Ears for Murder – Sue Owens Wright

This week, I’m welcoming back author, Sue Owens Wright.

Sue Owens Wright is an award-winning author of fiction and nonfiction. She is an eleven-time finalist for the Maxwell, awarded annually by the Dog Writers Association of America (DWAA) to the best writer on the subject of dogs.

She has twice won the Maxwell Award and earned special recognition from the Humane Society of the United States for her writing. She writes the acclaimed Beanie and Cruiser Mystery Series, including Howling Bloody MurderSirius About MurderEmbarking On Murder and Braced For Murder, which is recommended on the American Kennel Club’s list of Best Dog Books.

Her nonfiction books include What’s Your Dog’s IQ?150 Activities for Bored Dogs, and People’s Guide to Pets. She has been published in numerous magazines, including Dog FancyMystery SceneAKC GAZETTEFido FriendlyThe Bark, and Animal Fair. Her work also appears in several anthologies, including PEN Oakland’s “Fightin’ Words,” along with Norman Mailer and other literary notables.

Sue graduated from California State University and has taught elementary school, college English and adult writing courses. She did MFA studies in fiction writing at the Universities of Dublin and Galway in Ireland and University College London in England. She is a member of Mystery Writers of America, DWAA, Sisters in Crime, PEO International, Pastel Society of the West Coast, Sierra Pastel Society, SSPCA, and Daughters of the American Revolution. Her newest novel is The Secret of Bramble Hillhttp://www.sueowenswright.com/

Ears for Murder

Trouble crops up in Native American Elsie “Beanie” MacBean’s neck of the woods during Lake Tahoe’s worst drought of the century. Beanie already has her hands full, dog sitting Calamity, her daughter Nona’s rescued basset hound, and is feeling overwhelmed, dealing with her crazy new boarder’s behavioral issues and chronic ear infections, while juggling writing deadlines and caring for her own dog, Cruiser.
Then things turn deadly.
While on a woodland hike with Cruiser and Calamity, Beanie lets the dogs off their leashes. As the two canines rush off, she questions the wisdom of letting them run free. But when the dogs start baying, she knows they’ve found trouble. Sure enough, the animals have sniffed out a lumberjack’s corpse, hugging a tree, with an arrow piercing his neck.
Did the killer object to the lumberjack clear-cutting the old-growth forest, or was his motive more personal? As the bodies pile up and the suspects mount, Beanie realizes that her serene forest home is no longer as safe and peaceful as before. Now danger lurks in the forest—man, beast, and nature—and they all seem determined to kill her…

My Review


This was cleverly written mystery. At first, I thought the title had to do with Beanie MacBean’s two basset hound’s ears, but as I got into the story, I found that I was mistaken. I don’t want to give the story away, so I’ll just say that I enjoyed reading this novel and learned a lot about Lake Tahoe, the Indians who previously lived, and still live there, the wildlife, and about the basset hound breed, with a mystery thrown in for good measure. The way the dogs helped with two important events in the story were an added enjoyment. If you haven’t already bought this book or put it on your TBR list, I urge you to do so, because when you read it, you won’t be sorry. I highly recommend it to any mystery lover.

Sue and I would love to hear from you, so please feel free to leave a comment.



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Murder at Sea of Passenger X, a Georgie Shaw Cozy Mystery

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


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October Meet & Greet Giveaway

Hello Everyone,

I usually don’t promote things on my blog, but my Argentine novel, Masterpiece of Murder, is one of the featured books on The Kindle Book Review website for the entire month of October. 


I’m excited, because if you visit the site this month, there’s a chance for you to win the “Ultimate Reader gift basket” from The No. 1 Site for Reader Giveaways~~The Kindle Book Review. Just click on the link and enter the “easy entry” giveaway. It’s easy & fun. If you love reading, enter now; giveaway ends October 31st. Click here and enter every day ~> https://wp.me/P2H01p-au2

open gift box

I hope you’ll take advantage of this wonderful opportunity. And don’t forget to spread the word. 🙂

Thanks for visiting my blog, 


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S.L. Smith – Mistletoe And Murder

This first week in October, it’s my pleasure to host author, S.L. Smith.

A lifelong resident of Minnesota, S.L. Smith was born in Saint Cloud and attended Saint Catherine University in Saint Paul. During her thirty-two years with the state department of public safety, she worked with law enforcement and fire officials at the state, county and municipal levels. Those interactions assisted her with writing mysteries, but were just the starting point. Without the help of a friend who spent thirty-five years as a cop, she might never have ventured into writing police procedurals. He contributed to her understanding of the perspectives of her two protagonists, Pete Culnane and Martin Tierney. Thankfully, this friend is still a resource. He proofreads each manuscript and performs a reality check on the law enforcement aspects.

