Lifting the Lid

Jeanne Matthews is the author of the Dinah Pelerin international mysteries published by Poisoned Pen Press. Like her amateur sleuth, Jeanne was born with a serious wanderlust. Originally from Georgia, she enjoys traveling the world and learning about other cultures and customs, which she incorporates into her novels. She currently lives in Renton, Washington with her husband who is a law professor. Where the Bones Are Buried, the fifth book in the series, is in bookstores now . You can learn more about Jeanne’s books at http://www.jeannematthews.com

A Traveler’s Tale

Travel writing has been popular since a geographer named Pausinias published his Description of Greece in the second century, A.D.  Although many of the sites he described no longer exist, he is quoted in almost every current tour book of Greece.  Marco Polo wrote a travelogue, Captain James Cook kept a diary, and everybody knows about Darwin’s On the Origin of Species.  Any writing in which journey is the central theme can be described as travel writing.

The earliest travel books emphasized classical learning and a non-personal point of view.  Lawrence Sterne’s A Sentimental Journey Through France and Italy broke the mold.  Witty, insightful and crammed with the idiosyncratic opinions and tastes of his protagonist (the author’s barely disguised alter ego), the book established travel writing as the dominant genre of the second half of the 18th Century.  Not only did it inspire people to read about travel, it inspired them to set out to foreign climes in search of adventure.  This new bevy of intrepid explorers included many respectable women.

Hester Stanhope

Jeanne Baret circumnavigated the globe between 1766 and 1769, albeit disguised as a man.  Defying convention, she bound her breasts with bandages and sailed with the French Navy as Jean Baret. Her Ladyship Hester Stanhope did whatever it took to go where she pleased.  She was the first European woman to cross the Syrian desert and conduct archaeological research in the Holy Land.  Isabella Bird is probably the most famous female globetrotter.  Armed with her trusty revolver, she toured the world and penned her experiences climbing mountains, riding elephants, and hanging out with outlaws.

All of these travelers recorded their exploits and their accounts were supposedly factual and true.  But the tendency to “coloration,” i.e., exaggeration and invention, has been around since the ancient mariners reported sightings of sirens and sea monsters.  Lying is, to some degree, inherent in all travel books just as reality is an element of all novels.

The devices of fiction have the ability to enhance and intensify travel narratives.  A novelist doesn’t write a description of everything she sees.  Instead, she selects the telling details, decides when and how they are revealed, and shapes the emotional topography.  She casts light on one thing, throws shadows on another.  “What raises travel writing to literature,” says William Zinsser, “is not what the writer brings to the place, but what the place draws out of the writer.”

I’ll be leaving next week on a trek through southwestern France where the Albigensian Crusades were waged against the “heretical” Cathars.  The Cathari bastides are haunting reminders of a very successful genocide.  I plan to write about this trip, whether as the setting for another Dinah Pelerin mystery or in a series of non-fiction essays, and I’ve been looking back over some of my favorite travel books for inspiration.

Huck Finn’s journey down the Mississippi captured the magic of that magnificent river “rolling its mile-wide tide along, shining in the sun.”  For Huck, it was both a physical and a mental journey.  Sharing a raft with a runaway slave changed his mind about race and what it means to own another human being.  Using the perspective of an “unsivilized” boy, Twain skewered the moral hypocrisy of the nation.

Raymond Chandler’s portrayal of Los Angeles created an indelible sense of place.  He peppered his novels with geographic detail and filtered his perceptions of the city through the wry observations and reflections of his detective, Philip Marlowe – the menacing architecture, the tough-looking palms, those dry Santa Ana winds that “make your nerves jump and your skin itch.”  The city assumed the importance of a character, seductive and glittering on the outside but rotten underneath.

Michael Dibdin

Venice was the dominant character in Michael Dibdin’s Dead Lagoon.  His police detective, Aurelio Zen, conducted the reader into the seamier enclaves of his hometown, leaving behind the touristic city-as-museum and pointing out the decaying palaces, the rats scuttering about the canals at low tide, and the venality and moral cowardice of the politicians.  By exposing the city’s underbelly, Dibdin imparted an authenticity to the place that feels more real than a journalist’s report.

