Friday, February 27, 2015

Review - Chef Maurice and the Rather Fishy Tale


Chef Maurice and the Rather Fishy Tale by J.A. Lang
A Chef Maurice Mystery Short Story

Chef Maurice and the Rather Fishy Tale serves as a prequel to whet our appetites for the upcoming Chef Maurice and a Spot of Truffle.

When a wooden fish with a plea for help message carved into it is found inside the day's fresh sea bass Chef Maurice and food critic Arthur Wordington-Smythe decide to investigate. Questioning citizens of a coastal village and enjoying the local cuisine, the duo wind up solving more than one mystery.

The story is short. Very short. An amuse bouche, if you will. I could easily have finished it in one sitting. But it worked to introduce us to these new characters, in particular Chef Maurice, whose mind is as keen as his appetite. He reminds me a bit of Monsieur Pamplemousse and Charly Poisson. While not a seafood fan (the only thing I like that swims in the sea is duck) I am a bit of a foodie and I couldn't help but become enamoured with the talk of food, " the bass, en papillote with dill and fennel". And I love that sous chef Patrick appears to be dabbling in molecular gastronomy.

The book is a fun short story that gives us some insight into its characters, their motivation and how they think, in preparation for their big debut. I look forward to reading their full course mystery.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Currently Reading...

I'm currently reading Artifact by Gigi Pandian. This book is the first in the Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt Mystery series. I've been introduced to a small, but tough, protagonist (with a one of a kind Russian landlady) who just read about the death of a former lover and received a mysterious package with an ancient jewel...from said lover. All that in chapter one. Yup, I'm hooked.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

So many doorsteps, so many bodies ... Guest Post

So many doorsteps, so many bodies ... 
By Leslie Budewitz 

ASSAULT AND PEPPER by Leslie Budewitz, coming March 3 (Berkley Prime Crime)  first in the Seattle Spice Shop Mysteries

Just a pinch of murder... After the year from you-know-what, Pepper Reece finds a new zest for life running a busy spice shop in Seattle’s Pike Place Market. Her aromatic creations are a hit and everyone loves her refreshing spice tea. Pepper is convinced she can handle any kind of salty customer until a murder ends up in the mix.

In Talking About Detective Fiction, the late P.D. James wrote that setting is important "since people react to their environment and are influenced by it. ... [T]he place in which the body is found is particularly revealing, and I regard the description of the finding of the body as one of the most important chapters of a detective novel. To find a murdered copse is a horrible, sometimes life-changing experience for most normal people, and the writing should be vivid and realistic enough to enable the reader to share the shock and horror, the revulsion and the pity."

ASSAULT AND PEPPER, first in my new Spice Shop Mysteries, is on its way. No spoilers, so I won’t tell you where the body is found, but I don’t mind saying the discovery rocks my protagonist, Pepper Reece, owner of the Seattle Spice Shop in the Pike Place Market, right down to her bay leaves. Nothing in her first year selling spice or her fifteen years managing staff HR at a giant law firm prepared her for the shock of finding a man she knew dead in a place she knows well.

(Although being a cop’s wife for thirteen years did expose her to the seamier side of life. Especially when she discovered him and a meter maid—she still can’t say “parking enforcement officer”—in a back booth in a posh new restaurant practically plugging each other’s meters when he was supposed to be working a shift for a friend. And of course, it doesn’t help that he’s the bike cop on the Market beat.)

What’s even worse is when the homicide detectives Spencer and Tracy, and yes, they’ve heard the jokes, and no, they’re not amused focus in on one of her trusted employees. She considers herself a good judge of people in both HR and retail, her livelihood depends on it. How could she have been so wrong? The only other likely suspects seem—to her, at least—just as unlikely. In investigating, Pepper is forced to confront the limits of her own judgment and her ability to work with other people. In the process, she learns new skills and draws on internal resources she didn’t know she had.

As a reader and a writer, I pay a lot of attention to setting. I also think it’s critical to explore how finding a body, pursuing a killer, and encountering danger affect the sleuth. While I’ve never witnessed a murder or found a murder victim, I have seen people die of natural causes in unexpected places, and I’ve witnessed horrific car wrecks. A good share of my legal practice involved personal injury work, and I’ve been on the scene of fatal crashes shortly after they happened. Seen the bodily fluids and the crumpled cars and the gouges carved across the road. Dealt with the families and friends as they adjusted to their losses. As Baroness James of Hyde Park said, those experiences change us. In light-hearted mysteries, or cozies, the challenge is to use those events to push the sleuth, to dig deeper, to investigate without being maudlin or gory. It’s possible, by focusing on character growth and development, on relationships, on motive and justice. 

Because ultimately, we read to explore human experience. The full range of it the variety, the spice of life. Some bitter, some sweet, and all of it deliciously mysterious.

READERS, how important is the discovery of the body to you? How much emotional impact do you expect the protagonist to feel?