All three of her previous books include a social issue. In Blinded by the Sight, it’s homelessness. For book two, Running Scared, it’s the impacts of a failing marriage on the kids. Book three, Murder on a Stick, addresses a plight faced by many of the elderly. Smith is a member of Sisters in Crime (an organization that supports mystery writers). She divides her time between Minnesota and Florida, to care for her mother.

Here is an excerpt from Mistletoe and Murder: The Fourth Pete Culnane Mystery 

Tonight, Colette rang in the New Year like there was no tomorrow. Little did she know that, for her, that was indeed the case. Had she known, she would not have spent her final hours this way. She loved her brother, and she loved to party. Just the same, she had a long list of things she intended to see and do before exiting this life for the something … or nothing … that lay beyond. She had her heart set on traveling to Australia and New Zealand to bask in the lingo and marvel at the scenery. She intended to walk at least a mile on the Great Wall. She planned to learn to play the violin.

She knew not the day, and she’d never have pegged these as her final hours. Confident she’d be on this earth for at least a few more decades, she spent little time thinking about, fretting over, or preparing for an afterlife. Some time down the road, perhaps. For now, she needn’t worry—or so she thought.

Momentarily, the consequences of her procrastination would be between her and her maker. She’d planned this party. Did that mean, in some perverse way, she’d planned her demise?

. . .

Beverages flowed freely before, during, and after the meal. Colette kept up with the best of them.

. . .

In addition to celebrating Demetrius’s wedding, guests spent tonight preparing to ring in the New Year. Some used this as an opportunity to drown regrets about a year of failed attempts to better themselves, while preparing for another shot at the golden ring.

This was Demetrius’s second time around. Colette believed he’d regret this marriage as much as the last one. Just the same, she knew sharing that opinion wouldn’t change his mind. It would, however, change their relationship—at least in the near term. For that reason, she set aside her feelings and helped with the arrangements. She always did that. Nothing, not even a gold digger, could come between her and Demetrius.

During the final seconds before midnight, Colette took center stage. Ordinarily, she reveled in the attention. Not tonight and not this type of attention.

For the last few hours, Colette danced and drank, but not in that order. Shortly before the crowd commenced singing “Auld Lang Syne,” she began slurring her words. Soon her words became unintelligible.

Most of the guests pretended not to notice. Many observed that Colette seemed unusually thirsty tonight, so this didn’t shock them. Unfortunately, what followed raised greater concern, but failed to set off any alarms.

Colette began nodding off. Repeatedly, her chin sank and rested briefly on her chest. That would have been surprising if she was seated at the time. She wasn’t. She did it while standing and talking with several people. Suddenly, without warning, she teetered and slumped to the marble floor.


Book trailer:  https://youtu.be/DM4jaDqMkFQ

Buy link for Mistletoe and Murder:


Thanks for stopping by. We’d love to hear from you, so please feel free to leave a comment.

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Marilyn Meredith – A Cold Death

I’m so pleased to welcome back one of my favorite authors,

Marilyn Meredith.

Marilyn Meredith’s published book count is nearing 40. She is one of the founding members of the San Joaquin chapter of Sister in Crime. She taught writing for Writers Digest Schools for 10 years, and was an instructor at the prestigious Maui Writers Retreat, and has taught at many writers’ conferences. Marilyn is a member of three chapters of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and serves on the board of the Public Safety Writers of America. She lives in the foothills of the Sierra, a place with many similarities to Tempe Crabtree’s patrol area. Webpage:  http://fictionforyou.com Blog:  http://marilymeredith.blogspot.com/ and you can follow her on Facebook.

Lessons Learned Along the Way About Writing

 To be perfectly honest, there have been many.

Don’t throw anything away. I threw away finished manuscripts that I couldn’t find homes for. I’m sure that with time and rewriting I would have found a publisher. (This was before I had them on my computer.)

Learn as much as you can about the writing process. I didn’t do enough of that before I tried to get published. As a result it took 30 submissions and much rewriting before that first book found a home. (One excuse—this was in the days before the Internet.)

Keep good records about where and when you’ve sent something off. In general, keep good records about everything! I still don’t do it as well as I should.

Don’t be intimidated by others. When you’re in a room with other authors who may be famous—remember, they all started at the bottom just like you.

