Life Lessons from Murder Mysteries—and a Giveaway!

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’s 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.

Visit Lauren’s websites and blog at:

E-Mail: writerlaurencarr@gmail.net
Website: http://mysterylady.net/
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/lauren.carr.984991
Gnarly’s Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/GnarlyofMacFaradayMysteries
Lovers in Crime Facebook Page:
http://www.facebook.com/LoversInCrimeMysteries?ref=ts&fref=ts
Acorn Book Services Facebook Page:
https://www.facebook.com/AcornBookServices?ref=hl
Twitter: @TheMysteryLadie

Once, during a radio interview, the topic of my husband came up. The lead host, a long-time fan, announced the interesting fact that my husband of almost thirty years has never read any of my best-selling murder mysteries. I’ve written and published over twenty mysteries, over four series, and Jack has yet to read a single one.

New to the show, the other host, who hadn’t had a chance to read any of my books, was shocked—as many people are.

“It’s okay,” I said with a shrug. “It used to bother me, but it doesn’t anymore. My husband reads non-fiction and is supportive of my writing in every other way. He doesn’t have to read my books.”

I was surprised when across the table, this co-host sighed with relief. “Me, too. I don’t like reading fiction. I prefer non-fiction.”

By the end of the show, this co-host asked for an autographed copy of my latest book and promised to read it. I’ve been back on that radio show several times and know that he has yet to read any of my books. I still enjoy our interviews and we get along well. He’s a very nice man, respectable, intelligent, and I like him. It’s okay that he doesn’t like fiction or murder mysteries.

During the course of my journey as a fiction author, I have learned many things about the world.

√ Everyone is different. Each one of us views, feels, and thinks differently about everything. Even in fiction, one reader may see a message that other readers may not.

√ Just because someone perceives something differently from you, doesn’t mean he is stupid, wrong, or have some ulterior motive.

When I was a college student, I remember hearing more than one literature professor declare, “The whale in Herman Melville’s Moby Dick symbolizes …”

At which point I would think:

“How do you know that was what Moby Dick is a symbol of? Did Herman Melville say that is what Moby Dick symbolizes? Maybe he just wanted to write a thrilling book about a big white whale and Moby Dick doesn’t mean anything.”

Over the years, I have concluded that I was right.

The plotline for my ninth Mac Faraday mystery Three Days to Forever and the Washington DC backdrop of the Thorny Rose Mysteries were inspired by numerous sources—mostly a series of news events involving terrorism and disagreement in our country about how to handle the rise of Islam and the spread of terrorism—even the debate of “Is it really an issue? Is our country really safe?”

As a writer, I asked myself many “What if’s…” Among them, “What if traitors to our country, supporting Islamic terrorist groups, managed to achieve positions high up in our government—even to the point of being a trusted advisor to our president.” Thus, one element of the plot in Three Days to Forever involves fictional characters in the fictional president’s administration.

Since I don’t live under a rock, being aware of the political divide in our country, I issued Three Days to Forever with a disclaimer reminding readers that this book is a work of fiction. “It is not the author’s commentary on politics, the media, the military, or Islam. While actual current events have inspired this adventure in mystery and suspense, this fictional work is not meant to point an accusatory finger at anyone in our nation’s government.”

This disclaimer held true for the first installment in the Thorny Rose Mysteries, Kill and Run, as well. While much of the mystery revolves around the military and Pentagon setting, Kill and Run was never meant as a commentary against the military in any way, shape, or form.

My job as a writer is to observe things—how things, people, circumstances, are, and ask, “What if …” Based on my observations during my years as an editor in Washington, I created a compelling backdrop for Kill and Run and the premise for the Thorny Rose Mysteries.

In the third Thorny Rose Mystery, Murder by Perfection, I explore our society’s obsession with perfection and it’s dark side.

In spite of the disclaimer, I was not surprised when a few readers interpreted the fictional plot of Three Days to Forever as an attack on then-President Obama and a political message. One reader actually pointed to the note saying, “tells me that deep down she probably knows better.”

These readers who read unintended messages between the lines and cast judgment on the deliverer of that assumed message have just as much right to their opinion and beliefs as I have to write a series about an elite special ops team working off the grid for the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

During the course of my writing career, in speaking and corresponding with readers, reviewers, and writers from diverse backgrounds, I have learned that every single person has different likes, dislikes, beliefs in sex, politics, religions, and worldviews.

