Murder in the Crooked Eye Brewery, by J.C. Eaton: Jealousy and Greed in a Small Town Microbrewery

Murder in the Crooked Eye Brewery ($16.95, 268 pages, 5×8 Trade Paperback, ISBN: 978-1-60381-739-4) is a cozy mystery novel by J.C. Eaton and the first book in A Marcie Rayner Mystery series. Crime statistician turned investigative assistant, Marcie Rayner investigates the murder of a microbrewery owner in Biscay, Minnesota, and learns the victim may not be the nice guy everyone thought he was.

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“More satisfying than a stein full of ale on a sweltering summer day, Murder in the Crooked Eye Brewery is an absolutely delectable read. I loved hanging out with neophyte PI Marcie Rayner while she hunted down suspects, sifted out the red herrings, and fended off her interfering mother. With more twists and turns than an upside-down rollercoaster, this deftly-plotted mystery is a welcome addition to the female PI genre!”
—Linda Reilly, author of the Deep Fried Mysteries, and the Cat Lady Mysteries

Still kicking herself in the pants for ever getting married in the first place, twenty-something crime statistician Marcie Rayner does a turnaround. She divorces her philandering husband and trades her desk job in St. Paul, Minnesota, for a temporary role as an investigative assistant in New Ulm.

Never expecting her first case to come from her mother in Florida, Marcie finds herself ensconced in a full-blown murder investigation. The victim, forty-five-year-old microbrewery owner, Billy Hazlitt, is found shot to death on the floor of the Crooked Eye Brewery’s tank room in the nearby hamlet of Biscay.

And while Biscay doesn’t seem like the place where murder motives abound, its quirky residents, including two spinster sisters and the employees of the local diner, offer more obstacles than help. Marcie is convinced one of them is the killer. As she digs deeper into the case, she learns the victim may not be the nice guy everyone thought he was. Worse yet, the killer may be gunning for her as well.

Book One of the Marcie Rayner Mystery Series

J.C. Eaton is the penname for the collaborative writing team of Ann I. Goldfarb and James E. Clapp. While Ann is a seasoned author in her own right, having eight published YA time travel mysteries to her credit, James, a former winery tasting room manager, has focused on non-fiction with informative blurbs on the wine industry. This unlikely author duo found common ground when they moved to Arizona and realized that the community they were living in was the perfect background for murder mysteries. Ann admits that she’s definitely “the detail person” while James is more comfortable with plotline and the big ideas. Running the dialogue is their favorite pastime in this venture. For more information, look here.

Keep reading for an excerpt:

By the time we left New Ulm and got onto the highway, Max and I had already shared all the information we had gleaned. It was pretty much the same stuff my mother had told me and that came from her conversation with Alice Davenport. What Alice didn’t know was that Billy Hazlitt was shot in the temple with a .357 magnum, his body lying all twisted up in front of one of the brite tanks used to chill and carbonate beer after fermentation. The sheriff said it looked as if someone tried to slide the body behind the tank but gave up.

The whole thing made no sense because it wasn’t as if the tank could conceal the body from view. According to Max, those tanks were tall and cylindrical. No way to hide a body. Apparently the sheriff ’s department was baffled, too.

“I can’t add much more to that.” I adjusted the seatbelt so it wouldn’t burn my neck. “Unless Billy’s ability to hurl a spitball somehow plays into all of this. Other than reiterating milestones in his life over the years, Alice Davenport wasn’t much help. She knew he had gone into the service as soon as he got out of high school and that he was married twice with no children. You don’t think it was a jealous ex-wife, do you?”

“Right now the field is wide open for speculation. It could’ve been anything from a robbery gone bad to an unbalanced girlfriend. Or, as you said, ‘a jealous former spouse.’ Not that it’s any of my business, but you’re over your ex, aren’t you?”

“Over and out. I can’t believe I was so naïve not to pick up on the clues sooner. He cheated right under my nose but I didn’t want to admit I saw the signs. Not a great reference for a neophyte investigator, huh?”

“It’s always tougher when it’s firsthand. Our minds are wired to ignore the evidence. Self-preservation and all that crapola. I’m sure there’s a fancy psychology term for it but I’ll be darned if it comes to mind.”

“Denial. I think the word is denial.”

“Well, nothing to deny as far as Billy Hazlitt’s death goes. We don’t have any personal ties that would cloud our thinking. And we’ve got a big advantage as far as sleuthing is concerned. Biscay is a really small town. A hundred people or so and, from what I know about small towns, someone is bound to talk.”

K Street Killing, by Colleen J. Shogan: A Tycoon Takes a Deadly Tumble

K Street Killing ($15.95, 242 pages, 5 x 8 Trade Paperback, ISBN: 978-1-60381-613-7) is the fourth book in A Washington Whodunit series by Colleen J. Shogan. When a Capitol Hill fundraising soiree ends with a powerful K Street tycoon mysteriously tumbling off the rooftop, congressional staffer Kit Marshall must find the killer before her boss’s the election season derails.

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“With a breezy writing style that included lots of interesting tidbits and history about places and events in Washington DC this novel was fun and easy to read.” —Laurie’s Thoughts and Reviews

Reviewers have loved the other books in the series:

Calamity at the Continental Club: “Readers who enjoy American history will appreciate this light mystery, including tours of Mount Vernon, the National Archives, and the Smithsonian.” —Lesa Holstine for Library Journal

Homicide in the House: “Shogan does a good job depicting the creaky, squeaky wheels of government, and Marshall plays politics and sleuth with equal dexterity in this capital Capitol Hill mystery.” —Publishers Weekly

Stabbing the Senate: “Loads of inside scoop about the workings of Senate offices—complete with all the gossiping, back-stabbing, and procedural maneuvering—plus an appealing young sleuth, sprightly pacing, and an edge-of-your-seat showdown on the Hart-Dirksen underground train.” —Literary Hill

It’s the height of campaign season, and instead of relishing newlywed bliss with her husband Doug Hollingsworth, Capitol Hill staffer Kit Marshall is busy with a tough reelection fight for her boss, member of Congress Maeve Dixon. Before Maeve and her staff—Kit included—leave Washington, D.C. to campaign full time in North Carolina, they have one last fundraising engagement.

On the iconic rooftop of a restaurant overlooking the Capitol and the Washington monument, Kit and her best pal Meg do their best to woo wealthy lobbyists for sizable campaign donations. Everyone’s enjoying the evening soiree until a powerful K Street tycoon mysteriously tumbles off the rooftop. Even with claims the fall must be suicide, Detective Maggie Glass and Kit aren’t so easily convinced the truth is so simple.

While balancing Doug’s mid-life career crisis, Kit must spring into action to discover who killed the notorious Van Parker before Dixon’s candidacy sputters, even if it means investigating Meg’s handsome new beau, the victim’s conniving widow, and a bicycle advocate hell-bent on settling a long-standing grudge. When a threatening note is left on Kit’s car, warning her to back off the investigation, Kit knows she’s closing in on the K Street killer.

Says Shogan, “Years ago, I worked for a senator locked in a tight reelection fight. I never forgot what it was like to work on the Hill during that long, hot summer. K Street Killing throws a murder into the mix for congressional sleuth extraordinaire Kit Marshall.”

Colleen J. Shogan has been a fan of mysteries since the age of six. A political scientist by training, she is a senior executive at the Library of Congress where she works on great programs like the National Book Festival. A proud member of Sisters in Crime, Colleen won a Next Generation Indie Award in the Best Mystery category for her first novel Stabbing in the Senate. She lives in Arlington, Virginia with her husband Rob Raffety and their rescue mutt Conan. For more information, go here.

Keep reading for an excerpt:

Meg gave me a two-fingered salute. “No worries, boss.”

