Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Currently Reading...

I am currently reading Burden of Poof by Julie Anne Lindsey. This book is the first in the Bonnie and Clyde Mystery series and was released today! 

Still reeling from the bitter end of her marriage Bonnie Balfour is back in her hometown of Bliss, Georgia trying to make a go of her second chance dress shop. But all the flowers from her parents organic flower farm and love from her cat Clyde can't help when she finds Viola Abbott-Harrington dead under a pile of clothing donations. The new detective from Cleveland is certain that Bonnie is guilty of murder and Bonnie is determined to prove him wrong. Will she be able to find the real killer while making her shop shine? Or will a killer put her out of business...permanently?




Tuesday, September 14, 2021

The Drop Dead Temple of Doom - A Guest Post & Giveaway

I'm pleased to welcome Lila Hamilton-Alvarez to Cozy Up With Kathy today. You can find Lila on the pages of the Alvarez Family Murder Mysteries. The Drop Dead Temple of Doom is the eighth book in the series and will be released tomorrow.

Lila Hamilton-Alvarez Speaks Out

As the CEO of the family-run, Silicon Valley-based detective agency, Discretionary Inquiries, it is a rare day I am able to be a part of one of my daughter, Liana’s, cases. She is the in-house investigator for our business and is quite successful at what she does. Recently, in The Drop-Dead Temple of Doom, I had an opportunity to experience and share her day-to-day investigative protocols and procedures. It is something I am never, ever going to be a part of again.

My daughter takes after her father, Roberto Alvarez, my late and very much missed husband. Liana is – as was her father – impetuous, intuitive, smart, and determined. She will even wear navy-blue with black, something he did time after time, no matter how much I protested. This is painful for me to see, as I am a firm believer that which separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom is our ability to accessorize.

Even though I love her to distraction, I’ve had to face the fact that there is very little of me in my daughter. It’s not just her temperament and sense of humor, but she even has her father’s coloring. While I am ash blonde, blue-eyed, and fair-skinned, Liana has dark, almost black hair, twilight-colored eyes, and just a touch of gold to her skin tone.

I have great respect for her sleuthing abilities, as I did with her father. While I was spending most of my time recently in the jungles of Guatemala donning insect repellent and checking the dew point, she seemed to have a fairly good idea of the deviltry going on around us. And being tenacious, she never gave up until she got to the bottom of it.

That’s not to say I didn’t do my part. I have my skills, appropriately attired in an Abercrombie and Fitch safari outfit, complete with matching pith helmet. Right before we flew from Palo Alto, California, to the wilds of El Mirador, Guatemala, I’d finished a two-week wilderness survival training course. I built a fire and knew my compass directions. But I had no idea what skills both my daughter and I would need when we were trapped in the king’s tomb under a pyramid right after an earthquake. But I am getting ahead of myself. And telling too much of the story. It was an adventure unlike any I’d experienced before. Roberto would have loved it.

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 The Drop-Dead Temple of Doom (The Alvarez Family Murder Mysteries) by Heather Haven

About The Drop-Dead Temple of Doom

The Drop-Dead Temple of Doom (The Alvarez Family Murder Mysteries)
Cozy Mystery 8th in Series
Setting - Ancient Mayan ruins, El Mirador, Guatemala
Publisher - The Wives of Bath Press (September 15, 2021)
Number of Pages - 332

A MOUTHFUL OF POISON FROG…. WHERE’S THE LAW OF THE JUNGLE?

Ace detective Lee Alvarez is perfectly cozy at home with her cats when she and her former Navy SEAL husband receive a panicky call from JJ, an archeologist cousin, who’s on assignment deep in the Guatemalan jungle. The news? JJ is pregnant-- and the father of her child has gone missing in the wilderness. The site director won’t let JJ call the police, so she asks Lee to travel to the jungle and track down her missing man.

Begging for help from Lee Alvarez sure makes sense--Lee’s family runs Discretionary Inquiries, a ritzy Silicon Valley P.I. firm. Lee is the star detective, her Uncle Tio’s on staff as the genius chef, and Lee’s brother, Richard, is a whiz at all things technology. Not to mention the presence of Lee’s very high class, upscale, and frankly scary mother Lila. Who--by the way—steamrolls her way onto Lee’s jungle trip.

A beleaguered Lee, the judgmental and prissy Lila, and Lee’s gorgeous SEAL husband (turned partner-in-crime) depart on the adventure of a lifetime, perfect for cozy mystery armchair travelers. And, once in the jungle, the already-gripping story takes a grisly turn: the three investigators have barely arrived in the lush, verdant wilderness when they discover a dead man--the assistant to JJ’s missing husband--dressed in traditional Mayan warrior garb with a poisonous frog crammed in his mouth.

And that’s just for starters: author Haven concocts a wild ride through the jungle that’s simultaneously fun, potentially fatal, and always entertaining.

Fans of cozy authors like CeeCee James, Hope Callaghan, and of course Janet Evanovich, will discover a new favorite series! Lee’s gang will also appeal to lovers of female PIs, especially those with lots of colorful friends and relatives, like Linda Barnes’ Carlotta Carlyle and Lisa Lutz’s Izzy Spellman. A near certainty: If you like THE SPELLMAN FILES, you’ll love the Alvarez family!

 

About Heather Haven

After studying drama at the University of Miami in Miami, Florida, Heather went to Manhattan to pursue a career. There she wrote short stories, novels, comedy acts, television treatments, ad copy, commercials, and two one-act plays, produced at several places, such as Playwrights Horizon. Once she even ghostwrote a book on how to run an employment agency. She was unemployed at the time.