The first author to win Agatha Awards for both fiction and nonfiction, Leslie Budewitz lives in NW Montana with her husband, a musician and doctor of natural medicine, and their Burmese cat, a book cover model and avid birdwatcher. For more tales of life in the Great Northwest, visit her website

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Spotlight & Giveaway - Flamenco, Flan, and Fatalities

Today I'd like to shine a spotlight on Flamenco, Flan, and Fatalities by Mary McHugh. This book is the second in the Happy Hoofer Mystery series and will be released February 24, 2015.


Murder is nothing to tap at. . . 

The high-kicking Happy Hoofers–Tina, Janice, Pat, Mary Louise, and Gini–have been booked to flaunt their fabulous flamenco footwork on a luxury train ride through northern Spain. But when a blowhard talk show host is found deader than four-day-old flan–with Gini as suspect numero uno–the feisty friends waste no time stepping into their sleuthing shoes to protect one of their own.
The dynamite dancers will have to step up their game before a clever killer brings the curtain down on one of them . . . for good!

Includes recipes and photography tips.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, February 20, 2015

Review - Diners, Drive-Ins, and Death


Diners, Drive-Ins, and Death by Christine Wenger
The 3rd Comfort Food Mystery

On a cold wintry day there's nothing better than a nice dish of comfort food...and the latest Comfort Food Mystery by Christine Wenger.

Trixie Matkowski is back bringing comfort food to the people of Sandy harbor, NY at the Silver Bullet Diner. Her friend, the irrepressible Antoinette Chloe Brown, is also back with plans to build an old fashioned drive-in movie theater. Unfortunately, on ground breaking day the body of ACB's missing boyfriend is found...dug up by the backhoe! Who wanted Nick dead? Could ACB's ex-husband been jealous enough to kill his own brother? Could it have been one of the men from the gang of biker chefs? A prior business associate? Or ACB herself? Trixie knows she has to help ACB with or without the help of Deputy Ty. Will she be able to find the killer while babysitting a house full of beauty contestants, keep ACB out of trouble, and still cook through the night serving up delicious diner food?

I remember as a kid getting into my pajamas early then grabbing my sleeping bag and pillow and getting into the station wagon. My parents and I were going to the drive-in. It was still light when we got there so I played in the playground till it was dark enough for the movie to start. I can vividly remember that, though I couldn't tell you the film for the life of me! Those days are gone now, and most of the drive-ins with them. I'm pleased that ACB also remembers the fun of the drive-in and the wish to create a new one.

The books in Christine Wenger's Comfort Food Mystery series are comforting and nostalgic in the best ways. They evoke those happy memories of the past while giving us an adventure in the present. The author also adds lots of fun: ACB's fashion sense and the Miss Salmon pageant, complete with an 88 year old choreographer and girls dressed as salmon...and fishermen! That being said, these books are by no means fluff. There are issues at play and underlying everything is the strength of friendship and the power of nostalgia. Of course, we also have a fine mystery as well.

I welcome Trixie Matkowski and the people of Sandy Harbor into my home with each novel. I only wish I could visit the Red Bullet Diner myself and have a heaping plate of comfort food!

Recipes included.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Currently Reading...

I'm currently reading The Final Reveille by Amanda Flower. This book is the first in the Living History Museum series and it's off to a great start. I love living history museums and am lucky enough to have the Genesee Country Village and Museum nearby. So I was thrilled to see this new series. You'll have to wait to read it though, it won't be released until May 8th, but you can pre-order it and you should definitely put it on your TBR pile!

Kelsey Cambridge is the director of Barton Farms, a living history museum in Ohio. For the past two years Kelsey, who lives on the farm with her father and young son, has brought new ideas, and increased crowds to the museum with the financial help of benefactress Cynthia Cherry. Things become worrisome when Maxwell Cherry, Cynthia's son, who has no interest in history and thinks donating to the museum is a waste of time, tells Kelsey that his mother is ill and he'll be taking over her foundation's charitable work...and will stop funding the museum. As if Kelsey doesn't have enough to worry about with the current Civil War reenactment on museum grounds! Things get worse when Maxwell's body is found in the village and Kelsey becomes prime suspect in his murder. Searching for answers to clear her name Kelsey also faces her ex-husbands threats over custody of their son, a suspicious Civil War medic, a detective who seems to have it out for her, and several people who had cause to murder the unpleasant Maxwell Cherry!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Deadly Interview and Giveaway

I'm happy to welcome Wendy Tyson to the blog today. Wendy writes the Allison Campbell Mystery series. Deadly Assets is the second in the series.

Kathy: I live in WNY and enjoy reading books set in my locale. The Finger Lakes are a short drive away from me, and a place I go often. What made you decide to have a sinister Finger Lakes estate and an eccentric Italian heiress from the area in Deadly Assets?

WT: Kathy, you are blessed to live in such a beautiful area! I love the Finger Lakes region of New York. My husband and I are from Pennsylvania, and we have been visiting Ithaca and the surrounding areas for years. A few years ago, he and I were staying at a local B&B. We woke up early and went for a walk. The air was crisp and moist and there was a fine mist over Cayuga Lake. In the distance, a beautiful old home loomed on a hill, above the water, and sat nestled in the trees. The house looked quite Gothic. It struck me then that the area would make an excellent setting for a murder mystery. In the early stages of writing Deadly Assets, I knew Francesca Benini had to live in a similar house by the lake. It just fit her.

