A Lethal Lesson.

This author has been on my one-of-these-days
list for a long time but, based on this review, I think
it’s time for me to give her a try 😄

Hidden Staircase

A Lethal Lesson

By Iona Whishaw

Rating: 5/5 Stairs

Expected Publication: 27 April 2021

Which starts like this:

“Get out.” The driver’s voice was compacted with rage. The car was stopped in the middle of the road. Only the fan of light provided by the headlights made any inroads in the utter darkness. Any trace of that night’s half-moon was obliterated by the swirling snow. At near midnight, in those conditions, it was unlikely any traffic would be on the road.

A Lethal Lesson

Iona Whishaw is releasing a NEW Lane Winslow mystery this month and I couldn’t be happier! Lane Winslow is one of my favorite amateur sleuths. She’s smart, resourceful, and compassionate. This series is truly a favorite of mine and always a delight for me to return to the small town of King’s Cove and it’s latest mystery. A Lethal Lesson transported me to a winter wonderland…

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Book Review: Eden Lost by Andrew Cunningham @arcnovels @GH_Narrator @AnAudiobookworm



Author: Andrew Cunningham

Narrator: Greg Hernandez

Length: 6 hours 31 minutes

Series: Eden Rising, Book 2

Publisher: Andrew Cunningham

Released: Jan. 15, 2021

Genre: Science Fiction, Thriller

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Book Review: Mink Eyes by Dan Flanigan @_DanFlanigan

Mink Eyes
A Peter O’Keefe Novel #1
Dan Flanigan
Arjuna Books, February 2019
ISBN 978-1-7336103-0-8
Trade Paperback

Fraud, scams, a Ponzi scheme, magnificent scenery, murder, sex, drinking, drugs and assorted violence form the structure and content of this novel, a morass of failed relationships and get rich quick efforts.

Pete O’Keefe is a former marine, veteran of the war in Viet Nam. He drinks too much, avoids drugs, and struggles to maintain a relationship with his young daughter after being divorced. He runs a PI agency that works mostly in non-violence contexts, but things are not going all that smoothly.

When two investors in a down-country mink farm develop suspicions about the operation they turn to O’Keefe’s long-time buddy, a successful attorney who frequently hires O’Keefe’s detective agency and its cadre of part and full-time operatives.

O’Keefe agrees to look into the mink farm operation and the game is on. Apart from periodic discursions into philosophical ruminations, the author moves the story along at a good pace, but this is not high-tension thriller territory until we get to the last quarter of the novel. O’Keefe is an adept, mostly careful, ethical detective. He does his homework, listens to classical music, and ruminates on the ills and evils of the world.

There are a few bumps in the narrative, point of view shifts and some questionable grammatical constructions. Still, the novel is an interesting take on the somewhat troubled life of this vet and his efforts to get things right, maintain a positive relationship with his daughter, while solving crimes and presenting an interesting look at life.

Reviewed by Carl Brookins, January 2020.
http://www.carlbrookins.com http://agora2.blogspot.com
Traces, Grand Lac, Reunion, Red Sky.

The Hello Girls

Returning guest blogger Sunny Frazier, whose first novel in the Christy Bristol Astrology Mysteries, Fools Rush In, received the Best Novel Award from Public Safety Writers Association, is here today to tell us the story of The Hello Girls, a critical yet forgotten piece of US military history.

The third Christy Bristol Astrology Mystery, A Snitch in Time, is in bookstores now.

sunny69@comcast.net   //  http://www.sunnyfrazier.com

I love it when world history intersects with my own personal history.

My Air Force vet friend, Patricia, turned me on to a discarded part of military history. It was vital to the war effort, forgotten by people and ignored by the Army. I’m talking about the “Hello Girls.” I found a book in the library by Elizabeth Cobbs which finally gives credit to these brave women.

In 1917, when America entered WWI, communication was vital for troop movement and battle plans. Portable switchboards were designed but the men assigned to use them were trained in Morse Code and telegraphs. General Pershing went in search of female telephone operators to send to Europe. Women willingly volunteered for the Army Signal Corps.


One of the reasons women made better operators were because they had smaller hands, more dexterity and could multi-task better than men. They also had cooler heads when dealing with overwrought officers.