Real places have a way of drawing out fresh perspectives and insightful reflections from fictional travelers.  My books aren’t what you’d call gritty, but I haven’t shied away from the darker aspects of the places Dinah has visited.  She confronted the Australian government’s persecution of the Aborigines; the devastation of Native Hawaiian culture and appropriation of their lands; the historic oppression of the Sami people in the Norwegian Arctic; and the plight of the migrants washing up destitute and desperate on the beaches of the Greek island of Samos.  Wherever she finds herself, Dinah lifts the lid on unsavory secrets and bubbling resentments.  Is murder also in the offing?  Thereby hangs a traveler’s tale.

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Book Review: Night Rides by Carole T. Beers

Night Rides
A Pepper Kane Mystery, Book #4
Carole T. Beers
W & B Publishers, May 2019
ISBN 978-1-63554-161-8
Trade Paperback

For this adventure, former crime reporter Pepper Kane, along with her friend and business partner, Tulip Clemmons, is in Seattle. They’re riding in one of the northwest’s most important horses shows. A lot is at stake as riders compete not only for money, but prestige and reputation. The competition, we discover, is not always friendly.

On the first night, the women, accompanied by Pepper’s lover, Sonny Chief, are returning to Pepper’s on-site living quarters, when, after checking on her horse, she needs the fancy public restroom. While at first apparently deserted, she hears noises, moans, screams, thumping, scratching–all the sounds of a rather violent sexual encounter. She calls out, but there is no answer. Wondering if there was more going on than just sex, she reports what she heard to security, leaving a message when no one answers the emergency number.

Next day, a man, one of the judges in the competition is found dead⏤murdered. Pepper, not only fretting at the seeming inaction of the police, especially when they don’t seem interested in her report, but having a bit of detective type experience, soon takes a hand. When a second person is murdered⏤neither of them the most sympathetic of victims⏤what happens next has you wondering if she’d been better off to back away.

Odd things happen. Something as simple as a mug being stolen from a transgender competitor. An expensive bracelet Pepper’s daughter Chili has for sale in their store is stolen, and to wind things up, Chili is kidnapped and faced with certain death.

Well-written, snappy dialogue draws the reader forward. The action keeps one turning pages to find out what happens next. Pepper takes what seem like a few wrong turns, but always works toward an action-filled and twisty conclusion. The characters are well-fleshed out, but to me, in this particular story, the best part is when we are with the horses, riding in the ring, feeling the excitement and thrill of the show.

Reviewed by Carol Crigger, April 2019.
Author of Five Days, Five Dead, Hereafter and Hometown Homicide.

Book Review: An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

An Anonymous Girl
Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen
St. Martin’s Press, January 2019
ISBN 978-1-250-13373-1
Hardcover

Imagine your life as a giant freewheeling gear. At times, it spins freely and isn’t meshing with anything. At others, it meshes with one, or several other gear-lives. The majority of the time, those meshing instances are benign, often interesting, but very seldom result in terrifying, confusing, or life changing encounters. What happens when one involves all three?

Jessica Ferris already carries around guilt, anger and shame. She’s never told her parents the truth about what happened to her younger sister who has brain damage and requires almost constant supervision. She’s never dealt honestly with what happened between her and a New York producer that has taken up residence in the back of her mind. She worries constantly about money for reasons she’s unwilling to share with her small circle of friends. She has to hustle every day to make all the appointments as a professional make-up artist for well-to-do clients through her contract with BeautyBuzz. When she looks at her future, it looks dim and fuzzy.

Then one of those life-gear moments happens, she fills in for a friend at an appointment to be screened for a psychological testing project. While the odd questions raise a red flag, the possibility of getting ahead financially is too strong, so she continues after confessing that she filled in for her friend.

Her admission isn’t a deal breaker for Dr. Shields, a wealthy and somewhat icy female psychologist. As Jessica gets pulled further and further into the complex web woven by the doctor, she’s initially dazzled by the amount of money dangled before her, not to mention the hint that Dr. Shields might be able to get her soon to be unemployed and broke dad a new job.