Kathy: In Deadly Assets the current disappearances Allison Campbell is investigating have something to do with the suicide of a woman thirty years earlier. How does an event from the past help and/or impede a current investigation?

WT: I think an event from the past makes a current investigation more difficult. Memories fade or become colored by the passage of time, written records can disappear, witnesses move away or die. In Deadly Assets, it was unclear to Allison and her friends whether Gina’s death was even related, and the challenges of looking into a thirty-year-old suicide definitely impeded their investigation.

Kathy: You are a lawyer and former therapist. How have these occupations impacted your writing?

WT: I started in the psych field at twenty-three. My first job was as a counselor at a group home for teens, and I later went on to become a foster care caseworker. During graduate school (for counseling), I worked with teenage girls at a residential treatment facility. I met a lot of at-risk youth, kids who’d had the cards stacked against them since early in life, but I was amazed by their humanity and the sheer strength of the human spirit. Looking back, I think because I was so young, that job in particular left an indelible impression on me. After graduate school, I went on to law school on the Philadelphia Main Line and eventually became a transactional attorney.

Both careers have impacted my writing. On the psych side, my interest and experience in the field have given me a foundation for understanding human relationships, motivations and behaviors. Certainly helpful when writing crime fiction. And my background in law has provided me with a glimpse into the inner workings of the corporate world. Of course there’s overlap. Whether in a residential treatment facility or a big company, human motivations and behaviors are often the same—only the scale and the degree of acceptability differ.

Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?

WT: I love all kinds of crime fiction, including cozies, traditional mysteries and thrillers. Cozies were my first love, though, beginning with Nancy Drew and, later, Agatha Christie. I especially enjoy the puzzle elements of a cozy.

Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?

WT: The first novel I wrote was contemporary women’s fiction, and I’m working on a new women’s novel set in Martha’s Vineyard. But I primarily write mysteries and thrillers.

Kathy: Tell us about your series.

WT: The Allison Campbell series features Philadelphia Main Line image consultant Allison Campbell. A dissertation shy of a PhD in psychology, Allison helps people reinvent themselves…when she’s not using her ability to look beneath the façade to solve murders. Killer Image is the first book in the Campbell series. In Killer Image, when the ritualistic murder of a controversial divorce attorney is pinned on her young client, Allison hits the pavement in her three-inch Manolos to unravel the mystery of who killed Arnie Feldman and why.

I’ve also written The Seduction of Miriam Cross, the first in the Delilah Percy Powers series, under the name W. A. Tyson (E-Lit Books). In The Seduction of Miriam Cross, Miriam Cross, author, feminist and philanthropist, disappears from her Philadelphia home and a year later, a lonely recluse named Emily Cray is brutally murdered in her bed in a small Pennsylvania town. Miriam and Emily are one and the same. As private investigator Delilah Percy Powers and her staff of female detectives—a militant homemaker, an ex-headmistress/nun and a former stripper—delve into Miriam’s life, they become submerged in an underworld of unfathomable cruelty and greed with implications that go far beyond the gruesome death of one woman or the boundaries of one country.

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

WT: My favorite character? Probably Vaughn from the Campbell series. In many ways, he embodies the spirit I saw in those kids whom I worked with while a therapist. Vaughn was abused by his father as a child, made some really bad choices, and he and his twin later paid for those choices in spades. Despite a rough beginning, Vaughn’s worked hard to build a successful life for himself and his brother. He’s conflicted, but he’s also strong, loyal, courageous and smart.

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

WT: The juxtaposition of my two careers law and psychology really gave me the idea for the series. As I mentioned earlier, I went from counseling at-risk teens to law school on the Philadelphia Main Line, a beautiful and wealthy suburb of Philadelphia. It struck me then that things are often not what they seem. I was intrigued by this notion of image and that’s how Allison—an image consultant—was born. Although Allison spends her time helping people reinvent themselves, she is her own biggest reinvention. Once an outsider, she was able to fashion a new life for herself after a tragedy with a patient during graduate school. She’s able to see beneath the surface to bring out the best in people. It just so happens that her talents (and psychology background) also help her to solve crimes!

Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?

WT: Being a published author has long been a dream of mine. I was an avid reader as a kid, and I thought writing books would be the best job in the whole world. Obviously I’ve taken some career detours, but my writing life started with short stories. I remember the day I got the acceptance letter from the literary journal Karamu. Karamu wanted my short story titled “Linden Street.” I was ecstatic. The sale paid in contributor’s copies, which I still have prominently displayed on my bookshelf. Eventually I moved on to writing novels. When Henery Press sent the offer for Killer Image, I was on an airplane heading east after a client meeting in Houston and my agent couldn’t reach me. When the plane landed in Philly, I had half a dozen voicemail messages and at least as many emails. I think my agent (whom I adore) was as excited as I was.

