Tag Archives: traditional mystery

A day in the life with Fia McKee by Sasscer Hill

flamingo-roadIt’s dawn, and dense fog covers the Saratoga backstretch as I do my undercover work for the Thoroughbred Racing Protective Bureau. The heavy mist leaves Saratoga’s training track virtually invisible, but I can smell its sandy dirt and sense the expanse of the mile oval stretching away from me.

Jogging the gravel path that parallels the track, I shove my hands deeper into the pockets of my jacket, hugging the black denim around my rib cage against the chill.

Out on the dirt, the pounding of hooves draws closer, the sound muffled by the moisture-laden air. Beyond the rail, the horses flying past me are ill-defined, almost ghostly.

The sudden, deafening crack of a handgun is neither muffled nor poorly defined. My earlier years as a Baltimore street cop leave no doubt what I’ve heard. I stand motionless, eyes and ears straining.

Ahead, someone screams, “Oh, my God!”

I raced forward. The high-pitched wails of a woman grow louder. As I draw close, I see her pale face staring at a form splayed on the ground at her feet. The acrid scent of gunpowder floats past me. The coppery stench of blood is unmistakable.

I close the distance between us. “Hey,” I say, heading off her next cry. “Maybe you should step back. Cops will come. You don’t want to mess up the scene, right?”

Though she’s stopped screaming, she doesn’t seem to hear me. She stares at the figure on the ground, her body shaking. I stare, too. Male, the back of his head blown out, his hand still clutching a revolver. Suicide?

The woman moans. I can almost see another scream rising in her throat. “Do you have a phone?” I ask, trying to distract her. “Hey, look at me!”

She does, her eyes huge and round.

“Do you know him?”

“I, no. I mean, I’ve seen him before. At the track.”

Gently, I grasp her arm. “Come on. Don’t stare at him anymore. We need to get help. Do you have a phone?” I ask again.

She nods numbly.

“Okay, good. Call 911.”

I realize I had almost pulled my own cell to make the call, before stopping. Though no longer a street cop, I’m working undercover and need to keep a low profile.

As the woman talks to the dispatcher, she grows more focused, giving her name, saying a man has been shot– or maybe shot himself– at the training track just inside the East Avenue entrance to Saratoga’s backstretch.

“No,” I hear her say, “I ran over here when I heard the gun go off, and I saw–”

The dispatcher must sense a rising hysteria. I think he says something to divert her. As they are trained to do, he keeps her on the phone.

The mist begins to break up and rise toward the treetops and spires crowning the historic wooden barns to my right. I ease away from the woman, step into a lingering column of fog, and glance back. Good, I can barely see her. I shouldn’t be involved in this shooting and double-time it back toward my original destination, the barn where I work as a hot walker.

In the distance, a police siren wails. The sound draws closer, and I hurry away.


You can read more about Fia in FLAMINGO ROAD, the first book in this NEW Fia McKee mystery series, out April 18, 2017.

Baltimore police officer Fia McKee is put on leave for excessive use of force after interfering in a crime that turns deadly. Given a second chance, she is sent to work undercover for the Thoroughbred Racing Protective Bureau (TRPB) at the Gulfstream Park in Florida, where she works as an exercise rider. Her assignment is to watch and report back on two racetrack workers who have been suspected of illegal activities and whose horses continue to outperform all expectations, winning their owners unseemly amounts of money in the races.

To complete her cover story, Fia moves in with her semi-estranged brother, Patrick, who lives near the racetrack. Her investigations are complicated when her niece, Jilly, disappears after a shadow gang takes Jilly’s beloved horse. Now Fia must work two angles―first to find out what’s really going on with the men who might or might not be gaming the system, and second to bring the men who prey on horses to justice. Along the way, Fia encounters Cuban gangs living off the grid, a (very handsome) do-gooder who’s close on their trail, and a cabal of super wealthy gamblers who will stop at nothing to ensure they always win.

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About the author
Sasscer Hill, a former Maryland racehorse breeder, trainer, and rider, uses the sport of kings as a backdrop for her mysteries. Her “Nikki Latrelle” novels earned multiple award nominations, including an Agatha, a Macavity, and the Dr. Tony Ryan Best in Racing Literature awards.

Her new series about Thoroughbred Racing Protective Bureau agent, Fia McKee, debuts from St. Martins, Minotaur, on April 18.

Hill earned a BA in English Literature from Franklin and Marshall College and now lives with her husband, a dog, and a cat in Aiken, SC, where she still rides horses. Contact Sasscer at SasscerHill.com.

All comments are welcomed.

Flamingo Road is available at retail and online booksellers.