Yet, our country is so widely divided with such raw feelings on both sides that it is virtually impossible for a fiction writer to pen anything with so much as a hint of reference to sex, politics, religious belief, or worldview without wounding a sensitive reader.

In normal times, offending one overly-sensitive reader would not be any great concern. But, these are not normal times. With social media, it is not out of the realm of possibilities for a single reader to blow a gasket over a perceived offense and blast it to her friends and followers. The next thing a writer knows, that throw away line in her novel, spoken by her serial killing antagonist, has been twisted and perverted to suggest that the novelist herself is racist misogynist homophobic pedophile who gets her jollies eating cheeseburgers in front of vegans. Recent news events are filled with examples of public figures (or even non-public figures), on both sides of the divide, having to walk back comments made in passing that have been snapped up and twisted into the most unpleasant image by their foes.

A few books ago, I was bouncing potential plotline ideas off another writer. Our conversation went something like this:

“I’m thinking of having the killer escape from the crime scene dressed like a woman,” I said.

There was a pause before my friend asked, “Do you mean he’s transgender?” There was trepidation in her tone.

“No, he dresses up like a woman to fool the police when they see the CCTV recording,” I explained. “They’re going to be looking for a woman when the killer is actually a man. He’ll slip into the bathroom of a gay bar a couple of blocks away. He’ll change out of the dress and then leave out the front door. How do you like that twist?”

“And then when you have the big reveal, some readers are going to think that you’re making homosexuals and transgender people out to be homicidal maniacs—”

“The killer is not homosexual or transgender,” I said.

“Is he homophobic?”

“I don’t know,” I said. “He’s straight. Whether he is homophobic has nothing to do with it. He killed his wife’s lover and is trying to get away without being detected.”

“But he’s wearing the dress and wig and he escapes through a gay bar.”

“Exactly,” I said. “And if the police figure out via the house’s security system that it is a man in a dress, and they find the dress in the bar’s bathroom, they’ll think the killer is a transvestite.”

“Then you’re slamming the LGBTQ community.”

“It’s a plot device,” I argued. “The character is simply—”

“That’s such a hot topic right now,” she said. “Do you even want to go there?”

What sounded like a good twist was shelved for another time. Maybe in ten years I can use that twist.

The problem for fiction authors is this: Our plotlines are fiction. Our characters are fictional people created to fill a role in our make-believe drama.

It is common for a writer to create positive characters whose belief systems are contrary to their own. Good writers do this. Any fictional writer who insists on depicting the world within the confines of their own belief system is doing themselves and their readers a disservice. The world encompasses many different types of people with different views of how things are and beliefs of how things should be.

Studies have proven that when it comes to siblings, each child is born into a different family. Think about it. The first-born begins life as an only child. The second child is born into an established family. The last child may be born into a big family. In each case, the circumstances—family dynamics—are different. Therefore, each comes away with different experiences and impressions of their childhood. How many of us know of siblings in which one remembers their childhood as something from “Nightmare on Elm Street”, while one or more saw their family as role models for “The Waltons”?

That means we are all different—which makes a vast global pool of characters, plotlines, and themes to inspire writers fearless enough to explore them.

The vast majority of fiction writers are not writing to make a statement about anything. However, some of us have become so gun shy that we strive to not write anything that could possibly be perceived as a statement.

Truthfully, there is no way possible to write a book that’s going to please every single reviewer and reader. Nor is it possible to not offend someone reading something between the lines—even if that message is only in the reader’s mind—not unlike literature professors who view Moby Dick as a symbolic figure.

One reader posted a two-star review for Open Season for Murder, the tenth Mac Faraday Mystery, because I had named a minor character Corey Haim.

“What really got to me in this book though was that one of the lesser characters was named for a deceased Canadian actor, Corey Haim, who died in 2010 of a possible accidental drug overdose. Seriously?? Fine, use the name Corey or Haim but to link the two together? No, I wasn’t a fan of the young man but I found the use of his name offensive.”

My first response? To google “Corey Haim” to find out who she was talking about. I had never heard of this actor. Nor had I ever seen any of his movies.

The minor character by that name in Open Season for Murder bore no resemblance to the actor. He was not an actor. He was not a drug addict. He had no emotional issues at all. This minor character was positive in every way shape and form—which begs the question—how is using the name of someone who had lived a tragic life for a positive character offensive?

Is it really any wonder that authors, reviewers, or readers don’t see the same book in the same manner? Are those who read “messages” between the lines (like the reader offended by the name Corey Haim) that I did not intend (since I had never heard of Corey Haim) wrong or stupid or judgmental? Who’s right? Who’s wrong?

