Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Death and the Conjuror - An Interview Excerpt, & Giveaway

I'm pleased to welcome Tom Mead to Cozy Up With Kathy today. Tom writes the Joseph Spector Locked Room Mystery series. DEATH AND THE CONJUROR is the first book in the series and will be released next week.

Kathy: DEATH AND THE CONJUROR is set in 1930s London. Why did you decide to set your mystery in that particular time and place?

TM: Well, I’m obsessed with Golden Age Detective fiction (GAD). I love all the greats who rose to prominence during the 1920s, ‘30s and ‘40s. I’m thinking specifically of Agatha Christie, Ellery Queen, Christianna Brand, and a whole host of others. Some have remained big names into the 21st century, but some have been unjustly forgotten. So Death and the Conjuror is my tribute to the genre and the writers I love. It made sense to embrace the historical period which produced so many of my all-time heroes. And I love London- particularly theatreland- so it was an excuse for me to delve into the history and the culture of that fabulous city, too.

Kathy: Joseph Spector is a retired stage magician and part time sleuth. Have you ever attempted any sleight of hand? Do you enjoy watching magicians and illusionists?

TM: I’m fascinated with magic. And yes, I’ve tried to teach myself a few tricks. But the aspect that interests me the most is misdirection. I’ve read several books about the psychology behind successful stage illusion, and I think there are plenty of parallels between a good magic show and a good mystery novel. In both instances, the name of the game is to ensure the audience is looking in the wrong direction while the trick is being worked. So it made perfect sense to me to write a mystery dealing with the concept of illusion as its central theme. There are plenty of magicians who’ve turned their hand to writing mysteries, including Clayton Rawson who wrote the brilliant Merlini mysteries; Henning Nelms, who wrote two bona fide masterpieces in RIM OF THE PIT and THE HANGMAN'S HANDYMAN, which he published under the pseudonym Hake Talbot; all the way to Andrew Mayne, whose ANGEL KILLER is a magic-infused thriller from 2014.

Kathy: DEATH AND THE CONJUROR is described as a tribute to the golden age whodunnit novel. What do you like best about these mysteries?

TM: They have an atmosphere, a wit and a level of psychological insight that’s second to none. But most of all I love the puzzles. At the height of the golden age, writers really did set out to challenge their readers, just as a magician defies their audience to spot how the trick was done.

Kathy: Who is your favorite author from the golden age of detective fiction?

TM: There are many that I love, including the aforementioned Agatha Christie, Christianna Brand and Ellery Queen, but the one who stands head and shoulders above the rest for me is John Dickson Carr. He produced a string of dazzling, kaleidoscopic masterpieces throughout the ‘30s and ‘40s. He took the locked-room mystery to new heights.

Kathy: What first drew you to locked room mysteries?

TM: For me, it was the impact of seeing the solution fall into place. There’s something so satisfying about reaching the end of a really well-crafted locked-room mystery and seeing all the little inconsistencies explained, and an apparently impossible problem explained with logic. When it’s done right, it packs a punch like nothing else.
 

Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?

TM: I’ve written a range of thriller and horror fiction outside of the mystery genre, and I’m also an active ghostwriter. To date I’ve completed nine romance novels. (Don’t go looking for them, though, they are published under a pseudonym!)


Kathy: Tell us about your book.

TM: DEATH AND THE CONJUROR is a locked-room mystery in the golden age tradition of Christie, Carr and Queen. It’s about retired music hall conjuror Joseph Spector, who is called in by Scotland Yard to assist in solving three apparently impossible crimes: two murders and a stolen painting. It’s set in 1930s London, and features a coterie of unorthodox characters- all of whom have something to hide. This is the first book in a series featuring the characters of Spector and Flint.

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

TM: Spector is my series detective, and I love writing about him. Like me, he’s fascinated with magic (of course), and he has a taste for the macabre. Not to mention a somewhat dark sense of humour, which puts in an appearance from time to time. But he embodies a kind of paradox in that he thrives on illusion and impossibilities, yet he perceives everything with a sharply logical eye.

More generally speaking, I love Hercule Poirot, Dr. Gideon Fell and Sir Henry Merrivale. You’ve most likely heard of Poirot, but if you’re not familiar with the others I can tell you they’re John Dickson Carr’s two longest running series characters. Like Spector, they are amateur sleuths with a knack for untangling complex puzzles.

