Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Currently Reading...

I just finished reading An Art Lover's Guide to Paris and Murder by Dianne Freeman. This book is the seventh in the Countess of Harleigh Mystery series and will be released June 25, 2024.

George Hazleton has always had a special fondness for his unconventional Aunt Julia, so when she asks him to visit her in Paris regarding a private matter he can't say no. He also can't say no to his wife Frances, formerly the Countess of Harleigh who insists she accompany him. They can make the trip a holiday and include a visit to the Paris Exhibition as well as investigate the suspicious death of the artist Paul Ducasse on behalf of Aunt Julia. But when they meet with her, she's reluctant to talk about the matter and eventually tells them, she was mistaken and there's nothing to look into. When an accident turns out to be murder George and Frances will have to uncover the many secrets of Julia's life in order to catch a killer!

Tuesday, June 11, 2024

A Lethal Lake Effect - A Guest Post & Giveaway

I'm pleased to allow Margo Bonner to take over Cozy Up With Kathy today. You can find Margo on the pages of the Victoria Square Mystery series by Lorraine Bartlett. A Lethal Lake Effect is the ninth book in the series and was released last week.


Hi, my name is Margo Bonner. and I’m a relatively new fixture on Victoria Square. My late son, Chad, invested in the failing Artisans Alley arts-and-crafts arcade. His wife, Katie, not only inherited his share of the business, but that of his partner. She’s made the business a success —something nobody thought was possible, especially me!

Katie’s and my relationship had a rocky start. That was my fault. Like many moms of only children, I didn’t think anyone was good enough for Chad. I was wrong, and it took a couple of years after his death for me to figure that out. (Therapy is a good thing!) I’ve since left Manhattan and now reside in McKinlay Mill, where I’ve leased a loft apartment (to be built) and a gallery space. You see, Chad was not only a school teacher, but also a gifted painter. (I’m his mother. I’m allowed to think of him as gifted.) My first show will be Chad’s paintings, but this isn’t just a vanity project. I intend to help make the Victoria Square Annex into a thriving business filled with retail and residential spaces. To quote Susan B. Anthony, “Failure is impossible!”

In addition to my gallery, I’m associated with another business on the Square: Tealicious, the tea shop I own with Katie. We hired a world-class chef manager, and the business is thriving. Brad makes exquisite pastries (his specialty).

I have other aspirations, as well. An important one is mentoring the two youngest Davenport sisters, Sadie and Sasha, daughters of Ray Davenport, who owns the Square’s Wood U gift shop. They lost their mother a few years back. I have not stepped into that role, but the girls and I lunch on a regular basis, and I’m helping them with a project that’s in the Square’s best interests. I so enjoy their company. Once a mom, always a mom!

But that’s not all I’m up to. You’ll have to read A Lethal Lake Effect to see what’s brewing in Katie’s mind when it comes to our relationship. Good? Bad? Indifferent? 

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

 A Lethal Lake Effect (A Victoria Square Mystery) by Lorraine Bartlett

About A Lethal Lake Effect

A Lethal Lake Effect (A Victoria Square Mystery)
Cozy Mystery 9th in Series
Setting - Victoria Square, McKinlay Mill, NY
Publisher: ‎ Polaris Press (June 6, 2024)
Number of Pages: 306

Things go awry for Katie Bonner when her former mother-in-law, Margo, throws a housewarming party at her lakeside rental and one of her guests ends up dead in the water. Maxwell Preston was a devoted husband--and a not-so-great dad. He was a beloved pharmacist who didn’t take care of his ramshackle property, which is destined to be a hot commodity on Victoria Square when his heir puts it up for sale. But most of all, Preston was a stranger to the others who attended the party.

Meanwhile, Nona Fiske takes charge of Victoria Square big summer extravaganza—a disaster in the making as what little power she’s seized has gone straight to her head. The Davenport sisters have their own agenda, and they’ve not only been poking around to find out more about the dead man, but what other mischief has been going on around the Square.

So, who killed Maxwell Preston and why? That’s what Katie wants to know—and she’s willing to risk everything to find out.

About Lorraine Bartlett

The immensely popular Booktown Mystery series is what first put Lorraine Bartlett’s pen name Lorna Barrett on the New York Times Bestseller list, but it’s her talent -- whether writing as Lorna, or L.L. Bartlett, or Lorraine Bartlett—that keeps her in her readers’ hearts. This multi-published, Agatha-nominated author also pens the exciting Jeff Resnick Mysteries as well as the acclaimed Victoria Square and Lotus Bay Mystery series, and the Tales of Blythe Cove Manor, and has many short stories and novellas to her name(s).

Author Links: 

Newsletter List: http://oi.vresp.com?fid=aee11a8d64  

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/lorraine-bartlett  

Facebook Profile: https://www.facebook.com/lorraine.bartlett  

Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/LorraineBartlett.author/  

Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/LorraineBartlettmysteries/  

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/bartlett_lorraine/  

Website: http://www.lorrainebartlett.com  

Amazon: https://amzn.to/44njWmo  

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4017727.Lorraine_Bartlett  

Purchase Links: Kindle Kobo Nook Google Play Smashwords  

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Sunday, June 9, 2024

Witchy Bad Blood - An Interview, Excerpt, & Giveaway

I'm pleased to welcome C. A. Phipps to Cozy Up With Kathy today. C. A. writes the Midlife Potions Mystery series. Witchy Bad Blood is the fourth book in the series and was released last week.


Kathy: Jess would rather be waving a spatula than a wand. What about you? Which would you rather wield?

CAP: I love baking too! It comes a close second to writing.

Kathy: Jess has a snarky cat familiar. Do you have a cat, snarky or otherwise?

CAP: Not right now, but I have had one. Instead I have a prima donna dog. She has us wrapped around her tiny paw and knows it!

Kathy: Jess wants to open a bakery. Do you like to bake? What's your favorite thing to bake? Do you have a favorite bakery item to eat?

CAP: As I said I do love to bake and will give most things a try although nothing too fancy. I bake scones most weeks which are very English and easy. Savory scones are amazing and perfect for winter with soup. My favorite bakery item is carrot cake.

Kathy: What's your favorite thing about writing paranormal cozies?

CAP: Anything goes! Not only to I get to make my fictitious world I can let my imagination run free.

Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?

CAP: Having read Agatha Christie and Enid Blyton growing up it felt like a natural fit.

Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?

CAP: I’ve written contemporary romance for years.

Kathy: Tell us about your series. 

CAP: Right now I have 4 series. Midlife Potions is my only paranormal series but the first book in a new one will be coming out for Christmas. It centers around Jessica Lavender who becomes a witch at 45. Her cat explains the situation which as you can imagine is a shock. Now she must go home and run her mom’s potions store and since she is a baker Jess is not happy about it.

Maple Lane Mysteries features Madeline Flynn who comes home to care for her Gran and gets to have her dream of opening her own bakery. When a friend is found murdered she must solve the crime before her ex-boyfriend, now the sheriff, puts her in jail!

The Cozy Café Mysteries has three sisters who are fighting to keep their mom’s café going, but the Mayor and his cronies have other ideas. They are suckers for rescue pets.

The Beagle Diner Mysteries is about a celebrity chef hounded by the paparazzi. Along with her corgi, Cinnamon, Lyra St Claire is embroiled in a murder that changes their lives.

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

CAP: My favorite character is always the one I am currently writing about. Right now it is Jessica Lavender in Midlife potions. The fact that she is older means I can relate to how she feels in certain circumstances.

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

CAP: In another life I would have been so happy to have a bakery. Sharing recipes with readers and imagining them trying them out makes me happy.

Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?

CAP: I had so many stories languishing when I met my small posse of like-minded authors at a conference. We pushed each other forward and 45 books later….

