Waiting on Wednesday (2)

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event that
spotlights upcoming releases that I’m really
looking forward to. Waiting On Wednesday
is the creation of by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

This week’s “can’t-wait-to-read” selection is:

Continue reading

Book Review: Bloody Royal Prints by Reba White Williams

Bloody Royal PrintsBloody Royal Prints
A Coleman and Dinah Greene Mystery #4
Reba White Williams
Tyrus Books, July 2015
ISBN 978-1-4405-8548-7

Bloody Royal Prints, the fourth book in the Coleman & Dinah series, has an interesting set up. Dinah Heywood has received a prestigious fellowship with the Art Museum of Great Britain and she and her husband, Jonathan, are off to England. Unfortunately, the book isn’t actually about that at all. In fact, Dinah doesn’t even start the fellowship until more than halfway through the book and we hear precious little about it.

So what is the book about? The book starts with Dinah’s controlling husband in great detail. And sprinkled throughout are many descriptions and details of food. But most of the plot centers on an arts dealer Dinah meets and a few of her friends. In fact, much of the book is told about Rachel with Dinah nowhere in sight.

Each chapter is titled for its central character, including Dinah, Rachel, Coleman, Coleman and Dinah, Rachel and Julia, Dinah and Jonathan. The last one (on the final page) is Heyward, an American billionaire who appeared in earlier books and has a small part in this one.

There are a couple of murders in Rachel’s part of the book. (Presumably Dinah is off, troubled with the annoying servants and their failure to meet Jonathan’s needs.) First there is the murder of Stephanie’s friend. Stephanie is a friend of Julia and Julia is Rachel’s friend so it all ties back, sort of. I suspect these are the people the author really wanted to write about and just wrapped it up into a Coleman and Dinah book.

If that weren’t enough, the dialogue is stilted throughout and painful to read. People just don’t talk like that.
I had a hard time finding something to like in this novel. The premise seems to serve only as a device to move the characters to London but it was the reason I wanted to read the book in the first place. I thought that eventually Dinah would grow and realize she doesn’t need to cater to her husband’s controlling demands. But no, please don’t get your hopes up. Dinah’s subplot is all about the servants and what they’re really up to.

And don’t ask me about the attempted-rape scene and how it doesn’t even faze the woman enough to interrupt her date. I think this writer needs to get in touch with a little reality.

The book is flawed and it made for some difficult perseverance. Can’t recommend this one. Still, I liked that premise. I still do.

Reviewed by Constance Reader, August 2015.

Cover Reveal: The Infected by Michelle K. Pickett

The Infected


Title: The Infected
Series: PODs #2

Author: Michelle K. Pickett
Publication Date: October 12, 2015
Genres: Post-Apocalyptic, Young/New Adult



A virus nearly wiped out humankind…

Months have passed since a human infection has been
reported. Survivors of the deadly pandemic have finally
started to build a life in a world left devastated by plague.

Ironically, for nineteen-year-old Eva, life made more sense
when she battled the deadly Infected than it does in the
serenity of her new home in Rosewood. Separated from
fiancé and former POD-mate, David, after an impossible
ultimatum, Eva finds her life a little lonely and a lot confusing.

But as troubled as Eva’s life is, it’s about to take a turn
for the worse as untold dangers watch and
wait for the right moment to attack…

The virus refuses to die quietly.


PODs (PODs #1) on Goodreads


About the Author

I can’t write without a hoodie. Yeah, I live it Texas. We all have our quirks.

I majored in accounting in college. I was required to declare a major, but I had no clue what I wanted to do, so I picked accounting because it was the first thing listed in the booklet the counselor gave me. Surprisingly, I graduated with a 4.0 GPA. Go figure.

Michelle K. PickettForget coffee. Hand over the Red Bull or Monster Khaos and no one gets hurt. Seriously, just set it down and step away. I will turn into a normal human after I guzzle my can of caffeine.

I hate to cook, but love to watch cooking shows on television.

I paint my nails weird colors just to see my husband roll his eyes and make my 9 year-old twin girls giggle. Oh, and mortify my 13 year-old son.