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

TM: It’s more a distillation of several inspirations. As mentioned before, the book is a conscious tribute to John Dickson Carr, as well as Christie, Queen, and the other legends of the golden age. But I had a lot of fun coming up with the other characters, and devising the tricks. Anselm Rees, one of the main characters, is modelled on Sigmund Freud, while the stolen painting which is a key focus point of the plot is based on a work by Goya. Essentially, my inspiration came from wanting to give readers the same sense of enjoyment and satisfaction that I myself got when I first read all those great classic mysteries.

Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?

TM: Well, my journey to publication was a very unorthodox one. I’d been writing short stories for a while- some which were locked-room mysteries, and some which weren’t. And it just so happened that one which WASN’T, a noir pastiche called “Heatwave,” was selected by Lee Child for inclusion in his Best Mystery Stories of the Year 2021. That was published by Mysterious Press, a company owned by Otto Penzler. Otto Penzler is a legend of the detective fiction genre, and I knew he was a fan of locked-room mysteries because I own his magnificent anthology, The Black Lizard Book of Locked-Room Mysteries. Of course, I didn’t have an agent or anything like that, so I decided to take a chance and ask if he would read my manuscript. The best I was hoping for was a bit of constructive feedback. But he responded to me via email within the week with a few comments and an offer to publish! It was incredible. From there, everything just snowballed.

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

TM: I’d invite John Dickson Carr, of course. Not just because he was a great writer, though- he also had a robust sense of humour and a taste for practical jokes. I think he’d be great company. I’d invite my friend Michael Dahl, who has written hundreds of books for children and young adults, because he and I have been in touch for a long time now but we’ve never met face to face! He lives in the US while I’m in the UK, but that hasn’t stopped us from collaborating on a locked-room mystery novel for young readers! We don’t have a publisher for it just yet, but we’re hoping it may prove to be the start of another series. Next, I’d invite the late, great Christianna Brand. Like Carr, she was a fantastic mystery writer, though she didn’t produce anywhere near as much. Also like Carr, I think she would be a very lively and witty dinner companion. Lastly, I’d invite Gigi Pandian. Gigi is a great and prolific author of locked-room mysteries who has always been very encouraging and supportive of my work. I’d love to thank her face to face.

Kathy: What are you currently reading?

TM: Right now I’m reading THE WIFE of Ronald Sheldon, a classic mystery by Patrick Quentin. It’s really brilliant. But recently I’ve read fantastic new locked-room mystery novels by Gigi Pandian (UNDER LOCK & SKELETON KEY), James Scott Byrnside (THE FIVE FALSE SUICIDES) and Jim Noy (THE RED DEATH MURDERS). I’m very excited to read the new entry in Anthony Horowitz’s Hawthorne series, which is coming in August, and Martin Edwards’s BLACKSTONE FELL.

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

TM: I’m a huge theatre fan, which I think comes across in my writing. Most of my stories have something theatrical about them. I love it all, from the mainstream West End and Broadway shows to the more hard-hitting and experimental stuff. Not to mention the classics; I live pretty close to Stratford-upon-Avon, home of the Royal Shakespeare Company, and I’ve seen some amazing performances there over the years. I also wrote a short thriller play called “Persons Unknown” which was performed at London’s Canal Cafe Theatre a few years ago.

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

TM: Iced coffee, iced coffee, Swiss chocolate and iced coffee.  

 

Kathy: Do you have plans for future books either with Joseph Spector or a new series?

TM: Absolutely! I’ve recently finished the second Spector book for Mysterious Press, which is called THE MURDER WHEEL. And there’s also the book I’ve just completed with Michael Dahl, which features two apparently impossible crimes. It’s aimed at younger readers, but I think it’s the kind of story grown-ups will love, too!

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

TM: The best thing for me is the chance to engage with like-minded people about the genre I love. I’ve run creative writing workshops in the past, and it’s always a delight to speak with those who share your enthusiasm. Writing this book has enabled me to correspond and chat with other writers, as well as many readers. It feels like I am part of a thriving community which is growing all the time.

Death and the Conjuror by Tom Mead Banner

Death and the Conjuror

by Tom Mead

June 27 - July 24, 2022 Virtual Book Tour

Synopsis:




A magician-turned-sleuth in pre-war London solves three impossible crimes

In 1930s London, celebrity psychiatrist Anselm Rees is discovered dead in his locked study, and there seems to be no way that a killer could have escaped unseen. There are no clues, no witnesses, and no evidence of the murder weapon. Stumped by the confounding scene, the Scotland Yard detective on the case calls on retired stage magician-turned-part-time sleuth Joseph Spector. For who better to make sense of the impossible than one who traffics in illusions?