One of her first paying jobs was writing a love story for a book published by Bantam called Moments of Love. She had a deadline of one week but promptly came down with the flu. Heather wrote "The Sands of Time" with a raging temperature, and delivered some pretty hot stuff because of it. Her stint at New York City’s No Soap Radio—where she wrote comedic ad copy—help develop her longtime love affair with comedy.

She has won many awards for the humorous Alvarez Family Murder Mysteries, Persephone Cole Vintage Mysteries, and Corliss and Other Award Winning Stories. However, her proudest achievement is winning the Independent Publisher Book Awards (IPPY) 2014 Silver Medal for her stand-alone noir mystery, Murder Under the Big Top.

As the real-life daughter of Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey circus folk, she was inspired by stories told throughout her childhood by her mother, a trapeze artist and performer. The book cover even has a picture of her mother sitting atop an elephant from that time. Her father trained elephants. Heather brings the daily existence of the Big Top to life during World War II, embellished by her own murderous imagination.

Author Links:  

Website: www:heatherhavenstories.com  

Blog - http://heatherhavenstories.com/blog/  

Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/HeatherHavenStories  

Twitter - https://www.twitter.com/Twitter@HeatherHaven  

Sign up for Heather’s newsletter at: http://heatherhavenstories.com/subscribe-via-email/  

Purchase Links - Amazon -

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Monday, September 13, 2021

An Eggnog to Die For - A Cover Reveal


A New Cape Cod Foodie Mystery

                     

Christmas is coming to Cape Cod

                             

but when Sam Barnes finds a very dead Santa in a very hip restaurant . . .

                             

it’s up to her to sift out suspects who have been naughty vs. nice….

                   

An Eggnog to Die For (A Cape Cod Foodie Mystery)
Cozy Mystery 2nd in Series
Publisher: ‎ Berkley (November 2, 2021)
Mass Market Paperback: ‎ 320 pages

Professional foodie Samantha Barnes has a simple Christmas list: a quiet holiday at home with her dog and a certain handsome harbormaster; no embarrassing viral videos; and no finding dead bodies. Unfortunately, she’s got family visiting, she’s spending a lot of time in front of the camera, and she’s just stumbled over the lifeless body of the town’s Santa Claus.

Plus, Sam’s plans for Christmas Eve are getting complicated. There’s the great eggnog debate among her very opinionated guests. There’s the “all edible” Christmas tree to decorate. And there’s her Feast of the Five Fishes prepare. Nonetheless, Sam finds herself once again in the role of sleuth. She needs to find out who slayed this Santa—but can she pull off a perfect feast and nab a killer?

You can Pre-Order Your Copy Today!

Amazon - B&N - Kobo - Google Play - IndieBound

Sunday, September 12, 2021

Read Herring Riddle - A Spotlight

Today I'd like to shine a spotlight on Read Herring Riddle by C. K. Fyfe.

Read Herring Riddle
By C. K. Fyfe

Blurb: 

For Laura, house-sitting at an old Victorian mansion seems the perfect job. However, little does she know that the house holds an abundance of secrets, including a mysterious book that’s much more than it seems. When the owners’ cat goes missing, Laura accepts help from an unlikely source to find the feline. But in doing so, has she crossed the line between fantasy and reality? 

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About the Author:

C.K. Fyfe has always enjoyed a good mystery. Fyfe's childhood love of Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys led to a grown-up love of writing cozy mysteries with quirky, funny, and kindhearted characters. Fyfe lives in "The Wolverine State." Much like wolverines, Fyfe's villains have vicious dispositions, but the clever sleuths know how to tame their foes' tempers. 

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 Links: 

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/C.K.-Fyfe/e/B09B1T1K6B/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0
BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/c-k-fyfe
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/21678089.C_K_Fyfe

Friday, September 10, 2021

The Murderess Must Die - A Review, Excerpt, & Giveaway

 Review

 
THE MURDERESS MUST DIE
By Marlie Parker Wasserman
 
Born in 1849 Martha Garretson Savacool Place knew loss and hardship and was no stranger to meanness. Told from her point of view, as well as those of others who played a part in her life, we bear witness to her abusive childhood, her first marriage, including the joyous birth of her son, and her disastrous second marriage which led to her being charged with the murder of her teenaged step-daughter. We learn details about the trial and its aftermath and ponder questions never raised. We also witness her end. In 1899 Martha Garretson Savacool Place became the first woman to be put to death in the electric chair. This is her story. 
 
While leading readers on a fascinating journey through the life and death of Martha Place the author was able to capture the attitudes of people long gone, bringing them to life once more. Readers see a hardscrabble life and a woman pushed too far. Even though you know what happens in the end, you can't help but be caught up in the trial and the appeals process. Perhaps hoping, as Martha may have done, for a different outcome.
 
Rather than basing details on the sensational, and often contradictory, journalism of the time or the dry court records THE MURDERESS MUST DIE gives Martha Place a voice. By allowing her to speak and give her own perception of events, we're given another view of the woman. Other important people in her life are given the opportunity to speak as well, recounting their thoughts, so that, combined with Martha's, we get a more unbiased view of the circumstances surrounding her life and death. Martha is not a very likable person, yet you cannot help but feel for her and admire her determination and grit.
 
Well researched and eminently readable THE MURDERESS MUST DIE is an engrossing tale of a woman determined to make a better life for herself, no matter the cost. Sadly, the cost was her very life.
 