I’m a hopeful romantic and love swoon-worthy endings that keep the butterflies going for days, but I don’t believe a HEA always ends with the boy getting the girl. Sometimes a HEA is an ending we don’t see coming, but is still best for the characters.

I write across genres in the young adult and new adult age groups while eating way too many peanut butter M&Ms (but we’ll keep that second part just between us).

I was born and raised in Flint, Michigan, but now live in a suburb of Houston, TX with my very supportive family, a 125lb rescue “puppy” and a 12lb attack cat, also a rescue animal.

And last, (but certainly not least), I love my family with everything in me. Everything I am, is theirs. There are no words in any language known to man to describe my love for them. They are my center.

I’d love to hear from you. So drop me an email! Let’s chat. You tell me what you like in books, what you’d like to see happen in the writing community, what type of books you like to see more of…less of—I want to hear it all! So tell me, please. Because the one thing I wish I could put on my list, but I still haven’t figured out how to do, is mind-reading. But don’t tell my kids. I still have them fooled. 🙂

Author Links:

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YA Bound Book Tours Button 2

Spotlight on Beat Slay Love by Thalia Filbert—and a Giveaway!

Beat Slay Love Teaser Banner


Title: Beat Slay Love:
One Chef’s Hunger for Delicious Revenge
Author: Thalia Filbert
Publisher: Thalia Press
Publication Date: October 1, 2015
Genres: Mystery, Black Comedy



Like your barbeque and your sex extra spicy? Your murders
saucy and done to a turn? How about lobster — and bad guys —
red hot and served with lemon and butter? Plunge into the
fascinating and competitive world of food media culture, in
this wry, witty crime story where cutting edge takes on a new
meaning when celebrity chefs across America start dying.

Aspiring chef Hannah Wendt has a multitude of talents —
prowess in the kitchen and in the bedroom — but also a
penchant for disposing of bothersome chefs. Wronged by those
who steal her recipes, ridicule her weight, and denigrate her
talents, Hannah has turned in her apron as sous chef and food
stylist to plow new territory — her overpowering hunger for
revenge. Hooked on how tasty payback can be, soon she is
bumping off famous chefs who’ve burned her
ego with spectacular culinary flair.

Meanwhile food blogger Jason Bainbridge is looking for his big
break and sees a pattern in the killings. He forms an uneasy
alliance with cool, hard-charging FBI agent Kimberly Douglas as
the search heats up to catch the sexy, chef-obsessed killer. The
anti-heroine double downs in a page-turner food fight in a
delicious climax to this homicidal romp that skewers
the haughty world of celebrity food. This taut, tasty
thriller will leave you hungry for more.

Grab a fork and dig in.


How Did We Get Here??

Debut author Thalia Filbert’s dark, comic send-up of serial
killers, food mysteries, chick lit, and the iconic Eat Pray Love
finds the sweet spot between appetizers and dessert in this
rollicking trip from sea to shining sea. From color-themed
dinners to Maine lobster pots, from barbeque to huckleberries,
this mystery is stuffed to the gills with knives, mayhem, and laughs.

Who, or what, is Thalia Filbert exactly? She is an experiment
between mystery authors. Friends, colleagues, fellow scribes
who enjoy each other’s company but live far apart: what
were the chances they could do a collective mind-meld that
would entertain not only them during the (rather long)
process but readers who crave a spicy criminal tale?

Five mystery authors with over 75 novels under their belts,
who live on both coasts and in the middle. Could they pool
their resources and imaginations and write one solid thriller? It
was a lark but a chance we were willing to take. And to read
bestseller Charlaine Harris’s take, it seems to have worked:

“For anyone who’s ever watched CHOPPED or even
stopped in at Williams-Sonoma, “Beat Slay Love” is
the perfect read. An incredibly sly mystery, it has
everything you’d want when you bite into a dish:
suspense, spice, and a new take on an old classic.”

The “old classic” is Eat Pray Love, from whence
we got our title, slightly twisted as is our protagonist.