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

CAP: Agatha Christie, Jane Austen, Marian Keyes, Diana Gabaldon.
 

Kathy: What are you currently reading?

CAP: The Seven Sisters by Lucinda Riley.

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

CAP: After baking, I sew and make miniature settings from packs – coffee shop, flower shop etc. I also love watching Football and Rugby.

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

CAP: Cheese, milk, chocolate and flour.

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

Yes already have the next book in the series up for preorders as well as 2 for books in other series and a preorder for a cookbook! My next series will begin in December but has no title yet.

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

CAP: Being my own boss is right up there with doing something I love.

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

Book Excerpt: 

Maestro must trust her enough to agree to finally let her have the one thing she’d dreamed of since she was a child. Not a bakery to work in—her bakery. "You won’t be sorry, Maestro. I’ll work as hard as you need me to." "I’m counting on it," the cat said dryly. "Now, perhaps you should test our theory and go bake something that you might encourage someone to eat." While Jess pondered how his mind had changed so fast, even though he hated the idea, she was ridiculously happy and couldn’t help showing it. "Actually, that could be an issue." His eyes narrowed. "In what way?" "People want to eat my food," she teased. "I certainly don’t need to push them to do it with a spell.” He snorted and the crabby cat disappeared for a brief moment so that he looked adorably cute, making her want to hug him. She refrained. Ever since he revealed he was a talking cat and she discovered she was a witch, displays of affection became off-limits. She’d owned him for five years before that incredible day changed her life and her mom had had him before that. Five years of snuggles, kisses, and pats. Then, nothing. Maestro eyed her for a moment, his expression uncharacteristically confused. Then he coughed and continued along the path. "We should get back. Your sister still needs supervision most of the time." Secret sister, she corrected in her head, as a wave of coldness ran over her body. "Maestro…" Turning quickly at her tone, he raced back to her side. "What is it?" "Something smells wrong. There’s something in the woods that doesn’t feel right.” His ears flick left and right. "Something—or someone?" They peered through the trees, her nose searching for the source of the smell, trying to discern its meaning. It couldn’t be deemed as friendly. Was it a warning? Danger or perhaps death? She shivered. To know what death smelled like was all kinds of wrong.

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

 Witchy Bad Blood: A Paranormal Cozy Mystery (Midlife Potions) by C. A. Phipps

About Witchy Bad Blood

Witchy Bad Blood: A Paranormal Cozy Mystery (Midlife Potions)
Paranormal Cozy Mystery 4th in Series
Setting - Good Fortune - Oregon
Independently Published (June 1, 2024)
Print length: ‎ 169 pages

Family can be deadly!

No one, including Jess, had any idea she was anything exceptional. Until she began solving crimes.

The trouble is, she'd rather be waving a spatula than a wand and her snarky cat familiar isn't happy about it.

She's listed her priorities: 1 Bring her mom back from the ghostly realm. 2 Open a bakery. 3 Try to keep her mouth shut about her secret sister—who she has to work with. 4 Don't ask questions about her father.

Having a plan will make life bearable-as long as there isn't another murder and she doesn't mess anything up!

This paranormal cozy mystery will have you questioning everything you thought you knew about magic and murder.

Midlife Potions Witchy Awakening Witchy Hot Spells Witchy Flash Back Witchy Bad Blood

About C. A. Phipps

C. A. Phipps is a USA Today best-selling author from beautiful New Zealand. Cheryl is an empty nester living in a quiet suburb alongside her wonderful husband, 'himself'. With an extended family to keep her busy when she's not writing, there is just enough space for a crazy mixed breed dog who stole her heart! She enjoys family times, baking, and her quest for the perfect latte.

Author Links: 

You can find me via my website and pick up the book at the same time: http://caphipps.com  

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/groups/cozymysteryreaderhangout  

BookBub https://www.bookbub.com/authors/c-a-phipps  

GoodReads https://www.goodreads.com/caphipps  

Twitter/X https://twitter.com/CherylAPhipps 

Instagram https://www.instagram.com/caphippsauthor/   

Purchase Links - Amazon B&N Kobo  

You can find me via my website and pick up the book at the same time: http://caphipps.com Or get your copy via any other platform: https://books2read.com/witchy-bad-blood  

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Friday, June 7, 2024

Kill or Bee Killed - A Review & Giveaway

Review


KILL OR BEE KILLED by Jennie Marts
The Second Bee Keeping Mystery 


Back in Humble Hills, Colorado, mystery writer Bailey Briggs is enjoying life. She's reunited with her best friend, Evie, she's rekindling a romance with her first love, and she's relieved that her daughter, Daisy, is fitting in and is happy. The town is all abuzz for their Bee Festival, organized by none other than Bailey's grandmother. In addition to festival foods, a beauty contest, and a fun run, there's also a bake off in which Evie is competing. While the judges are local, the host is a television journalist from California. Unfortunately, he turns out to be an obnoxiously arrogant and handsy jerk. When he winds up dead, Evie becomes a prime suspect and Bailey and the Hive start investigating.

I really love this fun series. Bailey is a likable protagonist who falls into some outrageous situations, yet is also a caring and watchful mother. Smart and loyal, she's a capable adult who also goes all gooey over Sawyer. Evie is a perfect partner in crime who also whips up some delicious recipes. In fact, all of the food prepared by the contestants in the bake off had my mouth watering. I love Spike and hope his character sticks around. At times laugh out loud funny, KILL OR BEE KILLED also pulls at the heartstrings. There are adrenaline rushing scenes, emotional scenes, and an ending that had my jaw drop.

Friendship, love, and loyalty as well as plenty of laughs make KILL OR BEE KILLED a delightfully entertaining mystery. 

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

 Kill or Bee Killed (A Bee Keeping Mystery) by Jennie Marts

About Kill or Bee Killed

Kill or Bee Killed (A Bee Keeping Mystery)
Cozy Mystery 2nd in Series
Setting - Colorado
Publisher: ‎ Crooked Lane Books (June 4, 2024)
Hardcover: ‎ 336 pages

Perfect for fans of Laura Childs and Amanda Flower, this second Bee Keeping mystery takes Bailey Briggs to the brink as murders threaten the future of her granny’s Bee Festival.

The small town of Humble Hills, Colorado, is abuzz with excitement over the upcoming annual Bee Festival, sponsored by Bailey’s Granny Bee and the Honeybuzz Mountain Ranch. The long weekend of festivities includes a beauty pageant, beekeeping demonstrations, a local restaurant bake-off, and a 3K Bear Run where all the participants are dressed as bears. The bake-off brings in a television crew from California to film, so it’s the most drama-filled part of the weekend, especially when the famous celebrity host winds up dead.

Because the celebrity was holding her bracelet and had been witnessed having an altercation with Bailey’s best friend Evie shortly before his death, everyone suspects Evie of the murder—and Bailey is quickly on the hunt for clues to clear Evie’s name, alongside Granny Bee and her bunch of geriatric misfit friends. Bailey’s potential new honey, Sheriff Sawyer Dunn, is none too pleased to have Bailey buzzing around the investigation, but Bailey’s determined to uncover the truth, rescue her grannie’s beloved Bee Festival, and save her bestie.

They say you get more flies with honey, but in this case, more honey may mean you end up dead. And a little competition never hurt anyone—unless it ends up killing you.

About Jennie Marts

Jennie Marts is the USA TODAY Best-selling author of award-winning books filled with love, laughter, and always a happily ever after. Readers call her books “laugh out loud” funny and the “perfect mix of romance, humor, and steam.” Fic Central claimed one of her books was “the most fun I’ve had reading in years.”

