Book Review: Death of an Unsung Hero by Tessa Arlen—and a Giveaway!

Death of an Unsung Hero
A Lady Montfort Mystery #4
Tessa Arlen
Minotaur Books, March 2018
ISBN 978-1-250-10144-0

From the publisher—

In 1916, the world is at war and the energetic Lady Montfort has persuaded her husband to offer his family’s dower house to the War Office as an auxiliary hospital for officers recovering from shell-shock with their redoubtable housekeeper Mrs. Jackson contributing to the war effort as the hospital’s quartermaster.

Despite the hospital’s success, the farming community of Haversham, led by the Montfort’s neighbor Sir Winchell Meacham, does not approve of a country-house hospital for men they consider to be cowards. When Captain Sir Evelyn Bray, one of the patients, is found lying face down in the vegetable garden with his head bashed in, both Lady Montfort and Mrs. Jackson have every reason to fear that the War Office will close their hospital. Once again the two women unite their diverse talents to discover who would have reason to murder a war hero suffering from amnesia.

Time has moved on since our last encounter with Lady Montfort and Mrs. Jackson and England is growing weary of World War I, only halfway through the horror, although their patriotism is still high and everyone wants to do his—or her—part. When a military hospital is opened in Haversham Hall, a property owned by the Earl of Montfort, some neighbors are not welcoming. This is no ordinary hospital treating the visible wounds one expects to see but, rather, a shelter for soldiers suffering a badly misunderstood emotional affliction. Shellshock is a condition that’s newly-recognized by the medical community but many civilians see it as a mere excuse for cowardice in the face of the enemy. Still, murder seems to be an unnecessarily strong reaction.

Lady Montfort and her housekeeper, Mrs. Jackson, are the perfect upstairs-downstairs team and their individual stations and personalities complement each other when they investigate. Unlike some similar situations, these women are equally intelligent and determined to seek truth and justice plus they truly like each other and work together like a well-oiled machine. Now, they turn their attention to the question of why someone would want to murder Captain Bray just when he was beginning to recover from his amnesia and who that someone might be.

Tessa Arlen has cemented her place among the best historical mystery authors and, in my opinion, each book is a wonderful evocation of period and setting. It was nice to learn more about Lady Montfort’s family and the earl has become another of my favorite members of the cast. This entry has the added drama of war and it’s clear that the author understands and has a passion for the times and her wonderful characters. I’ll be adding Death of an Unsung Hero to my list of best reads in 2018.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, March 2018.


Purchase Links:

Barnes & Noble // Kobo // Amazon // Indiebound

“The book is a delightful romp through a world of vividly
eccentric characters in a beautifully described setting. It was
pure pleasure to read, and it packed a punch.”
– Historical Novel Society


About the Author

TESSA ARLEN is the author of Death of a Dishonorable Gentleman, Death Sits Down to Dinner and A Death by Any Other Name. She is the daughter of a British diplomat and had lived in or visited her parents in Singapore, Berlin, the Persian Gulf, Beijing, Delhi, and Warsaw by the time she was sixteen. She came to the US in 1980 and worked as an HR recruiter for the LA Olympic Organizing Committee for the 1984 Olympic Games, where she interviewed her future husband for a job. She lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Website // Twitter // Facebook // Goodreads


To enter the drawing for a print
copy of Death of an Unsung Hero,
leave a comment below. The winning
name will be drawn on Monday
evening, March 19th, and the book
will be sent after the tour ends.
Open to residents of the US.


“The way Arlen integrates the traumas of WWI into a
golden age whodunit plot will please Charles Todd fans.”
– Publishers Weekly


Mystery Writing Is 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:

Gnarly’s Facebook Page:
Lovers in Crime Facebook Page:
Acorn Book Services Facebook Page:
Twitter: @TheMysteryLadie

American Journalist and Biographer Gene Fowler once said, “Writing is easy: All you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead.”

Yeah, right. Try writing murder mysteries. Not only will drops of blood be forming on your forehead, but it will be dripping out of your eyeballs as well.

I’m sure any author of any genre will claim that theirs is the most difficult to write.