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

WT: That’s a tough one! Ernest Hemingway, Isaac Asimov, Stephen King and Toni Morrison.

Kathy: What are you currently reading?

WT: I just finished An Inquiry into Love and Death by Simone St. James. Loved it! I’m looking forward to starting another book by this author.

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

WT: My husband and I are hardcore organic gardeners. We have about a third of an acre ten miles outside of Philadelphia, and we grow almost all our own vegetables on that small plot.

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

WT: Garlic, Gruyere, kale and cannellini beans.

Kathy: Do you have plans for future books either in your current series or a new series?

WT: Absolutely! The third Allison Campbell book, Dying Brand, is due out on May 5, 2015 (sneak peek below). The fourth Campbell novel, Vicious Looks, will be out in 2016. I also have a cozy series coming out in 2016.

Dying Brand:

When image consultant Allison Campbell attends an award ceremony to honor a designer friend, she’s thrust into a murder investigation. Only this time, it’s personal.

A former boyfriend is dead, slain on the streets of Philadelphia. His widow claims he was meeting with Allison, yet Allison hadn’t spoken to him in years. Nothing about his death—or life—makes sense. When compromising photos from their past arrive at Allison’s office, they raise more questions than they answer.

Driven to find justice, Allison deconstructs the image her ex had created for himself, looking for clues about the man he’d become. As her hunt for the truth unveils secrets, Allison’s past and present collide—with deadly results.

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

WT: Meeting readers. I love to write, and I am incredibly grateful to be paid for doing something I love, but meeting and interacting with readers has been the real benefit of this journey. a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Just Stepping Out for a Quart of Milk…. Guest Post

Just Stepping Out for a Quart of Milk….
 By Barbara Jean Coast

Hi there, Kathy and the rest of the guys and dolls! It’s such an honor to be featured on your blog, Kathy dear. Thank you so much. Today, yours truly needed to step out to the market to get a few necessities. You know — milk, butter, eggs and a few unmentionables that will go unmentioned. Well, how flabbergasting it was to see the sea of flannel, ratty, plastic resemblances of shoes and tank tops that show a couple of bumps that should be well secured in holders, that I just had to explain to you how in my day we would just pop out to get a few things. Going shopping was an outing, an event — even the short errands. Why, it wasn’t a chore, it was a social whirl if done correctly. You never knew who you would meet and greet — could be your best friend, your man’s boss’s wife, a relative, or some dashing new stranger if you were looking for some fresh fish in the sea. You could end up at cocktails, lunch or both! You would dress to impress, to attract your admirers or exceed the expectations of your enemies. Here’s how getting ready for Mr. DeMille's close up was done.

 Let’s start down to the bare essentials — always have on clean underwear — heaven forbid you are out and a cute ambulance attendant sees an embarrassment such as a rip or worse while tending to your emergency. Your girdle should cinch just so — the hourglass leaves you with sand in all the right places. Your brassiere not only lifts and separates, but cantilevers the right angles by making sure you come to just enough of a point to be seen but not obscene. The photo on the right should help you. Be sure your stockings are free of runs, the weave lies straight along your legs, the toes and heels align properly. Your garters should have proper grips to keep your “legs up!”

Next, depending on your choice of attire, a nice, silky full or half slip will be in order. Choose either a silk or one of those new nylon blends for the economic minded. They’ll smooth out the sharp angles and tough seams needed to hold that super-duper girdle in place. Also, a little lace around the decollete and hem makes it just that much more special.

And ladies, don’t forget the crinoline to give your skirt that beautiful, wide sweep! Over the slip will keep the crisp, firm netting from feeling too scratchy on your dainty gams, or even worse — snagging your stockings!

For your dress, be sure to choose a kicky plaid, fun print or lively color in a cotton chintz or delightful duppioni to glimmer and shine just enough under those bright supermarket lights.

Now then, your other attributes — nails, hair and face. I must confess something to you. I have knowledge of the fact that Andrea and Heather have gone to the market ‘au naturale’ that is without painted eyes or lips, sillies, not the Lady Godiva version (perhaps with twenty years less on them they could have gotten their groceries for free, not so the case now…) but I have to be done. A swoosh of liquid eyeliner, a brush of blush, and a swath of lipstick with a matching tint on my nails will be just fine if I am in a hurry. Accessorize with patent pumps featuring a stiletto or kitten heel, matching handbag, string of pearls, and cotton gloves (just to the wrist) should suffice.

A dab of Chanel Number 5 behind the ears and on the wrists will do very nicely. A quick tease of your hair, maybe add a ribbon or bow at an adventurous and jaunty angle gives any girl that carefree, easy, breezy look.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Romance & Mystery

Tomorrow is Valentine's Day. Personally, I'm not a fan of this particular holiday...although I do appreciate the sale on Valentine's candy that will start on the 15th! That being said, I do like some romance in my mysteries. I guess that's not too surprizing in that I like romance novels as well.