Grace Banker. Leader of The Hello Girls

The women were expected to buy their own uniforms. They were also required to be bilingual in French since that’s where the war was. They signed a contract and took an oath. They were in their early 20’s. Pay was $60 a month.

Fast track to 1970. I was fresh out of high school and went to work for Bell Telephone in the Los Angeles area. Operators were respected and telling clerks you worked for Ma Bell got you instant credit in many stores. We even had male groupies who could recognize our voices. The bookies from the Santa Anita racetrack sent us boxes of candy at Christmas.

Vietnam was going on and ITT was looking for single operators with no children to send over to the military bases. I missed the interviews by a day. Instead, I joined the Navy.

I put the signal corps down on my “dream sheet” but the Navy decided I’d make a good dental tech. That’s what they needed at the time. I hated what I was doing but ended up being good at it. When I got out, I got all the benefits of the GI Bill.

After college and after the newspaper I worked on as a photojournalist folded, I found myself back at Ma Bell. AT&T has always been patriotic, and I was reinstated at the level I left four years ago. The pay was incredible. I went to Hawaii twice in one year.

Let’s go back prior to 1917. The Suffragette movement continually pushed to get voting rights for women. Other countries, such as France and Russia, had already allowed women to vote. One of the things the Hello Girls did was make the case that women could participate in war and deserved to be able to have a say in their government. But, in 1920, the Army refused to acknowledge they were really part of the military. The women were denied benefits and veterans bonuses as promised. It wasn’t until President Carter in 1977 gave them the rights they deserved. The woman who accepted the honor was 93. Most of the Hello Girls never lived to see their due justice.


Book Review: The Stills by Jess Montgomery @JessM_Author @MinotaurBooks @TLCBookTours

The Stills
The Kinship Series, Book 3
Jess Montgomery
Minotaur Books, March 2021
ISBN 978-1-250-62340-9

From the publisher—

Ohio, 1927: Moonshining is a way of life in rural Bronwyn County, and even the otherwise upstanding Sheriff Lily Ross has been known to turn a blind eye when it comes to stills in the area. But when thirteen-year-old Zebediah Harkins almost dies after drinking tainted moonshine, Lily knows that someone has gone too far, and―with the help of organizer and moonshiner Marvena Whitcomb―is determined to find out who.

But then, Lily’s nemesis, the businessman George Vogel, reappears in town with his new wife, Fiona. Along with them is also her former brother-in-law Luther Ross, now an agent for the newly formed Bureau of Prohibition. To Lily, it seems too much of a coincidence that they should arrive now.

As fall turns to winter, a blizzard closes in. Lily starts to peel back the layers of deception shrouding the town of Kinship, but soon she discovers that many around her seem to be betraying those they hold dear―and that Fiona too may have an agenda of her own.

The Prohibition Era is a fascinating time in US history, one  that today makes us wonder what on earth “they” really thought about this bound-to-fail experiment in controlling people or, rather, in denying people something they want. As  we know, it became a lesson in man’s ability to find a way around the rules but also caused a great deal of crime and economic pain.

Moonshining had been around, particularly in the Appalachians, for many years but came into its own during Prohibition, kind of a cottage industry, and Lily Ross was well aware that even some of her friends were involved. Being a woman of some wisdom, she looked the other way when she could, knowing that moonshining was a way to earn some much needed money in her poverty-driven county, but has to pay attention when a young boy falls ill from a bad batch. Besides looking into the source, she also becomes aware that a criminal from her past has come back to town. George Vogel almost certainly has some sort of illicit plan in mind but his wife, Fiona, is no shrinking violet either. These two each demand the sheriff’s attention and, before all is said and done, a man is murdered.

Ms. Montgomery always comes up with a complex plot that demands the reader’s attention but it’s the strength of her characters, especially the women, that keeps bringing me back. This time, we don’t get as much time with Lily’s circle of friends as I would have liked but Lily and Fiona, two very different people, are a pair worth watching. It’s easy to like and admire Lily; Fiona, not so much, but she’s every bit as intriguing as the sheriff and I was spellbound by them both. These women and their surroundings, their time in history, make this a compelling story.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, April 2021.


