Book Showcase: THE TASTE OF GINGER by Mansi Shah

The Taste of Ginger by Mansi Shah
ISBN: 9781542031905 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781713620600 (audiobook on CD)
ISBN: 9781713620617 (MP3 audiobook on CD)
ASIN: B095SXYSGB (Audible audiobook)
ASIN: B08YYYVVTC (Kindle edition)
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Release Date: January 1, 2022
Genre: Fiction | Women’s Fiction | Friendship Fiction

 
In Mansi Shah’s stunning debut novel, a family tragedy beckons a first-generation immigrant to the city of her birth, where she grapples with her family’s past in search of where she truly belongs.

After her parents moved her and her brother to America, Preeti Desai never meant to tear her family apart. All she did was fall in love with a white Christian carnivore instead of a conventional Indian boy. Years later, with her parents not speaking to her and her controversial relationship in tatters, all Preeti has left is her career at a prestigious Los Angeles law firm.

But when Preeti receives word of a terrible accident in the city where she was born, she returns to India, where she’ll have to face her estranged parents…and the complicated past they left behind. Surrounded by the sights and sounds of her heritage, Preeti catches a startling glimpse of her family’s battles with class, tradition, and sacrifice. Torn between two beautifully flawed cultures, Preeti must now untangle what home truly means to her.

 

Read an Excerpt:

Chapter 1

 

A gaggle of women, all speaking over each other in loud, animated voices, filled my parents’ small living room. It was like watching a National Geographic special about social dominance, where pitch and decibel level determined the leader. They wandered around the room, grazing on homemade samosas and pakoras, careful not to get oily crumbs on the delicate fabric of their brightly colored saris.

I was sitting at the dining table near the front door so I could fulfill my assigned duty of greeting the guests as they arrived for my sister-in-law’s baby shower. From across the room, I heard snippets of conversation from my mother’s friends.

“Did you hear her son dropped out of medical school to be with that American girl?”

“I’m not surprised. I heard she walks like an elephant.”

Without knowing whom they were talking about, I sympathized with the girl. My mother had often accused me of this great atrocity­ walking like an elephant. I was around nine years old when I realized she wasn’t calling me fat. She meant I wasn’t demure and obedient­ qualities every good Indian daughter should have.

Near me, a pile of presents had amassed over the last hour. Boxes wrapped in pastel paper with cute cartoon monkeys, turtles, or bunnies. They made most thirty-year-old women feel one of two things: a maternal pang and the gentle tick of her biological clock, or the desire to run screaming from the room. I glanced at the front door, leaning toward the latter response, but wasn’t sure if it was because of the baby paraphernalia around me or the suffocating feeling I got whenever I went back to my parents’ house near Devon Avenue-Chicago’s very own Little India.

Across the room, my mother, dressed in an orange-and-gold sari that clung to her ample hips and chest, offered to bring my sister-in-law, Dipti, a plate of food. She’d been fawning over Dipti all day, telling her she needed to rest to keep the baby healthy.

“You are a mother now, beta,” she’d say, shooting me a look of disappointment every time she referred to Dipti being a mother. I winced inwardly at hearing the term of affection she used to call me as a child. It had been a long time since I had been beta.

My mother’s long hair, streaked with white, was pinned into a neat bun with dozens of bobby pins and adorned with small fragrant jasmine flowers. It opened her face and softened her sharp features. Until yesterday, we hadn’t spoken in months. Not since she found out that my boyfriend-now ex-boyfriend-and I had been living together in Los Angeles. Cohabitating with a dhoriya was, in her opinion, the most shameful thing her daughter could have done. Living with a white boy was right up there with marrying someone from a lower caste or talking back to your elders.

It’s not like I had made it my mission to disappoint her. Until then, I’d tried to convince myself that I’d end up with a caste-appropriate Indian even though I’d never met one that I’d been attracted to. But when Alex tilted my chin to meet his blue eyes before our lips touched for that first kiss, I knew I was in trouble. It wasn’t long before he became my first love, and I was convinced we were destined to be together. Until one day we weren’t. I’d just never imagined that I’d be the one letting him go. And so soon after I’d told my parents that if they couldn’t accept Alex into their lives, it was the same as not accepting me. Timing could be a real bitch sometimes.

