Friday, May 31, 2024

Gone to Hot Pot - A 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


Goodreads Link:

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


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


The Twisted Road by A.B. Michaels

Barrister Perris Mysteries


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


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:
BookBub - @ABMichaels
Pinterest - @ABMichaelsBooks
Twitter/X - @ABMichaelsBooks
Facebook - @A.B.MichaelsWriter



Tour Participants:

Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more fun and opportunities to WIN in the giveaway!




This is a giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Tours for A.B. Michaels. See the widget for entry terms and conditions. Void where prohibited.



Get More Great Reads at Partners In Crime Tours


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. 


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:  

Follow Mollie's Amazon Page: 

Facebook Author Page:  



GoodReads Link:  

Purchase Link - Amazon  

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, May 24, 2024

On the Horns of Death - A Review, Excerpt, and Giveaway


ON THE HORNS OF DEATH by Eleanor Kuhns
The Second Ancient Crete Mystery 

All of Knossos is eager to participate in the various ceremonies of the Harvest Festival. But something has upset the bulls. When Martis gets closer to one of the pens she discovers the reason-there's a dead body in with the bull marked for the sacrifice. Stunned, she recognizes the man as Duzi, one of the newest bull leapers. She also realizes that this wasn't an accident. Despite Tinos, the wanax in charge of the investigation, and her mother insisting she not get involved, Martis believes it's her duty to find out what happened to her friend, no matter the possible danger.

I absolutely love the blend of Ancient Cretan culture and mystery. The religious aspects are fascinating and they seamlessly blend in with the mystery, as it seamlessly flows with everyday life. I really felt for Martis in this second Ancient Crete Mystery. A young woman who feels she's being treated as a child, but who really doesn't know what she wants out of life, she's growing, but struggling with her own decisions and dealings with others. Who wouldn't want to root for her?!

A clue early on led me to know certain things, but not everything, and the storyline kept me completely captivated. There were many strands woven together like the cloths made by Nephele all of which led to the bull leapers. It also revealed how little Martis really knew about her friends. 

ON THE HORNS OF DEATH is an engrossing historical mystery melding ancient religion and murder. I love learning even more about this time period and am thrilled that this learning gets paired with a well plotted mystery filled with wonderful fleshed out characters. I can't wait to see what happens next!

**************************************************************************                                                                          On the Horns of Death by Eleanor Kuhns Banner


by Eleanor Kuhns

May 20 - June 14, 2024 Virtual Book Tour


On the Horns of Death by Eleanor Kuhns

An Ancient Crete Mystery


Ancient Crete, 1450 BC. When young bull leaper Martis finds Duzi, the newest member of the bull leaping team, dead in the bull pen early one morning. Made to look like he met his end on the horns of the bull, it's clear to Martis that this was no accident . . .

Martis once again finds herself thrown into a dangerous game of hunting down a murderer as the deaths start to mount. An old friend of Martis' sister, and possible lover to Duzi, is the next person to be found dead, and Martis' investigations lead her to believe love and jealousy are at the heart of these crimes against the Goddess.

Is someone targeting the bull leaping community? Or is there something else at play? With only the Shade of her sister Arge to confide in, Martis struggles to untangle the growing web of secrets which stretch around her.

Praise for On the Horns of Death:

"A clever, feisty, likable heroine, vivid descriptions of life in ancient Crete, and a complex murder make this a good pick for historical-mystery fans"
~ Booklist

"A wealth of historical detail"
~ Kirkus Reviews

Book Details:

Genre: Historical Mystery
Published by: Severn House
Publication Date: April 2, 2024
Number of Pages: 224
ISBN: 9781448310890 (ISBN10: 144831089X)
Series: An Ancient Crete Mystery #2
Book Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | | Goodreads | Severn House

Read an excerpt:


Late again, I hurried down the stony slope into the caves under Knossos. Even from the top of the twisty path, I could hear the grunting and the nervous kicking of cage walls by agitated bulls. I increased my pace despite the slippery footing. I could smell the thick coppery scent of blood, far more intense than the usual odor of damp rock. Why was there blood? Something terrible was happening.

The oil lamps in the center of the cave cast a dim smoky light, but there were several, enough to see by. Although all the bulls were restless, most of the bull leapers were crowded around the foremost pen. ‘What’s going on?’ I asked Arphaia and Obelix as I reached the stone floor. Arphaia and Obelix had helped fill the hole left by the loss of my sisters.