Why do we call it Beat Slay Love? We beat eggs and
other culinary specialties, we slay chefs, and we let our
characters love a little. Mostly we poke fun at pompous
chefs and reality cooking shows that are mini soap operas
with outsize personalities throwing tantrums and insults. Is
there any better villain than a nasty chef? How about a whole
bunch of them? And is there any better revenge than to
turn some of the tools of their trade against them?

Finally we’re ready to lick the frosting on this cupcake. Or
maybe not. The cupcakes in this book might be deadly.


An Excerpt from Beat Slay Love

The police chief of Little Neck paused, drinking in his luck.

Here he was, the first customer to enter what was sure to become a famous local landmark once the episode was broadcast. He noticed two cameramen filming him and sucked in his gut, breathing deeply of the aroma in the restaurant. The staff must have been cooking all day.

He could smell short ribs, he thought, roasted to perfection, with perhaps a hint of rosemary and lemon added to the mix. He had starved himself all afternoon in anticipation of his meal at the Grotto. He was ready to tuck in and eat.

The romantic atmosphere was fancy but a bit eerie with empty, forlorn tables, their fake candles dark. Still, maybe he’d take the missus here when everything settled down. He might get lucky.

“Where’d that little prick go?” the Chief asked one of the cameramen.


“No, the owner of this joint,” the Chief clarified, making a note about the crew’s opinion of their boss.

“Beats me. He just ran out the back door and jumped in his car,” a cameraman answered. “His wife was with him. I got the footage. But if we can’t find Byron, there’s no show anyway.”

“Mr. Peppers ever disappear like this before?”

The two cameramen exchanged a glance. No one wanted to bring up that unfortunate episode in Duluth. The girl’s parents were still threatening to bring charges.

“Sometimes Byron gets distracted,” one of them finally said.

The Chief had suspected as much. He was a handsome devil, that Byron Peppers. The thought of meeting the show’s rugged Aussie host perked up the Chief. Maybe he could get a photo with him that he could show to his friends, not to mention the kids. His grandchildren thought he was an old fogey, but if he could snag a photo with a TV star, they’d have to shut their bratty little mouths.

“Smells good,” the Chief remarked, breathing deeply of the fragrant air.

The cameramen shrugged. They’d been let down by too many meals by now to expect anything but disappointment. Most of the restaurants Byron Peppers helped turn around lasted little more than a couple months after the show. The crew could come in and make the restaurant look better, update the menu, and draw a celebrity-hungry crowd for a few weeks, but there wasn’t much they could do about a restaurant owner who was too cheap to use good ingredients, too mean to keep a decent staff, and too indifferent to customers to give quality service.

They were approaching the kitchen. The Chief’s feet slid softly across the new white tile floor. It sure was an improvement over the warped wooden floors. Maybe he could score a short rib or two. He sure was hungry.

“Back door this way?” the Chief asked. The cameramen led the way, pushing through two large swinging doors into a gleaming kitchen that was light years cleaner than it had been just a few days ago.

“I see they kept the old pizza oven,” the Chief said. The delicious aroma was coming from within its brick walls. “I remember when it was first installed. In fact, my great uncle did the mortar work. They don’t make them like that anymore, you know.”

Adobe Photoshop PDFHe stepped closer, following his nose. He prided himself on his sense of smell. He definitely detected lemon, rosemary, perhaps a hint of thyme and something else… something different. Something almost delicious but a little off. He couldn’t quite put his finger on it.

“Smells like your guy did a good job of getting the chef to up his game,” the Chief announced with a touch more superiority than his actual knowledge of cooking merited. “I suspect most of the stuff they’ve been serving here was frozen, at least since the old man died.”

The cameramen rolled their eyes. Most of the dishes would continue to be frozen, makeover or not. And no one would ever know the difference.

The Chief stopped in front of the oven and looked around, scratching his head. Where was everybody? Where was the chef? Where the hell was this vaunted Byron Peppers, charming host of Kitchen Turnaround? For the first time, it occurred to him that something might actually be wrong. He’d just poke around a little.

