Tag Archives: historical mystery

A day in the life with Verity Kent by Anna Lee Huber

I pressed a hand to my temple, closing my eyes as the beat of the drums grew ever louder, synchronizing with the pounding in my skull. I silently willed my man-of-all-work to hurry, praying I wasn’t already trapped. That it wasn’t too late.

I’d originally planned to attend the Trooping the Colour, the first since the war had ended. As such, it was to be the largest ever, and consequently would be held in Hyde Park to accommodate all of the soldiers. But when I’d woken to the sounds of drumming and marching only a few short blocks away from my Berkeley Square residence, panic gripped my chest.

I simply couldn’t do it. I couldn’t sit in my flat and listen to all that pomp and circumstance. And I certainly couldn’t stand among the other spectators and pretend I wasn’t a wreck inside. What if I should fail to hold it in? What if I should break down?

I inhaled sharply at the horrifying thought. No, it was best, for all, if I left.

I would weave my way north if I had to before doubling back to the southwest. I’d planned to leave tomorrow anyway and make my way down to the Derby at Epsom before traveling on to Winchester and then Umbersea Island. What did it matter if I left a day early? There was so little demand on my time anymore.

Not so long ago, I would’ve woken early to hurry off to my job, grateful for the warmth of the sun on my cheeks even though I knew such clear skies could mean zeppelin raids in the evening. Ostensibly, I worked for a shipping company who helped supply victuals to the troops at the front, but in actuality my work took me to Whitehall Court and into the domain of the Secret Service, where my days were filled with exhausting, but important work, with purpose. In my more reflective moments, I recognized my job had been the only thing to keep me on my feet after my husband, Sidney, died in early 1918.

But then the war had ended, and soon enough, so had my usefulness. I’d been released from service to wander our empty, echoing flat. I’d volunteered where I could, frantic to fill my hours during the day, while at night I frequented parties and nightclubs with friends equally desperate to stifle their pain, to dance and drown themselves into forgetfulness.

I suspect my life would have continued in that vein had the letter not arrived.

I know the secrets you hide. Why shouldn’t I also know your husband’s?

Then I couldn’t go on ignoring it all. I couldn’t continue to banish the memories. Not when my anonymous letterwriter had made such terrible accusations against Sidney. So I’d followed his instructions. I’d telephoned and told one of my husband’s oldest friends I’d had a change of plans and would be able to attend his engagement house party on Umbersea Island after all. What would happen when I arrived, I couldn’t guess. But I certainly wasn’t going to allow this mysterious correspondent’s claims about Sidney to go unchallenged.

I heard the engine of my late husband’s Pierce-Arrow before I saw it, and stepped through the door to meet my man-of-all-work as he brought the current-red motorcar to a stop. The sleek little Runabout had been Sidney’s pride and joy, and had since become mine.

“She’s all ready for ye, Mrs. Kent,” Rufus declared as he hopped out, holding the door for me.

I climbed in behind the driving wheel, wondering why men always referred to motorcars as females. Not that I disagreed, for I thought the same of this lovely girl. Especially when she was so keenly complicit in my escapes.

I checked the mirrors and resisted the urge to fidget as I waited impatiently for him to load my luggage.

“All set.” Rufus’s head turned to the side so he could gaze down the street, eager to catch a glimpse of the proceedings at Hyde Park.

“Go on,” I told him. Let someone enjoy the spectacle. “I won’t return until Monday, so you’ve your ease until then.”

He nodded, careful concern banked in his eyes. It simply wouldn’t do for a man of his station to be telling me what to do, even if he had served under Sidney. “Take ‘er easy through the acceleration. The clutch is stickin’ a tad. I’ll take another look when ye return.”

I couldn’t tell whether this was true or if it was simply his way of urging me to be safe, but I offered him an artless smile. “Don’t fuss, Rufus. We’ll return in one piece.”

I sped away oblivious to what was to come.

You can read more about Verity in This Side of Murder, the first book in the NEW “Verity Kent” mystery series.

The Great War is over, but in this captivating new mystery from award-winning author Anna Lee Huber, one young widow discovers the real intrigue has only just begun . . .

