In Memory of Ollie @kdkoppang

Kathleen Delaney, author of Murder Half-Baked and other books, retired from real estate to pursue writing full time. She’s here today to reminisce about a well-loved furry friend, Ollie the cat..

Purebred Dead, the first in the new Mary McGill series, was released in August 2015 and Curtains for Miss Plym was released in April 2016. Blood Red, White and Blue was released in July 2017 and was a finalist for best canine book of the year in the Dog Writers of America annual writing contest. Kathleen’s newest book in the series, Dressed to Kill, was released in the UK on August 1, 2019 and in the US on November 1, 2019.

Yesterday, Ollie, a domestic short haired cat of 19 years, left us to cross over the Rainbow Bridge. I hadn’t planned to write about her today, I had planned to write about a Little Free Library I am trying to establish in my community, but I seem to be filled with memories and decided I’d feel better if I shared them.

Ollie was a mature cat when she came to live in our family. She was my grandchildren’s first cat and she took to apartment life immediately. Due to circumstances certainly beyond her control, she had been living outside and getting the stuffing beat out of her by a group of feral cats. I was living in South Carolina and the children were little and spent a lot of time with me, much of it on my wrap around front porch. One day the cat joined them and was there every day after, as long as they visited. They became attached to her and she finally joined them in Georgia. When two kittens also joined their family, Ollie moved in with me. Ollie was a cat who had definite ideas about how life should be structured and sharing it with kittens didn’t fit her agenda. It didn’t take her long to explain to my two little dogs, and me,  how a cat should be treated; with great respect and no thought of being chased, where her bed would be, on the bottom shelf of one of the bookcases, and where her litter box and food dishes would be located. She loved the back yard, it has a high fence and no other cats, and the dog door let her come and go as she pleased.  Ollie was a natural born dictator, but a benevolent one. She spent a lot of time in my lap, sometimes sleeping, sometimes seemingly proofreading what I had just written. She loved company, both new people and her family, all of whom she greeted with loud purrs and offers to grace them with her presence in their laps.

But her time had finally come. Her organs were shutting down and she had quit eating. All the blood work said there was no chance of recovery.  There was no choice. So, with great sadness, we buried her in my- her- back yard, under the statue of St Francis, whose lap supplies the birds with water and his head their perch. I think she will like it there.

I have had animals in every book I have written. Some have taken over the story, some have played a more minor role, but they are always there. Probably because I cannot remember a time when I have not had a canine or feline friend living with me, along with a whole lot of other kinds of animals, brought into my life by my 5 children.

Ollie is not the first 4 legged friend I have had to bury, and I dare say she won’t be the last, either. But it never gets any easier, to make the decision or to deal with the hole they leave in your lives when they are gone. But I cherish the memory of the years she lived with us and am so glad for them. RIP, my friend.

Coincidences Do Exist! @JeannetteDeB

Jeannette de Beauvoir didn’t set out to murder anyone—some things are just meant to be! Her mother introduced her to the Golden Age of mystery fiction when she was far too young to be reading it, and she’s kept reading those authors and many like them ever since.

She wrote historical and literary fiction and poetry for years before someone asked her what *she* read—and she realized mystery was where her heart was. Now working on the Sydney Riley Provincetown mystery series, she bumps off a resident or visitor to her hometown on a regular basis.

Jeannette is a member of the Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, the Author’s Guild, and the National Writers Union. Find out more (and read her blog or sign up for her newsletter) at her website. You can also find her on Amazon, Facebook, Instagram, Patreon, and Goodreads.

In nearly every crime drama, at some point, the detective will look at a clue and say, “I don’t believe in coincidence,” and everyone present, especially rookies and civilians, nods knowingly and applauds their sagacity. And it makes sense: the “no coincidence” rule is what enables TV detectives to wrap up their mysteries in an hour, with time out for commercials.

