Forgive Me! It’s a Writer Thing—and a Cover Reveal!—and a Giveaway! @TheMysteryLadie

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

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.

A popular speaker, Lauren is also the owner of Acorn Book Service, the umbrella under which falls iRead Book Tours. She lives with her husband and two spoiled rotten German Shepherds 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
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/themysteryladie/

Okay! I’m throwing up my hands. I can’t help myself.

In January, I was minding my own business―working on Came Upon a Midnight Murder, the upcoming Mac Faraday Mystery―when she came into my mind.

I tried to ignore her, really I did. Readers have been asking for the next Mac Faraday mystery. I had already delayed it once for The Nutcracker Conspiracy. I couldn’t delay it again. But she kept whispering in my ear—begging me to write her cozy little mystery. Leaving me no choice, she promised that it would not take long.

It’s a writer thing.

I’m not ashamed to admit that I had an imaginary friend when I was growing up. His name was Sam. My mother said Sam and I were buddies from the time I could talk until I started school and made real friends. Don’t get scared. None of my imaginary friends have coerced me into robbing banks or committing murder. Basically, they just tell me stories. Eventually, I started writing these stories down.

That is how writers are born.

Writers know that their characters aren’t real people. But they do come to life and, like real people, they can nag you until you feel compelled to give into them.

This occurrence was captured very well in a movie that was released a couple of years ago. The Man Who Invented Christmas told the story of how Charles Dickens came to write A Christmas Carol. In this movie, Dickens was thinking and reworking the plotline for A Christmas Carol. He declared that if you come up with the right name, the character will come to life.

In the scene, which is featured in the movie trailer, Dickens rambled through various names for his main character until he said, “Scrooge.” Suddenly, there is a gust of wind. Off-screen, you hear Christopher Plummer (the actor who played Scrooge) say, “Close the window. I’m not made of money.”

Dicken’s eyes light up and he turns around.

Ebenezer Scrooge stood before him.

For authors, that is precisely how a character comes to life.

No, there is not a real-life flesh and blood person standing before the writer. But they do come to life. They have their histories, their loves, their hates, their issues. Some characters are laid back and will patiently wait their turn for the author to get to them and their story. (Chris Matheson has been quite patient for me to get to the next Geezer Squad mystery.)

Others don’t know the meaning of patience. Such is the case of Nikki Bryant. I wasn’t even looking for a new character for a new book. I was already working on one in progress. Just suddenly, one afternoon while writing a scene in Came Upon a Midnight Murder, I turned around and there she was with her boxer dog Elmo!

While her tendency to bend or even break the rules has earned her journalism awards, Nikki’s foot-on-the-gas nature does get her into trouble. Even after two decades, folks in her small town of Pine Grove still remember that wherever Nikki Bryant goes, Trouble is close behind.

Nikki’s homecoming is not without trepidation. Her world travels were not so much to chase one story after another as it was to run from the one case that she feared facing the most—her father’s unsolved murder.

Now in her mid-thirties, Nikki refuses her mother’s request to return home to take over the family business, a local television station. She is quite content working for a major news station in Las Vegas and curling up at night with her Elmo, a social media influencer.

But then, a friend of hers on social media named NerdyGuy suggests a pact: Reconnect with their first loves. If she goes home to face the man she had left behind, NerdyGuy will reconnect with his first love and tell her how he still feels.

NerdyGuy has Nikki’s number. Never one to back down from a challenge, Nikki packs up Elmo and returns home to Pine Grove—with Trouble right behind her.

Killer Deadline
A Nikki Bryant Cozy Mystery
Release Date April 23, 2020

Synopsis:

Nikki Bryant Comes Home to a Killer Deadline!

Folks in Pine Grove, Pennsylvania, claim that where Nikki Bryant goes, trouble is not far behind. Her refusal to back down from a challenge has made Nikki Bryant one of the best investigative journalists in her field.