Take romance, for example. Girl meets boy. Boy meets girl. They fight. They realize their hatred for each other is really sexual tension. They give into “the urge.” They fight again. They discover they can’t live without each other. They get married. The End.

For a twist, let’s do romantic-suspense. Girl meets Boy. Boy meets Girl. One of them is a secret agent or hit man working for the government or undercover cop—whatever—one of them is in a dangerous line of work that puts the other in the line of fire. They are running for their lives and both look really hot while bullets are whizzing over their heads. They find a moment of peace to do the deed. Bad guys get the jump on the couple. One of them is taken hostage. The other saves him/her. The bad guys are killed and the couple lives happily ever after. The End.

Admittedly, it is tough for writers of these genres because putting the twist to the general plotline to keep things fresh for their readers is a real challenge. How many ways can you kiss? How many ways can you describe a kiss?

As a murder mystery writer, I claim that murder mystery writing is the tougher game, especially for writers, like me, who prefer to keep their books character driven and to have their protagonist solve the case with his brilliant intellect.

Some readers, and writers, have found that the reality of technology and the justice system has thrown a monkey wrench into the general murder mystery premise:

Someone gets killed. Detective surveys the scene. Questions all of the witnesses. Tracks down suspects. Cunning Killer lies. Detective is stumped. Cunning Killer slips up. Brilliant Hero detects the Killer’s mistake. Traps Killer. Killer confesses and goes off to prison.

Justice prevails.

Any fourth grader knows that such is not the case in real life.

Between technology: “Oh, you say you were never in that room? Well, we found your DNA from where you sneezed on the victim’s baloney sandwich right before you slit his throat with the butter knife.”

And justice system: “Is that all you got? A car filled with nuns saw your suspect running out of the house with a bloody knife in his hand at the time of the murder? His defense attorney is going to claim that they are conspiring to railroad him into jail because he’s Jewish. Come back with something more and I’ll get you a search warrant for the bloody knife.”

Some mystery writers see this as a killjoy. What fun is there in having a dull computer database spit out the name of the killer, especially when it’s someone who wasn’t even on the protagonist’s radar? Then, many readers, myself included, get frustrated when the mystery turns from a whodunit, but how-are-we-gonna-catch-‘em?

This is where the rubber hits the road. In reality, these hurdles add to the fun for the author. It doesn’t take away from the protagonist. Real detectives, true-life protagonists, deal with these real issues every day.

Sure, the computer database, devoid of personality, may spit out the pieces of the puzzle, just like the collection of witnesses may lay out their pieces of the puzzle. A clever defense lawyer may throw up legal hurdles to protect the killer—but hasn’t that always been the case?

Today’s real detectives come up against different types of hurdles than the investigators of fifty years ago, which were different from the hurdles fifty years before that.

While the murder investigation game may be different than it was in the days of Hercule Poirot and Perry Mason, it hasn’t become any less thrilling.

One thing that has not changed: Murder has been around since the days of Cain and Abel. As long as there are motives for murder, it will never go away. Also, protagonists will always have to be on their toes to anticipate and find their way over hurdles thrown up by their antagonists.

The game of writing murder mysteries is always changing—and never dull.


To enter the drawing for an ebook copy
of Ice by Lauren Carr, just leave a comment
below giving what you think is the biggest
crime-solving technique—**other than
DNA**—to come along in the past 200
(or more) years. The winning name will be
drawn on Monday evening, March 12th.

Why Mozambique? Why Not?—and a Giveaway!

Michael Niemann grew up in a small town in Germany, ten kilometers from the Dutch border. Crossing that border often at a young age sparked in him a curiosity about the larger world. He studied political science at the Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms Universität in Bonn and international studies at the University of Denver. During his academic career he focused his work on southern Africa and frequently spent time in the region. After taking a fiction writing course from his friend, the late Fred Pfeil, he embarked on a different way to write about the world. For more information, go to:

Setting a thriller in Mozambique is a bit risky. I mean, who’s even heard of the country? Why not pick a location that readers recognize? I thought of that, but decided against it. For one, Mozambique is a fascinating country. Second, verisimilitude. The story I tell in the novel is based on real developments, why not set in a place where it’s actually happening? Third, the people are very nice. To help readers become familiar with the country, here’re the FAQs.

