Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Book Review & Excerpt: TRIMMED TO DEATH (#15 in the Bad Hair Day Cozy Mystery Series) by Nancy J. Cohen

Synopsis (from Amazon.com)

Mix together a cocktail for murder, add a few salty suspects, toss in a dollop of sweet humor, and you have the recipe for Trimmed to Death, #15 in the Bad Hair Day cozy mystery series.

Savvy hairstylist and amateur sleuth Marla Vail enters a charity bake-off contest at a fall festival sponsored by a local farm. While she waits to see if her coconut fudge pie is a winner, Marla joins a scavenger hunt where people playing character roles are the targets. Instead of scoring points with a live person, she finds a dead body planted face-down in the strawberry field. Who would want to cut short the life of food magazine publisher and fellow bake-off contestant Francine Dodger? As she investigates, Marla learns there's no shortage of suspects. A celebrity TV chef, food critic, olive oil importer, food truck owner, pastry chef, and cookbook author may be stirring up more than their next recipe. Can Marla unmask the killer before someone else gets trimmed from life? Recipes Included!


In yet another great story, Marla Vail once again is involved in the investigation of a murder. Her detective husband, Dalton, is on the case and Marla the sounding board and information seeker. Suspects abound with interesting connections from the food critique to the owners of the farm to the Italians providing virgin olive oil. 

As if that isn't enough, Marla can't just have one crisis, and she is also helping her friend Tally Riggs figure out how and where to reopen her boutique cafe, at the same time trying to expand the salon to include a bistro for her customers. On the home front, having a teen ager - though Brianna seems mature for her age and supportive of Marla - always adds to the angst.

As with others in this series, this is well-paced with enough action to keep readers engaged and the story moving along. Although part of a series, it can be read as a stand alone - though I'd recommend starting at the beginning to see how the relationships and characters evolve over time. All in all, if you enjoy cozy mysteries and female sleuths, you'll enjoy Trimmed to Death. Besides, you get some recipes!

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book in the hopes that I would post an honest review. This has not affected the content of my review in any way.


Read an excerpt:
Dalton signaled for them to move on. As they neared the site, Marla could make out the distinctive light from lanterns. It seemed to come from inside a big spreading tree.

Voices chanted as they drew nearer. Marla could hear them more distinctly now.

“Hear us, Lady Isis, and receive our prayers. We invoke thee to awaken our souls. Speak to us and save us from the darkness. May our words be a spell and a link to thy great light, O Queen and Mother. Let your Divine goodness arise within us and bring thy truth.”

Their volume rose in unison. “I am Isis, and from my life come the suns and the moons, the rain showers and the streams, the living and the dead. I am the Mother and the Earth. All glories of the universe bow to me as I am the priest, the sacrifice, the shrine. I am thy queen enraptured by a love that shall encompass thee.”

Their pitch changed again, becoming more pleading. “Hear us, Lady Isis, and accept our prayers. We worship and invoke thy greatness. Hail to thee, Mother of our humble lives.”

“You there, stop where you are,” a man hollered from behind Marla and Dalton.

Great, the group had left a lookout. Marla would never have succeeded as an Indian scout. The Native Americans would know how to proceed through the forest with stealth.

Slowly, with both hands in view, they turned around.

Excerpt from Trimmed to Death. Copyright © 2018 Nancy J. Cohen. All rights reserved.

About Nancy J. Cohen

Nancy J. Cohen writes the Bad Hair Day Mysteries featuring South Florida hairstylist Marla Vail. Titles in this series have made the Independent Mystery Booksellers' Association bestseller list, been selected by Suspense Magazine as best cozy mystery, won a Readers' Favorite gold medal, and earned third place in the Arizona Literary Awards. Nancy has also written the instructional guide, Writing the Cozy Mystery. Her imaginative romances have proven popular with fans as well. These books have won the HOLT Medallion and Best Book in Romantic SciFi/Fantasy at The Romance Reviews. A featured speaker at libraries, conferences, and community events, she is listed in Contemporary Authors, Poets & Writers, and Who's Who in U.S. Writers, Editors, & Poets. When not busy writing, Nancy enjoys fine dining, cruising, visiting Disney World, and shopping. 