With nothing else to do, the cameramen rolled tape as the Chief rummaged around the kitchen, opening cabinet doors and lifting the lids on pots. Thus it was that they captured his gruesome discovery in glorious color and recorded his school-girl scream of terror.

Overcome by hunger and delicious odors, the Chief finally opened the doors of the pizza oven for a peek inside. He was expecting short ribs. What he saw would turn him vegetarian for the rest of his life.

The upper rack of the oven had been removed, creating a large cavern heated well above 600°F. Trussed up like a giant turkey, Byron Peppers lay roasting on the bottom rack, an apple shoved in his mouth and sprigs of herbs tucked neatly behind his ears. His eyes were open, a milky opaque. He was naked and his flesh was as crisp and succulent as that of a deep-fried turkey.

The delicious smell the police chief had been coveting was Crispy Cooked Peppers.

It was too much. The chief bent over, bringing up coffee and doughnuts for the benefit of the cameras. He puked again while the cameramen hovered around him, never missing a beat. One zoomed in on their roasting boss then out again, unsure what to do. Perhaps being behind the camera made it all unreal. But once there was nothing new to record, there was nowhere to hide. As one, they lowered their lenses and stared at each another.

“Holy shit,” one cameraman said. “Can you imagine the ratings on this one?”


Killing Byron Peppers had been easy.

It was as simple as slipping tranquilizers into his bottle of bourbon— he could always be depended on to have a bottle of bourbon nearby— and then waiting until the others left. Not long after, the obnoxious, ego-stuffed host had collapsed while trying to drunk-dial some ex-girlfriend. Undressing him was a cinch and seasoning him a simple matter of good taste.

Rosemary, of course, along with a liberal sprinkling of parsley and thyme plus a few lemons stuffed up an orifice or two. The apple in the mouth was perhaps a cheap shot, but nothing Byron Peppers didn’t deserve.

Moving him afterward had been more difficult.

Byron Peppers was no lightweight and had been as limp as twice-frozen celery. In the end, the only solution had been to prop wooden pallets up on the lip of the oven door at an angle before rolling him up the ramp and awkwardly stuffing him inside. A true chef paid attention to presentation, however. It had been worth it to climb onto the pallets, lean into the still-cool oven, and arrange his arms and legs into a neat bundle, securing everything in place with twine. After that, all that remained was to crank up the oven and leave. Heat would take care of the rest.

There was no chance of detection. Invisibility had its benefits. When you are a plump and unimportant minion, people look right through you. Yes sir. They look right through you.

Just the same, it was time to look for work in another town. This job was done. Byron Peppers was dead. It was time to move on to the others on the list.

The list.

With a rush, the unwelcome memory of the humiliation to end all humiliations` came rushing back. With it, the role Byron Peppers had played in it unfolded as if it had happened yesterday. The cruel cameras that zoomed in on every slice of a knife and highlighted every extra chin. The judges looking so smug behind their table. The oh-so-clever remarks from those who could get by on their looks alone— the cutting digs about the cuisine, the insincere suggestions on how to make what was clearly a perfect dish better, the casual dismissal that came well before the final round.

Byron Peppers deserved his fate.

Another one down. So many more to go.


There were days when Jason Bainbridge couldn’t believe how lucky he was to make money sitting on his ass, watching television and occasionally springing for an unbelievable meal.

He felt like a fool for having wasted so many years with that stupid guitar, thinking he was talented, covering the soundtrack to Twin Peaks every year with a bunch of other over-the-hill hipsters, all the while sounding like a third-rate Paul Westerberg. Just like a hundred other thirty-something, overweight losers in his hometown who had dropped out of college to become part of the starving but oh-so-cool underclass.

His palate had saved him from obscurity.

Somewhere along the way, Jason had found he enjoyed food more than he enjoyed music. Not any food, but good food, and not just eating it but listening to people talk about it, watching people make it, writing about the reality show battles unfolding on the Food Channel, the one channel he kept playing around the clock on his sixty inch flat screen high-definition television.

