Tuesday, July 31, 2018

McKenna’s Skip Tracing Secrets - A Character Guest Post & Giveaway

I'm happy to welcome Wilson McKenna to the blog today. You can find him on the pages of the McKenna Mystery series by Terry Ambrose. The Scent of Waikiki is the ninth book in the series and was released earlier this month.

Hey, McKenna here. Before I became an amateur sleuth, I was a skip tracer. For those who don’t know, that’s a person who finds people who don’t want to be found. Primarily, I tracked down deadbeats who had skipped out on their bills.

Let me clue you to something about that kind of job—it’s not easy. Especially back in the days when I was doing it. We didn’t have all these fancy databases where you could push a button or two and find your skip halfway across the country. No, we had to do things the hard way.

Call it old-fashioned, but it was a fact of life. To get good at my job, I developed what I call McKenna’s Skip Tracing Secrets. After I tell you about them they won’t be very secret anymore. The fact is, I don’t expect any of the readers here on this blog to be visiting Hawaii just to murder someone. That makes sharing a few of these a safe move.

Without further ado, here’s the first one. Be flexible and go with the flow. That means when you’ve got a source talking, don’t interrupt him. And if he won’t talk, consider using Secret No. 2.

When in doubt, lie. That’s right. In the old days when we called a house looking for someone, we didn’t say, “Oh, hey, this is McKenna and I’d like to find your brother because he owes my employer a five thousand dollars and we want to force him to pay his obligations.” Seriously? That would be a no-go.

There was this one time I had my assistant, a very sweet sounding young lady, call up my skip’s mother. I’d tried calling the mother before and she’d shut me down. But I had a feeling she knew more than she was letting on. So I decided we needed a woman’s touch and set my assistant up with a story about how she’d met the mom’s son at a bar the night before and it had been love at first sight.

To my delight, my assistant was a natural. She ad libbed and convinced the mom she was dying to hook up with the son because they were destined to be together. The performance was a home run. Mom gave up her boy. We nabbed our guy. And I wanted to give my assistant a big fat raise.

Along those same lines, another of my secrets is if you lied, make a note to avoid screwing up your “facts” later on. I learned that one the hard way. Unlike my assistant, who had only a single cover story to deal with, I was weaving different tales all day long.

Now, I’m not saying I did a lot of lying in The Scent of Waikiki, but there were a few times I needed to call up the old skills. There was that one when my partner and I were dealing with a scammer who stole money from my tenant. So I don’t give away anything, let’s just call it a twist on the old “good cop, bad cop” routine.

How about you? Are you a good liar? If you want to lie about it, that’s okay. You can just invoke Secret No. 1.


The Scent of Waikiki (Trouble in Paradise) by Terry Ambrose

About the Book

 Cozy Mystery 9th in Series  
Satori (July 19, 2018) Print Length: 330 pages 
Honolulu landlord Wilson McKenna can smell a scam from across the room. So when one of his tenants loses everything in a work-at-home scam involving a new perfume, he’s shocked. With his wedding just weeks away, McKenna has to make a tough decision. Does he evict a woman who’s down on her luck? Or take time out from wedding planning to help his tenant?
Turning the case over to his PI-in-training friend Chance Logan seems like the perfect solution—until Chance tells McKenna he needs a wingman for a visit to fragrance entrepreneur Skye Pilkington-Winchester. McKenna’s sure he can keep everyone happy by helping Chance this one time. But nothing is ever as easy as it seems, and soon McKenna’s up to his board shorts in hot water. His tenant’s simple fragrance scam might involve industrial espionage, Skye’s assistant is murdered, and McKenna’s bride-to-be accuses him of having cold feet.
As McKenna and Chance dig deeper, it seems so much of what they’re being told doesn’t pass the sniff test. And the only way to get his life back is to find the dead girl’s missing boyfriend, unmask a killer, and finish up in time for the wedding. Other than that, it’s just another day in paradise.

About the Author

Terry Ambrose is a former skip tracer who tracked down deadbeats for a living. He’s long since turned his talents to writing mysteries and thrillers. Several of his books have been award finalists and in 2014 his thriller, “Con Game,” won the San Diego Book Awards for Best Action-Thriller. He likes cool photography, funny mysteries, and finding the oddest things while walking on the beach.

Author Links:  
Website: http://terryambrose.com
Facebook: http://facebook.com/suspense.writer  
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6447968.Terry_Ambrose

Purchase Link: Amazon B&N

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Sunday, July 29, 2018

The Quiche and the Dead - Spotlight

I am behind in so many series it's not even funny. And don't get me started on series I've been wanting to read, but haven't even started yet! I recently saw a few such books on sale and decided to buy them, not knowing when I'll get to read them...but I'll be ready. I decided to shine a spotlight on one of those books today. THE QUICHE AND THE DEAD by Kirsten Weiss is the first book in the Pie Town Mystery series.

From the back cover:

Is Val's breakfast pie the quiche of death?