My only intention is to write thrilling mysteries with plenty of twists and turns. As a human being and author, I respect those readers whose strong beliefs, whether they be political, religious, or whatever, differ from mine. I only ask that they reciprocate with their respect.

After all, how else can billions of people, each one different in their own way, get along on this planet we call Earth if we don’t respect each one’s differences?

So, when it comes to people, whether they be readers, reviewers, lovers of non-fiction, or my most devoted fan who still won’t read my murder mysteries—who disagree or dislike my books or are offended by the name of a minor character or what they perceive to be my worldview, I say, with a shrug of my shoulders, “That’s okay.”

That’s what writing about murder has taught me about life.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

To enter the drawing for an ebook copy
of Murder by Perfection by
Lauren Carr,
just leave a comment answering this:
What do you think Moby Dick symbolized?
The winning name will be drawn on
Friday evening, July 20th.

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Ta Da! And the Winners Are…

Congratulations to these winners! The ARCs/books
will be mailed out this coming week. Those who
didn’t win will have another chance soon 😉

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Allison Herndon— Cat Got Your Diamonds by Julie Chase—Grandeur and opulence are everything in the famed New Orleans Garden District where pets are family and no bling is too big. Opening Furry Godmother, pet boutique and organic treat bakery, is Lacy Marie Crocker’s dream come true–until the glitter gun used to make her Shih Tzu tutus becomes a murder weapon. And Lacy becomes public enemy #1. Now Detective Jack Oliver is hounding Lacy, and her Furry Godmother investor wants out before his name is tarnished by association. To make matters worse, a string of jewel heists with suspicious ties to the murder case has New Orleans residents on edge. To save her dream, Lacy must take a stand, put her keen eyes to work, and unravel what really happened at her shop that night. But can Lacy sniff out the killer cat burglar in time to get her tail-raising designs on the catwalk?

Patrick Murphy— Secondhand Souls by Christopher Moore—Something really strange is happening in the City by the Bay. People are dying, but their souls are not being collected. Someone—or something—is stealing them and no one knows where they are going, or why, but it has something to do with that big orange bridge. Death Merchant Charlie Asher is just as flummoxed as everyone else. He’s trapped in the body of a fourteen-inch-tall “meat puppet” waiting for his Buddhist nun girlfriend, Audrey, to find him a suitable new body to play host. To get to the bottom of this abomination, a motley crew of heroes will band together: the seven-foot-tall death merchant Minty Fresh; retired policeman turned bookseller Alphonse Rivera; the Emperor of San Francisco and his dogs, Bummer and Lazarus; and Lily, the former Goth girl. Now if only they can get little Sophie to stop babbling about the coming battle for the very soul of humankind . . .

Carolyn J. Rose—  Phantom Limbs by Paula Garner—Otis and Meg were inseparable until her family abruptly moved away after the terrible accident that left Otis’s little brother dead and both of their families changed forever. Since then, it’s been three years of radio silence, during which time Otis has become the unlikely protégé of eighteen-year-old Dara—part drill sergeant, part friend—who’s hell-bent on transforming Otis into the Olympic swimmer she can no longer be. But when Otis learns that Meg is coming back to town, he must face some difficult truths about the girl he’s never forgotten and the brother he’s never stopped grieving. As it becomes achingly clear that he and Meg are not the same people they were, Otis must decide what to hold on to and what to leave behind. Quietly affecting, this compulsively readable debut novel captures all the confusion, heartbreak, and fragile hope of three teens struggling to accept profound absences in their lives.

fuonlyknew/Laura Thomas—  Dying for a Taste by Leslie Karst—After losing her mother to cancer, Sally Solari quits her job as an attorney to help her dad run his old-style Italian eatery in Santa Cruz, California. But managing the front of the house is far from her dream job. Then in a sudden twist, her Aunt Letta is found murdered in her own restaurant, and Sally is the only one who can keep the place running. But when her sous chef is accused of the crime and she finds herself suddenly short-staffed, Sally must delve into the world of sustainable farming–not to mention a few family secrets–to help him clear his name and catch the true culprit before her timer runs out.