“Thanks. I’ll see you in the office tomorrow,” I said. “Hopefully we can wrap up any loose odds and ends this week before we hit the campaign trail.”

“Got it.” Accompanied by a look of genuine concern, she added, “Kit, try to get some rest, okay?”

I nodded. Meg turned around and ran right into Dash, who had approached her from behind. She’d whipped around with her almost full wineglass, which teetered and then spilled on the floor.

“I’m so sorry,” sputtered Dash. He grabbed a napkin and started dabbing at Meg’s blazer, now collateral damage. I waited for the inevitable explosion. It was hard to say what designer Meg was wearing. Her couture trended toward the sophisticated, particularly for Capitol Hill standards. Today she was wearing a dark blue Navy-inspired jacket with a tan pencil skirt. Whatever the label, I knew it wasn’t bargain basement leftovers. Meg prided herself on her clothes, almost treating her outfits as children. Dash had no idea what he’d just done.

My best friend’s eyes protruded, and she clenched her fists. I braced myself for Mount Saint Meg to erupt. But instead, a minor miracle transpired before my eyes. After taking a deep breath, Meg said, “Don’t worry, Dash. I’m sure the dry cleaners can fix it.”

My jaw dropped faster than Donald Trump’s approval ratings. Had I witnessed Meg letting Dash off the hook?

Dash flashed a thousand-watt smile and put his arm around Meg. “Thanks for being so understanding, babe.”

That was my cue to depart. “See you tomorrow, Meg.”

“I’ll follow you out,” she said. “I’d better go to the ladies’ room. I can’t let this red wine stain set on my jacket.”

“Good idea.” Dash picked up her now empty wineglass. “I’ll make sure you get a refill for our romantic stroll on the patio.”

Barf. Were Doug and I this annoying when we first started dating? I hoped not.

We walked off together, and I stopped at the elevator. I couldn’t resist adding a few cautionary words. “Remember, you’re still on duty. We have other donors here besides Dash.”

Meg crossed her arms. “You don’t have to remind me, Kit. I’m a professional.”

“I know,” I said. “Have fun and see you tomorrow.”

Inside the elevator, I checked the time. It was eight o’clock. Final votes were starting. I doubted Maeve needed any help, but I flipped my phone off silent mode, so I could hear it ping in case she texted me.

I could either walk two blocks to Union Station or catch an Uber home. My mind shuffled through the cost benefit analysis. I’d shelled out more cash this summer for late night rides home than I cared to remember. On the other hand, the subway was slow and unpredictable. Years of mismanagement, safety violations, and inadequate funding had made the Metro the bane of every Washingtonian’s existence. Remembering that Doug wanted to talk to me about something, I opened the Uber app. My ride was scheduled to arrive in three minutes at the corner of First and Louisiana.

I caught up with today’s news as I waited. Finally, a Camry arrived with the license plate matching my driver’s car. He slowed as I waved him down. As I opened the rear passenger door, I heard spine-tingling screams behind me. My hand froze on the door handle. Without thinking, I spun around. Two older women were standing at the entrance of a narrow passageway that separated Charlie Palmer’s from the building directly behind it. I didn’t have to move to figure out the source of their bloodcurdling cries. Near the far end of the alley, a body was sprawled on the pavement.

Travellin’ Shoes, by V.M. Burns: Vandalism and Murder in a Small Town

Travellin’ Shoes ($14.95, 248 pages, 5×8 Trade Paperback, ISBN: 978-1-60381-689-2), by V.M. Burns, is the first cozy mystery in a series set in the fictional small town of St. Joseph, Indiana, and featuring Detective RJ Franklin and his colorful godmother, Mama B. When a small-town police detective investigates the killing of a choir director, he finds that nothing is as it seems, including the identity of the victim.

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“Early one morning, St. Joseph, Ind., police detective RJ Franklin, the narrator of this promising series debut from Burns (The Plot Is Murder), is out for a jog when he hears sirens and smells smoke. […] RJ finds plenty of suspects, including the church financial secretary and Ty’s attractive widow, along the way to the satisfying ending. Burns nicely portrays the close-knit ties among the members of the vibrant church community.” –Publishers Weekly Read more… 

“Sure to delight fans of Easy Rawlins. I loved watching RJ Franklin trying to dodge well-meaning matchmakers and brazen women while trying to solve a murder.”
–Victoria Thompson, bestselling author of Murder On Union Square

“Three things: One, do not mess with Mama B. Two, do try the Sweet Potato Pie. And three, most definitely DO read V.M. Burns’s delicious Travelin’ Shoes. An engaging mystery, wonderful characters, a lovingly drawn setting, and recipes–what more could you want?”
–Kay Charles, author of the Marti Mickkleson mystery series

“Travellin’ Shoes introduces the world of RJ Franklin, an Indiana police detective who returns from leave to look into the murder of his church’s new choir director. RJ’s investigation takes him–and us–into the places that serve as the backbone of the urban community–the churches, the hair salons and, perhaps most importantly, the dinner table of the beloved local church women who know any- and everything. Throughout it all, Burns flawlessly mixes the best elements of both cozy mystery and police procedural before reaching a pitch-perfect crescendo worthy of a Sunday morning gospel choir.”
–Kellye Garrett, author of the Detective by Day mysteries

A house fire is extinguished to reveal the body of a choir director. The smell of gasoline points to murder.

Thomas Warrendale was employed by First Baptist Church, where Detective RJ Franklin Jr. is a parishioner. Recovering from a car accident, RJ is on leave from the police force in St. Joseph, Indiana, when this puzzling case calls him back. His insider’s knowledge makes him the obvious choice to lead the investigation.

The congregation doubled after Warrendale revamped the music to appeal to a more youthful crowd. RJ’s godmother, Mama B, gives the detective an earful about the choir director’s non-musical activities. Warrendale was also an accountant and a “fancy pants” seducer. His clients believe the man was stealing from them. Warrendale turns out to be an alias; his real name was Tyrone Warren, once a highly paid CPA in Cleveland. Was Warren in hiding? From his stone-faced wife? A disgruntled client?

Now someone is breaking in to the dead choir director’s office and the homes of his former clients. Believing the vandal to be the killer, RJ is particularly concerned about the safety of one client, the striking owner of two hair salons.

Book 1 in the RJ Franklin Mystery series. Soul food recipes included.

V.M. Burns was born and raised in the Midwestern United States. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Northwestern University (Evanston, IL) and master’s degrees from the University of Notre Dame (Notre Dame, IN) and Seton Hill University (Greensburg, PA). She is currently thawing out in Eastern Tennessee. V.M. Burns is a member of Mystery Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, and Sisters in Crime. She is the author of the Mystery Bookshop Mystery series and the Dog Club Mystery series. For more information about V.M. Burns, check out her website or her Facebook page.

Keep reading for an excerpt:

“So, what do you think of that?” I asked Mama B.

Mama B rocked in silence for a few seconds. “I thought I was going to have to call 911 to get that fat tub of lard out of my chair.”

“I meant, what did you think of what he had to say?”

“Moe Chapman’s a liar. He was a liar as a child. Once a liar, always a liar.”

“He’s popular with the ladies.”

Mama B scrunched up her nose as though she’d smelled sour milk. “You would be too if you paid them.”

I spat out my lemonade. “How do you know that?”

“That Mercedes Jackson was bragging to Nettie Fay how Moe sends flowers to her job every week and pays for her to get her nails and hair done. He buys her clothes, pays her rent, and springs for expensive vacations and jewelry. They went on a cruise to the Bahamas over Christmas. Can you imagine all that fat lying on the beach? Lucky they didn’t mistake him for a beached whale and try to harpoon him. If that ain’t paying for a woman, then I don’t know what is.”