A day in the life with Chava Ester Schultz by Elena Hartwell

two-heads-are-deader-than-oneLet me tell you about my daughter. First off, she calls herself Eddie Shoes. Can you imagine? Okay, I get it. Edwina Zapata Schultz is a bit of a mouthful, but seriously, Eddie Shoes? What kind of name is that? Of course she ended up being a private investigator, what else would a girl who calls herself Eddie Shoes do for a living?

That wouldn’t be so bad, if she investigated important things, like murders. But no, she does background checks on nannies and home healthcare workers. Mostly sits at a desk all day. What fun is that? Sam Spade is turning over in his grave and Philip Marlowe says she should give up her PI license.

Yes, I know, those are fictional characters and my daughter is a living breathing, licensed, insured and bonded PI, but that doesn’t mean there’s not a reputation to live up to. A few shoulders to stand on, fictional or not. What she hasn’t realized is I can help her do that.

She’s just lucky I decided to move to Bellingham and spice her life up a little bit. Granted, Western Washington isn’t exactly my cup of tea, it’s always raining here! But still, what would she do without me? Not only did I help her solve that murder she got entangled in last year, but I’ve just helped her out again. On an even trickier case. Bodies piling up everywhere. She’s lucky I can’t move back to Las Vegas any time soon, who knows when she might need me next.

Speaking of Las Vegas, did I mention I’m a professional poker player? That’s right. I’m one of those rare few who can actually play the game at a profit, not a loss. Want to know why? Because I understand the game better than everyone I play against. Like a shark going after minnows, I know who to sit down with. If you want to succeed at poker, and by that I mean win more money than you lose, a big part of the battle is who you pit yourself against. Ego will kill you. Play against the best and statistically, your profit goes down. Why would you do that? Play to win. That’s my strategy for life. Play to win. At any cost.

That’s how my daughter should think about her career. Take a few risks. Be a shark, not a minnow.

Of course, she does have a Colt .45 and knows how to use it. I’ve seen that firsthand. She’s also pretty levelheaded when things get dicey. She doesn’t panic when the chips are down or bullets start flying around in abandoned buildings. She’s also not too bad in a car chase or when someone gets kidnapped. Not that I would know anything about that.

So I guess Sam Spade and Philip Marlowe might actually be impressed with her. She’s tough. Smart. And just ethical enough to keep from getting thrown into jail. But don’t tell her I said those things. I like to keep her on her toes. That always felt like the right thing to do as a single parent. I had to be both mother and father to her, so it was my job to make her self-reliant.

I was just sixteen when she was born. What did I know about raising a kid? I lost my own parents young too, so it was just the two of us. She had to learn how to take care of herself, because that’s how the world works. No one else is looking out for you.

Although, now that I’m living with her, I have noticed she’s got some other people who have her back. Her best friend Iz is a no-nonsense girl if I’ve ever met one. She’s been looking out for Eddie ever since Eddie moved to Bellingham from Seattle. It doesn’t hurt she works for the Police Department and has access to all sorts of interesting information. Then there’s her friend Debbie Buse. Now that is a woman with a good head on her shoulders. I’m sure she would have done a better job raising Eddie than I did . . . Eddie thinks I’m jealous of Debbie, but the truth is, I’m glad she has her to turn to. As a first time dog owner my daughter needs all the help she can get and Debbie is like Cesar Millan the dog whisperer, in a dress. Then there’s Franklin. I love that dog like he’s my own. Eddie says he’s hers, but I know he’s really mine. Franklin knows that too.

I guess all in all, Eddie is doing okay. I must have done something right.


You can read more about Chava in Two Heads are Deader Than One, the second book in the “Eddie Shoes” mystery series.

Private Investigator Eddie Shoes is enjoying a rare period of calm. She’s less lonely now that Chava, her card-counting mom from Vegas, is sharing her home. She also has a new companion, Franklin, a giant dog of curious ancestry.

Hoping for a lucrative new case, Eddie instead finds herself taking on a less promising client: her best friend from her childhood in Spokane. Dakota has turned up in Bellingham in jail, where she is being held on a weapons charge. Eddie reluctantly agrees not only to lend her friend money for bail but to also investigate who is stalking her. Soon after Dakota is freed, she disappears again, leaving Eddie to answer to the local cops, including her ex-boyfriend Chance Parker. Has Dakota been kidnapped? If not, why did she jump bail? What are Eddie’s business cards doing on the bodies of two murder victims?

The key to these mysteries lies in Dakota and Eddie’s shared history, which ended when Eddie left home after high school. As a person of interest in both murder cases, Eddie is forced to go in search of the truth, digging into the past and facing her own demons.

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About the author
Elena Hartwell spent years in the theater before turning her dramatic skills to fiction. She writes the Eddie Shoes Mystery Series. One Dead, Two to Go, Two Heads Are Deader Than One, and Three Strikes, You’re Dead (launching April 15, 2018). According to Peter Clines, Eddie Shoes is “the most fun detective since Richard Castle stumbled into the 12th precinct.”