Spector has a knack for explaining the inexplicable, but even he finds that there is more to this mystery than meets the eye. As he and the Inspector interview the colorful cast of suspects among the psychiatrist’s patients and household, they uncover no shortage of dark secrets―or motives for murder. When the investigation dovetails into that of an apparently-impossible theft, the detectives consider the possibility that the two transgressions are related. And when a second murder occurs, this time in an impenetrable elevator, they realize that the crime wave will become even more deadly unless they can catch the culprit soon.

A tribute to the classic golden-age whodunnit, when crime fiction was a battle of wits between writer and reader, Death and the Conjuror joins its macabre atmosphere, period detail, and vividly-drawn characters with a meticulously-constructed fair play puzzle. Its baffling plot will enthrall readers of mystery icons such as Agatha Christie and John Dickson Carr, modern masters like Anthony Horowitz and Elly Griffiths, or anyone who appreciates a good mystery.

Praise for Death and the Conjuror:

“This debut, a tribute to John Dickson Carr and other Golden Age masters of the locked-room mystery, will appeal to nostalgia buffs and fans of the classics”

Library Journal, April 2022 (**STARRED REVIEW**, Debut of the Month)

“Set in London, Mead’s stellar debut and series launch, an homage to golden age crime fiction, in particular the works of John Dickson Carr, introduces magician Joseph Spector. […] Mead maintains suspense throughout, creating a creepy atmosphere en route to satisfying reveals. Puzzle mystery fans will eagerly await the sequel.”

Publishers Weekly, April 2022 (**STARRED REVIEW**)

“Mead’s debut novel is a valentine to the locked-room puzzles of John Dickson Carr, to whom it is dedicated […] Mead faithfully replicates all the loving artifice and teasing engagement of golden-age puzzlers in this superior pastiche.”

Kirkus Reviews, April 2022

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery
Published by: Mysterious Press
Publication Date: July 12th 2022
Number of Pages: 254
ISBN: 1613163193 (ISBN13: 9781613163191)
Series: Joseph Spector #1
Book Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads | The Mysterious Bookshop

Read an excerpt:

Olive already had the phone in her hand. “Two three one, Dollis Hill,” she announced. “Dr. Anselm Rees has been murdered.”

While she provided a few scant details, she looked around the room and noticed something.

“The windows are locked,” she said as she hung up the phone.

“Mm?” Della sounded startled.

“The windows. They’re locked on the inside.” To prove this, she gripped one of the handles and rattled it. It would not move, and the key protruded from the lock.

“So?”

“Then how did the killer get away?”

“What do you mean?”

“He can’t have come out through the hall. I was there the whole time. And not five minutes ago—not five minutes—I can tell you that the doctor was alive and well in this room because I heard him talking on the telephone.”

Della thought about this. “It can’t be locked.” She reached out and tried the handle for herself. But the windows did not budge.

“It’s locked on the inside,” said Olive, “just like the door.”

Della turned and looked at the corpse. He had sunk down in the chair like an unmanned hand puppet.

In the far corner of the room lay the wooden trunk. Olive caught Della’s eye and nodded toward it. Della frowned incredulously. Olive shrugged, as if to say, Where else would he be?

The two women crept across the soft plush carpet toward the trunk. Olive looked at Della and held a finger to her lips. She seized the poker from the fireplace and raised it above her head. Then she gave Della a quick nod.

Della leaned forward and wrenched open the trunk.

Olive let fly a fierce war cry and swung the poker like a tennis racquet. But all she hit was empty air. The two women peered inside the trunk. It was perfectly empty.

Olive led the way to the kitchen—but not before pulling shut the study door behind her, sealing in the late Dr. Rees once again.

They both felt slightly better after a tot of brandy. No less horrified, but more prepared to deal with the practicalities of the situation.

“What I don’t understand,” Della said, “is where the killer could have gone.”

“Nowhere,” said Olive. “There was nowhere for him to go.”

***

Excerpt from Death and the Conjuror by Tom Mead. Copyright 2022 by Tom Mead. Reproduced with permission from Tom Mead. All rights reserved.

 

 

Author Bio:

Tom Mead

Tom Mead is a UK crime fiction author specialising in locked-room mysteries. He is a member of the Crime Writers’ Association, International Thriller Writers, and the Society of Authors. He is a prolific author of short fiction, and recently his story "Heatwave" was included in THE BEST MYSTERY STORIES OF THE YEAR 2021, edited by Lee Child. DEATH AND THE CONJUROR is his first novel.

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Sunday, July 3, 2022

Miss Morton and the English House Party Murder - A Spotlight

Today I'd like to shine a spotlight on a book on my vast TBR pile. Miss Morton and the English House Party Murder by Catherine Lloyd is the first book in the Miss Morton Mystery series. It was released May 31, 2022.