It is, of course, nonsense. As my own current fictional protagonist, Sydney Riley, is wont to say, “There wouldn’t be a word for it if it didn’t exist.” Besides that, though (since there are in fact a whole lot of not-very-useful words in any language), the truth is that the world is a wild and unruly place, and randomness does occur, and does so with some frequency.

You’ll find coincidences in the oddest places. Lately I’ve been thinking about names. In a novel I worked on a few years back, I named a character Tessa Malmaison. I was rather proud of “Malmaison,” which felt unusual for a primarily American audience. (The Empress Joséphine lived in a chateau outside of Paris called Malmaison, but short of people reading a mystery novel with Wikipedia open by their side, I thought I was safe.) Readers would remember that name, I thought; it was fresh and different. And not long thereafter I was in Oxford and happened to pick up a brochure and found there to be in the UK a whole chain of upscale, boutique hotels called—you guessed it—Malmaison. (Which, if you think about it isn’t really the world’s best marketing play, as “Malmaison” translates loosely as “bad house.”)

It was good timing, as I was still working on the novel, and I managed to weave the hotel chain into the plot. But still it felt a little—strange. Like I should be looking over my shoulder. Like there should somehow be some deeper meaning.

Here’s another example. One of the things I sometimes do in my novels is scatter a couple of what I like to think of as the literary equivalent to software developers’ “Easter eggs”: in the same way developers leave a secret message or joke buried in an application, I hide names. I’m currently writing the seventh book in my Provincetown mystery series that features wedding planner Sydney Riley. So far, only a couple of people have found the egg: Sidney Reilly (note the different spelling) was a rather infamous spy thought to be the model for Ian Fleming’s James Bond character.

(All right, so it doesn’t take much to amuse me.)

I decided to play the name game again with the current novel and thought about a character I was creating, a man whose family had owned a plantation in the antebellum South. I found one I liked, Howard Carter; the egg is that Howard Carter was an archaeologist and Egyptologist world-famous for discovering the intact tomb of Tutankhamun in 1922. Cool! So I named my character and then proceeded with some research into Virginia plantations and found that the oldest one in Virginia is now owned by the seventh generation of the family—whose name is Carter.

(Cue Twilight Zone theme music.)

I have a friend who would listen to that and say, “see, Jeannette, it was Meant To Be!” (You can hear the capitalizations in her voice.) And I know some people think that everything happens for a reason, that there are no coincidences, that destiny won’t be denied. Once fate has you in its sights, it’s all over.

I think it’s simpler than that. Millions and millions and millions of pieces of data pass through our brains and our experiences and our thoughts every day. Which ones do we notice? The ones that fit with something we’re already thinking or experiencing. I found the plantation that belonged to the Carter family—but in assigning significance to that discovery, I was discounting the pages and pages of other plantations and other family names I read about at the same time. Our brains look for patterns and see them even where they don’t exist.

I actually like coincidences. Whether you believe they install some sort of order in the world or whether you look at them as gratuitous bits of fluff our brains fling out from time to time, they do give everything we do and think and feel a feeling (even if it’s just an illusion!) of interconnectedness.

And that isn’t coincidental at all.

THE MATINEE MURDERS: It’s time for the Provincetown International Film Festival, and wedding planner Sydney Riley has scored a coup: her inn is hosting the wedding of the year. Movie star Brett Falcone is to marry screenwriter Justin Braden, and even Sydney’s eternally critical mother is excited. The town is overflowing with filmmakers, film reviewers, film buffs, and it’s all the inn can do to keep up with the influx of glamorous celebrities and host their star-studded events.

But when Sydney opens a forbidden door in the mysterious Whaler’s Wharf, she discovers the body of a producer—and a legion of unanswered questions. Who strangled the innocuous Caroline Cooper? What dark force followed Brett and Justin from LA? Why is her boss Mike tense and double-checking every room at the inn? And is Mirela really leaving P’town forever? Sydney and her boyfriend Ali need to find the answers fast before another victim takes a final bow.