Owning her own business seemed like pie in the sky to Valentine Harris when she moved to the coastal California town of San Nicholas, expecting to start a new life with her fiance. Five months-and a broken engagement-later, at least her dream of opening a pie shop has become a reality. But when one of her regulars keels over at the counter while eating a quiche, Val feels like she's living a nightmare.

After the police determine the customer was poisoned, business at Pie Town drops faster than a fallen crust. Convinced they're both suspects, Val's flaky, seventy-something pie crust maker Charlene drags her boss into some amateur sleuthing. At first Val dismisses Charlene's half-baked hypotheses, but before long the ladies uncover some shady dealings hidden in fog-bound San Nicholas. Now Val must expose the truth-before a crummy killer tries to shut her pie hole.


Friday, July 27, 2018

Purrder She Wrote - Review


The Second Cat Café Mystery

Maddie James is ready for the grand opening of her cat café, but not for the catfight between her volunteer and the island's resident society bad girl. When Holly is found dead, everyone assumes Adele did it. She not only had a history with the woman, she also had a temper. Maddie, however, has other suspects in mind. Adele's flighty young protege, Holly's own sister, and Maddie's brother-in-law could also have committed the crime. As Maddie works to make her new business a success, she can't help but get involved in the investigation. After all, good volunteers are hard to find.

I really enjoyed the second Cat Café mystery as we see Maddie open JJ's House of Purrs. There's a cozy atmosphere with enough laughs to counteract the drama. The characters and their motivation are what really drive the story. The abrasive, yet devoted, Adele, for whom it's all about the cats, the flighty, if not mentally unstable, volunteer, the entitled socialite and her equally mad twin, the cad of a brother-in-law, and the possibly too good to be true romantic interest combine to create a volatile world.

Maddie is an intriguing character. She's hardworking and dependable with plenty of love to give, yet ultimately flawed. She can sometimes see the errors of her ways, but is unable to stop her actions. Familial love and and an unquenchable curiosity continually propel Maddie into trouble, despite her efforts to have a quiet normal life with a successful business.

PURRDER SHE WROTE provides an interesting mystery while bringing attention to responsible pet ownership, cat rescue, and feral care. I share Maddie's desire for happy endings and homes for all of the strays and applaud those who struggle to make as many happily ever afters as possible.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Currently Reading...

I'm currently reading Toucan Keep a Secret by Donna Andrews. This book is the twenty third in the Meg Langslow Mystery series and will be released August 7th.

With Reverend Robyn Smith on bed rest, Meg Langslow is on duty at Trinity Episcopalian. Loud banging interrupts her from securing the church for the night and leads her to the graveyard only to find Julius Hagley, one of the Muttering Misogynists, dead inside the vandalized columbarium. Did he interrupt an intruder or did the women in the vestry finally have enough of him? Or was his murder somehow connected to an old unsolved jewel robbery, an event that tied all the disturbed cremains together?

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Death Al Dente - Spotlight

The latest Food Lovers' Village Mystery, As the Cookie Crumbles, was released last month and author Leslie Budewitz visited the blog. Today, however, I'd like to go back in time and shine a spotlight on the first book in the series, Death Al Dente.

 From the back cover:

The town of Jewel Bay, Montana-known as A Food Lovers' Village-is obsessed with homegrown and homemade Montana fare. So when Erin Murphy takes over her family's century-old general store, she turns it into a boutique market filled with local delicacies. But Erin's freshly booming business might go rotten when a former employee turns up dead...

Murphy's Mercantile, known as the Merc, has been a staple in Jewel Bay for over a hundred years. To celebrate their recent makeover as a gourmet food market, Erin has organized a town festival, Festa di Pasta, featuring the culinary good of Montana's finest-including her mother Fresca's delicious Italian specialties

But Erin's sweet success is soured when the shop's former manager, Claudette, is found dead behind the Merc on the Fiesta's opening night. With rival chef James Angelo stirring up trouble, and rumors swirling that Fresca's sauce recipes were stolen from Claudette, Erin's mother is under close scrutiny. Now Erin will have to hunt down some new suspects, or both her family and her store might wind up in hot water...

Recipes Included.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

The Square Root of Murder - Spotlight

I reached into the vault to pick a book to spotlight today. OK, I picked a book amongst the many stacked around my house, but every book is a treasure, no matter how they're stored, right? I chose The Square Root of Murder by Ada Madison. This book is the first in the Professor Sophie Knowles Mystery series.

From the back cover:

Dr. Sophie Knowles teaches math at Henley College in Massachusetts. Her students adore her because she always finds a way to make the most intimidating math seem fun. But lately, everyone's biggest problem isn't math-it's murder!

Between teaching, publishing puzzles and brainteasers, and beading at the local bead shop, A Hill of Beads, Sophie has a full schedule.Finding a chance to unwind isn't always in the equation. She still manages to make time to celebrate famous scholars of the past with her students. But their latest party makes one of their own a thing of the past...