Arphaia rolled her eyes at me and shrugged. ‘Don’t know.’ A short, sturdy girl, her skin was the color of ripe figs. Obelix was taller and paler and so slim she looked like a boy from the back. Like me, they’d tied their hair back into braids. ‘I’m busy here,’ Arphaia continued. She was helping Obelix pull her skirt over her loincloth, and I guessed the older girl had unexpectedly gotten her monthly. It was always an inconvenience for us women on the team.

‘Can I help?’

Arphaia shook her head. Glad to be excused – I was burning with curiosity – I hurried across the stone floor toward the cluster of older bull dancers by the cage. Ready for the upcoming ceremony, they wore only loincloths and boots.

‘Something upset the bulls,’ Geos said with a frown, running a hand over his bald head. He had trained all of us.

‘Especially the bull chosen for sacrifice . . .’ Elemon glanced anxiously at the pen. He was the most experienced of us but a recent injury had left him skittish.

I dropped my metal belt on the floor with a clatter and went to join the team. The bull in the pen was white – a pure white like the foam that came ashore from the sea. The largest and strongest of them all, he’d been chosen for our performance at the Harvest Festival today. After the six days of the celebration, he would be sacrificed to the Goddess. Other sacrifices would be made through out to the Dying God to thank him for the grape harvest, and the wine he’d taught us how to make. But this bull, the greatest of all, would be sacrificed last.

I approached the pen. The strikes against the wooden planks had loosened several. I tried to squeeze into the throng at the front, but no one would move away to let me through. I went around to the side and peered through a crack.

The white bull was trotting around the pen, lashing his tail, kicking up his front feet and grunting angrily. But he did not come near this side. Hmm. Why not? I crouched down to peer through a larger gap at the bottom.

And there, right in front of me, was the body of a man. I gasped and fell back. ‘Geos,’ I said in a trembling voice. When he did not hear me, I raised my voice. ‘Geos.’

‘What, Martis?’ He sounded harried.

‘Come here. There is a body inside the pen.’

‘What? Who is it?’

‘I don’t know.’ I shook my head. I hadn’t wanted to look. The body appeared to have been both gored and trampled by the bull. ‘I think this is why the bull is so nervous . . .’

Geos came around the corner. Although, at sixteen, I stood taller than him by several inches, now he stared down at me sitting on the rock floor.

‘Are you sure?’ He sounded disbelieving. ‘Why would anyone join a bull in the pen? These are not tame animals.’

‘I don’t know.’ I scooted backwards so he could crouch down beside me. Groaning, he lowered himself first to one knee and then to the other. Cautiously, using both hands, he collapsed to a sitting position. From there, he looked through the breach between the weathered wooden boards.

‘By the Goddess,’ he muttered, ‘you’re right. How could this happen!’ He struggled to rise. ‘We’ve got to get that body out of there. None of the bulls will settle . . .’

Turning, Geos shouted at the other bull dancers. ‘One of you, go find Tinos.’

As the High Priestess’s consort and the wanax who served as the chief administrator of Knossos and its environs, Tinos would be responsible for investigating this tragedy.

I rose shakily to my feet and peered into the pen next to the one occupied by the white auroch. This one was empty. Glad to have a problem to focus on, I said, ‘Maybe we can put the bull in here. And this wall’ – I gestured to the partition we’d been looking through – ‘is already damaged.’

Geos glanced into the empty pen and then turned his gaze on the battered fence. ‘Perhaps. But first we need to pull the body out. Once that is gone, maybe the bull will settle down.’

By now, the other bull dancers had joined us. Elemon shouldered me out of the way. ‘The boards are already damaged,’ he said. ‘Maybe we can pull them away and slide the body through.’

Geos nodded and his eyes shifted to the pen behind me. ‘We can take some of those pieces and use them to barricade the hole afterwards.’ As Elemon wrenched the boards away from the cage bottom, Tryphone grabbed the victim’s arm to pull him through. After a few seconds of futile struggle, Thaos, one of the other men, knelt down to help him. The body awkwardly inched forward.

I could barely watch. I could see that several bones were shattered and his arms flopped limply behind him.