Book Spotlight: Paperback Release -The Darwin Affair by Tim Mason

My thanks to Suzy for bringing this one to my attention.
Survival of the fittest, perhaps? 😄

Suzy Approved Book Reviews

94FDF370-DC5D-43A0-AC13-14C49A96AEBFPaperback Release: June 23, 2020

About The Book:

A Barnes & Noble Discover Pick * A Wall Street Journal Best Mystery Book of the Year * A Reader’s Digest Best Summer Book * A Best Historical Novel of the Summer

Get ready for one of the most inventive and entertaining novels of 2019—an edge-of-your-seat Victorian-era thriller, where the controversial publication On the Origin of Species sets off a string of unspeakable crimes.

London, June 1860: When an assassination attempt is made on Queen Victoria, and a petty thief is gruesomely murdered moments later—and only a block away—Chief Detective Inspector Charles Field quickly surmises that the crimes are connected. Was Victoria really the assassin’s target? Or were both crimes part of an even more sinister plot?

Field’s investigation soon exposes a shocking conspiracy: the publication of Charles Darwin’s controversial On the Origin of Species has set off a string of…

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Book Reviews: Stray Our Pieces by Jason Graff and Runway ZomBee by J.A. Watson @JasonGraff1 @WaldorfReaders @JollyFishPress

Stray Our Pieces
Jason Graff
Waldorf Publishing, October 2019
ISBN 978-1-64370-012-0
Trade Paperback

Stray Our Pieces by Jason Graff is Realistic Fiction, but it feels more like a Memoir of a stay-at-home-mom/wife. Gloria has absolutely no ambitions right now. No desire to be Super Mom. She doesn’t keep their home spic-and-span or super organized. Neither is the kitchen her place to shine.

Gloria isn’t so much bad at household chores and duties as she is so completely uninspired, in general, that her days are spent physically doing nothing. Well, maybe rushing through the bare minimum, on a great day. Mentally, she seems to be almost consumed by her own inadequacies. Not to the point of addressing them, more along the lines of looking for someone, or something, to blame.

Her story is not shared straight through. Rather, the time-line fluctuates, allowing the reader to see the younger, happier, energetic and inspired Gloria compared to the adult she allowed herself to become. In a roundabout (but definitely right) way, we learn about Gloria’s past and begin to understand her newfound place in the present.

I’ve not read many books that weave a world without a life-changing event. A plot around people who, from the outside looking in, seem to be the perfect picture of normal cannot be easy to create. But, regular, every-day living where there may be pain and aching emptiness, alongside joy and contentment, is certainly easy to understand and relate to.

Reviewed by jv poore, March 2020.


Runway ZomBee
A Zombie Bee Hunter’s Journal
J.A. Watson
Jolly Fish Press, March 2018
ISBN 978-1-63163-165-8
Trade Paperback

Raksha’s parents, although proud of their daughter’s ambition, were adamant: two separate, summer-long activities are out of the question. The Science Squad project is essentially a grand-finale. Earning their final badge is important, but the possibility of advancing to the final competition in Hawaii is especially enticing. And Raksha is definitely down with learning more about the Zombie fly/bee infestation…however gruesome the observations may be.

Entirely on the other hand, this admittedly out-of-the-blue fashion camp seems simply serendipitous. True, she could attend another time. After all, she meant to sign up for the fall in the first place. But, if she sticks with the summer session, she will also have a chance to finesse a new friendship with Shonda.

She will do both. Secretly.

Having a best friend like Hannah certainly helps Raksha juggle her double duties; but things quickly become complicated. Raksha is fully aware of the fact that Mari Gonzalez, fellow Science Squad Member and Archnemesis, loves to see her fail. She has no idea that the petty teen would stoop to sabotage.