She is living her own happily ever after in the mountains of Colorado with her husband, two dogs, and a parakeet who loves to tweet to the oldies. She’s addicted to Diet Coke, adores Cheetos, has never missed an episode of Survivor, and believes you can’t have too many books, shoes, or friends.

Her books include the following small town romance series: Cowboys of Creedence, Creedence Horse Rescue Series, Lassiter Ranch, Hearts of Montana, the Bannister Brothers (hockey romcom), Cotton Creek , and two hilarious cozy mysteries series, The Page Turners and The Bee Keeping Mysteries.

Jennie loves to hear from readers. Follow her on Facebook at Jennie Marts Books, or Twitter at @JennieMarts. Visit her at www.jenniemarts.com and sign up for her newsletter to keep up with the latest news and releases.

Author Links:  

Webpage: https://jenniemarts.com/  

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JennieMartsBooks  

Twitter/X: https://twitter.com/JennieMarts  

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jenniemartswriter/  

GoodReads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/198562214-kill-or-bee-killed  

Purchase Links - Amazon Barnes & Noble Apple Kobo Audible 

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The Light Beside the Sea - An Excerpt, Review, & Giveaway

 Review


THE LIGHT BESIDE THE SEA by Connie di Marco
The Fifth Zodiac Mystery

Astrologer Julia Bonatti finds herself immersed in Maya culture and the circumstances surrounding the architectural dig her fiancé was on before his untimely death. When another member of the team is killed, Julia wonders once more if the hit and run that killed Michael was really an accident. And what's with the strange man that only she can see? Is the professor in charge of that ill fated dig responsible for the deaths? The more Julia uncovers, the more questions she raises...and the closer danger comes.

I love the Zodiac Mystery series and absolutely devoured this fifth entry. I was captivated, not only by the astrological information shared, but the cultural information about the Maya as well. It's fascinating to discover modern day practitioners of the Maya religion, though, like Julia, I didn't care for their ritual authenticity. I really enjoyed the appearance of the Hunhau even as it brought about Julia's concern for her own mental health, since only she can see him. The possibilities were intriguing.  

I absolutely love Julia and am happy that she's slowly but surely moving on with her life. The subplot with Gloria and her neighbor is timely and moving...funny too. New characters make their mark and I hope we get to see more of Rafael and Manuela. 

THE LIGHT BESIDE THE SEA is emotional, funny, thrilling, exciting, and intriguing. There's more than one mystery, romance, humor, and drama all captured in a compelling story. Everything, including events that happened before the series began, is tied together seamlessly, creating a wonderful new story as other issues are brought to an end.

Taut storytelling with just the right hint of the paranormal make THE LIGHT BESIDE THE SEA is a gripping mystery that held me spellbound.

The Light Beside the Sea by Connie di Marco Banner

THE LIGHT BESIDE THE SEA

by Connie di Marco

June 3-28, 2024 Virtual Book Tour

Synopsis:

The Light Beside the Sea by Connie di Marco

The Zodiac Mysteries

 

So many deaths . . . An elusive shaman, a creature of the underworld, Here to unleash evil? Or bring justice to the wronged?

San Francisco astrologer Julia Bonatti has been haunted for years by the hit and run death of her fiancé, Michael Sefton. The driver of the vehicle was never apprehended. The lone witness to the accident spoke to no one and now is dead. Even the cold case detective assigned to the case died before any resolution was found. Every time Julia thought she might be getting close to an answer, each clue led only to a dead end.

Michael, a graduate student, had just returned from an archeological dig in Guatemala when he was killed. But why did he mail his journal to Julia for safekeeping before his return home? What was he afraid of? Why did another graduate student fall to his death on that trip? And now, another man connected with that journey has been murdered closer to home. And the murderer hasn’t finished.

When Julia finally finds the courage to delve into the journal Michael sent to her years before, she learns of the undercurrents, jealousies and anger between members of the group. She begins to understand the pressure and fear her fiancé was coping with and his suspicions of their University mentor who was most likely engaged in unethical and illegal behavior.

But events soon take a darker turn when Julia finds a likeness of the Maya god Hunhau, god of death and the underworld, on her doorstep. A strange man covered with markings and tattoos keeps appearing to her but no one else seems to see him. With guidance from another professor she’s introduced to a world she never knew existed.

Is the man she sees human? And is he under the sway of the Maya god of death?

Will he unleash evil or is he here to right a wrong done to his people?

Julia must move quickly or her death will be the next.

Book Details:

Genre: Traditional mystery
Published by: Indie
Publication Date: May 6, 2024
Number of Pages:370 est
ISBN: 979-8989009596 | eBook 9798989009589
Series: The Zodiac Mysteries, Book 5
Book Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

Rafael was silent on the drive along Market Street. He turned south at Van Ness and followed that wide boulevard until we reached the corner of Folsom and 21st. We were away from the fog in the western part of the city and the sun had dipped below the horizon. The dash lights cast his face in long shadows. I was starting to regret accepting his invitation but his curiosity was contagious. I wanted to know as much as I could about this collection of tiny bones and what it could mean. Mostly, why it was dumped on my doorstep and why was I seeing things no one else could see. “You seem to really know your way around the city,” I remarked. “Angelenos usually hate driving in San Francisco.”

He turned his head and broke into a wide smile. “I grew up in the Mission. Long before it was a trendy place to live. It’s certainly changed a lot over the years, but I know the place like the back of my hand.” He pulled to the curb in front of a well-maintained rather plain two-story Victorian painted a soft blue. “This is the place. This lady’s name is Manuela. She has . . . certain talents.”

“Do you think she’ll see us now?”

“Yes,” he nodded. “I’ve known her most of my life. I planned to visit her on this trip to the city anyway.” He climbed out of the car and walked around to the passenger side, opening the door for me. I followed him up the long wooden stairway where he knocked and rang the bell. A lamp was lit at the front windows and through the curtain I could see a light burning at the end of a long hallway, a kitchen light. A few moments later, a figure appeared backlit by the light. The door opened to reveal a stout woman somewhere in her sixties, with a smiling round face and a mop of gray curly hair. She wore a long colorful dress with bright patterns of red, green and orange.

Ay,” her smile became wider. “Mijo, how are you?” She spoke in heavily-accented English.

“I’m fine, Doña Manuelita.” He leaned over and gave her a warm hug. “I hope it’s okay, I brought a friend who has some questions. This is Julia,” he said. “I’m hoping you can help her.”

Si, si, of course, of course, come in.” We stepped inside the entryway. Manuela turned to me and took my hands in hers. She closed her eyes for a few moments as she held tight to my hands. “Si, okay,” she said. I felt as if I had just passed an inspection. She turned and without another word led us through an archway into a central room where the windows were covered with heavy drapes. She switched on a small lamp at a side table and sat down. She waved a hand to indicate we should sit and Rafael and I sat on either side of her.

“Julia, show Manuela the talisman you received.”

I pulled the narrow box out of my purse and pulled the top off. I pulled back the cloth covering and left the figure of bones resting in its bed. I pushed it across the table to Manuela. She moved it closer and gazed at it for a long moment. She held a hand above the bones without touching them. A faraway look came into her eyes. She sighed deeply then stood and reached for a heavy candleholder from the credenza. She lit the candle and turned off the lamp. Other than the flickering flame, the room was completely dark. Rafael sat silently, watching her. She placed her fingertips gently on the bones and leaned back in the chair, her eyes closed. Her breathing became heavier. I was reminded of Zora and the way she appeared when going into a trance state.

“Aaahh,” she breathed a long sigh and began to tremble. She moaned and began to mumble in words I couldn’t make out. Then she uttered a long stream of words in a language I didn’t recognize, peppered with a few words in Spanish. After several minutes of this, she finally fell silent and opened her eyes, glancing first at Rafael and then at me. She spoke rapidly in Spanish to Rafael. He nodded in acknowledgment and turned to me.