John Smith—  Emperor Mollusk Versus the Sinister Brain by A. Lee Martinez—Emperor Mollusk. Intergalactic Menace. Destroyer of Worlds. Conqueror of Other Worlds. Mad Genius. Ex-Warlord of Earth. Not bad for a guy without a spine. But what’s a villain to do after he’s done . . . everything. With no new ambitions, he’s happy to pitch in and solve the energy crisis or repel alien invaders should the need arise, but if he had his way, he’d prefer to be left alone to explore the boundaries of dangerous science. Just as a hobby, of course. Retirement isn’t easy though. If the boredom doesn’t get him, there’s always the Venusians. Or the Saturnites. Or the Mercurials. Or . . . well, you get the idea. If that wasn’t bad enough, there’s also the assassins of a legendary death cult and an up-and-coming megalomaniac (as brilliant as he is bodiless) who have marked Emperor for their own nefarious purposes. But Mollusk isn’t about to let the Earth slip out of his own tentacles and into the less capable clutches of another. So it’s time to dust off the old death ray and come out of retirement. Except this time, he’s not out to rule the world. He’s out to save it from the peril of THE SINISTER BRAIN!

Anne—  A Life Rebuilt by Sylvia Ruth Graham—A Life Rebuilt: The Remarkable Transformation of a War Orphan chronicles an odyssey that spans sixty years, three countries, and thousands of miles. Remarkably, at age sixty-two, Sylvia developed a relationship with a young man, forty years her junior, and against all odds she moved to Germany to live with him. Here she began to share the story of her family’s fate with German students, senior citizens, and even neo-Nazi groups. By doing so, Sylvia reconciled with the people she had feared and loathed, and resurrected the lives of the parents she cannot remember, and cannot forget. Heartbreaking and ultimately inspiring, this memoir of loss, love, resilience, belonging, identity, and authenticity has a surprising resolution, told in an intimate voice with candor, substance, and heart.

Darlene Owen—  Life & Death in Old Peking by G. D. Sheppard—note: this will be published in September 2018 as A Death in Peking by Graeme Sheppard but the content is the same. The brutal murder of Pamela Werner sent shockwaves through the streets of pre-communist Peking in 1937. Outraging the population inside the walled capital, the killing baffled the local police, becoming one of the most mysterious unsolved crimes in the history of modern China. But while investigations have returned to the cold case over the years in an attempt to provide new insight into the perplexing killing, none have come close to joining the pieces of the infamous crime, until now. With renewed interest in the murder stemming from the discovery of new evidence, Life and Death in Old Peking uses a range of primary sources to delve into the historical context of early 20th century China to dissect the many facets of the crime itself. Scrutinising the named suspects, analysing potential political motives and implementing newly discovered evidence gathered from the British Embassy, Life and Death in Old Peking uncovers the untold story of not only Pamela but also the lives of the many foreigners living in a war-torn China that have all but been forgotten.

Caryn—  Miss Julia Raises the Roof by Ann B. Ross—With her husband Sam off on a trip to Europe, Miss Julia reckons it’s about time to roll up her sleeves and be of some use to her community. It’s then that she hears that the nosy do-gooder Madge Taylor and the new pastor Rucker are embarking on a mission to buy up the vacant house next door to Hazel Marie and establish a group home for wayward teenagers. No stranger to taking in the down-and-out herself, Miss Julia is shocked to learn Madge and the pastor are keeping the project a secret. When Miss Julia and Hazel Marie start investigating, though, they uncover a far less philanthropic plot for the house that even Madge doesn’t know about–one that could change the quiet, peaceful neighborhood forever.

Let’s Have a Giveaway!

I need to let loose of some old ARCs
(AdvanceReading Copies) so take a
gander at these and leave a comment
below to enter the drawing. You can name
your top choice but I make no promises 😉

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Cat Got Your Diamonds by Julie Chase—Grandeur and opulence are everything in the famed New Orleans Garden District where pets are family and no bling is too big. Opening Furry Godmother, pet boutique and organic treat bakery, is Lacy Marie Crocker’s dream come true–until the glitter gun used to make her Shih Tzu tutus becomes a murder weapon. And Lacy becomes public enemy #1. Now Detective Jack Oliver is hounding Lacy, and her Furry Godmother investor wants out before his name is tarnished by association. To make matters worse, a string of jewel heists with suspicious ties to the murder case has New Orleans residents on edge. To save her dream, Lacy must take a stand, put her keen eyes to work, and unravel what really happened at her shop that night. But can Lacy sniff out the killer cat burglar in time to get her tail-raising designs on the catwalk?

