A Day in the Life of Moriah Dru by Gerrie Ferris Finger

American NightsMy best friend, Portia Devon, folded her hands on her desk. The tilt of her head and her scheming eyes reminded me of our young days when we planned midnight excursions to forbidden clubs. That was before she became a juvenile court judge and I became a child finder. She said, “Your fame has caught the attention of a prominent person.”

“You called me here to tell me that?”

“Also to explain the nature of his attention.”

“And who would this prominent person be?”

“An international figure who wants you to find his daughter.”

So like Portia to draw out a mystery. Wriggling into the leather chair designed for the discomfort of adversaries to her chambers, I thought, this could mean a free trip, courtesy of the Internal Revenue Service. Atlanta was weighing on my well-being. My fame, as Portia labeled it, came about because of a horrendous case the city had offered up owing to its drug and gang wars.

I said, “I get that it’s a him who wants to hire me to find his missing girl. Where internationally?”

“Starting here, in this fabulous international city.” Her sarcasm illustrated she meant Atlanta, a city that was trying hard to wipe the slate of its quasi-genteel Southern roots. “More precisely, his wife disappeared with their daughter.”

I opened my mouth to ask a pertinent question, but she raised a hand. “I don’t know much more than I’m telling you, but the trace appears to be straightforward, not much danger.”

I thought about other child traces. Danger could be and often was an issue. I said, “You know I don’t do heights and tight places, like jumping out of planes or diving in caves.”
“There is a cultural element.”

“Cultural in what way?”

“Ethnic customs, religious differences.”

“All right, Porsh, out with it—your prominent person by name, and those of the wife and daughter.”

You are familiar with the Middle East?”

Involuntarily my shoulders drew back. No wars or terrorists, please.

“This is not about absconding fathers,” Portia said.

Portia could be so tedious when she wanted to be. “How old?”

“Four.” Portia tapped her expensive ballpoint pen as she spoke the words, “I don’t know where she’s taken the child, but there will be no State Department involved.”

My agency, Child Trace, Inc., has had many clients and much experience in all that can happen in abduction cases, but I’ve never had a dual citizenship case. I’ve had cases where girls were brought here for the slave trade, primarily from Eastern Europe, South America and China. But no one was looking for them.

Portia sat back. “If you accept the case, you will be told all you need to know, but you must understand the father insists on no FBI, no state police, no Homeland Security, no CIA.”

I didn’t hesitate to tell her, “I’ll have to confide in Lake.”

“No Lake.”

“Then, no me.”

“Come on, Moriah. You and Lake aren’t joined at the belly.”


“You know what I meant. Lake will be duty-bound, legally, to advise his commander.”

“Not if the Atlanta Police Department isn’t involved. Lake does have a private life. When can I talk to the your—uh—connection?”

“When I assure him of your discretion.”

I got up. “I’ll see you Saturday. You are coming to the ball game with us, aren’t you? We’ve got a ticket for Walker, too.” Walker was her son.

“Moriah, sit your ass down and listen to me.” I sat. “You are the best person for this task.”

“How did your connection know about, and choose, me?”

“Although he resides in New York, he read or heard about the shoot-out in the churchyard.”

“Lake was part of the shoot-out, too.”

I admit I was intrigued, but no way was I going to withhold details of an assignment from Lake. Even if I could, I wouldn’t. From our beginning—as partners when I was with the Atlanta Police Department—we shared information. After we started sharing our bodies, I resigned the shop and started my own agency. Many times he’s been a valuable asset, but that isn’t the reason I would not hold out on him. We simply share everything. Portia knows that.

She returned to her chambers and sat with exaggerated effort. “Stubborn cuss,” she mumbled. “All right. You and Lake, but no APD. You both meet with him as soon as you can. This evening okay?”

“What’s his name?”

“Husam bin Sayed al-Saliba.”

“I think—a dark, striking male face comes to mind—he was in the news.”

“For years he’s been listed as one of the most handsome princes in the world.”

“I thought that man was single, most marriageable.”

“He is, by Saudi law.”

American Nights is the second book in the Moriah Dru/Richard Lake mystery series, published by Five Star Publishing, August 2016.

The investigation begins when Husam tells of falling in love with Reeve, of turning his back on his ascendancy to the Saudi power structure for the woman he loves. He talks of his king’s disapproval of him marrying and siring an infidel. But does he really want to return to the good graces of the royal family and marry Aya and be an heir to kingship? Confused Dru thinks she’s fallen into a fairy tale. After all the prince is fond of reciting tales from the Arabian Nights.

The investigation had just begun when Reeve’s parents, Lowell and Donna Cresley are killed. That brings the Atlanta police into the case and it’s soon evident infidelity abounds and everyone has something dreadful to hide.

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Meet the author
Retireed journalist for The Atlanta-Journal Constitution, Gerrie Ferris Finger won the 2009 St. Martin’s Gerrie FingerPress/Malice Domestic Best First Traditional Mystery Novel for The End Game. The Last Temptation is the second in the Moriah Dru/Richard Lake series. She lives on the coast of Georgia with her husband and standard poodle, Bogey.

Connect with Gerrie at gerrieferrisfinger.com, on Facebook, on @gerrieferris and on Goodreads.

All comments are welcomed.

Diary of Alistair, the Witch’s Cat by Delia James

By Familiar Means12:00 AM
Finally got the new human to sleep. Honestly. Why do humans have to sleep all at once instead of taking regular naps like rational beings? I mean, if she keeps staying up this late on the phone talking about dead people, how is she ever going to get up in time to fill my food bowl? I’ve got places to be and she needs to respect that. I explained this this through a series of conversational remarks and interpretive song while she was doing that thing where she sticks a brush in her mouth. She made no rational response. Sigh. Humans. Will try again later.

1:00 AM
Nap. Groom. Time to go out. House opens the door. Good House. The night awaits.

2:00 AM
Quality time with Miss Boots.

2:30 AM
Nap. Grooming.