By the time Jessica’s at a point where she can hear warning bells, she’s not only stuck in the doctor’s web of manipulation, she’s also realized that she’s been involved with the woman’s husband and if any word of that gets back to Dr. Shields, the possible consequences are too scary to imagine.

I can’t reveal more without spoiling the rest of this book, but consider this, At some point, everyone is suspect, there are multiple layers of duplicity, you can’t trust anyone, Jessica has to walk a tightrope to stay reasonably safe and sane, and the twist at the end is a dandy. If you enjoy psychological thrillers that read like a tilt-a-whirl and are extremely edgy, then this is your kind of book.

Reviewed by John R. Clark, MLIS, May 2019.

Book Review: Winter Frost by Lauren Carr

Winter Frost
A Chris Matheson Cold Case Mystery Book 2
Lauren Carr
Narrated by Mike Alger
Acorn Book Services, January 2019
Downloaded Unabridged Audiobook

From the author—

It all started with a chance encounter in the city with Blair, his late wife.

Chris Matheson and the Geezer Squad, working under the guise of a book club, dig into the events surrounding his late wife’s supposed death halfway around the globe. A state department employee shoots himself in the back three times. A CIA operative goes missing. A woman is targeted by an international assassin three years after being declared dead in a terrorist attack overseas.

Nothing is as it seems.

In his most personal cold case, Chris fights to uncover why the state department told him that Blair, the mother of his children, had been killed when she was alive. What had she uncovered that has made her a target? Who terrified her so much that she had gone into hiding and why are they now after him?

When Chris spots his supposedly deceased wife and, moments later, kills the assassin who’s after her, the retired FBI agent is thrust into the center of his own mystery, one that will take a large cast of retired and current members of all sorts of law enforcement agencies to figure out. Along the way to solving what turns out to be a complex, intriguing puzzle, all these people sift through a plethora of clues but it’s not all just a lot of mental work for the reader; some of these folks, and a number of pets, bring an air of lighthearted humor to the proceedings.

Chris is part of the Geezer Squad, a group of retirees who ostensibly belong to a book club that meets at odd times but, in fact, keep their minds sharp and entertained by looking into cold cases and, since Blair “died” several years ago, this certainly qualifies as a cold case. I am in love with the Geezer Squad, all of whom care deeply about their cases and especially this one and the way they work together like a think tank is impressive. With the help of others in their wider orbit—CIA operatives, the state department, Chris’s mom, Doris, etc.—a nebulous truth begins to take shape, one that may just endanger the world.

There are so many characters here that I like, for a variety of reasons, and even the bad guys are vividly drawn and entertaining. Doris is a hoot and, like most librarians, is not to be trifled with but the crowning glory is a bunch of pets that add extra life to the story. Chris’s German Shepherd, Sterling, is a supersmart retired police dog whose talents include playing and cheating at cards and he’s the love object of the smitten Spencer, an exuberant Sheltie. Doris’s Doberman, Sadie, retired from the law and golden lab, Mocha, used to do search and rescue but it’s Thor who absolutely stole my heart. Thor isn’t a retiree from law enforcement but he’s probably the most loveable and scene-stealing large rabbit dressed in pink frills I’ve ever come across.

Lauren Carr’s Winter Frost is a terrific mystery lightened by a good deal of humor but, for an audiobook listener, one more thing is really important for full enjoyment and that’s the narration. At first, I thought Mike Alger was going to be a bit irritating but he soon changed my mind with his wonderful array of voices and his perfect pacing and sensing of the proper mood to fit the story. I do believe he may be one of my favorite narrators.

P.S.: See that dog in Lauren Carr’s picture beside her bio? That’s the real-life Sterling but I don’t know if he actually changes car radio stations or plays poker 😉

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, May 2019.

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Purchase Links:
Audible // iTunes // Amazon

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About the Author

Lauren Carr is the international best-selling author of the Mac Faraday, Lovers in Crime, and Thorny Rose Mysteries—over twenty titles across three fast-paced mystery series filled with twists and turns!