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The Murderess Must Die by Marlie Wasserman Banner

The Murderess Must Die

by Marlie Parker Wasserman

August 16 - September 10, 2021 Tour

Synopsis:

The Murderess Must Die by Marlie Wasserman

On a winter day in 1898, hundreds of spectators gather at a Brooklyn courthouse, scrambling for a view of the woman they label a murderess. Martha Place has been charged with throwing acid in her stepdaughter’s face, hitting her with an axe, suffocating her with a pillow, then trying to kill her husband with the same axe. The crowd will not know for another year that the alleged murderess becomes the first woman in the world to be executed in the electric chair. None of her eight lawyers can save her from a guilty verdict and the governor of New York, Theodore Roosevelt, refuses to grant her clemency.

Was Martha Place a wicked stepmother, an abused wife, or an insane killer? Was her stepdaughter a tragic victim? Why would a well-dressed woman, living with an upstanding husband, in a respectable neighborhood, turn violent? Since the crime made the headlines, we have heard only from those who abused and condemned Martha Place.

Speaking from the grave she tells her own story, in her own words. Her memory of the crime is incomplete, but one of her lawyers fills in the gaps. At the juncture of true crime and fiction, The Murderess Must Die is based on an actual crime. What was reported, though, was only half the story.

Praise for The Murderess Must Die:

A true crime story. But in this case, the crime resides in the punishment. Martha Place was the first woman to die in the electric chair: Sing Sing, March 20, 1899. In this gorgeously written narrative, told in the first-person by Martha and by those who played a part in her life, Marlie Parker Wasserman shows us the (appalling) facts of fin-de-siècle justice. More, she lets us into the mind of Martha Place, and finally, into the heart. Beautifully observed period detail and astute psychological acuity combine to tell us Martha's story, at once dark and illuminating. The Murderess Must Die accomplishes that rare feat: it entertains, even as it haunts.
Howard A. Rodman, author of The Great Eastern

The first woman to be executed by electric chair in 1899, Martha Place, speaks to us in Wasserman's poignant debut novel. The narrative travels the course of Place's life describing her desperation in a time when there were few opportunities for women to make a living. Tracing events before and after the murder of her step-daughter Ida, in lean, straightforward prose, it delivers a compelling feminist message: could an entirely male justice system possibly realize the frightful trauma of this woman's life? This true-crime novel does more--it transcends the painful retelling of Place's life to expand our conception of the death penalty. Although convicted of a heinous crime, Place's personal tragedies and pitiful end are inextricably intertwined.
Nev March, author of Edgar-nominated Murder in Old Bombay

The Murderess Must Die would be a fascinating read even without its central elements of crime and punishment. Marlie Parker Wasserman gets inside the heads of a wide cast of late nineteenth century Americans and lets them tell their stories in their own words. It’s another world, both alien and similar to ours. You can almost hear the bells of the streetcars.
Edward Zuckerman, author of Small Fortunes and The Day After World War Three, Emmy-winning writer-producer of Law & Order

This is by far the best book I have read in 2021! Based on a true story, I had never heard of Mattie Place prior to reading this book. I loved all of the varying voices telling in the exact same story. It was unique and fresh and so wonderfully deep. I had a very hard time putting the book down until I was finished!
It isn't often that an author makes me feel for the murderess but I did. I connected deeply with all of the people in this book, and I do believe it will stay with me for a very long time.
This is a fictionalized version of the murder of Ida Place but it read as if the author Marlie Parker Wasserman was a bystander to the actual events. I very highly recommend this book.
Jill, InkyReviews

Book Details:

Genre: Historical Crime Fiction
Published by: Level Best Books
Publication Date: July 6, 2021
Number of Pages: 250
ISBN: 978-1953789877
Purchase Links: Amazon | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

Mattie

Martha Garretson, that’s the name I was born with, but the district attorney called me Martha Place in the murder charge. I was foolish enough to marry Mr. William Place. And before that I was dumb enough to marry another man, Wesley Savacool. So, my name is Martha Garretson Savacool Place. Friends call me Mattie. No, I guess that’s not right. I don’t have many friends, but my family, the ones I have left, they call me Mattie. I’ll tell you more before we go on. The charge was not just murder. That D.A. charged me with murder in the first degree, and he threw in assault, and a third crime, a ridiculous one, attempted suicide. In the end he decided to aim at just murder in the first. That was enough for him.

I had no plans to tell you my story. I wasn’t one of those story tellers. That changed in February 1898, soon after my alleged crimes, when I met Miss Emilie Meury. The guards called her the prison angel. She’s a missionary from the Brooklyn Auxiliary Mission Society. Spends her days at the jail where the police locked me up for five months before Sing Sing. I never thought I’d talk to a missionary lady. I didn’t take kindly to religion. But Miss Meury, she turned into a good friend and a good listener. She never snickered at me. Just nodded or asked a question or two, not like those doctors I talked to later. They asked a hundred questions. No, Miss Meury just let me go wherever I wanted, with my recollections. Because of Miss Meury, now I know how to tell my story. I talked to her for thirteen months, until the day the state of New York set to electrocute me.

We talked about the farm, that damn farm. Don’t fret, I knew enough not to say damn to Emilie Meury. She never saw a farm. She didn’t know much about New Jersey, and nothing about my village, East Millstone. I told her how Pa ruined the farm. Sixty acres, only thirty in crop, one ramshackle house with two rooms down and two rooms up. And a smokehouse, a springhouse, a root cellar, a chicken coop, and a corn crib, all run down, falling down. The barn was the best of the lot, but it leaned over to the west.

They tell me I had three baby brothers who died before I was born, two on the same day. Ma and Pa hardly talked about that, but the neighbors remembered, and they talked. For years that left just my brother Garret, well, that left Garret for a while anyway, and my sister Ellen. Then I was born, then Matilda—family called her Tillie—then Peter, then Eliza, then Garret died in the

war, then Eliza died. By the time I moved to Brooklyn, only my brother Peter and my sister Ellen were alive. Peter is the only one the police talk to these days.