Blurb:

The options for the penniless daughter of a deceased earl are few indeed in Regency England. So, following the suspicious death of her father, the Earl of Morton, and the discovery that she and her much younger sister have been left without income or home, Lady Caroline takes a post as a lady’s companion to the wealthy widow Frogerton.
 
Just as Caroline is getting accustomed to her new position, her aunt, Lady Eleanor Greenwood, invites her and her employer to a house party in the countryside to celebrate her youngest daughter’s birthday. Mrs. Matilda (Matty) Frogerton sees this as an opportunity to introduce her own rather wild daughter, Dorothy, to the
ton, and Caroline is eager to see her sister, who as a child lives with their aunt.
 
But all is not well at the Greenwood estate. For one thing, Lady Caroline’s former fiancé, Lord Francis Chatham, is a guest and refuses to speak to her. Far worse, after a series of troubling harassments of the staff, an elderly family member is found stabbed by a knitting needle.
 
As Caroline and an unexpected ally—Mrs. Frogerton—attempt to solve the chilling crime, they discover the culprit may be leaving bizarre clues as to who will be next in the nursery. But they must make haste, for this heartless killer is engaged in anything but child’s play . . .

Friday, July 1, 2022

Devil's Kiss - A Review

 Review


DEVIL'S KISS by Michelle Bennington
The First Small Batch Mystery

Divorced, broke, and living with her grandma, Rook Campbell's life is looking grim, especially as she just quit her job as an underappreciated, underpaid, untenured professor. Her best friend, Bryan, helps her land a job at Four Wild Horses Distillery, where he works as an accountant. Things are hectic on her first day on the job and there's an underlying sense of subterfuge as well as outright hostility. Something shady is definitely going on at Four Wild Horses. When Bryan is found dead Rook is certain it's murder and vows to discover who killed him. Things get increasingly dangerous for Rook who is desperate to keep her job. But will her decision to stay at the distillery and look for Bryan's murderer get her killed as well? 

The first Small Batch Mystery is a more mature traditional mystery that introduces readers to some interesting characters. Rook is doggedly determined despite everything that goes wrong with her life-and boy is there a lot. The author seems to relish making Rook's life challenging. She does have support from the best friend who's like a brother to her (who the author quickly kills off), her grandmother (who the author soon gives major health issues), and her ex-husband (who has a jealous fiance). See what I mean about challenges?! I really like Jimmy and dislike the Sheriff and almost everyone at the distillery. They are all, however, fun to read about, especially witnessing their machinations and Rook's efforts to derail them.

I really enjoyed the complex mystery. So many people behaving badly made for some shocking scenes. Seeing Rook stand strong and fight back was exhilarating and the porch scene with Jacie still makes me grin.

DEVIL'S KISS is a mystery with grit that makes you thankful for your life and hopeful that things will get better. I look forward to seeing the distillery recover and Rook move on with her life, stronger and even more resilient.


Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Currently Reading...

I just finished reading Devil's Kiss by Michelle Bennington. This book is the first in the Small Batch Mystery series and was released last month.

Divorced, broke, and living with her grandma, Rook Campbell's life is looking grim, especially as she just quit her job as an underappreciated, underpaid, untenured professor. Her best friend, Bryan, helps her land a job at Four Wild Horses Distillery, where he works as an accountant. Things are hectic on her first day on the job and there's an underlying sense of subterfuge as well as outright hostility. Something shady is definitely going on at Four Wild Horses. When Bryan is found dead Rook is certain it's murder and vows to discover who killed him. Things get increasingly dangerous for Rook who is desperate to keep her job. But will her decision to stay at the distillery and look for Bryan's murderer get her killed as well?



Tuesday, June 28, 2022

With a Spirit of Vengeance - A Review & Giveaway

 Review


 WITH A SPIRIT OF VENGEANCE by Lena Gregory
The Seventh Bay Island Psychic Mystery
 

Cass Donovan has finally hired someone to help work in her shop, Mystical Musings. Although Thea is doing an excellent job, Cass has concerns. It appears that the spirit of Ophelia Wilson is back, and she’s angry. No longer content that her innocence was proven, she wants the real killer of her family named. Is the spirit taking her vengeance out on Thea? Is she capable of using the young woman as a pawn? While searching for the identity of the person who actually killed Ophelia’s family Cass gets drawn into the current murders of Ophelia’s descendants. Will Cass be able to put the ghosts of the past to rest when their actions may be impacting the present? Will she be able to solve the murders while appeasing a vengeful spirit?