England, 1919. Verity Kent’s grief over the loss of her husband pierces anew when she receives a cryptic letter, suggesting her beloved Sidney may have committed treason before his untimely death. Determined to dull her pain with revelry, Verity’s first impulse is to dismiss the derogatory claim. But the mystery sender knows too much—including the fact that during the war, Verity worked for the Secret Service, something not even Sidney knew.

Lured to Umbersea Island to attend the engagement party of one of Sidney’s fellow officers, Verity mingles among the men her husband once fought beside, and discovers dark secrets—along with a murder clearly meant to conceal them. Relying on little more than a coded letter, the help of a dashing stranger, and her own sharp instincts, Verity is forced down a path she never imagined—and comes face to face with the shattering possibility that her husband may not have been the man she thought he was. It’s a truth that could set her free—or draw her ever deeper into his deception . . .

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About the author
Anna Lee Huber is the Daphne award-winning author of the national bestselling Lady Darby Mysteries, the Verity Kent Mysteries, and the Gothic Myths series, as well as the forthcoming anthology The Jacobite’s Watch. She is a summa cum laude graduate of Lipscomb University in Nashville, Tennessee, where she majored in music and minored in psychology. She currently resides in Indiana with her family and is hard at work on her next novel. Visit her online at www.annaleehuber.com.

All comments are welcomed.

A day in the life of Ruby Proulx by Jessica Estevao

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Connect with Jessica at jessicaestevao.com.

All comments are welcomed.

A scene from THE MYSTERY OF HER by Patricia Catacalos

Mayfair Section of London – Saturday, September 1, 1888

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Brooding. . .?” Noah chimed in.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Both Noah and Evan laughed heartily.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All comments are welcomed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Or, if we both do not.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All comments are welcomed.

A scene from THE PARIS SPY by Susan Elia MacNeal

The Paris Spy is the newest installment in the New York Times and USA Today bestselling series by Susan Elia MacNeal. The brilliant mathematician and codebreaker extraordinaire, Maggie Hope, continues her work in the Special Operations Executive. This time, she must secretly navigate Nazi-occupied France to find two women during the darkest days of World War II.

It’s springtime in Paris, 1942. The Nazis have captured one of England’s most intrepid spies, who soon discovers that the Germans have a mole working deep in the British SOE. From Paris, Maggie Hope must unmask that traitor—before the enemy learns WWII’s deadliest secret: the site of the planned Allied invasion in Normandy.

The Paris Spy is MacNeal’s most captivating story to date in her award-winning series. Blending thoroughly researched WW II historical facts with one-of-a-kind storytelling and a resourceful, daring heroine, this is an unforgettable read that will transport you straight to Paris.

An Excerpt

“The Rue Cambon entrance didn’t have anything for me, André,” a woman’s voice interrupted. The newcomer was enveloped in a cloud of jasmine and cigarette smoke. “But I’m expecting an envelope with ballet tickets. Would you be a darling and check for me?”

She waggled bony shoulders in exasperation, glancing at Maggie. “Sometimes things for the Rue Cambon side are left here and vice versa—one really must be careful of that.”

The woman was petite, slender, and somewhere in her fifties, Maggie guessed, although her gamine appearance defied age. Her skin was deeply tanned, her hair dyed black, and her cheeks rouged. She wore a simple black suit, but ropes of pearl and gold necklaces and bracelets rattled as she moved. She regarded Maggie with a basilisk gaze. “Nice dress,” she said finally.

Maggie suddenly realized who the woman was. “Th—thank you, Mademoiselle,” she managed, glad she had chosen to wear the Chanel.

Gabrielle Bonheur Chanel, known by her nickname “Coco,” was one of the most famous couturieres and perfumers in the world. She was renowned for taking women out of huge and heavy frilly hats and fussy corsets, and dressing them instead in boyish toppers and creations of tailored streamlined jersey. She’d also created costumes for stage and film, alongside Cocteau, Diaghilev, and Picasso, in addition to creating the world’s most famous perfume, Chanel No. 5, named for her lucky number. She was, in short, a living legend.

“They’ve put you up on the top floor, I suspect?” Chanel asked, her gold chain bracelets jangling as the receptionist looked through cubbyholes for any stray envelopes for her. Maggie nodded. “That’s where I am now as well. I used to have a suite, overlooking the Place Vendôme. However, as you may have noticed,” the couturier continued, her voice hard, “times have changed.”