Once he was free, we bustled around gathering wooden planks to place over the gap. I didn’t believe the bull could escape through the narrow opening at the bottom, but we covered it, nonetheless. No one wanted an angry animal charging around the caves, and he was still not settling down. Of course, the smell of blood hung heavily in the air.

‘What happened?’ Arphaia asked as she and Obelix approached us.

Before Geos could reply, excited chatter from the youngest of our team – all still congregated at the entrance to the arena – distracted us. Geos hurried around the pen, the rest of us following. Tinos had arrived. He was clad in a long robe banded with diagonal stripes of red and blue and wore his ceremonial knife on the belt around his waist. Apparently, he’d been pulled away from an important ritual. ‘What happened?’ he asked. ‘He’ – gesturing to Curgis – ‘told me you discovered a body in the bull’s pen?’

‘That’s right,’ Geos said. ‘I sent him to you.’

In his formal clothing, Tinos seemed older and much more serious than the man I knew and liked. ‘Show me,’ he said.

Geos glared at the kids. ‘Stay here,’ he said firmly. ‘This is not something any of you should see.’

Thirteen-year-old Costi curled his lip mutinously but didn’t argue.

‘I’ll watch them,’ Obelix offered. She was quite pale.

Arphaia glanced at her. ‘We both will,’ she said.

I did not offer. Although I did not want to look at the body, I did want to be near Tinos. I quickly joined the line of bull dancers following him and Geos to the side of the bull pen.

Tinos stared at the battered and bloodied remains on the floor for several seconds and heaved a sigh. ‘Who discovered the body?’ he asked.

‘Martis,’ Geos said.

Tinos shot me a look from under his thick black eyebrows. This was not the first time I had witnessed a violent death. ‘Of course, it would be,’ he said.

‘I could smell the blood when I got here,’ I said, rushing into speech. ‘And the bull was angry and upset. They’ – and I gestured to Elemon and Tryphone – ‘were here by the pen.’

Tinos glanced at the bull dancers, and then his gaze flicked to the pen where the white bull could be heard snorting and shuffling. ‘I see.’ He turned to Geos. ‘That white bull can’t be used in the ceremonies now.’

‘I know,’ Geos agreed. ‘He’s been tainted. But we have a few others.’ He pointed to the pens at the back of the cave. ‘Backups. The second choice is black, though. Not white.’

Tinos nodded. ‘He will have to be the one. A bull that murdered a man is no fit sacrifice to the Goddess.’

I thought of all the bull leapers who’d been gored or trampled by a bull during the ceremony and wondered why a wounding or a death in the course of a performance was acceptable to the Goddess. Because this had not happened during the Goddess-sanctioned ritual?

‘What possessed him to enter the cage?’ Tinos wondered aloud, pushing his hair to the back. When no one replied to what was clearly a question without an answer, he asked, ‘Does anyone recognize him?’

‘I don’t think any of us really examined him,’ Geos admitted apologetically.

Tinos raised his brows and looked around at us. Thaos and Curgis, the newer bull dancers, shook their heads and backed away. I refused to show such weakness in front of Tinos – I did not want him to think less of me – so I steeled myself and stared down at the body. Elemon cut through the crowd and joined me.

It was difficult to recognize the victim through the blood and the bruising. I thought his skin was naturally darker than the fair Elemon, but I couldn’t be sure. Finally, Elemon shook his head and stepped away to join the others. I continued staring at the body a few seconds longer – not at the face, but at the kilt around his hips. We all wore loincloths during the bull dancing. It was necessary to move freely, and we did not wear clothing like a long skirt that would catch on the horns. The victim’s garment was subtly different, longer and decorated with blue stripes.

‘I know who that is,’ I said, my voice breaking. ‘It’s Duzi.’


‘Duzi?’ Geos said, staring at me in shock. ‘Are you sure?’ He too spoke softly so the others could not hear.

I nodded, too shaken to speak. I’d first seen Duzi a few weeks ago. Although my mother did not want me visiting the docks, insisting it was too dangerous, I still occasionally went. I counted Tetis, an Egyptian prostitute who worked there, as my friend. That time, as we were talking, Tetis stopped mid-word and stared over my shoulder. I turned to look.

Several Cretan sailors manhandled a prisoner off one of the slim naval ships. His heavy black beard, stretching all the way down his chest, and the battered bronze helmet with a spike in the center marked him as a foreigner. ‘A pirate,’ Tetis said with dislike. ‘More and more of them harass Egypt.’

