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.
Today it’s my pleasure to host 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 Murder, Sirius About Murder, Embarking 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 Fancy, Mystery Scene, AKC GAZETTE, Fido Friendly, The 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. Her newest novel is:
The Secret of Bramble Hill
In April 1946, Tessa Field returns to Bramble Hill in the quaint Cornish seaside town of Covington Haven, England, after learning of her aunt Emily Maxwell’s drowning in a boating accident. The moment Tessa sets foot on the grounds of Bramble Hill, long-dormant psychic powers are stirred in her. Through a series of eerie manifestations and unexplained mishaps, she senses an entity in the house is trying to make contact and reveal dark secrets. Tessa narrowly escapes being trampled by a horse ridden by the handsome aristocrat and writer Peter Tremayne, a childhood friend. Upon their unexpected reunion, Tessa is immediately attracted to him, and he to her. Yet, despite their budding romance, she soon becomes distrustful of his true motives. Convinced that her aunt did not die in an accident but was murdered, Tessa investigates and soon becomes entangled in a web of deception, betrayal, and treachery that threatens her very life.
This story takes place in the 1940s, after the war. Tess is a young expatriate who goes back to England for her aunt’s memorial service and discovers that her aunt’s accidental death has suspicious overtones. In the style of a Gothic romance, there’s the childhood friend who has now grown into a handsome and charming man, ghosts, a pirate’s treasure hidden somewhere in her aunt’s mansion—a house with a long and rumored past. And an untrustworthy new uncle. It’s full of mysticism with a touch of the occult. Because Tess has the gift of “sight” she often finds herself in strange places as if in a dream. This story is told from the third person omniscient point of view, so the reader knows what everyone’s thoughts and intentions are, making it all the more fascinating. I really enjoyed reading this book and had a hard time putting it down. Sit back in a cozy chair with a cup of tea or a glass of wine, and get ready to be taken on a mysterious trip to the past.
Website URL: www.sueowenswright.com
Blog URL: http://dogearedbooks.blogspot.com/
Facebook URL: https://www.facebook.com/sue.o.wright
The Secret of Bramble Hill buy link:
I’m sure Sue would love to hear from you, so please feel free to leave a comment.
Posted in Uncategorized
Tagged AKC Gazette, American Kennel Club, Cornish, cozy mystery, Dog Writer's Association of America, England, ghosts, Manifestations, Pen Oakland's Fightin' Words, Pets, pirate's treasure
This week it’s my pleasure to host author, Judy Alter.
An award-winning novelist, Judy Alter is the author of several fictional biographies of women of the American West. In The Gilded Cage she has turned her attention to the late nineteenth century in her home town, Chicago, to tell the story of the lives of Potter and Cissy Palmer, a high society couple with differing views on philanthropy and workers’ right. She is also the author of six books in the Kelly O’Connell Mysteries series. With the 2014 publication of The Perfect Coed, she introduced the Oak Grove Mysteries.
Her work has been recognized with awards from the Western Writers of America, the Texas Institute of Letters, and the National Cowboy Museum and Hall of Fame. She has been honored with the Owen Wister Award for Lifetime Achievement by WWA and inducted into the Texas Literary Hall of Fame and the WWA Hall of Fame.
Murder at Peacock Mansion
Arson, a bad beating, and a recluse who claims someone is trying to kill her all collide in this third Blue Plate Café Mystery with Kate Chambers. Torn between trying to save David Clinkscales, her old boss and new lover, and curiosity about Edith Aldridge’s story of an attempt on her life, Kate has to remind herself she has a café to run. She nurses a morose David, whose spirit has been hurt as badly as his body, and tries to placate Mrs. Aldridge, who was once accused of murdering her husband but acquitted. One by one, Mrs. Aldridge’s stepchildren enter the picture. Is it coincidence that David is Edith Aldridge’s lawyer? Or that she seems to rely heavily on the private investigator David hires? First the peacocks die…and then the people. Everyone is in danger, and no one knows who to suspect.
I love to read cozy mysteries, and I really enjoyed reading this one. Ms. Alter pulls you into the story with her easy writing style. Her characters are believable. The plot is well thought out. Kate, the protagonist, is likable, even though she often comes across as somewhat of a doormat, because she’s always doing favors for demanding and ungrateful people, including her sister, Donna. But there appears to be some guilt there from the way the author weaves backstory into Kate’s thoughts about Donna. Obviously, unfortunate things had happened to her in a previous novel in this series.
The Blue Plate Cafe is your typical small town eating place and the author’s description of the cafe, the town and Peacock Mansion, puts the reader right into the settings. This is a well-paced, easily read cozy with an interesting plot, several twists and an unexpected ending. There’s even a bonus with some delicious down-home recipes. What more could you ask?
Buy link for Murder at Peacock Mansion:
Buy link for The Gilded Cage
Judy and I would love to hear from you, so please feel free to leave a comment.