When an online friend nudges her to join him in a pact to reconnect with their first loves, Nikki and her boxer dog Elmo leave the bright lights of Las Vegas for the charming town of Pine Grove. There, she must face the biggest challenges in her career and life—the first love she had left behind and her father’s unsolved murder.

But before she has time to unpack her car, Nikki stumbles upon the dead body of local news anchor, Ashleigh Addison, her childhood rival. Could Ashleigh’s death be connected to an explosive news story that she had teased about airing live? Did that explosive story have anything to do with the murder of Nikki’s father?

With the clues in her father’s cold case hot again, Nikki aims to chase down the story of her life until she catches his killer—no matter what it takes.

Pre-order — 99¢
https://amzn.to/3dOs7x9

 

Giveaway

To enter the drawing for a digital
ARC—your choice of epub, mobi
or pdf—just answer this question:

How are you entertaining yourself
during Social Distancing?

Three winning names will be drawn
on Monday evening, April 6th.

Book Review: Turn to Stone by James W. Ziskin—and a Giveaway! @Jameswziskin @SeventhStBooks

Turn to Stone
An Ellie Stone Mystery Book 7
James W. Ziskin
Seventh Street Books, January 2020
ISBN 978-1-63388-552-3
Trade Paperback

From the publisher—

Florence, Italy, August 1963. In Italy to accept a posthumous award for her late father’s academic work, “girl reporter” Ellie Stone is invited to spend a weekend outside Florence with some of the scholars attending the symposium. A suspected rubella outbreak leaves the ten friends quarantined in the bucolic setting with little to do but tell stories to entertain themselves. Deciding to make the best of their confinement, the men and women spin tales, gorge themselves on fine Tuscan food and wine, and enjoy the delicious fruit of transient love. But the summer bacchanalia takes a menacing turn when the man who organized the symposium is fished out of the Arno. “Morto.” As long-buried secrets rise to the surface, Ellie must figure out if one or more of her newfound friends is capable of murder.

Ellie Stone is a young reporter for a small, local paper, not a common employment in the early 1960’s for a woman but certainly not unheard of in a time when the younger generation was beginning to flex its muscle and reaching for more societal freedoms. She’s been doing this job for several years now, long enough to have established herself as an investigative photojournalist with some credibility although some no doubt see her as just a nosy female.

Right now, though, Ellie isn’t in search of a newsworthy story back home in upstate New York. Her late father, a well-regarded academic, is being given a posthumous award in Florence, Italy, at a conference and she’s there to receive it. Despite her expectations, Ellie finds herself enjoying some of her father’s colleagues but she certainly wasn’t expecting to be quarantined with them during a possible rubella outbreak (this story takes place about 5 or 6 years before a vaccine was developed for this disease that is especially dangerous for pregnant women). Still, what could go wrong with spending a few days in the Italian countryside?

Well, it seems that plenty can go wrong and, soon enough, this handful of academics and Ellie, along with the villa’s owner and his wife, are experiencing their own sort of locked room mystery because the man who arranged the symposium and the retreat was found dead in the river before anything gets started. Was it murder, suicide or just an accident? The police are on it but, of course, the intrepid reporter can’t not do her own investigating. Before long, Ellie turns up connections to Fascist Italy and the deaths of thousands of Jews but she needs to winnow through the past to find the present-day truth. While that’s going on, the group whiles away the hours with their own version of the Decameron, a 14th-century collection of tales told by Florentines to pass the time during a plague.

Mr. Ziskin’s background in Italian studies shines through in what I can only call a love letter to a beautiful country and language; Italy as a setting is itself an important character in the tale both in its history and its culture. Along with that, the author offers an intriguing puzzle set in two periods of history and the result is, once again, a charming, intelligent crime novel.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, January 2020.

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

“TURN TO STONE is a thoughtful mystery that questions
whether forgiveness is always possible” — Foreword Reviews

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About the Author

James Ziskin is the author of Turn to Stone (Jan 21, 2020; Seventh Street Books), the latest in the Anthony® and Macavity Award-winning Ellie Stone Mysteries. His books have also been finalists for the Edgar®, Barry, and Lefty awards.

