This week I’m welcoming back another of my favorite authors,
Anna Celeste Burke.
Thanks, Evelyn, for inviting me back to your lovely blog. It’s an honor to be in such good company with you and the other authors you’ve hosted.
I publish as ANNA CELESTE BURKE and write three Cozy Mystery Series all focused on “Snooping into life’s mysteries with fun, fiction, & food–California style!” Each series is set in a different part of this lovely state where I’ve retired with my husband. The Jessica Huntington Desert Cities Mystery series is set in the Coachella Valley near Palm Springs, the Corsario Cove Cozy Mystery series set on California’s Central Coast, and The Georgie Shaw Cozy Mystery series set in Orange County, California–the OC.
You can find out more about the Jessica Huntington Desert Cities Mystery Series, The Georgie Shaw Cozy Mystery Series, and the Corsario Cove Cozy Mystery Series on my website: http://www.desertcitiesmystery.com
Murder at Sea of Passenger X
It’s another Georgie Shaw cozy mystery for you from USA Today bestselling author, Anna Celeste Burke!
Welcome aboard! Georgie Shaw and her handsome new husband, Detective Jack Wheeler, are living it up on Marvelous Marley World’s luxurious cruise ship when trouble strikes. “The screaming came in bursts followed by shouts of man overboard, just like in a movie.” Who is passenger X? Did he fall or was he pushed? Does it have anything to do with the rash of jewelry thefts or the murdered man found near the spot where Passenger X went overboard?
With a killer on the loose, Georgie and Jack are soon enlisted to help solve the case. It’s a non-stop scramble to unravel the mystery before Georgie’s eccentric boss, “Mad” Max Marley, arrives in Tahiti demanding answers. That won’t be easy since Passenger X isn’t the only one with a dubious identity as the list of suspects grows.
That list includes Georgie’s old friend Chef Gerard and his striking blond, blue-eyed Sous Chef, Paolo. Masters of five-star cuisine and wizards with chocolate, are they cooking up more than sumptuous feasts and banquets of desserts? How about the guy in the Perroquet suit or “Monster Marston,” a standout in the fitness center?
It’s all hands on deck to figure out whodunit. Even Georgie’s cats get involved in the action on board this cruise that comes with a boatload of mystery!
Here is an excerpt:
The Purrloined Note
The screams didn’t wake me. I was already up by then. I’m not sure what had stirred me from my sleep. Maybe I sensed the sparkling blue eyes gazing intently at me. Two sets since Miles and Ella sat side-by-side in Sphinx mode. Their chocolate ears pointed straight up—radar on!
“What has put you two on high alert?” I had asked my super-sensitive pair of Siamese cats. Talking to my cats was an old habit, usually rewarded by a bellow in return. Not this morning. It was quiet in our lovely suite on an upper deck of the MMW Fantasy of the Sea, one of the newest ships in my megalomaniacal boss’s cruise line. That grandiose streak in him isn’t all bad. Max Marley had paid for our honeymoon cruise to the South Sea Islands, and arranged for our cats to go along on the adventure, as a wedding present. I’m not ungrateful, just realistic about the gentleman genius who runs Marvelous Marley World, the entertainment conglomerate where I work.
The drapes in our suite were still drawn, but the sliders to the balcony were partly open. A sea breeze blew in, and the fabric billowed. Jack must have opened it, I thought, stretching, lazily, as I sank back into the comfy bed.
We both loved the salty air as we ventured from island to island during our ten days at sea. The siren song of adventure was carried along on those breezes for my handsome new husband who spent his life fighting crime as a police detective. For me, they are a reminder of home in Orange County where the Pacific Ocean is a walk away. That’s where Jack would live, too, when we returned to California.
As I had discovered during our week of cruising, Jack is an early riser. I enjoy my mornings, too, but I prefer to start my day slowly if I can get away with it. Perhaps that’s because I have a harder time than he does falling asleep at night. My anxious spirit wrestles with worries of the day. Jack nods off at the drop of a hat, a defensive strategy he picked up to survive decades as a cop.
“Grab your forty winks when you can,” he said. “Crime may not pay, but it doesn’t sleep either. You never know when you’ll get a call in the middle of the night or at the crack of dawn.” That admonition was right up there with another of his favorite guidelines: “eat dessert first.”