Elena lives in Twin Peaks, called North Bend, Washington in the real world. The perfect place for a writer, especially one who kills people for a living.

For more information and cute pictures of her animals visit: elenahartwell.com and arcofawriter.com or follow her on Facebook.

All comments are welcomed.

Two Heads are Deader Than One is available at retail and online booksellers or you can ask your local library to get it for you.

My Musing ~ Two Heads are Deader Than One by Elena Hartwell

Two Heads are Deader Than One by Elena Hartwell is the second book in the “Eddie Shoes” mystery series. Publisher: Camel Press, April 2017

Private Investigator Eddie Shoes is enjoying a rare period of calm. She’s less lonely now that Chava, her card-counting mom from Vegas, is sharing her home. She also has a new companion, Franklin, a giant dog of curious ancestry.

Hoping for a lucrative new case, Eddie instead finds herself taking on a less promising client: her best friend from her childhood in Spokane. Dakota has turned up in Bellingham in jail, where she is being held on a weapons charge. Eddie reluctantly agrees not only to lend her friend money for bail but to also investigate who is stalking her. Soon after Dakota is freed, she disappears again, leaving Eddie to answer to the local cops, including her ex-boyfriend Chance Parker. Has Dakota been kidnapped? If not, why did she jump bail? What are Eddie’s business cards doing on the bodies of two murder victims?

The key to these mysteries lies in Dakota and Eddie’s shared history, which ended when Eddie left home after high school. As a person of interest in both murder cases, Eddie is forced to go in search of the truth, digging into the past and facing her own demons.

This book grabbed me immediately quickly becoming a page-turner that was hard to put down. The author did a great job in setting up this story where a friend comes back and it’s up to Eddie to decipher whether what she is being told is the truth or not. The narrative kept me engaged in all that was happening in this fast-paced drama. The mystery was nicely done with scene after scene putting me a bit closer to what was going on with the one main player that had her hand in how this was going to end. There were some key elements that when it was said and done, made sense of the whys and I have to applaud the author on a job well done. Boasting a wonderful cast of characters that included Eddie and her delightfully charming mother, this was a great read and I can’t wait to read the next book in this terrific series.

A day in the life with Max Tudor by G.M. Malliet

devils-breathHello. My name is Max Tudor. If you want to start our acquaintance on a more a formal footing, I am the Rev. Max Tudor, vicar of St. Edwold’s Church in Nether Monkslip. My parishioners generally call me Father Max, although that is verging on too High Church for me, and I prefer to be called Max. I strive never to be dogmatic about my Anglican faith.

I am still surprised to find myself taking care of a Church of England flock in a village so small it doesn’t appear on any map. Nether Monkslip nestles in a peaceful valley beneath Hawk Crest, wedged somewhere between Devon and Dorset, and very near Monkslip-super-Mare on the Southwest coast of England.

For most of my adult life I lived in London, where I worked for MI5. My work was undercover and even now I seldom can be induced to talk about it. I left all that behind—the lies, the subterfuge, the secrecy, the betrayals—when my colleague Paul was murdered. I was called instead to become a vicar, to turn swords into ploughshares.

Or so I thought. The murder rate has increased alarmingly with my arrival in the Monkslip region and my bishop thinks there is a connection. I do hope he is wrong.

Come to remember, there was that odd case during my time as a student at Oxford. . .

Anyway, a typical day for me begins with Morning Prayer followed by the usual pastoral duties of visiting the poor, the sick, and the dying. More days than not I am called upon to sort out some altercation among the members of the altar guild. I like to spend some time each day working on my Sunday sermon.

I am aided now in all these endeavors by my assistant the Rev. Destiny Chatsworth. This is a very good thing, because too often I am called away from my desk by DCI Cotton of Monkslip-super-Mare to sort out a murder that has taken place too close to home. He and I have developed into quite a good team over the years, and he never seems to mind my interference in what is, after all, his case to solve. I believe he is taking notes on each case with an eye to publishing some of our more notorious cases. But I have found that once one realizes people are the same the world over, whether highborn or lowborn, the solution to most crimes, as Sherlock might say, is elementary.

I am married to Awena Owen, who owns Godessspell, a New Age shop in the village, and I am the proud father of Owen Tudor, who will soon be one year old. Awena has become a cookbook writer of some renown, and most days I reap the rewards of her nourishing, locally-sourced, vegetarian meals. Life could not be happier or more complete.

Except for that alarming, rising body count.


You can read more about Max in Devil’s Breath, the sixth book in the “Max Tudor” mystery series.

In Devil’s Breath, the body of glamorous film star Margot Browne has washed ashore from a luxury yacht and Max’s former colleague Patrice Logan wants his help to find the murderer.

