Tag Archives: Penguin Random House

Not the Usual Suspects organized by Cindy Brown

We are Not the Usual Suspects, a group of Pacific Northwest mystery writers who have banded together to contemplate life, mystery and of course, murder. Though not all of our mysteries are set in the Northwest, we all agree that living here inspires our writing.

I’m Cindy Brown, author of the Ivy Meadows series, madcap mysteries set in the off, off, OFF Broadway world of theater. I grew up in Washington State, spent 20+ years in Arizona, then moved back to the northwest. Though my books are mostly set in Arizona, my writing is definitely influenced by living here. Three big reasons:

Rain. I LOVE the rain. I love the way it makes me want to stay inside and write and read while it drums on the roof. I feel like it’s watering my soul.

The Reading and Writing Culture. People here read. On the bus, in the parks, even while walking down the sidewalk. You’re as likely to have a conversation about the latest bestseller as you are to talk about a hit TV show.

The Sensuality of the Seasons. I knew that I missed the seasons when I lived in AZ, but I’d forgotten the smell of violets, the slow circling fall of a leaf from the tree, and how wonderful homemade chicken soup tastes on a cold winter day. I definitely think that experiencing this present sense of place makes me a better writer.

I’m Kate Dyer-Seeley and I write the Pacific Northwest Mysteries featuring a very bumbling young journalist who bills herself as an intrepid adventurer to land a gig writing for Northwest Extreme magazine, when in reality her idea of sport is climbing onto the couch without spilling her latte.

I’ve lived in the NW for my entire life and love getting to give readers a glimpse into this corner of the world. Here are three of my favorite things that sum up the Northwest and why it’s prime for mystery writing.

Beer—Portland, Oregon is known as the microbrew capital of the world. Quite literally you can walk a block in any direction and run into a pub. The best way to puzzle through putting a plot together is over a cold pint on one of the city’s many outdoor patios on a sunny, spring day.

Wild West—There’s an element of the Wild West that permeates life here. I think it’s naturally in our DNA, leftover from brave settlers who ventured to this unknown territory, and maybe because there’s an abundance of opportunity to connect with nature and get outside. From Portland you can drive a few hours and end up on the Oregon Coast, in the Cascade Mountains, Columbia River Gorge, or even the high dessert. People embrace individuality and adventure, which makes for great material.

Weather—Portland’s ever-changing weather always finds a way into my writing, but the rain and gloomy skies during the winter rarely stop people from getting outside. You grab a raincoat, pull on some boots and hit the trail. Just don’t bring an umbrella!

I’m Kelly Garrett, author of the upcoming YA mystery The Last To Die, which features an anti-hero protagonist that lives by her own honor code. My short story “Sage Advice” is Poisoned Pen Press’ anthology Bound By Mystery, which came out in March 2017, and it features a twenty-something-year-old hipster obsessed with coffee and extremely good at fixing problems.

As a native Oregonian, I love showcasing the state in my writing. As someone who grew up in rural areas of the state, it’s natural that my protagonists tend to be slightly sarcastic women (or teenage girls) with a strong sense of self-reliance.

Rain is one of my favorite things. It makes coffee taste better. The continual pattering of rain on the roof is a lullaby at night. Added bonus: when your Subaru is covered in mud from a few jaunts into the backcountry, the rain does an excellent job softening up the dirt stuck to your car, making it easier to clean.

One thing I love about the book scene in Oregon is that you can find amazing independent bookstores all over the state. I grew up behind a rare-and-used bookstore that I visited often as a teenager. Small towns from Baker City to Lincoln City, from Ashland to Astoria, all have bookstores with curated selections.

I’m Angela M. Sanders. Take a wilderness rich with indigenous people; add a few decades of intrepid pioneers in covered wagons; sprinkle with a century of loggers, fishermen, and hopeful immigrants; and toss in some graying hippies and tattooed hipsters. Stir well. Add a pinch of tech engineers and footwear designers imported from around the globe, and you get the people who make up Northwest Oregon. Two of my series take place here: one featuring a vintage clothing store owner in Portland; and one centering around a kite shop on the Oregon coast (written under my pen name, Clover Tate). I love Northwest Oregon for this mix of old school and high tech. I adore our famous independent streak and our optimism. I salute our focus on individuality. Neither series would be the same in a different setting.

About the authors
Not the Usual Suspects is a group of rain-soaked, caffeine-fueled, slightly quirky mystery writers from the Pacific Northwest who are inspired by its setting and/or sensibility. They include Cindy Brown, Kate Dyer-Seeley, Kelly Garrett, and Angela M. Sanders. They hang out together on Facebook at Not The Usual Suspects.

