Book Reviews: Pineapple Lies by Amy Vansant and Pineapple Mystery Box by Amy Vansant @AmyVansant @Rosemary_Benson

Pineapple Lies
A Pineapple Port Mystery #1
Amy Vansant
Amy Vansant, August 2015
Narrated by Rosemary Benson
Downloaded Unabridged Audiobook

From the author—

Growing up in one of Florida’s age-55-plus communities, Charlotte never expected life to be wild. Golf cart racing with her surrogate mothers Mariska and Darla was about as nutty as life got… until she found the hot pawnbroker’s mom buried in her backyard.

Talk about making a lousy first impression.

Armed with nothing but her wits, Pineapple Port’s questionable cast of characters and a growing crush, Charlotte is determined to solve the mystery of Declan’s mother’s murder.

Hey, at least this guy’s skeletons aren’t in his closet.

Sometimes it takes me what seems like forever to get around to reading a book I really wanted in the beginning. It isn’t usually because I lose interest, although that occasionally happens. Mostly it’s because I am constitutionally incapable of controlling my TBR hoard, a victim of my own book greed.

The result of this is that, once in a while, I’m completely blown away by a book I’ve put off for no good reason other than having too many books to read (!) and then I kick myself for missing out for way too long and that’s what happened with Pineapple Lies. It took me approximately 30 minutes of the audiobook to decide this was going to be a terrific read for three reasons:

1. I love the players and the premise of a youngish woman who lives in a retirement community in Florida being the sleuth. I live in Florida (but not in a retirement village) so I was already predisposed to like the setting and Ms. Vansant has created a bunch of characters who are a little stereotypical but in a very good way and who each bring something to the table, so to speak.

2. The mysteries are entertaining puzzles with the main one, the discovery of the local pawnbroker’s mom buried in Charlotte’s yard, keeping my little gray cells working while the side threads provide plenty of humor and distraction. The author’s pacing is especially good and not once was I the least bit let down as the plot progressed. There’s a budding romance, too, but it’s not obtrusive.

3. I’ve found an audiobook narrator to add to my list of favorites. Rosemary Benson is, in a word, amazing. Her ability to create individual voices is beyond that of most truly good narrators and I’ve listened to some I consider among the best. I’m very sure I would have fallen in book love with Pineapple Lies anyway but Ms. Benson brings it all to life.

So, big kudos to both author and narrator—this book is going on my list of best books read in 2021 and now we’ll see if the trend continues with the second book, Pineapple Mystery Box.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, September 2021.

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Pineapple Mystery Box
A Pineapple Port Mystery #2
Amy Vansant
Amy Vansant, January 2018
Narrated by Rosemary Benson
Downloaded Unabridged Audiobook

From the author—

When a giant inflatable Halloween witch goes missing in the Pineapple Port retirement community, Charlotte’s eager to nab the culprit. Before she can lift a fingerprint, someone threatens to kill a new neighbor who looks like an adorable Pomeranian but possesses a disturbing talent for revenge. Moments later, a stranger demands the return of a mysterious wooden box – or else. 

Charlotte’s boyfriend, Declan, isn’t having a great morning either. His calculating ex-girlfriend has returned to claim she’s the rightful owner of his pawn shop. She’s livid he’s found a new lady, too.

Eh. Things could be worse. At least Charlotte doesn’t know that a mojito-swilling killer who fed his grandmother to a cat is on his way to Pineapple Port!

Some series suffer from sophomore slump but this one most certainly does not. Charlotte has decided that her calling is to be a private investigator after her achievements in the previous story and her senior citizen community is more than willing to send cases her way, things like who stole Darla’s Halloween witch and who is moving outdoor decor from one yard to another.

When pawnbroker Declan’s former girlfriend threatens to make his life miserable and a peculiar box draws unhealthy attention, he thinks things are weird enough but they can’t explain his uncle Seamus’s bizarre behavior. Throw in a potentially homicidal newcomer and Charlotte suddenly has a full detecting plate.

Following up on the first book, Pineapple Mystery Box is just as clever and filled with humor and I appreciated narrator Rosemary Benson’s talents every bit as much. I highly recommend this and I’ll soon be starting the next audiobook, Pineapple Puzzles.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, September 2021.