When it comes to mysteries, cozies in particular, romance comes in several forms. One form has our protagonist meet her romantic partner at the start of the series, but circumstances (or their own opinions) keep them apart. This "will they or won't they" is probably my favorite form of mystery romance. Sometimes, this form changes. As the series progresses the couples sometime finally get together, sometimes they even get married. The romance between upper class hotel owner Cecily Sinclair and her butler, Baxter in Edwardian England is my favorite example of this sort of romance and can be found in the Penneyfoot Hotel Mystery series by Kate Kingsbury. Kate Carlisle also gives us a memorable couple with Brooklyn Wainwright and Derek Stone in her Bibliophile series. And I certainly cannot leave out Amelia Peabody and Radcliffe Emerson from Elizabeth Peters' Amelia Peabody Mystery series.

As in life, not all romantic couples in books last. Some series start with one romantic liaison which ends and our heroine finds a new love...or she keeps looking. Carole Nelson Douglas deftly handles this switch in the Midnight Louie Mystery series. Krista Davis explores this form in her Domestic Diva series.

Sometimes our authors give us a variety of possible romantic partners. Juliet Blackwell gives my favorite version of this romantic form in her Witchcraft series...although now I think Lily has found "the one". (He certainly is my pick!) Sometimes, the author has her heroine keep more than one romantic interest at the same time, specifically Joanne Fluke and the Hannah Swensen Mystery series.

While several of these romantic styles eventually lead to marriage, much more rare is the mystery series that starts with our romantic couple already wed. Cate Price has tackled this form in the Deadly Notions Mystery series. Peg Marberg also started her Interior Design Mystery series with a married couple.

What about you? Do you like some romance with your mystery? Do you have a preference as to romantic form? Who are some of your favorite couples?

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Currently Reading...

I'm currently reading Sixth Grave on the Edge by Darynda Jones. This book is the sixth Charley Davidson novel. This book is NOT a cozy mystery, but it is a mystery...and a romance...and it is wickedly funny. Charley has a lot going on in this book, but that's nothing new for her. She has a naked, old, dead guy in her car, thugs who have threatened to kill her friend if she doesn't find a certain woman, a police Captain following her, and a proposal from the Son of Satan. While dealing with all of this, and more, Charley also hatches a plan to get her uncle to finally ask Cookie on a date. I should also mention discovering more about Reyes birth parents, more prophesies, and a Dealer in souls also keep Charley occupied. Did I mention hormonal teenagers as well?

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Spotlight - Valentine's Day is Murder

Saturday is Valentine's Day, so to help celebrate I'm shining a spotlight on Valentine's Day is Murder by Carolyn Arnold. As a special treat, I'm sharing an excerpt from the book!

Chapter 2

Time Flies

Sean sipped his orange juice as he peered out a window that overlooked the backyard. The morning was overcast and would be downright gloomy if it wasn’t for the white blanket of snow clinging to the bushes and the trees. He had an odd realization—how depressing it would be if the snow were black, red, pink, or, essentially, any other color.

He was in the sitting room, with the dark wood trim and piano, both of which Sara had fallen in love with at first sight. She was holed up in her office, a room of the house she had claimed for her writing. He was glad to see that she was back to her craft and taking it more seriously than ever.

This left him with one concern. Valentine’s Day. It was a few days away and he wanted to make it memorable for Sara. But it was tough to devise a plan that would surprise the imagination of a novelist. He had given her jewels and a top-of-the-line desktop computer with a large monitor for Christmas.

And if the pressure of a memorable Valentine’s Day wasn’t enough, the end of this month marked one year since the day he’d proposed—and Sara’s birthday. Tagged onto that, the start of March was their wedding anniversary. Time had flown.

The last two months had been particularly busy as they set out organizing their private investigator firm. Obtaining their PI licenses had proven easy, given the advantage of their past experience. They renewed their licenses and registered a couple semi-automatic handguns. They were ready to go. The only things left were deciding on a name and setting up shop.

Sara came into the room. “Good morning, darling.”

“How’s the book coming along?”

“Oh, it comes.” She went over to him and kissed his forehead, but he tugged her down into his lap, swept his fingers through her hair, and took her mouth.

She put her hand on his chest, and pulled back. “Someone’s in a great mood this morning.”

“You have no idea. I was just thinking about how far we’ve come and how fast time goes.”

Sara let out a puff of breath. “I agree. Can you believe it’s almost been a year since we got married? It’s unbelievable to me.”

“It feels longer?”

She batted his chest and angled her head. “You want me to feed your ego? It’s been the best twelve months of my life, Sean.”

She pressed her lips to his, and he didn’t want the display of affection to end, but the shrill ring of the phone on the side table was enough to disrupt them.

“Let Helen get the phone. Now, where were—” He put his hand to the nape of her neck and drew her to him.

“Sara? Oh, I’m terribly sorry.” Helen, their housekeeper, stood in the doorway, her hand beneath her chin, and her eyes screwed up toward the ceiling. Her face was flushed when she looked back at them. “It’s for you, Sara.”

“Thank you.” She reached for the handset while remaining on Sean’s lap. “Hello, this is Sara McKinley.”