Whew. That wasn’t exactly what I was expecting when she said he “paid” for women, but it didn’t restore my faith in this supposed man of God. Where had all that money come from? I spent a few minutes trying to get her reaction to his comments about Sister Williams, but she remained uncharacteristically quiet on the subject. No matter how much I asked or what I said, she couldn’t or wouldn’t say more. Eventually, I decided to change the subject and had her fill me in on the dirt she’d gotten since yesterday. There wasn’t anything new, so I filled her in on my latest bombshell.

She snorted. “I don’t believe that boy was married.”

I knew that boy referred to Thomas Warrendale. Mama B’s likes and dislikes ran deep. Once she made her mind up about someone, there was no turning back.

“I assure you he was.”

“He certainly didn’t act like it. Just because you have a marriage certificate doesn’t mean anything.” Mama B rocked slowly. “A lot of people have diplomas, but that don’t mean they know the front end of a mule from the back.”

“Any truth to the rumors you all were talkin’ about yesterday?”

Mama B pursed her lips. “I don’t lie.”

“I know you don’t lie. I mean are you sure? Was Thomas Warrendale fooling around?”

“Mm-hmm … that’s what I heard. Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.”

“Was there anyone in particular?”

Mama B rocked on. “I don’t know how par-tic-u-lar he was.” Mama B enunciated each syllable to make her point.

Confound It, by Maggie Toussaint: A Suspicious Fire Leads to Supernatural Clues

Confound It ($16.95, 232 pages, 6×9 Trade Paperback, ISBN: 978-1-60381-595-6), by Maggie Toussaint, is the fifth book in A Dreamwalker Mystery series. Dreamwalker, sheriff’s consultant, and amateur sleuth Baxley Powell is called upon to help investigate a suspicious fire. A meth cook is dead, but the homicide investigation leads to more than a drug supply chain. Someone is pulling the strings behind the scenes, and it’s up to Baxley to find out who.

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“Mystery readers who enjoy detective pieces based on both supernatural touches and interpersonal relationships will relish the combination of whodunit and a vivid threat to a boy’s body and soul that connects children to secret meth lab operations and goals. The result is a complex, multifaceted read that holds many satisfying twists and turns even for the staid detective story reader. Confound It will prove hard to put down and surprising right up to its final revelations.”
—Diane C. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Donovan’s Literary Services

“Maggie has done it again in delivering another fast-paced and intensely intoxicating drama that had me completely enthralled, quickly became a page-turner as I could not put this book down until all was said and done. [….] Expertly written with engaging dialogue, the author kept me immersed … well done. This is the best book in this series and I can’t wait to see what new adventures await….”
—DruAnn Love for Dru’s Book Musings

“Readers will need all their powers of acuity to guess whodunit until the final surprise at the end. A quick easy read spiced with a supernatural twist!”
—Nancy J Cohen, author of the Bad Hair Day Mysteries

“In her fifth Dreamwalker novel, Maggie Toussaint pairs a tricky murder plot with her amazingly original supernatural setting—Confound It is a dream come true for fans of paranormal mysteries.”
—Leigh Perry, Author of the Family Skeleton Mysteries

“Toussaint’s deft writing makes Baxley leap off the page. This may be a mystery, but the love Baxley shares with her daughter, her parents, her pets and her community shines throughout.” Read more….
—RT Book Reviews

“Mystery readers who enjoy detective pieces based on both supernatural touches and interpersonal relationships will relish the combination of whodunit and a vivid threat to a boy’s body and soul that connects children to secret meth lab operations and goals.”                                                                                       —Midwest Book Review

While hosting out-of-town guests at her Georgia home, Dreamwalker Baxley Powell is called upon to help investigate a suspicious fire. One of her guests, close friend and fellow dreamwalker Deputy Sam Mayes, accompanies her to the scene.

A meth cook is dead, and when Baxley visits her beyond the Veil of Life, she determines that the woman was murdered. Baxley pities Mandy Patterson, a single mother with aspirations for her teenage son Doodle. Unconcerned about the death of a criminal, the authorities pursue the drug-supply chain angle. Baxley worries about Doodle and vows to find out who killed his mother.

As the case grows more baffling, Baxley struggles against her attraction to Sam. Although her husband is missing and declared dead, she does not feel free to love again until she is sure of his fate.

Two suspects have the strongest motive, but Baxley has reason to believe they are pawns in a deeper game. And unless she can stop them, the world will never be the same.

Maggie Toussaint has published seventeen books, fourteen as Maggie Toussaint and three as Rigel Carson. She is president of the Southeast Mystery Writers of America and has a seat on the national MWA Board. She is also a member of Sisters In Crime and Low Country Sisters In Crime. Toussaint won the Silver Falchion Award for Best Cozy/Traditional mystery in 2014. Additionally, she won a National Readers Choice Award and an EPIC award for Best Romantic Suspense. She lives in coastal Georgia, where secrets, heritage, and ancient oaks cast long shadows. For more information, click here.

Keep reading for an excerpt:

My palms tingled as I stared at the suspenders on the table. I’d made arrangements for Larissa, I’d heard the client speak the truth about her plight, but something in the air besides the musty spices around the woman’s neck made me hesitate. I wished my medium friend was here instead of visiting his daughter in Florida. It would be nice to have the extrasensory backup. “Is there anything you’re not telling me?”

Cipriona shrugged. Nerves. Had to be. With company coming later today, I couldn’t afford to dither, so I set aside my misgivings, reached for the suspenders, and opened my senses. After crossing the veil of life so many times, I knew what to expect. The weightlessness. The feeling of falling. The unrelenting darkness. The numbing cold.

Dreamwalking was no picnic, and this journey into the afterlife proceeded as expected. Once I reached the spinning stage, I righted myself until my feet touched down again. Not my actual feet. In this other realm, I’m in spirit form only.

Gradually the fog thinned, and I found myself outside a bar. The dim light over the door illuminated a painted sign, Low Spirits Bar. There was nothing else in the murk, no wandering bad-boy spirits, no guardian angel, no nothing. Which meant Damond Marsden was inside or he wanted me to see this place.

I entered through the door, and the gloom didn’t lift. “Damond?”

“Back here.”

Feeling like I was blindfolded, I edged in the direction of his voice. “I came to see you.”

“I don’t want to be seen. Go away.”

“You’re spending the afterlife sulking in a bar?”

“What’s it to you, lady? A man’s entitled to a drink every now and then.”

His voice sounded slurred, as if he’d been actually drinking. How was that possible? “My name’s Baxley Powell. I’m a Dreamwalker. Your daughter asked me to find you.”

He muttered something I couldn’t hear. I kept inching toward him, hands outstretched. “What’s that?”

“Don’t trust that witch.”

I stopped short at the half-truth ringing in his words. What part was truthful? The not-trusting part or the witch part? “I don’t understand.”

“Cipriona and my mother are thick as thieves. Always have been. Always will be.”

“Why are you telling me this?” I stopped, upset with him for keeping me in the dark. “Why are we here?”

“I got nowhere else to go. Nobody wants to see me looking like this.”

Irritation coated my voice. “Like what?”

A spotlight shone on Damond. I gagged at the raw flesh and bone of what was left of his face.

“I’m a freak. She did this to me.”

“You don’t have to look like that,” I hastened to explain. “All you have to do is imagine how you looked before you got shot.”

“What if I don’t wanna? What if I’m sitting here waiting for her to join me in this hell? What if I want to scare the shit out of my own flesh and blood?”

The Unlikely Master Genius, by Carla Kelly: A Sailing Master in the Royal Navy Finds his Calling

The Unlikely Master Genius ($15.95, 256 pages, ISBN: 978-1-60381-683-0), is the first volume in a new trilogy by Carla Kelly. Thanks to his extraordinary intelligence, Able Six survived the workhouse to become a sailing master in the Royal Navy. Forced by the Treaty of Amiens to seek new work, Able brings his new bride to the St. Brendan’s School in Portsmouth, England, where he will teach young boys plucked from the workhouse to be trained as navigators.