Secondhand Souls by Christopher Moore—Something really strange is happening in the City by the Bay. People are dying, but their souls are not being collected. Someone—or something—is stealing them and no one knows where they are going, or why, but it has something to do with that big orange bridge. Death Merchant Charlie Asher is just as flummoxed as everyone else. He’s trapped in the body of a fourteen-inch-tall “meat puppet” waiting for his Buddhist nun girlfriend, Audrey, to find him a suitable new body to play host. To get to the bottom of this abomination, a motley crew of heroes will band together: the seven-foot-tall death merchant Minty Fresh; retired policeman turned bookseller Alphonse Rivera; the Emperor of San Francisco and his dogs, Bummer and Lazarus; and Lily, the former Goth girl. Now if only they can get little Sophie to stop babbling about the coming battle for the very soul of humankind . . .

Phantom Limbs by Paula Garner—Otis and Meg were inseparable until her family abruptly moved away after the terrible accident that left Otis’s little brother dead and both of their families changed forever. Since then, it’s been three years of radio silence, during which time Otis has become the unlikely protégé of eighteen-year-old Dara—part drill sergeant, part friend—who’s hell-bent on transforming Otis into the Olympic swimmer she can no longer be. But when Otis learns that Meg is coming back to town, he must face some difficult truths about the girl he’s never forgotten and the brother he’s never stopped grieving. As it becomes achingly clear that he and Meg are not the same people they were, Otis must decide what to hold on to and what to leave behind. Quietly affecting, this compulsively readable debut novel captures all the confusion, heartbreak, and fragile hope of three teens struggling to accept profound absences in their lives.

Dying for a Taste by Leslie Karst—After losing her mother to cancer, Sally Solari quits her job as an attorney to help her dad run his old-style Italian eatery in Santa Cruz, California. But managing the front of the house is far from her dream job. Then in a sudden twist, her Aunt Letta is found murdered in her own restaurant, and Sally is the only one who can keep the place running. But when her sous chef is accused of the crime and she finds herself suddenly short-staffed, Sally must delve into the world of sustainable farming–not to mention a few family secrets–to help him clear his name and catch the true culprit before her timer runs out.

Emperor Mollusk Versus the Sinister Brain by A. Lee Martinez—Emperor Mollusk. Intergalactic Menace. Destroyer of Worlds. Conqueror of Other Worlds. Mad Genius. Ex-Warlord of Earth. Not bad for a guy without a spine. But what’s a villain to do after he’s done . . . everything. With no new ambitions, he’s happy to pitch in and solve the energy crisis or repel alien invaders should the need arise, but if he had his way, he’d prefer to be left alone to explore the boundaries of dangerous science. Just as a hobby, of course. Retirement isn’t easy though. If the boredom doesn’t get him, there’s always the Venusians. Or the Saturnites. Or the Mercurials. Or . . . well, you get the idea. If that wasn’t bad enough, there’s also the assassins of a legendary death cult and an up-and-coming megalomaniac (as brilliant as he is bodiless) who have marked Emperor for their own nefarious purposes. But Mollusk isn’t about to let the Earth slip out of his own tentacles and into the less capable clutches of another. So it’s time to dust off the old death ray and come out of retirement. Except this time, he’s not out to rule the world. He’s out to save it from the peril of THE SINISTER BRAIN!

A Life Rebuilt by Sylvia Ruth Graham—A Life Rebuilt: The Remarkable Transformation of a War Orphan chronicles an odyssey that spans sixty years, three countries, and thousands of miles. Remarkably, at age sixty-two, Sylvia developed a relationship with a young man, forty years her junior, and against all odds she moved to Germany to live with him. Here she began to share the story of her family’s fate with German students, senior citizens, and even neo-Nazi groups. By doing so, Sylvia reconciled with the people she had feared and loathed, and resurrected the lives of the parents she cannot remember, and cannot forget. Heartbreaking and ultimately inspiring, this memoir of loss, love, resilience, belonging, identity, and authenticity has a surprising resolution, told in an intimate voice with candor, substance, and heart.

Life & Death in Old Peking by G. D. Sheppard—note: this will be published in September 2018 as A Death in Peking by Graeme Sheppard but the content is the same. The brutal murder of Pamela Werner sent shockwaves through the streets of pre-communist Peking in 1937. Outraging the population inside the walled capital, the killing baffled the local police, becoming one of the most mysterious unsolved crimes in the history of modern China. But while investigations have returned to the cold case over the years in an attempt to provide new insight into the perplexing killing, none have come close to joining the pieces of the infamous crime, until now. With renewed interest in the murder stemming from the discovery of new evidence, Life and Death in Old Peking uses a range of primary sources to delve into the historical context of early 20th century China to dissect the many facets of the crime itself. Scrutinising the named suspects, analysing potential political motives and implementing newly discovered evidence gathered from the British Embassy, Life and Death in Old Peking uncovers the untold story of not only Pamela but also the lives of the many foreigners living in a war-torn China that have all but been forgotten.

