Sunday, September 28, 2014

Review: TRACKING A SHADOW (A Jarvis Mann Detective Novel) by R Weir

Synopsis (from AMAZON)

Never knowing where his next case will come from, Private Detective Jarvis Mann is thrilled when his voicemail is lit up by the sexy tones of a lady looking to hire him. Successful business woman Emily White with girl next door looks, is certain someone is stalking her and wants Jarvis to track down the elusive shadow.

Even with three suspects, an ex-husband who lives to play softball, a sexist pig ex-employee and a mystery man who he encounters with painful results, Jarvis believes it’s all in Emily’s head until a killing in her home convinces him otherwise.

Further complicating matters a powerful business man and crime boss becomes involved muddying up the case, leaving Jarvis the prime suspect in the brutal beating of one of the possible stalkers, threatening to put his PI career on ice.

Navigating through each twist and turn in the case, and the affections of two desirable women both with an agenda, Jarvis uses dogged determination and razor sharp wit in Tracking a Shadow that moves across the Denver landscape with each shift in the sun.

Not a cozy mystery, but more suspenseful, this was a compelling read.  Jarvis Mann has to stay focused to help his newest client even if he's not sure he believes there is danger.  He systematically sets out to identify who is stalking this impressive and beautiful lady but something doesn't seem right.  On the personal side, he is drawn to Melissa, an attorney in the law office that represented his client five years earlier for her divorce.  Throw in an ex-employee womanizer, the ex-husband, the ex-consultant, and any other man who comes in contact with Emily, and Jarvis has his hands full.  He certainly doesn't need the two goons and alleged mob boss to further confuse matters.  A tangled web of deceit, but who is weaving it?  To his credit, as he muddles through Jarvis shows compassion and does seem to be making 'friends' with some members of the police department; Rufus puts a positive spin on the ending.

There are references to the short story, "THE CASE OF THE MISSING BUBBLEGUM CARD" but it is not necessary to read it first.  The ending suggests another Jarvis Mann Detective Novel in the making - I'm looking forward to it!  

Monday, September 22, 2014


September is drawing to a close and in many parts of the country the trees are turning or snow already has fallen.  Fall foliage is beautiful to behold in my home region of New England.  Growing up, Fall meant going back to school -- and yes, I loved school and always looked forward to going back!  It also meant the Big E and other state or regional fairs in various states.  Fall also seems to start the holiday season off with various other "Fall Festivals" and perhaps, Halloween.   Looking at some of the new books coming out, it is easy to tell that the Fall is here, soon to be followed by the Winter Holidays.  MURDER AT COLD CREEK COLLEGE starts the academic year, but many books have fall holiday themes.  Some new releases I've spotted (and added as TBR):

Laura Childs --- GOSSAMER GHOST
Livia J Washburn ---  TRICK OR DEADLY TREAT
Carolyn Hart --- GHOST WANTED
Kathi Daley --- HAUNTED HAMLET
Daryl Wood Gerber ----STIRRING THE POT
Juliet Blackwell --- A HAUNTING IS BREWING
Jacklyn Brady    ---- REBEL WITHOUT A CAKE
Mirabella Stoltz ---- HALLOWEEN HAVOC
Judith Ivie --- DIRTY TRICKS

Heading into Thanksgiving:
Victoria Abbott --- THE WOLFE WIDOW
Sandra Balzow --- HIT AND RUN

If you are looking for a cozy mystery to read, you might want to check out Cozy Mystery List or other blogs.  You can also search for "Halloween Mysteries"...   If you know of any new --- or not so new ---  Halloween/Thanksgiving reads you'd recommend, please share in the comments!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Romance for a Change: Montana Sweet Western Romances by Pamela M. Kelley

Most of the time, the books I review (and read) are mysteries, but every once in a while, I need a break from the who-dun-its, and enjoy a good romance (or two or three).  This is a romance series and reviews of the first two in the series, and a plug for the recently released third.