By the time Duzi joined the bull leapers a week later, the helmet was gone and the beard shaved away. But the kilt girding his hips was the same one he wore now.

‘Who’s Duzi?’ Tinos asked, keeping his voice low so he could not be overheard.

‘A volunteer for the bull leapers—’ Geos began.

‘The navy brought him here,’ I said at the same time. ‘I saw them take him off a ship.’ My voice trembled, and Tinos raised his eyebrows at my emotion.

‘Ah. The pirate,’ he said. He knew my mother did not want me visiting the docks. But he didn’t scold me. Not this time anyway. ‘Did you know him well?’ I shook my head.

‘A pirate?’ Geos repeated incredulously, staring at Tinos. Crete had probably the best navy in the world; our cities and towns suffered little from the depredations of pirates.

‘Egypt asked for our help,’ Tinos explained. ‘The seafarers from the east – they target those rich cities of the Black Lands, and the cargo ships that trade with us.’

‘But they don’t dare attack us,’ Geos said in satisfaction.

‘Only once in a while,’ Tinos agreed with a smile. He turned and looked at the tunnel that led to the arena. Although he couldn’t see anything in the gloom, he said, ‘It must be time for the bull dancing and time for me to meet the High Priestess. On the way, I’ll tell the bull handlers that we won’t be using the white bull and they should take out the black one instead.’ He glanced first at Geos and then at the rest of us. ‘Please, don’t gossip about this tragedy. We don’t know what happened . . .’

I sneaked a look at Elemon and the others. They didn’t seem to realize the victim was Duzi – one of us.

Geos nodded. ‘I don’t want the kids to know either,’ he agreed. ‘Not until after the performance, at least. It’s dangerous enough as it is, without distraction. What possessed the young fool to go into the pen?’

‘And please, can we cover him up?’ Tinos added as he turned away.

‘Cover him with what?’ Geos muttered as Tinos disappeared into the tunnel. I looked around. All the bull leapers except for Obelix and me were clad in loincloths, and I was the only one wearing a jacket and a linen blouse as well as a skirt. At sixteen, I felt awkward running through the town half-naked so I covered my loincloth with street clothes. I slipped off the skirt and held it out to Geos. Although the skirt was an old one, and both faded and shabby, I wore it often. I would not be happy if Duzi’s blood stained it and made it unwearable. But right now, I didn’t see what else I could do.

Geos nodded his thanks and draped the garment over Duzi’s face. ‘And what am I supposed to do about bull leapers,’ the old man grumbled. ‘Half the team is too young and untried – still basically children.’

I knew Geos did not like sending me in. Geos and my grandfather had been close friends and although we honored the Goddess with the dance, it was dangerous. Injuries and, yes, deaths were common. Geos didn’t want to see me hurt. That was why he had been so ready to accept Duzi into our ranks. The barbarian was untried but also strong and lithe. He learned the acrobatics quickly. Geos had had high hopes for him.

I guessed today I would leap over the bull’s back more than a few times. Although we numbered thirteen without Duzi, we were only nine once the youngest – Costi, Nub and the twins – were taken out.

I dropped my linen blouse and jacket on the belt, stripped the bangles from my arms and ran my fingers through my hair to remove the hair clips and ropes of beads. Automatically, I dropped them on my clothing. But I did not join the line of bull dancers waiting to parade into the arena. Instead, I returned to the body. Poor Duzi. At least the protection of my skirt offered him some dignity. I shifted it to cover his face more thoroughly and saw to my dismay that the cloth was already stained. I doubted the marks would ever wash out. But with the blood wiped away, the wounds on Duzi’s face and chest were now more easily seen. There was something odd . . . As I bent over the body to get a closer look, Geos shouted at me.

‘Martis! What are you doing? Come on. We have to go. We’re late already.’

I jumped. ‘Coming.’ I quickly squeezed in between Arphaia and Thaos. After a growth spurt this past summer, I no longer stood at the front but in the middle.

Although it was not yet raining, the sky was overcast and the air was cool. The hot dry summer had ended, and we were moving into the cooler, wetter autumn. In another week or so, the farmers would begin sowing the wheat and barley in the fields.

But today, and for the next few days, we celebrated the grape harvest.