3:00 AM
Check on human. Check on house. All good. No one says thank you at 2:00 am, not even House. Or fills the food bowl. House is useless. House laughs at me. Stupid House.

3:30 AM
Quality time with Col. Kitty.

4:30 AM
Nap. Grooming.

4:00 AM
Check on human. Check on House. Check on food bowl. Empty. Consider waking human, but last time that did not go so well. She is not very sympathetic at four in the morning. Sigh. Well. That’s a basic human character flaw. Poor creatures. They can’t really help it. They’ve got little natural stamina and don’t take enough naps.

5:00 AM
Quality time with Ruby.

5:30 AM
Nap. Serious grooming.

6:00 AM
Garden patrol. Just missed the rabbit. Must keep closer eye on that rabbit. It’s got plans, I can feel it in my whiskers. Inform house. House says I am paranoid. House does not seem to realize I am a cat. We are not paranoid, we are just very, very alert in extra special ways not immediately evident to other beings. Attempt to demonstrate point by running back and forth very fast. House, as usual, fails to understand. Stupid House.

6:30 AM
Human is awake and engaged in the terrible ritual of the running water. This is a superstition sadly common in humans. She could at least fill the food bowl first. It’s been a long night. Pacing and sitting on slippers is doing no good. May have to resort to sitting on damp feet and singing the saddest songs so she knows I am serious.

6:45 AM
The bowl is full! The bowl is full! Human tells me she’s going out for a run to clear her head. I wish her luck. She seems to understand. The bowl is full!

7:00 AM
Nap in sunbeam.

7:30 AM
Shift position to fresh sunbeam, continue nap.

8:00, 8:30, 9:00 AM
Nap. Don’t judge me.

10:00 AM
Quality time with human. She is very good at scratching ears and very responsive to purr-rewards, but she keeps trying to get up. Something about work. Which she does with her hands, usually before I am properly scratched. Sigh. Training her properly is proving an uphill battle.

11:00 AM
Human still at her drawing board. Batting gently at her wrist elicits no useful response. Will have to come up with another tactic. Complain to House. House suggests that I should relax. If all I had to do was stand around and keep the doors shut, maybe I could, but somebody has to keep that rabbit out of the garden.

12:00 PM
Nap. Groom. Nap. Human still working. How much paper is there in the world? And how much of it has to be covered with colored lines?

2:00 PM
House patrol. Garden patrol. Evidence of rabbit’s return. Curse that rabbit. Inform house. House is unresponsive.

5:00 PM
Guide two ferals toward friendly homes. Good luck, brothers, but this one’s mine.

5:05 PM

6:00 PM
Red-headed human is here. So is human partner of Maxamillian and Leopold. Dogs, both of them, but I am broad-minded and do not let that color my opinion of them. They cannot help it if they talk too much and have no respect for boundaries. It’s just who they are. House keeps letting them in. There is much talk of mystery and magic. Many laps to be sat on. Extra patrols required. Exhausted.

8:00 PM

9:00 PM

10:00 PM
Human has remembered to get more tuna, AND put it in the bowl. I give her extra lap time and purring to let her know she is a very good human. I tell House believe she is demonstrating her basic teachability. House laughs at me. Stupid House. I am going out. House opens door. Good House. Night awaits. This time, I will get that rabbit.

By Familiar Means is the second book in the Witch’s Cat mystery series, published by Penguin Random House, September 2016.

In the latest from the author of A Familiar Tail, a witch and her familiar find trouble brewing at a coffee house.

After discovering her mystical heritage—and being adopted by furry feline familiar Alistair—artist Annabelle Britton has decided to make picturesque Portsmouth, New Hampshire, her new home. Now, she can take the time to figure out her new abilities and welcome her grandmother, who is visiting Portsmouth, and her old coven, for the first time in thirty years.

But being a witch doesn’t magically put money in the bank. When she’s hired to paint the murals for a new coffee house, it seems like a wish come true. But then a series of spooky sounds and strange happenings convince the owners that their new shop is haunted. They want Anna and her coven to evict the restless spirit before the grand opening.

Annabelle is certain the haunted happenings at the shop are just hocus pocus. But when her search reveals hidden smugglers’ tunnels beneath the shop—and a dead body—Annabelle, Alastair, and the coven suddenly find themselves in a cat and mouse game with a killer. . .

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Meet the author
Delia James has been a writer almost as long as she’s been anything. She started putting stories on paper by drawing stick figures comics based on Maurice Sendak cartoons and never stopped. These days, she writes her magical mysteries from her home near Ann Arbor, Michigan, assisted by her loving husband, Tim, her magnificent son, Alex, and her vocal cat, Buffy the Vermin Slayer. Connect with Delia at deliajamesmysteries.com, on Twitter, and on Facebook.

All comments are welcomed.

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

A Day in the Life of Anne Hillstrom by Vicki Vass

Killer FindsOrphaned artifacts. That’s what my Great-Aunt Sybil called antiques. It was her mission to find good homes for lost treasures. She instilled that passion in me. To think that my love for antiques would lead me down such a perilous trail would seem something out of a mystery novel. Luckily for me I have a great friend and colleague to help traverse that trail.

You have to understand that CC Muller is everything I’m not. She is frugal, meticulous and practical. Her heart is as big as her knowledge of all things, and she loves to share her knowledge. As I say, she gives you a dollar’s worth when a penny’s worth would suffice. All is forgiven because that is what best friends do. They forgive each other’s flaws and nurture their talents.

CC’s always encouraged me to follow my passion. Yes, that’s right I am an antique hunter. I spend my days scouring estate sales, flea markets and secondhand stores for hidden treasures. I used to be a full-time chemist but as fortune would have it I can now pursue my passion full time. My house is a testament to my passion for shopping. My 1920s Chicago bungalow is filled with boxes of needful things, stacks of catalogs, hatboxes, tea sets and a fat white Persian named Sassy who gives me a disapproving eye when I bring something new home. All in all I find my home quite comfortable though some may say cluttered. CC constantly encourages me to stick to a budget and to my diet but I find both a challenge.

