author
Lisa Alber writes the County Clare mysteries. Her debut novel, Kilmoon, was nominated for the Rosebud Award Lisa Aof Best First Novel. Kirkus calls Whispers in the Mist a “worthy successor to Kilmoon in tone, mood, complexity, and keen insight into human failures and triumphs.” She balances writing her third novel (Midnight Ink, August 2017) with gardening, dog-walking, and goofing off. She lives in Portland, OR.

You can find Lisa online at lisaalber.com, Facebook and Twitter. Sign up for Lisa’s newsletter HERE and receive a free anthology e-book.

All comments are welcomed.

Giveaway: Leave a comment below for your chance to win a print copy of Whispers in the Mist. US entries only, please. The giveaway will end August 25, 2016 at 12 AM (midnight) EST. Good luck everyone!

A Day in the Life of Eja Kane by Arlene Kay

Swann SongMy life was just about perfect. There I sat, enjoying the Boston Symphony, holding hands with my new husband when a nightmare from the past collided with my present. It was every spurned woman’s revenge fantasy: Gabriel Mann, the ex-husband who had kicked me to the curb, appeared out of nowhere and begged for my help.

I should have felt triumphant but I was indifferent. Ten years later, Gabriel still possessed perfect features, lush blonde hair and the body beautiful. Fortunately, my husband Deming Swann had all those attributes plus one that had always eluded Gabriel: Deming loved me just the way I was. Despite having the looks of a film star crossed with an underwear model, Deming Swann, heir to a vast fortune and my childhood nemesis, had always loved me. Who knew?

My name is Eja Kane, and in addition to being a mid-list mystery writer, I’ve amassed a rather enviable record as an amateur sleuth. Deming denies that of course, attributes it to luck and obsesses about danger. His mother is my partner-in-crime, another thing that drives him to distraction. Anika Swann defies every negative stereotype about mothers-in-law. She’s a gorgeous former model with the heart of a lioness and the soul of a saint. I spent my childhood racing in and out of the Swann mansion with Deming and his twin sister Cecilia. When she was murdered, Anika and I vowed to avenge her death and find the culprit. Sure we took risks and in retrospect, some of them look pretty foolish. Bottom line-they were all worth it. Loyalty and friendship trump everything else in my book and always will. As an attorney, Deming regards the law as sacred but I focus on justice. Sometimes the two concepts intersect but often they are hopelessly at odds. That calls for unorthodox solutions to some thorny problems.

I have few illusions about myself especially when it comes to looks. Deming calls me beautiful but on my best day, after exerting more effort than I normally care to, I am barely average. Brains are a different matter. Despite being a scholarship student, I used intellect to flourish in the upper reaches of Ivy League schools. The world of the uber-rich Swann family neither intimidated nor repulsed me. I loved my new family for their kindness and character not their bank balance.

Back to the unworthy Gabriel Mann. In addition to being devious the man was delusional. He actually thought I would pull his academic fat out of the fire and save his career. As if!

In the past his problems always involved women and this time was no different. My raunchy Ex launched a war of words with an academic competitor about “Looks-ism” that nasty habit of judging females on their physical attributes. Like most things at universities, the feud quickly went nuclear. Gabriel, picketed by hordes of angry co-eds, was in real danger of losing tenure. Quel dommage.

Things quickly escalated and somehow when Gabriel became the chief suspect, the entire Swann clan became entangled in a web of murder and deceit. So much for Boston life being staid and boring!


Swann Songs is the fourth book in the Boston Uncommons mystery series, published by Bellbridge Books, June 2016.

Eja Kane-Swann ‘s post honeymoon bliss is rudely interrupted when her reviled ex-husband reappears begging for help. It’s every woman’s revenge fantasy but Eja bows out. Gabriel Mann is a cypher from another life, one she wants to forget. Besides, his sexist spat with a colleague means academic angst in the rarefied air of Cambridge, Massachusetts. No good can possibly come from that.

Before long Eja relents and involves Deming and the entire Swann clan in a twisted tale of double murder, jealousy, and sexual shenanigans in the Ivy League.