There is so much to love in this Science-y, Middle-Grade marvel. Written in field-journal format, complete with self-corrections, this catchy little caper makes a quick read. Raksha may have gotten herself into a tight spot, but she is resilient, cunning and all kinds of creative getting out.

And, now I know about zombie-fly infection of honeybees and why that matters.

Reviewed by jv poore, February 2019.

Book Review: Beneath the Surface by Mike Martin @mike54martin @AnAudiobookworm


Title: Beneath the Surface
Series: Sgt. Windflower Mystery Series, Book 3
Author: Mike Martin
Narrator: Francis G. Kearney
Publication Date: May 14, 2020


Beneath the Surface
Sgt. Windflower Mystery Series, Book 3
Mike Martin
Narrated by Francis G. Kearney
Mike Martin, May 2020
Downloaded Unabridged Audiobook

From the author—

Beneath the Surface is the third book in the Sgt. Windflower Mystery Series set in Newfoundland on the East Coast of Canada.

Sgt. Windflower is back, and as usual, he’s loving life on the East Coast. He may be a long way from his home in Northern Alberta, but he has been adopted by the locals as almost one of their own.

He has a good life, good work with the RCMP, and a good woman that he has grown closer to in his years on the southeast coast of Newfoundland.

But trouble is brewing just beneath the surface of this calm and charm-filled existence.

The Newfoundland Mounties have returned and I’m so glad they have! Mike Martin’s series featuring Sgt. Winston Windflower, who is part First Nation, specifically Cree, as you can tell by his last name, has become one of my favorites over the past few years and I’m always happy to welcome Windflower back along with his girlfriend, Sheila Hillier, close friend Herb Stoodly, and colleagues Corporal Eddie Tizzard and Betsy Molloy.

Sidenote: Are Canadians as enamored with the Mounties as so many Americans are?

The suspicious death of a rower, a university student in St. Johns, doesn’t actively involve Windflower in his temporary Marystown post but his interest is piqued because she grew up in Grand Bank, Eddie’s territory. Sheila knew and liked Amy Parsons, another reason for Windflower to want to look into the incident but, before he can, he’s surprised to find his Uncle Frank ensconced in his house, unannounced but clearly settled in, even wearing Windflower’s own longjohns. This is a problem in all sorts of ways but takes a backseat to what Windflower begins to learn about Amy’s murder, especially a possible connection to human trafficking.

It was nice, as always, to learn a little about life in Newfoundland and Winston’s Cree background and everything was enhanced by Mr. Kearney’s performance. His narration has been growing on me with each audiobook and I particularly enjoy his accents, which sound authentic to me. Once again, an appealing story with engaging narration, just what I like.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, June 2020.

Purchase Links:
Audible // iTunes


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 which won the Bony Blithe Light Mystery Award as the best light mystery of the year.

Mike is currently Chair of the Board of Crime Writers of Canada, a national organization promoting Canadian crime and mystery writers.

Website // Twitter // Facebook


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 – – 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: Deadly Curious by Cindy Anstey @CindyAnstey @SwoonReads @XpressoTours


Title: Deadly Curious
Author: Cindy Anstey
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Publication Date: June 3, 2020
Genres: Historical, Mystery, Young Adult


Purchase Links:
Barnes & Noble // Kobo // iBooks
Amazon // Google Play // Indiebound


Deadly Curious
Cindy Anstey
Swoon Reads, June 2020
ISBN 978-1-250-25227-2

From the publisher—

A twisty tale reminiscent of Jane Austen—with a dash of murder—Cindy Anstey’s Deadly Curious is perfect for fans of Kerri Maniscalco and Agatha Christie.

Some secrets are better left buried…

1834. Sophia Thompson wants nothing more than to be one of the famed Bow Street Runners, London’s most elite corps of detectives. Never mind that a woman has never before joined their ranks—and certainly never mind that her reclusive family has forbidden her from pursuing such an unladylike goal.

