Book Review: The Girl from Silent Lake by Leslie Wolfe @LWNovels @bookouture @SDSXXTours

************
The Girl From Silent Lake
Detective Kay Sharp Book 1
by Leslie Wolfe
Genre: Mystery, Thriller
*
Wow!!!! It simply took my breath away so much that I
finished this book in one go! Literally took my breath away!
I simply couldn’t put the book down. Unputdownable.”
Tropical Girl Reads Books, ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
************
The Girl from Silent Lake
Detective Kay Sharp Book 1
Leslie Wolfe
Bookouture, February 2021
ISBN 978-1-83888-985-2
Trade Paperback
*
From the publisher—
*
Her daughter, with emerald eyes and the sweetest smile, is everything to her. Her whole world. “Mommy,” the little girl says, touching her mother’s face with trembling fingers before she’s torn away. “Don’t cry.” Will she ever see her again?
*
When single mother Alison Nolan sets off with her six-year-old daughter, Hazel, she can’t wait to spend precious time with her girl. A vacation in Silent Lake, where snow-topped mountains are surrounded by the colors of fall, is just what they need. But hours later, Alison and Hazel vanish into thin air.
*
Detective Kay Sharp rushes to the scene. The only evidence that they were ever there is an abandoned rental car with a suitcase in the back, gummy bears in the open glove compartment and a teddy bear on the floor.
*
Kay’s mind spins. A week before, the body of another woman from out of town was found wrapped in a blanket, her hair braided and tied with feathers. Instinct tells her that the cases are connected––and it won’t be long until more innocent lives are lost.
*
As Kay leads a frenzied search, time is against her, but she vows that Alison and little Hazel will be found alive. She works around the clock, even though the small town is up in arms, saying she’s asking too many questions. Then she uncovers a vital clue – a photograph of the blanket that the first victim was buried in.
*
Just when Kay thinks she’s found the missing piece, she realises she’s being watched. Is she getting too close, or is her own past catching up with her?
*
With a little girl’s life on the line, Kay will stop at nothing. But will it be enough to get inside the mind of the most twisted killer she has ever encountered, or will another blameless child be taken?
*
A totally gripping and utterly pulse-pounding crime thriller series for readers who love Lisa Regan, Robert Dugoni and Kendra Elliot. This twist-packed page-turner gives “unputdownable” a whole new meaning!
*
There’s a certain predictability in The Girl from Silent Lake because the essential elements are much like so many police procedurals—unattached woman detective returns to the place where she has a troubled past, small town atmosphere, a dead body, missing women and children, has an expertise that can help the local police, kickass attitude, covering a secret, etc., etc. This sense of familiarity is not necessarily a bad thing, though, because there’s comfort to be found in that very familiarity and deep surprises are not always needed or wanted by the reader. In this case, I appreciated knowing pretty much how things were going to play out because it’s the story I was looking for at this time.
*
One thing I never could get a handle on was why an accomplished forensic FBI agent would leave her job, even temporarily, to housesit for her incarcerated brother. He’s onlly in for six months, for heaven’s sake, and it would/should be easy to find someone local to occasionally check on the house. In fact, I imagine the local cops would be willing to help out a fellow law officer so that reason for Kay’s return to the place she swore never to return to doesn’t hold water. Still, once I put that aside, the tale became quite enjoyable with an engaging troop of characters and a tension-filled investigation. This is a promising beginning to what will probably be a very good series.
*
Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, August 2021.
************

Goodreads * Barnes & Noble * Amazon

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

About the Author

Leslie Wolfe is a bestselling author whose novels break the mold of traditional thrillers. She creates unforgettable, brilliant, strong women heroes who deliver fast-paced, satisfying suspense, backed up by extensive background research in technology and psychology.
*
Leslie released the first novel, Executive, in October 2011. It was very well received, including inquiries from Hollywood. Since then, Leslie published numerous novels and enjoyed growing success and recognition in the marketplace. Among Leslie’s most notable works, The Watson Girl (2017) was recognized for offering a unique insight into the mind of a serial killer and a rarely seen first person account of his actions, in a dramatic and intense procedural thriller.
*
A complete list of Leslie’s titles is available at https://lesliewolfe.com/books/.
*
Leslie enjoys engaging with readers every day and would love to hear from you.
*
*
************

Giveaway

Follow the tour HERE for special content and a giveaway!

$50 Amazon

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

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

Book Review: Miss Julia Stands Her Ground by Ann B. Ross @penguinusa

Miss Julia Stands her Ground
Miss Julia #7
Ann B. Ross
Penguin Books, April 2007
ISBN 978-0-143-03855-9
Trade Paperback

There’s something compelling about a protagonist that is unlikeable—you wouldn’t want them as a friend but you have to admit they can go places where more polite and meek heroines may hang back. Olive Kitteridge is one such character; the reader wonders why her husband stays with her and doesn’t fault her son for cutting ties with her. MC Beaton’s Agatha Raisin is another such character, a man-crazy busybody who insults her neighbors but is tolerated because she gives generously to village charities.

Miss Julia is a not-quite-genteel Southern widow. Her husband, Wesley Lloyd Springer, was a leading citizen and church member in their hometown, who died in the arms of his mistress, Hazel Marie. The young woman is a complete surprise to Miss Julia, who had been married for over forty years, as is Hazel Marie’s young son, who is the spitting image of Wesley Lloyd. The entire Springer estate was left to the boy, and Miss Julia had to fight to keep her house and an income.

How was Miss Julia to cope with the humiliation of her husband’s indiscretions coming to light? She invited Hazel Marie, a likable young woman with no fashion sense, and Little Lloyd to live with her. In this seventh book of the series, Hazel Marie’s ne’er do well uncle, Brother Vernon Puckett, announces that he is going to contest Little Lloyd’s inheritance, because Wesley Springer was not the boy’s father. Miss Julia is indignant, and plans to thwart Brother Vernon’s plans.

You wouldn’t want to have Miss Julia as a relative—she’d criticize your wardrobe, hairstyle, and manners. Ann B. Ross serves up a delightful story, one that promises an entertaining afternoon cozy read.