Each day is a new adventure, filled with the unexpected. You never know what you’ll find hidden in someone’s attic or in the back of their garage. I collect memories because when all is said and done that is what life is about. In collecting those memories, I keep a detailed inventory of my finds. And once found, I sometimes can find it difficult to part with them. That’s where CC inspires me to share my passion and my finds with others.

It all started with the blog. For years, CC has chronicled our adventures on her blog. Our fans as she calls them ask us to search for childhood memorabilia, collectibles or antiques. Sometimes that search leads us into trouble. We rely on the help of my friend, the very tall and very British Chicago Police Detective Nigel Towers. My first impression of Nigel was that he resembled a question mark as he slumped down to politely look me in the eye. It was a troubled time in my life after losing Great-Aunt Sybil. His cheery disposition and dry British wit kept me going as we hunted for Sybil’s killer. This was not the life I chose to live. It chose me.

And that’s when I learned antiques can be murder.

Killer Finds is the third book in the Antique Hunters mystery series, published by Cozy Cat Press, April 2016.

Antique hunter Anne Hillstrom’s whirlwind shopping tour to Paris comes to a dead stop, as dead as the man sitting next to her on the plane. And to make matters worse, her identity has been stolen, leaving her to face her worst nightmare. She must sell all her precious antiques with the help of her business partner and co-blogger, CC Muller. Together, they open a pop-up antique store in the quaint suburb of Glen Ellyn Illinois. Their blog fans flock to the store looking to find that perfect treasure and so does a killer. When the Sweet Shop lady next door is found caramelized, the success of the pop-up sale turns bittersweet. Anne and CC dust off the clues, unraveling a centuries-old mystery that leads them to one conclusion. They must find the killer before the killer finds them.

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Meet the author
With a passion for shopping and antiques, Vicki Vass turned in her reporter’s notebook to chronicle the adventures of Anne and CC, two antique hunters who use their skills to solve a murder case.

Vicki has written more than 1,400 stories for the Chicago Tribune as well as other commercial publications including Home & Away, the Lutheran and Woman’s World. Her science fiction novel, The Lexicon, draws on her experience in Sudan while writing about the ongoing civil war for World Relief. Connect with Vicki at vickivass.com.

All comments are welcomed.

Giveaway: Leave a comment below for your chance to win a print copy of Killer Finds plus a tote bag. US entries only, please. The giveaway will end September 24, 2016 at 12 AM (midnight) EST. Good luck everyone!

A Day in the Life of Estela Nogales by Cherie O’Boyle

Missing MomAccording to the people who know her best (her reviewers), Estela Nogales is a spunky amateur sleuth with a wry and sardonic sense of humor, keen powers of observation, and an irreverent approach to life. Left to her own devices, she would prefer peaceful days spent with her sidekicks, two sheep-herding border collies. Alas, the aptly named village of Arroyo Loco rarely produces the desired quiet. Some fresh disaster seems to await every dawn.

For a sparsely populated settlement, Arroyo Loco has a surprisingly eclectic and quirky collection of residents, including representatives from most major ethnic groups, ages, and a selection of “lifestyles.” It is these differences that bring richness and depth to a community that frequently seems to teeter on the verge of dysfunction, or worse. Whether it is a neighbor’s house exploding in flames, a missing friend, or the minutia of everyday life, the folks in Arroyo Loco must learn to tolerate one another and cooperate constructively to puzzle out the mysteries that confront them.

These challenges frequently require attendance at contentious homeowners’ meetings. Estela is inclined to avoid such gatherings, as are a number of the other neighbors. The community leadership has thus learned that a quorum is more likely if a meeting is paired with a pot-luck meal. Estela, in particular, can be lured into a meeting she would otherwise have the good sense not to attend if food is being offered. She’s also a sucker for those pink bakery boxes.

Days in the life of Estela begin and usually end in quality time with her beloved collies. Wandering the canyon road through the neighborhood of Arroyo Loco, the dogs make no end of interesting discoveries, some of which they even share with Estela. But the dogs do not talk or do anything else that your average dog wouldn’t do. To Estela’s way of thinking, there is already too much talking going on without dogs and cats chipping in their two cents.

After a long walk, Estela drives the winding coastal road to the university counseling center where she is employed as a psychotherapist. Here she spends her days comforting everyone from failing freshmen to seniors still searching for direction. Estela is not by nature a nurturing person, so her advice in therapy typically runs along the lines of ‘buck up, kid’, a not altogether ineffective approach.

No day in Estela’s life would be complete without an encounter with her friend and investigative companion, sheriff’s deputy Antonio Muñoz. Be forewarned, however, that if you are expecting the usual cozy mystery with hints (or more) of romance, you will not find it here. As one surprised reviewer said, “This didn’t turn out the way I thought it would.”

Estela tries to be brave person, and she will rise to the challenge and confront wrong-doers if no one else can be persuaded to do so. In the end, Estela’s life is all about appreciating the power of friendship, the strength of shared community, and a spirit of caring among all living things.

Missing Mom is the third book in the Estela Nogales mystery series, published by Cherie O’Boyle, January 2016.

The village of Arroyo Loco is rocked again, this time by the disappearance of Nina, a favorite neighbor. Nobody wants to be snoopy, and at the same time Estela and the others want to know what happened to their friend. Detective Muñoz wishes he could help, but it turns out that simply going missing is not a crime. The mystery deepens when Estela discovers the empty slot in Nina’s knife block, and the disastrous dynamics of Nina’s family derail the collection of more clues. As if that isn’t enough, the investigation is stymied by the remnants of a rare Pacific hurricane threatening to wipe out Arroyo Loco.