“As always, you’re correct, Mademoiselle,” André said, handing her an envelope with her name written in beautiful calligraphy.

Chanel took it and opened it, pulling out two tickets. “Excellent,” she said. Then, as she unfolded the accompanying note, her crimson-painted lips pursed.

“Everything all right, Mademoiselle?” asked André.

“Fine, fine.” She waved a hand, brushing off his concern. “André here is the best in the business,” she told Maggie. “Whatever you need he’ll procure—an abortionist, a drug dealer, even a hit man. Anything goes at the Ritz.” Maggie looked shocked, which seemed to please the designer. “And what brings you to Paris?” Chanel continued, tucking everything into her quilted lambskin handbag.

Maggie fixed a smile on her face. “I’m pleased to say I’m in town for fashion, Mademoiselle. My trousseau, to be specific. And a wedding dress.”

“Ah ha! And whose ateliers will you be visiting?”

“Nina Ricci,” Maggie answered, glad she had memorized the designers who still had shops open. “Jacques Fath, Germaine Leconte, Jean Pateau, Lanvin … and, of course, Schiaparelli—”

Chanel rolled her black eyes. “L’Italienne.” Maggie could tell it wasn’t a compliment. “Don’t go to that one. Besides, she’s left Paris for New York, the traitor.”

“But I’m going to them only because your atelier is not open, Mademoiselle Chanel.” Maggie had done her homework. Coco Chanel had closed hers in 1940, when the Occupation had begun, proclaiming it was “no time for fashion.” However, she’d kept her perfume boutique across the street from the Hôtel Ritz open and had made a wartime fortune selling Chanel No. 5 to eager Germans wanting a fragrant souvenir of their Paris sojourn to take home to their wives and sweethearts. From all reports, she was doing a brisk business.

“A response to the times,” was all Chanel said. “You speak French well. But you’re not French or else you would be using the Rue Cambon entrance.” She grazed Maggie’s cheek with an immaculately manicured scarlet-painted fingertip. “And not German, either. Swiss?”


One tweezed eyebrow rose. “Irish?”

Maggie nodded. “Born there. But raised in America for most of my life, shuttling between the two countries. I’m living in Lisbon at present.”

“Lisbon, yes—I’m thinking of opening a shop there. Madrid, too. Perfume only, of course—at least for now. Yes, Irish,” she said, appraising Maggie, like a jeweler inspecting a diamond under a loupe. “I should have guessed with that red hair…”

“Your room is ready, Mademoiselle,” the receptionist said to Maggie, gesturing to a groom in buttoned uniform, white gloves, and cap, waiting with her key.

Maggie smiled. “Thank you.”

You can read more about Maggie in The Paris Spy, the seventh book in the “Maggie Hope” mystery series.

Maggie Hope has come a long way since serving as a typist for Winston Churchill. Now she’s working undercover for the Special Operations Executive in the elegant but eerily silent city of Paris, where SS officers prowl the streets in their Mercedes and the Ritz is draped with swastika banners. Walking among the enemy is tense and terrifying, and even though she’s disguised in chic Chanel, Maggie can’t help longing for home.

But her missions come first. Maggie’s half sister, Elise, has disappeared after being saved from a concentration camp, and Maggie is desperate to find her—that is, if Elise even wants to be found. Equally urgent, Churchill is planning the Allied invasion of France, and SOE agent Erica Calvert has been captured, the whereabouts of her vital research regarding Normandy unknown. Maggie must risk her life to penetrate powerful circles and employ all her talents for deception and spycraft to root out a traitor, find her sister, and locate the reports crucial to planning D-Day in a deadly game of wits with the Nazi intelligence elite.