Reviewed by Susan Belsky, January 2021.

Book Review: The Sentinel by Lee Child and Andrew Child @LeeChildReacher @Andrew_Grant @DelacortePress

The Sentinel
A Jack Reacher Novel #25
Lee Child and Andrew Child
Delacorte Press, October 2020
ISBN 978-1-9848-1846-1
Hardcover

Jack Reacher is back.  This time the novel is written by Lee Child and his brother Andrew Child, who will be taking over writing Jack Reacher novels.  Andrew Child is a successful author in his own right having written nine mystery thrillers.

I was eager as always to catch up with Reacher, and more than a little curious to find out how this joint effort would fare.  I’m happy to say I wasn’t disappointed.

Reacher, on the road after helping out a group of four struggling musicians in Nashville, hitches a ride out of town with a young man who is heading to a small town of Pleasantville.

On arriving in Pleasantville, Reacher thanks his companion for the ride, and heads to the nearest diner.  As he crosses the street, he quickly senses that something criminal is about to go down.  His antenna is telling him that a man, who has just left the diner, is about to be kidnapped.

Reacher stops the potential kidnapping, but the local police aren’t impressed with his efforts.  As a result, Reacher and the potential victim are taken to the local precinct.  After some questioning, both men are released.  Rusty Rutherford, the man he helped, thanks Reacher and together they head to the diner.

Reacher asks Rusty why someone would want to kidnap him.  Rusty explains that the town is under a Ransomware attack.  A malicious computer program has been used to lock up the entire network in town and everyone blames him for the ongoing disruption.  Rusty was in charge of the system but was fired from his job and the whole town blame him for the current situation.

The perpetrators are demanding a huge ransom which is meantime being negotiated, but that doesn’t explain Rusty’s attempted abduction. Reacher believes there has to be more happening here. And of course there is.

There are good guys and bad guys and Reacher, in his inimitable fashion, creates as much chaos and upheaval as he can as he unravels the  truth. Suffice it to say there’s lots of action and intrigue along the way.

Check it out….

Respectfully submitted,

Reviewed by guest reviewer Moyra Tarling, November 2020.

Book Review: Death in Tranquility by Sharon Linnéa @SharonLinnea @ArundelBooks @partnersincr1me

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

Death In Tranquility

by Sharon Linnéa

February 1-28, 2021 Tour

Purchase Links:
Barnes & Noble // Amazon // The Bookstore Plus
 
************

Death in Tranquility
The Bartender’s Guide to Murder #1
Sharon Linnéa
Arundel Publishing, September 2020
ISBN 978-1-933608-15-0
Trade Paperback

From the publisher—


No one talks to the cops. Everyone talks to the bartender. And Avalon Nash is one hell of a bartender.

Avalon is on the run from her life in Los Angeles. Having a drink while waiting to change trains in the former Olympic town of Tranquility, New York, she discovers the freshly murdered bartender at MacTavish’s. A bartender herself, she’s offered the position with the warning he wasn’t the first MacTavish’s bartender to meet a violent end.

Avalon’s superpower is collecting people’s stories, and she’s soon embroiled in the lives of artists, politicians, ghost hunters and descendants of Old Hollywood.

Can Avalon outrun the ghosts of her past, catch the ghosts of Tranquility’s past and outsmart a murderer?

The first book in the Bartender’s Guide to Murder series offers chills, laughs, and 30 of the best drink recipes ever imbibed.

Bartenders are known to be good listeners, able to keep customers’ secret flaws and foibles to themselves, but they don’t typically find dead bodies. When Avalon Nash finds one that just happens to be the tender of the particular bar she drifted into, it’s natural that she would step into his position, being a bartender herself. Her new, if temporary, position puts her in the perfect spot to do a little investigating through what she hears, helping the police dontchaknow, and it soon becomes obvious to her that secrets abound in this former Olympic town, not least of which are her own.

Besides secrets, we find that there are a myriad of personality types in Tranquility, not to mention motives, and the twists and turns abound, making this a very entertaining way to while away a few hours in the doldrums of February.  Ms. Linnéa has a humorous, clever way of writing and she pulled me right into the story; I love this little town and its eccentric citizens and, oh, an added benefit is the plethora of enticing drink recipes I’m going to have to try 😉

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, February 2021.