Beautiful Sonia Reyes has sworn to destroy Gabriel her former lover and career rival. She leads the cause against “Looks-ism” and advocates for a society based on merit not mirror. Passions run high and Sonia is soon targeted for death. When Eja agrees to write a true crime account she uncovers a web of blackmail, lies, and thwarted love that leads straight to Gabriel Mann. A second murder roils the university even more. Soon Eja and her mother-in-law Anika Swann come face to face with a cool killer determined to save Sonia’s legacy and take their lives.

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Meet the author
Former Treasury executive Arlene Kay has reformed her bureaucratic ways and now pursues writing with the same Arlene_Kayferocity she once displayed as a tax collector. Known as a snarky, somewhat sensuous practitioner of mystery, she is the published author of seven novels, including the Boston Uncommons Series by Bellbridge Books. SWANN SONGS, the fourth in that series will be released in August, 2016. Connect with Arlene at Website, Facebook and Twitter

All comments are welcomed.

Giveaway: Two people (US only) selected at random will receive a print copy of Swann Songs. Eja welcomes ideas of all kinds so please comment about my post.  The giveaway will end August 20, 2016. Good luck everyone!

Meg Langslow and Delicate Social Situation by Donna Andrews

Die Like An Eagle“Meg, dear, could you write a note to your cousin Evangelina? I’m afraid my sprained wrist is still rather bothersome.”

“What am I supposed to say to her?” I asked, as I picked up the pen and notepaper Mother was holding out.

Dear Evangelina,” she began. “Thank you for your lovely note.

“That’s not writing a note,” I grumbled. “That’s taking dictation.”

“Yes, dear. Meg and Michael would be delighted to have you visit for Opening Day.

“No, we wouldn’t,” I said, looking up from the note. “We’re already full to the rafters with people coming to see the boys play their first baseball game. We’re even out of sleeping bag spaces in the barn.”

We’ve already made a reservation for you at the Caerphilly Inn,” Mother went on.

“No, we haven’t.” Mother gave me a reproachful look. “Until just now, I had no idea Cousin Evangelina was coming. Unless—did you already make it?”

“Of course, dear. But now we have to figure out a reason for putting her there instead of having her either at your house or up at the cottage with your father and me. You know how easily insulted she is.”

“Hmm.” I started to chew on the end of the pen and remembered, just in time, that doing so was like fingernails on a blackboard to Mother. “I have it. Normally either we or Meg and Michael could put you up, but with so many people in both households so busy preparing for the upcoming bagpipe competition, I think you’ll find it much more restful at the Inn.”

“Oh, excellent.” Mother beamed at me. “You’re developing quite a knack for smoothing over delicate social situations.”

“It’s called lying,” I said.

“There isn’t really a bagpipe competition, is there?” Mother asked.

“Not that I know of,” I said. “But if Evangelina grows suspicious, I’m sure we can get Dad and Rob to march around with the bagpipes Dad brought back from the Highland Games. They’d like that—especially if it means not having her underfoot.”

“I hope it doesn’t come to that,” she said. “Because frankly, I find the notion that either of them has bagpipes in his possession . . . disquieting. Can’t you arrange for those hideous things to disappear?”

“I’ll put it on my agenda,” I said. “But not till after opening day. Anything else we need to tell Evangelina?”

I’m sure you’ll be impressed with how well Josh and Jamie pitch and bat,” she went on.

“No, she won’t,” I said. “They’re only eight, and in coach-pitch. They won’t be pitching—Michael will.”

“Well, then she’ll be impressed with how earnestly and attentively they stand around awaiting the occasional arrival of a ball in their general vicinity,” Mother said. “That’s a thing in baseball, isn’t it?”

“It’s called fielding,” I said. “I’m sure you’ll be impressed with how well Josh and Jamie bat and field. Anything else?”

Mother pursed her lips and looked uncomfortable. I waited.

“I think we need to warn her about the sanitary conditions at the ball field,” she said finally.

“You mean the portapotties?” I asked. Mother shuddered delicately.

“Must we call them that?” she asked.

“We must if we want her to have any idea what we’re warning her about.”

Mother pondered for a few moments.

“How about this?” she said. “Please be aware that there is no running water at the field, and as a result the sanitary facilities are barbaric.