Iced Tee: Arroyo Loco’s old homes and friendly porches are threatened with demolition in favor of gated and red-tile-roofed McMansions. A peaceful spring morning is thrown into turmoil by a gruesome discovery. Frozen in rigor, ‘Poor Tee’ bursts from her icy crypt when the community freezer is opened. Clues are few until psychologist Estela Nogales and her eclectic neighbors snap into action to explore the motives buried deep in the history of their village. Once again, Estela’s exuberant border collies contribute their unique investigatory skills, the officious homeowners’ association interferes at every turn, and Arroyo Loco’s incompatible personalities pull together to unravel the secrets behind the murder. Iced Tee is the winner of the 2015 Mystery & Mayhem ‘Small Town Cozy’ award from Chanticleer Book Reviews.

Fire at Will’s: The house next door explodes in a gasoline-fueled blaze, sending psychologist Estela Nogales and an eclectic collection of neighbors racing to fight the flames. Once the fire is quelled, residents of the village of Arroyo Loco must conduct their own investigation to find the arsonist living among them. What begins as speculation over coffee becomes a more urgent and dangerous search when a body is discovered, another neighbor turns up missing, and a shocking secret is revealed. Too often joined by Estela’s irrepressible border collies, residents must negotiate the rules of a dysfunctional homeowners’ association (aren’t they all?) as they try to solve the mysteries before anyone else falls victim.

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Meet the author
Cherie O’Boyle is the award-winning author of the Estela Nogales Mystery series and Professor Emeritus of Psychology at California State University, San Marcos. She now lives in Northern California. When not writing, she is playing with her border collies and taking them to exotic locations in California such as Gridley for flyball tournaments, Galt for sheepherding trials, and Lake Tahoe for dog summer camp. Cherie is currently hard at work on the fourth in the Estela Nogales mystery series and also a so-far stand-alone more serious mystery featuring a team of search and rescue canines. The next book in the Estela Nogales series is expected to make its debut early in 2017. Connect with Cherie at www.cherieoboyle.com.

All comments are welcomed.

Giveaway: Leave a comment below for your chance to win a signed copy of Missing Mom. US entries only, please. The giveaway will end September 23, 2016 at 12 AM (midnight) EST. Good luck everyone!

A Day in the Life of Nancy Dickenson by Eileen Haavik McIntire

Secret of the Old ClockThe loud snoring woke Nancy. She poked at her cat Malone and he snarled as he slunk across the bed and out of the room.

He’d let her off easy, Nancy figured, but she’d better feed him. She had to get a swim in before the bridge group at ten. Ever since she’d moved to Whisperwood Retirement Village, she’d been busy. Even better, the place was full of intrigue. That’s why she signed up for bridge. She wanted to sit with Maureen Jenkins.

She ate breakfast, combed her white, curly hair, donned her swimsuit and robe, and headed down the hall to the pool. Others would be there. She no longer swam alone after being attacked the year before.

She swam twenty laps, then returned to her apartment, quickly showering and then dressing in blue slacks and white blouse. She made it to bridge class early, as she planned.

Maureen was a quiet widow who used to have a cheerful smile for everyone. Lately, her eyes were red as if she’d been crying. When Nancy passed her in the halls, she kept her eyes down and shuffled by. Something bad had happened to her, and Nancy wanted to help.

She began with the obvious. “Just got my lab results. No problems.”

Maureen sighed. “Mine, too. A blessing. Comes from living here, I guess.”

Not medical, then. “Staff take good care of us. It’s the families and friends that can make trouble.” She added bait. “You know. With their demands.”

Maureen shrugged. “My daughter visits me every month, brings a gift. A lovely daughter. “

“How nice,” Nancy murmured. She looked up as Dick and Lois Westerhalt joined their table. Dick was boisterous and Lois slapdash. They would overpower Maureen, and they did.

Later, Nancy met 90s Club members Louise and George in the Whisperwood Pub for lunch. “Have you any idea what’s going on with Maureen?” asked Nancy.

“I saw her in the garden,” said Louise. She was wearing her usual khaki slacks, T-shirt, and ”Save the Whale” button.

“I got out of there fast.” George rolled his eyes.

“So did I,” said Louise. “I’m no good with sympathy.”

“The garden?” Nancy asked, making plans to roam the landscaping.

“Sure. I see her there a lot,” said Louise, perusing the menu.

After lunch, Nancy walked out the white-columned entrance and took the path around the buildings. She immediately spotted Maureen, sitting on a bench and looking woebegone. This time, Nancy took the direct approach.

She sat beside her. “What’s wrong, Maureen? I’m worried about you.”

Maureen burst into tears. Nancy handed her a tissue. Maureen took the tissue and wiped her eyes.

“I’m sorry,” she said. “I’m just so worried.”

“Worried about what?” asked Nancy. “Maybe I can help.”

Maureen stared down at her hands. Nancy waited. Finally, Maureen sighed. “I’m going to jail, Nancy. To prison.”

Uh oh, Nancy thought. Another one. “Why would you go to jail?”

Maureen took a deep breath. “I got a phone call from the IRS. I owe thousands of dollars to them, and if I don’t pay up, I’ll go to jail.”

Nancy nodded. “I thought it was something like that.”

“You thought I was a criminal?” Maureen stared at Nancy.

“No.” Nancy patted Maureen’s trembling hands. “The person who called you is the criminal. Other people at Whisperwood have gotten those calls. Someone here is responsible because they know too much about us.”

“But this was the IRS,” Maureen persisted.

“The IRS would send you a letter. The call was bogus. You don’t owe the IRS anything.”

“Oh my.” Maureen put her hand on her heart. “I can’t believe it. I was so worried.”

“You didn’t send them money, did you?”

“I couldn’t, Nancy. It’s all tied up in trusts.” She shook her head. “All I could see was a jail cell.”

“Are you okay now?” Nancy asked.

A smile blossomed on Maureen’s face. She rose. “Thank you, Nancy. From now on, I don’t believe anyone who calls me about anything.”

Nancy nodded. “Good. And if it worries you, check it out. We olders are prey for con artists.”

That evening at dinner, Nancy recounted the story to George and Louise.

“We’ve got to do something, Nancy,” said Louise. She’d changed to a red flannel shirt and a “Don’t Pollute” button.

“We need to educate the residents on how to recognize a fraud.”