The farmers nearby and some of our kin reckoned that my Ma and Pa, Isaac and Penelope Garretson were their names, they bore the blame for my three little brothers dying in just two years. Isaac and Penelope were so mean, that’s what they deserved. I don’t reckon their meanness caused the little ones to die. I was a middle child with five before me and three after, and I saw meanness all around, every day. I never blamed anything on meanness. Not even what happened to me.

On the farm there was always work to be done, a lot of it by me. Maybe Ma and Pa spread out the work even, but I never thought so. By the time I was nine, that was in 1858, I knew what I had to do. In the spring I hiked up my skirt to plow. In the fall I sharpened the knives for butchering. In the winter I chopped firewood after Pa or Garret, he was the oldest, sawed the heaviest logs. Every morning I milked and hauled water from the well. On Thursdays I churned. On Mondays I scrubbed. Pa, and Ma too, they were busy with work, but they always had time to yell when I messed up. I was two years younger than Ellen, she’s my sister, still alive, I think. I was taller and stronger. Ellen had a bent for sewing and darning, so lots of time she sat in the parlor with handiwork. I didn’t think the parlor looked shabby. Now that I’ve seen fancy houses, I remember the scratched and frayed chairs in the farmhouse and the rough plank floor, no carpets. While Ellen sewed in the parlor, I plowed the fields, sweating behind the horses. I sewed too, but everyone knew Ellen was better. I took care with all my chores. Had to sew a straight seam. Had to plow a straight line. If I messed up, Pa’s wrath came down on me, or sometimes Ma’s. Fists or worse.

When I told that story for the first time to Miss Emilie Meury, she lowered her head, looked at the Bible she always held. And when I told it to others, they looked away too.

On the farm Ma needed me and Ellen to watch over our sisters, Tillie and Eliza, and over our brother Peter. They were born after me. Just another chore, that’s what Ellen thought about watching the young ones. For me, I liked watching them, and not just because I needed a rest from farm work. I loved Peter. He was four years younger. He’s not that sharp but he’s a good-natured, kind. I loved the girls too. Tillie, the level-headed and sweet one, and Eliza, the restless one, maybe wild even. The four of us played house. I was the ma and Peter, he stretched his

back and neck to be pa. I laughed at him, in a kindly way. He and me, we ordered Tillie and Eliza around. We played school and I pranced around as schoolmarm.

But Ma and Pa judged, they judged every move. They left the younger ones alone and paid no heed to Ellen. She looked so sour. We called her sourpuss. Garret and me, we made enough mistakes to keep Ma and Pa busy all year. I remember what I said once to Ma, when she saw the messy kitchen and started in on me.

“Why don’t you whup Ellen? She didn’t wash up either.”

“Don’t need to give a reason.”

“Why don’t you whup Garret. He made the mess.”

“You heard me. Don’t need to give a reason.”

Then she threw a dish. Hit my head. I had a bump, and more to clean.

With Pa the hurt lasted longer. Here’s what I remember. “Over there.” That’s what he said, pointing. He saw the uneven lines my plow made. When I told this story to Miss Meury, I pointed, with a mean finger, to give her the idea.

I spent that night locked in the smelly chicken coop.

When I tell about the coop, I usually tell about the cemetery next, because that’s a different kind of hurt. Every December, from the time I was little to the time I left the farm, us Garretsons took the wagon or the sleigh for our yearly visit to the cemetery, first to visit Stephen, Cornelius, and Abraham. They died long before. They were ghosts to me. I remembered the gloom of the cemetery, and the silence. The whole family stood around those graves, but I never heard a cry. Even Ma stayed quiet. I told the story, just like this, to Miss Meury. But I told it again, later, to those men who came to the prison to check my sanity.

Penelope Wykoff Garretson

I was born a Wyckoff, Penelope Wyckoff, and I felt that in my bones, even when the other farm folks called me Ma Garretson. As a Wyckoff, one of the prettiest of the Wyckoffs I’m not shy to say, I lived better than lots of the villagers in central New Jersey, certainly better than the Garretsons. I had five years of schooling and new dresses for the dances each year. I can’t remember what I saw in Isaac Garretson when we married on February 5, 1841. We slept together that night. I birthed Stephen nine months later. Then comes the sing-song litany. When I was still nursing Stephen, Garret was born. And while I was still nursing Garret, the twins were born. Then the twins died and I had only Stephen and Garret. Then Stephen died and I had no one but Garret until Ellen was born. Then Martha. Some call her Mattie. Then Peter. Then Matilda. Some call her Tillie. Then Eliza. Then Garret died. Then Eliza died. Were there more births than deaths or deaths than births?

During the worst of the birthing and the burying, Isaac got real bad. He always had a temper, I knew that, but it got worse. Maybe because the farm was failing, or almost failing. The banks in New Brunswick—that was the nearby town—wouldn’t lend him money. Those bankers knew him, knew he was a risk. Then the gambling started. Horse racing. It’s a miracle he didn’t lose the farm at the track. I didn’t tell anyone, not even my sisters, about the gambling, and I certainly didn’t tell them that the bed didn’t help any. No time for shagging. Isaac pulled me to him at the end of a day. The bed was always cold because he never cut enough firewood. I rolled away most days, not all. Knew it couldn’t be all. So tired. There were no strapping boys to

help with the farm, no girls either for a while.