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Advance praise for The Paris Spy

“With its riveting plot and cliff-hanger finish, this is a solid addition to a series as well researche as it is entertaining” —Booklist

“A fast-paced climax leads to an ending that will leave readers eagerly awaiting the next installment” —Publishers Weekly

“You will grieve with Paris. You will be outraged by the destruction. You will be terrified for all the heroes, be there with them every step, and care desperately that they succeed and survive. And perhaps above all, like me, you will be overwhelmed with their sacrifice for the freedom we still enjoy.” —Anne Perry, New York Times bestselling author of the Charlotte and Thomas Pitt series and the William Monk series

“This has to be Maggie Hope’s most exciting adventure yet. Vivid and fast-paced, crammed with authentic detail, The Paris Spy is an extraordinary trip through the edgy drama of wartime Paris, skillfully plotted and studded with cameos by real historical figures.” —Jane Thynne, author of the Clara Vine series

“The Paris Spy is a mystery you won’t put down until the absolutely stunning conclusion. Only Susan Elia MacNeal—and the extraordinary Maggie Hope—could wrap such a tale of courage and betrayal around a secret that will cost lives and honor to protect.” —Charles Todd, New York Times bestselling author of the Inspector Ian Rutledge series and the Bess Crawford series

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About the author
Susan Elia MacNeal is the author of The New York Times– and USA Today-bestselling Maggie Hope mystery series, starting with the Edgar Award-nominated and Barry Award-winning Mr. Churchill’s Secretary.

The next book in the series, The Paris Spy, was released on August 8, 2017.

Her previous books include: Princess Elizabeth’s Spy, His Majesty’s Hope, The Prime Minister’s Secret Agent, and Mrs. Roosevelt’s Confidante. The Maggie Hope novels have been nominated for the Edgar, the Macavity, the ITW Thriller, the Dilys, the Sue Feder Historical Fiction, and the Bruce Alexander Historical Fiction Awards.

A former book and magazine editor whose first job was assistant to novelist John Irving, she graduated cum laude and with departmental honors from Wellesley College, cross-registered for courses at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and attended the Radcliffe Publishing Course at Harvard University.

Susan is married and lives with her husband, Noel MacNeal, a television performer, writer and director—who works with Sesame Street, the Muppets, and HBO’s Last Week Tonight with John Oliver—and their son in Park Slope, Brooklyn.

Connect with Susan at susaneliamacneal.com, on Facebook.

All comments are welcomed.

A day in the life of Conan Doyle by Daniel and Eugene Friedman

Sunday, April 4, 1880

All of my efforts to prove myself an able seaman ended abruptly yesterday with Captain Gray’s order to commence the seal hunt. At first, he was reluctant to let me, his ship’s surgeon, work alongside his crew in the bloody enterprise, but with a little work, I was able to convince him otherwise. Beating his steward to a pulp in a boxing match five weeks ago helped. That victory earned me the respect of the crew and officers, and I became one of them! I was unwilling to lose that by shielding myself from the rigors of the hunt. Now, after embarrassing myself on the ice, I’ll have to start over again. It’s virtually impossible to compete with men who don’t set foot on land for a half-year at a time. Although my muscles are burning, I’ll have to pull myself together. Grab that club, Doyle! You can do this!

I put on my sealing clothes, still damp with yesterday’s brine, and head to the officers’ mess for breakfast. I position myself next to Colin McClean, the first mate. He eyes me without smiling and grudgingly sputters “Where’s your mittens, Doyle?” I see he has not forgotten. It seemed funny to me at the time to wear a seal’s hind flippers as if I were a gloved cub, but losing my mittens in the process only served to make me look foolish to McClean and the others. I’ve only eaten a few morsels when McClean suddenly gets up to prepare for the day’s upcoming seal hunt. I decide to skip the rest of breakfast and head to the deck.

Just in the nick of time! Colin’s still here, and he’s coming towards me. “How’s Haggie?” he asks curtly. “The chlorodyne is finally taking effect” I say. But I’m lying to both of us. Haggie’s beyond hope. And with only three years of medical school under my belt, I have no idea what to do for his excruciating abdominal pain. But there is something I can do for the crew, and that’s to help them meet their quota of seal. Their livelihoods depend on it.

McClean jumps over the bulwarks onto the ice. I want to follow, but I need to be more cautious. Yesterday, when I fell into the water, I was caught between two jagged ice floes. If the crew hadn’t hauled me out with a boathook, I would have been cut in half! I need to win back the mens’ respect by catching and skinning some seals by myself today. It’s imperative that Colin and the others see me doing this. The reflection of the Arctic sun on the ice is blinding, and I can’t spot Colin or anyone else, and, I fear, they can’t see me either. I’ll just keep walking about until I find them.