Want to stay in touch for updates on Nancy's new releases, giveaways, special offers and events? Join her reader list at NancyJCohen.com/newsletter. Free Book Sampler for new subscribers.

Monday, September 24, 2018

RELEASE DAY! FOUNDATIONS, FUNNY BUSINESS & MURDER (A Stacie Maroni Mystery) by Christa Nardi


The best of intentions shouldn't include murder. 

An HR specialist and trauma counselor, Stacie is on the board of a fledgling non-profit foundation set up to benefit victims of domestic violence. After a slashed tire, attempted break in, and a murder, Stacie isn’t buying coincidental bad karma. Someone wants her off the board - at any cost. Her fancy surveillance equipment, impressive alarm system, and a ferocious Maltese dog offer only so much protection. Enter Kevin McNair, a smooth talker with piercing blue eyes. Can she trust him with her heart or her life?

Read an excerpt:

For me, the whole point of yoga was to clear my head. As I exited the Yoga Pod, I looked up at the sky and exhaled another cleansing breath. I was lost in the moment a man barreled into me. The next thing I knew I was on my butt.
What?”  I looked up and saw a tall man, with an athletic build, black hair, and piercing blue eyes.
“I’m sorry. So sorry.” He extended his hands and easily pulled me up, gym bag and all. “Are you alright?”
I nodded.
“I don’t usually tackle beautiful women.” He scanned the street, and with a cryptic “Another time, another place,” he ran off.
As if I would know what he was running from or to, I looked up and down the street. Nothing jumped out at me. My cell phone buzzed and I groaned.
“Good morning, Senator.”
“Good morning, Stacie. We have a situation here, and I’ve called a meeting of the Foundation for this evening, six sharp.”
So much for my fleeting experience of a clear head. “What kind of situation?”
“I don’t want to discuss it on the phone or with each member of the Board individually. Be here at 6 o’clock and you’ll find out with the others.” 
He disconnected. Nothing I could do about it. I tried for another cleansing breath.
The Theodore Noth Foundation was funded by my deceased husband’s life insurance policy. The half-million dollars created the foundation to prevent and address domestic violence, one of Ted’s and my passions. Senator William Langford was designated to head up the foundation. He’d pioneered a bill on domestic violence and worked with the NFL and other groups to address the rising concerns.
I walked to my car, parked a block away from the Yoga Pod, and groaned. All the stretches and cleansing breaths weren’t going to fix the flat tire. Opting for the positive spin, that made for three downers, so I figured I’d be good for a while.
I called the auto club and walked over to the Starbucks for a Skinny Mocha while I waited. A quick glance at my watch and I placed a call to the office to let Rosie know I had car trouble and would likely be late to work.
Drinking my coffee, I thought about the Senator’s call. The board consisted of a myriad of people, including some with deep pockets who, like Ted, were entrepreneurial and could embrace the cause because it cut close to home. Someone I’d yet to meet represented the sports industry and Langford’s connections to the NFL. At the other extreme, the grass roots contingent included the first responders for medical services and police, victims and survivors of domestic violence, and others who worked with the victims, including me.
So far all we’d accomplished was reviewing Ted’s requests and instructions, including the stakeholders he wanted represented on the board. Langford or his staff drafted a constitution and bylaws for the Foundation. Legal counsel had been retained and an administrative assistant was hired to serve as a combined secretary and treasurer. I’d yet to see a final list of the board members. The last communication surrounded a draft announcement for potential grants directed at service and education. How could there be an “emergency” at this point? 
My reverie was cut short when the tow truck from the auto club arrived. I joined the mechanic as he examined the tire and shook his head.
“You the owner?”
I nodded and handed him my auto club card.
“You call the police yet?”
“Excuse me. Why would I call the police for a flat tire? I probably drove over a nail or something.”
“No, ma’am. This tire has been slashed. You need to make that call. And pop the trunk so I can get out your spare. You have one, right?”
“Yes, ma’am.” He glanced at the phone in my hand and must have noticed I was in “contacts” as he offered, “Police is 9-1-1. Then you can call whoever else.”
I’d actually considered calling a specific policeman. I decided the mechanic’s idea was better though and placed the call. With my luck, Rick Murdock would be the responding officer. We’d dated a few times and I liked Rick. Under different circumstances, it might have worked out. I just wasn’t ready for serious and he was. I hadn’t heard from him since I said the dreaded “Let’s be friends.”
The mechanic, “Gordon” from the name on his shirt, pointed to the trunk. I opened it for him and groaned. Upon seeing the contents, he rolled his eyes. He was nice enough to help me move everything to the back seat. We’d found the jack and spare when the cruiser pulled up. I released the breath I was holding when Officer Marina Napoli got out, Officer Tim Reardon behind her.
“Hi, Stacie. What’s the problem?”
“I came back to my car and had a flat. Gordon here says the tire’s been slashed.”
“Okay. Reardon, can you check and see if that’s been a problem around here lately?” She turned back to me as Reardon walked to the front of my car. Pointing to my coffee cup, Marina asked, “Did you happen to see anyone from the Starbucks?”
I shook my head. “Starbucks came after I called the auto club. I was at the Yoga Pod around the corner.”
Reardon joined us and cleared his throat. “No other reports. The sergeant said it was still early. He’ll keep us posted if any more reports come in.”
With Gordon’s help, Reardon took a picture of the slash for the report, while Marina took down the information. Both Gordon and I signed the report, then Gordon got the tire changed.
“Hold on to that tire if you can, just in case something comes up. We’ll probably never find out who did this. No cameras and no one called it in if they witnessed it.”
Marina shrugged and turned to leave.  She turned around and added, “Remember Officer Flatt? He’s retiring the end of the month. The Brick on Friday if you and your friends are interested.”
“Thanks, Marina. Maybe I’ll see you there.”
Gordon stared for a minute, his mouth open. Recovering, he handed me his clipboard to sign. I hoped that was the last of my excitement for the day. If only.