As Garret grew tall and Ellen and Mattie grew some, I sent the children to the schoolhouse. It wasn’t much of a school, just a one-room unpainted cottage shared with the post office, with that awful Mr. Washburn in charge. It was what we had. Isaac thought school was no use and kept Garret and the girls back as much as he could, especially in the spring. He needed them for the farm and the truth was I could use them for housework and milking and such too. Garret didn’t mind skipping school. He was fine with farm work, but Ellen and Mattie fussed and attended more days than Garret did. I worried that Garret struggled to read and write, while the girls managed pretty well. Ellen and Mattie read when there was a need and Mattie was good with her numbers. At age nine she was already helping Isaac with his messy ledgers.

I was no fool—I knew what went on in that school. The few times I went to pull out Garret midday for plowing, that teacher, that Mr. Washburn, looked uneasy when I entered the room. He stood straight as a ramrod, looking at me, grimacing. His fingernails were clean and his collar was starched. I reckon he saw that my fingernails were filthy and my muslin dress was soiled. Washburn didn’t remember that my children, the Garretson children, were Wyckoffs just as much as they were Garretsons. He saw their threadbare clothes and treated them like dirt. Had Garret chop wood and the girls haul water, while those stuck-up Neilson girls, always with those silly smiles on their faces, sat around in their pretty dresses, snickering at the others. First, I didn’t think the snickering bothered anyone except me. Then I saw Ellen and Mattie fussing with their clothes before school, pulling the fabric around their frayed elbows to the inside, and I knew they felt bad.

I wanted to raise my children, at least my daughters, like Wyckoffs. With Isaac thinking he was in charge, that wasn’t going to happen. At least the girls knew the difference, knew there was something better than this miserable farm. But me, Ma Garretson they called me, I was stuck.

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Excerpt from The Murderess Must Die by Marlie Wasserman. Copyright 2021 by Marlie Wasserman. Reproduced with permission from Marlie Wasserman. All rights reserved.

 

 

Author Bio:

Marlie Wasserman

Marlie Parker Wasserman writes historical crime fiction, after a career on the other side of the desk in publishing. The Murderess Must Die is her debut novel. She reviews regularly for The Historical Novel Review and is at work on a new novel about a mysterious and deadly 1899 fire in a luxury hotel in Manhattan.

Catch Up With Marlie Wasserman:
www.MarlieWasserman.com
Instagram - @marliepwasserman
Twitter - @MarlieWasserman
Facebook - @marlie.wasserman

 

 

Tour Participants:

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This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Marlie Parker Wasserman. There will be 1 winner of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card (U.S. ONLY). The giveaway runs from August 16th until September 12, 2021. Void where prohibited.

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Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Currently Reading...

I just finished reading The Murderess Must Die by Marlie Parker Wasserman. 

Born in 1849 Martha Garretson Savacool Place knew loss and hardship and was no stranger to meanness. Told from her point of view, as well as those of others who played a part in her life, we bear witness to her abusive childhood, her first marriage, including the joyous birth of her son, and her disastrous second marriage which led to her being charged with the murder of her teenaged step-daughter. We learn details about the trial and its aftermath and ponder questions never raised. We also witness her end. In 1899 Martha Garretson Savacool Place became the first woman to be put to death in the electric chair. This is her story.


Tuesday, September 7, 2021

The Murderess Must Die - An Interview, Excerpt, & Giveaway

I'm pleased to welcome Marlie Parker Wasserman to Cozy Up With Kathy today. THE MURDERESS MUST DIE is Marlie's first novel. Be sure to stop back on Friday when I'll share my review.

Kathy: THE MURDERESS MUST DIE tells the story of Martha Place, the first woman to be executed in the electric chair. How did you come to learn about Martha?

MPW: By happenstance I learned about Martha Place and her fate in a March 1899 edition of a New York newspaper. For my work on a different project that involved Theodore Roosevelt, I needed to read countless accounts of his activities, not anticipating I would find the germ of a new project. When I came across an article that said Roosevelt, then governor of NY, refused to grant clemency to the first woman likely to die in the electric chair, for a murder committed in Brooklyn, I was hooked. OK, readers, so now you know that he didn’t spare her.


Kathy: Why did you decide to tell her story?

MPW: At first I researched the case simply because the details fascinated me. Why would Martha Place murder her teenaged stepdaughter? The more I read, the more confused I became about the killer’s motivations. I also saw that reporters were cruel to Martha Place, calling her “underbred,” saying she resembled a rat. Even if she did commit the crime, I thought, she should have been treated with more respect. Once I learned that she had seven lawyers in succession, not good for any defense strategy, I decided to turn the spotlight on her in a novel.


Kathy: Your book sits at the junction of true crime and crime fiction. Why choose this route, instead of straight nonfiction?

MPW: I love beginning with a historic event, in this case a true crime. Then I try to stay honest to the outline of the crime, but turn my attention to the gaps, the silences you might say, in the written record. For me, this provides both a structure and spaces for creativity. When a seemingly infinite number of events and characters are possible, I spend too much time floundering about in my writing, but when some facts are known and some are not, I can channel my energy into the unknown buckets. Think of it as an algebra problem, with knowns and unknowns.


Kathy: What first drew you to cozy historical crime fiction?

MPW: To be honest, this book has only a limited number of cozy features. I included no pets, no recipes, and no small town. On the other hand, we have only one violent murder, and even with that I leave much to the imagination. We have a minimum of foul language, and what I included was very intentional to help explain the motivations of characters. As for sex, I did write about two different relationships, but my descriptions are more suggestive than explicit. I would say that I have cozy-like elements, but largely because I believe for violence, language, and sex, a few details are sufficient to set the stage.


Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?