Murder at Sea of Passenger X, Georgie Shaw Cozy Mystery #5 https://www.amazon.com/Murder-Passenger-Georgie-Shaw-Mystery-ebook/dp/B01MYH77FW/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8
COMING SOON! MURDER OF THE MAESTRO, GEORGIE SHAW COZY MYSTERY #6
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This week, I’m welcoming author, Beth Prentiss.
Beth Prentice is the USA Today Bestselling Author of the Westport Mysteries. Killer Unleashed, her GHP debut novel, received a bronze medal in the 2016 Readers Favorite International Book Awards. Her main wish is to write books you can sit back, relax with, and escape from your everyday life…and ones that you walk away from with a smile! When she’s not writing you will usually find her at the beach with a coffee in hand, pursuing her favorite pastime—people watching!
Chloe McDermott’s life in Westport is pretty close to perfect. She has a good job, a gorgeous boyfriend, Brody, and an adorable little dog, Theo.
But when Chloe receives a gift of an old chessboard from an elderly friend, her perfect life unexpectedly falls apart. Theo is dognapped, the chessboard is stolen, and her friend apparently commits suicide in his home. But when the autopsy reveals a murder, Chloe knows something doesn’t add up and she suspects the old game board is at the center of
it all. She enlists the help of boyfriend’s hot-headed father and her flamboyantly fabulous BFF to get to the heart of the truth. Can she solve the riddle and find a killer before Theo is added to the body count? Or will she lose her little furry friend forever?
Here is an excerpt:
“Stop!” I yelled, running down my hallway. My socks were sliding on the shiny floorboards beneath my feet, and I was having a hard time getting traction. But I couldn’t let that slow me down. It was of the utmost importance that I caught him in time. I couldn’t let him get away. If I did, I would live to regret it.
I should have been more mindful. I should have taken more care. But I didn’t. If I could go back just two minutes in time, I would do it all differently.
“Theo, please!” I begged, skidding to a halt as I grabbed the door jam and spun into the lounge room, my foot landing in a large dollop of sticky chocolate sauce. My white couch came into view as Theo stopped in front of it and took a giant leap onto his footstool, the chocolate sauce bottle firmly clenched between his little teeth, the contents pooling beneath it. From there Theo turned to look at me.
My breath caught with the knowledge of what was going to happen next. How did I not see this coming? How?
I knew how. I’d been busy daydreaming about my boyfriend Brody as he’d stepped into the shower this morning, and I hadn’t been paying attention to what I was doing. I should have known doing two things at once was a bad idea. Pouring chocolate sauce onto a breakfast biscuit while sitting on the floor to pull my shoes on was never going to end well. But in my defence, I’d thought that Theo was still sound asleep on my bed. How was I to know that he had snuck up behind me and stolen the sauce container the second that I placed it on the floor?
Theo is my Chihuahua. He’s ten inches tall, white with big brown spots, not quite as hairy as he once was (thanks to a seriously bad haircut I may have given him), but when he looked in the mirror he saw The Rock. In all honesty, he fit in my handbag. (I know—I’ve had him in there.) But for something so small, he had a lot of personality
“No!” I yelled, my cranky voice turned up for maximum effect. Not that it mattered. Theo blinked one last time, and before I could launch myself towards him, he clamped down harder on the sauce container and leaped up onto the cushion, only stopping once he’d completed three anticlockwise turns, the chocolate sauce dripping concentric circles around him.
“Dude! You’re killing me,” I cried, surveying the chocolate trail leading from the kitchen to the brand-new couch that Brody had bought for me. That was going to stain. Oh boy! How was I going to explain this to Brody? He’d already lectured me on my choice of breakfast.
Theo didn’t want to give up his prize, but after I lifted him under my arm and wrestled the plastic bottle from grip, he relented. His mouth was tiny, but apparently eco plastic was flimsy and squashed easily for a perfect fit. It may save the planet, but it didn’t save my couch.
“You’re a really bad boy!” I scolded. “You know that you’re not allowed to have chocolate. And look at the mess you’ve made!”
Theo just blinked, his deep brown eyes shining with contentment, his tongue hanging to one side, as chocolate sauce stuck to his fur.