Giveaway: 4 books! The winner will receive e-copies (Nook or Kindle) of Oliver Twisted (Cindy Brown), First Degree Mudder (Kate Dyer-Seeley), Bound by Mystery (Kelly Garrett), and Blown Away (Angela M. Sanders/Clover Tate). Leave a comment below for your chance to win. The giveaway ends April 21, 2017. Good luck everyone!

A day in the life of Mick Rilke as told to B.B. Haywood

Occupation: Landscaper and Snowplow Driver, Cape Willington, Maine

If you live in Cape Willington, Maine, or in the general vicinity of Down East Maine, you probably know me already, or at least you’ve heard about me. My name is Mick Rilke, and I get around. Some people in town like to call me a bad boy, a flirt, a shady dealer. Let them say what they want. I like to think of myself as having a heart of gold. Hey, I earned it. I help people out by the nature of my business. I’m a landscaper, snowplow driver, and property caretaker, among other things. I’m a busy guy, so whose business is it if I like to flirt with the ladies? A little smile will get you anywhere. That’s my opinion, anyway.

Like most days, today is a busy day for me. During the winter, I plow snow and do winter cleanup. In the summer, I mow yards, lay down fertilizer, put plants into the ground, and trim trees. Today, I’m up bright and early, at 6 a.m. My first stop is to gas up my new red plow truck. I love this baby. She’s a beauty with a smooth ride and she can plow a driveway clean in no time. I worked hard to get the money to buy her. I should probably name her, like a boat. Ruby would be a fitting name, don’t you think?

I like to get a few lottery tickets while I’m at the station—you never know when luck will strike. I also need a cup of that good old gas station coffee. It’s like engine oil to my body. Maybe I’ll flirt a little, too. Depends on who’s working.

Next on my agenda is checking in on a few houses, especially driveways at this time of year. Mud season is here big time, and along with that is leftover ice, so I want to make sure the driveways are clear. Wouldn’t want anyone to get stuck, now would we? Then I have several repairs to take care of. One of my customers has a beauty of a stone wall that was hit and damaged by the town plow truck. Glad it wasn’t me that hit it, but I’m happy to repair it. It takes a bit of muscle, but I have plenty of that.

After that I need to go to the town transfer station, where they keep the mounds of sand and road salt. I need another load. It could snow again any day now, since it’s March and it’s Maine. Late winter storms are the worst, you know. We only have two seasons around here—mud season and winter. That joke cracks me up every time.

When all my work is finished for the day, I’ll head back home. I keep a neat workshop and office in an outbuilding by my barn. I spend a lot of time in there. It’s my own space out of the house. I have a collection of newspaper clippings from the Cape Crier and other local papers. It’s all things of interest to me, from the past and present. I also collect old maps of Cape Willington and Maine. Those I hang up on the walls. I have lived in this town my whole life, so I like to keep track of people’s comings and goings. That’s what life is all about, you know? I take care of my place, and pretty much mind my own business otherwise. So that’s a day in my life. You never know when it will be your last, so live it large.

I’ll leave you with one last bit of advice, especially if you live in Maine during mud season in March. Here you go—this one is a keeper, by the way. You might want to post it on your fridge, just so you don’t forget it:

  1. In snow, drive slow; in mud, drive as fast as you can.
  2. When driving in mud, stay in the ruts when possible—unless you’re going sideways, in which case . . .
  3. Hitch up the horses.

That joke always cracks me up, too. I told it to Candy Holliday just a week or so ago, and it made her laugh also. She told me she was going to put it into the local paper. I’ll be famous! But seriously, be careful during mud season. Early spring can easily fool you, as all true Mainers know, so don’t be its latest victim!

You can read more about Mick in Town in a Maple Madness, the eighth book in the “Candy Holliday” mystery series.

The New York Times bestselling author of Town in a Cinnamon Toast returns to Cape Willington, Maine, where blueberry farmer Candy Holliday springs ahead into sleuthing. . .

The imminent arrival of spring has the locals gearing up for their sweetest celebration ever—the first annual Maple Madness Weekend. Along with maple sugar house tours, a community-wide marshmallow roast, and a weekend-long pancake breakfast, restaurants will be serving up special maple syrup dishes. But the weekend festivities are put in jeopardy when things start to get sticky. . .

One of Candy’s friends is accused of stealing sap from a rival’s sugar maple trees, and landscaper Mick Rilke is found dead, floating down the river wrapped up in a fisherman’s net. As Candy taps into Mick’s life, his unsavory side comes to light, as well as a possible connection to both crimes. Now it’s up to Candy to follow the flow of suspects to a cold-blooded killer. . .

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All comments are welcomed.