“Manuela says there is great danger. That someone has come here from far away. He is human, like a shaman, and he is in the sway of terrible forces we cannot understand. No harm is aimed at you. He is here to cure something, to right a wrong, like . . . lancing a boil. She doesn’t know what he intends to do but it has something to do with his culture, with righting a wrong against that culture. You must be very careful that you are not near those who have done wrong otherwise you would not be safe. Your death could also result.

I took a deep breath. “Is that all she said?”

“That’s the gist of it.”

Manuela grasped my hand. “This,” she said, indicating the talisman, “is to tell you he is here. Bad things will happen.” She turned to Rafael. “You explain better to your friend.”

“I will,” his face was quite serious. He turned to Manuela, “I’ll come back for a real visit. Tomorrow?”

Her face lit up. “Si, come then.” She stood and turned the lamp back on, blowing out the candle. She made the sign of the cross on her breast and took my hands in hers once more. “Tenga cuidado, señorita.

I had been present at psychic readings and seances, but there was something about this evening that chilled me to the bone. I followed Rafael out to the front door and turned to Manuela. “Gracias, Manuela.”

She smiled widely, “De nada.”

***

Excerpt from The Light Beside the Sea by Connie di Marco. Copyright 2024 by Connie di Marco. Reproduced with permission from Connie di Marco. All rights reserved.

 

 

Author Bio:

Connie di Marco

Connie di Marco is the author of the Zodiac Mysteries featuring San Francisco astrologer Julia Bonatti, a woman who never thought murder would be part of her practice. The Light Beside the Sea is the fifth novel in the series. Earlier books are The Madness of Mercury (Zodiac #1), All Signs Point to Murder (Zodiac #2), Tail of the Dragon (Zodiac #3), Enter a Wizard, Stage Left (an e-book prequel novella), and Serpent's Doom (Zodiac #4).

Writing as Connie Archer, she is also the author of the national bestselling Soup Lover's Mysteries from Penguin Random House: A Spoonful of Murder, A Broth of Betrayal, A Roux of Revenge, Ladle to the Grave and A Clue in the Stew. You can find her excerpts and recipes in The Cozy Cookbook and The Mystery Writers of America Cookbook. Visit her website at ConnieArcherMysteries.com. Facebook.com/ConnieArcherMysteries and X/Twitter@SnowflakeVT.

Connie is a member of the Mystery Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, Crime Writers Association (UK) and Sisters in Crime.

You can learn more about the Zodiac Mysteries and read excerpts at:
ConniediMarco.com
Goodreads
BookBub - @Connie_di_Marco
Instagram - @Connie_di_Marco
Twitter/X - @AskZodia
Facebook - @connie.di.marco.author

 

 

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Wednesday, June 5, 2024

Currently Reading...

I am currently reading Murder on the Med by Nancy Cole Silverman. This book is the third in the Kat Lawson Mystery series and was released yesterday.

A former investigative reporter now working for the FBI, Kat Lawson has certainly earned a vacation. Her cover magazine, Travel International, has arranged a cruise for her along the Amalfi Coast. She's to relax and write a puff piece about her ship, the Athena, which is actually a traveling home for wealthy retired senior citizens. However, two elderly women say that their friend, Dede Drummerhausen, whose cabin Kat is subletting, did not leave the ship as planned. They believe she was pushed overboard, possibly murdered! When Kat finds a gold coin hidden in her cabin, she wonders if something sinister could really be going on. Antiquities theft? Murder? So much for a peaceful relaxing vacation!

Tuesday, June 4, 2024

Case of the Whale Watching Wedding Planner - A Guest Post & Giveaway

I'm pleased to welcome Georgia Hampton to Cozy Up With Kathy today. You can find Georgia on the pages of The Case of the Whale Watching Wedding Planner by Debbie De Louise. This book is the fourth in the Buttercup Bend Mystery series.


Hello, readers. This is Georgia Hampton from The Case of the Whale Watching Wedding Planner that’s on tour with Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours. Since I’m a main character in this book, albeit the victim, I thought I’d fill you in on the suspects and the details of my murder.

I was killed on my boat, The Lucky Star, that’s docked at Captain Sharp’s Fleet and Whale Watching Tours. Cathy Carter and her friends, Nancy Meyers and Mildred Hastings, found my body when Thomas (Tommy) Mueller, one of my co-workers, brought them onto my boat. They were looking for me because they wanted to speak with me about planning a triple wedding. Besides giving whale-watching tours, I’m also a wedding planner. At least, I was a wedding planner.

Cathy, Nancy, and Mildred had solved a previous murder case at a llama farm in The Case of the Llama Raising Librarian (https://books2read.com/u/bPLBJJ). Cathy, besides owning a pet rescue center and freelancing as a photographer for the Buttercup Bugle, is also a detective with the Hunt, Meyers, and Carter Agency. She and Nancy were hired by my sister, Ginny, my partner in the wedding planning business, to solve my murder. They also asked Mildred, a librarian with good instincts and research skills, to help them.

Now I hate to list my sister as a suspect, but Ginny has always been jealous of me. I took her boyfriend away from her years ago, and I don’t think she forgave me for that. She’s also had to mollify some of our wedding business clients because I have a habit of taking fiancés away from their brides-to-be. I flirt with them and then leave them. One particular case involved a woman named Tina who was engaged to a doctor from India. I took Shankar away from her and then dumped him. Afterwards, Tina found another boyfriend, Raphael (Raff) Wright, who also worked at the whale-watching company. Not only does he lead whale-watching tours as a naturalist who informs guests about the different types of whales, but he’s also an artist and paints aboard the ship during the tour. He sells his works as souvenirs when the tours are over.

Now you might consider Tina as a suspect because I took the doctor away from her even though she now sees Raff. But my history with Raff is also interesting. There’s a rumor that I dated him, but I’d rather not deny or confirm that. Raff has his own secrets. He’s the brother-in-law of Captain Dan Sharp. He and his sister, Eloise, are close. Captain Sharp has secrets, too. He has an ex-wife, Yolanda, who works at the same hospital as Dr. Shankar Shah.

I know I’ve thrown a lot of suspects at you. There’s just one more: Angela (Angel), a deckhand at the whale-watching center who is dating Tommy Mueller. She’s a perky young woman. Is there something she’s also hiding?

There you have it. All the suspects in my murder: my sister Ginny; Captain Sharp; Raff Wright; Tina; Eloise; Yolanda; Dr. Shah; Angel; and Tommy Mueller.

I need to mention one last thing before I leave you to figure out who-done-it along with Cathy, Nancy, and Mildred. Without giving a specific spoiler, there might just be a second murder committed in the book. Is there one killer or two? What are the motives? Are the investigating ladies in danger, and, if so, do they survive and finally wed? 

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

 The Case of the Whale Watching Wedding Planner (Buttercup Bend Mysteries) by Debbie De Louise

About The Case of the Whale Watching Wedding Planner

The Case of the Whale Watching Wedding Planner (Buttercup Bend Mysteries)
Cozy Mystery 4th in Series
Setting - New York
Publisher: ‎ Next Chapter (April 10, 2024)
Paperback: ‎ 266 pages

Cathy, Nancy, and Mildred are on their way to Long Island to plan a triple wedding. When they try to meet with Georgia Hampton, a wedding planner who leads whale-watching tours, they discover her body upon her boat.

Teaming up again, the trio investigate the crime. Suspects include Georgia’s sister who is a partner in their wedding planning business, an artist who is a naturalist and conducts whale-watching tours, several couples whose relationships ended after consulting with Georgia, and employees of the tour company.