An Excerpt from Death in Tranquility

Chapter 1

Death in the Afternoon
“Whenever you see the bartender, I’d like another drink,” I said, lifting my empty martini glass and tipping it to Marta, the waitress with teal hair. “Everyone wants another drink,” she said, “but Joseph’s missing. I can’t find him. Anywhere.” “How long has he been gone?” I asked. “About ten minutes. It’s not like him. Joseph would never just go off without telling me.” That’s when I should have done it. I should have put down forty bucks to cover my drink and my meal and left that magical, moody, dark-wood paneled Scottish bar and sauntered back across the street to the train station to continue on my way. If I had, everything would be different. Instead I nodded, grateful for a reason to stand up. A glance at my watch told me over half an hour remained until my connecting train chugged in across the street. I could do Marta a solid by finding the bartender and telling him drink orders were stacking up. Travelling from Los Angeles to New York City by rail, I had taken the northern route, which required me to change trains in the storied village of Tranquility, New York. Once detrained, the posted schedule had informed me should I decide to bolt and head north for Montreal, I could leave within the hour. The train heading south for New York City, however, would not be along until 4 p.m. Sometimes in life you think it’s about where you’re going, but it turns out to be about where you change trains. It was an April afternoon; the colors on the trees and bushes were still painting from the watery palate of spring. Here and there, forsythia unfurled in insistent bursts of golden glory. I needed a drink. Tranquility has been famous for a long time. Best known for hosting the Winter Olympics back in 19-whatever, it was an eclectic blend of small village, arts community, ski mecca, gigantic hotels and Olympic facilities. Certainly there was somewhere a person could get lunch. Perched on a hill across the street from the station sat a shiny, modern hotel of the upscale chain variety. Just down the road, father south, was a large, meandering, one-of-a-kind establishment called MacTavish’s Seaside Cottage. It looked nothing like a cottage, and, as we were inland, there were no seas. I doubted the existence of a MacTavish. I headed over at once. The place evoked a lost inn in Brigadoon. A square main building of a single story sent wings jutting off at various angles into the rolling hills beyond. Floor-to-ceiling windows made the lobby bright and airy. A full suit of armor stood guard over the check-in counter, while a sculpture of two downhill skiers whooshed under a skylight in the middle of the room. Behind the statue was the Breezy, a sleek restaurant overlooking Lake Serenity (Lake Tranquility was in the next town over, go figure). The restaurant’s outdoor deck was packed with tourists on this balmy day, eating and holding tight to their napkins, lest they be lost to the murky depths. Off to the right—huddled in the vast common area’s only dark corner—was a small door with a carved, hand-painted wooden sign which featured a large seagoing vessel plowing through tumultuous waves. That Ship Has Sailed, it read. A tavern name if I ever heard one. Beyond the heavy door, down a short dark-wood hallway, in a tall room lined with chestnut paneling, I paused to let my eyes adjust to the change in light, atmosphere, and, possibly, century. The bar was at a right angle as you entered, running the length of the wall. It was hand-carved and matched the back bar, which held 200 bottles, easily. A bartender’s dream, or her undoing. Two of the booths against the far wall were occupied, as were two of the center tables. I sat at the bar. Only one other person claimed a seat there during this low time between meal services. He was a tall gentleman with a square face, weathered skin, and dark hair pulled back into a ponytail. I felt his cold stare as I perused the menu trying to keep to myself. I finally gave up and stared back. “Flying Crow,” he said. “Mohawk Clan.” “Avalon,” I said. “Train changer.” I went back to my menu, surprised to find oysters were a featured dish. “Avalon?” he finally said. “That’s—” “An odd name,” I answered. “I know. Flying Crow? You’re in a Scottish pub.” “Ask him what Oswego means.” This was from the bartender, a lanky man with salt-and-pepper hair. “Oh, but place your order first.” “Are the oysters good?” I asked. “Oddly, yes. One of the best things on the menu. Us being seaside, and all.” “All right, then. Oysters it is. And a really dry vodka martini, olives.” “Pimento, jalapeño, or bleu cheese?” “Ooh, bleu cheese, please.” I turned to Flying Crow. “So what does Oswego mean?” “It means, ‘Nothing Here, Give It to the Crazy White Folks.’ Owego, on the other hand means, ‘Nothing Here Either.’” “How about Otego? And Otsego and Otisco?” His eyebrow raised. He was impressed by my knowledge of obscure town names in New York State. “They all mean, ‘We’re Just Messing with You Now.’” “Hey,” I said, raising my newly delivered martini. “Thanks for coming clean.” He raised his own glass of firewater in return. “Coming clean?” asked the bartender, and he chuckled, then dropped his voice. “If he’s coming clean, his name is Lesley.” “And you are?” I asked. He wasn’t wearing a name tag. “Joseph.” “Skål,” I said, raising my glass. “Glad I found That Ship Has Sailed.” “That’s too much of a mouthful,” he said, flipping over the menu. “Everyone calls it the Battened Hatch.” “But the Battened Hatch isn’t shorter. Still four syllables.” “Troublemaker,” muttered Lesley good-naturedly. “I warned you.” “Fewer words,” said Joseph with a smile that included crinkles by his eyes. “Fewer capital letters over which to trip.” As he spoke, the leaded door banged open and two men in chinos and shirtsleeves arrived, talking loudly to each other. The door swung again, just behind them, admitting a stream of ten more folks—both women and men, all clad in business casual. Some were more casual than others. One man with silvering hair actually wore a suit and tie; another, a white artist’s shirt, his blonde hair shoulder-length. The women’s garments, too, ran the gamut from tailored to flowing. One, of medium height, even wore a white blouse, navy blue skirt and jacket, finished with hose and pumps. And a priest’s collar. “Conventioneers?” I asked Joseph. Even as I asked, I knew it didn’t make sense. No specific corporate culture was in evidence. He laughed. “Nah. Conference people eat at the Blowy. Er, Breezy. Tranquility’s Chamber of Commerce meeting just let out.” His grey eyes danced. “They can never agree on anything, but their entertainment quotient is fairly high. And they drive each other to drink.” Flying Crow Lesley shook his head. Most of the new arrivals found tables in the center of the room. Seven of them scooted smaller tables together, others continued their conversations or arguments in pairs. “Marta!” Joseph called, leaning through a door in the back wall beside the bar. The curvy girl with the teal hair, nose and eyebrow rings and mega eye shadow clumped through. Her eyes widened when she saw the influx of patrons. Joseph slid the grilled oysters with fennel butter in front of me. “Want anything else before the rush?” He indicated the well-stocked back bar. “I’d better hold off. Just in case there’s a disaster and I end up having to drive the train.” He nodded knowingly. “Good luck with that.” I took out my phone, then re-pocketed it. I wanted a few more uncomplicated hours before re-entering the real world. Turning to my right, I found that Flying Crow had vanished. In his stead, several barstools down, sat a Scotsman in full regalia: kilt, Bonnie Prince Charlie jacket and a fly plaid. It was predominantly red with blue stripes. Wow. Mohawk clan members, Scotsmen, and women priests in pantyhose. This was quite a town. Joseph was looking at an order screen, and five drinks in different glasses were already lined up ready for Marta to deliver. My phone buzzed. I checked caller i.d. Fought with myself. Answered. Was grabbed by tentacles of the past. When I looked up, filled with emotions I didn’t care to have, I decided I did need another drink; forget driving the train. The line of waiting drink glasses was gone, as were Marta and Joseph. I checked the time. I’d been in Underland for fifteen minutes, twenty at the most. It was just past three. I had maybe forty-five minutes before I should move on. That was when Marta swung through the kitchen door, her head down to stave off the multiple calls from the center tables. She stood in front of me, punching information into the point of sale station, employing the NECTM—No Eye Contact Tactical Maneuver. That’s when she told me Joseph was missing. “Could he be in the restroom?” “I asked Arthur when he came out, but he said there was nobody else.” I nodded at Marta and started by going out through the front hall, to see if perhaps he’d met someone in the lobby. As I did a lap, I overheard a man at check-in ask, “Is it true the inn is haunted?” “Do you want it to be?” asked the clerk, nonplussed. But no sign of the bartender. I swung back through into the woodsy-smelling darkness of the Battened Hatch, shook my head at the troubled waitress, then walked to the circular window in the door. The industrial kitchen was white and well-lit, and as large as it was, I could see straight through the shared kitchen to the Breezy. No sign of Joseph. I turned my attention back to the bar. Beyond the bar, there was a hallway to the restrooms, and another wooden door that led outside. I looked back at Marta and nodded to the door. “It doesn’t go anywhere,” she said. “It’s only a little smoker’s deck.” I wondered if Joseph smoked, tobacco or otherwise. Certainly the arrival of most of a Chamber of Commerce would suggest it to me. I pushed on the wooden door. It seemed locked. I gave it one more try, and, though it didn’t open, it did budge a little bit. This time I went at it with my full shoulder. There was a thud, and it wedged open enough that I could slip through. It could hardly be called a deck. You couldn’t put a table—or even a lounge chair—out there. Especially with the body taking up so much of the space. It was Joseph. I knelt quickly and felt for a pulse at his neck, but it was clear he was inanimate. He was sitting up, although my pushing the door open had made him lean at an angle. I couldn’t tell if the look on his face was one of pain or surprise. There was some vomit beside him on the deck, and a rivulet down his chin. I felt embarrassed to be seeing him this way. Crap. He was always nice to me. Well, during the half an hour I’d known him, he had been nice to me. What was it with me discovering corpses? It was certainly a habit of which I had to break myself. Meanwhile, what to do? Should I call in the priest? But she was within a group, and it would certainly start a panic. Call 911? Yes, that would be good. That way they could decide to call the hospital or the police or both. My phone was back in my purse. And, you know what? I didn’t want the call to come from me. I was just passing through. I pulled the door back open and walked to Marta behind the bar. “Call 911,” I said softly. “I found Joseph.” It took the ambulance and the police five minutes to arrive. The paramedics went through first, then brought a gurney around outside so as to not freak out everyone in the hotel. They loaded Joseph on and sped off, in case there was anything to be done. I knew there wasn’t. The police, on the other hand, worked at securing the place which might become a crime scene. They blocked all the doorways and announced no one could leave. I was still behind the bar with Marta. She was shaking. “Give me another Scotch,” said the Scotsman seated there. I looked at the bottles and was pleasantly surprised by the selection. “I think this calls for Black Maple Hill,” I said, only mildly surprised at my reflexive tendency to upsell. The Hill was a rich pour but not the absolute priciest. He nodded. I poured. I’m not sure if it was Marta’s tears, or the fact we weren’t allowed to leave, but local bigwigs had realized something was amiss. “Excuse me,” the man in the suit came to the bar. “Someone said Joseph is dead.” “Yes,” I said. “He does seem to be.” Marta swung out of the kitchen, her eyeliner half down her face. “Art, these are your oysters,” she said to the man. He took them. “So,” he continued, and I wondered what meaningful words he’d have to utter. “You’re pouring drinks?” It took only a moment to realize that, were I the owner of this establishment, I’d find this a great opportunity. “Seems so,” I said. “What goes with oysters?” he asked. That was a no-brainer. I’d spied the green bottle of absinthe while having my own meal. I poured about three tablespoons into the glass. I then opened a bottle of Prosecco, poured it, and waited for the milky cloud to form. He took a sip, looked at me, and raised the glass. “If I want another of these, what do I ask for?” As he asked, I realized I’d dispensed one of Ernest Hemingway’s favorite libations. “Death in the Afternoon,” I replied. He nodded and went back to his table. It was then I realized I wasn’t going to make my train. * *