Book Review: Buried in a Book by Lucy Arlington

Buried in a Book
A Novel Idea Mystery #1
Lucy Arlington
Berkley Prime Crime, February 2012
ISBN 978-0-425-24619-1
Mass Market Paperback

Published in 2012, this is the first in a series featuring Lila Wilkins, a 45-year-old single parent of a teenaged son about to start college in the fall, who suddenly loses her job as a newspaper journalist due to downsizing.  Knowing she has to find a new job soon, Lila spots an ad for Novel Idea, Literary Agency that is looking for an intern – a job Lila sees as getting paid to read so she takes it following her interview with the agency president, Ms. Bentley Burlington-Duke.  Primarily Lila’s job is to read queries  from would-be authors to determine whether a query should be rejected or given to an agent to follow up – 100 queries each day, 2 or 3 book proposals, and a host of other tasks plus send a letter to each author whose query she rejects.  This leaves little time to read anything just for the pleasure of reading!

And, as if that wasn’t enough, did I mention that Lila’s mother, Althea, a palm and tarot card reader (and believer) calls to tell Lila that the cards show someone will die on her first day at the agency?  Later that morning a disheveled man who introduces himself as Marlette, walks into the agency bearing some flowers, hands them to Lila, and then runs out when he hears other staff arriving.  Meeting the literary agents for the first time, Lila agrees to go and get them coffee – but only this one time – and when she returns, she finds Marlette has also returned and is sitting on the couch in the reception area.  Trying to get him to leave per her boss’s orders, Lila realizes he is dead.  What a way to start a new job!  Later Lila finds out that Marlette has a needle puncture wound in his neck – pointing to the likelihood that he was murdered.

Much of the rest of the book concerns Lila dealing with her son, Trey, who is in the process of finding himself and what he wants to do with his life and Lila trying to find out who killed Marlette – and why – without getting herself killed which a message painted on her home seems to indicate is a possibility.  Along the way we meet the various people in Lila’s personal and work life, several of whom are possibly the murderer.  Is the solution a huge surprise?  No, but it also is not completely obvious.  I’d say it’s a good summer read.

Reviewed by Melinda Drew, July 2021.

Book Review: Saving Irene by Judy Alter @JudyAlter

Saving Irene
A Culinary Mystery
Judy Alter
Alter Ego Press, September 2020
ISBN 978-0-9969935-6-2
Trade Paperback

Billed as a culinary mystery and set in Chicago, Saving Irene introduces us to Henny James whose job is to prepare ingredients for chef Irene Foxglove’s regional television cooking show.  Irene fancies herself a French chef trained at the famed Le Cordon Bleu culinary school in Paris but Henny doubts that.  Rather, she is convinced that Irene learned her cooking skills at a local junior college.  Nonetheless, Irene is the star and Henny the assistant.  Irene is married to Howard who is very protective, perhaps overly so, of Irene and since she has received at least one threatening letter Howard asks Henny to keep an eye on Irene and help protect her at work.  For me, this is a problem with this book’s premise for Henny is no more equipped to protect Irene than Irene’s daughter, the haughty and sullen Gabrielle is.  Nevertheless, Henny agrees to do so – at what cost to herself remains to be seen.

When Howard dies suddenly in what appears to be an accident Henny realizes that his protectiveness of Irene was perhaps not unwarranted, and it now falls to her to take on that job.  In the meantime, Irene’s publicist, Penny, is, on the one hand, urging Irene to write a cookbook while on the other scheming to advance another chef over Irene.  When Penny is eventually fired by Henny, upon whom Irene has come to depend for nearly everything, Penny’s determination to ruin Irene goes into high gear.

Meanwhile, Henny has become fast friends with her neighbor the handsome, helpful, and accommodating Patrick.  While Henny would love to become much closer to him, there is a problem – Patrick is gay – or at least so he seems but he is the nicest guy Henny has ever known.  And then, as if there isn’t enough going on, Gabrielle disappears without a word or a trace.

A lot of people on Goodreads, Amazon, and other sites loved this book.  I cannot go quite that far.  It does have interesting characters and it is well written.  But I could not quite suspend my disbelief enough to see Henny as a protector of the annoying, demanding, and often insulting Irene.  That said, I think this book would be a quick and fun read for the beach or sitting on the porch for an afternoon.

Reviewed by Melinda Drew, May 2021.