Reuniting with her great aunt after many years, Cathy learns that another suspicious death has occurred at Captain Sharp’s Whale Watching Tours. Can they solve the mystery, or will their efforts sail out to sea?

About Debbie De Louise

Debbie De Louise is a retired librarian. She’s the author of 16 novels including the six books of the Cobble Cove cozy mystery series featuring Alicia the librarian and Sneaky, the library cat, and the Buttercup Bend cozy mysteries featuring Cathy Carter, the owner of a pet cemetery and rescue center. Debbie’s other books include standalone mysteries, a paranormal romance, a time-travel novel, and a collection of cat poems. She also writes articles for Catster.com and has published dozens of short stories and poems in anthologies. She’s a member of the Cat Writers’ Association, Sisters-in-Crime, International Thriller Writers, and the Long Island Authors Group. She's recently moved from Long Island to South Carolina with her husband, daughter, and two cats. Learn more about her and her books by visiting https://debbiedelouise.com.

Author Links: 

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

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

Twitter/X: https://twitter.com/Deblibrarian  

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2750133.Debbie_De_Louise  

Amazon Author Page: http://amzn.to/2bIHdaQ  

All Author: https://allauthor.com/author/debbiedelouise/  

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/debbie_writer/ 

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/debbiedelouise/  

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/debbie-de-louise  

Debbie’s Character’s Chat Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/748912598599469/\  

Sneaky the Library Cat’s blog: https://Sneakylibrarycat.wordpress.com  

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Sunday, June 2, 2024

Under the Paper Moon - A Review

Review


UNDER THE PAPER MOON by Shaina Steinberg
The First Bishop and Gallagher Mystery 

Evelyn Bishop is no stranger to danger and death having served in the Office of Strategic Services during World War II. Working as a private detective in 1948 Los Angeles Evelyn is following an old family friend, a munitions dealer during the War, who's suspected of adultery. She's stunned when she runs across Nick Gallagher, the man who led her close knit band during the War. The man she loved. The man who betrayed her. When George is killed, it seems that more is going on than just a cheating spouse. With signs pointing back to the War Evelyn refuses to let the matter rest. Teaming up with Nick one more time the pair will hunt for answers, and hope they survive the outcome.

World War II was a time when women stepped out of the home and came into their own, taking on jobs previously only held by men and finding their place in the world. Evelyn Bishop is such a woman. Unwilling to be a socialite planting a Victory Garden she instead joins the OSS. Not content, or competent, to be a secretary in London, instead she joins an elite team going on missions behind enemy lines risking life and limb...and heart. After the war, like so many soldiers, she has difficulty reassimilating to civilian life.

What lengths would you go to for someone you loved? Would you do the same for your country? How far would you go to forget? I appreciate the gritty realism found in UNDER THE PAPER MOON, from the war torn countryside of France to the hardboiled streets of LA. Loyalty, secrets, and betrayal are the key themes of the first Bishop and Gallagher Mystery. Twists, turns, and shocking surprises kept me enthralled while dark humor, finely drawn characters, and as exquisite backdrop kept me entertained.

Pulse pounding action, heart wrenching drama, and an intricately plotted mystery make UNDER THE PAPER MOON an outstanding novel. Learning it's the first of a series is icing on a wacky cake. I look forward to seeing how the characters develop and what challenges they'll face next!

Friday, May 31, 2024

Gone to Hot Pot - A Review

 Review


GONE TO HOT POT by Vivien Chien
The Twelfth Noodle Shop Mystery 
 
With Lana Lane at a conference in California it's up to her roommate Megan Riley to look after Kikkoman. The little pug is not taking Lana's absence well, so Megan decides to take her to Asia Village. Waylaid by Kimmy, the pair take Kikko to the Ho-Lee Noodle House, but when it's time to leave Megan discovers that Kikko is gone! This unlikely duo will have to team up in order to find Lana's missing dog-and hope that Lana will never find out!

A Noodle Shop Mystery without Lana Lee? Yes-and it's absolutely wonderful. GONE TO POT may be a short story, but there's a lot to love. Having the almost always fighting duo of Megan and Kimmy having to work together without Lana as a buffer is brilliant. As usual Kimmy has me laughing out loud, especially with her special code name for their mission! I also loved visiting the many shop owners of Asia Village. I can't wait to see more of Talia and her metaphysical shop!

GONE TO HOT POT is a fast funny read from a different point of view. Grab a bite and enjoy the hunt for Kikkoman, though you may not want a pu pu platter!

Thursday, May 30, 2024

A Devilish Element - Book Blitz!

From Madelynne Ellis comes a tale of gothic mischief, medicine, and murder, and discover the Wakefields, four spinster sisters and the brother who’s determined to see them matched. A DEVILISH ELEMENT by Madelynne Ellis is the first book in the Wooing the Wakefield’s series. Readers of a delicate disposition beware, spicy shenanigans, chemistry, and corpses abound in this tale of gothic Regency romance.

Remote Cedarton Castle is haunted. That’s what Eliza Wakefield's sisters say before she sets off to visit her recently married friend. The crumbling ruin is even more isolated and foreboding than expected. Its inhabitants, a small cluster of Lord Linfield’s closest allies. Moreover, all is not well with the Linfield’s marriage, leading Eliza to fear for her friend’s safety and her mind.

Mathematician Jem Whistler is a man caught in a trap. He’s in love with a woman he can’t have and owned by a lord who demands things he’d rather not give. Unexpectedly reunited with the woman who owns his heart, he struggles to keep his attachment hidden. When the threat from Cedarton’s white lady increases, Jem and Eliza must work together to uncover the true nature of the spectre haunting Cedarton’s shadowy halls. That’s if they can keep their hands off one another long enough to investigate

Amazon→ https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0CZP8Y8F3

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/198328802-a-devilish-element

#madelynneellis #adevilishelement #HistoricalRomance, #RegencyRomance, #GothicRomance, #BisexualRomance, #HistoricalMystery #TBR #comingsoon #mustread #blitz

@indiepenpr

Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Currently Reading...

I just finished reading Under the Paper Moon by Shaina Steinberg. This book is the first in the Bishop and Gallagher Mystery series.

Evelyn Bishop is no stranger to danger and death having served in the Office of Strategic Services during World War II. Working as a private detective in 1948 Los Angeles Evelyn is following an old family friend, a munitions dealer during the War, who's suspected of adultery. She's stunned when she runs across Nick Gallagher, the man who led her close knit band during the War. The man she loved. The man who betrayed her. When George is killed, it seems that more is going on than just a cheating spouse. With signs pointing back to the War Evelyn refuses to let the matter rest. Teaming up with Nick one more time the pair will hunt for answers, and hope they survive the outcome.

Tuesday, May 28, 2024

The Twisted Road - A Spotlight, Excerpt, & Giveaway

The Twisted Road by A.B. Michaels Banner

The Twisted Road

by A.B. Michaels

May 23 - 29, 2024 Book Blast

Synopsis:

The Twisted Road by A.B. Michaels

Barrister Perris Mysteries

 

Jonathan Perris Can’t Save His Clients
…Until He Saves Himself

1907

Rising from the devastation of a massive earthquake and fire, San Francisco is once again on the move. But a strike by streetcar drivers threatens to halt the Golden City in its tracks. Protests turn to violence and violence leads to death. Soon a young guard is convicted of willfully killing a protester and the public is out for blood.

Jonathan Perris, an immigrant attorney from England, has opened a law firm with an eye toward righting wrongs, and the guard’s conviction may fall into that category. But the talented barrister soon finds his newfound career shaken by a tragic event: the gruesome homicide of the beautiful and mysterious Lena Mendelssohn—a woman he’s been squiring around town. It’s difficult to run a law firm when you’ve been arrested for murder.