Purchase Links:
Barnes & Noble // Kobo // Macmillan
Books-A-Million // Amazon // Indiebound


About the Author

JESS MONTGOMERY is the Literary Life columnist for the Dayton Daily News and former Executive Director of the renowned Antioch Writers’ Workshop in Yellow Springs, Ohio. Based on early chapters of her novel The Widows, Jess was awarded an Ohio Arts Council individual artist’s grant for literary arts and the John E. Nance Writer-in-Residence at Thurber House in Columbus. She lives in her native state of Ohio.

Connect with Jess
Website // Facebook // Twitter // Instagram


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Other Than That, Mrs. Lincoln… @JMmystery

Jeanne Matthews is happy to announce the arrival of a new mystery!  Devil By The Tail, scheduled for release in July 2021, pairs the audacious young widow of a Union soldier with an unvarnished ex-Confederate POW.  When they join forces and open their own detective agency, sparks fly – literally and figuratively.  A sensational arson and murder, a yellow press, corrupt politicians, and a bevy of notorious bawdyhouse madams make life in 1867 Chicago a dangerous affair. 

Originally from Georgia, Jeanne lives in Washington State with her husband, a law professor, and a Norwich terrier named Jack Reacher.  Information about her other books can be found on her website, www.jeannematthews.com.  

While researching my new historical mystery, set in 1867 Chicago, I learned a number of long, fanciful words that were all the rage at the time.  Made up from prefixes and suffixes of complicated, Latin-sounding words, these comical creations had a faux-educated cachet and a delicious mouth-feel.  Absquatulate (to abscond).  Exfluncticate (to destroy).  Discombobulate (to confuse).  While they may sound quaint or corny today, they were in common parlance in the 1800s and some have endured.  We all know what hornswoggle and skedaddle mean.

Sockdolager is my personal favorite of these verbal inventions and the one with the most momentous history.  It can mean either a forceful blow, the point that settles a matter, or an exceptional person or thing.  Its etymology remains uncertain but it was probably cobbled together from sock, meaning to punch somebody, and doxology, the concluding hymn at the end of a church service.  The Chicago Daily Tribune defined sockdolager as “the term for anything that left nothing else to follow; an overwhelming finish to which no reply was possible.”

These splendiferous words, and especially the word “sockdolager,” fascinated the British playwright Tom Taylor.  He wrote a farce intended to poke fun at earnest, naïve Americans and their ridiculous Americanisms.  The plot featured an uncouth American bumpkin named Asa Trenchard who goes to England to claim an inheritance and meet his hoity-toity English cousins.  To Taylor’s surprise, Americans thought the joke was on the English aristocrats who were also skewered in the play.  Our American Cousin premiered in New York City in 1858 with great success and became hugely popular in the United States.  In 1865, the Ford Theater in Washington, D.C. scheduled a two-week run of the play, but it lasted 150 nights.  The finale on April 14th was a sold-out performance.

It was a laugh a minute.  Lord Dundreary blabbers his twisted aphorisms.  “Birds of a feather gather no moss” and “It’s a wise child that gets the worms.”  Servants anticipate the American’s arrival with great excitement.  All Americans are seventeen feet tall, aren’t they?  And what about the “wild helephants and buffaloes” that roam the wilds of Vermont?  When Asa shows up, he’s “bumfuzzled” and boorish, swilling liquor and taunting his snobbish cousins.  “Do they think I mean to absquatulate with the spoons?”  Believing Asa to be the heir to a large fortune, Mrs. Mountchessington overlooks his gaffes and tries to manipulate him into marrying her daughter.  Unbeknownst to her, he has fallen in love with a poor dairymaid.

In Act 3, Scene 2, he confronts Mrs. Mountchessington in a way he knows will stop her meddling.  He tells her there’s been a mistake.  He isn’t the heir after all, but stands ready to pour out his affections upon her daughter “like apple sass over roast pork.”  So, he asks, how does she feel about taking him on as a son-in-law now that he’s moneyless?  The lady is indignant.  “I am aware, Mr. Trenchard, you are not used to the manners of good society and that, alone, will excuse the impertinence of which you have been guilty.”  With that riposte, she flounces off the stage in a huff.