Sean played with her hair, twirling the long chestnut strands around his fingers.

“What do you mean gone?” Her eyes cut to him before she got up, paced a few steps, and stopped. “You have no idea where he is?”

Sean sat straighter and aligned eye contact with her.

“He just disappeared at dinner? And you haven’t seen him since? We’ll be there as fast as we can. Stay put, all right? Everything will be fine.” Sara lowered the receiver to its cradle. She appeared peaked.

Sean took her hand. “What is it?”

“Jimmy. He’s missing.”


“Yes. Meredith said she’d excused herself to go to the washroom and when she came back he was gone. They hadn’t even finished their meal.”

“He never came back to the resort?”

Sara shook her head. “What could have happened to him, Sean? I can’t see him leaving her there. Did someone take Jimmy?”
“I don’t know, darling, but we’re going to find out and get him back.”

Sunday, February 8, 2015

A Release Day Interview

I'd like to welcome Deirdre Verne to the blog today. Deirdre writes the Sketch in Crime Mystery series. Drawing Conclusions is the first book in the series and today is its release day!

Kathy: I think almost everyone is familiar with dumpster diving...and perhaps a large number of people have dived themselves, or at picked up a piece of furniture or other item someone left at the curb as trash. However, I don't think as many people are aware of freegans. Freegans could be referred to as extreme dumpster divers-going through garbage removing items to reuse-including food! How did you learn about freegans?

DV: Five years ago The New York Times Magazine ran a fabulous story about a group of spirited, young Freegans. All I could think about was how fast could I write a story featuring this lifestyle. The Freegans in the article impressed me with their resourceful ways and clever approach to life. It felt like a group that was constantly searching for a solution and that fit nicely with characters in a mystery series.

Kathy: I think a lot of people are interested in reducing their carbon footprint and treating the earth better. But, as Kermit said, "It's not easy being green". What are some easy tips for a greener lifestyle?

DV: As much as I like to research and write about eco-friendly living, I’m hardly the poster-child for this movement. However, after taking a tour of my local recycling facility, I realized how much garbage my family was producing. My goal now is to simply use less of everything, but if I had to pick one thing it would be our excessive use of water bottles. I’ve become a big fan of water fountains.

Kathy: CeCe is skilled at drawing and sketching. Are you artistic?

DV: I’m not artistic, however, my family is both artistic and musical, and I was feeling left out. Interestingly, I am good at remembering faces and that is the skill I wanted to impart on my main character, CeCe Prentice. I may not be able to sketch like CeCe, but I am good at remembering people’s facial features.

Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?

DV: When my oldest son was two, he contracted a horrible virus and I was up every night by his bedside. A friend handed me the first three Stephanie Plum books by Janet Evanovich and I was hooked.
Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?

DV: My books are considered soft-boiled mysteries that appeal to cozy readers. I don’t write in other genres, but I do have a popular college blog where I unravel the mystery of the student/teacher relationship.

Kathy: Tell us about your series.

DV: CeCe Prentice is an offbeat artist, living off-the-grid when her twin brother is found murdered. Her artistic ability proves to be invaluable as she assists the police with a series of sketches that reveal an answer much closer to home than expected.

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

DV: I absolutely have a favorite character and his name is Charlie Knudsen. Years ago, I had friend whose older brother was plucked off the beaches of Martha’s Vineyard to try out for a modeling job as the Marlboro Man. He landed on the horse and into the print ad, and let’s just say that memory stuck.

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

DV: I wanted to create a modern, female character reminiscent of Nelson DeMille’s John Corey. In fact, my query letter to agents read “she wouldn’t mind sharing a beer with John Corey, as long as the bottle was recycled.”

Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?

DV: I wanted a challenge and I wanted to feel like I had completed something. Little did I know that the literary process is extremely slow moving. In hindsight, I should have tried running marathons.

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

DV: First, I’d like one seat at the table to be given to an illustrator as opposed to an author and that artist would be Hilary Knight. I can’t tell you how many hours I sat analyzing the simple line drawings in Eloise. I loved the character’s charm and defiance and I see that in my own protagonist, CeCe Prentice.

Next, I’d invite Ira Levin, Susan Isaacs and Lois Lowry. Ira Levin was great at making the reader feel like the world was against them. Susan Isaacs made me laugh and Lois Lowry made me feel hope.

Kathy: What are you currently reading?

DV: I just finished The House Girl by Tara Conklin and Sisterland by Curtis Sittenfeld. I thoroughly enjoyed both books.

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

DV: I collect antique, hand-painted dinner and luncheon size plates. I have a huge collection and I recently had a china cabinet built using glass windows I had salvaged from a turn-of-the-century Victorian tear down.

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

DV: Lately I’ve had a craving for brussel sprouts. I’m sure I’m lacking an important vitamin. I balance the healthy stuff with Oreos and coffee ice cream. In a last ditch effort to save my waistline; I’ll grab a handful of Craisins for my sweet tooth.

Kathy: Do you have plans for future books either in your current series or a new series?