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“This sweet Regency story begins with the wedding and leisurely explores what comes after….  Able is a quirky character who seems a little disconnected from the real world and tirelessly quotes his heroes, Euclid, Newton, and Shakespeare, but Kelly smartly surrounds him with charming, street-smart, and sympathetic supporting characters to bring him down to earth.” Read more….
—Publishers Weekly

“It’s always time to rejoice when a new Regency-set series debuts from the imagination of Carla Kelly…. The love scenes are beautifully rendered and bound to keep romance readers enchanted. Carla Kelly is a treasure for all who enjoy great storytelling. Enough mystery and forward motion remain to anticipate the next book in the St. Brendan Series with delight. Highly recommended.” Read more…
—Historical Novel Society

Sailing Master Able Six, Royal Navy, is a man like no other. To call him a mere polymath is to sell him short. Someone with his extraordinary gifts should rise to the top, unless it is the 1800s, where pedigree and money govern Regency society, as sure as Napoleon seeks world domination. A bastard raised in a Scottish workhouse with nothing in his favor except his amazing mind, Able must navigate life ashore on half-pay during the uneasy Truce of Amiens, and find a way to provide for his charming bride Meridee Bonfort, a gentlewoman to be sure, but lacking a dowry. Assisted by two sea captains acquainted with his startling abilities, Able finds himself teaching mathematics and seamanship at St. Brendan the Navigator School, which is itself an experiment, taking boys like Able from workhouses and training them to serve the fleet in wartime. Meridee has agreed to invite four lads who need extra attention into their home in raffish, unsavory Portsmouth. Calling themselves the Gunwharf Rats, these St. Brendan lads show promise in an unpromising world. Can a sailing master-turned-teacher uncover their potential? Can Meridee find a way to nurture young hearts bruised too soon by life? What will happen when war breaks out again? And what is it about Able Six, the unlikely master genius?

Volume One: The St. Brendan Series.

Says Kelly, “A few years ago I was invited to write a Christmas novella. As I wrote the story of Able Six and his amazing courtship of Miss Meridee Bonfort, I realized I had material for far more than a mere short story. The St. Brendan Series was born, of which The Unlikely Master Genius is volume one. The story is set during the Regency Era at a most unusual school for boys, training them for the fleet during the dark days of the Napoleonic Wars. And Able Six is a bona fide genius.”

A well-known veteran of the romance writing field, Carla Kelly is the author of 42 novels and three non-fiction works, as well as numerous short stories and articles for various publications. Carla’s interest in historical fiction is a byproduct of her lifelong study of history. She has a BA in Latin American History from Brigham Young University and an MA in Indian Wars History from University of Louisiana-Monroe. Carla Kelly is particularly celebrated for her regency romances. The Romance Reader has called her “the Grandmistress of the [Regency] genre.” According to Romantic Times, “Carla Kelly’s Regency Romances are always superb and a timeless delight.” Library Journal wrote, “one of the most respected Regency writers.” For more information, visit Clara on the web here.

Keep reading for an excerpt:

“In a few weeks, God willing, we will rummage around in Sir Isaac Newton’s brain and see what he thinks,” Able said. Provided I haven’t fouled my anchor here, he thought as he quietly set the useless pointer pieces on the master’s desk. In for a penny, in for a pound.

He sat on the desk. From the horrified expressions on young faces, he quickly gathered that Master Blake had never done anything so vulgar.

“How many of you can swim?” he asked.

No one raised a hand, which did not surprise Able. What workhouse boy was ever given useful training? He waited. A hand went up slowly.

“Yes, Mister … Mister …. What is your name?”

“Jimmy Bawn,” he said promptly. “I’ve heard it’s bad luck to swim. The ocean is unforgiving.”

“Aye, it is, Mister Bawn,” Able replied. “Let us say your ship is shot to pieces and dismasted and you are drifting toward a lee shore. Wouldn’t it be nice to know how to swim that little distance and live to fight another day?”

He watched the boys nod in agreement, their eyes serious.

“We’ll learn to swim, because it’s smarter than drowning. We’ll also become acquainted with Sir Isaac Newton, and another chap named Galileo Galilei,” Able assured them. “Tell me something about yourselves. Are you from workhouses? Did you live on the streets?”

He didn’t think they would admit to such misery. He also knew it was his turn to tell them about himself, and in the telling, build a bond that must grow strong, if they were to feel safe to learn in an unsafe world.

“My name is Durable Six,” he said, and saw the smiles they could not hide. “A ridiculous name, eh? Go ahead and laugh. You have my permission.”

Some of them chuckled.

“I’ll tell you how I got my name. I was found naked and newly born on church steps in Dumfries, Scotland, in February of 1776,” he said. Some of them nodded. “I was the sixth bastard admitted to the Dumfries Workhouse since the start of the new year. The workhouse master waited for me to die—we’ll agree I had a rough start—but when I didn’t, he declared me Durable and named me Durable Six. My friends call me Able. You will call me Master Six, because I am a sailing master in the Royal Navy.”

He watched some of them mouth his name. “Are any of you numbered?”

Two hands went up, the students more confident now, because he was one of them. He gestured for them to stand, well-acquainted with their wary expressions. Almost as if you are wondering when the other shoe will drop and you will be back in the workhouse, he thought with sympathy. Not on my watch. Never.

Three Strikes, You’re Dead, by Elena Hartwell: Hot on the Trail of a Kidnapper

three_strikesThree Strikes, You’re Dead ($15.95, 288 pages, ISBN: 978-1-60381-727-1), by Elena Hartwell, is the third book in the Eddie Shoes Mystery series, set in Washington state. While staying at a spa in Leavenworth, Eddie teams up with her card-counting mother and mob-connected father to find the killer of a migrant worker and his missing daughter.

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A colorful character with a colorful family, it will be fun to see where this series goes next. It is not a surprise that Eddie has turned into a new ‘wanna read’ P.I. in the mystery world.”
—Amy Lignor, author of The Double-Edged Sword published by Suspense Publishing, an imprint of Suspense Magazine

Hartwell did a really good job of making her characters come alive in this book. You begin to know them and to enjoy them due to the well-written and humorous dialog she creates between them. Eddie (Edwina) Shoes is an interesting female private investigator and one tough cookie…. This one was hard for me to put down. I really enjoyed it. This is the third ‘Eddie Shoes Mystery’ that Hartwell has written. Hope there are more to come.” Read more…. 
—Long and Short Book Reviews

“Three Strikes, You’re Dead gives us another vivid adventure with the quirky, genuine private eye Eddie Shoes. As usual, author Elena Hartwell’s characters are so real you feel like you could run into them at your local dive bar. Three Strikes takes us even deeper into Eddie’s complex family relationships with her charming-but-deadly father Eduardo and hilarious mom Chava, giving us further insight into Eddie’s psyche. The laugh-out-loud moments are many in this vital third installment, and you’ll find yourself wishing you could stay longer in the world of Eddie Shoes.” —USA Today bestselling author LS Hawker

“The novel is as much a story of family and a past lover as it is a mystery. Hartwell provides plenty of humor–an almost Keystone Kops humor in places.” —Gumshoe Review

Harlequin is including book 2 in its Worldwide Mystery Subscription series.