Ernest Hemingway’s Death in the Afternoon

Ingredients

• 3 tablespoons (1 1/2 ounces) absinthe • ½ to ¾ cup (4 to 6 ounces) cold Champagne or sparkling wine

Method

Hemmingway’s advice, circa 1935: “Pour one jigger absinthe into a Champagne glass. Add iced Champagne until it attains the proper opalescent milkiness. Drink three to five of these slowly.”

Chapter 2

No Known Address
Since I found the body, I got to talk to the lead investigator. He was in his mid-thirties, just under six feet, walnut skin, black hair cut short. He would have benefitted from a beard. He looked ripped; the king of ripped you got from taking out your frustrations in the gym. His demeanor was no-nonsense. “Investigator Spaulding,” he said, and he pulled out a notebook. “State Police.” “State Police? Isn’t that the same as State Troopers? Don’t you manage highways?” He stopped writing in his small, leather-covered notebook and looked up. “Common misconception. The local P.D. is small—only 9 on staff. When something big happens, they ask for assistance.” “They ask?” “It’s a dance.” I wasn’t a suspect (yet), so he didn’t need to write down my stats, but I could read upside down as he made notes. He asked my name, and began guessing at the rest. Nash, Avalon. Female. Caucasian. Blonde hair. 5’7 was his guess at my height. The next thing he wrote down could go seriously south, so I said, “healthy weight.” He looked up. “5’7” and at a healthy weight,” I supplied. “If I’m charged with something, we’ll get more specific.” “Age?” Did he really need to know all of this? “Twenties,” I said, waiting to see if he’d have the gall to object. He didn’t. “Best way to reach you?” I gave him my cell number. “Permanent address?” “I don’t have one.” He looked up. “I’m in the process of moving from California to New York. I’m only in town to change trains. I don’t have a New York address yet.” “A relative’s address?” I held up my phone. “This is your golden ticket,” I said. “If you want to reach me, this is it.” I saw him write ‘no known address.’ Yep, that pretty much summed it up. I glanced at my watch. Seven minutes until my train pulled into—and, soon after, departed from—the station. “Um, Detective,” I started. “Investigator Spaulding,” he corrected. “Investigator Spaulding, my train is about to arrive. I don’t know anything except what I’ve told you. I came in for a drink and helped Marta find the bartender, whom I hope died of a massive heart attack—well, of natural causes. You know what I mean.” At that point, his phone buzzed and he gave me a just-a-minute finger. He answered, listened for a while, and started to write. Then he hung up, flipped his notebook shut and said, “I can’t let you leave. He was murdered.” “Great,” I said, the tone somewhere between rueful and intrigued, as I headed back toward Marta, then I turned back toward Investigator Spaulding. “Can I continue to pour drinks?” He considered less than a moment. “By all means, serve truth serum to anyone who will imbibe.” Then he turned and walked toward the other officers. I went to stand with Marta behind the bar. In my imagination, I heard the train chug in across the street. Investigator Spaulding cleared his throat, and the room went silent. “Ladies and gentlemen,” he said. “This is now a homicide investigation.” He had to pause as everyone shuffled or gasped, or cried out. “Please do not leave until we have taken your statement.” A woman in her fifties came and sat down in front of me at the bar. Her hair was in a no-fuss bob, she wore a free-flowing skirt with a linen jacket, both of which were in style twenty years ago, but they worked on her. “Got anything stronger than those Death things?” she asked. “I’m not big on Champagne.” “Sure.” I said. I sized her up. “Layers in a martini glass work for you?” “Honey, it’s the strength, not the glass.” She looked shaken and sad. I went for the rums and found Malibu Black, the stronger brother of the original. What a bartender Joseph must have been! I decided to try something new. Malibu Black, mango pineapple vodka, and pineapple juice. I mixed it over ice, shook, and poured. I sank some Chambord and topped it with Jägermeister Spice. “See if this does it,” I said. Her hand shook slightly as she held up the glass, appreciated the layers, and then took a sip. The jury was out. She took another. She nodded and smiled. It occurred to me that everyone in the room knew Joseph. They’d lost one of their own. Another woman in skinny white pants and a white shell with a fancy pink sports jacket came and sat next to her. They were about the same age, if I had to guess, but the new woman was thin as a rail, muscular, and with her blonde hair in a ponytail. I was guessing she colored her hair not from a darker shade, but to cover the white. The two women embraced. “Suzanne,” said the new arrival. “Gillian,” said no-fuss-bob Suzanne. Then, “Can’t believe it.” “I can’t, either,” replied hard-bodied Gillian. She had the remains of an Eastern European accent. They sat a respectful moment. “What are you drinking?” Suzanne looked at me. “No Known Address,” I said. “Okay,” Gillian said. “I’ll have one.” She then turned and I was dismissed to my task. “I can’t believe it. One of the only straight, available guys between forty and crotchety, and he’s gone!” said Suzanne. “There’s Mike,” Gillian said, tilting her head toward the state police investigator. “And I’m not sure Joseph was available.” “First, really? Maybe if he worked out. Second, you or I crook our little fingers and get a guy away from Sophie.” They both looked back, shooting daggers toward one of the three women in the center wall booth. I knew which must be Sophie, as one of them was crying copiously while the other two petted her solicitously. “And do we have a suspect?” asked pink jacket Gillian. This time, they looked at a younger woman who sat at a table with two newly arrived Chamber men. She was gorgeous—skin the color of chai latte and hair as dark as a sky at new moon. She was staring off into space. I almost said, “You know I can hear you.” But maids, taxi drivers, and bartenders… well, we’re invisible, which is partly how we get the good gossip. They stopped talking abruptly as two men approached. “Can we get some food?” asked the first. He was in a polo and navy blue slacks. I heard snuffling and saw that Marta was in the shadows, leaning back against the wall. “Hey,” I said, “would you ask the chef if we can continue to order food?” She nodded and swung through the kitchen door. Arthur, the man in the suit who had ordered earlier, accompanied the newcomer in the polo. Arthur addressed his companion in an audible hiss. “I’m telling you… we can’t let word of this get out. Tranquility has to be considered a safe haven. For everyone. For…the festival folks. It’s part of what lures them here. Change of