DV: I recently finished the second manuscript in the Sketch in Crime series and I’m currently working on the third.

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

DV: Interviewing people is a highlight for me and I’m no longer embarrassed to ask lots of questions. I’m either the worst or the best guest at a cocktail party, but I’m not sure which one.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Review - Dead Man Walker & Giveaway


Dead Man Walker by Duffy Brown
A Consignment Shop Novella

There are two sides to every story. When it comes to the Consignment Shop mysteries by Duffy Brown we've only heard Reagan Summerside's version of things, including her thoughts on that low down, albeit sexy, sometimes helpful, scum of a lawyer, Walker Boone. Until now. Duffy Brown has given us Dead Man Walker, a novella that acts as a bridge between last year's Pearls and Poison and the upcoming Demise in Denim. For this novella Boone has taken the reins. Dead Man Walker is told from Walker Boone's point of view and we finally see what he really thinks about Reagan.

Dead Man Walker starts with a naked corpse in a bathtub. From there things get interesting. Man hungry twins, a snake in the grass developer, society players, and the unwanted "help" of Reagan keep Walker Boone on his toes. As Boone looks into the murder he delves into the life of a hated man and discovers some secrets from his own past.

Dead Man Walker is another laugh out loud journey through Savannah with a myriad of lovable eccentric characters. Having the story told from Boone's point of view changed the flavor somewhat, but I enjoyed the change; not quite as wacky (unless Mercedes or KiKi are involved) but still wittily sarcastic. There are two sides to every story and I'm glad we got to hear Boone's.


Did you know that in addition to the Consignment Shop Mystery series Duffy Brown also writes the Cycle Path Mystery series? The first book, Geared for the Grave, was released in December. Would you like to have your own Geared for the Grave tote bag and Dead Man pen? Simply leave a comment by 11:59 pm EST Sunday night, February 8th telling us if you've ever done business with a consignment shop, Or comment about either of Duffy Brown's series. I'll pick 2 winners using

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Currently Reading...

I'm currently reading Lost Under a Ladder by Linda O. Johnston. This book is the first in the Superstition Mystery series.

Rory Chasen is looking for answers. Her fiance died after walking under a ladder. Did he die because of a superstition? Are superstitions real? Rory decides to travel to Destiny, California to attempt to learn the truth about superstitions. Fate may have more in store for Rory and her dog, Pluckie, than she imagined. On her first day in town Pluckie leads her to Martha, the owner of the Lucky Dog Boutique, who has just been injured. Surprisingly, Martha asks Rory to manage her store while she recuperates. Why didn't she choose one of her employees, or her more than willing nephew? Pluckie soon leads her to another body, one of the owners of the Broken Mirror Bookshop who wrote the book on superstitions that led her to Destiny. This time, its more than an injury, it's murder! Now Rory must not only look for answers about superstitions, but look out for a murderer as well!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Review - In Hot Water


In Hot Water by J.J. Cook
The Third Sweet Pepper Fire Brigade Mystery

Stella Griffin, the new fire chief, has finally decided to stay in Sweet Pepper, Tennessee, leaving Chicago behind. Her volunteer crew is becoming a family, but going through some growing pains. Stella has fully accepted Eric's presence-but others are afraid of it-especially councilman Bob Floyd who is determined to get rid of Eric. As In Hot Water opens Bob has just brought the property where Stella lives, in the log cabin that Eric built, and a place to which Eric is tied. Not only has be bought it, he rented a bulldozer to tear down her home-without giving her any notice. Will Bob destroy Stella's home, and Eric? In addition to worrying about Eric and her home, Stella has more professional worries. A fire has claimed the life of a prominent citizen and she joins forces with a state arson investigator to investigate. But someone doesn't want them to discover the truth and will take drastic steps to stop them.

Stella certainly does get into hot water in this latest installment of the Sweet Pepper Fire Brigade Mystery series. Since coming to Sweet Pepper, Tennessee Stella Griffin has had to deal with the good ol' boys club. Now she also has to deal with a councilman who's on the brink of madness, kidnapping, intimidation, possible corruption, as well as several potential suitors and the gossip that comes with living in a small town.

In Hot Water is an adrenaline filled ride from start to finish. As soon as Stella faces one dilemma she lands herself in another predicament. Yet J.J. Cook keeps a directed focus and never allows the book to become melodramatic. There may be a ghost involved, but the action is reality based and justifiable. The dangers Stella encounters are a necessary evil to drive the plot, as well as aid in character development, for the characters have grown, both within themselves as well as their relationships with others.

Recipes and tips about peppers included!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

A Red Headed Interview & Contest

I'm pleased to welcome Loretta Ross to Cozy Up With Kathy. Loretta writes the Auction Block Mystery series. Today is release day for Death and the Red Headed Woman, the first book in the series.

Kathy: Wren Morgan is an auctioneer. Although interested, I've never attended an auction. Do you participate in them?