Book Review: Taking Notes on Murder by C.S. McDonald @CSMcDonald7 @iReadBookTours

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Welcome to one of the July 12th stops on the blog tour
for Maxed Out by C.S. McDonald with iRead Book Tours.
(Tour schedule linked.) There are multiple books being
reviewed on this tour and today’s post is my review
of Taking Notes on Murder. Be sure to follow the rest
of the tour for spotlights and reviews on all included
books, other bonus content, and a giveaway!
More on that at the end of this post.

************

Taking Notes on Murder
A Fiona Quinn Mystery #9
C.S. McDonald
C.S. McDonald, September 2020
Narrated by Maren Swenson Waxenberg
Downloaded Unabridged Audiobook

From the author—

Mysterious notes are showing up in Fiona’s kindergarten classroom, claiming a suicide from 2005 was actually a homicide. Detective Landry maintains the messages are too vague, possess no integrity, and do not warrant a review of the old case.

Fiona’s not convinced. She’s determined to find the author of the enigmatic notes and uncover the truth about a man who had many secrets and countless enemies, including Fiona’s mother and former suspect Nancy Quinn!

Can Fiona crack this cold case, and what will it take to get Detective Landry involved? Don’t miss taking notes on this murder!

Following their cruise in the last book, Fiona and Nathan are back home, keeping the secret that they got married. Fiona is once again in her kindergarten classroom and it isn’t long before she’s enticed into investigating another death, prompted by a series of notes claiming that a suicide from years ago was, in fact, not a suicide. Fiona needs nothing more to start snooping but her detective husband, Nathan, says the notes alone are not enough reason to re-open the case. Naturally, he changes his mind when Fiona herself is threatened.

As it turns out, high school teacher James Arnold was a most unlikeable man, a real creep, so there’s no shortage of suspects including his own family and colleagues. Fiona and Nathan have enough investigating to keep them busy but they also have to contend with the latest shenanigans of her unseen but present ghostly grandmother. Those interludes are refreshing and funny, helping to break the tension.

In my earlier review of the previous book, I mentioned that I was undecided as to whether I liked the narration of the audiobook. Unfortunately, this entry confirms my thought that the main character’s voice is really annoying—Fiona sounds like an overgrown version of one of those kindergartners she teaches. She plucks my last nerve but Ms. Waxenberg does a nice job with the other characters and maintains appropriate pacing so I was willing to overlook the distraction. All said, Taking Notes on Murder is a pleasant way to spend a few hours.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, July 2021.

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Purchase Links:
Audible // Amazon

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About the Author

For twenty-six years C.S. McDonald’s life whirled around a song and a dance. Classically trained at Pittsburgh Ballet Theater School, The Pittsburgh Dance Alloy, and many others, she became a professional dancer and choreographer. In 2011 she retired from her dance career to write. Under her real name, Cindy McDonald, she writes murder-suspense and romantic suspense novels. In 2014 she added the pen name, C.S. McDonald, to write children’s books for her grandchildren. In 2016 she added the Fiona Quinn Mysteries. Presently, the Fiona Quinn Mysteries has nine books.

Cindy’s newest venture is The Owl’s Nest Mysteries. Once again, she has set her cozy mystery in Pittsburgh. The Owl’s Next Mysteries has a little grit, a little time travel, a little romance, and a whole lot of cozy!

Cindy resides on her Thoroughbred farm known as Fly by Night Stables near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with her husband, Bill, and her poorly behaved Cocker Spaniel, Allister.

Connect with the author:  Website  ~  Twitter  ~  Facebook

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About the Narrator

Ms. Waxenberg is a voice over artist and presentation coach.  She serves as a consultant to the Professional Development Company, Inc. teaching presentation and interview skills seminars to a variety of clients, Columbia MBA, and SIPA graduate students.  Maren has a 30-year background in special events, performing arts production and the entertainment industry.   In 1996, she founded Maren Productions which produces audio books, radio and television voice-overs, and podcasts.  Maren Productions also offers special event production and consultancy services. 

Connect with the author:  Website  ~  Facebook

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Follow the tour here.

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Giveaway

Autographed copy of MAXED OUT, plus
other gifts (USA only) (ends Jul 23)

Enter here.

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Book Review: Bon Voyage to Murder by C.S. McDonald @CSMcDonald7 @iReadBookTours

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Welcome to one of the July 6th stops on the blog tour
for Maxed Out by C.S. McDonald with iRead Book Tours.
(Tour schedule linked.) There are multiple books being
reviewed on this tour and today’s post is my review
of Bon Voyage to Murder. Be sure to follow the rest
of the tour for spotlights and reviews on all included
books, other bonus content, and a giveaway!
More on that at the end of this post.