Synopsis (from AMAZON): 
Molly Bishop loves living in Manhattan and managing a boutique luxury hotel. She's about to be promoted to her dream job of General Manager, the role she's been striving for her entire career. There's only one thing standing in her way.
The will of her childhood friend, Christian Ford's grandfather. She hasn't even seen Christian in over ten years, but a recent run-in with his grandfather during a rare visit home, resulted in a new condition to the will. Christian will only inherit the ranch he's been running and the real estate development business that he has expanded, if he marries Molly and stays married for at least six months.

This is a story of a matchmaking will that brings childhood friends back together after years apart.  Molly has no plans to stay in Montana; her heart and passion are in Manhattan.  But she can't let Christian down. After all, what can six months hurt? Predictable in many ways, the characters are likable and their conflicts well written. Molly isn't a ditzy female, but determined to be independent.  Definitely romance that's not offensive or graphic; Kelley leaves a little to your imagination.  


Synopsis (from AMAZON ):
This is Dan & Traci's story. We first meet them in SIX MONTHS IN MONTANA. Dan is Christian's younger brother, who loves the city life and living in Chicago...and is not happy to be stuck for several months in Beauville, MT recuperating with a badly broken leg. His spirits lift when he meets newly single Traci, who is also crazy about Christmas....while Dan would be happy to skip the holiday entirely. She is not ready for a new relationship with anyone, especially a scrooge like him.....but Dan doesn't give up easily…

Review:As indicated in the synopsis, the focus now shifts to Christian's brother, a city and techy type no less. Unable to care for himself, he is recuperating in Montana.  At least he can still do his work since it is all on his computer.  As the holidays loom, both brothers deal with unhappy memories that have meant not celebrating.  In the meantime Molly and Traci are ready to do the holidays up right.  Dan is not as agreeable as Christian, taking on the scrooge role.  As with the first in the series, the characters and their conflicts kept my interest, and what happens behind closed doors is up to my imagination.


Synopsis (from AMAZON):

Travis Jones has been in love with Isabella Graham for what seems like forever, but he's never done anything about it, especially since his best friend Christian was dating her. But now that Christian is married to someone else, Travis is finally ready to make his move.

But Isabella has no idea how Travis feels. She thinks of him as her bossy friend and an attorney that she does a lot of work with. She would like to date Aidan who just moved back to town after living in NYC for many years as a celebrated artist. Aidan seems somewhat interested but is hard to read, making him that much more of a challenge…and has Travis wondering if he even has a chance. But he isn't going to give up trying.

Add in Missy, a new bubbly blonde realtor that Isabella has to train, and her conniving, fake Southern Belle cousin Bethany, who is newly divorced and has set her eyes on Travis, and Isabella has quite a lot to deal with!

The latest in the series, this was just released (9/11/14) --- and is already on my kindle waiting to be read!  

Sunday, September 14, 2014


Just a quick note to let you know that in celebration of the release of MURDER IN THE ARBORETUM (Cold Creek #2) earlier this month, MURDER AT COLD CREEK COLLEGE  (Cold Creek #1) will be on sale (Amazon Countdown Deal) beginning 9/15 through the morning of 9/19! Now's your chance to pick up the first one in the series (with hints of the second)!

In MURDER AT COLD CREEK COLLEGE, a faculty member, Adam Millberg, is murdered.  Who killed him?  Sheridan Hendley is a professor and psychologist.  She gets pulled into the investigation to help the State Police Detective.  She’s not a sleuth, but when her best friend becomes the prime suspect, Sheridan is motivated to help prove Kim isn’t guilty.  As she finds out more about Adam, she finds that many have a motive.  Slashed tires are the first sign that Sheridan may be asking all the right questions.  Now she's in danger.