Suddenly, I see a huge bottlenose. I need this one. The footing is treacherous, but nevertheless, I grasp my club tightly and maneuver closer, carefully jumping from one ice floe to the next. She doesn’t see me. She is more intent on bathing in the sun. I daren’t make a sound as I sneak behind her. I steady myself, and visualizing her head as a cricket ball, swing my club. Contact! Her crystalline lenses explode from their sockets like a shower of hailstones, and bright red blood flows down her ink-black skin. I unsheathe my knife and move in for the kill, but in doing so, I slip off the ice and slide backwards into the freezing water.

I lunge for the edge of the ice floe but can’t gain a firm hold on it. No one can see me! I instinctively grasp at the seal’s flipper as my body goes numb. Unfortunately, the dying seal is slipping over the edge and, with that, my only chance of surviving is fading fast. I challenge her to a risky game of tug of war, well aware that if she falls in, we’ll both be residing in Davy Jones’s Locker. Using the seal as a ladder, I claw my way up her bloody body. As I scramble up, my fingers knead her doughy skin. Now she is more than half submerged, and, yet, I barely have a knee over the sheer icy edge. It’s now or never! I summon up my courage and use all my might to push myself off the seal, making a miraculous leap to the haven afforded me by the ice sheet. Before my adversary sinks into the sea, she showers me with a plume of crimson-colored water.

Skulking my way back to the Hope, I listen to the crackling sounds emanating from my frozen coat of armor and ponder whether it was my good fortune that no one witnessed what just occurred. I see the Captain watching me – tracking me- through his spyglass. He’s coming down to meet the frozen savage who’s covered in sweat and gore. Captain Gray knows precisely what happened, and as I climb over the wall he chuckles “The Great Northern Diver has returned to its nest!”

You can read more about Dr. Doyle in The Strange Case of Dr. Doyle.

In the spring of 1905, members of an exclusive club of crime enthusiasts known as Our Society were taken on a guided excursion through Whitechapel, one of London’s most notorious districts, by Dr. Frederick Gordon Brown, the chief police surgeon for the City of London. But this was no ordinary sightseeing tour. The focus of the outing was Jack the Ripper’s reputed murder sites, and among the guests that day was Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of the world’s greatest detective, Sherlock Holmes.

Here, now, in The Strange Case of Dr. Doyle by first-time son/father writing team Daniel Friedman, MD, and Eugene Friedman, MD, you are cordially invited to join a recreation of that tour. This expedition, however, will differ from the original in one very important way: It will be led by celebrated author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle himself. As you stroll beside Doyle and his other guests, you will travel to the location of each of the five canonical Ripper murders. Thanks to your guide’s observations and opinions, all of which are based on actual historical accounts, you will learn as much about the district of Whitechapel as you will the terrible Ripper killings that occurred there.

After each stop on the tour, you will also become acquainted with the life of Arthur Conan Doyle, from his earliest days in Edinburgh to his first taste of success as a writer. You will observe Arthur’s hardships at home, his experiences at boarding school, his adventures at sea, his university education, and his days as a working medical doctor. You will be granted a picture of the man as few have ever seen him. As you alternate between biography and tour, you will become a Holmes-like detective, unearthing facts, discovering details, and piecing together information about both Jack the Ripper and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. If you maintain a sharp mind and a keen eye, at the end of your journey, you may just uncover a truth you never expected to find.

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Meet the authors
Daniel Friedman received his B.A. from Stony Brook University and his M.D. from St. George’s University School of Medicine. He is a practicing pediatrician in Floral Park, New York, and assistant clinical professor at the Northwell-Hofstra University Medical School. He is the co-author of The Strange Case of Dr. Doyle, a fact-based conjectural Jack the Ripper tour conducted by Conan Doyle, as well as a biography of the creator of Sherlock Holmes. He is working on another book that highlights the multiple aspects of Sir Arthur’s personality, and will also reveal newly discovered Conan Doyle stories. In his spare time, he is a singer/songwriter and bass guitarist with the Friedman Brothers Band. Daniel Friedman resides in Miller Place on Long Island with his wife, Elena, and their three children, Amanda, David, and Andrew.