Dr. Keith Appleton was the most disliked professor on campus, but it was Sophie's assistant, Rachel, who had a real problem with him-he refused to recommend her to a medical school. Sophie is confident that there's a calculating murderer among them, and equally confident it's not Rachel. The only possible answer is for Sophie to eliminate the lowest common denominator from campus herself.

Friday, July 20, 2018

Tied Up With Strings - Review


The First Serebral Seniors Mystery

American Betty Grape has come to a remote English village to spend Christmas with her friend's daughter. Once in Abbeyvayle however, Betty discovers the young woman behaving oddly. Why is she so unpleasant to the neighbors? Why is she so forgetful? And what's the real story behind the professor and his wife, whose cottage Catia is house sitting. There seem to be more questions than answers this holiday season.

TIED UP WITH STRINGS is a traditional mystery with a traditional setting-a remote English village during Christmastime. There is not much time to develop plot or characters in novellas and short stories. Neither were developed here, particularly the plot. What might be considered the prime mystery involved heinous crimes, but we never even meet the victims. When the truth is discovered, it's merely stated that the police will take care of it. It's a throw away. 

I did like the concept of this novella. The story itself, interesting, if only it were flushed out. If we got to meet the professor, his wife, and Marmalade and focused on that part of the mystery we as readers might be more invested. As it is we have a disagreeable young woman acting oddly and the protagonist trying to sort things out. When the secondary mystery is resolved we get a nice ending, but incongruous behavior.

TIED UP WITH STRINGS is a novella with promise that ultimately let me down.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Currently Reading...

I'm currently reading Purrder She Wrote by Cate Conte. This book is the second in the Cat Café Mystery series and will be released July 31, 2018.

Maddie James is ready for the grand opening of her cat café, but not for the catfight between her volunteer and the island's resident society bad girl. When Holly is found dead, everyone assumes Adele did it. She not only had a history with the woman, she also had a temper. Maddie, however, has other suspects in mind. Adele's flighty young protege, Holly's own sister, and Maddie's brother-in-law could also have committed the crime. As Maddie works to make her new business a success, she can't help but get involved in the investigation. After all, good volunteers are hard to find.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Food for Thought and the Cozy Mystery - Guest Post & Giveaway

I'm pleased to allow Cassidy Salem to take over Cozy Up With Kathy today. Cassidy writes the Adina Donati, Accidental Sleuth, Mystery series. Killer Reputation is the third book in the series and was released last month.

Food for Thought and the Cozy Mystery
by Cassidy Salem

Can a cozy mystery be suspenseful and thought provoking at the same time? Of course, it can. The Adina Donati murder mysteries all touch on social issues and current events, such as animal welfare, environmental protection, immigration, or cybercrime. Adina’s workplace, a prestigious think tank, naturally lends itself to discussions of a wide range of issues.

This is particularly the case in the second book in the series. When I started writing Dying for Data, I didn’t set out to focus on social issues or educate readers. It just kind of happened. Sometimes, plots and characters have a mind of their own and take us where they want to go.  In the process of trying to help her neighbor’s boyfriend, Adina had to learn a lot about immigration – legal and illegal – and the pros and cons of sanctuary cities. Of course, this required research on my part, and I made every effort to present both sides of the issue – without endorsing either point of view.  Similarly, Think Murder and Killer Reputation both touch on quasi-political subjects and characters without sanctioning a specific position, and without endorsing (or opposing) any political party.

After I finished Dying for Data, I wasn’t sure what reaction to expect from readers. Had I gone too far?  I was pleasantly surprised to see reader’s feedback, ranging from “I loved the way the author weaves in current social and political topics without grandstanding,” to “Although immigration and the varying opinions on the topic form a large part of the plot, the book never gets political and does not preach.”  I hope that readers will feel the same way about the way issues are handled in Killer Reputation


Killer Reputation (Adina Donati, Accidental Sleuth) by Cassidy Salem

About the Book

Cozy Mystery 3rd in Series 
Self Published (June 15, 2018)  
Paperback: 182 pages 
Adina can’t resist snooping when someone she knows turns up dead. Again.
When a colleague at a prestigious think tank meets a violent death, Adina’s not convinced any of the obvious suspects disliked him enough to want him dead. Can the young research assistant, a quirky neighbor, and a lovable rescue pup help the police put together the pieces of the puzzle?

About the Author


About the Author

Cassidy Salem has always been an avid reader. She is especially fond of mysteries (both cozy and traditional) and police procedurals. Cassidy also enjoys reading historical fiction focused on American and world history, as well as the classics. When she’s not reading, she enjoys music and spending time with family and friends, and travels with her husband and son whenever possible. Her travels have taken her to destinations throughout the United States, Europe, and Scandinavia.

Author Links:
Twitter: @csalem11  
Facebook: Adina Donati, Accidental Sleuth  
Blog: https://cassidysalem.wordpress.com/    

Purchase link: Amazon

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