Readers and critics love the Eddie Shoes Mystery series:

Two Heads Are Deader Than One: 5 Stars: “A delightful heroine in a story that promises pleasant romance and a hint of danger with a twist of an ending. This will keep one from ever putting this book down!” —InD’Tale Magazine

Two Heads Are Deader Than One: Elena Hartwell has conjured up a plausible protagonist and done a good job of plunking her into a setting and plot that nicely suit her.”  —Reviewing the Evidence

One Dead, Two to Go: “Hartwell has created quite a winner in the unique and clever Eddie Shoes, and this first case features not only a twisting, turning, fast-paced plot, but also a number of nuanced, quirky relationships.” —RT Book Reviews

One Dead, Two to Go: “Avid Alphabet series connoisseurs should flock to this kick-off series.” —InD’Tale Magazine

Private investigator Eddie Shoes heads to a resort outside Leavenworth, Washington, for a mother-daughter getaway weekend. Eddie’s mother Chava wants to celebrate her new job at a casino by footing the bill for the two of them, and who is Eddie to say no?

On the first morning, Eddie goes on an easy solo hike, and a few hours later, stumbles upon a makeshift campsite and a gravely injured man. A forest fire breaks out and she struggles to save him before the flames overcome them both. Before succumbing to his injuries, the man hands her a valuable rosary. He tells her his daughter is missing and begs for her help. Is Eddie now working for a dead man?

Barely escaping the fire, Eddie wakes in the hospital to find both her parents have arrived on the scene. Will Eddie’s card-counting mother and mob-connected father help or hinder the investigation? The police search in vain for a body. How will Eddie find the missing girl with only Eddie’s memory of the man’s face and a photo of his daughter to go on?

Says Hartwell, “In book three, I wanted to explore the other side of Eddie’s family history. Readers often ask about her father, Eduardo, so I decided to give him a little more time in the spotlight. This story also expands on my interest in the experiences of people who come to this country to build new lives, both legally and illegally. Of course, I couldn’t leave Chava out, so she’s in there too. A triangle is always more interesting than a duo. I hope readers enjoy the twists in the plot and seeing the relationships evolve as much as I did.”

Elena Hartwell’s writing career began in the theater, where she also worked as a director, designer, producer, and educator. Productions of her scripts have been performed around the U.S. and abroad. She lives in North Bend, Washington, with her husband. For more information click here.

Keep reading for an excerpt:

Panting hard by the time my feet were once more on reasonably level terrain, I really wished I’d stayed in bed. Dessert was definitely on the menu tonight. Maybe two. Starve a fever, feed a cold, but what did you do for a bunch of bruises and extreme physical fatigue? Dessert sounded about right.

Meanwhile, nothing looked familiar on this side of the gulch. The other side didn’t look familiar either. It was all just a bunch of trees.

Then I heard it again, the sound of the birds.

Closer.

With nowhere else to go, I might as well continue to look for them. Maybe if I found them on the ground, I could figure out where I’d been standing when I saw them drop from the sky.

Not a great plan, but it gave me a direction and helped keep panic at bay. What started out as an easy hike was devolving into me becoming a statistic, a “city” person lost in the woods.

A few minutes later, a clearing appeared, roughly the length of a baseball field. Someone had a tent set up at the far edge. That was a good sign. The camper could steer me in the direction of the resort. As long as they weren’t a follower of Charles Manson or as lost as I was.

Getting closer, I saw that the tent was nothing more than a piece of canvas tied between two trees, held down by rocks, and propped up with sticks. Banjos weren’t playing, exactly, but it didn’t scream “Silicon-Valley hipster,” either.

Movement caught my eye and caution stopped me behind a large ponderosa pine. The hairs on the back of my neck rose.

Birds.

They picked at what looked to be a trash bag torn open, refuse scattered around.

They were bigger than the crows in Bellingham, so these must be the common ravens I’d seen on the kiosk. At least they weren’t eating carrion.

Then I noticed something big lying in the field.

A deer?

Whatever it was, it wasn’t wearing running shoes, so the kid was okay.

But it was wearing boots, which kind of took the deer possibility off the table.

Had someone had a heart attack or a stroke? Passed out from a bottle of hooch? Or was some more criminal activity going on?

Noises came from the direction of the tent. If the person in the meadow had friends around, why weren’t they out here attending to them?

If the person in the tent wasn’t a friend, what did that mean for me?

That’s when I smelled smoke.

Staying in bed and watching television might have been a better way to spend my first day of vacation.

Even doggy snacks were starting to sound good.

Killer Tied, by Lesley A. Diehl: A Family Matter of Life or Death

killer_tiedNow Eve has more family than she bargained for. And not all of them wish her well.

Killer Tied ($16.95, 264 pages, ISBN: 978-1-60381-319-8) is the sixth cozy mystery by Lesley A. Diehl in a series set in rural Florida and featuring consignment shop owner Eve Appel. Apprentice detective Eve takes on a case too close to home: clearing her father-in-law of a murder charge.

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The series began with A Secondhand Murder and continued with Dead in the Water, A Sporting Murder, Mud Bog Murder, and Old Bones Never Die. Three short stories, available as Kindle Singles only, also feature Eve Appel. Lesley has written numerous other short stories and has seven other published mysteries: A Deadly Draught, Poisoned Pairings, Dumpster Dying, Angel Sleuth, Grilled, Chilled, and Killed, Murder is Academic, and Failure is Fatal.

“…Series fans will enjoy catching up with Eve and friends….” —Publishers Weekly

“Lesley Diehl’s sixth Eve Appel Mystery, like the others, uses her background as a former professor of psychology to deepen readers’ understanding of her characters’ dilemmas, fears and frustrations…. I admire the tone and spirit of this novel and the limitless spunk of the Eve Appel character. She’s a person who takes her responsibilities seriously but doesn’t take herself too seriously. She’s fully aware of her shortcomings, which include traits that only make her more endearing. Charming as well is the author’s representation of the slice of Florida in which she sets this series.” Read more….
—Phil Jason for Florida Naples Weekly

Critics have raved about the Eve Appel Mystery series:

Old Bones Never Die: “Eve and Sammy are a joy to read about.” —Long and Short Reviews

Mud Bog Murder: “Absolutely terrific. [….] A great mystery that is all about a fun cast combined with an excellent plot, readers will be thrilled with this one.” —Suspense Magazine

A Sporting Murder: “Character-driven and action-packed.” —Lesa’s Book Critiques

Dead in the Water: “Each twist is followed by a further twist, the action is continuous, and Eve is suitably confused [….] Recommended.” —I Love a Mystery

A Secondhand Murder: “Lesley A Diehl is a very clever writer. Most of the time I can figure out the murderer in a book but this one kept me guessing right until the end.” —Fresh Fiction Reviews

Eve Appel Egret is adjusting to married life with Sammy and their three adopted sons in Sabal Bay, Florida. While still running her consignment stores, she is going pro with her sleuthing by becoming an apprentice to a private detective.

Until her marriage, Eve’s only “family” was her grandmother Grandy, who raised her after her parents died in a boating accident. Now, in addition to her husband and sons, she has a father-in-law who clearly dislikes her. Sammy’s father, a full-blooded Miccosukee Indian long presumed dead, has emerged from the swamps where he’s been living like a hermit, and he isn’t happy about Eve’s marriage to his half-Miccosukee, half-white son.

As for Eve’s family, are her parents really dead? A woman named Eleanor claims to be Eve’s half-sister, born after her mother faked a boating accident to escape her abusive husband, Eve’s father. Then Eleanor’s father turns up dead in the swamps, stabbed by a Bowie knife belonging to Sammy’s father, Lionel. Strange as Lionel Egret is, Eve knows he had no motive to kill this stranger. In order to clear him, Eve must investigate Eleanor’s claims, and she might not like what digging around in her family’s past uncovers.