“I’m saying primitive, not barbaric,” I said as I wrote. “And I still think we should just tell her to beware of the portapotties. But it’s your note. How do you want me to close? Fondly? Affectionately yours? Because I need to start getting the boys ready for their practice. You have no idea how much time it takes to round up all their gear—hats, gloves, bats, cleats, batting helmets, athletic cups—“

Mother winced at the last item.

“Are cups really necessary for boys so young?” Mother asked.

“I’ll have you know they’re vastly proud of those cups,” I said. “Shall we warn Evangelina to look impressed when they take them out and show them to her?”

“Oh, dear,” Mother said. “Perhaps I should discourage her from coming. Her heart’s not what it used to be.”

“Relax,” I said. “The novelty will have worn off by Opening Day. I’m sure as long as Evangelina remembers to use the bathroom before coming to the field, she’ll be fine. It’s going to be a lovely, long weekend of baseball and family bonding. What could possibly go wrong?”

Find out the answer in Die Like an Eagle, the newest Meg Langslow mystery from Donna Andrews.


Die Like an Eagle is the 20th book in the Meg Langslow mystery series, published by Minotaur, August 2016.

The brilliantly funny Donna Andrews delivers another winner in the acclaimed avian-themed series that mystery readers have come to love. The nineteenth book in her New York Times best-selling series continues to surprise and delight in this next knee-slapping adventure featuring Meg Langslow and all the eccentric characters that make up her world.

Meg is Team Mom and Michael is coach of their twin sons’ youth baseball team, the Caerphilly Eagles. Meg tangles with Biff Brown, the petty, vindictive league head. On opening day, Biff’s lookalike brother is found dead in the porta-potty at the ball field. So many people think Biff’s scum that it would be easy to blame him, but he has an alibi–and Meg suspects he may actually have been the intended victim.

With Die Like an Eagle, readers can look forward to another zany Meg Langslow mystery–this one filled with the spirit of America’s pastime and Donna’s eagle eye.

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About the author
Donna Andrews was born in Yorktown, Virginia and now lives in Reston, Virginia. Die Like an Eagle (August 2016) is the twentieth book in her Agatha, Anthony, and Lefty winning Meg Langslow series, to be followed by Gone Gull in 2017. She’s currently serving as the Executive Vice President of Mystery Writers of America and is active in Sisters in Crime. She blogs with the Femmes Fatales. For more information check out her website at donnaandrews.com.

All comments are welcomed.

Giveaway: Leave a comment below for your chance to win a print copy of Die Like an Eagle. US entries only, please. The giveaway will end August 24, 2016 at 12 AM (midnight) EST. Good luck everyone!

A Day in the Life with Isis Ferrelli by A. E. H. Veenman

Dial QR for MurderThe cozy mystery has been hacked. Don’t run your antivirus software.

You may refer to inner cities all across America as “concrete jungles”. Stone everywhere you look. Apartment buildings and blocks of congested traffic. Well, Boston’s Pemberton Square has plenty verdure to change your outlook on big cities. It’s a great place to shop, dine, or catch a few rays as you lay on the soft grass of the Common. Not only is it a vibrant cultural center but a historical hub.

Amongst the historic landscape of court houses, I work as zookeeper. Not literally. But my job as a defense attorney can place me in a cage with some exotic creatures. Take one April afternoon for example.

My client, Norman Kane, allegedly created a QR code system to steal prescriptions. drugs from the hospital where he was employed.

I finished opening statements on his behalf, and court recessed for the day. Around three o’ clock, I was at a hot dog stand where a homeless man was trying to sell me a shoe.

“Hey, lady, you wanna buy it or not?” He resembled a young Lieutenant Columbo, dated trench and all, and shoved the leather loafer in my face. “It’s brand new, and cost a pretty penny too.”

“Look…” I smacked the shoe from my line of sight. “I already told you. No.”

“You don’t get quality like this at Payless. This here’s Norman Marcus.”

I paid for my chilidog and cola then turned toward him. “What am I supposed to do with one shoe? And, it’s a man’s shoe.”