MPW: No. I am a devotee of historic crime fiction. But I read across genres, skipping only fantasy and sci fi. I believe life is strange enough without adding in extraterrestrial creatures.


Kathy: Tell us about your series.

MPW: Many authors start with a debut novel and then that becomes book one in a series. But, alas, my character dies in Sing Sing prison (that is not a spoiler because readers know that from page one) so I can’t have her making an appearance in book two. To be honest, I am a fan of stand alones. Each new book forces me to learn about additional people and settings. I do, however, set all my work in the United States, in the period between 1898 and 1906—a time of rapid technological change and social unrest.


Kathy: Do you have a favorite character? If so, who and why?

MPW: I love all my darlings. Let me single out, for lovers of cozies, Aunt Evelyn. Most of the characters in my book are historic figures, but Aunt Evelyn is a figment of my imagination. She is a wealthy and self-righteous character who tries her best to add culture and refinement to the life of her poor niece, Martha Place. Aunt Evelyn acts in good faith, even though today many readers would view her as patronizing. She serves tea from time to time, but when she loses faith in her niece, she holds back refreshments.


Kathy: Did you have a specific inspiration for your books?

MPW: I love the period in the United States from about 1890 to the start of World War I. People began to use, or to see others use, telegrams, telephones, electric lighting, and automobiles. In the same period, the electric chair came into widespread use, though that particular invention has its critics and its advocates.


Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?

MPW: I wanted to set the record straight, as least as I imagine the record. Yes, poor Ida Place should have lived a long and fulfilling life. She did nothing to deserve murder. And Martha Place, assuming she committed the crime, deserved punishment, though we can argue with each other about whether that should have been death. But Martha deserved to be treated as a human being. Her father should have treated her with respect, her husbands should have cared for her well-being, and the reporters who covered her crime should have avoided editorializing about her appearance, background, and morals.


Kathy: If you could have a dinner party and invite 4 authors, living or dead, in any genre, who would you invite?

MPW: Eric Larsen, Louise Penny, Maggie O’Farrell, Candice Millard. All superstars.


Kathy: What are you currently reading?

MPW: Louise Erdrich, THE NIGHT WATCHMAN. Her books are superb.


Kathy: Will you share any of your hobbies or interests with us?

MPW: Oh, yes, but I will struggle to keep this short. Above all, I love travel. I am a tourist at heart. For my bucket list, I want to visit every national park before I die. The total number—counting just national parks, not national monuments and not national historic parts--is 63. I’ve visited 39 so far. I also love to sketch and paint but writing leaves me little time for that.


Kathy: Name 4 items you always have in your fridge or pantry.

MPW: Chocolate, coffee, almonds, popcorn—in that order.


Kathy: Do you have plans for future books?

MPW: I am writing a novel about the Windsor Hotel fire in Manhattan, 1899. The hotel burned to the ground, resulting in about fifty deaths. The coroner ruled the fire an accident. Hmmm.


Kathy: What's your favorite thing about being an author?

MPW: Writing is a puzzle. I love trying to fit the pieces together. As a side note, it is a portable activity that I can carry with me when I travel.

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

The Murderess Must Die by Marlie Wasserman Banner

The Murderess Must Die

by Marlie Parker Wasserman

August 16 - September 10, 2021 Tour

Synopsis:

The Murderess Must Die by Marlie Wasserman

On a winter day in 1898, hundreds of spectators gather at a Brooklyn courthouse, scrambling for a view of the woman they label a murderess. Martha Place has been charged with throwing acid in her stepdaughter’s face, hitting her with an axe, suffocating her with a pillow, then trying to kill her husband with the same axe. The crowd will not know for another year that the alleged murderess becomes the first woman in the world to be executed in the electric chair. None of her eight lawyers can save her from a guilty verdict and the governor of New York, Theodore Roosevelt, refuses to grant her clemency.

Was Martha Place a wicked stepmother, an abused wife, or an insane killer? Was her stepdaughter a tragic victim? Why would a well-dressed woman, living with an upstanding husband, in a respectable neighborhood, turn violent? Since the crime made the headlines, we have heard only from those who abused and condemned Martha Place.

Speaking from the grave she tells her own story, in her own words. Her memory of the crime is incomplete, but one of her lawyers fills in the gaps. At the juncture of true crime and fiction, The Murderess Must Die is based on an actual crime. What was reported, though, was only half the story.

Praise for The Murderess Must Die:

A true crime story. But in this case, the crime resides in the punishment. Martha Place was the first woman to die in the electric chair: Sing Sing, March 20, 1899. In this gorgeously written narrative, told in the first-person by Martha and by those who played a part in her life, Marlie Parker Wasserman shows us the (appalling) facts of fin-de-siècle justice. More, she lets us into the mind of Martha Place, and finally, into the heart. Beautifully observed period detail and astute psychological acuity combine to tell us Martha's story, at once dark and illuminating. The Murderess Must Die accomplishes that rare feat: it entertains, even as it haunts.
Howard A. Rodman, author of The Great Eastern

The first woman to be executed by electric chair in 1899, Martha Place, speaks to us in Wasserman's poignant debut novel. The narrative travels the course of Place's life describing her desperation in a time when there were few opportunities for women to make a living. Tracing events before and after the murder of her step-daughter Ida, in lean, straightforward prose, it delivers a compelling feminist message: could an entirely male justice system possibly realize the frightful trauma of this woman's life? This true-crime novel does more--it transcends the painful retelling of Place's life to expand our conception of the death penalty. Although convicted of a heinous crime, Place's personal tragedies and pitiful end are inextricably intertwined.
Nev March, author of Edgar-nominated Murder in Old Bombay