George squinted at his fork. “I got a call from someone who said he was my grandson and needed money.” He winked at Nancy. “Don’t have a grandson.”

They spent the rest of dinner developing plans to protect Whisperwood residents.

After dinner, Nancy went on to Spanish class. Returning to her apartment, she dodged Malone’s swat as she kept him from racing out into the hall. To make peace, Nancy fed him his dinner and added two pieces of trout she had saved for him from her own dinner.

Now maybe he’d let her get a good night’s sleep in peace.

The 90s Club & the Secret of the Old Clock is the third book in the 90s Club cozy mystery series featuring 90-year-old Nancy Dickenson and her friends at Whisperwood Retirement Village. The series was inspired by a slim, attractive woman swimming laps that Eileen met at a pool party and then learned she was 91 years old. An avid Nancy Drew fan when she was young, Eileen began wondering what Nancy Drew would be like at 90.

Although Nancy Dickenson may or may not be an elderly Nancy Drew, the books carry hidden references to the Nancy Drew series to challenge the reader.

The 90s Club & the Secret of the Old Clock is published by Amanita Books, November 2015.

The antique clock keeps ticking, but what does it hide? In the latest 90s Club cozy mystery, Nancy Dickenson seeks its secret as she and the 90s Club at Whisperwood Retirement Village discover swindlers are targeting and defrauding the residents. The scams are online, but the swindlers know too much to be strangers. Did they shoot and kill Nancy’s new friend Betts? Nancy and the 90s Club pursue the killer and the con men, but the killer is no fool and attacks first. This time, the killer swears, Nancy will not escape.

Midwest Book Review says, “An impressively well-crafted and thoroughly entertaining mystery that plays fair with the reader from beginning to end.”

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Meet the author
A world traveler, Eileen has ridden a camel in the Moroccan Sahara, fished for piranhas in the Amazon, sailed in a felucca on the Nile, spent a night in a mud hut in Ethiopia, and lived on a motorsailer for three years exploring the east coast from Annapolis to Key West.

She is president of the Maryland Writers’ Association and also an active member of Sisters in Crime and the Independent Book Publishers Association. She lives in Columbia, MD, with her husband, Dr. Roger McIntire, author of parenting books, and their little dog José.

All comments are welcomed.

Giveaway: Leave a comment below for your chance to win a print copy of The 90s Club & the Secret of the Old Clock. US entries only, please. The giveaway will end September 22, 2016 at 12 AM (midnight) EST. Good luck everyone!

A Day In The Life with Magnolia “Maggie” Crozat by Ellen Byron

Body on the Bayou“. . . And my wedding theme is gonna be LSU colors. Everything purple and gold. The flowers, the tablecloths, the bridesmaids’ dresses, even the bridesmaids! I’m just kidding about the last one. No wait, y’all could get purple and gold streaks in your hair, so add that to your Maid of Honor To-Do List, Maggie. With a star next to it, for real important. I want every little last thing purple and gold. Geaux, Tigers!”

Vanessa Fleer’s nonstop chatter still rang in Maggie Crozat’s ears as she drove home from their mutual workplace, Doucet Plantation, once owned by Maggie’s ancestors. “LSU colors, hah,” she muttered to the wind. Even though it was winter, Maggie liked to drive with the top down on the 1964 Ford Falcon convertible she’d inherited from her late Papa Doucet. “The only time Vanessa was even on the LSU campus was when she crashed a frat party.”

Signing on as point person for Vanessa’s wedding party had been a strategic move. The demanding bride-to-be was engaged to Maggie’s arch-enemy, Police Chief Rufus Durand, so keeping her happy might lead to a rapprochement between the Crozat and Doucet families after a century-and-a-half long feud. Reminding herself of this kept Maggie from exploding like an M80 firecracker when Vanessa peppered her with inane demands.

Maggie’s cell sang “Zydeco Gris Gris,” alerting her to an incoming phone call. Thinking it was from her model-handsome boyfriend, Detective Bo Durand, she smiled, pressed the button on her earpiece, and answered with her sexiest “Hello.” The effort was wasted on the actual caller – Vanessa.

“Maggie, I have terrible news.”

Maggie’s heart clutched. Her first thought was that someone close to Vanessa had died. Her second was a fleeting hope that this would mean the wedding was cancelled. She scolded herself for being insensitive. “Nessa, are you okay? What’s wrong?”

“It’s my cousin Ginger.”

“Is she…” Maggie opted for a delicate choice of words. “Has she. . . passed?”

“Worse.” Vanessa made a choking sound, and then burst into tears. “She’s coming to my wedding.”

The bride-to-be’s sobs reverberated through Maggie’s earpiece. She uttered a few vacuously reassuring phrases to calm Vanessa down, none of which had any effect on the hysterical woman. As Vanessa continued to weep, Maggie picked up panic in her voice. And fear. Who on earth is this Ginger person, Maggie wondered. And why is she more terrifying to Vanessa alive than dead?

Body On The Bayou is the second book in the Cajun Country mystery series, published by Crooked Lane Books, September 2016.

The Crozats feared that past murders at Crozat Plantation B&B might spell the death of their beloved estate, but they’ve managed to survive the scandal. Now there’s a très bigger story in Pelican, Louisiana: the upcoming nuptials between Maggie Crozat’s nemesis, Police Chief Rufus Durand, and her co-worker, Vanessa Fleer.

When everyone else refuses the job of being Vanessa’s Maid of Honor, Maggie reluctantly takes up the title and finds herself tasked with a long list of duties–the most important of which is entertaining Vanessa’s cousin, Ginger Fleer-Starke. But just days before the wedding, Ginger’s lifeless body is found on the bayou and the Pelican PD, as well as the Crozats, have another murder mystery on their hands.

There’s a gumbo-potful of suspects, including an ex-Marine with PTSD, an annoying local newspaper reporter, and Vanessa’s own sparkplug of a mother. But when it looks like the investigation is zeroing in on Vanessa as the prime suspect, Maggie reluctantly adds keeping the bride-to-be out of jail to her list of Maid of Honor responsibilities in Body on the Bayou, Ellen Byron’s funny and engaging follow up to her critically acclaimed novel Plantation Shudders.