Says Diehl, “I couldn’t resist taking Eve out of rural Florida on a trip to the Northeast where she grew up. This is more than a change of location for Eve. It is a journey into the dark side of family, where she will discover her own emotional vulnerabilities and learn how secrets from the past can break an already fragile personality. Eve has always persevered when confronted with physical challenges and danger, but those stiletto heels won’t be much help to her now. She must dig deep inside herself to unearth virtues not usually part of how she comes at a case: restraint and patience. She’ll need them to help mend a fractured family as well as identify a killer.”

Lesley A. Diehl retired from her life as a professor of psychology and reclaimed her country roots by moving to a small cottage in the Butternut River Valley in upstate New York. In the winter she migrates to old Florida—cowboys, scrub palmetto, and open fields of grazing cattle, a place where spurs still jingle in the post office. Back North, she devotes her afternoons to writing and, when the sun sets, relaxing on the bank of her trout stream, sipping tea or a local microbrew. Click here to find Lesley online.

Keep reading for an excerpt:

Once Mrs. Falco got to talking about the Montrose family, she provided more details about Eleanor’s odd mother. As Chief Raleigh said, the mother couldn’t seem to appear in public without causing some kind of a scene. Usually it took the form of yelling at someone, a store clerk or a passerby, and accusing them of trying to “take her back.”

“What did that mean?” I asked.

“No one got it at first. I think we all thought she was talking about ghosts or something trying to carry her off to the world of the dead, but Mr. Montrose told a friend of mine that his wife had been in a mental hospital and didn’t want to go back there. It explained a lot.”

“What hospital?”

“Mr. Montrose didn’t say. I think a number of people thought she should be committed, but he wouldn’t hear of it. He seemed to be able to calm her down, and he was the only one who could. She seemed to despise Eleanor. ‘That hateful child,’ she always called Eleanor. I know County Social Services was notified on occasion, but when a social worker came to the house, Mrs. Montrose was always calm and Mr. Montrose didn’t want their help. I guess they figured he was able to handle his wife and protect Eleanor. Aside from Mrs. Montrose’s public displays, no one saw much of the family. They kept to themselves.”

They were hiding something, something I needed to know.

“They lived here for how long?”

“Since Eleanor was in high school. I don’t have any idea where they moved here from. Maybe the school records would say.”

“I’d sure like to see those records, but I’d be the last person the principal would show them to.” I looked imploringly at Mrs. Falco, who understood what I wasn’t saying.

“You think it’s that important?” she asked.

“I’m sure it is.”

She crumpled up her sandwich wrappings and rose to her feet. “Well, then, I guess I’ll have to have a talk with the principal’s secretary, Mrs. Dorren, about making certain his office door isn’t left unlocked the way it is in the late afternoon when he walks the halls checking the classrooms.”

“A wise precaution,” I said.

“Mrs. Dorren agrees with me. She thinks the principal is a bit of a pill also. We can trust her.”

We walked to the park entrance and stopped there. I spotted Nappi’s car parked around the corner. Mrs. Falco assured me she’d get in touch tomorrow evening. She turned to walk down the sidewalk, while I started to step off the curb to cross the street. I waved to Nappi, a spring in my step. With those school records, I might be able to track down Eleanor’s past, a past she had been reluctant to talk about. I heard the squeal of tires on the pavement and spotted a blur of black as a car careened around the corner from my left. I heard Mrs. Falco cry out and then felt someone grab my arm and pull me back onto the curb. I stumbled and fell as the car roared past me.

“That driver tried to run you down,” said Mrs. Falco, helping me to my feet. “Are you hurt?”

I looked down and saw a ripped knee in my jeans and one of my classy red stiletto-heel shoes lying crushed in the gutter. Some blood trickled down my elbow from where I’d scraped it on the pavement.

Nappi rushed up to me, saw the look on my face, and followed my mournful glance as I assessed my mangled shoe.

“That could have been you,” he said.

 

Six Dogs ’til Sunday, by Lia Farrell: A Shooting Sheds New Light on Past Events

six_dogsSix Dogs ’til Sunday ($15.95, 256 pages, 5×8 Trade Paperback, ISBN: 978-1-60381-250-4) is the sixth and final cozy mystery by Lia Farrell in a series featuring Mae December, the successful owner of a dog-boarding business in Rosedale, Tennessee, her sheriff fiancé and his staff, and her friends and family. The shooting of a man in an old house being used as a movie set casts new light on past cases investigated by the Rosedale Sheriff’s Office.

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Six Dogs ’til Sunday is another deftly crafted mystery that will prove to be an immediate and enduringly popular addition to community library Mystery/Suspense collections.” —The Midwest Book Review

“The mother/daughter writing team of Lia Farrell, does a great job of seamlessly bringing everyone up to speed on the characters and their roles. The main characters are likeable, and I felt sympathy for all that Mae had to process to move forward with her marriage. […] While “Six Dogs ‘Til Sunday” by Lia Farrell is a light mystery, there is still a great deal of depth in these pages and it will keep you guessing. The dogs play a small role in this story, but I enjoyed the parts they did play. Bringing that past into the present really gave the plot a nice twist. I know that dog loving mystery fans will enjoy reading this one. As for me, I have five more books to read!” Read more…
—Paige Lovitt for Reader Views

It’s January in Rosedale, Tennessee, and Mae December is preparing for her March wedding to Sheriff Ben Bradley. Mae, who boards dogs for a living, is also busy tending to her pregnant dog and scouting locations for the movie featuring the music of her former fiancé Noah West, who died in a car accident four years earlier. Fortunately the picturesque old house at the end of Little Chapel Road is for rent.

Just as filming is about to begin, a man is shot on the set, but manages to drive himself to the hospital, where he dies before he can ID his killer. He was a member of the film crew, but also a local, and circumstances point to his being a confidential informant for Ben’s predecessor, Sheriff Trey Cantrell, also the owner of the house turned movie set. At the time of the shooting, the victim had been stealing a large sum of money from a safe on the premises. Whose money is it, and where does it come from?

The Rosedale Sheriff’s Office not only has another murder case on its hands, but one that will dredge up a past long buried. How far will the guilty parties go to protect their secrets?

The first five books in the Mae December Mystery series, One Dog Too Many, Two Dogs Lie Sleeping, Three Dog Day, Four Dog’s Sake, and Five Dog Voodoo have been enthusiastically received by readers and critics:

Five Dog Voodoo: “The story was clean, the dialogue nice and tight, with an ending that leaves one as satisfied and happy as a recently fed puppy!” —InD’Tale Magazine

Four Dog’s Sake: “There is a lot of action in this book, and the author gives a wonderful view of the motivation of a real killer. This is one fast-paced cozy that keeps you on your toes.”
—Suspense magazine

Three Dog Day: “A wonderful cozy mystery, and a great addition to a lovely series. It is sure to offer a lot of entertainment for mystery fans.” —Long and Short Reviews

Two Dogs Lie Sleeping: “Another fantastic whodunit from Lia Farrell. This series is now one of my firm favorites.” —Cozy Mystery Book Reviews

One Dog Too Many: “A lively tale with plenty of twists, turns, and unexpected situations to satisfy the most ardent cozy mystery lover.” —Fresh Fiction

Lia Farrell is the pen name of the mother and daughter writing team of Lyn Farquhar and Lisa Fitzsimmons, who live in Michigan and Tennessee, respectively. Both are life-long readers who are also dog lovers. Lyn owns a Welsh corgi and Lisa has a Siberian husky. Lisa works as a Muralist and Interior Designer and Lyn is a Professor Emerita of Medical Education who has retired to write full-time. For more information, click here.

Says Lyn, “Finishing Six Dogs ’til Sunday was bittersweet. There is always a moment when we feel relieved to have a book behind us, but that is quickly followed by a sense of satisfaction, even pleasure. This time, though, we are saying goodbye to characters who are almost members of the family. As we wish Mae, Ben, Wayne and Dory farewell, we hope our readers will remember them as fondly as we do.”