Where is it? Mozambique is in southeastern Africa, right across from Madagascar. It has a population of almost 29 million people and a per capita income of $1,265 per year. The country is about twice the size of California and has some 1,535 miles of coastline, much of it sandy beaches. It has a tropical climate with wet seasons from October to March and a dry season for the rest of the year.

What’s with the funny shape? You can thank Europe for that. During the late 19th century scramble for Africa, European countries were jockeying for colonial possessions. Portugal had been present in Mozambique since 1500. But the 1884-85 Berlin conference decreed that any claim to land had to be backed up by actual presence there. In the words of historian Malyn Newitt, it was a bit like musical chairs, when the music stopped, that’s where the lines were drawn.

Did anything happen before that? Sure. The area was populated about sixteen to eighteen hundred years ago as part of the migration of Bantu-speaking people from central Africa to the southern tip. About a thousand years ago, the entire eastern coast of the African continent was part of a wide-ranging trading network that linked it to the Arab peninsula, India, China and Africa. Arab and Persian traders were frequent visitors. Mozambique’s location on the ocean helped make it an important gateway to the interior of southern Africa. Kingdoms, like the Great Zimbabwe kingdom, exported gold, ivory and slaves in exchange for textiles, porcelain and other goods.

How long has the country been independent? Since 1975. But it took over a decade of struggle to get there. During the conflict, the Frente de Libertação de Moçambique (FRELIMO, Mozambican Liberation Front) with about 7,000 fighters faced some 60,000 Portuguese soldiers. The struggle ended when a left-wing military coup in Lisbon overthrew the dictatorship. The 250,000 Portuguese settlers there were none too happy. Their lifestyle was coming to an end. Mia Couto, the Mozambican novelist, described their reaction like this: “These traitors [the soldiers in Lisbon, MN] are selling us off to the blacks.” A year later, the country became independent.

It’s been smooth sailing ever since, right? Uh, no. White-ruled South Africa and Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) were alarmed to have a majority ruled country on their borders, especially one that gave sanctuary to resistance groups from both countries. Right after independence, the Rhodesian secret service began funding and arming the opposition group Resistência Nacional Moçambicana (RENAMO, Mozambican National Resistance). The ensuing civil war lasted until 1992. The toll was horrific and it set back the economy dramatically. Only in 1994 were the first democratic elections held and have been repeated at regular intervals ever since.

Why are the people so poor? Hmm. Difficult question. I know everybody is tired of hearing about colonialism. But bear with me. Portuguese rule was ruthless and created an exploitative and coercive economy. To make the colony pay for itself, local farmers were forced to produce crops for export to Portugal, these included cotton, cashew nuts, tea and rice. In addition, the colonial government allowed South Africa to recruit workers for its diamond and gold mines, earning a good commission for each person. So the country was structured as an extractive economy. There was little investment in manufacturing. Today, the top exports are aluminum, electricity, liquified gas and tobacco. Not a whole lot different. I know it’s been a long time, but remember institutional structures persist long past the time when they were useful. Economist Douglas North got a Nobel prize in economics for that insight.

Add to that poor economic policies during the 1980s, often inspired by Soviet models that had zero insight into tropical agriculture and you get the idea. It also hasn’t helped that some public officials have been corrupt. But let me say this, corruption exists in all countries, the rich countries simply have better ways of dressing it up. In other words, if Mozambique’s economy hadn’t been structured the way it was, the corruption would’ve been called “constituent service.” Current growth projections range from 5% to 7% annually, but much of that still comes from exporting natural gas, discovered in 2012. Also, see the previous question.

What about the culture? Mozambique has a thriving music scene. Marrabenta is by far the most popular dance music. Check out Mabulu performing live in Lisbon. Other styles include Timbila and, the latest, Pandza. Artists in the genre include Lizha James ,who won the MTV Africa award in the Lusophone category, and Rosalia Mboa.