Forget Super Bowl Sunday. Forget sweeps week. Forget the premier of new shows. None of that mattered. What mattered was Cupcake Wars. Cake Master. Chopped. Top Chef. Kitchen Confidential. Kitchen Turnaround. Next Food Network Star. Cookie Monsters. Even Cutthroat Kitchen.

The kitchen was his battlefield and he was a warrior. A warrior of words.

The day he realized he was good at something was a shock. It changed his life.

Telling no one in case it turned out to be a flop, he started his own food blog called Forked Tongue. He covered all the reality cooking shows with the devotion of an acolyte and the wisdom of a master, critiquing every move, dissecting every recipe on where it went wrong, even making all-too-educated guesses about the sobriety of the guest judges who drifted in and out of the shows like crazy cousins visiting one another’s homes for the holidays.

He discovered he loved the virtual world. He could be anyone out there in cyberspace.

No one cared that he was slightly overweight and on a dangerous trajectory towards fat. No one cared that he was indifferent to getting his hair cut and seldom wore anything other than a grimy pair of jeans and faded T-shirt.

No one knew that his girlfriend had left him the week before, the latest in a long series of girlfriends to leave him. She had been just like all the others, not understanding why he lived in a ratty apartment and drove a clunker while making a big deal out of driving hundreds of miles for the perfect meal prepared by the rare perfect chef.

Screw them all. Life was about food and food was life.

He’d entered the blogosphere as an unknown novice. Almost immediately, Jason Bainbridge’s posts had risen to the top of favorability ratings on all of the most popular food blogs. He garnered more stars from other posters than anyone.

With each incisive blog, he grew more famous and each day he attracted more advertising attention. He branched out into restaurant reviews and food articles but reality TV chefs were his true love. One day he would achieve his dream of writing the next big exposé about the world of top chefs and the crazy men and women who battled for supremacy within it.

For now, he had expanded his repertoire to include original reporting on developments in the personal lives of the best-known chefs and speculation about their futures. He had proved to be remarkably adept at spotting a budding alcoholic, or someone suffering from the pangs of love, or, even more likely, someone trapped in the cycle of drug addiction, soon to unravel before America’s eyes. Part of the secret of his success was that he had RSS feeds on all the brand-name chefs, followed them religiously on Twitter, and was often the first out of the gate with the news of some personal disaster, thus giving him the power to shape the story for the public.

He had become a voice.

It was a Saturday night when Jason Bainbridge got the news about Byron Peppers. Had he been out drinking micro-brewed ales with his musician pals of old, he would have missed it. His discipline paid off. The report of Pepper’s death came in via a Google News alert that was little more than a brief mention by a major news site saying that famed television chef Byron Peppers had just been found dead in an obscure restaurant in some equally obscure Jersey shore town. Filming of Kitchen Turnaround was on hold. No other details were given.

Jason Bainbridge didn’t need more details. He knew instantly what this latest chef death meant.

He was probably the only person in America, maybe even on the entire planet, who followed the lives of virtually every chef who ever appeared on television. He was also probably the only person in America who remembered that a chef in Miami had been found dead on his boat not three months before, killed by a gunshot wound. His murder was still unsolved.

That in itself was not remarkable, especially given what assholes chefs could be and what hotbeds of intrigue the kitchens of high-end restaurants were. But then another chef, the owner of a small bistro in New York City, had been found dead by her staff not six weeks ago, skewered through both her hypercritical eyes.

One chef, not so surprising. Two chefs, a little suspicious. But three chefs in as many months? Something was up.

Yes, and Jason Bainbridge and Forked Tongue would break the story. Why not? There was nothing to stop him. He had a laptop and he could work wherever he could find a wireless signal. He had nothing to hold him here in his ratty apartment. He’d never gone in for cats and a dog was too much trouble. And once again there was no girlfriend to keep him from hitting the road.

Suddenly, his choice was crystal clear: he could sit there on his couch and keep being an observer of life, or he could get off his butt and go out there and make life happen.