Don't miss your chance for a limited time sale! Grab The Twisted Road for $1.99!

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

Book Details:

Genre: Historical Mystery
Published by: Red Trumpet Press
Publication Date: May 21, 2024
Number of Pages: 422
ISBN: 978-1-7337863-4-8 (Paperback) 978-1-7337863-0-0 (ebook)
Series: Barrister Perris Mysteries, Book 1
Book Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

Chapter One

Bloody Tuesday

San Francisco
Turk Street Car Barn
May 7,1907

Nineteen years old, with the long, skinny limbs of a colt, Jimmy Walsh crouched behind a lamppost and shivered in the early morning fog. He dropped the brick he’d been clutching and hesitated before picking it up again. "This ain't right," he said, just loud enough for his nearest comrade in arms to hear. "It's like waitin' for Beelzebub to unleash his hounds of hell." Several yards away, the wooden barn that housed the city's electric trolley cars remained shuttered, but the sounds inside, muted through the mist, told him the show was about to begin.

Toke Griffin, a rock in one meaty hand, took a drag of his cheroot with the other. The smoke mixed with the fog, obscuring his leathered face. Two decades older than Jimmy, he was a union man from way back. This strike was nothing new. "Yeah, well them mutts are takin' our jobs and we got to stop 'em any way we can." He tossed the rock a few times and caught it. "They're scabs and rotten to the core. We got to let them know it." The gas-powered streetlight above Jimmy hissed, letting off sparks and a sulfurous belch. Toke barked in appreciation. "Even the damn lamp's on our side."

"Shut the hell up!" Another hiss—this one from a fellow striker, positioned behind one of the barbed wire barriers the scabs had set up to protect the cars. "You'll give us away."

Toke continued to grouse but lowered his voice. "Hell, you think they don't know we're out here? They're chompin' at the bit same as us." He tossed his rock again. "But we got right on our side, just like old Davey and Goliath. You wait and see."

Jimmy tried to swallow but couldn't get passed his Adam's apple. Lord, he wished he had some water or somethin' else to calm the jitters taking over his body. Even his lucky red flannel shirt was no help. Why didn't he keep the grub his mother had given him as he’d left that morning? She'd been up before him, knowing he had to go and not even trying to talk him out of it. "You keep your head down," she warned as she handed him the bag with bread and cheese and a slice of apple cake in it. She’d even put in a mason jar full of cider.

"Sure, sure, Ma," he'd told her, "Don't worry about it. I'll be fine." Giving her a peck on the cheek, he’d headed out, but once around the corner, he'd ditched the bag, thinking it would look squirrelly bringing a lunch sack to a riot. What a damn fool.

It shouldn't have come to this. It'd been over a year since the earthquake and fire had torn up the city, and the roads were still a tangled, busted-up mess. It was tricky driving the streetcars, and there were fewer drivers to boot. All the union wanted was an eight hour day and three bucks a shift. But United Railroads kept bickering with the city over repairs and used that excuse to refuse the union's demands. What else could the carmen do but strike? Then the company brought in the Farleymen to drive the cars—four hundred of them! It stunk to high heaven and Toke had the right of it: they had to stop the scabs from taking their jobs.

The crowd outside the barricade was growing. Jimmy saw groups of Poles and Italians and Irish, even Chinese. They weren't members of his union, but they were workingmen all the same, showing their support. That was labor for you, sticking together to get the job done. But there were also women and kids pouring out onto the street, like it was a parade or something! Thank God Ma had stayed home; he hoped his cousin was smart enough to keep her distance, too. This kind of ruckus was no place for females.

But damn if there weren't plenty of ladies mixed in with everybody else, a lot of them young and fired up, itchin' for a fight just like the men. He'd never admit it, but deep down, part of him admired their courage. Like Toke said, they were sticking up for what was right.

He was chewing on those thoughts when the big wooden doors on the barn began to slide open with a screech and the streetcars lumbered out, each driven by a scab, and each protected by several men with clubs and a guard with a rifle. The clock in the tower above the car barn soon started chiming the hour, but it was nearly drowned out by all the people screaming insults as they surged through an opening where the cars were supposed to leave the yard.

The strikers rushed by Jimmy, shoving him out of the way and already throwing whatever they'd been carrying—rocks and bricks and bottles—toward the scabs. Some strikers on the roofs pushed iron girders they must have got from construction sites; the beams hit the cars with a sickening clang.

Jimmy started to throw his brick, but stopped when he got a look at the second car and who was guarding it. Damnation, it was Emmett Barnes! That sonofabitch used to be a union man—not to mention Jimmy’s best friend—and now he was a hired gun for the Farleymen! He watched Emmett shoot his rifle into the air a few times, and his shots were answered by rooftop union men protecting the strikers on the ground. He couldn't see Emmett's face too well, but he bet his ex-friend wasn't happy, especially since his shots hadn't stopped the crowd from swarming around his car. Jimmy wasn't part of that crowd; he couldn't make himself move—like he was paralyzed or something—as he watched it all unfold.

A brick sailed through the air and hit Emmett in the face; he dropped down, and Jimmy couldn't see him anymore. He glanced to his left and saw a man taking photographs of everybody. "Quit takin’ pictures!” Jimmy yelled at him. “Get out of the way—you're gonna get hurt!"

More and more people began pushing Jimmy from behind, determined to stop the cars from running. He turned back to Emmett's car and saw ... and saw the rifle pointed toward the crowd from another angle. No, pointed right at him. Emmett? It couldn’t be. He wouldn't do that, would he? He wouldn't—

Jimmy Walsh started to put his head down like his ma had told him, but he wasn't fast enough. He heard the crack of the rifle and felt the thump of the bullet hitting his skull. Then he felt nothing at all.

Chapter Two

A Tainted Case

San Francisco
June 1907

A barrister’s duty is to champion his client and seek justice in a court of law; when the client is guilty as sin, it complicates matters.

Jonathan Henry Perris rose to give his closing argument in the matter of the state of California vs. Horace Baxter. He faced the twelve men sitting in judgment before him.

“Gentlemen of the jury, you have already heard the facts of the case. My client, unfortunately, did shift money in relatively small amounts, from his firm’s accounts payable to his own savings account, over the course of several months. Those deposits did indeed line up chronologically with the amounts later deemed missing from the company’s ledger. It’s notable that Mr. Baxter, being the mathematical expert that he is, was precise in his recording, which speaks to his intent, as you shall see.

“That is the ‘what’ of this case and we shall stipulate that for the record. But the ‘why’ of Mr. Baxter’s actions is crucial and so, if you will indulge me, I would like to frame it within the context of the world in which each of us lives … a world comprised of three lives: one public, one private, and one secret.”

The prosecuting attorney looked comically befuddled. “Objection. What relevance does this have to the case before the court, Your Honor? Who cares why the defendant broke the law? The fact is, he broke it.”

Judge Cormer cocked his head toward Jonathan. “Mr. Perris?”

“I believe motive has much bearing on this case, your Honor. I will make my point as succinctly as possible, but you will see the relevance, I assure you.”

The judge scratched his beard. “Overruled, then. Proceed, Mr. Perris but do make it succinct.”

Jonathan turned back to his audience. “For example, I have come to know the public lives of many of you sitting here today. You are, generally speaking—” he said this with the hint of a smile, “— a reputable lot: a banker, a woolens merchant, a sheep rancher, to name a few. I too have a public persona. I am an immigrant, of course, but a respectable one, I hope. I am a trial attorney—what we would call a ‘barrister’ in England.” He extended his arms as if to display himself to the jury. He was wearing an impeccably tailored gray wool suit. “I bathe, I shave, and I dress suitably for my profession.