A group of aunties who were crowded around Dipti burst into laughter. She was only five and a half months pregnant, so I’d thought I’d have a few more weeks to mentally gear up for this trip back home, but my mother had insisted on having the shower before our family­ well, everyone except me-went to India for my cousin’s wedding later that week. She’d consulted a priest, who’d consulted the stars, and today, Sunday, November 25, was the only auspicious date that aligned with both the cosmic universe and her social calendar.

So there I was, back in the house I’d been desperate to leave after high school, standing guard over the ever-growing mountain of onesies, rattling plastic toys, and other tiny treasures.

A chilly breeze wafted in when the door opened again. Small bumps formed along my arms. I’d lived in Southern California for nearly a decade now and couldn’t handle even a hint of the approaching Illinois winter.

“Miss Preeti!” Monali Auntie, my mom’s best friend, called as she kicked off her champals outside the front door near the other jeweled and beaded sandals before scurrying into the house. She had always been like a second, cooler, more approachable mother to me and was one of the few people I had been looking forward to seeing at this party.

“Where is your sari?” Monali Auntie asked, eyeing the sapphire panjabi I wore instead of an intricate, elaborate sari like the rest of the women in the room were wearing. She clucked her tongue before spreading her arms wide and swaddling me in a warm, caring hug. I made sure my hands steered clear of her hair, which was pulled back into a tight chignon that she had probably spent hours perfecting, and I knew better than to be responsible for a hair falling out of place. The spicy smell of cinnamon and doves lingered on her skin as if she had spent all day in the kitchen.

“The same place as your coat,” I said, raising an eyebrow. She was the first person to arrive without a jacket.

“Oy, you! Do you know how much time I spent draping this sari around my body?” She put a hand on her slender hip and posed for effect. “You think I’m going to get wrinkles on it after all that work?” She flicked her hand, dismissing the thought.

I laughed, expecting nothing less. Monali Auntie had three sons and had always insisted that because she didn’t have a daughter to pass her looks on to, she had a duty to maintain her style. Sacrificing comfort in the name of fashion was just one of those burdens.

Leaning closer to her, I whispered, “Well, I didn’t want to say it too loudly, but your sari does look much neater than everyone else’s.” How any woman managed to wrap six meters of fabric around her body without a team of NASA engineers had always been a mystery to me, but Monali Auntie managed to pull it off solo. Anytime I’d been in a sari, it had taken my mother and at least one other person to wrangle me into it.

Her lips stretched into a satisfied smile as she smoothed the thick bundle of pleats cascading from her waist to the floor. Then she tugged the delicate dupatta draped around my neck like a scarf. “I suspect your mother was not very happy with this decision.”

“Is she ever?” My clothes were still traditional Indian wear, but certainly less formal than the sari that was “expected of a respectable woman” my age, as my mother would say.

“Just because you’re a lawyer doesn’t mean you must always argue,” Monali Auntie joked before turning to scan the room. “Now, where is the guest of honor?”

I gestured toward a group of women near the sofa. Dipti’s fuchsia­ and-parrot-green sari flattered her figure despite the mound protruding from her belly. The silk patterned border covered her stomach and left more of her back exposed, as was the customary style of Gujarat­ the state in India where my family and the other women in the room were from. Despite living in America for over twenty years, my parents didn’t have any friends who weren’t Gujarati. Much to my chagrin as a teenager trying to fit into this new country, Devon Avenue gave my parents the option of living in the West without giving up the East, and expecting their children to do the same.

Monali Auntie said, “Come. I need to give her my wishes. And you need to mingle with the guests rather than sitting alone like a lazy peacock.”

I dreaded having to listen to everyone ask me why I wasn’t more like Dipti, why I was thirty and not married, a spinster by Indian standards. They’d whisper behind my back about the poor fate my mother had been dealt. An unwed daughter over the age of twenty-five reflected a failure of the parents. If only they had taught me to cook or clean properly, perhaps then I would have found a nice Gujarati boy by now. And if the fates were kind, might even have popped out a kid or two.