Keep reading for an excerpt:

After Connie left to retrieve her children, Ben moved to the opposite sofa, facing Mae. “You’re quiet today,” he said, cocking his head and narrowing his blue eyes. “You okay?”

She busied herself with spreading the napkin across her lap and glancing through the menu. “I’m fine. Do you want to share a salad and one of the pizzas?”

“That sounds perfect.” He paused. “But you don’t.”

Mae looked across the table at him. “I don’t what?”

“Sound perfect. Or even good, for that matter. And I may not be the world’s best fiancé, but even I know to worry when you say I’m fine. Do you want to talk about it?”

Mae put down her menu, blinked back tears, and cleared her throat. “Did I ever tell you that Noah was friends with the guys who used to rent that old house?”

The waiter appeared beside Ben, who quickly ordered the Margherita pizza with prosciutto added and a Caesar salad. After the waiter’s departure, he shook his head. “I don’t think you mentioned it.”

“A couple of wannabe musicians rented it then. Noah used to go over there, and they’d try out new songs, play some old stuff—just hang out. My uncle went along sometimes. I did too, now and then.”

“Not too often, I hope.” Ben frowned. “That place has a bad reputation.”

Mae was startled. “The last time I was there was a few months before Noah died. I never heard anything bad about the house, though. What do you mean?”

“I heard rumors about drug dealing.” Ben gave her a serious look. “Trey Cantrell used to own it. I don’t know if he still does.”

“Sheriff Cantrell owned that house? But he wouldn’t put up with drug dealers. That doesn’t make sense.”

Ben raised his eyebrows, but kept quiet as the waiter put their salad down in front of them.

“Pizza will be out in a few minutes,” the young man said with a smile before returning to the kitchen. They were still the only customers in the place.

“Did you ever see anything shady when you were there?”

Mae shook her head. “No, just musicians. They can be a flaky group, not always the most practical people, but I never noticed anything that made me uncomfortable.” She looked down at her lap, then back up into Ben’s watchful eyes. “It just … brought back a lot of memories, being there today.”

Her fiancé was making steady inroads on his half of the salad, without taking his eyes off her. “Are you sure that house is right for the movie location, Mae?”

“I am, but there’s no reason either of us needs to spend any time there, right?” She took a bite of crisp romaine lettuce and garlic dressing, giving Ben a reassuring look.

“That’s right,” he said quietly. “We … and especially you don’t.”

Best of Luck, by Corinne Scott: Rival Pub Owners Clash and Burn

best_luckWhen you’re an O’Brien, you shun the owner of the fake Irish pub. Even when his love might be the real thing.

On February 14, 2018, Camel Press will release Best of Luck ($14.95, 248 pages, 5×8 Trade Paperback, ISBN: 978-1-60381-383-9), the second book in a romantic suspense series by Corinne Scott featuring the irresistible siblings of the O’Brien family, whose parents own an Irish pub in the Bronx, New York City. The lead-up to a St. Patrick’s Day Pub Crawl turns nasty when a handsome interloper enters the contest with his faux-Irish pub.

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“One of the jewels of Best of Luck for me was the development of the relationship between Siobhan and Crew. This is no run-of-the-mill boy-meets-girl story.” —Back Porchervations

“What a great romance novel! . . . The Irish details are enchanting but when added to the romance it really added a nice twist.” —Books a Plenty Book Reviews

“This is a romantic story of a handsome man and a beautiful no-nonsense woman. . . I liked the narration which is casual and friendly.” —Fantastic Feathers

“This was a great journey to go on and I would go back and visit them again and again! Can’t wait to see what is next for the O’Brien’s!” —Community Bookstop

“The love story between Siobhan and Crew has everything. . . It’s a joy to watch these two grow from enemies to friends to soulmates.” —Socrates’ Book Reviews

“It was fun to read about the Irish pub scene in Brooklyn. […] The reader just might end up on the edge of the seat waiting to see how this turns out!” —My Reading Journeys

“I am impressed with the author’s talent to mix her steamy romances with a nice suspenseful mystery and keeping a comfortable balance between the two. She gives her readers a very entertaining story.” —Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book

“Romantic tension and competitive suspense fill each page as Siobhan struggles with her ethical dilemma and her personal emotions. The pace is quick and the writing flows easily.” —Laura’s Interests

Crew Costa isn’t Irish, but for a kid from the school of hard knocks, he’s had the luck of the Irish with his chain of faux-Irish pubs, O’Shaughnessy’s Shenanigans. Number 13 is set to open in time for St. Patrick’s Day. The Bronx is already the site of several authentic Irish pubs, including The Lion O’Brien. Started by Liam O’Brien, the pub is now managed by his youngest daughter Siobhan, but only after her four older brothers refused the job. Now Siobhan has to prove she is worthy.

Siobhan falls for Crew, literally, after they collide while he is moving into her apartment building. Their attraction is immediate and powerful, but they are rivals. Siobhan is counting on the Lion winning the St. Patrick’s Day Pub Crawl, which Crew has entered as well. The lead-up to the event involves “pranking” your competition, and the older pubs band together against the gaudy newcomer, with its McNaughty the Leprechaun and other cultural clichés. For Crew and Siobhan, the pranking quickly gets personal and expensive.

Siobhan and Crew can’t resist the electricity between them, but can Siobhan trust this streetwise charmer? Can Crew trust this daddy’s girl whose overriding passion is her pub? And will the rage brewing among the other pub owners put their lives in danger?

Says Corinne, “It was a blast telling Siobhan’s story. She has a tough time of it, being the youngest in a family of brothers, with a strong father who loves her but doesn’t appreciate her abilities. As a result she’s always had to fight for recognition and respect. It was interesting to explore how that feistiness stands in the way when another headstrong man enters her life.”

Corinne Scott was born and raised in San Antonio, Texas. Her parents were teachers, so of course she grew up to be a teacher as well, proving that the apple does not fall too far from the tree. Corinne has a bachelor’s degree from Texas State University and a master’s from the University of North Texas. She is passionate about books, which led her to her current occupation as a librarian and author. For more information, click here.

Keep reading for an excerpt:

“Let’s save the lies, shall we? All that’s going to do is embarrass you and frustrate me.” She went silent. “Good. Now, can we agree you don’t like my pub?” She did the bobble-head thing again. “All right. Can we agree that you don’t want my pub entered with the others for the pub crawl?” More nodding. With each question, he was stepping in closer. “Can we agree that you find me extremely attractive?” Mid-nod, she stopped suddenly.

“Hey!”

“Remember what I said would happen if anyone tried pranking me?” he asked, menacingly. She shrugged, trying to look unaffected. “Is sabotaging my opening professional in your personal definition of professional?”

“We didn’t—”

“I thought you weren’t going to lie, Siobhan.” He paused, hands on his hips, and blew out a frustrated breath. “Look, I get it. You guys hate chains like mine, but I have as much right to open a business here as anyone else. And I have a right to promote my business by joining your pub crawl. I’m sorry if that upsets or threatens you—”

Threatens me? You think your knock-off, diet, generic pub could ever compete with the real deal?”

“Since I have thirteen pubs and you have one, I’m going to guess yes,” he replied.

“We’ll see about that. Game on.” She stepped into his space, hands on her hips, matching his stance.

“Are you saying you want to compete against me?”

“If you can take it, absolutely. Whoever has the better sales the night of the pub crawl, wins.”

“Aren’t those the rules already set by the committee?”

“Side bet. Your pub versus mine.”

“And what do I get if I win?”

“We’ll back off and let you run your business without interference. You can be in the pub crawl every year if you want.”

“But until then, all bets are off?”