LR: Oh, I wish I could take you to an auction! They're such fun. I've been going to auctions since I was a child, though I don't have time to attend a lot of them these days. That's probably for the best, though. Once, at a consignment auction, I bought an antique pump organ that was about five feet long, probably four-and-a-half feet tall, and weighed at least a hundred pounds. I didn't have a truck and wound up taking it home in the back of my little Dodge Shadow. I couldn't close the hatchback, of course, and it stood up well over the top of the car. I thought the car was going to sit up on its back wheels like an elephant. I couldn't resist it, though. It went for just $25. It's broken, but I don't know how to play the organ anyway, so that's okay.

...That makes sense, right?

Kathy: Wren is cataloging the contents of an ante-bellum mansion with a Civil War-era lost jewels legend. Are you a Civil War buff?

LR: I'm more a general history and a Missouri history buff. I like learning about the ordinary people who lived in the past and I'm always curious to know their stories, but I hate to think of the terrible things that happened during the war.

Kathy: Death Bogart (pronounced “Deeth”) has quite an unusual name. How did he get it?

LR: I named him Death as an homage to one of the classic heroes of detective fiction, Dorothy Sayers' Lord Peter Wimsey. Lord Peter's full name is Peter Death Bredon Wimsey. He says, in Murder Must Advertise, that most people saddled with the name pronounce it to rhyme with "teeth" but he prefers to rhyme it with "breath".

Kathy: In Death and the Red Headed Woman Death and Wren will have to solve two mysteries spanning a century and a half. How does working to solve a mystery from the past help and/or impede a current investigation?

LR: I think understanding the past can only help you understand the future. Personally, I find old mysteries to be the most fascinating. I read cold case files and unsolved murders and I want to know what happened and who did it and why. The problem with old mysteries, from a writer's perspective, is that you need a stake to create tension. There has to be danger and there have to be consequences to failure beyond the frustration of simply not knowing the solution. Tying the old case to a new case can be a way to add that missing element of suspense.

Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?

LR: I think, for me, the big attraction of cozy mysteries is that they're usually part of a series. I've loved reading for as long as I can remember, and I've always been drawn to mysteries, but I've always hated to finish a good book and say goodbye to the characters. I also like that cozies don't tend to get dark or violent. If I'm in the mood for something like that I can find it elsewhere, but cozies are a refuge from horrors.

I actually got in a discussion with two other authors recently that touched on this. A friend of mine who writes fantasy stated that, for a book to be any good -- to sustain any level of suspense--, you should be able to kill off any character. Another friend, a romance writer, and I disagreed. I do think that, if you're reading something and living vicariously through the character, you can share in the character's suspense about what's going to happen. It's entirely different from the more real-world-conscious suspense of knowing that the author might really kill off this character you feel connected to.

Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?

LR: I've written some poetry, mostly when I was younger, and I've written mysteries that aren't necessarily cozies. In addition to future books in this series, I'm working on a paranormal mystery that I'm really in love with. I have an idea for a fantasy novel, but I don't know if I'll ever get around to writing it. I'd also like to try my hand at scriptwriting and I'm trying to learn the basics of that now.

Kathy: Tell us about your series.

LR: The Auction Block Mysteries follow the adventures of auctioneer Wren Morgan and her boyfriend, a disabled Marine combat vet turned private eye named Death Bogart.

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

LR: One supporting character I'm very fond of is Roy Keystone, one of the auctioneers Wren works for. He's an ornery old man and is just tremendous fun to write.

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

LR: Not really? The characters just sort of came to life in my mind and started telling me their story.

Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?

LR: I've always *wanted* to write professionally, but for a long time I didn't have the confidence to chase the dream. It's been my good fortune to have some wonderful friends who supported and encouraged me.

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

LR: That's a tough one! I think they'd have to be Terry Pratchett, J.R.R. Tolkien, Shirley Jackson, and Dorothy Sayers.

Kathy: What are you currently reading?

LR: I tend to have several books going at once--one at home, one in my car, one in my locker at work, etc. Right now I'm reading We Are Not Good People by Jeffrey Somers, Let's Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson, and When The Ghost Screams by Leslie Rule.

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

LR: I've always been fascinated by true ghost stories. I don't believe every story but I do believe there are things in the world that we don't understand yet. In college I once followed a girl in a blue bathrobe into a shower room that had no other exits only to find it empty when I got inside.

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

LR: Peanut butter, some kind of cheese, Dr. Pepper, chocolate.

Kathy: Do you have plans for future books either in your current series or a new series?

LR: There are going to be at least three books in the Auction Block Mysteries. I've finished the second book and turned it in and I'm waiting now to hear if the publisher likes it. I'm working on the third book and also, as I said earlier, a paranormal mystery. The paranormal would be a standalone, though.

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

LR: There's a lot to like about being an author. I think one of my favorite things is that I always have an excuse to research anything I'm curious about. Also, you can ask anyone anything and call it research. I once asked a local law officer, "if you were arresting a man for attempted rape and his male reproductive organs had been fastened to a plywood floor with a nail gun, how would you go about that?" He resigned and moved to Colorado a couple weeks later, but I don't think that was because of me.

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