I’d only owned Theo for a few months, but he seemed to have settled in with me pretty well. I didn’t really mind though. I’d completely fallen in love with him. You see, Theo used to belong to my elderly neighbor Betty. A few months ago, she asked me to hand him over to the local animal shelter for her as she was moving into a retirement village and couldn’t take him. Of course I said yes, as I do pretty much whatever people ask of me, but when I got there I just couldn’t hand him over. At the time, Theo used his big puppy-dog eyes to woo me. Now he just uses them whenever he wants to get his own way or get out of trouble.
Brody was moving around upstairs, his footsteps echoing on the floorboards. I knew his routine, and I had approximately three minutes to clean up before he came downstairs. One look at this mess and I’d be listening to a lecture on the adverse effects of sugar for months. Brody is an amazing man, but he’s also very health conscious. I loved sugar, and the last thing I needed was another reason to remove it from my pantry.
Running back to the kitchen, I threw the sauce bottle into the bin, grabbed the antibacterial wipes, dropped to my knees, and frantically started to wipe every bit of chocolate that I could find.
The upstairs toilet flushed.
Pushing the dirty wipes into the pocket of my jeans, I pulled out a clean wipe and hurriedly wiped at the trail.
Who knew chocolate sauce was so sticky? Maybe I should reassess my breakfast choice. Surely it couldn’t be good for me.
Theo trotted ahead, licking here and there. “Stop that!” I hissed.
“Chloe!” called Brody from the top of the stairs. I froze, worried that I was about to be sprung. “Have you seen my white cotton shirt? I need it for a meeting that I have this morning.”
“Ummm…it’s in the ironing pile. Maybe you could wear the blue one instead?” Brody murmured a response and moved back to the bedroom. He actually lived across the road from me, but over time, his wardrobe spent more time here than it did there. Not that I was complaining. I loved having him here. Except when he went all fitness, health guru on me, then it wasn’t as much fun. I knew he only had my best interests at heart, so I should lighten up on him. And he is adorable when he gets that intense look in his eyes when he’s passionate about something. Still, I didn’t have time for that this morning. I was already late for work.
I’d managed to clean the sticky trail that led to the couch. Standing and looking at the cushion, I wondered how I was going to fix that. Why hadn’t we chosen leather?
The stairs creaked as Brody made his way down.
Theo had jumped back onto the couch and was now licking at the sweet stain he’d made. The cover was going to have to be removed and then dry-cleaned. But how was I going to achieve that in the next ten seconds?
As Brody stepped off the bottom tread, I grabbed at the blanket slung over the back of the chair and threw it over Theo and the stain.
“Hey,” I said, hurriedly moving to Brody. “You look good. I love that shirt on you,” I murmured nuzzling his neck, hoping to distract him.
“What’s that smell?” he asked before giving me a kiss.
“Smell?” I asked innocently.
“It’s really sweet.”
“Oh, ummm…it’s a new perfume that I’m trying,” I quickly replied. After all, for all I knew he could have been referring to my quick squirt of Versace that I had sprayed around my neck.
His brown eyes reminded me of the chocolate that I had just been mopping. They just gave me an even bigger reason to love the stuff.
“Okay. Well I think I like your other one better.” He placed his hands on my hips, ready for a much deeper kiss.
“Yeah, me too. I probably won’t wear this one ever again.”
“What’s that in your pocket?” he asked, his fingers stopping as they reached the wipes that I pushed there. “Is that…an anti-bac wipe?” he asked, pulling one out. Only problem was, it was like a magic trick. You pulled on one and they just kept coming. Even I was wondering how I’d managed to get so many in there.
Deadly Tails is available as a pre-order on Amazon at this time:
Publication Date: August 8th.
Don’t forget to check out Beth’s website. www.bethprenticenovels.com/
Thanks for stopping by to read this post. We’d love to hear from you, so please feel free to leave a comment.
This week, it’s my pleasure to welcome back author, Carl Brookins.
Before he became a mystery writer and reviewer, Carl Brookins was a counselor and faculty member at Metropolitan State University in Saint Paul, Minnesota. Brookins and his wife are avid recreational sailors. He is a member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and Private Eye Writers of America. He can frequently be found touring bookstores and libraries with his companions-in-crime, The Minnesota Crime Wave.
He writes the sailing adventure series featuring Michael Tanner and Mary Whitney. The third novel is Old Silver. His new private investigator series features Sean NMI Sean, a short P.I. The first is titled The Case of the Greedy Lawyers. Brookins received a liberal arts degree from the University of Minnesota and studied for a MA in Communications at Michigan State University
WHAT’S YOUR AGENDA?