It wasn’t a hard decision to make. Within an hour of the grisly death of Byron Peppers being broadcast on Entertainment Tonight, Jason Bainbridge had his car packed, his bills paid for the month, and his laptop stowed safely in the trunk. He was onto something and he knew it.

He put the clunker in gear and hit the road. This was his ticket to the big time.


About the Author

Taffy Cannon, one of the Thalia's

Taffy Cannon, one of the Thalia’s

But who exactly is Thalia Filbert, the author of this tale? Five seasoned mystery writers named Gary, Kate, Taffy, Katy, and Lise, one of whose 75+ novels you have no doubt seen on bookstore and library shelves near you. (Find out more at Thalia’s Facebook page) But because we’re fiction writers we gave Thalia a backstory. Her bio reads like this:

  • Thalia Filbert’s lust for food, travel, and a good story is legendary. Now she’s combined it all in one scrumptious package. Her debut novel, Beat Slay Love, highlights her love of the underdog, American regional food – and that special dish best served cold: delicious revenge. She attended culinary school at a posh Napa Valley academy and did the obligatory stint in European bistro kitchens. From a Midwestern town where she learned to make delicacies like possum au vin, she escaped in the nick of time, leaving a hungry man at the altar, and never looked back.

With our sincere apologies to Elizabeth Gilbert, we offer up a slice of mayhem and laughs on October 1. Look for Beat Slay Love, written by the pseudonymous Thalia Filbert, from Thalia Press.

Nook, KOBO, and iTunes coming shortly! Check back on October 1.


Now Here’s a Humdinger
of a Giveaway!!

To enter the drawing for a copy of
Beat Slay Love by Thalia Filbert,
leave a comment below. There will
be *6* winning names drawn on
Wednesday evening, September 30th,
3 for paperback and 3 for ebook.
This drawing is open to residents of
the US for paperback and
internationally for ebooks.
Be sure to indicate your preference!

Book Review: Blood Red by Wendy Corsi Staub

Blood RedBlood Red
Mundy’s Landing Book One
Wendy Corsi Staub
William Morrow, September 2015
ISBN No. 13: 978-0-06-23497-3-6
Mass Market Paperback

Rowan and Jake Mundy have left New York City and moved to the small town of Mundy’s Landing, their hometown. Mundy’s Landing is famous for its scenery as well as a string of century old unsolved murders. The Mundy children Braden and Kate are away at college. The youngest son Mick still lives at home and is in high school.

When the family moved back to Mundy’s Landing Rowan felt she was escaping from a mistake she almost made that could have ruined her marriage. Now the mistake has been brought back to haunt her in the form of a package received containing 13-burnt cookies. Such a strange gift but Rowan knew exactly what it meant.

The Mundy’s neighbor in New York was Rick Walker who was a stay at home husband while his wife worked. Rowan and Rick became close since they spent so much time together doing activities with the family. Rowan was baking cookies and was stopped from almost giving in to Rick’s advance when the buzzer on the stove went off and the cookies were burnt.

Rowan is a red head and there have been some recent murders involving victims with red hair. It appears that Rowan may soon be one of the victims if she doesn’t solve the mystery of who is sending the anonymous packages. Rowan discusses the problem with her sister Noreen who has her own troubles and doesn’t have much advice for Rowan except to be honest with her husband Jake.

Rowan’s son Mick is interested in a girl at school who also has red hair and when she disappears, he is questioned since he has been leaving her some secret Santa gifts.

Rowan’s problem is finally solved in the end but not without injury to a family member. I am a big fan of Wendy Corsi Staub and have read most of her books but there was one part of the book that was not brought to a conclusion at the end of the story. This may be because it will be a start for the second book in the series but I did not like the way the incident was just dropped.

Reviewed by Patricia E. Reid, August 2015.