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About the author
Ellen Byron’s novel, Plantation Shudders: A Cajun Country Mystery, was a Library Journal Debut Mystery of the Month, and nominated for Agatha, Lefty, and Daphne awards. Book two in the series, Body on the Bayou, was recently released to enthusiastic reviews. TV credits include Wings, Just Shoot Me, and many network pilots; she’s written over 200 national magazine articles; her published plays include the award-winning Graceland. Connect with Ellen at ellenbyron.com.

All comments are welcomed.

Giveaway: Leave a comment below for your chance to win a print copy of Body On The Bayou + swag. US entries only, please. The giveaway will end September 21, 2016 at 12 AM (midnight) EST. Good luck everyone!


weekly update
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Coming up on dru’s book musings (9/19 – 9/24)
September 19: Magnolia Crozat by Ellen Byron (Cajun Country)
September 20: Nancy Dickenson by Eileen Haavik McIntire
September 21: Estela Nogales by Cherie O’Boyle (Estela Nogales)
September 22: Anne Hillstrom by Vicki Vass (Antique Hunters)
September 23: Alistair by Delia James (Witch’s Cat)
September 24: Moriah Dru by Gerrie Ferris Finger (Moriah Dru/Richard Lake)

“Shadows on a Morning in Maine” by Lea Wait – Johnna S.
“Paint the Town Dead” by Nancy Haddock – Becky L.
“Murder in G Major” by Alexia Gordon – Kicha B.
“Cancelled by Murder” by Jean Flowers – Kari C.


October 2016 Releases


Click HERE for a printable copy

October 1
Literally Dead by Lois Winston (Empty Nest #2)

October 3
Mojo for Murder by Carolyn Marie Wilkins (Bertie Bigelow #2)

October 4
Behind Chocolate Bars by Kathy Aarons (Chocolate Covered #3)
The Hammett Hex by Victoria Abbott (Book Collector #5)
The Witch and The Dead by Heather Blake (Wishcraft #7)
Killing Thyme by Leslie Budewitz (Spice Shop #3)
Teetotaled by Maia Chance (Discreet Retrieval Agency #2)

Crepe Factor by Laura Childs (Scrapbooking #14)
Seeds of Deception by Sheila Connolly (Orchard #10)
All the Little Liars by Charlaine Harris (Aurora Teagarden #9)
Ghost Times Two by Carolyn Hart (Bailey Ruth #7)
Paws and Effect by Sofie Kelly (Magical Cats #8)

Putting on the Witch by Joyce and Jim Lavene (Retired Witches #3)
The Queen’s Accomplice by Susan Elia MacNeal (Maggie Hope #6)
Michelangelo’s Ghost by Gigi Pandian (Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt #4)
Tangled Up In Brew by Joyce Tremel (Brewing Trouble #2)
Masking for Trouble by Diane Vallere (Costume Shop #2)

October 8
A Memory of Muskets by Kathleen Ernst (Chloe Ellefson #7)
Unlucky Charms by Linda O. Johnston (Superstition #3)

October 11
Abstract Aliases by Ritter Ames (Bodies Of Art #3)
Sacred Money by Jenna Bennett (Savannah Martin #13)
Burned To A Crisp by Catherine Bruns (Cookies & Chance #3)
Permanent Sunset by C. Michele Dorsey (Sabrina Salter #2)

Death of a Toy Soldier by Barbara Early (Vintage Toy Shop #1)
A Killer Closet by Paula Paul (Irene Seligman #1)
Precious and Grace by Alexander McCall Smith (No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency #17)
Something Buried, Something Blue by Wendy Corsi Staub (Lily Dale #2)

October 15
Photo Finished by Dane McCaslin (Aloha Lagoon #4)

October 18
Out of Practice by Phoebe Fox (Breakup Doctor #4)
Fatal Frost by Karen MacInerney (Dewberry Farm #2)
Another Day, Another Dali by Sandra Orchard (Serena Jones #2)
The Twelve Dogs of Christmas by David Rosenfelt (Andy Carpenter #15)

October 19
Doggone it by Maggie Toussaint (Dreamwalker #3)

October 25
Dying For Strawberries by Sharon Farrow (Berry Basket #1)
Pocketbooks and Pistols by Dorothy Howell (Haley Randolph #12)
Egg Nog Murder by Leslie Meier, Lee Hollis, Barbara Ross

Send In The Clowns by Julie Mulhern (Country Club Murders #4)
Feliz Navidead by Ann Myers (Santa Fe Café #3)
Dangling by a Thread by Lea Wait (Mainely Needlepoint #4)

Author Showcase with Ross Klavan, Tim O’Mara, and Charles Salzberg

Triple Shot

Ross Klavan “Thump Gun Hitched” – I’ve got two main characters. . .Ty Haran and Bobby Dane. Both start off as cops in LA and both end up without badges and in real trouble. Haran is older, an experienced special officer and a decorated veteran who fought in the Middle East and has no illusions about heroism. He’s also trying not to let Bobby Dane drive him back to drinking (and failing at that). As for Bobby Dane, he’s been like a son to Haran, looks up to him but never really caught on to what Haran’s been trying to tell him—“Try not to get yourself killed.” These two guys have had one another’s backs for years…and ultimately, that’s what gets them into hard times.

For questions. . .

–If I had to ask each of them personally, the question would be. . .”What the hell were you thinking?” I guess Haran would say that watching out for one another became a habit and eventually they ran up a bill between them, a debt, that nobody could pay. So when Bobby Dane needed help, Haran listened, even though he wanted to wash his hands of the guy. And I think Bobby Dane would say that he wanted to be like Haran, or at least his fantasy of what kind of guy Haran was, and that kind of thinking can lead you to trouble, the kind that you can’t turn back from.