Be friendly to everyone no matter how they look. You’re the writer, what you want is readers and people who will be helpful along the way. There have been times I’ve sold books to the most unsavory looking people just because I was friendly. The old saying “You can’t tell a book by its cover” really fits here. Sometimes the most unlikely will be the one who invites you to a big event or events.

Keep a time line as you’re writing your book. Once I forgot a whole day—fortunately the editor caught it. It meant having to shift things around a bit.

Don’t have too much happen in one day—make sure what does happen is possible in that amount of time. (I’ve read too many books where I said, “Really? I don’t think so. Did this person never sleep, eat, go to the bathroom?”)

Take time out to experience life—after all that’s more fodder for your stories. Plus, you need to enjoy yourself too.


A Cold Death:

Deputy Tempe Crabtree and her husband answer the call for help with unruly guests visiting a closed summer camp during a huge snow storm and are trapped there along with the others. One is a murderer.

Anyone who orders any of my books from the  publisher ‘s  website: https://mundania.com can get 10% off by entering MP20 coupon code in the shopping cart. This is good all the time for all my books, E-books and print books.

On Kindle:


Marilyn and I would love to hear from you, so please feel free to leave a comment.




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Nancy Boyarsky – The Bequest

It’s my pleasure to welcome back author, Nancy Boyarsky.

Nancy has been a writer and editor for her entire working career. She coauthored Backroom Politics, a New York Times notable book, with her husband Bill Boyarsky. She has written several textbooks on the justice system as well as written articles for publications such as the Los Angeles Times, Forbes, and McCall’s. She also contributed to political anthologies, including In the Running, about women’s political campaigns, and The Challenge of California by the late Eugene Lee. In addition to her writing career, she was communications director for political affairs for ARCO. Nancy is a graduate of U.C. Berkeley with a major in English literature. She lives in Los Angeles.

 The Bequest is Nancy Boyarsky’s second mystery. Her first, The Swap, was published earlier this year.

The Bequest

Nicole Graves, still reeling from her kidnapping in London (which takes place in The Swap, Nancy’s first mystery), is struggling to balance work at L.A.’s most prestigious law firm and a long-distance romance with her English lover. Things go sideways when she tracks down a missing colleague. The murder of the firm’s in-house investigator, his mysterious wealth, and his inexplicable bequest make Nicole a target for the police, the paparazzi, and the killer.

When Nicole’s life takes an unexpected turn, she uncovers evil and corruption among the city’s most powerful people. The fast-paced mystery unravels against the backdrop of L.A. with its peculiar mix of balmy weather, the celebrity-crazed media, and a corrupt power structure hidden by the veneer of glamour and wealth.

Here is an excerpt:

She gave another shout. “Robert? Are you there?” No answer.

She opened the door wider, pulled off her sunglasses, and took a step inside, about to call out again. But as her eyes adjusted to the light, she saw him. He was less than a dozen feet away, across the octagonal entry hall. He was half sitting, half sagging against the wall, and there was a bullet hole in the center of his forehead. On the wall above, at eye level, was a Rorschach splotch of crimson so dark it was almost black, surrounded by a fine splatter of the same color. Below that was a dark smear where his head had rubbed against the wall on its way down. Flies were buzzing around Robert’s head as well as near the splotches on the wall. Only now did she notice the smell, a metallic stink mixed with the sweet undertone of decay. She held her breath and studied Robert’s face.

He was staring right at her with a deadpan expression, as if he’d just made one of his wry jokes and was waiting for her to laugh.”


My ✰✰✰✰✰ Review

In this second book of the promising new series, The Nicole Graves Mysteries, Nicole is struggling to put her life back together after her kidnapping in London, when the murder of an investigator who works for her law firm gives her life an expected turn. He’s left her his home and all his dubious wealth, which makes her a target for the killer, and the corrupt L.A. power structure.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this fast-paced mystery. The author’s writing pulls you right into the story  And I like the nice little romance and the romantic complication. The plot is solid, and the characters are likable. I highly recommend this novel to any mystery reader.

Website and author page: nancyboyarsky.com



Purchase The Bequest at the following websites:







Thanks for stopping by. Nancy and I would love to hear from you, so please feel free to leave a comment.



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Beth Prentice – Deadly Tails

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!

Deadly Tails

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.


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Eleanor Kuhns – The Devil’s Cold Dish

This week I’m welcoming author, Eleanor Kuhns.

Eleanor Kuhns Author of The Devil's Cold Dish.

ELEANOR KUHNS is the 2011 winner of the Minotaur Books/Mystery Writers of America First Crime Novel competition. She lives in Campbell Hall, New York, received her master’s in Library Science from Columbia University, and is currently the Assistant Director at the Goshen Public Library in Orange County, New York. She is the author of A Simple Murder, Death of a Dyer, Cradle to Grave, and other mysteries.