There are a few writers of note in Mozambique. Most have not been translated. Paulina Chiziane was the first Mozambican woman to publish a novel. Mia Couto, mentioned above, is a novelist and non-fiction writer and probably best known outside the country. I should add that Henning Mankell, world famous author of the Wallander series, used to live in Mozambique starting in 1986 on a part-time basis. He was the artistic director of the Teatro Avenida in Maputo.

Photo credits:
Map-Public Domain Wikipedia
Island of Mozambique – Steve Evans – Creative Commons
Portuguese Troops – Joaquim Coelho – Free Use
Land Mine Victim – Ton Rulkens – Creative Commons
Maputo – Andrew Moir – Creative Commons


To enter the drawing for a paperback
copy of Illegal Holdings by Michael
Niemann, leave a comment below.
winning name will be drawn
evening, March 7th. This
is open to residents of the US.

Spotlight on Enigma by Catherine Coulter—and a Giveaway!


Title: Enigma
Series: FBI Thriller #21
Author: Catherine Coulter
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: February 27, 2018
Genres: Mystery, Thriller


Purchase Links:

Barnes & Noble // Amazon // Indiebound



Agents Savich and Sherlock are presented with two baffling
mysteries. Working with Agent Cam Wittier (Insidious) and
New York-based former Special Forces agent Jack Cabot, they
must race against the clock to catch an international
criminal and solve the enigma of the man called John Doe.

A Distraught Mother…
Kara Moody’s perfect pregnancy turns into a nightmare
when her newborn son is nowhere to be found in her Georgetown
hospital. FBI agents Savich and Sherlock think they’re investigating
an abduction, but soon discover their case is tangled in
a web of medical mystery that could make immortality possible.

An Irish Killer…
Liam Hennessy, notorious thief and one of the FBI’s most
wanted, has escaped into the deep woods of the Appalachians—and
when he wants to be hidden, few can find the Manta Ray.

Special agents Jack Cabot and Cam Wittier are sent
to find him, but they find something else entirely.

A FBI team running out of time…
As each agent tirelessly pursues their prey, the clock is ticking.
The odds grow ever slimmer that Kara Moody will ever see her
baby again. Savich and his team will have to go way
beyond the ordinary if they are to solve the cases of a lifetime.


About the Author

Catherine Coulter is the author of the New York Times bestselling FBI Thrillers and coauthor with J.T. Ellison of the New York Times bestselling thriller series A Brit in the FBI.  She lives in beautiful Sausalito, California. She is the author of 80 novels, including 75 New York Times bestsellers, occasionally, after exhaustive prayers, hitting #1.

Coulter grew up on a horse ranch in Texas, and graduated from the University of Texas, receiving her graduate degree from Boston College. She became a speechwriter on Wall Street, then, to her joy, she was able to quit her day job and become a full-time writer.

She lives with her physician husband and three cats in Marin County, California, right over the Golden Gate Bridge. She loves to travel, loves to kamikaze down the ski slopes, and reads voraciously while recuperating. She likes to laugh, loves a good joke, and believes the publishing business is too crazy to take seriously.

If you read just one of Coulter’s FBI thrillers, she’s got you, so prepare for eye strain and jumping at things that go bump in the night.

Website // Facebook


“Bestseller Coulter is at the top of her game in her 21st FBI
thriller … Twists and turns galore in both investigations ensure
there’s never a dull moment.” (Publishers Weekly, starred review)

“Enigma is a new seductive and menacing thriller that sets new
standards to judge thrillers. It’s a thriller most people would like to finish
it in one sitting. It is intense and packed with action and inventive
fantasy Catherine Coulter is known for. This must be next on your reading
list if you love to read thrillers.” (The Washington Book Review)


To enter the drawing for a paperback
copy of Enigma by Catherine Coulter,
leave a comment below.
Two winning
names will be drawn
evening, March 1st. This
drawing is
open to residents of the US.

Book Review: Grand Lac by Carl Brookins—and a Giveaway!

Grand Lac
Carl Brookins
Brookins Books LLC, July 2017
ISBN 978-0-9969991-0-6
Trade Paperback

From the author—

A small group of investors has purchased lots on a mountain on the outskirts of Grand Lac in northern Idaho. One dark night one of the investors, Jack Ketchum, gets drunk, climbs aboard a large bulldozer and carves a raw track of destruction down the mountainside though the property of each of the other owners. Days later Ketchum is found dead in a ravine, a large-caliber bullet hole in his chest.