************

Bon Voyage to Murder
A Fiona Quinn Mystery #8
C.S. McDonald
C.S. McDonald, November 2020
Narrated by Maren Swenson Waxenberg
Downloaded Unabridged Audiobook

From the author—

Hooray! Fiona has finally convinced her boyfriend detective Nathan Landry to go on a romantic Caribbean cruise. Unfortunately, their fun on the high seas is interrupted by murder. It isn’t long before they discover a boatload of suspects, who have motives deeper than the ocean for wanting the victim out of their lives.

Pittsburgh teacher Fiona Quinn got her man, Nathan Landry, long ago and the pair have gone on a cruise with friends Julia and Rob Bell. Isn’t it handy to have a real detective nearby when a woman disappears, possibly overboard? Nathan’s presence gives Fiona entry to the investigation and Captain Baptiste is grateful for their help. Country singer Cassidy Kinsman was an aging, crabby drunk and there is no shortage of potential suspects but, as the sleuthing progresses, why would anyone want to attack a shy, skittish maid? Did she see or hear something she shouldn’t have?

The secondary storyline regarding Fiona’s brother, Chad, doesn’t add anything to the resolution of the mystery and I couldn’t help thinking she would never have left him to house-and-pet sit. These two are siblings so she would have known how out of touch with reality he is. Chad’s RPG buddies are pretty funny, though, and all these guys are like the modern day version of the Three Stooges so they’re worth a smile.

I haven’t quite made up my mind about Ms. Waxenberg’s narrative skills—there’s something a bit grating about Fiona’s voice in particular—but I’ll have another chance to evaluate when I listen to a second book next week. I do think Ms. Waxenberg handles the pacing nicely and does a variety of voices well.

All in all, Bon Voyage to Murder is a fun cozy, taking me back to my own cruising days, and I enjoyed the trip 🙂

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, July 2021.

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Purchase Links:
Audible // Amazon

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About the Author

For twenty-six years C.S. McDonald’s life whirled around a song and a dance. Classically trained at Pittsburgh Ballet Theater School, The Pittsburgh Dance Alloy, and many others, she became a professional dancer and choreographer. In 2011 she retired from her dance career to write. Under her real name, Cindy McDonald, she writes murder-suspense and romantic suspense novels. In 2014 she added the pen name, C.S. McDonald, to write children’s books for her grandchildren. In 2016 she added the Fiona Quinn Mysteries. Presently, the Fiona Quinn Mysteries has nine books.

Cindy’s newest venture is The Owl’s Nest Mysteries. Once again, she has set her cozy mystery in Pittsburgh. The Owl’s Next Mysteries has a little grit, a little time travel, a little romance, and a whole lot of cozy!

Cindy resides on her Thoroughbred farm known as Fly by Night Stables near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with her husband, Bill, and her poorly behaved Cocker Spaniel, Allister.

Connect with the author:  Website  ~  Twitter  ~  Facebook

************

About the Narrator

Ms. Waxenberg is a voice over artist and presentation coach.  She serves as a consultant to the Professional Development Company, Inc. teaching presentation and interview skills seminars to a variety of clients, Columbia MBA, and SIPA graduate students.  Maren has a 30-year background in special events, performing arts production and the entertainment industry.   In 1996, she founded Maren Productions which produces audio books, radio and television voice-overs, and podcasts.  Maren Productions also offers special event production and consultancy services. 

Connect with the author:  Website  ~  Facebook

************

Follow the tour here.

************

Giveaway

Autographed copy of MAXED OUT, plus
other gifts (USA only) (ends Jul 23)

Enter here.

************

Book Review: Something Fishy by Lois Schmitt @schmittmystery @encirclepub @partnersincr1me

Something Fishy
A Kristy Farrell Mystery #2
Lois Schmitt
Encircle Publications, July 2019
ISBN 978-1-948338-79-0
Trade Paperback

From the publisher—

When attorney Samuel Wong goes missing, wildlife magazine reporter Kristy Farrell believes the disappearance is tied into her latest story concerning twenty acres of prime beachfront property that the Clam Shell Cove Aquarium hopes to purchase. Sam works for multi-millionaire land developer Lucien Moray who wants to buy the property for an upscale condominium. The waterfront community is divided on this issue like the Hatfields and McCoys with environmentalists siding with the aquarium and local business owners lining up behind Moray.