A linguist by training, Ziskin studied Romance languages and literature at the University of Pennsylvania. After completing his graduate degree, he worked in New York as a photo-news producer and writer, and then as Director of NYU’s Casa Italiana. He spent fifteen years in the Hollywood postproduction industry, running large international operations in the subtitling/localization and visual effects fields.

His international experience includes two years working and studying in France, extensive time in Italy, and more than three years in India. He speaks Italian and French, and currently lives in Boston.

Website // Twitter // Facebook // Goodreads

“Original and compelling—and a brilliant twist on the beloved locked
room mystery. The incredibly talented James Ziskin has combined the
lure of 1963 Florence, a love of Italian literature, and an homage to the
classics. But Ziskin doesn’t stop there—TURN TO STONE is a touching and
important exploration of history, with a series of life-changing consequences
that will keep you riveted to the page. James Ziskin is a knockout storyteller.”
—Hank Phillippi Ryan, Nationally best-selling author of The Murder List

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Giveaway

To enter the drawing for a print copy of Turn to Stone,
leave a comment below. The winning name will be drawn
on Friday evening, January 24th. Open to residents of the US.

 

Book Review: Justice by Joseph Badal—and a Giveaway! @JoeBadal @suspensemag

Justice
The Curtis Chronicles #3
Joseph Badal
Suspense Publishing, November 2019
ISBN 978-0-578-55928-5
Trade Paperback

A lot of action, a lot of characters, a tight story and several clichés. For anyone looking for an action-packed beach-read here’s one that should fill the bill. The story is tight, cleanly presented and nicely resolved. It spans the Western Hemisphere from the United States to Nicaragua and back.

Mathew Curtis and his wife, Renee, travel the globe. He’s a medical man, a former doctor, who travels the world lecturing about his company’s orthotics products. His wife often travels with him, in part because they have been targeted in the past by a smart but deranged human trafficker.

Lonnie Jackson is a wealthy, evil schemer with a world network of drug dealers and smooth-talking recruiters of young women, ostensibly for low-level but honest jobs in western cities. The reality, of course, is quite different. Jackson blames Matt and Renee for his family’s deaths and has waited years for revenge.

Jackson is living and thriving in Nicaragua. Matt Curtis comes to Costa Rica next door for a medical conference. Jackson plans a vicious kidnapping and murder. Meanwhile in Washington and Bulgaria, plans and events crawl toward a vortex of insane violence. The question is always, will Renee and Matt survive and be reunited?

The pace of the novel is relentless, the writing is strong and spare. For some readers, the patterns will be a problem. The bad guys have rotten teeth and terrible breath, the CIA and most of the U.S. government is corrupt to some degree, the good-looking and smartest, most adept, people are the small group of Matt’s friends, former military men, who come together to help in the direst of circumstances, using all their skills and expertise.

There are a couple of interesting twists toward the end of the story which are truly unexpected. They provide an intriguing basis for later novels, grab reader’s attention and remain just out of reach for fans of this novelist.

Reviewed by Carl Brookins, January 2020.
http://www.carlbrookins.com http://agora2.blogspot.com
The Case of the Purloined Painting, The Case of the Great Train Robbery, Reunion, Red Sky.

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

Giveaway

To enter the drawing for a print copy
of Justice by Joseph Badal, leave
a comment below. The winning name
will be drawn on Monday evening,
January 20th. Open to residents
of the US and Canada.

Book Review: Spirit Wind by Marilyn Meredith—and a Giveaway! ‎@MarilynMeredith

Spirit Wind
Tempe Crabtree Mystery Series #18
Marilyn Meredith
Marilyn Meredith, March 2019
ISBN 978-1092112086
Trade Paperback

From the author—

A call from a ghost hunter changes Deputy Tempe Crabtree’s vacation plans. Instead of going to the coast, she and her husband are headed to Tehachapi to investigate a haunted house and are confronted by voices on the wind, a murder, and someone out to get them.