Eugene Friedman received his BA from New York University, his M.D.from New York Medical College, and completed his residency at Metropolitan Hospital Center where he was Chief Resident. During the Vietnam War, he served as a Major in the U.S. Army at Martin Army Hospital, Fort Benning, Georgia. He has been in private practice for more than forty years and has held multiple leadership positions in organized medicine. He is the co-author of The Strange Case of Dr. Doyle, and is partnering with Dan Friedman on his new book. An avid gardener, lyricist, and translator of late nineteenth-century French poetry, he and his wife, Sheryl, live in Dix Hills on Long Island and have five children and fifteen grandchildren.

All comments are welcomed.

Author Showcase ~ The Painted Queen by Elizabeth Peters and Joan Hess

Amelia Peabody is back for one last hurrah. It’s been seven years since devoted fans of the daring, witty, parasol-toting Englishwoman have followed her adventures across the sands of Egypt.

Release: July 25, 2017
Series: Amelia Peabody #20
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Publisher: William Morrow

Egypt, 1912—Amelia Peabody and her dashing archeologist husband, Radcliffe Emerson, are once again in danger as they search for a priceless, stolen bust of legendary Queen Nefertiti and Amelia finds herself the target of assassins in this long-awaited, eagerly anticipated final installment of Elizabeth Peters’ bestselling, beloved mystery series.

Arriving in Cairo for another thrilling excavation season, Amelia is relaxing in a well-earned bubble bath in her elegant hotel suite in Cairo, when a man with knife protruding from his back staggers into the bath chamber and utters a single word—”Murder”—before collapsing on the tiled floor, dead. Among the few possessions he carried was a sheet of paper with Amelia’s name and room number, and a curious piece of pasteboard the size of a calling card bearing one word: “Judas.” Most peculiarly, the stranger was wearing a gold-rimmed monocle in his left eye.

It quickly becomes apparent that someone saved Amelia from a would-be assassin—someone who is keeping a careful eye on the intrepid Englishwoman. Discovering a terse note clearly meant for Emerson—Where were you?”—pushed under their door, there can be only one answer: the brilliant master of disguise, Sethos.

But neither assassins nor the Genius of Crime will deter Amelia as she and Emerson head to the excavation site at Amarna, where they will witness the discovery of one of the most precious Egyptian artifacts: the iconic Nefertiti bust. In 1345 B.C. the sculptor Thutmose crafted the piece in tribute to the great beauty of this queen who was also the chief consort of Pharaoh Akhenaten and stepmother to King Tutankhamun.

For Amelia, this excavation season will prove to be unforgettable. Throughout her journey, a parade of men in monocles will die under suspicious circumstances, fascinating new relics will be unearthed, a diabolical mystery will be solved, and a brilliant criminal will offer his final challenge . . . and perhaps be unmasked at last.

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About the authors
Barbara Mertz, aka Elizabeth Peters, began her career with a Ph.D. in Egyptology from the University of Chicago’s Oriental Institute. A recognized academic authority on Egyptology, her nonfiction books, including Temples, Tombs, and Hieroglyphs: A Popular History of Ancient Egypt, and Red Land, Black Land: Daily Life in Ancient Egypt, are in print today, thirty years after their publication. After early publishing success, Mertz found that as the Institute’s youngest female graduate at 23, her career options in the field were limited. She turned to writing fiction, using pen names to distinguish that work from her scholarly efforts. As Barbara Michaels, she published 28 thrillers. As Elizabeth Peters, creator of the legendary Amelia Peabody series, she wrote 20 novels, expressing her passions for adventure, archeology, humor, Edwardian England, and the sands of Egypt.

Over the course of her 50-year career, Barbara was the recipient of numerous writing awards, starting with her first Anthony Award for Best Novel in 1989. A cascade of prestigious awards and nominations followed over the years, including grandmaster and lifetime achievement awards from the Mystery Writers of America, Malice Domestic, and Boucheron. In 2012, she was given the first Amelia Peabody Award, created in her honor, at the Malice Domestic convention. She died in 2013, leaving a partially completed manuscript of The Painted Queen.