It’s a perfect “closed circle” murder since victim Margot must have been killed by one of the actors, stylists, screenwriters, or second-tier royalty aboard. Patrice suspects the yacht’s owner, a playboy film director she’s been keeping tabs on for smuggling, but Max isn’t so sure. Max and DCI Cotton interview the suspects as they loll about one of the luxury hotels dotting the waterfront. The investigation into Margot’s lurid past uncovers a host of motives—it seems she was not the only person on board with a secret they’d kill to keep.

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Meet the author
About the Author: G.M. Malliet’s first St. Just mystery won the 2008 Agatha Award for Best First Novel, and was chosen by Kirkus Reviews as a best book of the year. It was nominated for many awards, including the Anthony, the Macavity, and a Left Coast Crime award for best police procedural. She has since been nominated for nearly every major crime-writing award, including the Anthony (audiobook and short story). Her series from Macmillan featuring a former MI5 agent turned vicar of a small English village debuted in the autumn of 2011; four books in the series have been nominated for the Agatha. Of the fourth book in the series, Cleveland.com raved: “[Malliet] may be the best mystery author writing in English at the moment (along with Tana French). She’s certainly the most entertaining.” Her new standalone, Weycombe, a book of dark suspense also set in an English village, will appear in October 2017. Connect with G.M. at gmmalliet.com.

All comments are welcomed.

Devil’s Breath is available at retail and online booksellers or you can ask your local library to get it for you.

A day in the life with Tj Jensen by Kathi Daley

treasure-in-paradiseThere is magic in beginnings. Some beginnings come as a rite of passage, such as a graduation from college, the birth of a child, or a wedding day. Others start off more subtly, as nothing more than an ordinary moment that evolves into a crucial event that, in the end, helps define who you are and who you will become. And then there are the beginnings that arrive on the heels of change. At times, we welcome these changes with joyful anticipation; at others, we fight to maintain that which we feel we’ve lost. Change can come in gentle waves that shepherd us into a new reality, or it can come in a tornado of destruction that tears apart everything we hold dear to our hearts.

My name is Tj Jensen and my own new beginning occurred when I packed up two sisters, a grandpa, two very dear friends, four cats, and three dogs and traveled across the country to help an old friend of my father’s renovate the island resort he’d been forced to sell. Although I had jumped at the chance to take a step away from a life that had undergone so many changes in the past few months that I no longer recognized it, I realized I may have traded one set of problems for another when I found the body of treasure hunter Buck Barnes in the attic before I even had a chance to unpack.

When the local deputy declared the death had been due to natural causes, even though it was clear to me that he had been bludgeoned and left to die, I enlisted the help of my friends to dig into the man’s past, attempting to discover why a perfectly nice guy like Deputy Savage would lie about his passing. The more we dug, the more certain we became that Buck had stumbled on to a map that led to the location of the treasure pirate John Barkley had buried on the island more than three centuries before.

My plan today is to interview the island residents in an effort to find out more about the local legend. My hope is that by discovering the secret behind the treasure, I’ll be able to identify the person who caused Buck’s untimely death and bring the killer to justice. The story of Barkley’s treasure had been steeped in legend, mingled with truth, and left to age. I know solving this mystery will take the combined efforts of the friends I brought with me from Paradise Lake and the new friends I’ve met since my arrival on Gull Island.


You can read more about Tj in Treasure in Paradise, the seventh book in the Tj Jensen mystery series.

Tj Jensen and her family head to Turtle Cove Resort for summer vacation, but their plans for rest and relaxation are thwarted when they find a dead treasure hunter in the attic of the resort’s main house. Initially vowing not to get involved, Tj quickly changes her tune when the Gull Island deputy on the case closes it after a bare bones investigation. All evidence points to foul play, and Tj’s determined to uncover what the deputy wants to keep hidden. With the help of her best friend and a chatty parrot, Tj digs up a centuries old legend, a hidden map, and secrets buried deeper than pirate’s treasure.

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About the author
Kathi Daley lives with her husband, kids, grandkids, and Bernese mountain dogs in beautiful Lake Tahoe. When she isn’t writing, she likes to read (preferably at the beach or by the fire), cook (preferably something with chocolate or cheese), and garden (planting and planning, not weeding). She also enjoys spending time on the water when she’s not hiking, biking, or snowshoeing the miles of desolate trails surrounding her home.

She currently writes six series: Zoe Donovan Cozy Mysteries, Whales and Tails Island Mysteries, Sand and Sea Hawaiian Mysteries, Tj Jensen Paradise Lake Series, Writer’s Retreat Southern Mysteries, and Seacliff High Teen Mysteries. Connect with Kathi at kathidaley.com.

All comments are welcomed.

Treasure in Paradise is available at retail and online booksellers.