Meanwhile, a body is found in the bay. Kristy, aided by her veterinarian daughter, investigates and discovers deep secrets among the aquarium staff–secrets that point to one of them as a killer. Soon the aquarium is plagued with accidents, Kristy has a near death encounter with a nine foot bull shark, and a second murder occurs.

But ferreting out the murderer and discovering the story behind Sam’s disappearance aren’t Kristy’s only challenges. When her widowed septuagenarian mother announces her engagement, Kristy suspects her mom’s soon to be husband is not all he appears to be. As Kristy tries to find the truth before her mother ties the knot, she also races the clock to find the aquarium killer before this killer strikes again.

With all the attention in recent years on environmental issues, Something Fishy is topical as well as entertaining. It also happens to be a very good puzzler for mystery fans who love to do a little detecting along with the protagonist.

Aided and abetted by her daughter, veterinarian Abby, magazine reporter Kristy sets out to do two things, find the missing Sam and figure out who killed the fish keeper and why. Had Jack gotten too deeply involved in the contention between the aquarium and a developer over a piece of prime real estate? Before long, the duo come up with some intriguing leads but then another body turns up. In the meantime, Kristy is also highly suspicious of her mom’s new fiance who surely is too good to be true.

Enjoyable characters and a thoughtful plot made this a story I didn’t want to put down and I was actually kind of sorry when I came to the end. Other than occasional word or phrase choices that are a little odd, Something Fishy is well written and free of the flowery language so often found in cozy mysteries; in fact, I found myself enjoying the simple and comfortable flow of Ms. Schmitt’s prose. This book is my introduction to the author and I intend to go get the first one, Monkey Business, but I don’t know if she intends to write more in the series. I hope so!

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, June 2021.

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Purchase Links:
Barnes & Noble // Kobo // Encircle Publications
Amazon // Indiebound

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An Excerpt from Something Fishy

CHAPTER ONE

 

“Something bad happened to Sam. I know it.”

Katie Chandler’s sea green eyes filled with tears. A sea lion trainer at the Clam Shell Cove Aquarium, Katie had been my daughter’s college roommate.

“Maybe Sam worked late and forgot to call,” I said.

Katie shook her head, her chestnut hair flying in the bay breeze. “No. He hasn’t answered my texts or phone calls. I stopped by his house twice too. No one’s home.”

Silence. I tried thinking of something helpful, or at least hopeful, to say.

“I called the police, Mrs. Farrell. The officer said being stood up for a dinner date isn’t enough for a missing persons case—that maybe it was Sam’s way of breaking up.”

I shifted my gaze to the whitecaps on the bay while Katie’s statement sank into my brain.  Perhaps the officer was right. I knew from my daughter Abby that the relationship between Katie Chandler and Samuel Wong had hit a rough patch.

The conflict: Katie, who served as executor of her late grandmother’s charitable trust, was donating six million dollars of this money to the aquarium’s expansion project, which included the acquisition of twenty acres of adjacent land. Sam worked as executive assistant to multi-millionaire developer Lucien Moray who wanted to buy the bay front property for luxury condominiums. What started off as friendly bantering between Katie and Sam had escalated into explosive arguments that had become increasingly personal.

But Katie and Sam weren’t the only ones embroiled in this controversy. The community at large had become like the Hatfields and McCoys. Environmentalists wanted the property to go to the aquarium where it would be used for breeding grounds for endangered species, an aquatic   animal rehabilitation center, and a research camp for marine scientists. Local business owners sided with Moray, hoping high end condo owners would bolster the area’s economy. I was writing an article on this for Animal Advocate Magazine. That’s why I was at the aquarium today.

Katie continued, “No matter what happened between us, Sam would never stand me up. He’s my fiancé not someone I picked up a few hours ago at a bar. Besides, Sam came around to my point of view. He had it with Lucien Moray. He hadn’t told anyone but me yet, but he was quitting his job at the end of the year.”

“I’ve an interview later this morning with Moray,” I said. “I’ll check around and see what I can find out. Someone in Moray’s office may know Sam’s whereabouts.”

“What if no one does?”

“Let’s take it one step at a time.” I glanced at my watch, then pushed myself off the rock where I’d been sitting, a task that would have been easier if I were ten years younger and twenty pounds lighter. “Speaking of interviews, my appointment with your aquarium director is in five minutes, so I better head inside. I’ll call you tonight.”