Monali Auntie stood poised to shoot down any excuse. Before I could utter a word, my cell phone vibrated, and my law firm’s number popped up on the screen.

“Sorry, Auntie, it’s work. I need to take this.”

She shook her head and wagged her finger at me while I backed out of the noisy room and into the kitchen.

After closing the door, I whispered into the phone, “So glad it’s you.”

Carrie Bennett, my best friend and partner in crime at work, laughed. “Is your trip down memory lane that bad?”

I slumped against the counter. “It’s as expected. Why are you at the office now?”

“Because being a lawyer sucks. The Warden forgot you were out of town this weekend, so I’m stuck working on some bullshit brief that needs to get filed tomorrow. I’m in your office-where’s our file on the senator case?”

The Warden was the moniker Carrie and I had given our boss, Jared Greenberg. “Thanks for covering,” I said before explaining where she should look to find the documents.

After we finished chatting, I lingered in the kitchen for a few moments, staring out the window at the little wooden swing hanging from the oak tree in our small fence-lined backyard. Burnt-orange and deep-red leaves littered the ground around it. The swing’s chains were rusty from many years of harsh, wet winters. A year after we’d moved into this row house, my father had put it up to remind my mother of the hichko that sat in the garden outside her family’s bungalow in India.

Whenever she received a pale-blue onion skin-thin letter from her family in India, she went straight to that swing and read it over and over until the paper nearly ripped apart at the delicate creases. The swing had been his attempt to make America feel more like home and was one of the only thoughtful gestures I remembered him showing her. Not surprisingly, an arranged marriage coupled with a culture that didn’t accept divorce did not result in many romantic gestures between my parents.

The basement door opened, and my brother, Neel, came through dressed in jeans and a hoodie. He looked so much more comfortable than I felt. I’d have traded places with him in a second. He and my father had been relegated, willingly so, to the basement, where they could watch football while the party was underway.

“Just grabbing more snacks,” he said. “How’s the babyfest going?”

“Awesome,” I said dryly. “I get to sit in a room and watch everyone fawn all over your perfect wife in her perfect sari with her perfect baby on the way.”

Neel picked up a samosa and sank his teeth into the crunchy pastry shell. He had the metabolism of a hummingbird and could probably eat his weight in fried food without it affecting him in the slightest. “If it’s any consolation, she’s less perfect when she’s puking up water and bile in the middle of the night.”

I scrunched my face. “Are you seriously eating while talking about puking bile?”

He shrugged and took another large bite. “Bile is nothing. I see way worse at the hospital. This kid came in on Friday with-“

I held up my palm. “Unless this story ends with the kid having a paper cut, you can stop.”

Our mother walked into the kitchen with a full bag of trash. “What are you doing hiding in here?” she said to me. “People are asking about you.”

After an hour of eavesdropping while I’d sat at the dining table greeting guests, I knew they weren’t, but it wasn’t worth arguing about. “I had to take a call from work.”

It was technically true. But my mother’s sour expression made clear she didn’t approve. She thought I should be more focused on starting a family than on my career. When I had been born, my parents had followed the tradition of having an Indian priest write out my Janmakshar–a horoscope that mapped out my entire life. According to that, like my cousins, I should have married by twenty-five and had two kids by now. Shunning dirty diapers in favor of clean paychecks was only one of many deviations from my Janmakshar.

“Why doesn’t Neel come out and say hi to everyone?” I said, casting him a mischievous grin. ‘Tm sure the aunties want to congratulate him too.”

Neel dashed toward the basement. “Sorry, women only,” he called over his shoulder. ”I’ll talk to them some other time!”

I had taken a step toward the living room when inspiration struck. “I’ll be right there.” I turned and ran up the stairs to my bedroom to get the one thing that would make this party more bearable while having the side effect of pleasing my mother.