When a local day trader, young Sam Black, is jailed for the murder, his mother, Edie Black, calls her cousin for help. Marjorie Kane, ex-exotic dancer, enlists the aid of her partner, Alan Lockem. The pair are independent special investigators who specialize in solving unusual and sometimes strange cases.

The duo flies to Grand Lac to try to prove Sam innocent and catch the real killer. They quickly find themselves enmeshed in civic chicanery, corruption and other evils, which must be sorted out to save Sam from prison or worse.

Alan Lockem and Marjorie Kane are not your everyday couple (of a certain age) nor are they your everyday private consultants. Marjorie, in particular, has a less than boring past that has given her a rather different way of looking at things and that complements her partner’s more straightforward approach to life and the cases they take on. When Marjorie’s cousin, Edie, asks for their help, they don’t hesitate for long, mainly because it’s family.

Grand Lac is a vacation spot in the mountains of Idaho situated on a glacier lake, a beautiful area that has drawn the wealthy and the not so wealthy. Some of those on the more affluent side bought lots on Carson’s Mountain and built stunning homes but one of those homesteaders, Jack Ketchum, insisted on flouting the wishes and rights of his neighbors. Is that what got him killed? Certainly, the local law thinks so, but Marjorie and Alan begin to discover other possibilities that lead them to think the arrest of young Sam Black might have been a rush to judgement. Before all is said and done, the rough terrain and unsatisfied greed may just prove dangerous to a lot more people including our investigators.

I felt an immediate connection with this couple, not because I have anything in common with them but because they’re so charming and likeable and so very clever. The mystery itself is a good “thinker” with threads going in all different directions and, while I was not completely surprised by the denouement, the journey to get there was quite entertaining. I do think another round of edits should have been done as there were some noticeable construction flaws, such as occasional misnamed characters or misplaced words, but none of that kept me from enjoying Mr. Brookins‘ new sleuths and I hope to see more of this dynamic duo.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, February 2018.


I’d love to send somebody my
very gently used paperback copy
of Grand Lac. Leave a comment
below and I’ll draw the winning
name on Wednesday evening,
February 7th. This drawing is open
to residents of the US & Canada.

Meet the Geezer Squad—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:




Gnarly’s Facebook Page:

Lovers in Crime Facebook Page:

Acorn Book Services Facebook Page:

Twitter: @TheMysteryLadie

Doing new stuff is always exciting.

Granted, as the author of three mystery series, I have enjoyed diving into my series characters, exploring their psyches, and watching them grow. It’s very much like being a parent. Since I average three mysteries a year, I considered my plate full with a new release for each series every year.

Truthfully, I was not looking for inspiration for a new series when Chris Matheson and the Geezer Squad came crashing into my life.

One evening I was looking for a good mystery to watch on Netflix when I happened upon a true crime series entitled The Keepers, which explored the unsolved 1969 murder of Sister Cathy Cesnik in Baltimore, Maryland. As fascinating as this series is (and I do recommend it to any mystery lover), as a writer, I was drawn to the “detectives” investigating this cold case. They were former students of the victim. Now, decades later, retired, they were each using their individual skills to solve this case that keeps them up at night.

I couldn’t get the concept out of my mind. The writer in me twisted and turned the idea until the Geezer Squad—a group of law enforcement retirees who work those cold cases that keep them up at night. Surprisingly, I discovered during my research that some police departments actually have Geezer Squads working on contract—retirees tasked with working cold cases.

You will notice that I have named my new series The Chris Matheson Cold Case Mysteries. A retired FBI agent, my protagonist is a young retiree. Chris is in his mid-forties and the single father of three little girls. His wife had been killed in a terrorist attack in Nice, France. After the sudden death of his father, a retired state police captain, Chris retires from the FBI and returns home to the family farm to live with his mother, a library director.

It is at his mother’s insistence that Chris agrees to attend a book club meeting at the library with Elliott, one of his late father’s friends. Since the club is made up of law enforcement retirees, his mother believes he would make some new friends.