Joan Hess is the author of the Claire Malloy Mysteries and the Arly Hanks Mysteries, formally known as the Maggody Mysteries. She is a winner of the American Mystery Award, the Agatha Award, for which she has been nominated five times, and is a member of Sisters in Crime and a former president of the American Crime Writers League. She has contributed to multiple anthologies and book series, including Crosswinds, Deadly Allies, Malice Domestic, and The Year’s 25 Finest Crime and Mystery Stories. She also writes the Theo Bloomer mystery series under the pseudonym Joan Hadley. She lives in Austin, Texas.

Giveaway: Leave a comment below for your chance to win a print copy of The Painted Queen. US entries only, please. The giveaway will end July 26, 2017. Good luck everyone!

All comments are welcomed.

A day in the life of Capability “Kitty” Weeks by Radha Vatsal

New York City. 1916. Nineteen-year-old Kitty Weeks wakes up at 7:15 in the morning when her maid, Grace, draws back the curtains in her bedroom. She slips into her modern bathroom, showers in a tub complete with hand-shower and running hot and cold water. She brushes her teeth with toothpowder and then pads out her dressing room to choose her outfit for the day.

Kitty lives with her father, Julian Weeks, in the grand New Century Apartments on West End Avenue in Manhattan. He has the master bedroom; she’s converted the two back bedrooms into a suite for herself. The apartment boasts a living room, dining room, and study as well as kitchen and pantry, two maids’ rooms and a maids’ bathroom. The Weeks’ household includes two live-in staff—Grace, and their cook, Mrs. Codd. A daily also comes in to help.

After she dresses for the day, probably in a skirt with a matching jacket and a silk blouse paired with discrete pearl earrings, Kitty heads to the dining room to join her father for breakfast. He eats a hot meal—eggs, meat and coffee; she’s a bit of a health fiend, and enjoys Kellogg’s cornflakes. They both read the paper and discuss the news of the day. Then, a few minutes before nine, Kitty heads off to work—she’s a journalist who writes for the “Ladies’ Page” of the New York Sentinel.

Even though she has her own car, a sporty Stutz Bearcat, the Weekses’ chauffeur drives Kitty to the office in the family’s Packard because it’s difficult to park on Broadway. Kitty checks in with her boss, the indomitable Helena Busby, then settles in beside her co-worker, the shopgirl-turned-typist-turned-Ladies’-Page-assistant Jeannie Williams. Kitty only works until lunch, after which she leaves for home—or to secretly continue working on a case she might be investigating. In Murder Between the Lines, it’s the mysterious death of a sleepwalking boarding school student, Elspeth Bright; in A Front Page Affair, it’s the shooting of Hunter Cole, a society ne’er-do-well. Afterwards, she might go riding in Central Park, or visit her posh friend, Amanda Vanderwell. Kitty also enjoys trips to museums, going to the ‘movies’ to watch her favorite heroines on screen (with Grace to accompany her, naturally!), and she usually ends the day with dinner with father. From the description of her day-to-day activities you would never guess that there’s a huge war going on in Europe… and soon, as Kitty discovers, everything’s going to change…

You can read more about Kitty in Murder Between The Lines, the second book in the “Kitty Weeks” mystery series.

Intrepid journalist Kitty Weeks returns in the second book in this acclaimed WW1-era historical mystery series to investigate the death of a boarding school student.

When Kitty’s latest assignment for the New York Sentinel Ladies’ Page takes her to Westfield Hall, she expects to find an orderly establishment teaching French and dancing-but there’s more going on at the school than initially meets the eye.

Tragedy strikes when a student named Elspeth is found frozen to death in Central Park. The doctor’s proclaim that the girl’s sleepwalking was the cause, but Kitty isn’t so sure.

Determined to uncover the truth, Kitty must investigate a more chilling scenario-a murder that may involve Elspeth’s scientist father and a new invention by a man named Thomas Edison.

For fans of Jacqueline Winspear and Rhys Bowen, Murder Between the Lines combines true historical events with a thrilling mystery.