She gets the chance to prove her capabilities when an urgent letter arrives from her frantic cousin Daphne, begging Sophia to come look into the suspicious death of Daphne’s brother.

As Sophia begins to unravel the tangled threads of the case—with the help of a charming young policeman—she soon realizes that the murderer may be even closer to her family than she ever suspected.

I’ve been fascinated by the Bow Street Runners since the first time I heard about them so, when I saw that this book involves them, I wanted to read it as soon as  I could. As it turns out, the Runner in this story, Jeremy, is not quite as energetic and compelling as I would like although he is appealing. I also thought Sophia was a little silly, especially in deciding, against society’s restraints and her upbringing, that she was cut out to be a detective just because she read a book. Once I recognized the flies in the ointment with these two characters, I decided to read this as a fun, fluffy bit of entertainment and I enjoyed it as such.

When Sophia’s cousin, Daphne, writes for Sophia’s help, the murder in question is a year in the past but Sophia’s Uncle Edward is in danger of being arrested at any moment. Our sleuth is more than willing to rush to West Ravenwood but this is 1834 and an 18-year-old girl can’t just rush off anywhere. Watching her machinations to get past all the family and societal roadblocks was as enjoyable as anything in this tale.

Eventually, of course, Sophia does get to West Ravenwood and falls in with Jeremy; together with Daphne, they set out to find a killer and absolve Uncle Edward and, along the way, Sophia and Jeremy find a romantic connection. All in all, this was a few hours of easy reading even though the actual mystery was lightweight.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, June 2020.

About the Author

Whenever she is not sitting at the computer, throwing a ball in the backyard, gardening or reading, Cindy can be found–actually, not found–adventuring around the world with her hubby.

She has lived on three continents, had a monkey in her yard and a scorpion under her sink, dwelt among castles and canals, enjoyed the jazz of Beale St and attempted to speak French.

Cindy loves history, mystery and… a chocolate Labrador called Chester.

Author links:
Website // Twitter // Facebook // Goodreads


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One print copy of Deadly Curious

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Book Review: Gone to Darkness by Barbara Nickless @BarbaraNickless

Gone to Darkness
Sydney Rose Parnell #4
Barbara Nickless
Thomas and Mercer, June 2020
ISBN 978-1542092869
Trade Paperback

Sydney Parnell is the youngest homicide detective in the Denver’s Major Crime Unit. She’s an Iraqi war vet and has also worked as a railway cop along with her K9 partner Clyde, a Belgian Malinois who was by her side during her time in Iraq.

Sydney is meeting up with another officer to investigate a possible jumper from a train. When she arrives she finds Officer Heinrich unconscious and bleeding from a head injury. Sydney calls for back up and an ambulance and while she waits, she and Clyde take a look around. Nothing seems amiss but a fog descends which renders the scene rather eerie. Near the tracks she spots a medallion smeared with blood. Further searching uncovers paper clips shaped like a cross.

Her gut instinct is telling her something strange is going on. A Forensic team is sent out to the area and Sydney insists that the train that recently passed through the area be searched. During the search the mutilated body of a young man is found.

The victim turns out to be well known among local graphic artists using his talents to draw superhero comics. He was also known to the immigrant workers and was a member of group calling themselves The Superior Gentlemen.

The investigation seems to be getting nowhere and reluctantly Sydney reconnects with another case she’s been assigned regarding the rapes of women in nursing homes. DNA collected from the train matches that found at the rapes, a strong indication the two cases are connected.

The plot is strong, complex and intriguing. Sydney is a likeable well rounded character. I really liked her connection with Clyde, her dog, as well as her relationship with her mentor, Detective Len Bandoni. Some of the descriptions of victims are harsh and brutal and may be a problem for some readers.

This is the fourth novel from Barbara Nickless in this series. I haven’t read the others but I had no problem keeping up.

All in all … A great read!

Respectfully submitted,

Reviewed by guest reviewer Moyra Tarling, June 2020.