Yes, folks, he tried to pawn a single, man’s shoe off on me, tailing me back all the way to McCarter and French LLP. Before I entered the lobby, I set him straight.

“If I ever get a boyfriend with an amputated foot, I’ll be sure to come and see you.” I tugged the glass door open and said, “It’s Neiman Marcus, by the way.”

“Neiman, Norman. . .pfft. . .they all got money in the bag.”

Now, that should’ve immediately sounded an alarm. But my mysterious salesman was the last person I’d expected to know details of my case. He’d used a clever name play, Neiman versus Norman, hence the expensive shoe for the charade. His “money in the bag” hinted to rumors that my client was hired to sabotage his family’s business.

I didn’t catch on until the vagrant was tossed out on his ear by security. I went after him, as he led me on a chase. This guy was fast, healthy, and fit. Not the normal qualities I’d expect for someone destitute in downtown Boston.

On Bromfield, he turned right for Morris Meats’s loading bay, a dead end. I had no idea if this was a setup, if someone else would join this party, or if my host intended to do me harm. I reached the maw of the alley and crept a few feet in.

He came out in the open. “Man. . .” He panted and chuckled. “Aren’t you a thick one?”

“Who are you?” He and I both were catching our breath as I inched near. “What do you know about Norman Kane?”

“Uh-uh!” He stretched out a gloved hand and reached inside his trench with the other. “Close enough.”

My movement stifled, a chill icing my spine despite the fair April weather. I locked my sight on the breast of his coat.

His voice came low, “A gift from your uncle Lou.” I balled my hands into fists upon hearing the name and my fingernails dug into my palms. “Work quickly.”

He removed a manila envelope, let it drop to the ground, then whirled and hopped onto a wire fence. He climbed over in a parkour style and landed upright on the opposite side. A tenacious smirk, then in a less than graceful exit, he shot off through the side street.

I had to admit I didn’t see that coming.


Dial QR for Murder is the first in the Marjorie Gardens Mystery series, released by Limitless Publishing, October 2015.

“Cozies can be more than knitting grannies, kittens, and cookbooks.”

The Marjorie Gardens Mystery series has the usual goodness of a cozy mystery but with an all-important upgrade. In the Digital Age Cozy™, characters utilize technology to commit or solve crimes. Readers can scan individual QR codes to visit websites and characters’ social media profiles.

Isis Ferrelli represents Norman Kane, an RN accused of stealing a drug called fentanol via his QR code software. After a day in court, a homeless man gives her an envelope. Isis believes she’s just received damaging evidence from her estranged uncle…mob boss Louis Fernoza.

Uncle Lou has found her after seven years in hiding. Her day’s ruined, but her evening is even worse. The assistant district attorney informs her that Kane’s been murdered.

She has some outmaneuvering to do, if Uncle Lou’s involved. Isis will need her online persona, Marjorie Gardens, and her MyThugShot.com followers to pull the plug on a tech savvy killer. If she fails, someone encrypted behind a firewall may get away with murder.

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Meet the Author
Veenman-series-sidebarFun Fact: Veenman is pronounced “fein-mun.”

At an early age, her hunger for mystery books whetted her appetite for hunting down clues and solving crime. Thus began a three-course menu for her becoming a writer.

Rich and sweet was the first Digital Age Cozy in the Marjorie Gardens Mystery series, Dial QR for Murder. Now she doles out a helping of Prepped for the Kill. A delectable novella featuring Isis Ferrelli and Jason Shahaman follows in the first Marjorie Gardens Romance Mystery—Ten Days in Tahiti.

A. E. H. Veenman is a Dutch-American originally from New Jersey and has lived in Holland for eighteen years. She’s a member of Sisters in Crime and Crime Writers’ Association.

Visit her website or on Facebook. You can tag her on Twitter with #DigitalAgeCozy and follow her on Goodreads and Instagram.

All comments are welcomed.

Giveaway: Leave a comment below for your chance to win a kindle copy of Dial QR for Murder. The giveaway will end August 23, 2016 at 12 AM (midnight) EST. Good luck everyone!