Here Comes the Circus

When I was researching Death in Salem, I came across a factoid that captivated me. In 1794, the first elephant arrived on these shores in Salem. This was an animal that no one, except possibly the merchant sailors, had ever seen.  I was so interested in the elephant that I put his arrival, and the tricks he’d been taught, in the book. And the circus is such a fascinating topic I plan to set a future novel against a circus background.

At roughly the same time as the elephant’s arrival the first circus was performed in the United States. Like so many parts of American culture, the early circus was a transplant from Great Britain, brought over by John Bill Ricketts in 1793.

England’s circus had begun in 1768 with a retired Sergeant-Major named Philip Astley. A trick rider, he began exhibiting his horsemanship just outside of London. He performed in a circle – or circus (Latin for circle) – like most equestrians. In 1770 Astley decided to draw other entertainers to what was basically a horse show: i.e. he hired acrobats, ropedancers (wire walkers) and jugglers to attract a larger audience. He ended his show with a Pantomime that included Harlequin, Columbine and Clown, characters from the Elizabethan stage theater. Of course they became another prominent and familiar part of the circus: the clowns. The new circus became very popular.

So why did John Bill Ricketts bring his circus to Philadelphia? Well, Astley had built a large enclosed ring (that he called a Hippodrome) not only in London but also in France. With the brewing violence of the French Revolution, Astley fled Paris.  And England began preparing for war, a war that began a few years later with Napoleon’s rise. Ricketts had already brought some of his performers to the United States. With the upset in Europe more and more of the British circus folk joined him in Philadelphia.

A few years later, Ricketts took the circus on tour. Do not imagine this early circus as performing under a big canvas tent with trained elephants, lions and other exotic animals. In the beginning they performed outside in a handy field and passed around the hat.  The circus still did not have the more exotic animals like lions and elephants. The animal acts at this time consisted of trained dogs, pigs and sometimes bears. And of course trained horses as this was still primarily an equestrian show. Later, temporary wood enclosures, usually open to the sky, were built in the towns for the performances. The first canvas big top was not used until the mid-nineteenth century when the circus truly became a traveling entertainment.


By 1900 circuses dominated American popular culture. 1905 was the Golden Age. Then hundreds of outfits existed, playing to between several hundred and 20,000 people a night.

One final note: the circus, or at least acrobats and jugglers, actually have their beginnings in the Bronze Age.  The ancient Egyptians taught these arts to the Greeks, and the Greeks taught them to the Romans. (Acrobatics arose independently in China.)During the Middle Ages, the jugglers and acrobats performed at fairs all over Europe and in England.  In the mid-1600s in England, however, the fairs and the entertainment stopped. The Puritans or Roundheads formed the Commonwealth in England and prohibited all entertainment including Christmas celebrations.

And if anyone is interested in pursuing a circus career, there are a number of circus schools around the world, (Ukraine, Germany and France) including several in the United States.

The Devil’s Cold Dish

Will Rees is back home on his farm in 1796 Maine with his teenage son, his pregnant wife, their five adopted children, and endless farm work under the blistering summer sun. But for all that, Rees is happy to have returned to Dugard, Maine, the town where he was born and raised, and where he’s always felt at home. Until now. When a man is found dead – murdered – after getting into a public dispute with Rees, Rees starts to realize someone is intentionally trying to pin the murder on him. Then, his farm is attacked, his wife is accused of witchcraft, and a second body is found that points to the Rees family. Rees can feel the town of Dugard turning against him, and he knows that he and his family won’t be safe there unless he can find the murderer and reveal the truth…before the murderer gets to him first.

The Devil's Cold Dish by Eleanor Kuhns

My ✰✰✰✰✰ Review

This post Revolutionary war mystery brings the political and social customs of the time to life. Will Rees is a weaver by trade, but he also has a farm in Dugard, Massachusetts. He hates farm life, so after first his wife dies, he leaves his son, David, with his sister and her family who are suppose to take care of the farm while he hires out to do weaving jobs around the country. When he returns home, with a new, pregnant wife, he finds out that his sister’s husband had beat his son, and they had run his farm into the ground.

Most of the people in the town of Dugard, where Will lives and grew up, hate him because he has, over the years, slighted them in one way or another. His sister Caroline, who has a vicious tongue, blames him for all her problems because she is poor and he has so much more than she, spreads rumors that his pregnant wife, Lydia, is a witch. When two men who live in their area are murdered, Lydia is accused of killing them via her witchy deeds, and Will is suspected of helping her. When he goes to town to look for allies, he has few, if any.