Book Review: Cold Trail by Janet Dawson

Cold TrailCold Trail
A Jeri Howard Mystery #11
Janet Dawson
Perseverance Press, April 2015
ISBN: 978-1-56474-555-2
Trade Paperback

California private investigator Jeri Howard is an experienced creation of her well-traveled author, Janet Dawson. Her cases have covered a wide range of criminals and misdeeds, but this one hits close to home. Too close. Her younger brother is missing, feared dead in a gas-fueled boat explosion. The body also carries a fatal bullet. The scene at the morgue where Howard must view the body is a well-done, emotional high.

Thereafter, having been unable to identify the body, Howard mounts an independent effort to find her brother. The long and winding trail to a resolution requires Howard to interact with several central California law enforcement agencies, some business types, a couple of lawyers, several generations of her family and other assorted characters. And therein lies the simple flaw in this novel.

The plot is well-conceived, the criminals are truly criminal, and everybody seems to act in logical, well-thought out actions. However the story covers large areas of Sonoma County, necessitating our P.I. to travel to many places, almost all of which are lovingly detailed. At times I thought we were in a travelogue.

Caught up in the details of getting her protagonist from one interview to another, there is a curious lack of emotion at times. Yes, P.I. Howard is an experienced professional and of course she has to keep it together while tracing her brother, if she’s going to locate and rescue him before he too is murdered, but I thought Howard’s demeanor at times was a little too tightly controlled. Nevertheless, the writing is good, things move along and the resolution is everything one expects in this kind of crime novel.

Reviewed by Carl Brookins, September 2015.
http://www.carlbrookins.com http://agora2.blogspot.com
The Case of the Purloined Painting, The Case of the Great Train Robbery, Reunion, Red Sky.

An Interview With Linda Castillo

Linda CastilloOriginally from Ohio where her Amish thrillers are set, Linda Castillo knew from an early age that she wanted to be a writer–and penned her first novel at the age of thirteen. She’s published thirty books for three New York publishing houses and won numerous industry awards, including a nomination by the International Thriller Writers for Best Hardcover, the Golden Heart, the Daphne du Maurier Award of Excellence, and a nomination for the prestigious Rita.

Her debut thriller, Sworn to Silence, garnered starred reviews from Library Journal, Publisher’s Weekly, and Booklist–and spent four weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. The following books in the series also hit the NYT and USA Today lists and became international bestsellers. Sworn to Silence was recently adapted into a two-hour original movie re-titled “An Amish Murder” and starring Neve Campbell as Kate Burkholder.

In her spare time, Linda enjoys trail riding, and dabbles in barrel racing. She resides in Texas with her husband, two rescued Blue Heelers, and two Appaloosa horses. She’s currently at work on her next novel, a thriller set in Amish Country and featuring Chief of Police Kate Burkholder.


I’m delighted to welcome Linda Castillo
to share a few thoughts with us.

cncbooks: Your themes are anything but fluffy—did you set out to do thrillers or did Kate take you in that direction?

Linda: The idea of writing a big thriller has always appealed to me. I also love a dark story with a lot of intensity. In the course of writing the first book in the Kate Burkholder series, Sworn to Silence, I fell in love with Kate and she pretty much took over the page from there. She’s a strong protagonist and I know she can handle whatever situation I throw her into.

cncbooks: Is there one author (mystery or otherwise) who has really influenced your writing career?

Linda: There isn’t just a single author who influenced me, but multiple authors. Wonderful writers whose books inspired me or maybe I attended one of their speaking engagements and they touched me in some way. Authors like John Sandford (who just happens to be the best police procedural author around), Sandra Brown, Tami Hoag, Gillian Flynn, Greg Iles, Nora Roberts, Lisa Scottoline, CJ Box—too many to name here. I love them all.

cncbooks: What part of your crime research has been the most interesting?