Miss Julia Raises the Roof by Ann B. Ross—With her husband Sam off on a trip to Europe, Miss Julia reckons it’s about time to roll up her sleeves and be of some use to her community. It’s then that she hears that the nosy do-gooder Madge Taylor and the new pastor Rucker are embarking on a mission to buy up the vacant house next door to Hazel Marie and establish a group home for wayward teenagers. No stranger to taking in the down-and-out herself, Miss Julia is shocked to learn Madge and the pastor are keeping the project a secret. When Miss Julia and Hazel Marie start investigating, though, they uncover a far less philanthropic plot for the house that even Madge doesn’t know about–one that could change the quiet, peaceful neighborhood forever.

Just leave your comments below—
the winning names will be drawn on
Friday evening, June 29th.

Book Review: The Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey—and a Giveaway!

The Widows of Malabar Hill
A Mystery of 1920s Bombay #1
Sujata Massey
Soho Press, January 2018
ISBN 978-1-61695-778-0
Hardcover

Summary: Perveen Mistry, while assisting her father with an estate case, uncovers family secrets and deceit among the household of wives and children left behind after the patriarch’s death. Her English friend from school assists with her investigation.

The Widows of Malabar Hill begins what will hopefully be a long series with Perveen Mistry as the protagonist. Perveen is an Oxford educated lawyer working with her father in his law practice in the 1920s in Bombay, India. While at that time women could not be admitted to the bar and therefore could not represent clients in court, Perveen was able to perform much of the paper work of the law practice from writing wills to helping clients understand their legal positions. As the book opens, that is where readers find Perveen. Her father is the executor of a recently deceased mill owner who leaves behind three widows and a number of children. The person acting as their guardian has presented a document signed by the three widows stating they wish to forgo their rightful inheritance and turn their dowry gifts over to the trust which the guardian controls. There are two concerns with the document.  First there is some question regarding the signatures and secondly, the document also changes the focus of the trust’s mission, something that cannot so easily be done.

Because the women follow the custom of purdah (complete separation of the sexes), Perveen’s father would not be able to meet with the women, but Perveen can. Perveen goes to the widows’ home to speak with each of the women separately to have them each sign an individual agreement  but also to make sure the women understand exactly what they have agreed to give up and what the stated new mission of the trust is to be. While she is visiting with the second widow, the  guardian returns, overhears what she is saying and orders her to leave. Later she realizes she has left her briefcase and returns to retrieve it only to find the guardian has been murdered. What follows is an excellent murder mystery in which Perveen enlists her English friend from Oxford now living in Bombay to assist her.

There are so many things to love about this book beyond the murder mystery.

Besides the obvious crime to be solved, there is another entire story told throughout the book involving Perveen’s earlier marriage to a handsome businessman from Calcutta. Shifting back and forth from 1916 and 1917 to the story’s present day 1920s, we learn the details of how the couple met, married and why the marriage fell apart. Through this we also have a mini look into the marriage customs of India at that time, some extreme as well as some even then archaic practices.

The historical details the author has included really puts the reader in the 1920s in Bombay. The jumble of the various religious and cultural entities that somehow manage to co-exist is interesting and quite impressive.  Many cultural traditions are included and explained through actions giving readers a sense of being there rather than lectured to.

Included at the end of the book are some historical notes from the author. I would recommend reading those before reading the book. The notes really set the stage for the book.

This was the first book  I read in 2018 and a book I was sorry to see it end. What a great way to start the year.

Reviewed by guest reviewer Caryn St. Clair, January 2018.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

To enter the drawing for a hardcover
copy of The Widows of Malabar Hill
by Sujata Massey, leave a comment
below. The winning name will be
drawn Thursday evening, June 21st.
This drawing is open to
residents of the US and Canada.

What Lies Beneath Perfection: Murder—and a Giveaway!

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’s 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.

Visit Lauren’s websites and blog at:

E-Mail: writerlaurencarr@gmail.net
Website: http://mysterylady.net/
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/lauren.carr.984991
Gnarly’s Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/GnarlyofMacFaradayMysteries
Lovers in Crime Facebook Page:
http://www.facebook.com/LoversInCrimeMysteries?ref=ts&fref=ts
Acorn Book Services Facebook Page:
https://www.facebook.com/AcornBookServices?ref=hl
Twitter: @TheMysteryLadie

Recently, a chilling murder case made the national news. A forty-two-year-old mother and housewife was found strangled in her front yard. She was a beautiful young woman. Perfect figure. Lived in a lovely home in a quiet suburban area in the mid-west. She had a great husband with a good job and they had two cute kids.