As you can see from this excerpt from Ice, she had no idea!


Chris watched Helen hurry out into the cold. A gust of wind ruffled her hair while she yanked open the door and climbed into the car.

“Why didn’t you ask her out?” Jacqui called over to break the memories of adolescent romance flowing through Chris’s mind.

“Why is it that every time a man admires a hot woman, people think they should immediately slip between the sheets?” Elliott asked.

Meanwhile, Bruce was pouring red wine into a goblet. His muscular frame and sun kissed face indicated long days working in his vineyard. Peering at Chris with green eyes, he held out the glass to him. “Taste and tell me what you think, Christopher.”

While Chris tested the wine, Jacqui waved her arm to indicate the work room behind Doris’s office. “I didn’t ask why he didn’t take her into the back room and hook up with her here and now. I asked why he didn’t ask her out. I was thinking about lunch. Your mind went straight to sex.”

Disregarding his colleagues’ conversation, Bruce stared at Chris. “Well?”

“It’s good.” He picked up a cracker which he covered with a slice of cheese from the tray.

“Maybe he didn’t want to be pushy.” Elliott handed a paper plate to Chris. “It isn’t like he doesn’t know where to find her. Her daughter works here.”

Chris set his copy of the book down on the table to fill his plate with Swedish meatballs, and cheese and crackers.

“Good?” Bruce’s expression was similar to that of a man who had just lost his job, home, and family. “He said it was… good?”

Cursing under her breath, Jacqui struggled in setting up the computer and monitor for the remote hook up. Ray snapped instructions to her from a speaker phone.

Sitting down to eat, Chris noticed that he was the only one who had the copy of the book that Elliott had said they were covering that evening. Everyone else had folders and binders.

Must be some heavy duty reading group.

“Screw it, Jacqui!” Ray said. “Where’s Francine?”

“I’m right here, Ray.” A short woman dressed in a thick winter coat with a furry hat pulled down over her ears ran in from the side entrance. She dumped a book bag thick with folders and notebooks into a chair. “Sorry I’m late!”

With a sigh of relief, Jacqui backed away from the equipment. She moved on to fill a plate with cheese and crackers.

“The internet went out at home just as I was leaving,” — Francine checked the settings and pressed buttons on the keyboard — “and my grandson promptly became mildly hysterical. Luckily, all I had to do was reboot the system.”

Jacqui took a sip of white wine from a goblet. With a grin, she held up the glass in a toast. “This Sauvignon Blanc is lovely, Bruce. Delicate but strong. Its sweet taste compliments the hearty boldness of the cheese. Yet, it’s not a wimpy wine either.”

“So you don’t think it’s good?” Bruce shot a glance in Chris’s direction.

Elliott took the seat between Chris and the vineyard owner. “Now, Bruce, not all of us are wine enthusiasts.”

“I said it was good,” Chris said, “which is a compliment.”

“Yeah,” Jacqui said, “he could have said it was bad.”

The face of a man with a gray beard and thick eyeglasses filled the computer monitor.

“Hey, Ray!” the members of the book group called out almost in unison.

“Nice to see you guys, too.” Ray saluted them. Abruptly, his smile dropped. “Who’s the kid?”

Francine spun around to notice Chris on the other side of the table. A broad grin crossed her wide face. “Well, it’s about time we got a touch of class.”

“Kind of young if you ask me,” Ray said with a grumble.

“This is Kirk’s boy, Chris,” Elliott said. “He’s retired FBI.”

“He’s forty-five,” Jacqui said.

“Forty-six,” Chris corrected her.

“Still not even fifty.”

“I’ve got underwear older than he is,” Ray said.

“And he doesn’t know anything about wine,” Bruce said.

“I said it was good. Look, I had no idea this book club was so selective about new members.” Chris started to stand up.

With a hand on his shoulder, Francine, who had rushed to move her seat next to his, shoved him back into his chair. “Elliott says he’s retired FBI. That’s good enough for me.” She leaned over to whisper in his ear. “I’ll do the talking, sweet cheeks. You just keep sitting there looking handsome.” With a salacious grin, she admired his attractive features and let out a moan of pleasure.