Excerpt from Foundations, Funny Business & Murder. Copyright © 2018. All rights reserved.

Buy Links (Only $0.99 until 9/29, then $3.99):

Prestige, Privilege & Murder

Foundations, Funny Business & Murder

Friday, September 21, 2018

Book Review: MISPLACED MOB by John Rose Putnam


When a young girl is found dead of a botched abortion in the swimming hole of a small, rural amusement park Roy Martin, the new Sheriff of Laurel County, takes it in stride. But the next day, after barely escaping death when someone fires four rounds of buckshot into his oncoming patrol car, Roy realizes this case is not only dangerous, it’s personal.


Roy Martin leaves the big city of New York to be the new Sheriff of small town Laurel Country, the same job his father had years before. The previous Sheriff was supposed to train him, but he died before Roy arrived. An accident, just days after a young girl was found dead in the swimming hole. 

History repeats itself, and Roy can't help but think it is somehow related to his father's death, the mob, and bootlegging. Especially now that he seems to be a target. The hardest part is that he doesn't know his officers or his bosses well enough. He has to trust his instincts and the female dispatcher, one very green patrol officer, and an ex-Chicago Detective, and hope no one gets hurt.

With the 1950s perspective and many twists and turns, following Roy's reasoning and strategies made for a fun read. I liked Roy and his attitude, his perseverance. He pushed the limits and spoke his mind, but not to the point of being reckless. A well-written and well-paced story of the 1950s. It's not clear if this is the beginning of a series or a stand-alone mystery. I'm hoping there's more of Roy to come.

About John Rose Putnam

John came west as a young man and settled in Berkeley where he graduated from the University of California. He still lives and writes there and often gives a talk on the California gold rush to the gang at the Freight and Salvage. 