Why, her friends and neighbors wondered, would anyone want to harm her? She was living the American dream. She had … the perfect life.

To get to the heart of the case, the police started peeling back the layers of this young woman’s life to discover that she had been living a double life. Behind the scenes, she was a lingerie model posing on an erotica site on the Internet.

Eventually, the police arrested her husband, which further shattered the illusion of the victim having achieved perfection and living the American dream. Obviously, there was more going on behind the scenes.

This real murder case was the seed that inspired Murder by Perfection, the third installment in the Thorny Rose Mysteries. It is not the first time that I have explored the theme of things not always being what they seem in my mysteries.

This is a fascinating topic to me. Maybe it is because, as a child, my mother often told me that things are never what they seem—usually when I was crying about Susie’s life being so much more perfect than mine. I think many people buy the illusion that our friends, neighbors, or co-workers create with having perfect families, homes, and metabolism. You can’t help but hate someone who can eat a whole plate of brownies without gaining an ounce!

The setting of Great Falls, Virginia, is picture-perfect for this mystery. Great Falls is a woodsy, upper class area in northern Virginia that runs along the Potomac River. While working for the federal government in Washington, I used to drive through it every day. I would gaze longingly at the mansions and horse farms that made up the area and wonder about the flawless lives of those fortunate enough to have achieved the perfect status to make them worthy of living in such a place.

Then, I grew up and learned that such is not the case. Salvador Dali was right when he said, “Have no fear of perfection―you’ll never reach it.”

Last week, my husband came home from the grocery store with a couple of avocados. They appeared to be perfect on the outside. When it came time to prepare them to serve with our dinner, I removed the peel and cut through the pulp to discover that they were both rotten on the inside. They were the perfect color and texture on the outside. But underneath, they were rotten where it really counted.

Perfection is just an illusion. While most of us are mature enough to know this—others can be so hung up on creating the illusion of perfection to the outside world that we neglect the real stuff underneath. They become like the avocados—perfect on the outside, rotten on the inside.

Murder cases like the one that inspired Murder by Perfection make the national news because of the victim’s success in creating that perfect illusion. Unlike the drug addicted hooker in the alley or the gangster dodging bullets on a daily basis, the murder of a middle-class housewife make the national news because the victims have succeeded in convincing everyone around them that everything was peachy—when in reality, all was rotten at the core.

Those unaddressed issues became tasty ingredients for a fascinating murder mystery.

Jessica Faraday and Murphy Thornton learn that perfection can be fatal in Murder by Perfection. NCIS asks Lieutenant Murphy Thornton to help them solve the murder of a navy doctor, who had information about some illegal activity occurring at a private clinic. The case is going cold fast and they believe a caterer and cooking instructor named Natalie Stepford could be the key to heating up the case.

The Thorny Rose detectives sign up for Natalie’s couple’s gourmet cooking class. At first blush, the beautiful blond-haired instructor is the embodiment of feminine perfection: beautiful, smart, successful. She’s married to a doting wealthy older man who gives her everything she wants. What more could she want?

When Natalie ends up dead and Murphy goes missing, the Thorny Rose detectives must peel back the layers of Natalie Stepford’s flawless life to discover that perfection can be deadly.

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Lauren Carr,
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Book Review: A Perfect Shot by Robin Yocum—and a Giveaway!

A Perfect Shot
Robin Yocum
Seventh Street Books, April 2018
ISBN: 978-1-63388-417-5
Trade Paperback

Fans of Chuck Logan may find this book an attractive addition to their library of crime thrillers. Yocum tends toward the more brutal and darker side of the genre, but there are definite similarities.

Decades after his last-minute basket to help the Mingo Junction Indians win the Ohio state high school basketball championship, Duke Ducheski has finally realized his dream—to open a fine restaurant in his home town and get out of the steel mill that dominates his home town. He also pledges to himself to avoid becoming involved with the nasty crime family that rules the valley.

Steel manufacturing in this Ohio valley is not the only enterprise dominating the town. The other presence is the mob, a tight-knit group of entrepreneurs who control the gambling, drug sales and prostitution action in town. The mob boss is aging Salvatore Antonelli. His principal enforcer is a local boy named Tony DeMarco.