–I’d ask myself. . .are these guys based on anyone real? Good question. They’re a combination of certain guys I knew in the Army and when I was reporting the news, mixed in with fictional characters so that the reader gets an interesting take on this kind of story. And, I used to know a guy who taught hand-to-hand combat and was mostly hired by the police and military. He said he was once a cop. . .until he spent a year in prison after doing something really stupid with a handgun while drunk at a cop party. That’s what gave me the germ idea for the story.

–I’d also ask about the tone of the story—it’s really sort of a Western with automatic weapons. As a city boy, I like the desert. . .I like the way it looks and the feel of just that much lurking danger. I have a lot of respect for the desert and the Sun and what’s out there and have had enough experience not to go too far out. But I enjoyed writing about two guys who were friends who wind up in real danger in a place that’s dangerous just because it is.

The lead character in Smoked, you can call him Aggie, is a low-level marijuana and crystal meth dealer doing business in an unnamed Midwestern state. He’s the kind of guy who—when not selling illegal substances—is either lying or rationalizing. (You can tell because his lips are moving.) After getting in way over his head, and putting the few loved ones he has in jeopardy, he finds an inner strength he never knew he had in order to make things right. Back east in New York City, we refer to this realization as “Growing a pair.”

Question: Is Aggie based on someone in your life?
Answer: Yes. And to answer your next question, I’m pretty confident I’m safe from any liability as this person doesn’t read all that much and would have to admit to some pretty shady—read illegal—activities if he (or she) ever decided to prove Aggie was based on him (or her.)

Question: Why base the story in the Midwest? Aren’t your Raymond Donne novels all set in the New York City (mostly Brooklyn) area?
Answer: I spend a lot of time in the Midwest as that’s where my wife grew up and my in-laws still live. I visit with my wife and daughter twice a year—summer and Christmas—and have developed quite a fondness for the location and the people. As much as I love NYC, I need to get out every once in a while, either physically or through my fiction. Writing about a location I don’t actually live in was quite a challenge and I learned a lot from taking it on.

Question: Will we see “Aggie” in a future novella?
Answer: Read Smoked—and the other two novellas in Triple Shot—and then you tell me. Since he is a first-person narrator with a penchant for manipulating the truth, it could go either way.

Trish Sullivan, approaching forty, is an on-air TV investigative reporter, working for a Syracuse, New York daily newscast. She’s smart, talented, and most of all ambitious. She realizes that if she’s going to move up on the food chain, which means getting signed by a network like NBC, ABC, and CBS, or a cable news network like CNN, MSNBC or Fox, she’s going to have to do it soon. And the only thing that’s going to get national attention is a big story. And so, when Trish is contacted by Meg Montgomery, who’s serving a life sentence for murdering her husband and two young children insisting she’s innocent, Trish thinks this might be the breakout story that gets her where she wants to go.

Meg Montgomery is in her early thirties, blonde, very pretty—thing a young Meg Ryan. She’s married and has two children, both under the age of 10. Or rather she was married with children. Now she’s in prison, convicted of killing all of them. She claims innocence and, with no other avenue open to her to prove that, she writes a letter to a local TV news reporter, Trish Sullivan, in hopes that Trish will investigate her case and perhaps uncover the real killer.

In effect, Meg and Trish are not so different—opposite sides of the coin—and this is perhaps what attracts them to each other.

Questions for Trish Sullivan
1. What made you go into the news business?
I’ve always been a news junkie. When I was a kid every night I looked forward to the news. I imagined myself up there, telling a story, breaking news to the public. My idol was Barbara Walters. She was tough, honest, and not afraid to ask the right questions. That’s who I wanted to be when I grew up. I wanted to interview important people. I wanted to travel around the world. I wanted to watch news being made and I wanted a hand in making the news.

2. What made you decide to investigate Meg Montgomery’s conviction?
Frankly, I saw a bit of myself in Meg. She looked fragile and yet she was obviously tough. She had to be to go through what she did. I was predisposed to believing she was innocent, but I wanted to make sure, which is why I offered her the choice. I wouldn’t investigate her case unless she took a polygraph test and passed. When she did, I was thrilled. This might be the story I was looking for, the story that would get the attention of the national news organizations. And if I could find enough evidence to get her a new trial, I was sure it would get me out of Syracuse and onto the career path I always wanted.

3. How did you feel when you realized you were being manipulated?
Betrayed. Embarrassed. Ashamed. I’d put my faith in Meg and she’d used me. My credibility was damaged, perhaps beyond repair. I knew I had to do something, otherwise my career would be over.

Questions for Meg Montgomery
1. Why did you marry your husband?
I was the girl from the wrong side of the tracks. The cute girl who was always popular in school, but still looked down on simply because I didn’t come from a family with money or prestige. Marrying my husband was a step to change all that.

2. What was your marriage like?
It was more like a business partnership more than a marriage. My husband gave me something: legitimacy and instant prestige. He got a very pretty woman to be by his side, which raised his stock as much as he raised mine. That’s why I say it was a business deal more than a love match. But love fades anyway, so I didn’t think I was doing anything particularly wrong. He gained something and so did I, but in the end I gave more than I got, because he was not the man I hoped him to be.

3. Did you feel remorse or guilt for what happened?
I’m not the kind of person who looks back. I do what I do, what I have to do to survive, and I try not to judge myself. I know other people judge me all the time, so why would I have to judge myself?

Shadow towns, smugglers and secret notes—this trio of New York authors are a Triple Shot of twists and turns in three novellas published by Down & Out Books, August 2016

Payback leads to an unmarked grave in Ross Klavan’s Thump Gun Hitched. A freak accident forces two L.A. cops to play out a deadly obsession that takes them from back alley payoffs to hard time in prison, then deep into the tunnel networks south of the border to a murderous town that’s only rumored to exist. Before the last shot is fired, everything they thought was certain proves to be a shadow and everything they trusted opens into a trap.