Katie sighed. “Thanks. I should get back to my sea lions too. We’ve a show at eleven.” She rose and stretched her small wiry body. “After the show, I’ll stop at Sam’s house again.”

Katie, shoulders slumped, wandered off in the direction of the outdoor sea lion amphitheater. I stood for a moment, inhaling the salt air while watching a seagull dive into the bay and zoom back to the sky with a fish in its mouth. As the autumn wind sent a sudden chill down my spine, I wrapped my arms around my body, thinking back to when Katie and my Abby attended college. Abby often acted impulsively, out of emotion, but Katie had always been levelheaded, never someone to jump to conclusions. What if Sam is really in trouble? The thought nagged at me as I trekked up the sandy beach and stepped into the building that housed the indoor exhibits.

I made my way down a long corridor, surrounded by floor to ceiling glass tanks housing ocean life from around the world. I paused at the shark tank and marveled at the grace and beauty of these fearsome predators gliding silently through the water, causing hardly a ripple. I would be back here soon. In addition to my article on the land expansion, I was writing a story on ocean predators.

I veered down the administration wing. When I came to a door marked  DIRECTOR, I glanced again at my watch. Ten-thirty. Right on time. I knocked.

“Enter,” a booming voice responded. I pulled open the door and stepped inside.

Standing in front of me was a man who appeared to be in his mid-fifties. Noting his polished wingtips, sharply creased trousers, navy blazer, crisp white shirt, and perfectly knotted tie, I wished I’d dusted the sand off my shoes.

We stood face to face. Actually, it was more like face to chest. I was only five feet tall and this man towered over me by at least a foot and a half.

“Commander Conrad West,” he said, extending his arm. His handshake was firm and strong. “You must be Kristy Farrell, the reporter from Animal Advocate Magazine.”

Conrad West stood ramrod straight, probably a throw-back from his military training. A former naval commander—the youngest African American to be appointed a commander in the navy’s history—he had started his career as a medical corpsman. He had been director of the Clam Shell Cove Aquarium since his retirement from the navy last year.

He walked behind his desk and positioned himself in a large swivel chair.

“You may sit,” he said, pointing to a straight back chair facing him.

I slid into the chair, suppressing the urge to playfully salute.

He went straight to the point. “I understand you’re writing about the land acquisition. Have you seen our expansion plans?”

“Yes, and they are impressive. But how will the aquarium come up with the money to buy this land?” I asked, fumbling through my bag for my pad and pen. “You’re competing with the bottomless pockets of Lucien Moray.”

Commander West leaned forward, his hands clasped in front, as if praying that what he was about to say would come true. “The current property owner, Stuart Holland, is a business man who’s not about to forgo a profit. But he’s also an active conservationist and a lifelong resident of this area who would like to see the land used in an environmentally friendly manner. He’s kept it vacant until recent financial loses forced him to put it up for sale.”

The Commander leaned back. “There’ll be no bidding war. He set a price—ten million dollars. The land is worth more, but Stuart wants it to go to us, so he set a price he feels we can reach. If we can raise the money by next summer, the land is ours.”

“Ten million is a high goal.”

He nodded. “More than half of the funding will come from a trust set up by Alicia Wilcox Chandler. We also have one million in reserve that we accumulated during the past few years. Of course, we’re still three million short, but our new development officer is planning an aggressive fundraising campaign with—”

A loud knock on the door interrupted the conversation.

Commander West scowled. “Enter.”

A plump woman with a bad case of acne barged into the room. She wore jeans and a light blue shirt with an aquarium patch on the upper left pocket identifying her as Madge.

“Commander,” she said, slightly out of breath. “We have a problem. The sea lion show is in ten minutes, and Katie just ran out.”

“What do you mean she ran out?”

The woman shrugged. “She took a call on her cell phone, then flew out of the amphitheater.

“Didn’t she say anything?” The scowl hadn’t left his face.

The woman paused, furrowing her eyebrows as if deep in thought. “Oh, yeah. But I don’t know if it had to do with why she left.”

“What did she say?” He appeared to be talking through gritted teeth.

“She said two fishermen found a body floating in the inlet.”