With my Canon T90 SLR camera covering most of my face, people hardly noticed me. I couldn’t believe I hadn’t thought of bringing it down sooner. My parents had given it to me for my thirteenth birthday. Presents until that point had been academic workbooks so I could pull ahead of my peers in school. As an immigrant child of immigrant parents, I grew up knowing my future had to be their future. That meant getting the best grades, going to the best college, and getting the best job to ensure the sacrifices they had made for us were validated. Spending even a dollar on something that didn’t further that agenda was unthinkable. When I got the camera, for the first time I understood how my American friends felt on their birthdays, focused more on having fun than being practical. But then the next year I’d started high school, and my birthday present had been the application packets for all the Ivy League colleges. “Never too early to start planning,” my dad had said. It made me cherish the camera even more.

After high school, I’d wanted to become a photographer, but my parents had balked at the idea. “The only wedding photos a decent girl should be taking are the ones she is in!” my mother had said. My father had summed it up more succinctly: “It’s a lower-caste job. Medicine is better.” I could not live in Neel’s shadow any longer than I already had, so medicine was not an option.

After college, I convinced my parents to let me spend a year pursuing photography. Confident I could earn a decent living at it, I pacified them by agreeing to go to law school if it didn’t work out. I’d been twenty-two, full of passion and energy, and so very naive. After interning at a studio in downtown Chicago for what amounted to less than minimum wage, I wasn’t any closer to being able to move out of my parents’ house and support myself. I hated that my mother had been right. For years I hadn’t been able to pick up the camera again, as if my failure was somehow its fault rather than my own. It wasn’t until Alex had encouraged me to start again a year ago that I had. I began slowly, bringing it out when traveling or at the occasional family event I was guilted into attending. Like Dipti’s baby shower. With the cold war between my mother and me in effect, I would never have come were it not for Neel. It was important to him, so no matter how uncomfortable it made me, I had to suck it up. Besides, even I knew not showing up would be crossing a line with my mother in a way that I couldn’t take back. My family was no different from every other Indian family we knew, and putting on the pretense of being a happy family was more important than actually being one. There would have been no greater insult than the shame of her having to explain to her friends why I wasn’t there.

I meandered through the room trying to find the best lighting. Gita Auntie, one of my mother’s friends, animatedly spoke to some of the guests. She was short and slight, well under five feet and one hundred pounds. She looked up at her friends, her eyebrows scrunched, while she gestured wildly. Peering through my lens, I waited for a moment when she appeared calm and happy, her cheeks full of color and a smile on her face, before I clicked the button and released the shutter.

She turned toward the flash, startled. “Oh, Preeti. You must give me warning so I can check my hair. Now come. We take one with all of us.” She put one arm around my mother’s shoulder and beckoned for me with the other.

“Oh, no, no, Auntie. I’m fine behind the lens. Besides, this camera is old and hard to use.”

“Oy, excuses! Keep your camera then. But at least be social.”

It wasn’t an ideal compromise, but I preferred it to pasting on a fake smile that would be preserved for years to come. As I moved closer, Gita Auntie continued her story about another friend’s daughter. “You know, now she will never find a good Indian boy. She’s damaged. What family will allow her to marry their son after she lived with that American boy, hah?”

They all nodded with that side-to-side bobble that to the untrained eye could have been yes or no, but they all understood what was meant by it.

A lump formed in my throat. My mother shifted her gaze toward the worn carpet, a light-tan color that had survived the last couple of decades remarkably well, but that was probably due to the strict no-shoes policy within our home. Her biggest fear was that her friends would find out I wasn’t so different from the girl they were gossiping about, that once everyone knew the truth, I’d be destined to be alone forever. No good Indian family would let me marry their son.

Gita Auntie reached out and cupped my chin with her thumb and index finger and shook my face from side to side. “Our little Hollywood lawyer. When will it be your turn?”

I leaned back to politely break from her grasp. Gita Auntie didn’t believe in personal space, preferring to communicate with her hands rather than her words.

“I work seventy hours a week,” I offered as my excuse.

“You must think more seriously.” She put her hand on my shoulder and then lowered her voice. “You are thirty, no? After that, you know, women lose their luster.”