Friday, September 14, 2018

Blog Tour and Review: THE GOLD PAWN (An Art Deco Mystery) by LA Chandlar


November 1936. Mayor La Guardia’s political future buckles under a missing person case in New York City. Simultaneously, Lane unravels devastating secrets in the outskirts of Detroit. As two crimes converge, judging friends from enemies can be a dangerous game . . .

Finally summoning the courage to face the past, Lane Sanders breaks away from her busy job at City Hall to confront childhood nightmares in Rochester, Michigan. An unknown assailant left Lane with scattered memories after viciously murdering her parents. However, one memory of a dazzling solid gold pawn piece remains—and with it lies a startling connection between the midwestern tragedy and a current mystery haunting the Big Apple . . .

Meanwhile, fears climb in Manhattan after the disappearance of a respected banker and family friend threatens the crippled financial industry and the pristine reputation of Lane’s virtuous boss, Mayor Fiorello “Fio” La Guardia. Fio’s fight to restore order leads him into more trouble as he meets a familiar foe intent on ending his mayoral term—and his life . . .

Guided by overseas telegrams from the man she loves and painful memories, only Lane can silence old ghosts and derail present-day schemes. But when the investigation awakens a darker side of her own nature, will she and New York City’s most prominent movers and shakers still forge ahead into a prosperous new age . . . or is history doomed to repeat itself?


It was fun to read about Lane and her memories from childhood as they haunt her in her current life. She returns to Michigan to uncover and put to rest her fears, only to return to New York, fears still there. With the crisis in Manhattan, she goes back to Michigan. Filled with 1936 gangsters and secret connections that parallel her past and her parents' involvement so many years before, Lane unravels some of her memories and the Gold Pawn. Finn, Roarke, and, of course Fio, bring interesting aspects to the story as it unfolds and Lane must decide who to trust. 

This is the second in the Art Deco Mystery series. If you read the SILVER GUN, you will definitely enjoy this one as Chandlar again captures the time and brings delightful characters to the pages. Although this is the second, it can be read as a stand alone mystery.

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book in the hopes that I would post an honest review. This has not affected the content of my review in any way.

About the Author 

L. A. Chandlar is the author of the Art Deco Mystery Series with Kensington Publishing featuring Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia and a fresh take on the innovation and liveliness of 1930s New York City. Her debut novel, The Silver Gun released August 29, 2017, and the sequel, The Gold Pawn, will release September 25th, 2018. Laurie has been living and writing in New York City for 16 years and has been speaking for a wide variety of audiences for over 20 years including a women’s group with the United Nations. Her talks range from NYC history, the psychology of creativity, and the history of holiday traditions. Laurie has also worked in PR for General Motors, writes and fund-raises for a global nonprofit is the mother of two boys, and has toured the nation managing a rock band.

Author Links

Barnes & Noble
Hudson Booksellers

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Blog Tour - Spotlight: DEADLY DRAM: A Whiskey Business Mystery by Melinda Mullett


Distillery owner Abigail Logan discovers that high spirits are no match for a cold-blooded killer as the Whisky Business Mystery series puts a fatal twist on stiff competition.

It’s been a year since globe-trotting photojournalist Abi Logan inherited Abbey Glen, a whisky distillery in the heart of the Scottish countryside. To her surprise, the village of Balfour already feels like home, and her new business partner, Grant MacEwan, continues to be too charming to resist. But Abi has a history of relationship disasters, so she struggles to avoid an ill-fated romance with Grant. Steering clear is hard enough on a day-to-day basis, but when the two head off to a whisky industry competition together, Abi panics. Five-star resort, four glorious days of nonstop whisky tasting, and a fatally attractive Scotsman—what could possibly go wrong?