“But, like you, I also have a private life. I am not married and those who visit my abode might notice the lack of a woman’s touch.” He kept his rueful smile in place. “I indulge in perhaps more than the occasional whiskey, and I keep erratic hours because, unlike many of you, I have no one waiting for me.”

His tone began to harden. “Were I a fly on the wall in your homes, what would I witness, I wonder? Perhaps a perfect illustration of domestic bliss ...” He leveled his gaze on specific members as he spoke. “… or perhaps not. My guess is that one or more of you enjoy your own favorite spirits to help you relax after a long day. Perhaps you drink too much, and your better half doesn’t like it. Maybe you get a thrill out of playing the ponies and you become despondent when you lose more money than you can afford. Maybe your temper runs hot, and your colleagues, not to mention your family members, have borne the brunt of it.”

Some individuals were becoming restive; a few looked decidedly uncomfortable, no doubt wondering where Jonathan was headed.

Certainly, Jonathan’s legal counterpart wondered. “Really, Your Honor? Is any of this relevant in the slightest to the matter at hand?”

Jonathan caught Judge Cormer’s warning look and forged ahead. “Ah, but then there is the secret life that many if not all of us lead.” His voice dropped. “Perhaps you find pleasure with those you shouldn’t be seen with ... maybe an addiction has you in its grip. Or perhaps you’ve done something so nefarious and so perverse that no one, no one must ever learn about it.” He leaned toward the jury box. “What if I, for example, were a murderer? What if one of you were? None of us would ever know it because it’s a secret.” Jonathan let the last word linger.

“My client, Horace Baxter, led three lives, too. To the public he was an experienced adjustor for a respected insurance firm, in charge of determining the amount of payout for a given claim and reimbursing clients for their loss. His private life was relatively tame, with a harried wife and three boisterous young children, whom he adores.”

Jonathan now grew animated, as if to let the jurors in on salacious gossip. “But his secret life involved a woman. Not in the sense you would imagine. Not a voluptuous siren who would turn the head of any man. No, gentlemen. She was his much younger sister, a dear sweet girl, naïve in the ways of the world, whom he had protected his entire life. She had been led astray and become, of all things, an opium eater. She was not married and could not hold a job. The only way to pay for her habit was to prostitute herself.”

Jonathan glanced at his client. Horace Baxter was a hefty, florid man who was now slumped and staring at the table in front of him: a man mortified beyond the pale.

Days before, Jonathan had railed against the man who had lied to him and professed his innocence until discovery had proved him guilty on all counts. Only then had he explained his true reason for “cooking” the company books.

Jonathan sorely regretted taking the case, which he had done at the request of a colleague to whom he owed a favor. He wanted to believe he’d ignored his own instincts about the defendant, but in truth, he hadn’t picked up any warning signs until it was too late. He should have known better.

“You have ruined any chance for me to establish reasonable doubt,” he’d admonished his client. “For God’s sake, man, with so much on the line, you don’t keep such a secret from your attorney!” Jonathan had advised Baxter to throw himself on the mercy of the court by exposing all, but adhering to such a strategy didn’t make it any easier to stomach.

Jonathan now continued his argument. “Imagine yourself in Mr. Baxter’s shoes, gentlemen. Someone immeasurably close to you follows the wrong path and no matter how much you entreat them, harangue them, threaten them, cajole them, you cannot break the chain of dependence, a chain that has brought shame to your family—secretly—but at any moment could become public knowledge and lead to societal rejection and possibly the loss of your employment, resulting in economic ruin for you and your loved ones. It’s a conundrum, is it not?”

He singled out the banker, who flinched slightly under Jonathan’s gaze. “You have one recourse left, which is to find a discreet sanitarium where your beloved little sister can get help. Such a place costs money that you do not have. So, you devise a plan to obtain that money knowing in your heart that it’s wrong to embezzle but rationalizing that it’s a small amount compared to the company’s vast book of business, and that you will find a way, somehow, to pay it all back. You are so intent on doing that, moreover, that you keep precise records. Your plan is to, over time, replenish the account, claim a ‘slight miscalculation’ in the monies due and return those amounts to each client.

“The time comes when you have enough set aside to pay for the treatment, and you are about to send your sister away when a curious and astute co-worker finds something amiss.” Jonathan shrugged at the end of his tale. “And so you, like Mr. Baxter, might very well find yourself here today.

“I humbly ask you to consider the “why” of this case, gentlemen, in light of your own secrets, and show mercy on this man who did the wrong thing for the right reason. That is all.”

* * *

Ten days later, Jonathan returned to the central jail to have a final word with his client. Although Horace Baxter was found guilty, the jury had taken pity on him and recommended time served, along with a modest fine and of course, the return of the stolen monies. Baxter would have to find a new job, but at least he wouldn’t rot in a prison cell.

“You gonna break open the bubbly after getting your man out of jail?” The desk sergeant wanted to chat, but Jonathan was in no mood for it. He had a few parting words for his client and the sooner said the better. “That’s a capital idea, but I’m afraid more mundane duty calls. Have you got Mr. Baxter’s personal effects? I’ll take them to him.”

The sergeant handed Jonathan the bag and waved him through. “Well, don’t be modest. The state had him dead to rights, but you got him off light as a feather. You’re a silver-tongued devil, you are.”

Jonathan ignored the compliment as he made his way down the hall. “That’s not always a good thing,” he muttered.

Horace Baxter was pacing his cell, waiting to be let out, when Jonathan arrived, asking the guard if he could have a few moments of privacy with his client.

“Thank God this day has arrived,” Baxter said once the guard left. He donned his coat, buttoning it over his ample girth. “I’m ready.”

“Well, I’m not,” Jonathan said. “Sit down.”

“What?” Baxter frowned. “Is something wrong?”

Jonathan fought to keep his words—and his actions—under control. “You might say that. I’ve been in contact with your so-called sister.”

Baxter swallowed. “So … you’ve seen Franny? How … how did you—"

“Imagine my surprise when I called on your long-suffering wife to ask about your sister’s welfare, only to find out it’s her sister—sweet, young Francine— who’s taken to a life of prostitution because of her addiction. And when I found that not so sweet young girl, plying her trade on Stockton Street, it turns out she’s disappointed as hell that you aren’t going to get her the help she so desperately needs. So disappointed, in fact, that she let slip who was responsible for her predicament in the first place.”

The desperate look on Baxter’s face spoke volumes. “Wh—what did she say?”

“You know what she said. And you know the only reason she doesn’t share that information with her sister is that it would destroy your family.”

“You don’t understand. I mean ... how tempting it was. I … I couldn’t help myself.” He hung his head, apparently bewildered by his own fall from grace.

“You couldn’t keep your pants buttoned around your wife’s sister—a member of your own family? And you did nothing when she began to escape her guilt through opiates?” Jonathan’s disgust was palpable. “You are a pathetic excuse for a human being, Mr. Baxter. You are the worst kind of bounder because you’re self-indulgent and you’re weak. The only reason I’m not exposing you is the same reason Francine suffers in silence.” Jonathan leaned in and lowered his voice. “But heed my words: if you go near that young woman again, I will personally see to it that you pay the price—and believe me, that price is much too high, even for a mathematical charlatan like you.”

“What’s going to happen to her?” Baxter whispered.

Jonathan rose to his full height. “That is no longer your concern. You focus on keeping your family fed, within the boundaries of the law.”

The two men said nothing more as Jonathan escorted Baxter out of the jail and into a waiting hansom cab.

Good riddance.

It was nearly noon and given his frame of mind, returning to his law office held no appeal. Jonathan considered inviting the woman he’d been seeing to an impromptu lunch, but quickly tabled the idea. Not only was Lena difficult to reach, but in truth he was in no mood to be sociable. Instead, he headed to a nearby watering hole and ordered one of the whiskeys he’d told the jury about. He thought about Francine and what she must have been like before she was betrayed by a brother-in-law she had no doubt looked up to and trusted. Tomorrow he’d find a way to help the young prostitute conquer her demons, but right now, more than anything, he needed to mask the bitter taste of setting a guilty man free.