I bit back the urge to say I had just bought a fancy new moisturizer that promised to keep my “luster” intact for years to come. Instead, I forced out an empty laugh and found myself using Alex’s old coping mechanism. He’d do it whenever he was agitated. It used to drive me crazy, but right now, counting slowly in my head was a better plan than causing a scene and making the day with my mother more uncomfortable than it already was. One, two, three

Monali Auntie must have noticed the troubled look on my face, because she put down her plate and marched over to our group.

“Come. Let me take a photo of you with your family.” She was the only person in the room I would have trusted with my cherished camera. And she knew it.

My mother and Dipti adjusted the pleats on their saris as we stood in a line with my mother in the center. After making sure her clothes were in order, she reached over and took each of our hands, her quintessential family-photo pose. Nothing to give away that she hadn’t spoken to her only daughter in months. After all, what would people think if they knew?

As we stood waiting for the click of the shutter, I could focus on only one thing. It was small. Stupid. I knew that, especially given how the past year had gone. But I couldn’t shake the feeling. She had reached for Dipti’s hand first. Part of me was angry, but another part of me-the analytical side-didn’t blame her. After a long day at the hospital, Dipti still could roll out a paper-thin rotli that puffed evenly when placed on the heat and could dance a flawless twelve-step garba routine. Even if I’d been given a week to prepare, I couldn’t have done either of those things. And she never talked back to my mother. Ever.

I gritted my teeth. Twelve, thirteen, fourteen

It seemed obvious that even though I was the daughter she had, Dipti was the one she wanted.

Excerpt from The Taste of Ginger by Mansi Shah.
Copyright © 2022 by Mansi Shah.
Published by Lake Union Publishing
Reproduced with permission. All rights reserved.

 

Meet The Author

Author: Mansi Shah

Mansi Shah is a writer who lives in Los Angeles. She was born in Toronto, Canada, was raised in the midwestern United States, and studied at universities in Australia and England. When she’s not writing, she’s traveling and exploring different cultures near and far, experimenting on a new culinary creation, or trying to improve her tennis game. For more information, visit her online at mansikshah.com.

Connect with the Author:

Facebook | Goodreads | Instagram | TikTok | Twitter | Author Website

 

This excerpt brought to you by TLC Book Tours

 

Guest Post: PJ Peterson – PICKLED PINK IN PARIS

Pickled Pink in Paris by PJ Peterson Banner

Good day, my bookish peeps. I hope you’re all having a wonderful month of December so far. Have you ever wondered about all of the careers held by the authors we read? I know authors that are former (and current) teachers, librarians, lawyers, doctors, law enforcement officers, military personnel, actors, athletes, etc. Thankfully, these highly creative souls also provide us with hours of reading pleasure by crafting such wonderful stories. I’m pleased to welcome P.J. Peterson, a former internist and author of Pickled Pink in Paris, a Julia Fairchild Mystery, to the blog today. Ms. Peterson will be discussing using her medical knowledge and expertise in her writings. Please help me welcome the accomplished, P.J. Peterson. Thank you, Dr. Peterson for joining and sharing with us today, the blog is all yours.

"Guest Post" with books divider

Readers, especially my friends, have asked if I write from my experiences or do I make everything up in my head. The answer is that I do both. In each of my first four Julia Fairchild books (Number four will be published in December 2021, I hope), a number of the adventures are true to life, although modified to fit the pretend situation.

Some things that are true: I won a limbo contest years ago, am a certified scuba diver, have been on a half-dozen tap/jazz dance cruises, and am a (retired) Internal Medicine specialist. I have never been in a helicopter or an underwater cave with blind fish, or captured a bad guy, although I’ve helped the police a couple of times when someone tried to pass a forged narcotic prescription.

I have been to all the locations in my books which helps to be able to use all the senses when describing a setting. The one exception is that I didn’t get to visit Paris until after I finished writing Pickled Pink in Paris because my trip was cancelled three times. I had to use Rick Steves’ travel guide and maps to make sense of Julia’s adventure there. I relied on online resources as well for detail. Most of my writing otherwise arises from my creative imagination, although often there is a smidgen of truth lurking beneath the surface.