Overall, I am pleased with the sales and reviews so far for MURDER IN THE ARBORETUM. Another murder in small town Cold Creek has tensions rising. Clive Johnson, the groundskeeper at Cold Creek College, is a convenient scapegoat for a police chief who seeks an easy solution. Convinced Chief Pfeiffe has it all wrong, professor and psychologist Sheridan Hendley sets out to help prove Clive's innocence. But not everyone is pleased by her enthusiastic search for the truth. Just as her life is looking up personally, it looks like she might be the next victim.  Many of the same characters return, but you could easily read these out of order. 


Friday, September 12, 2014

Book Review: BURIED IN CLUTTER (Tina Tales Mysteries Book #2) by Jan Christensen

Synopsis (from AMAZON):
Someone screams inside the old, neglected Victorian house next door, and Tina Shaw runs to find out what’s wrong. A woman bursts out the door saying her aunt is dead. Murdered. Tina notices that the hallway is piled high with cartons. Later when the woman begs her to help clean up the house, Tina hesitates. She’s just begun a career as a professional organizer, though, and her hands itch to start on a new job.

As Tina sifts through the clutter, she finds clues the murdered woman left behind. She learns the woman was rich, and all her relatives are suspects. But when the will is read, Tina and her family also become suspects. After her mother is arrested, Tina begins investigating in earnest with the help of her boyfriend, Hank (the Hunk). Will she find out who the killer is before her own life is put in danger? 

Tina is making a career change and leaving behind psychology practice to help people organize their lives. Once again, she takes on the job of de-cluttering the house of a hoarder.  But this time, a focus is on finding the clues to solve the murder of the strange neighbor whose cookies she remembers.  And this time, she and her family members are suspects.  As she sorts and boxes, she is watched by Mickey, a policeman, while other members of the force and Hank work on other parts of the house.  She discovers a scam and a couple obviously preying on the older woman's sympathies for their own means.  Hank is concerned for her safety and she keeps stumbling on family secrets. Where will it all lead? 

I enjoyed reading more about Tina and her internal professional conflicts, family dynamics, and, yes, the budding romance.  Christensen keeps you guessing until the end but the ending makes perfect sense.  Stayed up a little too late to finish this one - a sign of good book!  I hope there is a book #3!

This is the second in the Tina Tales series.  ORGANIZED TO DEATH was reviewed on this blog on May 12, 2014.  


Monday, September 8, 2014

Book Review: BURNED IN BROKEN HEARTS JUNCTION (Cozy Matchmaker Series #1) by Meg Muldoon

Synopsis from AMAZON

Sassy saloon barmaid Loretta “Bitters” Loveless loves three things in life.  Mixing up a mean cocktail, listening to Dwight Yoakam, and matching folks with their soulmates.  Born with an almost supernatural gift for matchmaking, Bitters has helped hundreds of people find true love. But when Bitters’ own soulmate leaves her behind in the dust of Broken Hearts Junction, she loses all faith in her abilities and decides to give up on matchmaking altogether. But when her boss ends up dead in a freak accident involving a 50-year-old mounted ox head, Bitters discovers she has bigger steaks to fry than her own troubled love life. Bitters soon realizes that nothing is as it seems in Broken Hearts Junction. And when a handsome stranger starts appearing nearly everywhere she goes, Bitters realizes something else too.  No one is as they seem in Broken Hearts Junction either.
Burned in Broken Hearts Junction is the first book in the Cozy Matchmaker Mystery series.

Mystery, romance, and a bit of silliness.  Loretta is the bartender and heart of the Stupid Cupid Saloon and fancies herself a matchmaker of sorts - she can tell if two people are meant to be together, if they are soul mates.  Now, Loretta's soul mate is gone; she just knows he was her one and only.  Or was he?  Right now her closest relationship, other than the saloon crowd is Gramps.  But then her boss is killed and it was no accident.  Loretta deals with her friend, Gramps, trying to solve the murder, and keeping the Cupid afloat, all the while trying to figure out who Fletcher is and why does she feel the way she does when she already had her soul mate.  If you want something light, with a different twist on matchmaking, this is a fun read.  If you want something that always follows logic... well, this might not be your cup of tea. 