A Day in the Life with Poly Monroe by Diane Vallere

Silk StalkingsI’m a lucky woman. Less than a year ago I worked in a job with no advancement for a misogynist boss who was so cheap he once asked me if I could use the free floss he got from the dentist instead of thread on a line of dresses. I shared a 500-square-foot apartment in a crummy part of Los Angeles with my college boyfriend even though the only thing we seemed to share was a mutual desire to pay only half of the rent. But look at me now! I reopened the family fabric shop a few months ago and, well, we’re not setting any sales records, but I haven’t closed our doors yet, either. I adopted two kittens, Pins and Needles, who “help” me run the store, and my VW Bug is running better than ever thanks to my friend Charlie, the auto mechanic who lives across the street. Heck, being her friend has toughened me up a bit too. I used to trust everybody; she doesn’t trust anybody! I like to think I’m a good influence on her, but it’s hard to say because she’s a pretty private person.

I guess some of that comes from having been given up for adoption and spending most of her life in foster homes. And then tracking her biological parents here, only to learn that they’re two of the richest people in town. She never told them that she knows who they are. I only discovered it when I first moved here and thought she was connected to some of the bad stuff that was happening around the fabric store. I think the only other person who knows is Vaughn McMichael, her brother. He grew up rich while she grew up poor. It’s a testament to the kind of guy Vaughn is that she doesn’t hate him.

I know her background is her own business, but it’s hard for me to watch her keep all that anger bottled up inside. I wish she would tell Vic and Adelaide who she is and try to make amends, but she won’t even talk about it. (I’m a little intimidated by Vic McMichael myself so I get that part, but Adelaide is a wonderful woman!) I can’t help thinking that if Charlie doesn’t do something about this herself, it’s all going to come out in a very public way—which would be the worst possible scenario for a private person like her.

I sure hope I’m not right. . .


Silk Stalkings is the third book in the Material Witness mystery series, published by Penguin Random House, August 2016.

Fabric shop owner Polyester Monroe can get tangled up in textiles, but it’s murder that really throws her for a loop in the latest mystery from the national bestselling author of Crushed Velvet.

The time has come for San Ladrón, California’s annual Miss Tangorli beauty pageant, and Poly has agreed to use Material Girl’s inventory of shimmery silks to create embellished gowns fit for a crown. But when millionaire Harvey Halliwell—the man who revived the city’s citrus trade with his imported tangorli tree—is found dead days before the pageant contestants are announced, something sour takes over the town.

To make matters worse, her friend, mechanic Charlie Brooks, is soon caught up in the crime, having been seen in the company of the case’s prime suspect. Now Poly’s on a mission to squeeze out the truth. But as she searches for a pattern, the killer seems intent on cutting up the evidence. . .

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About the author
After two decades working for a top luxury retailer, Diane Vallere traded fashion accessories for accessories to murder. Silk Stalkings, #3 in her national bestselling and Lefty-Award nominated Material Witness Mystery Series, comes out in August 2016. Diane is the vice president/president elect of Sisters in Crime. She also writes the Madison Night, Costume Shop, and Style & Error Mysteries. She started her own detective agency at age ten and has maintained a passion for shoes, clues, and clothes ever since. Connect with Diane at dianevallere.com.

All comments are welcomed.

Giveaway: Leave a comment below for your chance to win a kindle copy of Silk Stalkings. The giveaway will end August 22, 2016 at 12 AM (midnight) EST. Good luck everyone!

Author Showcase ~ The Cat, The Collector and the Killer by Leann Sweeney

The Cat, The Collector and the Killer

Release: August 2016
Series: Cats In Trouble #8
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Publisher: Penguin Random House

In the latest mystery from the New York Times bestselling author of The Cat, the Sneak and the Secret, a cat collector is suspected of murder.

Jillian Hart and police chief Tom Stewart are enjoying peaceful, newly wedded bliss in Mercy, South Carolina, until a woman is found wandering the streets one night. She’s in her night clothes, disoriented, and carrying a kitten in a tote bag. A search of the woman’s house reveals many more cats, a maze of cardboard boxes—and a dead man.

Although the evidence suggests the frail woman is the killer, Jillian doesn’t believe she’s capable of such a crime. The dead man had many enemies in town, which means finding the real murderer may prove to be its own cat and mouse game. . .

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