Because of my training as a physician, I like to insert something related to the practice of medicine in each of my stories. My heroine, Julia Fairchild, is a young internist, and is loosely based on a much younger version of myself, although I portray her as much braver than I think I am. It makes sense to me to have her use her astute diagnostic skills as she solves the puzzle in front of her. I told my patients regularly that a physician is a detective who uses patients’ symptoms and physical findings to identify the diagnosis. Sherlock Holmes was created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, a British physician, as many of us know.

When I am writing a scene that is purely fiction (in the truest sense of the word), I picture myself in the setting that I’ve created and imagine what I would be seeing, smelling, hearing, feeling, and touching. For the catacombs scene in Pickled Pink in Paris, for example, I imagined what it might be like to be in complete darkness, in an unfamiliar place, cold, and very frightened that I wouldn’t be found before I became a pile of bones.

I write dialogue by talking aloud as I write to make it as realistic as possible. In high school debate my specialties were extemporaneous and impromptu speaking. That background of learning to speak off-the-cuff is helpful when making up conversations.

When my readers read one of my Julia Fairchild mysteries, I hope they feel as though they are right there with my characters, experiencing the moment, and immersed in the story. Then I will have done my job as an author.

PJ Peterson

Pickled Pink in Paris

by PJ Peterson

December 1-31, 2021 Virtual Book Tour

Synopsis:

Pickled Pink in Paris by PJ Peterson

A major business deal is disrupted by murder.

But a young physician has the key to the case…

A dying man’s last word whispered in her ear: “…mushroom…”

When medical internist Julia Fairchild receives an invitation to Paris from her long-distance beau, Josh, she packs a bag, grabs her sister Carly, and jets off for the City of Lights. But once they arrive, death and suspicion take the place of champagne and escargot. Josh’s business partner is dying in the hospital, and the gendarmes are convinced Josh is behind it.

Naturally curious and driven to seek justice, Julia jumps at the chance to clear Josh’s name – but he doesn’t seem interested in proving his innocence. Is he hiding something? Will Julia uncover the true murderer and salvage what’s left of her Paris vacation, or is she next on the killer’s hit list?

If you love Louise Penny, Laura Child, and Sue Grafton, you’ll enjoy reading this fun-filled cozy mystery! Find out why fans say “It’s a must read!” Don’t wait…

Book Details:

Genre: Cozy Mystery
Published by: Finngirl, LLC
Publication Date: August 5th 2021
Number of Pages: 246
ISBN: 1733567518 (ISBN-13: 978-1733567510)
ASIN: B09C2P8KQG (Kindle edition)
Series: Julia Fairchild Mysteries, Book 3
Purchase Links #CommissionEarned: IndieBound.org | Amazon | Amazon Kindle | Barnes and Noble | BookDepository.com | Goodreads

Author Bio:

PJ Peterson

PJ is a retired internist who enjoyed the diagnostic part of practicing medicine as well as creating long-lasting relationships with her patients. As a child she wanted to be a doctor so she could “help people.” She now volunteers at the local Free Medical Clinic to satisfy that need to help.

She loved to read from a young age and read all the Trixie Belden and Nancy Drew books she could find. It wasn’t until she was an adult that she wrote anything longer than short stories for English classes and term papers in others. Writing mysteries only makes sense given her early exposure to that genre. Sprinkling in a little medical mystique makes it all the more fun.

Catch Up With PJ Peterson:
www.PJPetersonAuthor.com
Goodreads
BookBub – @mizdrpj1
Facebook – PJ Peterson

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This is a Rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for PJ Peterson. There will be TWO US Winners. ONE winner will receive (1) $25 Amazon.com Gift Card and ONE winner will receive one (1) physical copy of Pickled Pink in Paris by PJ Peterson. [U.S. Only] The giveaway runs December 1 through January 2, 2022. Void where prohibited.