pace.” “How do we not let the word get out? It’s a matter of record! And everyone in town knows about it—or will, within minutes.” From the furious pace of thumbs texting throughout the room, it was clear he was correct. “I mean, don’t print this as front-page news.” “It is front page news, Art. And, the film festival folks are already committed. They’ve submitted their films. They’ll come.” Marta returned with a positive nod. I slapped down two menus. “Marta will be out to take your order,” I said. As they turned, I added. “And if it’s a film festival, you don’t need to worry. Film people eat news like this for breakfast.” Arthur looked at me in surprise, but gave a raised-eyebrows look that inferred I could have a point. They left with the menus and I turned back to Marta, trying to help get her mind on something other than her boss’s death. “Can you help me add these drinks to people’s tabs?” I nodded toward the POS. For the record, I hate point of sale machines. Each one hates humans in its own unique way. I pointed at people and she pulled up their tabs and showed me how to input the drinks I’d served. I only had the Scotsman’s tab left undone when the man in the artist’s shirt stopped right before me. He was likely late 40s and had a face that was long but not unattractive. His shoulders were unusually broad, and he exuded self-confidence and a self-trained impishness. His shirt had one too many buttons left undone. “Okay,” he said, “I wasn’t going to drink, but Joe…” “You weren’t going to drink because it’s late afternoon, or because you’ve been sober for seven months?” I had no interest in tipping someone off the wagon. He laughed. “I haven’t been drinking because this isn’t my favorite crowd,” he said. “And I don’t usually drink. But murder seems an excuse, if there ever was one.” He extended his hand. “Michael Michel,” he said, and smiled, waggling his eyebrows as if this should mean something to me. I took his hand and shook. It was apparent I didn’t recognize him. “The Painter Who Brings You Home,” he said, and the trademark practically bled from the words. “Right,” I said, trying to sound impressed. “Nice to meet you. I’m Avalon. What’ll ya have?” “Vodka tonic lime.” “Care which vodka?” He shook his head while saying, “Whatever you’ve got. Grey Goose.” Ah, a fellow who pretended not to drink, who knew exactly what he wanted. I poured and went for the garnish tray. The limes were gone. I looked at the back bar and found lemons and oranges. No limes, though clearly there had been some. I walked along the front bar and found, below patron eye level, a small cutting board with a lime on it. The lime was half-cut, some of them in rounds, a few in quarters. Some juice was dripping down onto the floor. I reached for a wedge, and then I stopped short. Joseph never would have left this on purpose. It was obviously what he’d been doing when he was interrupted by death—or someone who led him to his death. Or by symptoms that eventually spelled death. I leaned down and sniffed. It was lime-y. But there was something else, also. I backed away. I walked over to Marta and said, quietly, “Don’t let anyone near that end of the bar.” Then I walked over to Investigator Spaulding, where he sat at a booth interviewing someone. “Investigator?” I said. “Sorry to interrupt, but this is important.” He looked at me, squinting, then seemed surprised, since I’d made such a point of being Ms. Just-Passing-Through. He stood up and stepped away from the booth. “I believe I’ve found the murder weapon,” I said. As we walked together, I realized that the door to the smoker’s porch sat open. It was crawling with half a dozen or so more crime scene people. Together we walked to the limes. I said, “Don’t touch them. If this is what Joseph was doing when he died, if they are poisoned, my guess is that the poison can be absorbed through the skin.” Investigator Spaulding looked at me like, Of course I knew that, but he stepped back. As another officer and two crime scene investigators came over, I backed away, removing myself as far as possible from the action. I returned to the Artist Shirt. “I think today we’re going with a lemon and a cherry,” I said. I smelled them before putting them in the drink. It struck me then that perhaps Joseph hadn’t been the intended target. Maybe there was someone who consistently ordered a drink garnished with lime, and the murderer had injected the poison into the lime, not realizing it could be absorbed as well as ingested. Like, for instance, the man before me, Mr. Vodka Tonic Lime. Still, this was a pretty non-specific way of poison delivery. The limes could have been served to half a dozen people before anyone realized they were toxic. Who would do something like that? The police were letting people go once they had been interviewed. I asked Investigator Spaulding if I could go. He nodded, adding, “Please stay in town until tomorrow morning, in case we have any further questions.” As if I had a choice. All the trains had gone, except the 11 p.m. to Montreal. The bar had been sealed off with crime-scene tape, a welcome relief as I didn’t relish closing a dead man’s station on the night of his murder. Why would I even think that? I didn’t work here. But my need to leave a bar in pristine condition ran down to bone and marrow. As I headed for my bag, which I’d left on my original stool, I saw I wouldn’t even be allowed to access the POS machine. The only patron whose drink I hadn’t input was the man in the kilt. I looked around the emptying room to find he’d moved to a pub table over to the side. “Sorry, sir,” I said. “I wasn’t able to enter your drinks into the machine. I guess you’re on the honor system to pay up another day.” He gave a small smile. “Lass,” he said, “I’m Glenn MacTavish. Owner of this place. Seems I’m out a bartender and will be needing another. You have any interest?” he asked. I stopped and stared. “There’s really a MacTavish?” I asked. “Aye, and you’re looking at him.” “But… you don’t know anything about me.” “You keep a clear head and you know what you’re doin’. That’s all I really need to know. Besides, you don’t know anything about me, either.” “I, well—thank you for the offer. It’s a beautiful bar. Can I think on it overnight? I’ve been told not to leave town.” “Aye,” he said. “You can tell me in the mornin’ if you might be stayin.’ And while you’re decidin’, I could pay you for your services tonight with a room here at the hotel.” That seemed fair. The Hotel Tonight app was offering me a room at a local chain. Staying at MacTavish’s Seaside Cottage for free seemed infinitely more attractive. “All right,” I said. “I should probably let you know they’re expecting me in New York City.” “All right,” he said. “I should probably let you know Joseph isn’t the first bartender to work here who’s been murdered.” * *