Now, Lauren has added one more hit series to her list with the Chris Matheson Cold Case Mysteries. Set in the quaint West Virginia town of Harpers Ferry, Ice introduces Chris Matheson, a retired FBI agent, who joins forces with other law enforcement retirees to heat up those cold cases that keep them up at night.

Book reviewers and readers alike rave about how Lauren Carr seamlessly crosses genres to include mystery, suspense, crime fiction, police procedurals, romance, and humor.

​Lauren is a popular speaker who has made appearances at schools, youth groups, and on author panels at conventions. She lives with her husband, and three dogs on a mountain in Harpers Ferry, WV.

Connect with the author: Website // Twitter // Facebook // Instagram

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About the Narrator

Channel 2 Meteorologist Mike Alger joined KTVN-TV in May, 1989. Prior to that Mike had worked at KNDU-TV in Washington. Mike has provided northern Nevada “Weather Coverage You Can Count On” during the 1990 President’s Day Blizzard, the drought in the mid- 1990s, the New Year’s Flood of 1997 and the historic Snowstorms of 2005.

Mike has been married for more than 30 years and has two grown children. His hobbies include golf, music, biking, tennis, scuba diving, writing. He has written and published one novel and is working on a second. He is also a narrator of several audio books, and his work can be found on Audible.com.

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Spotlight on Vow of Silence by Melynda Price


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Vow of Silence
Melynda Price
Published by: Entangled Publishing
Publication date: May 27th 2019
Genres: Adult, Romance, Suspense

A killer is hiding in Plain sight…

The hunt for a serial killer leads Homicide Detective Josiah Troyer back to his Amish roots. To catch a madman preying on young women, Joe must return to Lancaster County and regain the trust of a shattered community.

The FBI knows Joe is the best chance they have of solving this case. By returning to Lancaster, he will face shunning, and resentment from the people he once called family and friends.

Hannah’s heart was broken when Josiah abandoned her eight-years ago to live with the Englishers. Forced to wed a man not of her choosing, her husband’s untimely death has left her struggling to put her life back together.

When unspeakable tragedy strikes again, Josiah unexpectedly returns, investigating the murder of her sister and two other young Amish women. Hannah quickly discovers the man that’s come back is not the same one she fell in love with.

Gone are Josiah’s easy smiles and gentle ways. He’s harder, colder—a true Englisher… But not even shunning can stop the attraction from consuming them both, and Josiah soon opens Hannah’s eyes to a world of passion and pleasure she never imagined. Choosing Josiah would mean walking away from the only world she’s ever known.

Josiah’s investigation begins to unravel when he discovers the killer is closer than he thought. Soon, he’s in a race against time to save the only woman he’s ever loved before she becomes the next victim.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iBooks / Kobo

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A Few Words from the Author

What about the Amish world appealed to you as a setting for the book?

Hi! Thank you for inviting me to write a guest post for Buried Under Books.

I’m excited to be here and talk about my new release Vow of Silence. One of the things that I love about this book, and what I think sets it apart from other romantic suspense is the location of the story. The simplicity of the Amish culture has always appealed to me and I wanted to write a book about what might happen if the Amish world collided with ours and the violence of our society touched theirs. What would that look like and what would some of those obstacles be? The challenge of writing story like this was a fun, educational experience.

This book maintains the feel of a romantic suspense while giving a taste of Amish culture. Staying true to the genre I’m known for writing, this story has a dark side, is a bit angsty, and very sexy. Don’t read this book if you’re expecting Beverly Lewis. So many stories written in the Amish setting are sweet, slow-paced romances. I wanted to write a thrilling Amish-based book that felt contemporary and unique. Telling Josiah and Hannah’s story was a rollercoaster of emotion and I hope you enjoy the ride as much as I did.

~Melynda

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About the Author

Melynda Price is a bestselling and award-winning author of contemporary romance. Her novels have finaled in and or won many awards such as the RONE, USA Today BBA, Golden Quill, National Readers’ Choice, Write Touch, and New England Readers’ Choice.