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Guest Post: John Nardizzi – THE BURDEN OF INNOCENCE

The Burden of Innocence by John Nardizzi Banner

Good day, book people. I don’t know about you, but I enjoy participating in reading challenges every year. Some years I actually meet most of the goals from various challenges, but, more often than not, my reading challenge fizzles out sometime in February or March. I usually meet the total number of books I want to read for the year and that’s it. If you’re a mystery or crime fiction reader, then I hope you’ll enjoy today’s visitor. Please help me welcome John Nardizzi, author of The Burden of Innocence, as he shares some of his crime fiction recommendations. Perhaps one or two of these titles might help you meet your reading challenge goal for the year. Thank you, Mr. Nardizzi for joining us today and sharing with us, the blog is all yours.

Voices of Crime – Top 4
by John Nardizzi

I started out in the detective business in San Francisco, a city with a rich history of both real and fictitious detectives. I partied in the same building where Dashiell Hammett lived. But I did not know that my childhood literary fascination with the genre would lead to working in the industry—and also writing crime novels.

The question I get most often from readers: What are the books that most closely resemble the actual tone and feel of real investigations? Contrary to most people’s understanding, PI work has not gone completely high tech, limited to database research. Yes, that is part of the job (and a fun part of it too). Modern investigations still revolve around the most important thing in a trial: witnesses. PIs talk to strangers about difficult things. And those witnesses provide color and tone for the case—all their flaws and imperfections exposed.

So for me, great crime novels speak in the voice of not just the detective, but the witnesses and criminals. Here are my four “must-read” books for any fan of the genre:

The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith

Set in Italy, Patricia Highsmith’s beautiful prose contrasts with the spare, calculating mind of Tom Ripley. A low-level con man, Ripley sees an opportunity to subsume himself in the identity of his rich friend Dickie Greenleaf, leading to murder and betrayal. Story plays out amid beautiful beaches and seaside apartments in Italy, lavish meals and endless glasses of red wine. No one puts you into the delusional, paranoid mind of a criminal better than Highsmith. Great insights: “This is what I like, sitting at a table and watching people go by. It does something to your outlook on life. The Anglo-Saxons make a great mistake not staring at people from a sidewalk table.”

Tijuana Straits by Kem Nunn

Sometimes called the creator of “surf noir”, Nunn tells the story of apathetic, strung-out old surfer Sam Fahey, who comes across a Mexican woman named Magdalena fleeing a pack of wild dogs in the waste lands at the border. She is working to uncover environmental crimes committed by factory owners. Sam finds some compassion and helps Magdalena, who is fleeing the murderous Armando. Amid the grasslands of the Tijuana River Valley, Sam and Magdalena tangle with drug traffickers, bandits, and refugees from the maquiladora factories burning through cheap labor at the border. Dark stuff redeemed by some fine writing.

The Grifters by Jim Thompson

Author Jim Thompson grew up in Oklahoma Territory and worked later at a honky-tonk hotel in Texas where he took odd jobs procuring all kinds of vices for the guests during Prohibition. This later led to Thompson’s prolific output of crime fiction and screenplays, but none better than his take on a group of grifters operating in Los Angeles in the 1950s. The book opens with Roy Dillon, a young con artist who gets caught in a scam and takes a bat to the belly for it—leading to his long-gone mother, veteran con Lilly Dillon, coming back to nurse him back to life. He resents her, but she’s a lot tougher than he is. And Lilly doesn’t much care for his girlfriend, so we know how that will end. Lilly always gets the last word: “Grift’s like anything else Roy, you either go up or down. Usually down, sooner or later.”

The Last Good Kiss by James Crumley

Hard-boiled PI C.W. Sughrue rambles all over the west, solving two mysteries at once: tracking down a girl who went missing in San Francisco while also searching for a complex mess of a writer, Abraham Trahearne. The writer is lost in a boozy haze of wartime regrets and mixed blessings of fame; he is also the centerpiece—like a big baby—of a strange domestic triad of ex-wife, current wife, and mother, all living on his Montana ranch. Part road trip, part buddy novel, part mystery, part black widow revenge, Crumley writes like few others. And he seemed to have a blast writing the women characters as they lead the men around the ring like blind horses–just too good of a view back into the 1970s to be ignored. Be prepared—the rude poetry of the book is so saturated in booze and western machismo that you might stumble just touching the pages—as PI Sughrue opines: “I try to stay two drinks ahead of reality and three behind a drunk.” Words to live by.