Life was so much simpler for Tim O’Mara’s marijuana-selling narrator in Smoked when all he had to worry about was keeping his customers, now ex-wife, and daughter satisfied. When he forges a reluctant alliance with his ex-wife’s new lover, he realizes there’s lots of money to be made from the world’s number one smuggled legal product—cigarettes. Unfortunately, his latest shipment contained some illegal automatic weapons. Now he’s playing with the big boys and finds the price of the game way over his head. Murder was never part of his business model.

And finally in Twist of Fate, Charles Salzberg follows Trish Sullivan, an ambitious TV reporter working in a small, upstate New York market. She receives a note from Meg Montgomery, a beautiful young woman convicted of murdering her husband and two children. Montgomery claims she’s innocent and Sullivan, smelling a big story that may garner some national attention, investigates and turns up evidence that the woman has, indeed, been framed. What happens next changes the life of both women in unexpected ways.

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Meet the authors
Ross KlavanROSS KLAVAN’s novel, Schmuck, was published by Greenpoint Press in 2014. He recently finished the screenplay for The Colony based on the book by John Bowers. Nominated for an Independent Spirit Award, his original screenplay, Tigerland, was directed by Joel Schumacher and starred Colin Farrell. He has written screenplays for InterMedia, Walden Media, Miramax, Paramount, A&E and TNT. As a performer, Klavan’s voice has been heard in dozens of feature films including Revolutionary Road, Sometimes in April, Casino, In and Out, and You Can Count On Me as well as in numerous TV and radio commercials. In other lives, he was a member of the NYC alternative art group Four Walls and was a reporter covering New York City and London, England.


Tim O'MaraTIM O’MARA has been teaching math and special education in New York City public schools since 1987, yet he is best known for his Raymond Donne mysteries about an ex-cop who now teaches in the same Williamsburg, Brooklyn, neighborhood he once policed: Sacrifice Fly (2012), Crooked Numbers (2013), Dead Red (2015), Nasty Cutter (January 2017). His short story, The Tip, is featured in the 2016 anthology Unloaded. The anthology’s proceeds benefit the nonprofit States United To Prevent Gun Violence.


Charles SalzbergCHARLES SALZBERG is the author of the Shamus Award-nominated Swann’s Last Song, Swann Dives In, Swann’s Lake of Despair (re-release Nov. 2016), Devil in the Hole (re-release Nov. 2016), Triple Shot (Aug. 2016), and Swann’s Way Out (Feb. 2017). His novels have been recognized by Suspense Magazine, the Silver Falchion Awards, the Beverly Hills Book Award and the Indie Excellence Award. He has written over 25 nonfiction books, including From Set Shot to Slam Dunk, an oral history of the NBA, and Soupy Sez: My Life and Zany Times, with Soupy Sales. He has been a visiting professor of magazine at the S.I. Newhouse School of Communications at Syracuse University, and he teaches writing at the Writer’s Voice and the New York Writers Workshop where he is a founding member.

All comments are welcomed.

Giveaway: Leave a comment below for your chance to win a print copy of Triple Shot. US entries only, please. The giveaway will end September 19, 2016 at 12 AM (midnight) EST. Good luck everyone!

A Day in my Life Writing a Tempe Crabtree Mystery by Marilyn Meredith

Seldom TraveledI’ve written several posts for Dru Ann about the day in the life of one of the characters in whatever book I was promoting. This time Dru Ann asked that I write about a day in the life of writing a Tempe Crabtree mystery.

When I first began writing Seldom Traveled, I only knew about the murder Tempe would be investigating and that I was going to put in something about a missing fugitive. I wanted to include that because a fugitive had managed to escape and came to the area where I lived and wasn’t caught, at least his capture was never reported.

What I didn’t know was how important a forest fire would become in my story.

My best writing time is early in the morning. I’m an early riser and get quite a bit done before I ever sit at the computer to write. The house is still quiet when I begin.

I always read over the last few pages I’ve written, and because I usually quit in the middle of a scene it’s easy to pick up where I left off.

On this particular day, I was writing about Tempe being caught in a forest fire. I’ve never been in one, but I’ve certainly been close to several: one on the hillside right across the road from our home that woke me in the night, another in the other direction on top of Black Mountain (Reservation land), and a scary one down in the river bottom too close to our house.

I knew I didn’t know enough to make it believable, so I emailed a friend who was a volunteer fireman for years and now is called to many big fires to use his truck to run errands and deliver goods and parts to the fire camp. He kindly answered many questions, and as I wrote, I sent him pages which he went over and made suggestions.

I never have a totally uninterrupted time at the computer. On this particular day, first my husband came into ask me some questions. In a short while, I was visited by my nearly four-year-old great granddaughter who asked me, “What are you doing?” I told her, and she said, “Oh.” Then she proceeded to tell me about her family’s plan for the day. Her nearly two-year-old sister came in to give me a hug.

Soon I was left alone again to write. Do these interruptions bother me? No, we’ve always had lots of people living with us and I’ve learned to go right back to whatever I was doing without a problem.

However, like always, on this particular day, I quit writing by noon. My brain was tired by then and I turned to other endeavors.

And that’s the way that particular writing day went.


Seldom Traveled is the 15th book in the Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery series, published by Mundania Press, August 2016.

The tranquility of the mountain community of Bear Creek is disrupted by a runaway fugitive, a vicious murderer, and a raging forest fire. Deputy Tempe Crabtree is threatened by all three.

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About the author
Marilyn has had so many books published, she’s lost track of the count, but it’s getting near 40. She lives in a MM guestcommunity similar to the fictional mountain town of Bear Creek, the big difference being that Bear Creek is a thousand feet higher in the mountains. She is a member of Mystery Writers of American, three chapters of Sisters in Crime, and is a board member of Public Safety Writers of America. Connect with Marilyn at fictionforyou.com and marilynmeredith.blogspot.com

All comments are welcomed.

New Contest: Winners will be randomly picked from those leaving the most comments on the blog posts. Each winner can choose one of the earlier books in the series as either a print book or e-book.

Tomorrow you can read an excerpt from Seldom Traveled at celebratewithabook.com.