No Known Address

Ingredients

• ½ oz. Malibu black • 2 dashes Chambord • ½ oz. mango pineapple vodka • 2 dashes Jägermeister Spice • 1 oz. pineapple juice

Method

Shake pineapple vodka, Malibu Black and pineapple juice over ice and strain evenly into martini glasses. Sink a dash of Chambord into each flute by running it down the side of the glass. Layer a dash of Jägermeister Spice in each glass. *** Excerpt from Death in Tranquility by Sharon Linnéa. Copyright 2020 by Sharon Linnéa. Reproduced with permission from Sharon Linnéa. All rights reserved.

 

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

About the Author

 

Sharon Linnéa wrote the bestselling Eden Series (Chasing Eden, Beyond Eden, Treasure of Eden and Plagues of Eden) with B.K. Sherer, as well as the standalone These Violent Delights, a movie murder series. She enjoyed working with Axel Avian on Colt Shore: Domino 29, a middle-grade spy thriller. She is also the author of Princess Ka’iulani: Hope of a Nation, Heart of a People about the last crown princess of Hawaii which won the prestigious Carter Woodson Award, and Raoul Wallenberg: the Man Who Stopped Death. She was a staff writer for five national magazines, a book editor at three publishers, and a celebrity ghost. She lives outside New York City with her family. In Orange County, she teaches The Book Inside You workshops with Thomas Mattingly.

Catch Up With Sharon On: www.SharonLinnea.com BartendersGuidetoMurder.com Goodreads BookBub Instagram Twitter Facebook

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

Follow the tour here.

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

Giveaway

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual
Book Tours for Sharon Linnéa. There will be SIX (6) winners: ONE (1)
winner will receive one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card and FIVE (5) winners
will each receive one (1) copy of Death In Tranquility by Sharon Linnéa.
(These five (5) winners will have their choice of eBook or Print
edition however print editions will only be shipped to U.S. addresses).
The giveaway begins on February 1, 2021 and runs through
March 2, 2021. Void where prohibited.