NOTE: Mick Rilke plays a significant role in Town in a Maple Madness, the eighth book in the Candy Holliday Murder Mystery Series, which was published on April 4, 2017, by Berkeley Prime Crime, and available in both print and as an ebook. Other titles in the New York Times bestselling series include Town in a Cinnamon Toast (Book 7), Town in a Sweet Pickle (Book 6), Town in a Strawberry Swirl (Book 5), Town in a Pumpkin Bash (Book 4), Town in a Wild Moose Chase (Book 3), Town in a Lobster Stew (Book 2), and Town in a Blueberry Jam (Book 1). Large print editions of the books and an audiobook of Town in a Blueberry Jam are also available. For more information on the series, visit www.hollidaysblueberryacres.com.

A day in the life with Talia Marby by Linda Reilly

a-frying-shameI first want to say a big “thank you” to Dru for inviting me here again to chat with everyone. I’m Talia Marby, owner of a deep-fried eatery in the Berkshires of western Massachusetts. I’m thrilled to be back here, except . . . well, I’m afraid there’s been another murder! I often hear people say that “three times is the charm.” Well, for me, three times was a curse.

It all started when I entered a cooking/baking contest sponsored by a national food conglomerate. Not that it was my idea. Crystal Galardi, co-owner of the recently opened Fork and Dish, talked me into it. The contest was sponsored by Steeltop Foods, whose CEO claimed to have ties to the Berkshires. That in itself was odd, since no one seemed to remember him. Anyway, the company arranged to have the contest held at our town’s annual summer festival. For my entry, I chose my mini deep-fried apple pies—a dessert I’d been testing on all my family and friends. Made with rounds of pie dough filled with scrumptious Cortland apples, sugar, and spices, they’re positively delectable when they come out of the deep fryer. Sprinkle one with powdered sugar and you’ve got yourself a yummy dessert!

I ended up being one of six semi-finalists, an honor I would later regret. I didn’t win the contest, but that wasn’t the bad part. Only a few hours after Norma Ferguson was awarded first prize for her flaky-top chicken stew, she was found dead—and not of natural causes.

Poor Norma. I’ll never forget her expression that day after her name was called. She’d sat there, frozen, as if her feet were glued to the makeshift stage. She looked like someone who’d been sentenced to the guillotine instead of a woman who’d just won a cool twenty-five grand. Not long after she accepted the prize money, she was found in her cooking station, dead. It was almost as if she knew a killer was on her trail . . .

Thinking about it makes me shiver all over again. The worst part is that the police have set their sights on the wrong person—someone I know could never have committed murder. I’m trying to prove it, but everywhere I turn I bump into a roadblock. The main roadblock being one Detective Patti Prescott, who thinks I poke my nose where it doesn’t belong. Luckily, I have some terrific helpers in the eatery, so I can sneak away every so often to try and track down the real killer.

If you’re in the Berkshires, stop by Fry Me a Sliver and enjoy a deep-fried treat. The ambiance is cozy, the AC is pumping out chilled air, and the deep fryer is sizzling. And as for the local gossip . . . once again it’s all about murder.

You can read more about Talia in A Frying Shame, the third book in the “Deep Fried” mystery series.

A cooking contest becomes a fry to the finish in the new Deep Fried Mystery from the author of Out of the Dying Pan.

Fry another day.

The town of Wrensdale is abuzz with excitement when Steeltop Foods sponsors a contest to promote its new Flavor Dial. With a $25,000 prize at stake, Talia Marby, owner of Fry Me a Sliver, hopes her mini deep-fried apple pies will win her the money to pay off the recent renovations on her restaurant.

But when Norma Ferguson wins with her flaky-top chicken stew, the tensions dial up even more. After Norma is found dead at her cooking station, the police suspect a losing contestant got a bit too hot under the collar. Now Talia must work to catch the killer before another cook gets burned . . .

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About the author
Armed with a degree in Criminal Justice, Linda Reilly once contemplated a career in law enforcement. But life took a twist, and instead she found her niche in real estate closings and title examinations, where the dusty tomes in the Registry of Deeds enticed her into solving mysteries of a different sort. Retired from her day job, Linda lives in New Hampshire with her husband, where she loves solving mysteries of the cozy type. When she’s not pounding away at her keyboard, she can usually be found prowling the shelves of a local bookstore or library hunting for a new adventure. Connect with Linda at lindasreilly.com, on Facebook, on Twitter and on Pinterest.

All comments are welcomed.

A Frying Shame is available at retail and online booksellers booksellers or you can ask your local library to get it for you.

Giveaway: Leave a comment below for your chance to win a print copy of A Frying Shame. US entries only, please. The giveaway ends April 7, 2017. Good luck everyone!