Nightmares, horrifying visions, and a vengeful spirit make the seventh Bay Island Psychic Mystery a spooky read. I enjoy investigating a century old mystery alongside of current crimes and love how they intertwine. I also love the relationship between Cass and Bee. We get to see their devotion and understanding of each other as they encounter some very unpleasant people. They complement each other so well and their friendship is a delight to see.

With thrills, chills, and a dynamite mystery WITH A SPIRIT OF VENGEANCE will keep you reading through the night. 

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

 WITH A SPIRIT OF VENGEANCE (A Bay Island Psychic Mystery) By Lena Gregory

About With A Spirit of Vengeance

With A Spirit of Vengeance (A Bay Island Psychic Mystery)
Paranormal Cozy Mystery
7th in Series
Setting – Bay Island (Just off Long Island, New York)
Beyond the Page Publishing (June 28, 2022)
Paperback Print Length: ‎ 249 pages

Psychic Cass Donovan must uncover the truth about long-buried secrets and recent murders to bring peace to a troubled spirit and bring justice to a flesh-and-blood killer . . .

When the spirit of Ophelia Wilson turned to clairvoyant Cass Donovan for help, Cass was able to prove Ophelia’s innocence in the century-old murders of her family members—and solve a contemporary murder in the process. But Ophelia’s spirit has returned, this time angrily demanding that Cass expose the identity of whoever did kill her family. And then eerily, two descendants from the Wilson family tree are murdered, suggesting that Ophelia has the power to meddle in modern-day events to satisfy her rage.

As Cass struggles to solve the two recent murders and unravel the sparse clues about murders from a hundred years ago, she and those around her begin to suffer Ophelia’s wrath—including an attempt on the life of one of Cass’s closest friends. Relying on all of her own psychic powers, Cass has to confront the spirit’s hunger for vengeance and track down a merciless killer before she becomes the next victim of both . . .

About Lena Gregory

Lena grew up in a small town on the south shore of eastern Long Island, but she recently traded in cold, damp, gray winters for the warmth and sunshine of central Florida, where she now lives with her husband, three kids, son-in-law, and four dogs. Her hobbies include spending time with family, reading, and walking. Her love for writing developed when her youngest son was born and didn’t sleep through the night. She works full-time as a writer and a freelance editor and is a member of Sisters in Crime.

Author Links: 

Newsletter: http://lenagregory.us12.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=9765d0711ed4fab4fa31b16ac&id=49d42335d1.  

Website: http://www.lenagregory.com/  

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lena.gregory.986 

 Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/Lena.Gregory.Author/?fref=ts  

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LenaGregory03  

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14956514.Lena_Gregory?from_search=true  

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Purchase Links - Amazon Barnes and Noble Kobo

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Sunday, June 26, 2022

The Case of the Cat Crazy Lady - A Guest Post & Giveaway

I'm pleased to welcome Brody Broom to Cozy Up With Kathy today. You can find Brody on the pages of The Case of the Cat Crazy Lady by Debbie De Louise. This book is the first in the Buttercup Bend Mystery series and was released last month.

 


Hi, there. It’s Brody Broom. I’m the brother of the deceased. I betcha ya thought Cathy, the main character of the book, would be speakin wit you today. Well, ya got me. I’d say ya lucked out. Let me explain. The sheriff he thinks I killed Maggie for her money, but I didn’t know she’d won so much in that stupid magazine contest. Even if I did, I wouldn’t hurt her. She hurt me plenty, but I don’t hold grudges.

Let me tell ya about myself and my unfunctional, I mean dysfunctional, family. My parents were alcoholics. They both died pretty young. Good riddance to em. I was sorta raised by my two sisters who both abused me. Maggie with putting me down for a good-fer-nothin and Gladys with her punches. I couldn’t wait to run away from that house when I was 15. I spent my growin up years doin drugs and robbin stuff. But I put that all behind me when I decided to go straight. I got some work cleanin toilets at jails and schools, but I always got myself fired. My fault. I kept playin hooky. No one wants to hire someone with no schoolin who don’t show up for work.

My biggest break came, believe it or not, when Maggie was murdered. That’s when I was called to Buttercup Bend to speak wit her lawyer about the will. Now, mind ya, I didn’t get much. In fact, I got less than Gladys. Most of the kit-n-kaboodle went to Cathy Carter and her pet cemetery and rescue place. I was glad ‘bout that in a way, but I thought I deserved more. So I showed up at the town square dance at the church wit my gun and threatened Maggie’s lawyer. They took me to jail, but I was released. My gun wasn’t loaded and was licensed, so my girlfriend bailed me out, but I broke up with her after that. She was ready to do drugs with me again, but I put my foot down. I wanted to make a new start.