Periodically I read comments on social media regarding suggested or advisable limits on what practicing authors should or should not reveal about their attitudes and feelings regarding politics and religion. Rarely do I see any comments referring to certain other topics as verboten; topics like murder, thievery, assault and other assorted crimes. Not long ago I encountered a relative not seen in a very long time. He came to dinner asking if there were certain forbidden topics we should not raise at the dinner table. I handed him a piece of paper saying, “here’s the list of forbidden topics.” The paper was blank.
Naturally, I prefer rational, informed discussions with only occasional shouting and a general absence of insulting adjectives or personal invective. But friends and relatives should be able to discuss current events and other subjects of deep or casual interest with thought and passion and not have to feel too constrained by social rules which are essentially artificial. One should also be free to write about almost any topic. And, of course, one is free to not read such materials.
So, what about books, novels, short stories and the like? When I began my career as an author of crime fiction, I was informed that we didn’t explore certain controversial topics, religion and politics being among the most prominent. Why not, I wondered?
Because, I was informed, authors who wear a beige cloak of neutrality won’t offend possible readers and thus will be more successful. While I understand that, it seems to me that an author might gain like-minded readers. On the one hand, I do not care for crime fiction which pushes a particular bias. On the other hand, a character may reveal a certain attitude which informs her or his actions in the story. In my case, readers looking for books pushing my biases will be disappointed. I almost never give characters any opportunity to voice political or religious points of view. In the rare instance where that occurs, a character’s personal bias may be in opposition to my own. Readers may infer biases to my characters should they choose to do that. They do so at their own peril. I really don’t even think about what my character’s biases are. Readers have suggested my characters’ biases to me some of which have been surprising.
My detective, Sean Sean, is generally a good guy. If he crosses the line, it is in the pursuit of good, never of evil. But has he broken the law? Indeed. Numerous times, from speeding, leaving the scene of an accident to discharging a firearm inside city limits, shooting the occasional bad guy, making threats, and engaging in burglary, assault and battery. But he has no religious bias other than to be generally skeptical.
Which devolves to the point. I don’t write my fiction to make political or social points or to try to persuade readers to my position. That isn’t my goal. My goal is to entertain, allow a reader to waste a few pleasant moments, perhaps forget pending problems. If you find an agenda or perceive a bias in my novels and stories, that’s on you and that’s OK, as far as I’m concerned.
When ordinary folks gather for a high school class reunion, they don’t expect to become murder targets. In early spring, Jack Marston and his companion Lori Jacobs are still finding their way into their relationship, while Jack is learning more of the idiosyncrasies of his position at City College. A letter arrives with a fateful invitation. Classmates in the town of Riverview are organizing a major reunion of Lori’s high school graduating class. Lori persuades Jack to accompany her on this summer journey into her past. The first evening is well under way when one of Lori’s classmates, is discovered brutally murdered in a field behind the very restaurant where the opening night festivities are going on. In the ensuing investigation, Marston and Lori discover that the small community is not as placid as it appears. They become targets of a vicious group of insiders who will apparently stop at nothing to remain concealed. And meanwhile, who is killing the graduates?
My ✰✰✰✰ Review
The past is always with us and sometimes it comes back, or so Jack Marston finds out when he and his girlfriend, Lori Jacobs, attend her class reunion in the small town of Riverview—a town with secrets galore. He’s anxious to learn more about her past, but he never realizes that delving into it would be deadly. Although Jack is retired from his former job as an investigator for the U.S. Navy, he gets pulled into the inquiries about several murders when Lori insists on finding the answers to why her former classmates are being killed.
The numerous classmates and spouses introduced to Jack once he and Lori were at the reunion were little difficult to remember and keep track of, especially if I had to leave the book and come back to it at another time. However, I must admit that as the story progressed, it got a bit easier when the murder suspects were narrowed down. The interesting thing about this novel is that there are two separate murder mysteries.
Solid personalities, believable dialog, and an interesting story kept me turning the pages.
Come and enjoy a time of conversation with author Carl Brookins as he talks about translating his sailing adventures to fiction and creating fictional characters that feel like old friends. Brookins is a member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and Private Eye Writers of America. He can frequently be found touring bookstores and libraries with his companions-in-crime, The Minnesota Crime Wave.
We’d love to hear from you, so please feel free to leave a comment.