Enter here.

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

Book Review: Hanging Falls by Margaret Mizushima @margmizu @crookedlanebks

Hanging Falls
A Timber Creek K-9 Mystery #6
Margaret Mizushima
Crooked Lane Books, September 2020
ISBN 978-1-64385-445-8
Hardcover

While hiking in the mountains, Deputy Mattie Cobb and her K-9 partner Robo discover a man’s body floating in a lake. They soon find the body, once buried, has washed downhill due to the heavy rains plaguing the Colorado high country. While searching for clues to the man’s identity, they spot someone watching them and take him in as a suspect. Forced to let him go, as there doesn’t seem to be a connection between him and the dead man, in a matter of hours the suspect also ends up dead, hanging from a tall woodland tree. Investigation leads Mattie, Robo, and the police department to a group of religious adherents of what appears to be plural marriage.

This is the first of Mizushima’s Timber Creek mysteries that I’ve read, and it’s certainly not the last. This is the sixth book in the series, and I intend to go back for the earlier stories and catch up with Mattie’s previous adventures. Besides, I want to learn how she and Robo became partners. Then there’s her love life with veterinarian Cole Walker, and her interaction with the other LEO’s at their station. All are interesting and play important parts in the story arc.

As a plus, a great deal of the action happens in the mountains of Colorado, and we interact with wildlife, and the great outdoors.

Plus, Mattie was kidnapped, then abandoned by her mother when she was only two years old. She’s recently had a DNA test done and found some possible close relatives. What’s going to happen with that? It all adds to a well-rounded story with a good mystery, one sure to stir your blood. Besides, I’m a sucker for stories where dogs play a part. Definitely recommended reading.

Reviewed by Carol Crigger, December 2020.
http://www.ckcrigger.com
Author of The Woman Who Built A Bridge (Spur Award Winner), Yester’s Ride,
Hometown Burning and Six Dancing Damsels: A China Bohannon Novel

Book Review: Death by Chocolate Frosted Doughnut by Sarah Graves @SarahGraves2011 @KensingtonBooks

Death by Chocolate Frosted Doughnut
A Death by Chocolate Mystery #3
Sarah Graves
Kensington Books, February 2020
ISBN 978-1-4967-1134-2
Hardcover

There are more than 4,000 islands off the coast of Maine; in fact, there are more islands in the Gulf of Maine than on the entire East Coast of the United States.  Pirates have been known to Maine’s shores since Dixie Bull (nicknamed “The Dread Pirate”), an Englishman, operated in Maine waters in 1632.  The other pirate most associated with Maine was Black Sam Bellamy in the early 1800s.  So, why am I telling you this?  Well, it’s because Sarah Graves’ latest book, Death by Chocolate Frosted Doughnut, set in Eastport, Maine, takes place with a Pirate Festival as its backdrop.  And the real town of Eastport, Maine, really does hold a Pirate Festival every September.

So, Jake and Ellie, her best friend and business partner in their bakery, The Chocolate Moose are baking up a storm anticipating crowds of hungry tourists (and locals) from the festival.  Approached by a celebrity foodie, Henry Hadlyme, who wants to film a podcast episode in their bakery, Jake and Ellie decline because he is obnoxious and has not had a good word to say about Eastport eateries so far so why take the chance that he will bad mouth their bakery too?  Henry becomes angry and insistent and Jake tells him in no uncertain terms not to come back or something bad might happen to him.  Unfortunately, Henry is later found dead in the basement of The Chocolate Moose and when the state police arrive to investigate, Jake becomes the prime suspect.  Only an intervention by Bob Arnold, Eastport’s police chief and a friend of Jake and Ellie, keeps Jake out of jail.  Obviously, Jake and Ellie have to find the murderer to get Jake off the hook before she is arrested.  The investigation they undertake has points to several people with possible motives and takes some unexpected twists and turns, not to mention involving others who are also at risk – enough, I think, to add up to an interesting and not obvious resolution.

For anyone who is not familiar with Sarah Graves’ work, she has a 16-book series, “Home Repair is Homicide” in which Jake, a transplanted New Yorker, and Ellie, a native Mainer, solve mysteries while Jake works on restoring her old house.  The author also has a newer series (2 books so far) featuring Lizzie Snow, a police chief who moves to Maine to try and solve what happened to her murdered sister and the disappearance of her sister’s daughter.  I love Sarah Graves’ work and hope she writes many, many more books.  To quote Margaret Maron, “Sarah Graves writes with grace and intelligence….”  I could not agree more, and I can’t wait for the next book, Death by Chocolate Snickerdoodle, due out in 2021.

Reviewed by Melinda Drew, December 2020.

Book Review: Winter Witness by Tina deBellegarde @tdbwrites @levelbestbooks @partnersincr1me

Winter Witness by Tina deBellegarde Banner

 

Winter Witness

by Tina deBellegarde

on Tour November 1-30, 2020

Synopsis:

Winter Witness by Tina deBellegarde

When a beloved nun is murdered in a sleepy Catskill Mountain town, a grieving young widow finds herself at the center of the turmoil. Bianca St. Denis is searching for a job and seeking acceptance in her new home of Batavia-on-Hudson. Agatha Miller, the nun’s closest friend and the ailing local historian everyone loves to hate, shares her painful personal history and long-buried village secrets with Bianca. Armed with this knowledge, Bianca unravels the mysteries surrounding the death while dealing with the suspicions of her eccentric neighbors.

 

However, Bianca’s meddling complicates the sheriff’s investigation as well as his marriage. Can Sheriff Mike Riley escape his painful past in a town where murder and infighting over a new casino vie for his attention?

 

Danger stalks Bianca as she gets closer to the truth. Can the sheriff solve the mystery before the killer strikes again? Can the town heal its wounds once the truth has been uncovered?