This is the story of a man who is trying his best to protect his family and homestead, and to investigate murder in a time when vigilantes came after private citizens, laws were pretty much up to the current magistrate, superstitions ran rampant, and accusations of witchcraft resulted in arrest and hanging.

This novel is rich with historical detail and diverse characters. Oh, and did I mention—it’s a page-turner.

The Devil’s Cold Dish can be purchased on Amazon:


If you’d like to question Eleanor about the circus or start a discussion regarding her historical mysteries, please feel free to leave a comment, we’d both love to hear from you. 


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Carl Brookins – Reunion

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


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.




Reunion https://www.amazon.com/Reunion-Marston-Mystery-Carl-Brookins/dp/0985390697/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1492621250&sr=8-3&keywords=reunion+brookins

The Inside Passage https://www.amazon.com/Inside-Passage-Whitney-adventure-Adventures-ebook/dp/B00I9GXW4I/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1492621221&sr=8-1&keywords=The+inside+passage+brookins

The Case of the Yellow Diamond http://www.amazon.com/Case-Yellow-Diamond-Sean-Mystery/dp/0878398163/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1448218939&sr=8-1&keywords=the+case+of+the+yellow+diamond

The Case of the Stolen Case https://www.amazon.com/Case-Stolen-Carl-Brookins/dp/0985390689/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1483908318&sr=8-1&keywords=The+Case+of+the+Stolen+Case+Brookins

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.

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F.M. Meredith – Unresolved

It’s my pleasure to welcome back one of my favorite mystery authors,

F.M. Meredith.

 F. M. Meredith lived for many years in a small beach community much like Rocky Bluff. She has many relatives and friends who are in law enforcement and share their experiences and expertise with her. She taught writing for Writers Digest Schools for 10 years, and was an instructor at the prestigious Maui Writers Retreat, and has taught at many writers’ conferences. Marilyn is a member of three chapters of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and serves on the board of the Public Safety Writers of America. She lives in the foothills of the Sierra. Visit her at http://fictionforyou.com and her blog at http://marilymeredith.blogspot.com/


I’m sure there are many authors—and I even know of a few—who have most romantic or exciting lives. However, I am not one of those.

However, over the years I have had some exciting times, mostly connected to writing conferences.

Writing and mystery conferences are held all over the country and back when I was up to traveling, I had the pleasure of going to many places I’d never have gone to otherwise, sometime with my hubby and sometimes solo from New Orleans to Alaska, Hawaii, Madison and Milwaukee Wisconsin, Austin, Plano, and San Antonio, Texas, Washington DC, Tampa and Orlando Florida, Seattle and Bellingham Washington, and many wonderful cities in California, Arizona and Nevada. I’ve probably missed a few.

My first trip to Alaska was for Left Coast Crime where I not only got to see moose wandering around downtown Anchorage, but I met two young Native women and became friends with them. I also visited a small village to speak to school kids and to get there I rode with the principal on the frozen river. (Yes, that was an adventure and a scary one at that.)

On my second trip to Alaska was to attend Bouchercon, and afterwards I stayed with one of the young Native women I’d met on my first trip and had wonderful time which included speaking to every class in the grammar and middle school in Wasilla and visiting the Anchorage Museum.

I was fortunate to be chosen to be an instructor for the prestigious Maui Writers Retreat which meant I spent five days in Maui working with new writers. My husband came along and spent his time sightseeing.

During this time I’ve met so many wonderful people, writers and readers. Though I no longer fly to exotic and faraway places, I still attend book and craft fairs and give talks in places where I can drive.

But what I’ve mentioned are really only some brief events in my life—what I’m really proud of is that I’ve been married to my husband going on 66 years, we raised 5 great kids, are grandparents to 18, and have 18 great grands, and 2 great-greats. Our offspring have brought great joy to our lives.

F.M. aka Marilyn Meredith


Rocky Bluff P.D. is underpaid and understaffed and when two dead bodies turn up, the department is stretched to the limit. The mayor is the first body discovered, the second an older woman whose death is caused in a bizarre manner. Because no one liked the mayor, including his estranged wife and the members of the city council, the suspects are many, but each one has an alibi.

Unresolved is available on Amazon:  https://www.amazon.com/Unresolved-Rocky-Bluff-PD-Book-ebook/dp/B06ZZPRRK2/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1493243102&sr=1-1&keywords=Unresolved+by+M.+E.+Meredith

Marilyn and I would love to hear from you, so please feel free to leave a comment.

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