“Chris is Kirk’s son,” Elliott said. “Doris suggested that I invite him to—”

“That explains everything,” Jacqui said with a heavy sigh.

“What explains everything?” Chris asked.

“Doris,” Jacqui said. “Elliott can’t say no to Doris Matheson.”

“I can so say no to her,” Elliott said. “As a matter of a fact I said no to her just today.”

“In reference to what?” Francine asked.

“She asked if I’d got a haircut.” Elliott raised his voice to be heard over their laughter. “But that’s not important. Point is, Kirk was our founder, which means Chris here has a right to be a member of our group. Our primary rule for membership is retired law enforcement. Chris is retired FBI. If that doesn’t allow him in, then what does?”

“His retirement is basically only a technicality,” Jacqui said. “He’s too young. Some agency or contractor will make him an offer and he’ll be back out there talking about the Geezer Squad.”

“I’ve said nothing to him about the Geezer Squad,” Elliott said with a crooked grin.

“What’s the Geezer Squad?” Chris asked.

“Hey!” Bruce sat up straight in his seat. “What’s the number one rule about the Geezer Squad?”

“Never talk about the Geezer Squad,” the group, including Ray on the monitor, said in unison.

In silence, Chris peered at each of them. He pushed his paper plate, still half-filled with food, to the center of the table. “Since you aren’t interested in any new members—”

Francine shoved him back down into his seat. “Nowhere in our bylaws does it state a minimum age requirement to be eligible for the Geezer Squad.”

“When did we write up bylaws,” Ray asked, “and why didn’t I get a copy of them?”

“We don’t have any bylaws,” Bruce said. “but if we did, we’d insist that our members learn something about wine.”

“Since we have no bylaws,” Francine said, “that means we have no rules saying that this hunk of beefcake here is too young to belong to the Geezer Squad.”

“And since his father was our founder, and he is retired,” Elliott said, “then I vote that we let him in.”

“Don’t I have a say in this?” Chris stood up. “Maybe I don’t want to belong to a group that calls itself the Geezer Squad. What it is you guys do anyway?” He held up the book. “I suspect it has nothing to do with reading.”

“You better hope we decide to let you stay, Christopher.” Bruce poured the last of the pinot noir into a goblet and held it up to the light. “At this point, you’ve seen too much. So if you don’t join our group, then we’re gonna have to kill you.”

“Are you serious?”

“No, he’s not,” Jacqui said with a laugh.

“Yes, I am,” Bruce said. “It’s in our bylaws.”

“You don’t have any bylaws,” Chris said.

“Well, if we did have bylaws then that rule would be in them right before the paragraph about knowing the proper way to drink wine.”

“When did we say that group rejects would have to be killed?” Elliott took a sip from the goblet.

“Hey, I’ve never been a reject in my life,” Chris said, “and I’m not going to start now.”

“Don’t you remember back when we came up with our group name? Kirk said that it was imperative that no one know about us, especially Doris, on account that she’d kill—”

“Shh!” Elliott hissed at Bruce, who, seeing Chris’s questioning expression, drained his glass.

Chris looked at each person around the table. “You’re all retired law enforcement. You’re not reading books. You’re working—what? Are you private investigators?”

“Kind of,” Jacqui said.

Elliott turned in his seat to face Chris. “Your father never wanted to retire. After he got shot, he was itching to get back to work, but he loved your mother more than anything. She became a nervous wreck worrying about losing him.” He shrugged his shoulders. “He retired to make her happy, but he was miserable. He told me that he felt like an old fire horse locked in the barn unable to run when the sirens went off.”

“That was when he started adopting retired race horses,” Chris recalled.

“I think your mother saw how unhappy he was,” Elliott said, “but she didn’t want him to be out on the streets.”

“The worst thing isn’t so much not being out there,” Ray said, “as much as it is not being allowed to use your mind.”

“Seeing that,” Elliott said, “your mother suggested that your dad join her book club. That’s where I met him.”

“The book club that you two got kicked out of,” Chris said.

“So we started our own,” Elliott said.

“But it wasn’t a book club.”