The night before the award presentations, with foreign and domestic whisky makers at one anothers’ throats, two judges are found dead under mysterious circumstances. What started with three dream-come-true nominations for Abby Glen’s whisky soon turns into a nightmare for Abi. With a killer on the loose, she must call on her investigative skills to stop another murder—before she gets taken out of the running herself.
About the Author

Melinda Mullet was born in Dallas and attended school in Texas, Washington D.C., England, and Austria. She spent many years as a practicing attorney before pursuing a career as a writer. Author of the Whisky Business Mystery series, Mullet is a passionate supporter of childhood literacy. She works with numerous domestic and international charities striving to promote functional literacy for all children. She lives in Washington, D.C., with her family.

Author Links

Website – http://melindamullet.com/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/mulletmysteries/
Twitter – https://twitter.com/mulletmysteries

Purchase Links

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Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Blog Tour : DEATH SAID THE GYPSY QUEEN by Susan Boles

About the Book

“Beware the sign of the vampire blood,” said the fortune teller. “It brings madness and turmoil.”

Lily Gayle knows what that means, but, for the life of her, can’t figure out how the fortune teller does. A quick road trip with Dixie. An unplanned stop at a roadside park. And, an hour later a dead body. Lily Gayle, Dixie and Miss Edna find themselves knee deep in another homicide investigation when the local vet assistant turns up dead behind an outbuilding at the farmers market.

Lily Gayle believes the words of the fortune teller will have a major impact on the investigation but can’t bring herself to tell the other ladies. To reveal what she believes the words mean might bring trouble to another old friend. And would betray a trust. Only Ben knows and he, as usual, advises Lily Gayle to stay out of his investigation – which she isn’t about to do.

When the secret is revealed, the townspeople go mad and the fortune tellers words come true. Can Lily Gayle, Dixie and Miss Edna solve the murder before more people are harmed?

About the Author
Susan is the award-winning author of the Lily Gayle Lambert Mystery Series and a contributing author to the Brotherhood Protectors World.

A lifelong long love of all things mysterious led Susan to write cozy mysteries. Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden were the first to show her that girls can be crime solvers. Agatha Christie showed her that even small towns have big secrets. And Phryne Fisher showed her lady detectives can be outrageously individual. She lives in Mississippi with her rescue mini dachshund, Lucy, and her rescue cat of no particular breed, Zimba. She currently writes the Lily Gayle Lambert mystery series set in the fictional town of Mercy, Mississippi featuring a multi-generational cast of female sleuths and romantic suspense in the Brotherhood Protectors Kindle World.

Susan writes mysteries and set in the big city of Memphis, TN and the fictional small town of Mercy, Mississippi.


Susan loves to hear from readers and book lovers! Visit her website at www.susanbolesauthor.com Or drop her a line at susan@susanbolesauthor.com

Author Links:
Website – Twitter – @SusanBAuthorBlogFacebookLinked InGoodReadsInstagramPinterestBookbub

Buy Links:

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Guest Post: A Different Point of View by Cathy Perkins

Today I'm pleased to have Cathy Perkins, author of mysteries with a financial twist: Trust Issues; Family Bonds, as my guest as part of #mysteryexchange...

A Different Point of View
By Cathy Perkins

When I was young, if you’d asked me for the last place I’d expect—or want—to live, my answer would’ve been, “In a small town.” Small towns seemed to be cultural wastelands, populated by gossiping neighbors who were all related to each other. And out west? That option never entered my Southern soul.

Fast forward a few years and dangle the right job opportunity at the right time and—you got it in one—we moved to a small town in eastern Washington state. We quickly discovered most of those myths about small towns were simply…myths.  

As we settled into our new hometown, I debated whether my novels should make a similar cross-country leap. My South Carolina based mysteries featured a law enforcement protagonist. To get appropriate operational procedures, along with cop attitudes and humor, I drew from a circle of friends at various levels of local, state and federal law enforcement. Curious about procedures in our new town, I participated in the Citizen’s Police Academy and discovered most of the same policies and philosophies I’d encountered back east. (I also learned more than I ever wanted to know about making meth. Nasty nasty stuff.)