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Meet the author
Radha Vatsal is the author of A Front Page Affair, which was selected by Library Journal as Debut Mystery of the Month, and Murder Between the Lines (May 2017), the first two novels in the Kitty Weeks mystery series set in WWI-era New York. Vatsal studied women filmmakers and action-film heroines of silent cinema at Duke University, where she received her Ph.D. from the English Department. Her writing has appeared in the Smithsonian.com and the Atlantic.com. She is also co-editor of the Women Film Pioneers Project. She was born in Mumbai, India and lives in New York City. You can find her at www.radhavatsal.com

All comments are welcomed.

Giveaway: Leave a comment below for your chance to win a print copy of Murder Between The Lines. U.S. entries only, please. The giveaway ends July 10, 2017. Good luck everyone!

A day in the life with Frank Malloy by Victoria Thompson

If you’ve read about me in any of the Gaslight Mysteries, you probably remember me as a Detective Sergeant with the New York City Police. I was a cop my entire adult life, up until they fired me about a year ago. Oh, don’t feel sorry for me. They fired me because I got too rich to be a cop. But that’s a story for another day. Today’s story starts at home. Now that Sarah Brandt and I are married, we live in this gigantic house her neighbor, Mrs. Ellsworth, found for us. I’m glad it’s big because we share it with my mother, my son, Sarah’s daughter, our Nanny, our maid and our cook. So after breakfast is over, I’m often glad I’ve got an office to go to.

The office is the detective agency I now own, thanks to my former colleague from the police department, Gino Donatelli. While Sarah and I were on our honeymoon, Gino and our Nanny, Maeve Smith, decided I needed something interesting to fill my time, and they’d already solved our first case by the time Sarah and I got home from our European tour.

This morning I arrived at my office to find Gino had found a new client for us. Will Bert was looking for his brother who worked as a newsboy in the city. The orphaned boys had gotten separated when Will had been taken out west on the Orphan Train to find adoptive parents. Now that Will is grown, he wants to find Freddie and give him a home.

Since I don’t have to worry about earning a living anymore, I can take the cases I like, even if I don’t get paid, and I didn’t need to get paid to help these two brothers find each other. The trouble was, once Gino and I started investigating, we found out everything Will Bert had told us was a lie, including his name. That gave us a whole new mystery to solve, and we were very interested to find out the real reason Will Bert wanted to find Freddie. Then people started turning up dead, and the situation became more and more desperate. What did a missing debutant, a gangster from the Bowery, and a poor newsboy have in common?

The answers we found surprised us, but I won’t spoil it for you. Meanwhile, I’m on to the next case.

You can read the whole story and find out what Sarah and the rest of her family have been up to as well in Murder in the Bowery, the 20th book in the Gaslight Mystery Series.

Former police sergeant turned private detective Frank Malloy and his wife Sarah are caught up in the strange world of a society woman who enjoyed flirting with danger but found death instead. . . Frank Malloy’s latest client is well-dressed Will Bert. He’s searching for his brother, a newsboy named Freddie so he can share his new financial good fortune. Frank makes quick work of the case and locates Freddie but a happy reunion between brothers is not in the cards.

When Will’s name is mentioned, Freddie runs off—only to be found dead a short time later. A suspicious Frank tracks down Will who spins a tale of lust and deceit involving a young society woman Estelle Longacre. Estelle’s risky behavior took a fatal toll but Frank can’t be sure if the company she kept is to blame or if her own ruthless family had a hand in her death.

Frank will need Sarah’s help to unearth the dark secrets of the Longacres and to discover if there is a connection between Estelle and Freddie’s death. Together they must navigate an underground web of treachery to find answers.

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About the author
Edgar® and Agatha Nominated author Victoria Thompson writes the Gaslight Mystery Series, set in turn-of-the-century New York City and featuring midwife Sarah Brandt. Her latest, Murder in the Bowery, is a May 2017 release from Berkley Prime Crime. She also contributed to the award winning writing textbook Many Genres/One Craft. Victoria teaches in the Seton Hill University master’s program in writing popular fiction. She lives in Illinois with her husband and a very spoiled little dog. Find out more at www.victoriathompson.com.

All comments are welcomed.

Giveaway: Leave a comment below for your chance to win a print copy of Murder in the Bowery. US entries only, please. The giveaway ends May 12, 2017. Good luck everyone!