Marilyn Meredith has been writing the Tempe Crabtree series for a long time and this one is every bit as good as those that preceded it and just as fresh. Tempe herself is an appealing police officer but the Native American elements add a special touch, not to mention Tempe’s ability to communicate with ghosts. Not only do we get an entertaining police procedural, we also actually have the chance to learn something about tribal life and customs in today’s world.

This time, a haunted house adds to the allure and spirits play an integral part in the search for a murderer as well as the truth about what happened to a woman who walked out of an earthquake-damaged prison into oblivion. Tempe and her husband, Hutch, intend to help the local police without stepping on toes but soon become potential victims themselves; perhaps the biggest puzzle is figuring out why a spirit is in the house and what it really wants.

Spiritual beliefs often play a part in Tempe’s investigations but they’re particularly important in Spirit Wind and blending them with modern police work, always tempered with the culture of the surrounding area and people, makes for an especially intriguing case and, once again, I was drawn in to a story that’s compelling in many ways. The next Tempe Crabtree mystery can’t come soon enough for me 😉

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, December 2019.

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

Giveaway

To enter the drawing for a very gently
used print copy
of Spirit Wind,

leave a comment below. The winning
name will be drawn on Friday evening,
December 20th. Open to residents
of the US and Canada.

Spotlight on As the Christmas Cookie Crumbles by Leslie Budewitz—and a Giveaway! @LeslieBudewitz @midnightinkbook

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Title: As the Christmas Cookie Crumbles
Series: A Food Lovers Village Mystery #5
Author: Leslie Budewitz
Publisher: Midnight Ink
Publication Date: June 8, 2018
Genres: Mystery, Cozy, Culinary

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Synopsis

Erin is one smart cookie, but can she keep the holiday
spirit―and herself―alive till Christmas?

In Jewel Bay, all is merry and bright. At Murphy’s Mercantile, AKA the
Merc, manager Erin Murphy is ringing in the holiday season with food,
drink, and a new friend: Merrily Thornton. A local girl gone wrong,
Merrily has turned her life around. But her parents have publicly
shunned her, and they nurse a bitterness that chills Erin.

When Merrily goes missing and her boss discovers he’s been robbed,
fingers point to Merrily―until she’s found dead, a string of lights around
her neck. The clues and danger snowball from there. Can Erin nab the
killer―and keep herself in one piece―in time for a special Christmas Eve?

Includes delicious recipes!

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

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About the Author

Leslie Budewitz blends her passion for food, great mysteries, and the Northwest in the Seattle Spice Shop Mysteries and the Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries, set in Jewel Bay, Montana. Death al Dente won the 2013 Agatha Award for Best First Novel. Books, Crooks & Counselors: How to Write Accurately About Criminal Law and Courtroom Procedure, won the 2011 Agatha Award for Best Nonfiction, making her the first author to win Agatha Awards for both fiction and nonfiction. The 2015-16 president of Sisters in Crime, she lives in NW Montana.

New York Times bestseller Laura Childs says “Small town charm and big time chills.”

Website // Twitter // Facebook // Goodreads

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Giveaway

To enter the drawing for a print copy
of As the Christmas Cookie Crumbles,
leave a comment below. The winning
name will be drawn on Sunday evening,
December 15th. Open to residents
of the US and Canada.

Book Review: Valley of Shadows by Steven Cooper—and a Giveaway! @TheStevenCooper @SeventhStBooks

Valley of Shadows
A Gus Parker and Alex Mills Novel #3
Steven Cooper
Seventh Street Books, September 2019
ISBN 978-1-64506-000-0
Trade Paperback

From the publisher—

A cop. A psychic. And a dead socialite. Who killed Viveca Canning and where is the Dali masterpiece that hung on the walls of her estate? So many people had a motive. Phoenix Detective Alex Mills is on the case with the help of his sometimes-psychic buddy Gus Parker. You won’t find another duo like them. And once you hop on the wild ride, you won’t want to get off. Who will survive a doomed flight over the Pacific? Who tried to blow up an art gallery? Who saw Viveca Canning as a threat and shot her twice in the head? Those questions hound Gus and Alex as the case unravels. It’s an art caper wrapped in a murder mystery. The Valley of the Sun becomes a Valley of Shadows, where everyone has something to hide and the truth lies beneath Phoenix in a labyrinth of tunnels and dungeons.