“It’s every man for himself.”

“Or woman,” he murmured. Siobhan realized he was standing way too close and took a large step backwards. He smirked.

“What do I get if I win?” she asked, defiantly.

“What do you want?” he asked, menacingly.

“I want you to admit to all the pub owners that our business is better than yours, and since you’re capitalizing on our brand, we’ll take a portion of all sales you earned that night too.”

“I think you end up coming out ahead in all this.”

“Scared you’ll lose?” she taunted.

“Honey, I don’t lose. Thirteen locations, remember?”

“It’s about quality, not quantity. You’re about to find that out.”

“Can you agree to go easy on the pranks? Because I don’t play fair, Red. I may be new to all this, but if I retaliate, you’re going to wish I hadn’t.”

“We’ll see about that.”

Crew leaned in close. Too close for Siobhan to think clearly. Her emotions were all over the place. She could have sworn she’d been angry at him two seconds prior, but now all she could focus on was the fire in his eyes and the chance that he’d put his lips on hers.

She didn’t have to wait long.

Crew swooped in, pinning Von to the file cabinets in her office—no space between them, no air to breathe.

Before she could even get used to the kiss or drown in it—which is what she really wanted to do—Crew pulled back, breathing heavily.

“I always win. Remember that, Red.”

With a wink he was gone.

The Identity Thief by R. Franklin James: Lies and Consequences

identity_thiefThe Identity Thief ($15.95, 256 pages, 5×8 Trade Paperback, ISBN: 978-1-60381-671-7), is the sixth and final book in a mystery/suspense series by R. Franklin James featuring Hollis Morgan, a young probate attorney whose past as a pardoned white-collar ex-con makes her a magnet for trouble. A young computer hacker and compulsive liar unknowingly steals the identity of a serial killer and is accused of murder. In Hollis’s first venture into criminal law, can she clear her client and keep him safe from the real killer?

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Four Stars: “Plenty of twists and turns but not one hiccup. Nothing here that throws off your rhythm of reading; makes you have to turn back a page or two to see what you missed. Clean, clearly written, crime fiction.” Read more….
—Long and Short Reviews

“An action-packed and exciting tale that blends the legal thriller and murder mystery genres. James’s characters are authentic and well-defined, and her plot is original and compelling. I haven’t read any of the preceding books in this series, but had no problem getting involved in the story and appreciating Hollis’s background as well as the importance of the Fallen Angels Book Club to her and to the story itself. [….] Most highly recommended.”  Read more….
—Jack Magnus for Readers’ Favorite Reviews

“Two complex legal cases occupy Hollis Morgan in James’s bustling sixth and final mystery featuring the San Francisco lawyer (after The Bell Tolls). … Hollis’s relationship with Homeland Security agent John Faber adds a welcome touch of romance. Fans will be sorry to see the last of this fine heroine.”  Read more…
Publisher’s Weekly 

The Identity Thief is the sixth and final book in the Hollis Morgan Mystery series, which began with The Fallen Angels Book Club and continued with Sticks & Stones, The Return of the Fallen Angels Book Club, The Trade List, and The Bell Tolls.

The Bell Tolls continues to document [R. Franklin James’] genuine flair for originality and her complete master of the mystery genre.” —Cowper’s Bookshelf, The Midwest Book Review

The Trade List’s two story lines are strong, detailed, with plenty of twists to keep readers turning pages. [….] A strong use of details throughout the book gives readers a feeling they are a part of the story.” —Edie Dykeman, reader, writer, reviewer

“The Return Of The Fallen Angels Book Club is well crafted, the writing is top-notch and you can see just far the author has come from her first book. The confidence in writing shows every step of the way.” —Mystery Sequels.com

Sticks & Stones: “Readers are sure to be captured by this plot-twisting, exciting mystery. It is a real page turner and I certainly am going to keep reading this series.” —Long and Short Reviews

The Fallen Angels Book Club: “This is a remarkable, well-rounded mystery and I highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys crime fiction.” —Books, Books, and More Books

Probate attorney Hollis Morgan is branching out into criminal law. Pardoned after serving time for her then-husband’s white-collar crime, she knows something about the workings of the criminal mind.

Hollis’ first criminal case quickly gets complicated. Her client is a young man initially accused of identity theft, but his charge soon includes murder. Hollis has a knack for detecting lies, and although Justin Eastland lies with every breath, she doesn’t believe he is a killer. Eastland is let out on bail as bait, and Hollis struggles to keep her client alive. She enlists the services of her young friend Vince, a former addict she helped get back on track, telling him to not let Eastland out of his sight. At the same time Hollis is handling a sensitive probate matter for a whistle-blower hiding from a revengeful cartel.

It has not been easy for Hollis to learn to trust again, and in both these cases, a surprising number of people are not telling her the whole story. She thinks she can sort the truths from the half-truths and the outright lies, but how reliable are her instincts? Hollis’ sense of justice does not always consider the law. If she’s wrong, her clients aren’t the only ones who could lose their lives.

Says James, “The inspiration for this book came about from today’s real life public intrusions by hackers. I thought it poetic justice if a stolen identity came with its own nightmare. Completing the final episode in the series left me feeling satisfied and a bit sad. Although I’ll miss Hollis, she doesn’t need me to tell her story anymore.”

Franklin James grew up in the San Francisco East Bay Area, graduated from the University of California at Berkeley, and flourished in a career of public policy and political advocacy. She and her husband currently live in Northern California. Click here to find R. Franklin on the Web.

Keep reading for an excerpt:

“How did you really get your hands on the Nike bag?”

He held up his hands. “Now, this is the truth, I swear.” He scratched his nose. “It’s true I saw the Nike bag in the bushes, but … but I saw a dude leave it there.”

“So, let me understand … you can identify the real identity thief?”

“Well, no, because it was dark like I said, and I could only see his shape. But I did see him drop the bag.”

Hollis looked him in the eyes and scribbled more notes. “Okay, let’s move on. Did you open the bag?”

Eastland moistened his lips. “Nah, I just snatched it and ran to my car. And I was driving back to my place when the cops stopped me, and everything fell out of the bag.”

“So, until the police stopped you, you had no idea what you had picked up?”

He held up his hand. “I swear.”

He was lying.

“How did the stuff slip out on the floor of the backseat if you hadn’t left it open?” Hollis leaned back in her chair. “I find it really hard to bel—”

She was interrupted by a loud knock. Two uniformed officers and a deputy sheriff entered the room, followed by a suited man holding out a badge.

“Excuse me, Counselor,” the man with the badge said. “I’m Detective Cook with the county sheriff. We’re here for your client.” He nodded toward the young man. “Justin Eastland,” he said, “we are arresting you for the murder of Marguerite Fields.” He turned to one of the officers. “Read him his rights.” To Eastland, he said, “Please follow us.”

For a moment, Hollis stood transfixed as the officer droned on with the required wording, and then she spoke. “As his attorney, I can tell you that he is not talking to anyone. But who can I talk to? What evidence do you have?” She didn’t know what bothered her more, that she’d been caught completely off guard, or that her client was silently and without protest allowing the officers to cuff him and lead him out the door.

Detective Cook looked her over and said firmly, “Your client is a murderer, Miz …?”

“Hollis Morgan,” she answered quickly. “So you’ve mistakenly pointed out. How is he linked to this murder?”

“Did he tell you about the Nike bag he said he found?” Cook stepped aside for his deputy to pass through with his prisoner. “Fields’ murder was reported yesterday. When our officers went through the Nike bag, they found several pieces of Fields’ identification. We got a warrant this morning to search his apartment, and we found more IDs that don’t belong to Mr. Eastland. Eastland’s prints are the only ones on the bag and the IDs, and that’s why we have your client nailed as the killer.”