Then fate stepped in when I spoke with Cathy about my family history, and she asked me what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. Well, deep down I’ve always liked animals, so I told her I would love to be a vet like that guy, Graham, who helps out at her rescue place. Next thing ya know, she’s askin him to give me a position at the front desk of his vet place. He wasn’t too happy about hirin me, but I think he’s sweet on her, so he said he’d give me a trial run. That ain’t bad for somebody who is already fifty years old.

I can’t really tell you much more without revealin the story, so I hope you buy Debbie’s book. Then ya can find out if I’m guilty of killin my sister or anyone else.

I guess it wouldn’t hurt to give ya an excerpt from some of my scenes, though.

This one is from when I first come to the Buttercup Inn where I’m stayin while I meet with Maggie’s lawyer for the reading of her will. In this scene, the sheriff already has it out for me.

“Maggie always had a soft spot for kitties,” Brody added. “It bothered her when I was ten and stepped on her tabby’s tail. It was an accident, but she screamed at me. She even threatened to tell Mom about my pot stash. Not that she would care with her head in the bottle half the time. Don’t mean to speak ill of the dead. Ma died a few years later of serius, or whatever it’s called of the liver, and Pa a year later of the same thing. Maggie left home after that and took her kitties with her.” He gave a gap-toothed smile.

Leroy, hearing this, glared at Brody. “I hope you’re not still using drugs.”

Brody’s smile faded. “Nope. I’m clean, man. I swear.”

And here’s a scene where the nice lady, Sandra, the innkeeper, comes to my defense when that sheriff searches me:

Leroy and Brian exited their cruiser. She watched as they approached Brody’s car. “Get out with your hands up,” the Sheriff commanded.

She strained her ears to hear Brody’s reply but couldn’t. A moment later, he opened the car door and strode out, hands over his head. Just like the police dramas Gran liked to watch on TV, he was frisked against his car. Leroy tossed a pack of tissues to the ground and a few wrappers of gum. As they fell, she noted Brody’s pants were slipping, and she worried they might fall down around his knees. Only his loose belt kept that from happening.

“Just junk,” Leroy exclaimed. “Check that bag, though.”

Brian took the grocery bag that was on the passenger seat and showed Leroy the contents that included a case of unopened beer.

“What’s going on?” Brody asked. “You’ll find nothing illegal on me. I’m not drunk, and I wasn’t speeding.”

“After I released you from jail, I told you to stay at the inn until I gave you the go ahead to leave town.”

“I was only grocery shopping. Can’t a man buy himself some beer in peace? And what’s with the body check? I should press harassment charges against you.”

As Leroy and Brody argued, Sandra Barry opened the door and step out on the porch. She hurried down the stairs, her brown and gray streaked ponytail swinging. “Officers, Mr. Broom is a guest at my inn. He’s been nothing but respectful to me and the other guests.”


Well, there ya have it. I hope ya enjoyed this guest post and have decided to buy the book. I think I happen to be the best character in it. 

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

The Case of the Cat Crazy Lady: A Buttercup Bend Mystery by Debbie De Louise

About The Case of the Cat Crazy Lady

The Case of the Cat Crazy Lady: A Buttercup Bend Mystery
Cozy Mystery 1st in Series
Setting – Buttercup Bend, a fictional town in the Catskills, New York State
Next Chapter (May 15, 2022) Paperback: ‎ 298 pages

After Buttercup Bend’s “Cat Crazy Lady,” Maggie Broom, is smothered to death in her home, Cathy Carter is stunned to learn that the animal shelter and pet cemetery she co-owns with her brother Doug is the recipient of the bulk of Maggie’s estate.

When Maggie’s estranged brother and sister come to town and are upset with the terms of their sister’s will, Sheriff Leroy Miller is convinced one of them killed Maggie.

At a baby shower Cathy’s grandmother holds for Doug’s wife, one of the guests turns up dead, and Cathy and her reporter friend, Nancy Meyers, set out to solve the murders.

About Debbie De Louise

Debbie De Louise is an award-winning author and a reference librarian at a public library on Long Island. She is a member of Sisters-in-Crime, International Thriller Writers, the Long Island Authors Group, and the Cat Writers’ Association. Her novels include the five books and four stories of the Cobble Cove cozy mystery series, a comedy novella, When Jack Trumps Ace, a paranormal romance, Cloudy Rainbow, and the standalone mysteries; Reason to Die, Sea Scope, and Memory Makers. Debbie has also written a time-travel novel, Time's Relative, and a non-fiction cat book, Pet Posts: The Cat Chats, written from the points of view of four of her cats and has also published articles in online and print pet magazines including Catster.com. Her latest book, Meows and Purrs, is a poetry collection of cat poems that includes photos and notes about her cats.