We were a somber group that paraded around the arena, entertaining the crowd with handstands and somersaults. As we queued up at one end of the space, and I looked at my teammates forcing smiles as they waved at the audience, I wondered how they would behave if they knew who lay dead in the bull’s pen.

With a self-conscious grimace, Obelix removed her skirt.

Flowers rained down upon us – but not the brightly colored blooms of spring. Mostly narcissi and crocus bloomed now, so we were showered in yellow and purple.

A few moments later, the bull handlers released the animal into the arena. The black auroch, although not a small animal, appeared smaller to me than the white bull. But this one also seemed more energetic. He snorted and pawed the ground in the middle of the arena, watching us with his shiny black eyes.

Elemon nervously touched the thick ropy scar that twined around his torso. He’d finally recovered from the wound sustained in a ceremony seven or so months ago, but it had been a difficult convalescence.

Tinos, still in his long robe, leaned forward, his face twisted with sympathy. He was a former bull leaper himself and wore a scar almost identical to Elemon’s around his waist.

Tryphone took up his position. He was two or three years older than I was and almost as dark as Duzi. Tryphone had come to Knossos from a town on the eastern side of Crete. I don’t think any of us knew why he’d left Gortnya and traveled east. But Geos had been overjoyed to discover Tryphone was already an experienced bull leaper.

At Geos’s nod, Arphaia moved around to the rear of the bull where she would catch us as we dismounted. Geos usually chose her as the catcher; a farmer’s girl, she was cautious but not afraid of the beast. But she was graceless as an acrobat. Short and stiff, her flips over the bull’s horns usually dropped her right behind the beast’s head in a clumsy sitting position.

Geos looked up at the High Priestess. As usual, she did not smile, and her expression was as rigid as a statue’s. Her obsidian-dark eyes flicked over us, and then she nodded. Geos gestured at Tryphone. He moved forward.

His bronzed arms reached out to grasp the bull’s horns, and his legs lifted up until I could see the soles of his boots. He used the momentum from the bull’s head toss to flip over, landing easily on the bull’s black back. With a salute and a bow to the High Priestess, Tryphone jumped down, barely touching Arphaia’s hand for balance.

Since Obelix and Thaos would jump after Elemon, who had just stepped forward for his performance, I allowed my mind to wander. Wondering what exactly Duzi had been doing in the bull’s pen was so much easier than imagining his fear as the bull charged. I recalled the drying streaks of blood; he had not died much before the arrival of us bull dancers. Of course, that did not tell me when he might have gone into the bull’s pen. Or how long he had been inside suffering the bull’s attacks.

My mind went reluctantly to my last sight of the body. Something bothered me about the wounds. I knew what the injuries caused by a bull’s horns and hooves looked like; during the last year, I’d seen more than I cared to. The blunted horns left craters and long gashes in human flesh. And the battering left by the monstrous hooves was especially memorable; the power and the weight of the bull resulted in large bruises and broken bones. But there was something—

‘Martis!’ Geos’s voice suddenly interrupted my thoughts. ‘What is the matter with you?’ Coming out of my deep thought, I blinked at him. He gestured at the bull standing in the middle of the arena. I gulped. I usually spent a few minutes mentally preparing myself for the run across the sand, the careful stretch out to grasp the bull’s horns and finally the leap up and over. ‘Go,’ Geos said impatiently.


Excerpt from On the Horns of Death by Eleanor Kuhns. Copyright 2024 by Eleanor Kuhns. Reproduced with permission from Eleanor Kuhns. All rights reserved.



Author Bio:

Eleanor Kuhns

Eleanor Kuhns is a previous winner of the Minotaur Books/Mystery Writers of America First Crime Novel competition for A Simple Murder. The author of eleven Will Rees mysteries, she is now a full-time writer after a successful career as the Assistant Director at the Goshen Public Library in Orange County, New York.

Catch Up With Eleanor Kuhns:
Instagram - @edl0829
Twitter/X - @EleanorKuhns
Facebook - @writerkuhns



Tour Participants:

Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and opportunities to WIN in the giveaway!



Don't Miss Out! Enter Now for Your Chance to Win!

This is a giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Tours for Eleanor Kuhns. See the widget for entry terms and conditions. Void where prohibited.



Get More Great Reads at Partners In Crime Tours