This is the first in the Cozy Matchmaker Series and was released in April 2014.  Muldoon also has another cozy mystery series (Christmas River Cozy Mysteries).

Friday, September 5, 2014



Another murder in small town Cold Creek has tensions rising. Clive Johnson, the groundskeeper at Cold Creek College, is a convenient scapegoat for a police chief who seeks an easy solution. Convinced Chief Pfeiffe has it all wrong, professor and psychologist Sheridan Hendley sets out to help prove Clive's innocence. But not everyone is pleased by her enthusiastic search for the truth. Just as her life is looking up personally, it looks like she might be the next victim. 

    As we rounded the curve, I first spotted an older man in work clothes. He was black, balding and sported a beer gut not quite camouflaged by the support wrap to protect his back. Some gardening and lawn tools were on the ground by his feet. His gaze was down and his arms just hung by his side. He didn’t look up as we came into view. I assumed that he was Johnson.
   A few feet away, a young man sat on the bench. His body doubled over with his head between his knees. Even from a distance, I could see his body shaking. A man in uniform crouched by his side and talked to him. I left Hirsch’s side and walked over to the two of them. I introduced myself and in my calmest voice, I asked, “How are we doing over here?”
   “Ma’am, this here is Nick Davidson. He’s still pretty upset, but doing better minute by minute,” the paramedic commented, also in a quiet voice. “Isn’t that right, Nick?”
    Nick’s head bobbed as if in agreement, but he didn’t say a word. “Do you still feel dizzy, Nick?” asked the paramedic. Nick shook his head and raised his eyes to look at me. His face communicated a lot. Emotions, from fear to shock to dismay to embarrassment, flitted across his face.
   “Nick, can you tell me what happened here this morning?” I asked when I had eye contact. He hesitated, then mixed with deep breaths and tears, Nick told me he had been working with Johnson. He moved in between a cluster of azaleas to get a piece of trash he saw. As he talked about the body and how he tripped over it, he broke down again. I placed my hand on his shoulder and waited for him to gain control. He started to hyperventilate.
   The paramedic stepped in and directed him to monitor his breathing. When he was breathing normally, I asked him whom we could notify to come get him. Many of the students at Cold Creek College had family locally. I was hoping he was one of them. He answered and managed to get out his cell phone and hand it to me. He was shaking too badly to make the call himself.
   I was able to find the number, call, and advise his mother that there had been an incident on campus. I reassured them that Nick was okay but in shock. He would be transported to the Physician’s Center. They agreed to meet him at the small local hospital. A second paramedic showed up and the two managed to get Nick to stand and walked him toward the cart. The cart took him to the quad and a waiting ambulance.
   I turned toward Johnson and hesitated. He looked at me with something akin to hostility. Hirsch must have caught the glare. He took a step closer, looked at me, and waited for my next move. I took another step and Johnson’s glare faded. Again I introduced myself and asked what had happened. He related that he and Nick were cleaning out the beds. He explained that Nick was in the azaleas to pick up what looked like trash. One minute he was standing and the next he was on the ground and screaming and kicking.
   Johnson shook his head. He explained he was afraid Nick was hurt, maybe bit by a snake. When he got in there, looking out for a snake, he saw the leg and then body. The shirt sleeve was what they had seen from the path.
   He shook his head again and just looked away. After a minute or two, he looked back at me. He said he grabbed Nick and shook him, but Nick was just hysterical. Nick fainted. Johnson pulled him out and radioed it in to dispatch.

This is the second in the Cold Creek series.  Missed the first one?  Click here for MURDER AT COLD CREEK COLLEGE  

(stay tuned for more excerpts!)