The Murderess Must Die would be a fascinating read even without its central elements of crime and punishment. Marlie Parker Wasserman gets inside the heads of a wide cast of late nineteenth century Americans and lets them tell their stories in their own words. It’s another world, both alien and similar to ours. You can almost hear the bells of the streetcars.
Edward Zuckerman, author of Small Fortunes and The Day After World War Three, Emmy-winning writer-producer of Law & Order

This is by far the best book I have read in 2021! Based on a true story, I had never heard of Mattie Place prior to reading this book. I loved all of the varying voices telling in the exact same story. It was unique and fresh and so wonderfully deep. I had a very hard time putting the book down until I was finished!
It isn't often that an author makes me feel for the murderess but I did. I connected deeply with all of the people in this book, and I do believe it will stay with me for a very long time.
This is a fictionalized version of the murder of Ida Place but it read as if the author Marlie Parker Wasserman was a bystander to the actual events. I very highly recommend this book.
Jill, InkyReviews

Book Details:

Genre: Historical Crime Fiction
Published by: Level Best Books
Publication Date: July 6, 2021
Number of Pages: 250
ISBN: 978-1953789877
Purchase Links: Amazon | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

Mattie

Martha Garretson, that’s the name I was born with, but the district attorney called me Martha Place in the murder charge. I was foolish enough to marry Mr. William Place. And before that I was dumb enough to marry another man, Wesley Savacool. So, my name is Martha Garretson Savacool Place. Friends call me Mattie. No, I guess that’s not right. I don’t have many friends, but my family, the ones I have left, they call me Mattie. I’ll tell you more before we go on. The charge was not just murder. That D.A. charged me with murder in the first degree, and he threw in assault, and a third crime, a ridiculous one, attempted suicide. In the end he decided to aim at just murder in the first. That was enough for him.

I had no plans to tell you my story. I wasn’t one of those story tellers. That changed in February 1898, soon after my alleged crimes, when I met Miss Emilie Meury. The guards called her the prison angel. She’s a missionary from the Brooklyn Auxiliary Mission Society. Spends her days at the jail where the police locked me up for five months before Sing Sing. I never thought I’d talk to a missionary lady. I didn’t take kindly to religion. But Miss Meury, she turned into a good friend and a good listener. She never snickered at me. Just nodded or asked a question or two, not like those doctors I talked to later. They asked a hundred questions. No, Miss Meury just let me go wherever I wanted, with my recollections. Because of Miss Meury, now I know how to tell my story. I talked to her for thirteen months, until the day the state of New York set to electrocute me.

We talked about the farm, that damn farm. Don’t fret, I knew enough not to say damn to Emilie Meury. She never saw a farm. She didn’t know much about New Jersey, and nothing about my village, East Millstone. I told her how Pa ruined the farm. Sixty acres, only thirty in crop, one ramshackle house with two rooms down and two rooms up. And a smokehouse, a springhouse, a root cellar, a chicken coop, and a corn crib, all run down, falling down. The barn was the best of the lot, but it leaned over to the west.

They tell me I had three baby brothers who died before I was born, two on the same day. Ma and Pa hardly talked about that, but the neighbors remembered, and they talked. For years that left just my brother Garret, well, that left Garret for a while anyway, and my sister Ellen. Then I was born, then Matilda—family called her Tillie—then Peter, then Eliza, then Garret died in the

war, then Eliza died. By the time I moved to Brooklyn, only my brother Peter and my sister Ellen were alive. Peter is the only one the police talk to these days.

The farmers nearby and some of our kin reckoned that my Ma and Pa, Isaac and Penelope Garretson were their names, they bore the blame for my three little brothers dying in just two years. Isaac and Penelope were so mean, that’s what they deserved. I don’t reckon their meanness caused the little ones to die. I was a middle child with five before me and three after, and I saw meanness all around, every day. I never blamed anything on meanness. Not even what happened to me.

On the farm there was always work to be done, a lot of it by me. Maybe Ma and Pa spread out the work even, but I never thought so. By the time I was nine, that was in 1858, I knew what I had to do. In the spring I hiked up my skirt to plow. In the fall I sharpened the knives for butchering. In the winter I chopped firewood after Pa or Garret, he was the oldest, sawed the heaviest logs. Every morning I milked and hauled water from the well. On Thursdays I churned. On Mondays I scrubbed. Pa, and Ma too, they were busy with work, but they always had time to yell when I messed up. I was two years younger than Ellen, she’s my sister, still alive, I think. I was taller and stronger. Ellen had a bent for sewing and darning, so lots of time she sat in the parlor with handiwork. I didn’t think the parlor looked shabby. Now that I’ve seen fancy houses, I remember the scratched and frayed chairs in the farmhouse and the rough plank floor, no carpets. While Ellen sewed in the parlor, I plowed the fields, sweating behind the horses. I sewed too, but everyone knew Ellen was better. I took care with all my chores. Had to sew a straight seam. Had to plow a straight line. If I messed up, Pa’s wrath came down on me, or sometimes Ma’s. Fists or worse.

When I told that story for the first time to Miss Emilie Meury, she lowered her head, looked at the Bible she always held. And when I told it to others, they looked away too.

On the farm Ma needed me and Ellen to watch over our sisters, Tillie and Eliza, and over our brother Peter. They were born after me. Just another chore, that’s what Ellen thought about watching the young ones. For me, I liked watching them, and not just because I needed a rest from farm work. I loved Peter. He was four years younger. He’s not that sharp but he’s a good-natured, kind. I loved the girls too. Tillie, the level-headed and sweet one, and Eliza, the restless one, maybe wild even. The four of us played house. I was the ma and Peter, he stretched his

back and neck to be pa. I laughed at him, in a kindly way. He and me, we ordered Tillie and Eliza around. We played school and I pranced around as schoolmarm.