When Duke opens his restaurant with some assistance from his long-time high school buddies Moonie and Angel, things are looking up for the forty-year old divorced mill worker, and then he disappears. His disappearance is triggered by an elaborate plan concocted by Duke to rid himself of the heavy arm of Tony DeMarco, and of other obligations. He enlists the aid of former school buddies and a grandfather-like figure who owns an established bar in town.

For anyone who has experienced small-town dynamics, long-time established disagreements and feuds, the slow revolutions of time and the maturation of certain individuals, rings true. The author has established a true town character, as well as the characters of both principal and peripheral players.

The novel is characteristic of the author’s work, painstakingly detailed, accurately nuanced, as is the dialogue. There are several violent encounters throughout the novel, most of which result in reduction of the population.

Everything in the book is true to the premise and well written. Fans of this style of crime fiction should be very happy and I recommend the novel.

Reviewed by Carl Brookins, March 2018.
http://www.carlbrookins.com http://agora2.blogspot.com
The Case of the Purloined Painting, The Case of the Great Train Robbery, Reunion, Red Sky.

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To enter the drawing for a trade
paperback copy of A Perfect Shot
by Robin Yocum
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The winning name will be
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day evening, June 1st.
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Book Review: A Reckoning in the Back Country by Terry Shames—and a Giveaway!

A Reckoning in the Back Country
A Samuel Craddock Mystery #7
Terry Shames
Seventh Street Books, January 2018
ISBN 978-1-63388-367-3
Trade Paperback

From the publisher—

When Lewis Wilkins, a physician with a vacation home in Jarrett Creek, is attacked by vicious dogs, and several pet dogs in the area around Jarrett Creek disappear, Police Chief Samuel Craddock suspects that a dog fighting ring is operating in his territory. He has to tread carefully in his investigation, since lawmen who meddle in dog fighting put their lives at risk. The investigation is hampered because Wilkins is not a local.

Craddock’s focus on the investigation is thrown off by the appearance of a new woman in his life, as well as his accidental acquisition of a puppy.

Digging deeper, Craddock discovers that the public face Wilkins presented was at odds with his private actions. A terrible mistake led to his disgrace as a physician, and far from being a stranger, he has ongoing acquaintances with a number of county residents who play fast and loose with the law.

OK, let’s deal with the elephant in the room. Yes, dogs are a crucial part of this story and they’re involved in bad things. Yes, harm is done BUT it’s important to note that most of it is offpage and it’s not gratuitous in the least. The central theme, that of dogfighting, is an evil in our world, one that causes many people to look the other way because the horror of it is so difficult to comprehend. Even if you’re squeamish about animals being harmed, I strongly encourage you to read this book to learn more about how this works and why it so often seems to escape scrutiny that could help stop it. Besides, all the dog activity here is not bad; there’s a little fellow named Dusty you won’t want to miss.

Dogfighting is not what brings Samuel to the home of Lewis and Margaret Wilkins, though, and discovering why this man is missing keeps him busy around the Thanksgiving holiday. This is a lake family, meaning vacationers, so they’re not well known in Jarrett Creek and Samuel is the only member of the police department on hand. He’s doing the best he can but no one is prepared when a body is found, a body that has been savaged.

Technically speaking, the investigation of a violent death should be run by the Department of Public Safety but they rely on Chief Craddock to get things started. It doesn’t take long for him to see that this is going to be complicated and leads take him in several directions. Dr. Wilkins was apparently not a pleasant man and he had some serious problems including a malpractice suit and high stakes gambling. There’s also the question of how and why dogs would have attacked him.

On a more personal note, Samuel has reason to question his relationship with Ellen when he meets another woman and he also takes in a tiny puppy he found near the crime scene. He won’t keep the dog, of course, because he doesn’t want one but Dusty is there for now and Samuel’s resistance just might be futile. Certainly, he offers a bit of a distraction as Samuel and his deputy, Maria, follow those disparate leads to come to a final conclusion.

I was just as puzzled as Samuel almost to the very end and, even then, there were a few surprises. Once again, Terry Shames has captivated me with not only a terrific story but with Samuel himself, a man of great integrity and the wisdom and confidence of his years but one who isn’t afraid to challenge himself on a personal level. A Reckoning in the Back Country is going on my list of best books read in 2018.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, May 2018.

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To enter the drawing for a trade
paperback copy of A Reckoning in
the Back Country by Terry Shames,
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The winning
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Monday evening,
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