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Blog Tour: AND ALL THAT MADNESS (A Casey McKie Mystery) by Joan Merrill


AND ALL THAT MADNESS is a Casey McKie mystery. When the New York Jazz Society acquires a fifty-year old letter from Georgia Valentine, questions arise over the legendary vocalist’s death. Did she give herself a fatal dose of heroin, as the original investigators ruled, or did someone kill her? And if it was murder, what was the motive?

Casey moves her operation from San Francisco to New York to investigate the cold case, questioning Georgia’s musician friends, her widower, a drug dealer, a Broadway actress, a mafia boss and the authorities who declared the death a suicide. This quest takes Casey to New York’s most venerable jazz clubs, a Harlem nursing home, a mob-owned Italian restaurant, a lesbian bar and One Police Plaza, home of the NYPD.

She joins forces with an attractive detective from the Organized Crime unit, and, as the case progresses, so does their relationship. With no shortage of suspects, Casey ultimately uncovers evidence revealing a surprising killer. Author Joan Merrill has produced yet another captivating mystery as part of her on-going detective series featuring SF detective Casey McKie.   

A cold case - 50 years cold with a plausible explanation that all but Dee are willing to accept.  Is it, as Dee believes, a convenient explanation that supports the beliefs of those times around musicians and blacks?Was Georgia Valentine murdered?  

Casey isn't sure to begin with, but decides to look into it and finds at least a few others who, like Dee, aren't all that sure. To find the answers Casey travels to the New York, and ventures into the seamier side while also sampling the contemporary jazz scene.

Casey is a likable protagonist, a smart and independent woman.  Getting to the bottom of Georgia Valentine's death has a number of twists and turns.  If you like a good mystery, this is a good read.  If you like jazz, this is a book for you.

This is the fourth in the Casey McKie Mystery series, but it is easily read as a stand alone. Others include ALL THAT MURDER, ALL THAT STALKING, and ALL THAT SEA.  I'll be adding them to my TBR list.

About the Author:
Joan Merrill has written five Casey McKie mysteries, all taking place in the world of jazz:And All That Murder (2009), And All That Sea (2010), And All That Stalking(2011). And All That Madness (2012),And All That Motive (2014).

All books (except Motive, which will be published in early fall), are available at and Kindle. And All That Madness is available as an audio book, narrated by long-time KCSM radio host, Alisa Clancy. To download, go to or for the CD version, go to An audio book of And All That Stalking is under production.

Joan Merrill has worked in the jazz field for over twenty years, producing fourteen shows for NPR’s Jazz Profiles and four shows for the Smithsonian/PRI series Jazz Singers. She’s represented various jazz singers; produced the video documentary “Saying It with Jazz” featuring Carmen McRae and others; and produced three CDs under her own label. She also created and curates the website:  

Buy And All That Madness:
Barnes and Noble
Book Depository

Monday, September 1, 2014

Blog Tour: THE BLACK CANE (Dowager Diaries #1) by Eileen Harris

Book Blurb: 
The decision to help one small boy turns eight elderly women's lives upside-down. Danger becomes a way of life. If the women are going to save the boy and stay alive, they are going to have to use skills that have been dormant way too long. 

Amelia doesn't particularly like being invisible now that she's 66, but that's just the way it is.  But she's not the only sixty-something (or older) woman who had a career and now retired, with bridge the excitement of their life.  And then along comes Marc and he needs their help.  The eight women now have a problem to solve and put their collective talents to work to help Marc.  In the process they encounter some other twists and turns and find answers to many other questions.  Why is the ruby top of the cane loose?  Their success gives them a new purpose (and a new hobby beyond bridge) and gives one pause - better not underestimate this group (or any others) because of their age.  

About the Author:
From living off the grid in the Arizona desert, Eileen has moved to the woods of upstate New York. She has authored a standalone adventure novel called Desert Shadow. She is also the author of Alicia Trent Series. The Black Cane : Dowager Diaries Book 1 is her latest release.