Book Details:

Genre: Traditional Mystery Published by: Level Best Books Publication Date: September 29, 2020 Number of Pages: 282 ISBN: 978-1-947915-76-3 Series: Batavia-on-Hudson Mystery, #1 Purchase Links: Amazon | Apple Books | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Goodreads | Oblong Books and Music

My Review

A bone-chilling mountain winter takes the front seat in deBellegarde’s debut that’s full of vivid characterizations that evoke not only the charm of a small town but also its unique atmosphere and secrets. Bianca is new to town but is drawn into the investigation, along with Sheriff Mike Riley, at least partly because of her journalistic background but it’s also an escape from the grief that surrounds the young widow. Her story is a compelling one but so is Mike’s with his troubled marriage and his PTSD-driven flight from the big city to this seemingly peaceful village. No less interesting is Sister Elaine; why on earth would anyone want her dead?

Batavia-on-Hudson is a town I’d like very much to visit, to get to know its townsfolk with all their failings and endearing idiosyncrasies. Villages like this one can seem like a fishbowl where everyone knows every detail about your life but, in fact, one can never truly know one’s neighbor or the shopkeeper on the village square or the librarian. The author’s deft touch with the underlying murder investigation is intriguing but its her characters who really come to life and I already want to know what will happen with them in the next book.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, November 2020.

Read an excerpt:

CHAPTER ONE
Thursday, December 15 She could have been sleeping, were it not for the gaping gash in the back of her head and the bloody stone next to her limp body. Sheriff Mike Riley stood alone on the shore of the near-frozen lake. At his feet, Sister Elaine Fisher lay face down, ice crystals forming around her body where it met the shoreline. The murmuring water of the nearby stream imparted a peacefulness at odds with the scene. In the waning winter light, he paused ankle deep in the snow illuminated by the beat of red strobe lights. Murder seemed so extreme. The villagers would be baffled. Murder didn’t happen in sleepy Batavia-on-Hudson. An occasional stolen bicycle, some were paid off the books, but that was hardly worth mentioning. Lately, there had been a handful of amateur burglaries. Murder was another story altogether. But there was no denying it. Elaine’s body was there before him, lifeless on a cushion of snow at the edge of the lake. Sheriff Riley ran his chapped hands through his salt and pepper hair. A knowing person might have noticed that he used this motion to disguise a quick brush at his cheek, to eliminate the one tear that slipped through. He feared this day, the day his lazy job would bring him face to face once again with the ugly underbelly he knew existed even in a quiet place like Batavia-on-Hudson. Mike Riley wasn’t afraid of death. He was afraid of the transformation a village like this was bound to go through after an act of murder. He cried for Elaine; though he barely knew her. But also, he cried for the village that died with her that morning. A place where children still wandered freely. A village that didn’t lock doors, and trusted everyone, even the ones they gossiped about. Now, inevitably, the villagers would be guarded around each other, never quite sure anymore if someone could be trusted. He thought he could already hear the locks snapping shut in cars and homes as word of the murder got out. Mothers yanking children indoors, hand-in-hand lovers escaping the once-romantic shadows of the wooded pathways, and old ladies turning into shut-ins instead of walking their dogs across the windy bluff. Sheriff Riley steeled himself not just to confront the damaged body of the first murder victim of Batavia in over seventy years, but to confront the worried faces of mothers, the defeated faces of fathers and the vulnerable faces of the elderly. He squatted in the slush, wincing as his bad knee rebelled, and laid his hands on Elaine’s rough canvas jacket, two-sizes too big—one of her thrift shop purchases, no doubt. As reverently as was possible in the muddy snow, Mike Riley turned over her body to examine the face of a changing village. Sister Elaine had no one left, she had no known siblings and of course, no spouse or children. Only Agatha Miller, her childhood companion, could have been considered next of kin. How Elaine had tolerated her grumpy old friend was a mystery to everyone. The sheriff knew that Elaine’s death would rock the community. Even a relative outsider like Mike understood that Elaine had been an anchor in Batavia. Her kindness had given the village heart, and her compassion had given it soul. No one would be prepared for this. Mike knew from experience that preparation for death eases the grief. You start getting ready emotionally and psychologically. You make arrangements. You imagine your life without someone. But Mike also knew that when the time comes it still slaps you in the face, cold and bracing. And you realize you were only fooling yourself. Then somehow, in short order, work becomes demanding, bills need to be paid and something on the radio steals a chuckle right out of your throat. For a brief second you realize that there are moments of respite from your grief and perhaps someday those moments will expand and you may be able to experience joy once again. But for now, Elaine’s death will be a shock. No one had prepared for her death, let alone her murder. *** Excerpt from Winter Witness by Tina deBellegarde. Copyright 2020 by Tina deBellegarde. Reproduced with permission from Tina deBellegarde. All rights reserved.

 

Author Bio:

Tina deBellegarde

Tina deBellegarde lives in Catskill, New York with her husband Denis and their cat Shelby. Winter Witness is the first book in the Batavia-on-Hudson Mystery Series. Tina also writes short stories and flash fiction. When she isn’t writing, she is helping Denis tend their beehives, harvest shiitake mushrooms, and cultivate their vegetable garden. She travels to Japan regularly to visit her son, Alessandro. Tina did her graduate studies in history. She is a former exporter, paralegal, teacher, and library clerk.

Catch Up With Tina deBellegarde: tinadebellegarde.com, Goodreads, BookBub, Instagram, Twitter, & Facebook!

 

Tour Participants:

Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways!

https://www.linkytools.com/basic_linky_include.aspx?id=299073

 

Enter To Win!:

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Tina deBellegarde. There will be 6 winners. Two (2) winners will each win one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card; two (2) winners will each win one (1) physical copy of Winter Witness by Tina deBellegarde (U.S. addresses only); and two (2) winners will each win one (1) eBook copy of Winter Witness by Tina deBellegarde The giveaway begins on November 1, 2020 and runs through December 2, 2020. Void where prohibited.

a Rafflecopter giveaway https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js  

 

Get More Great Reads at Partners
In Crime Virtual Book Tours