***

Excerpt from The Twisted Road by A.B. Michaels. Copyright 2024 by A.B. Michaels. Reproduced with permission from A.B. Michaels. All rights reserved.

 

 

Author Bio:

A.B. Michaels

A native of California, A.B. Michaels holds masters’ degrees in history (UCLA) and broadcasting (San Francisco State University). After working for many years as a promotional writer and editor, she turned to writing the kind of page-turning fiction she loves to read. She writes historical fiction (“The Golden City” series, which takes place in Gilded Age San Francisco) as well as contemporary romantic suspense (“Sinner’s Grove Suspense.”). “Barrister Perris Mysteries” is her latest endeavor, based on characters introduced in “The Golden City.” All of her books are stand-alone reads.

Michaels lives in Boise, Idaho with her husband and two elderly, four-legged “sons” (16 and 17!) who don’t seem to know they’re just dogs. She is an avid reader, traveler, quilter and bocce player, as well as a mediocre but enthusiastic golfer.

Catch Up With A.B. Michaels:
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BookBub - @ABMichaels
Pinterest - @ABMichaelsBooks
Twitter/X - @ABMichaelsBooks
Facebook - @A.B.MichaelsWriter

 

 

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Sunday, May 26, 2024

Ghost Cat at the Mystery Hotel - An Interview & Giveaway

I'm pleased to welcome Mollie Hunt to Cozy Up With Kathy today. Mollie writes the Tenth Life Cozy Mystery series. Ghost Cat at the Mystery Hotel is the third book in the series and will be released this week.

Kathy: Camelia Collins meets an old friend for a murder mystery weekend in Ghost Cat at the Mystery Hotel. Have you ever been to a mystery weekend? I've attended a murder mystery dinner, but not a whole weekend.

MH: I haven’t been to a Murder Mystery Weekend, but like you, I did attend a mystery dinner some many years ago. When I started writing a book that takes place within such an environment, I needed to do some research. It turned out there are many choices. They’re not cheap, but they sound like participants get a quality experience and opportunities for lots of fun.


Kathy: Camelia has a ghost cat companion named Soji. Would you like to have a ghost cat, or other type of ghostly companion? Do you believe in spirits? Have you ever had a ghostly encounter?

MH: On occasion, I have seen/heard the spirits of my cats who have passed. I find the encounters poignant and fulfilling. However, I don’t think I’d want one of them to stick around, showing up at the most inconvenient times and creating all sorts of mischief like Soji does.


Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?

MH: I first began reading cozy mysteries when I was very young. My favorite author was Mary Stewart, and she still is one of the best in my estimation. Now, I read them because I want to relax from the trauma of life in 2024 and know with a cozy that I can look forward to a happy ending. But not all cozies are created equal. I prefer ones that have scenery, description, and color. And of course a cat or two.


Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?

MH: I am working on a sci-fantasy tetralogy and have completed the first three. Though they all have different plots, the theme is the same: cats saving the world because humans don’t know how to do it. I also wrote a COVID memoir, and occasionally I dabble in cat poetry.


Kathy: Tell us about your series.

MH: I have three series going at this time. The Tenth Life Paranormal Mysteries features septuagenarian Camelia Collins. When Camelia retires from Portland, Oregon to her dream cottage on the coast, she finds it’s already occupied—by a ghost cat! Ghost Cat at the Mystery Hotel is the third book in that series. My original cozy series, the Crazy Cat Lady Cozy Mysteries, follows the adventures of Lynley Cannon, a sixty-something cat shelter volunteer who finds more trouble than a cat in catnip. I’m currently working on book 11. The sci-fantasy I described earlier in this interview is called the Cat Seasons Tetralogy.


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

MH: Though I love my Lynley character because she’s a cat shelter volunteer and cat advocate like me, if I had to choose a favorite, I’d skip the humans altogether and say Soji. Being of a paranormal nature, I can have fun with her. She can do anything I want her to do. And in true ghost cat fashion, she often surprises me with things she comes up with all on her own.


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

MH: Nothing specific. The books tend to write themselves.


Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?

MH: When I finished my first novel, a ponderous tome of 450 pages, I couldn’t wait to share it with the world. Publishers thought differently, and it wasn’t until ten manuscripts later (approximately 1,000,000 words) that I felt my writing had finally caught up with my imagination. It was then I began publishing independently.


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

MH: Shirley Rousseau Murphy, author of the Joe Grey cozy mystery series; Lillian Jackson Braun, the queen of cat cozies; science fiction author Ursula K. Le Guin; and William Shakespeare.


Kathy: What are you currently reading?

MH: “Fronds and Enemies,” an English Cottage Garden Mystery by H.Y. Hanna and “Abaddon's Gate” of the Expanse sci-fi series by James S. A. Corey.


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

MH: I crochet cat mats that I donate to a cat shelter for their annual auction. I also like to take photographs of anything and everything, but especially of patterns in nature.


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

MH: Red miso, lemons, genmai cha tea, oatmeal. (Not to be eaten all at the same time.)


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

MH: Yes, the series go on. I had considered ending the Crazy Cat Lady series at ten, published last October on National Cat Day, but then I got a new idea and was off on book 11. The Tenth Life series has only just begun. No new series at the moment.


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

MH: Being an author gives me a feeling of self-worth, which is so necessary to the human spirit, especially as I get older and cannot do many of the things I used to. As with any creative endeavor, no matter how famous or how obscure, writing my particular stories is something only I can do. It also amuses me to explore my darker side when I’m writing a villain. 

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Ghost Cat at the Mystery Hotel (A Tenth Life Cozy Mystery) by Mollie Hunt

About Ghost Cat at the Mystery Hotel

Ghost Cat at the Mystery Hotel (A Tenth Life Cozy Mystery)
Cozy Mystery 3rd in Series
Setting - Oregon Coast
Independently Published (May 30, 2024)
Number of Pages: 246

The game is murder at the Mystery Beach Hotel.

When Camelia Collins meets her old college friend Anne Pine for a murder mystery weekend at the coast, death becomes more than a game.

Accompanied by her ghost cat companion Soji, Camelia begins to discover clues that have nothing to do with the role-playing storyline. A lurking stranger spies on Camelia from the house next door. A vengeful spirit haunts the hotel. A winter storm rages outside, threatening the old building, while a murderer roams the halls, threatening those within. Will Camelia's keen senses and Soji's feline wiles be enough to catch the killer before they kill again?

 

About Mollie Hunt

Cat Writer Mollie Hunt is the award-winning author of two cozy series, the Crazy Cat Lady Mysteries and the Tenth Life Mysteries. Her Cat Seasons Sci-Fantasy Tetralogy features extraordinary cats saving the world. Mollie also released a cat-themed COVID memoir. In her spare time, she pens a bit of cat poetry as well.

Mollie is a member of the Oregon Writers’ Colony, Sisters in Crime, the Cat Writers’ Association, Willamette Writers, and Northwest Independent Writers Association (NIWA). She lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and a varying number of cats.

Author Links: 

You can find Mollie Hunt, Cat Writer on her blogsite:https://molliehuntcatwriter.com/  

Follow Mollie's Amazon Page: www.amazon.com/author/molliehunt 

Facebook Author Page: www.facebook.com/MollieHuntCatWriter/  

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/molliehuntcatwriter/  

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7768987.Mollie_Hunt  

GoodReads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/210323563-ghost-cat-at-the-mystery-hotel  

Purchase Link - Amazon  

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