Debbie’s stories and poetry appear in the Red Penguin Collections, What Lies Beyond, ‘Tis the Season, Stand Out, Volumes I and II, Until Dawn, Treat or Trick, and Pets on the Prowl. Her poems are also featured in the Nassau County Voices In Verse 2020 anthology and the 2020 and 2021 Bards Annual. She lives on Long Island with her husband, daughter, and two cats.

Author Links: 

Website/Blog/Newsletter Sign-Up: https://debbiedelouise.com  

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/debbie.delouise.author/  

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Friday, June 24, 2022

A Hint of Mischief - A Guest Post, Recipe, Review, & Giveaway

I'm happy to welcome Daryl Wood Gerber back to Cozy Up With Kathy. Among other things, Daryl writes the Fairy Garden Mystery series. A HINT OF MISCHIEF is the third book in the series and will be released next week.

Chocolate Crinkles
By Daryl Wood Gerber

In the Fairy Garden Mysteries, at Open Your Imagination, the fairy garden store owned by Courtney Kelly, they serve tea on the weekends. At some of the teas they have book clubs. At all of them they offer soothing live music and tasty treats. It’s the perfect environment to sup and then shop for fairy garden items, plants, and pots. It’s also the ideal place to search for Fiona, the fairy sidekick who assists Courtney when she’s sleuthing. If you didn’t know, Open Your Imagination offers fairy garden workshops and private classes, and its main showroom sells fun items like windchimes, teacups, books about fairies, and more. It’s becoming a destination stop in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California, a beautiful resort town on the coast, about two hours south of San Francisco.

Yvanna, a friend of Courtney’s who works at Sweet Treats, another shop in the courtyard where Open Your Imagination is located, comes on Saturdays to help with the teas. She is a marvelous baker and will often provide baked goods that can be enjoyed by those who need to eat gluten-free. She’s allowed me to share both recipes with you today, regular and gluten-free.

Yvanna believes that all tea parties should include chocolate crinkles. Not only are they easy to make, but the fudgy texture is always a winner. You can make these large or small. It truly depends on the size of the ball you form.

When you look at the ingredients, don’t roll your eyes. Yes, there is a LOT of sugar, but you don’t eat sweets hoping to avoid sugar do you? Yvanna will tell you, “Sugar, in moderation, warms the soul.”

Enjoy.



CHOCOLATE CRINKLES

(Yield: 4 dozen)


8 ounces melted butter

4 squares unsweetened chocolate, melted

4 eggs

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

1 1/2 cups brown sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla

2 cups flour

1 cup cocoa powder

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup extra granulated sugar, for rolling

1/2 cup powdered sugar


Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, mix butter, chocolate, granulated sugar, brown sugar. Blend in the eggs and vanilla.

In a separate bowl, mix flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. Add mixture to the sugar mixture and stir well.

Roll dough into walnut-sized balls, about 1 tablespoon. You might need to moisten your fingers.

Pour extra granulated sugar into a pie tin. Pour powdered sugar into a separate pie tin. Coat each ball with granulated sugar and then with powdered sugar. Place balls about 2 inches apart on the parchment paper. Bake 10 – 12 minutes. These will look slightly gooey in the “cracks” when removed from the oven. That’s fine. Do not overbake. 

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CHOCOLATE CRINKLES
GLUTEN-FREE VERSION

(Yield: 4 dozen)

8 ounces melted butter

4 squares unsweetened chocolate, melted

4 eggs

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

1 1/2 cups brown sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla

2 cups gluten-free flour

1 cup cocoa powder

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 tablespoon whey powder

1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup extra granulated sugar, for rolling

1/2 cup powdered sugar


Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, mix butter, chocolate, granulated sugar, brown sugar. Blend in the eggs and vanilla.

In a separate bowl, mix gluten-free flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, whey powder, xanthan gum, and salt. Add mixture to the sugar mixture and stir well.

Roll dough into walnut-sized balls, about 1 tablespoon. You might need to moisten your fingers.