What Price enjoys most about writing is the chance to make her readers fall in love, over and over again. She cites the greatest challenge of writing is making the unbelievable believable, while taking her characters to the limit with stories full of passion and unique twists and turns. Salting stories with undertones of history whenever possible, Price adds immeasurable depth to her well-crafted books. She currently lives in Northern Minnesota with her husband and two children where she has plenty of snow-filled days to curl up in front of the fireplace with her Chihuahua and a hot cup of coffee to write.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter

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Book Review: The Walker on the Cape by Mike Martin

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Title: The Walker on the Cape
Series: Sgt. Windflower Mystery Series, Book 1
Author: Mike Martin
Narrator: Francis G. Kearney
Publication Date: March 18, 2019

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The Walker on the Cape
Sgt. Windflower Mystery Series, Book 1
Mike Martin
Narrated by Francis G. Kearney
Mike Martin, March 2019
Downloaded Unabridged Audiobook

From the author—

A man’s body is found on the Cape in a small fishing community on the East Coast. At first, everyone thinks it’s a heart attack or stroke. But then it is discovered that he was poisoned. Who would do this and why?

Finding that out falls to Sergeant Winston Windflower of the RCMP along with his trusted sidekick, Eddie Tizzard. Along the way, they discover that there are many more secrets hidden in this small community and powerful people who want to keep it that way.

Windflower also discovers two more things: a love of living in a small community that is completely different from his upbringing in a remote Indian reserve and maybe the love of his life. He gets a taste of East Coast food and hospitality as well as a sense of how crime and corruption can linger beneath the surface or hide in the thick blanket of fog that sometimes creeps in from the nearby Atlantic Ocean.

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A full-blooded Cree, Winston Windflower is not your everyday Mountie and he’s been posted in a small fishing village, Grand Bank, on the coast of Newfoundland, far from his reservation home in Northern Alberta. The fog and the unique personalities of the people here take some getting used to but Winston has begun to fit in quite nicely and has made some good friends including his sidekick, Constable Eddie Tizzard. Windflower believes Tizzard has earned a promotion to corporal and intends to recommend him to the higher echelons but, first, the duo has to cope with the suspicious death of Elias Martin, a man who was not well-liked.

The sergeant’s supervising inspector doesn’t believe this is anything but a natural death but Winston and Eddie think otherwise so Winston makes a few endruns around his boss, with Tizzard watching out for him, to get to the truth. They do, in fact, find clues to follow in town and elsewhere and a plethora of suspects along with hints of corruption. Sgt. Windflower soon shows why certain higher-ups hold him in high regard as he doggedly works toward a resolution.

Along the way, Windflower and a local lady, Sheila, are stepping out and enjoying the early joys of a relationship. We also are treated to some of his cultural background with customs he’s brought with him, such as smudging, and I hope to see more about that in the following books.

I mentioned in my review of the seventh book — https://cncbooksblog.wordpress.com/2018/11/18/a-trio-of-teeny-reviews-2/ — that this series has a sort of feel-good vibe to it, a wholesomeness that makes everything about it very likeable, from the setting to the characters to the actual mystery and I still feel that way. Adding to the pleasure is Mr. Kearney’s narration with his authentic-seeming (to me, at least) Canadian intonations enhanced by the local fishing village accents although he didn’t really have a wide variety of voices, especially for women. I do hope Mr. Martin will continue—quickly!—to produce audio versions of the succeeding books; I’ll be standing in line for them 😉

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, May 2019.

Purchase Links:
Audible // iTunes

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About the Author

Mike Martin was born in Newfoundland on the East Coast of Canada and now lives and works in Ottawa, Ontario. He is a long-time freelance writer and his articles and essays have appeared in newspapers, magazines and online across Canada as well as in the United States and New Zealand. He is the author of Change the Things You Can: Dealing with Difficult People and has written a number of short stories that have published in various publications including Canadian Stories and Downhome magazine.

The Walker on the Cape was his first full fiction book and the premiere of the Sgt. Windflower Mystery Series. Other books in the series include The Body on the T, Beneath the Surface, A Twist of Fortune and A Long Ways from Home, which was shortlisted for the Bony Blithe Light Mystery Award as the best light mystery of the year. A Tangled Web was released in 2017 and the newest book in the series is Darkest Before the Dawn.