“We had every intention of it being a book club, specializing in mysteries and suspense and thriller books. With us all being retired law enforcement folks, we’d be free to go off on our tangents—the type that got us kicked out of your mom’s group.”

“Man!” Francine said. “We ripped those books to shreds.”

“The book club lasted two meetings,” Ray said.

“Then what happened?” Chris asked.

“The book we had read that month struck me too close to home,” Ray said. “The plot was too similar to—well.”

“It was the case that kept Ray up at night,” Jacqui said.

“You know the type of case we’re talking about, don’t you, sweet cheeks?” Francine said.

Thinking about his conversation earlier that day with his daughter, Chris nodded his head.

“So,” Elliott said, “we decided to look into Ray’s case. Reopen it. Each of us using our own separate area of expertise to investigate it.”

“Ray invented cybersecurity at Homeland Security,” Jacqui said. “I’m a retired medical examiner from Pennsylvania.”

“And I’m a retired investigative journalist from the Associated Press,” Francine said.

“Suddenly, this group of geezers came to life,” Elliott said. “We each had something to contribute to thaw out the cold cases that kept us up at night. That’s when we became the Geezer Squad.”



Ice (The Chris Matheson Cold Case Mysteries Book 1) is scheduled for release Feb 26. It is now available for preorder! To enter the drawing for an ebook advance reading copy of Ice by Lauren Carr, just leave a comment below naming your favorite books that revolve around cold case mysteries. The winning name will be drawn on Monday evening, February 5th.



Spotlight on Sapphire Pavilion by David E. Grogan—and a Giveaway!


Title: Sapphire Pavilion
Series: A Steve Stilwell Thriller #2
Author: David E. Grogan
Publisher: Camel Press
Publication Date: May 1, 2017
Genres: Mystery, Thriller


Purchase Links:

Barnes & Noble // Kobo // Amazon // Indiebound



Steve Stilwell’s former Navy JAG Corps buddy Ric Stokes has
been jailed for possession of heroin in Vietnam. He was found in
the same room with his traveling companion Ryan Eversall, who
died of an overdose in the company of a prostitute. Steve knows his
friend is a straight arrow. Was he set up? If so, for what reason?
Steve travels to Ho Chi Minh City in search of the truth.

In no time Steve is targeted by the people who framed his friend.
A beautiful young American businesswoman insinuates her way
into the case. Can she really help, or is she just a dangerous distraction?
Ric and Ryan came to Vietnam in search of an Air Force transport
plane that disappeared in 1968. The pilot was Ryan’s father. Before
the heroin bust, they had located the wreckage. Ryan’s notebook, which
Steve manages to obtain, spells out the exact location. Ryan’s widow
has given Steve’s associate Casey another piece of valuable evidence,
a file labeled “Sapphire Pavilion.” Someone is willing to go to
any lengths to steal both the notebook and the file.

From Virginia and Texas to DC and Vietnam, powerful, all-seeing
forces with unlimited resources are determined to bury the truth about
Sapphire Pavilion. But they have grossly underestimated Steve Stilwell
and his associate Casey, a former Army pilot who lost her leg in a helo
accident. And the ability to inspire loyalty wherever you go can
come in handy when danger lurks behind every corner.


About the Author

David E. Grogan was born in Rome, New York, and raised in Cleveland, Ohio. A certified public accountant and an attorney with a masters degree in International Law, Grogan served on active duty in the U.S. Navy for over 26 years as a Navy Judge Advocate. His experiences abroad and during the course of his career influence every aspect of his writing. Grogan currently resides with his wife in Virginia. They have three children. You can find David online at

Website // Twitter // Facebook // Goodreads


Sapphire Pavilion is dedicated to Wounded Warriors and Vietnam War
veterans. Military Times included the novel in their Fall 2017 Reading Guide:

This past fall Grogan launched a new feature on his website called
Voices to Veterans: -veterans


To enter the drawing for paperback
copies of the first and second Steve
Stilwell thrillers, The Siegel Dispositions
and Sapphire Pavilion, by David E. Grogan,
leave a comment below. One winning name
will be drawn Thursday evening, January 18th.
This drawing is open to residents of the US.