There’s a lot at stake for Gus and Alex. With the case swirling all around them, the future of Gus and his rock n’ roll girlfriend hangs in the balance. For Alex, it’s a test of family loyalties as a health scare for his wife brings him to the breaking point.

A really good crime novel is dependent on two major components, vivid characters and intriguing plot, and there’s no doubt that Steven Cooper‘s Valley of Shadows has both, in spades. I have to say, though, that Mr. Cooper also has given his readers a setting that has to be considered the third and, perhaps most unforgettable, element.

At first glance, Alex Mills is a typical police detective but his friendship with Gus takes things to another level. After all, most of law enforcement looks at psychics with jaundiced eyes, but these two men have moved well beyond any distrust and, in fact, value each other’s contributions to crime solving. In this story, we’re also treated to in-depth looks at their personal lives, adding much to our understanding of them.

As for this particular case, the various threads lead Alex and Gus in a myriad of directions, largely because they uncover so many potential motives for Viveca Canning’s murder. From a simple art heist to greedy children to a cult and everything in-between, all must be considered and proven invalid before they land on the truth. Along the way, the tension continues to rise and I had to keep turning those pages as fast as I could while also wanting to savor the author’s wonderful wordcraft.

I’ve spent just a few days in Arizona but I was struck by how much Mr. Cooper immersed me in the surroundings, the desert sun and sand, the beautiful scenery. Somehow, I feel that this is where Alex and Gus belong and I definitely want to visit with them again.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, December 2019.

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

Giveaway

To enter the drawing for a print copy
of Valley of Shadows by Steven Cooper,
leave a comment below. The winning
name will be drawn on Wednesday evening,
December 11th. Open to residents
of the US and Canada.

Book Review: 101 by Tom Pitts—and a Giveaway! @MrTomPitts @DownAndOutBooks

101
Tom Pitts
Down & Out Books, November 2018
ISBN 978-1-94823-538-9
Trade Paperback

A violent, gritty, aptly named novel, about the illegal marijuana and miscellaneous drug trade along Highway 101 on California’s Pacific coast. The action, and there’s plenty of it, rages from Fulton Street in San Francisco to Garberville and surrounding grow sites in Humboldt County. The novel is a deep dive into the weeds—both legal and illegal—that conceal the lives and perambulations of cops, growers, federal agents and ordinary citizens often caught in the cross-fire of brawling drug dealers.

Twenty-five-year-old loose cannon Jerry Bertram offends some drug-dealing bikers. To save his own life and mend his wounds, he races north from the city to a hideout near the small community of Humboldt County. His destination is with an old friend of his mother. Vic has become a very private pot farmer who does not appreciate Jerry’s intrusion. When the bikers, led by a Russian called Vlad the Inhaler, descend on the rural community, chases, murder, violence of several kinds erupts. Several members of local and federal law enforcement agencies also become entangled. Eventually Vic is forced back to the city into a confrontation with several criminal elements.

The story evokes the climate, the physical locations, the people and the culture in a very engaging way. Pace is fast and furious most of the time and the characters are really real. This is not a novel for the faint of heart. Brutal and explicit, there are few redeeming characters or resolutions for most of the cast. Excellent of type.

Reviewed by Carl Brookins, May 2019.
http://www.carlbrookins.com http://agora2.blogspot.com
The Case of the Purloined Painting, The Case of the Great Train Robbery, Reunion, Red Sky.

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

Giveaway

To enter the drawing for an advance
reading copy
of 101 by Tom Pitts

leave a comment below. The
winning
name will be drawn on
Wednesday evening,
November 20th.
Open to residents
of the US and Canada.