Volunteering for the Sexual Assault Center as a hospital victim’s advocate provided an intimate view of law enforcement. Other than one cocky, testosterone-laden patrol officer and another older guy I wanted to strangle (except that would be assault and I really had no interest in going to jail), I found the officers professional, well educated and well trained.  Nobody’s perfect, and I appreciated what these men and women did on a daily basis.

And those inevitable slow days in a small town? Well, let’s just say the day my in-law’s moving van got stuck at the entrance to the retirement village (blocking traffic on the main road—another relative term), all four patrol cars PLUS the sergeant showed up. Once they finished laughing, they helped a retired mechanic (who was in heaven being the expert, by the way) do something to a suspension part and un-stuck it. For some strange reason, the chief of police was not amused when I relayed this story at a party… So far, I’ve refrained from using this tidbit in a book.

With only five patrol officers on duty during a shift (and fewer than this in the even smaller nearby towns) reciprocal agreements were a must. Neighboring cities, counties, even Washington State Patrol was a welcome addition when suspects took to the highways to escape. I made use of this mutual support during Holly Price’s carjacking in So About the Money (Book 1 in the series). In addition to the local officers, county deputies and state patrol officers joined the chase to catch the villains in that scene. On a broader scale, I’ve used the involvement of outside agencies—the DEA, for example, in In It For The Money (the most recent release in the series)—to work with—and against—the local law enforcement agencies.

I’d better back up a second. For this series, along with changing locations from South Carolina’s cities to a small town in eastern Washington, I switched from a multiple (hero, heroine, villain) point of view approach and a law enforcement main character to a single, civilian character. Whew! Talk about stretching and growing as an author. Everything that happened in the story had to come through that one character’s experiences and reactions. (And no cheating with, “Well, Laurie, as you know, this thing you should already know about happened, but let me give you the complete backstory.”) Action and body language became as important as dialogue for revealing character—but that’s a different discussion.

Rather than having my new protagonist act as a private investigator or a journalist working the crime beat, I made my heroine an accountant. Curious, bright and loyal to friends and family (hmm, she’s much better at crime solving than my dog) she made a terrific character to “follow the money.” Of course, when you poke at villains, they have a tendency to poke back, harder. It was fun to write the scenes where Holly bumped up against law enforcement and filter the scene through her impressions—her point of view—rather than another cop’s.

My new law enforcement friends did insist I get the details right. Even if they produced giant eye-rolls from my heroine.

So About the Money romps through eastern Washington with its rivers, wineries, Native American casinos, and assorted farm animals. Add in some wicked fun chemistry between the CPA amateur sleuth and a local detective and Holly Price better solve the case before the next dead body found beside the river is hers.

In It For The Money continues Holly’s adventures:

Holly Price traded professional goals for personal plans when she agreed to leave her high-flying position with the Seattle Mergers and Acquisition team and take over the family accounting practice. Reunited with JC Dimitrak, her former fiancé, she’s already questioning whether she’s ready to flip her condo for marriage and a house in the ‘burbs.

When her cousin Tate needs investors for his innovative car suspension, Holly works her business matchmaking skills and connects him with a client. The Rockcrawler showcasing the new part crashes at its debut event, however, and the driver dies. Framed for the sabotage, Tate turns to Holly when the local cops—including JC—are ready to haul him to jail. Holly soon finds her cousin and client embroiled in multiple criminal schemes. She’s drawn into the investigation, a position that threatens her life, her family and her increasingly shaky relationship with JC.


Kobo http://bit.ly/Kobo_InItForTheMoney

Thanks for letting me visit today! I invite your readers to head over to my blog and read your #mysteryexchange post, Mysteries and M&Ms at https://cperkinswrites.com

Author Bio

An award-winning author of financial mysteries, Cathy Perkins writes twisting dark suspense and light amateur sleuth stories.  When not writing, she battles with the beavers over the pond height or heads out on another travel adventure. She lives in Washington with her husband, children, several dogs and the resident deer herd. Learn more at her website, http://cperkinswrites.com.

Cathy, thank you for stopping by today!  I'm jumping into the series and can't wait to get to know Holly Price.