A day in the life with Amy Flowers by Gayle Leeson

silence-of-the-jamsHi, I’m Amy Flowers, and I own the Down South Café. In addition to being the owner, I’m the head chef. I adore cooking. I always have. I learned at my grandmother’s right elbow. Looking back, I probably got on her nerves. But Nana patiently answered my questions and lovingly taught me how to prepare specific dishes: biscuits, tuna casserole, turkey dressing for Thanksgiving, meatloaf, and all sorts of things.

I serve all those things and more at the café but I also try to incorporate some healthier and more exotic options to expose my clientele to new things. Those dishes don’t always go over so well with the Down South Café patrons. To test out anything new, I let customers sample the recipe one day and then—provided they enjoy it—I make it the next special of the day.

I know Nana would be proud of the Down South Café. I sure am. Opening the café here in our tiny little community of Winter Garden, Virginia has been a dream come true. The only thorn in my side has been George Lincoln. As my great-aunt, Elizabeth—or Aunt Bess—would tell you, “Mr. Lincoln can be an ornery cuss.” The man is bound and determined that I’m going to sell him the café. Why in the world does he think I’d sell when I haven’t even been in business but just over a month?

Anyway, Mr. Lincoln wants to tear down the Down South Café—so recently renovated by my friend Roger—and build a bed and breakfast on the site. He’s even offered to make me a partner in the endeavor. And no matter how many times he asks, and how many times I tell him no, he keeps coming in to make another offer. Oh, well, at least he eats while he’s making offers, so I guess that in the long run, those offers are good for my bottom line.

The thing is, though, I’ve been hearing a lot of rumors about George Lincoln lately—and none of them are nice. I’ve got a feeling that more than one person might have a grudge against him and that something bad is going to happen.


You can read more about Amy in Silence of the Jams, the second book in the “Down South Café” mystery series.

In the latest Southern cozy from the author of The Calamity Café, small-town chef Amy Flowers can’t take her freedom for granted when she’s served up as a murder suspect. . .

It’s Independence Day in Winter Garden, Virginia, and the residents are gearing up for their annual celebration. The Down South Café is open and flourishing, and Amy Flowers is busy making pies and cakes for the holiday. The only thorn in her side is Chamber of Commerce director George Lincoln, who is trying to buy the café so he can tear it down and build a B&B on the site.

When George collapses while eating at the Down South, everybody assumes it’s a heart attack—until the autopsy declares it to be poisoning. Now, it’s up to Amy to prove her innocence before her liberty is lost.

Includes delicious Southern recipes!

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About the author
Gayle Leeson is a pseudonym for Gayle Trent, who also writes the national bestselling Embroidery Mystery series as Amanda Lee. She lives in Virginia with her family and is having a blast writing the Down South Café Mystery series. Connect with Gayle at gayletrent.com.

All comments are welcomed.

Giveaway: Leave a comment below for your chance to win copy of Silence Of The Jams, either Kindle/Nook (open to everyone) or signed copy (U.S. residents only), winner’s choice. The giveaway will end April 5, 2017. Good luck everyone!

Silence of the Jams is available at retail and online booksellers or you can ask your local library to get it for you.

My Musing ~ The Silence of the Flans by Laura Bradford

The Silence of the Flans by Laura Bradford is the second book in the “Emergency Dessert Squad” mystery series. Publisher: Penguin Random House, March 2017

The second delectable Emergency Dessert Squad Mystery from the national bestselling author of Éclair and Present Danger.

Baker Winnie Johnson does her best work when the heat is on. As owner of the Emergency Dessert Squad, she has a deft touch in the kitchen and a soft spot for lost causes. So when her business professor beau, Jay Morgan, expresses misgivings over having to fail one of his fourth-year students, Winnie cooks up a sweet solution.

She’ll offer an extra credit opportunity in exchange for a little help with her growing business. But when her protégé’s first dessert delivery poisons a student journalist, the publicity threatens to burn Winnie’s business to a crisp. Now the entrepreneur-turned-detective must uncover the ingredients behind a recipe for murder before she crumbles under pressure. . .

Recipes included

This was a fun book to read and I love the camaraderie between Winnie, Mr. Nelson and Bridget. In the latest caper, a young woman dies after eating one of Winnie’s dessert and with her trusted friends, they begin an investigation to clear her name when it looks like Winnie is the prime suspect and what follows is a fun jaunt in search of a killer.

I love this author’s writing style where it has a comfortable tone, a nice flow and enough intrigue that delivers a satisfying whodunit. There were a sufficient number of suspects and clues that kept me in tuned to all that was happening and I especially like how Winnie handled processing it all. I had a good time watching how it all came together with each character’s role playing a pivotal part in exposing the killer’s identity. Bonus to me was the relationship between Jay, Caroline and Winnie. This was a great read and I look forward to more adventures with Winnie and her friends in this delectably appealing series.