But Ma and Pa judged, they judged every move. They left the younger ones alone and paid no heed to Ellen. She looked so sour. We called her sourpuss. Garret and me, we made enough mistakes to keep Ma and Pa busy all year. I remember what I said once to Ma, when she saw the messy kitchen and started in on me.

“Why don’t you whup Ellen? She didn’t wash up either.”

“Don’t need to give a reason.”

“Why don’t you whup Garret. He made the mess.”

“You heard me. Don’t need to give a reason.”

Then she threw a dish. Hit my head. I had a bump, and more to clean.

With Pa the hurt lasted longer. Here’s what I remember. “Over there.” That’s what he said, pointing. He saw the uneven lines my plow made. When I told this story to Miss Meury, I pointed, with a mean finger, to give her the idea.

I spent that night locked in the smelly chicken coop.

When I tell about the coop, I usually tell about the cemetery next, because that’s a different kind of hurt. Every December, from the time I was little to the time I left the farm, us Garretsons took the wagon or the sleigh for our yearly visit to the cemetery, first to visit Stephen, Cornelius, and Abraham. They died long before. They were ghosts to me. I remembered the gloom of the cemetery, and the silence. The whole family stood around those graves, but I never heard a cry. Even Ma stayed quiet. I told the story, just like this, to Miss Meury. But I told it again, later, to those men who came to the prison to check my sanity.

Penelope Wykoff Garretson

I was born a Wyckoff, Penelope Wyckoff, and I felt that in my bones, even when the other farm folks called me Ma Garretson. As a Wyckoff, one of the prettiest of the Wyckoffs I’m not shy to say, I lived better than lots of the villagers in central New Jersey, certainly better than the Garretsons. I had five years of schooling and new dresses for the dances each year. I can’t remember what I saw in Isaac Garretson when we married on February 5, 1841. We slept together that night. I birthed Stephen nine months later. Then comes the sing-song litany. When I was still nursing Stephen, Garret was born. And while I was still nursing Garret, the twins were born. Then the twins died and I had only Stephen and Garret. Then Stephen died and I had no one but Garret until Ellen was born. Then Martha. Some call her Mattie. Then Peter. Then Matilda. Some call her Tillie. Then Eliza. Then Garret died. Then Eliza died. Were there more births than deaths or deaths than births?

During the worst of the birthing and the burying, Isaac got real bad. He always had a temper, I knew that, but it got worse. Maybe because the farm was failing, or almost failing. The banks in New Brunswick—that was the nearby town—wouldn’t lend him money. Those bankers knew him, knew he was a risk. Then the gambling started. Horse racing. It’s a miracle he didn’t lose the farm at the track. I didn’t tell anyone, not even my sisters, about the gambling, and I certainly didn’t tell them that the bed didn’t help any. No time for shagging. Isaac pulled me to him at the end of a day. The bed was always cold because he never cut enough firewood. I rolled away most days, not all. Knew it couldn’t be all. So tired. There were no strapping boys to

help with the farm, no girls either for a while.

As Garret grew tall and Ellen and Mattie grew some, I sent the children to the schoolhouse. It wasn’t much of a school, just a one-room unpainted cottage shared with the post office, with that awful Mr. Washburn in charge. It was what we had. Isaac thought school was no use and kept Garret and the girls back as much as he could, especially in the spring. He needed them for the farm and the truth was I could use them for housework and milking and such too. Garret didn’t mind skipping school. He was fine with farm work, but Ellen and Mattie fussed and attended more days than Garret did. I worried that Garret struggled to read and write, while the girls managed pretty well. Ellen and Mattie read when there was a need and Mattie was good with her numbers. At age nine she was already helping Isaac with his messy ledgers.

I was no fool—I knew what went on in that school. The few times I went to pull out Garret midday for plowing, that teacher, that Mr. Washburn, looked uneasy when I entered the room. He stood straight as a ramrod, looking at me, grimacing. His fingernails were clean and his collar was starched. I reckon he saw that my fingernails were filthy and my muslin dress was soiled. Washburn didn’t remember that my children, the Garretson children, were Wyckoffs just as much as they were Garretsons. He saw their threadbare clothes and treated them like dirt. Had Garret chop wood and the girls haul water, while those stuck-up Neilson girls, always with those silly smiles on their faces, sat around in their pretty dresses, snickering at the others. First, I didn’t think the snickering bothered anyone except me. Then I saw Ellen and Mattie fussing with their clothes before school, pulling the fabric around their frayed elbows to the inside, and I knew they felt bad.

I wanted to raise my children, at least my daughters, like Wyckoffs. With Isaac thinking he was in charge, that wasn’t going to happen. At least the girls knew the difference, knew there was something better than this miserable farm. But me, Ma Garretson they called me, I was stuck.

***

Excerpt from The Murderess Must Die by Marlie Wasserman. Copyright 2021 by Marlie Wasserman. Reproduced with permission from Marlie Wasserman. All rights reserved.

 

 

Author Bio:

Marlie Wasserman

Marlie Parker Wasserman writes historical crime fiction, after a career on the other side of the desk in publishing. The Murderess Must Die is her debut novel. She reviews regularly for The Historical Novel Review and is at work on a new novel about a mysterious and deadly 1899 fire in a luxury hotel in Manhattan.

Catch Up With Marlie Wasserman:
www.MarlieWasserman.com
Instagram - @marliepwasserman
Twitter - @MarlieWasserman
Facebook - @marlie.wasserman

 

 

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