Website // Twitter // Facebook

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About the Narrator

Following college and many years as a local entertainer and actor I eventually entered the business world and a career of building and selling multiple successful enterprises.

In 1985 I purchased an aviation business and while building a very successful business also earned multiple movie credits as a helicopter camera ship pilot – https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0443932/?ref_=nv_sr_1 – among other services, and flew the camera helicopter for London Weekend Television’s mini series “Piece of Cake” in 1988. I have an extensive aviation background from helicopters through turboprop and jet aircraft, and a deep knowledge of all things aviation.

I have always been an insatiable reader with a love of history – the ultimate story, and anything military – especially if it flies. My evolution into narration and the joy of storytelling is the culmination of many years of a life fully lived, and is reflected in a voice of experience.

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Book Review: No Saving Throw by Kristin McFarland

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Title: No Saving Throw
Series: A Ten Again Mystery #1
Author: Kristin McFarland
Publisher: Diversion Books
Publication Date: May 14, 2019
Genre: Cozy Mystery

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Purchase Links:
Barnes & Noble // Kobo // Amazon // Indiebound

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No Saving Thow
A Ten Again Mystery #1
Kristin McFarland
Diversion Books, May 2019
ISBN 978-1-63576-582-3
Trade Paperback

From the publisher—

A supremely geeky murder mystery perfect for Whovians, gamers, and Muggles alike.

Autumn has everything she could possibly want: Loving friends, a successful business, and a gaggle of gamers in her store every day.

Welcome to Ten Again, a tabletop gaming store that attracts nerds of every kind and fosters a community Autumn’s pretty proud of―a community that also keeps business afloat. And now that Autumn’s in the running for a grant, Ten Again’s future is looking bright.

That is, until one of Autumn’s gamers is mysteriously murdered. With everyone in the mall as a suspect and accusations flying, Autumn is going to have to do some sleuthing of her own to save her shop and her gamers from a fate more dangerous than having no saving throw.

I surprised myself by wanting to read this book because I’m about as far from being a gamer as I could possibly be but a couple of things drew me to it. First, I’m really overdone with the crafty and culinary cozies and, while I’ll certainly keep reading some of those, I appreciate the thought of something just a little bit different. Secondly, I may not be a gamer but my grandson is and I’ve at least picked up some of the jargon when he tells me about campaigns and so forth. Besides, watching LARPers is fun.

Although I thought this was a tad lightweight and perhaps even slightly juvenile, it’s an enjoyable story and I think the author “got” the gamers nicely in their geeky exuberance and determination to figure out who killed their fellow player without doing any actual sleuthing. Autumn is an appealing character, too, and as a former shop owner, I truly understand her need to protect her store’s future.

I loved all the sidelong nods to certain things claimed by nerds but beloved way beyond their world, things like Star Trek, Dr. Who and Veronica Mars, and the plethora of potential perps made this a lively mystery worth some cogitating on my part. I think I might recommend this to my grandson 😉

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, May 2019.

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“A cozy shop, a tricky murder, geek humor, and gaming
lore galore―what’s not to love in No Saving Throw?
This book is a winner, and I can’t wait to take another turn!”
–Leigh Perry, author of The Family Skeleton Mysteries

“Enjoyable debut….Readers will hope to see a lot
more of the plucky Autumn.” –Publisher’s Weekly

“A nat 20! No Saving Throw is a fun, tight mystery that perfectly
encapsulates the difficulties gamers face at being taken seriously.
Protagonist Autumn Sinclair will stop at nothing to save not
only her store, but also the geeky community it fosters.”
―Alex Erickson, author of the Bookstore Café Mysteries

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About the Author

Kristin McFarland has a Master of Arts in Journalism from Indiana University, which launched her on a short-lived but very exciting career as a newspaper reporter. After graduate school, she worked for five different newspapers around the country, writing about politics, crime, arts, environmental issues, crack addicts, prostitutes, and parades. She eventually wised up and decided that making up political fights and crime scenes would be a lot more fun than reporting on real ones. Today, she lives in southern Indiana, where she spends most of her time daydreaming about fictional lives and/or thinking about wool.

Website // Twitter // Instagram // Goodreads

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