Pour extra granulated sugar into a pie tin. Pour powdered sugar into a separate pie tin. Coat each ball with granulated sugar and then with powdered sugar. Place balls about 2 inches apart on the parchment paper. Bake 10 – 12 minutes. These will look slightly gooey in the “cracks” when removed from the oven. That’s fine. Do not overbake. 
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Review
 

 A HINT OF MISCHIEF by Daryl Wood Gerber
The Third Fairy Garden Mystery

Life is never dull for shop owner and fairy garden designer Courtney Kelly. A thief is plaguing Carmel-by-the-Sea with brazen daylight heists, someone is placing fairy doors around town, and Courtney has been tasked with planning an adult fairy party. With not much notice, socialite Misty Dawn wants Courtney to go all out for the birthday party she's throwing for her friend. Sorority sisters, including the famous actress Farrah Lawson, will be in attendance and money is no object. There's tension among these old friends however, and Farrah's nasty side soon makes itself known. When Farrah's found poisoned, Courtney can't help but get involved. With her fairy friend Fiona to help her, the two will look for clues in order to save a friend and help the police. 
 
The Fairy Garden Mystery series makes me want to play in the dirt! I want to grab tiny plants, cute figurines, and create my own fairy garden.
 
A HINT OF MISCHIEF compelled me to keep turning the pages making this a fast read. It grabbed my attention, kept me curious, and didn't let go. The combination of mysteries kept me intrigued as did conflicting information from various characters regarding the murder mystery. Several suspicious characters were also behaving badly adding to the puzzle of who was guilty.
 
I love the relationship between Courtney and Fiona. Fiona is growing too. While still full of fun and play, she's also maturing, taking things seriously when needed. I also love how Courtney and Brady's relationship is developing. The two are supportive and caring with genuine interest in each other.

A HINT OF MISCHIEF is a fairy good mystery. It will put a smile on your face, a spring in your step, and have you looking in the greenery for fairies.
 
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Bio:
 

Agatha Award-winning author Daryl Wood Gerber is best known for her nationally bestselling Fairy Garden Mysteries, Cookbook Nook Mysteries, and French Bistro Mysteries. As Avery Aames, she penned the popular Cheese Shop Mysteries. In addition, Daryl writes the Aspen Adams Novels of Suspense as well as stand-alone suspense. Daryl loves to cook, fairy garden, and read. She has a frisky Goldendoodle who keeps her in line. And she has been known to jump out of a perfectly good airplane and hitch-hike around Ireland alone. You can learn more on her website: httsp://darylwoodgerber.com

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

 A Hint of Mischief (A Fairy Garden Mystery) by Daryl Wood Gerber

About A Hint of Mischief 

A Hint of Mischief (A Fairy Garden Mystery)
Cozy Mystery 3rd in Series
Setting - California
Kensington Cozies(June 28, 2022)
Paperback: ‎ 368 pages

The proprietor of a fairy garden and tea shop in Carmel-by-the-Sea, Courtney Kelly has an occasional side gig as a sleuth—with a sprinkling of magical assistance. . . .

Courtney has thrown a few fairy garden parties—for kids. But if a local socialite is willing to dip into her trust fund for an old sorority sister’s fortieth birthday bash, Courtney will be there with bells on. To make the job even more appealing, a famous actress, Farrah Lawson, is flying in for the occasion, and there’s nothing like a celebrity cameo to raise a business’s profile.

Now Courtney has less than two weeks to paint a mural, hang up tinkling windchimes, plan party games, and conjure up all the details. While she works her magic, the hostess and her girlfriends head off for an indulgent spa day—which leads to a fateful facial for Farrah, followed by her mysterious death. Could the kindhearted eyebrow waxer who Farrah berated in public really be the killer, as the police suspect? Courtney thinks otherwise, and with the help of her imaginative sleuth fairy, sets out to dig up the truth behind this puzzling murder . . .

About Daryl Wood Gerber

Agatha Award-winning author Daryl Wood Gerber is best known for her nationally bestselling Fairy Garden Mysteries, Cookbook Nook Mysteries, and French Bistro Mysteries. As Avery Aames, she penned the popular Cheese Shop Mysteries. In addition, Daryl writes the Aspen Adams Novels of Suspense as well as stand-alone suspense. Daryl loves to cook, fairy garden, and read. She has a frisky Goldendoodle who keeps her in line. And she has been known to jump out of a perfectly good airplane and hitch-hike around Ireland alone. You can learn more on her website: httsp://darylwoodgerber.com

Author Links:  

WEBSITE: https://darylwoodgerber.com 

FACEBOOK: https://facebook.com/darylwoodgerber 

TWITTER: https://twitter.com/darylwoodgerber  

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YOUTUBE: https://youtube.com/woodgerb1  

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GOODREADS BOOK: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/59120614-a-hint-of-mischief  

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NEWSLETTER: https://darylwoodgerber.com/contact-media/  

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