Here comes Trenchard’s chance to put this highfalutin biddy in her place.  The actors wait for it – the line that has brought down the house in every performance for the last 149 nights.  “Don’t know the manners of good society, eh?  Well, I guess I know enough to turn you inside out, old gal, you sockdolagizing old mantrap.”

The audience erupts in laughter.  John Wilkes Booth, an actor familiar with the play, has anticipated the predictable roar of hilarity.  He steals into the presidential box and fires a bullet into Abraham Lincoln’s brain.  The crack of Booth’s single-barrel derringer was drowned out.  Lincoln died in mid-guffaw. “Sockdolagizing old mantrap” were the last words he heard in his life.

Those words may have resonated with Lincoln in a more personal and emotional way than we can know.  Biographers report that Mary pursued Lincoln relentlessly, determined to marry him in spite of his unpolished manners and lack of money.  He confided his reluctance to marry her to several friends and broke off the engagement once, having fallen in love with an eighteen-year-old beauty named Matilda Edwards.  But Mary didn’t give up.  She got her man, most likely by seducing him.  He would no doubt have felt obligated to marry her immediately in order to preserve her honor.  Did that make her a sockdolagizing mantrap?

After a long, on-and-off courtship, the marriage was hastily arranged.  While dressing for the wedding ceremony, Lincoln remarked to his groomsman, “I guess I am going to hell.”

Book Review: A Quiet Apocalypse by Dave Jeffery @davebjeffery @SDSXXTours


Title: A Quiet Apocalypse
A Quiet Apocalypse Book 1
by Dave Jeffery
Genres: Science Fiction, Post-Apocalyptic, Dystopian

Purchase Links:
Barnes & Noble // Amazon


A Quiet Apocalypse
A Quiet Apocalypse Book 1

Dave Jeffery
Demain Publishing, January 2020
ISBN 979-8602850222
Trade Paperback

From the author—

The end is hear…

A mutant strain of meningitis has wiped out most of mankind. The few who have survived the fever are now deaf.

Bitter with loss and terrified to leave the city known as Cathedral, the inhabitants rely on The Samaritans, search teams sent out into the surrounding countryside. Their purpose, to hunt down and enslave the greatest commodity on Earth, an even smaller group of people immune to the virus, people who can still hear.

People like me.

My name is Chris.

This is my story.

“A Quiet Apocalypse is told from the perspective of ex-schoolteacher Chris, a hearing survivor. He has lost everything, including his freedom, and through his eyes we learn of what it is like to live as a slave in this terrible new world of fear and loss. I was keen to write a piece that preyed upon people’s traditional misconceptions of deafness as an illness, and the imposition of ‘hearing’ norms. It is a story that has poignancy in any understanding of the struggles of minority groups.” – Author, Dave Jeffery

With an unusual premise, A Quiet Apocalypse takes us on a post-apocalyptic journey thrust on mankind by a pandemic that leaves most survivors with a complete loss of hearing. Mr. Jeffery uses this concept to shine a light on disabilities in general and on the peculiar kind of slavery that comes about when the few who can still hear become a target for the government. Are the hearing now considered disabled in a twist on human reaction to being “different” or do certain factions see them as less worthy than the deaf?

Chris is a very sympathetic character while his vicious captor, Crowley, decidedly is not and here again the author makes much of the opportunity to focus our attention on humanity’s ability to build hatred and intolerance towards those who don’t fit a preconceived mold. Yes, the story is dark and, in its way, horrific but certainly reflects much of what is going on in our world today and is well worth everyone’s attention.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, March 2021.

About the Author

Dave Jeffery is author of 15 novels, two collections, and numerous short stories. His Necropolis Rising series and yeti adventure Frostbite have both featured on the Amazon #1 bestseller list. His YA work features critically acclaimed Beatrice Beecham supernatural mystery series and Finding Jericho, a contemporary mental health novel that was featured on the BBC Health and the Independent Schools Entrance Examination Board’s recommended reading lists. A third edition of this book will be released by Demain Publishing in 2020.

Jeffery is a member of the Society of Authors, British Fantasy Society (where he is a regular book reviewer), and the Horror Writers Association. He is also a registered mental health professional with a BSc (Hons) in Mental Health Studies and a Master of Science Degree in Health Studies.

Jeffery is married with two children and lives in Worcestershire, UK.

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