Linda: Researching the Amish culture has been fascinating and enlightening and personally satisfying. With regard to the crime research, I love the police procedural aspect. I’m a graduate of two citizen police academies where I had the opportunity to meet many wonderful officers and learn about what they do. I did ride-alongs in a large metropolitan city with both male and female officers. One of the more interesting exercises I participated in was the shoot/no shoot scenarios. I was given a police issue revolver (with a plugged muzzle.) A police officer and I ran through the halls of the training facility, bursting through doors. I had no idea what kind of “crime scenario” I would encounter on the other side of the door. All scenarios were police officers engaged in some type of make-believe crime situations. I had a split second to decide if the situation called for deadly force. For a novice, I did well—until I shot a cop. I entered the room. I saw a man on top of a woman. He clearly had something in his hand. I fired my weapon. The thing he was holding was his badge. The citizen police academies were a thrill and incredibly educational, and it really gave me a new perspective on the dangerous and difficult work police officers face every day.

cncbooks: What has been the toughest criticism you’ve been given as an author? What has been the best compliment?

Linda: The toughest criticism I’ve received was a letter from an Amish man from Wisconsin. He read Breaking Silence and was so offended he burned the book (literally.) Of course I know a writer can’t please everyone (and probably shouldn’t even try!) But since he was Amish, that letter was particularly tough.

On that same note, one of the best compliments I’ve received came from an Amish man from Holmes County Ohio. He enjoyed Sworn to Silence and I had the pleasure of meeting him and his family during book tour. It was a wonderful experience.

cncbooks: What do you like best about being a writer? What do you like the least?

Linda: I love writing. I love creating characters and stories. But I have to say the thing I love most is hearing from a reader who loved the book. That’s epic! The thing I don’t care for: The hours spent behind the computer. I love being outside; I love being active. Most often when I’m working on a book, those two things just don’t happen.

cncbooks: Are you a plotter or a pantser, i.e., do you outline your books ahead of time or are you an “organic” writer?

Linda: I’m a plotter. When I first began writing, I wrote a couple of books by the seat of my pants. I enjoy that writing process. It was fun and addictive because I needed to know what would happen next. But when I began writing thrillers, I found that the mystery involved was too complex and I needed to map it out beforehand.

cncbooks: If you had it to do over again, what would you do differently in your writing career?

Linda: I would have quit my corporate job sooner.

cncbooks: What do you read for pleasure when you’re writing?

Linda: I’m always reading a book (or three!) I love reading a big thriller or twisty mystery, but I also read across genres. A couple of books I recently enjoyed immensely: Cormac McCarthy’s The Road and William Forstchen’s One Second After. Both are big, powerful books and highly recommended!

cncbooks: What is your favorite scene in AFTER THE STORM and why?

Linda: One of my favorite scenes happens early in the book. If you’ve followed the series, you know Kate is for the most part estranged from her family. There’s a scene in which Kate and Tomasetti have been invited to her Amish brother’s home for a summer picnic. The dynamics between Kate and her Amish siblings has fascinated me from the start and it was interesting to watch this play out, especially with Tomasetti there.

cncbooks: How much of you is in your character, Kate?

Linda: While Kate Burkholder is, of course, fictional, I believe that even with regard to fictional characters, there’s a thread of reality. Kate is mostly a compilation of the many strong women I’ve known in my lifetime. Women I admire and respect. To that, I added weaknesses and imperfections from myself as well as others. That combination makes Kate much more interesting and courageous than I could ever hope to be!

After the Stormcncbooks: Who is your favorite character other than Kate?

Linda: John Tomasetti is a powerful, multifaceted character. He’s fundamentally good, but there’s an element of ambiguity about him, and I’m absolutely fascinated by that. Though we know more about him now than we did with the early books in the series, there are still things we don’t know and I plan to reveal in future books.

cncbooks: What’s next for you?

Linda: I just completed the eighth book in the Kate Burkholder series. AMONG THE WICKED will be released next summer. I’m incredibly excited about this book which will feature Kate in a different locale and place her in an unexpected, usual—and dangerous—case.

I’m also working on a new standalone project that’s been calling to me for quite some time. It’s set in West Virginia and features a female private detective who’s about to return to her mining town roots—and embark on a high-stakes case that hits close to home and threatens to reveal a plethora of family secrets.

Thank you so much for being here today
sharing a little bit of yourself 😉

Series fans as well as first-time readers will be enthralled by this
compelling and atmospheric mystery set in the heart of Amish country.
—Library Journal