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About the Author

A mystery fan since she read her first Nancy Drew, Lois Schmitt combined a love of mysteries with a love of animals in her series featuring wildlife reporter Kristy Farrell. She is a member of several wildlife and humane organizations as well as Mystery Writers of America. Lois worked for many years as a freelance writer and is the author of Smart Spending, a consumer education book for young people. She previously worked as media spokesperson for a local consumer affairs agency and currently teaches at Nassau Community College on Long Island. Lois lives in Massapequa with her family which includes a 120 pound Bernese Mountain Dog. This dog bears a striking resemblance to Archie, a dog of many breeds who looks like a small bear, featured in her Kristy Farrell Mystery Series. Lois was 2nd runner up for the Killer Nashville Claymore Award for Something Fishy.

Catch Up With Our Author:

LoisSchmitt.com // Goodreads // Twitter // Facebook // Instagram

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Follow the tour here.

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Giveaway

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime
Virtual Book Tours for Lois Schmitt. There will be TWO winners.
TWO (2) winners will each receive (1) Amazon.com Gift Card
of varying amounts. The giveaway begins on June 1, 2021
and ends on July 1, 2021. Void where prohibited.

Enter here.

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Book Review: Maxed Out by C.S. McDonald @CSMcDonald7 @iReadBookTours

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Title: Maxed Out
Series: The Owl’s Nest Mysteries #2
Author: C.S. McDonald
Publication Date: May 2, 2021
Genres: Mystery, Cozy

Purchase Links:
Barnes & Noble // Amazon

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Maxed Out
The Owl’s Nest Mysteries #2
C.S. McDonald
McWriter Books, May 2021
ISBN 979-8745992988
Trade Paperback

From the author—

The Owl’s Nest Couturier Shoppe is a huge success! Business is booming and Alexa Owl’s love life is heating up. Yet much to the seamstress’s dismay, Detective Bobby Starr is suddenly back again! Bobby isn’t your everyday gumshoe. Rather, he’s an angel who’s trying to earn a place in Saint Peter’s Guardian Angel Squad. He’s required to solve murders he had left unsettled from when he walked the earth in order to be accepted into this prestigious group. Of course, they will need to return to the time period in which the murder took place, and again, Alexa is a reluctant time traveler. Oh, and there’s one more little problem—this time, Bobby’s brought along a friend, Maxi Krogen, and she’s no angel!

Bobby Starr was a good enough detective during his time as a living, breathing human back in the 1950’s but he’s an angel now and really wants to become a member of the elite Guardian Angel Squad. To do so, he has to solve three of his old cold cases assigned to him by St. Peter. Maxed Out is the tale of the second case and, once again, he’s recruited shopowner Alexa Owl to help.

When Bobby shows up in Alexa’s life again, he’s not alone; tagging along is Maxi Krogen who spent years in prison for murdering her husband but she’s not exactly angelic, at least not in the pleasant way you might expect. No, Maxi is rude, cranky, secretive and anything but a cooperative ghost.

Modern day Pittsburgh gives way to the city of the 1950’s as the trio goes back in time to look for clues. Before long, they find themselves running into the mob and an apparent takeover of a popular pizza parlor but will they be able to ferret out the real killer?

This is a fun story and the reader who wholeheartedly throws out any sense of disbelief will have a thoroughly good time with these appealing characters and an intriguing puzzle. Note to self: go read the first book PDQ 😀

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, June 2021.

About the Author

For twenty-six years C.S. McDonald’s life whirled around a song and a dance. Classically trained at Pittsburgh Ballet Theater School, The Pittsburgh Dance Alloy, and many others, she became a professional dancer and choreographer. In 2011 she retired from her dance career to write. Under her real name, Cindy McDonald, she writes murder-suspense and romantic suspense novels. In 2014 she added the pen name, C.S. McDonald, to write children’s books for her grandchildren. In 2016 she added the Fiona Quinn Mysteries. Presently, the Fiona Quinn Mysteries has nine books.

Cindy’s newest venture is The Owl’s Nest Mysteries. Once again, she has set her cozy mystery in Pittsburgh. The Owl’s Next Mysteries has a little grit, a little time travel, a little romance, and a whole lot of cozy!

Cindy resides on her Thoroughbred farm known as Fly by Night Stables near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with her husband, Bill, and her poorly behaved Cocker Spaniel, Allister.

Connect with the author:  Website  ~  Twitter  ~  Facebook

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Giveaway

Autographed copy of MAXED OUT, plus
other gifts (USA only) (ends Jul 23)

Enter here.

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