John Nardizzi
www.johnnardizzi.com

The Burden of Innocence

by John Nardizzi

December 6, 2021 – January 31, 2022 Virtual Book Tour

Synopsis:

The Burden of Innocence by John Nardizzi

Private investigators Ray Infantino and Tania Kong take on the case of Sam Langford, framed for a murder committed by a crime boss at the height of his powers.

But a decade later, Boston has changed. The old ethnic tribes have weakened. As the PIs range across the city, witnesses remember the past in dangerous ways. The gangsters know that, in the new Boston, vulnerable witnesses they manipulated years ago are shaky. Old bones will not stay buried forever.

As the gang sabotages the investigation, will Ray and Tania solve the case in time to save an innocent man?

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery, Crime Noir
Published by: Weathertop Media Co.
Publication Date: December 5, 2021
Number of Pages: 290
ISBN: 978-1-7376876-0-3
Series: PI Ray Infantino Series, #2
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads | Kobo | Google Play | iBooks

Author Bio:

John Nardizzi

John Nardizzi is writer and investigator. His work on innocence cases led to the exoneration Gary Cifizzari and James Watson, as well as million dollar settlements for clients Dennis Maher and the estate of Kenneth Waters, whose story was featured in the film Conviction.

His crime novels won praise for crackling dialogue and pithy observations of detective work. He speaks and writes about investigations in numerous settings, including World Association of Detectives, Lawyers Weekly, Pursuit Magazine and PI Magazine. Prior to his PI career, he failed to hold any restaurant job for longer than a week. He lives near Boston, Massachusetts.

Catch Up With John Nardizzi:
JohnNardizzi.com
Goodreads
BookBub — @johnf4
Twitter — @AuthorPI
Facebook — @rayinfantino1

Want to start an InstaParty? Join us at #JohnNardizzi!

 

Tour Participants:

Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways!
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Book Spotlight: HOW TO BOOK A MURDER by Cynthia Kuhn

How to Book a Murder (A Starlit Bookshop Mystery)
by Cynthia Kuhn

About How to Book a Murder

How to Book a Murder (A Starlit Bookshop Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
1st in Series
Publisher ‏ : ‎ Crooked Lane Books (December 7, 2021)
Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 336 pages
ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1643858599
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 9781643858593 (Hardcover)
Digital ISBN : 9781643858609 (eBook)
Digital ISBN : 9781666529913 (Digital Audiobook)
Digital ISBN : 9781666512373 (Audiobook on CD)
Digital ASIN ‏ : ‎ B08QVJFZZK (Kindle edition)
Digital ASIN : B09GL3P4WK (Audible audiobook)

Purchase Links #CommissionEarned: IndieBound.org | Amazon | Amazon Kindle | Audible | Barnes and Noble | BookDepository.com | Bookshop | Downpour Audiobook | eBooks.com | !ndigo | Kobo Audiobook | Kobo eBook

Perfect for fans of Jenn McKinlay and Kate Carlisle, in award-winning author Cynthia Kuhn’s series debut, small-town bookseller and literary event planner Emma Starrs is out to close the book on a killer intent on crashing the party.

To help save her family’s floundering Colorado bookstore, Starlit Bookshop, newly minted Ph.D. Emma Starrs agrees to plan a mystery-themed dinner party for her wealthy, well-connected high school classmate Tabitha Baxter. It’s a delightful evening of cocktails and conjecture until Tabitha’s husband, Tip—hosting the affair in the guise of Edgar Allan Poe’s detective C. Auguste Dupin—winds up murdered.

In a heartbeat, Emma and her aunt Nora, a famous mystery writer, become suspects. Emma is sure the party’s over for Starlit events, until celebrated author Calliope Nightfall, whose gothic sensibilities are intrigued by the circumstances, implores the bookseller to create a Poe-themed launch event for her latest tome. Throwing a bash to die for while searching for additional clues is already enough to drive Emma stark raven mad, but another shocking crime soon reveals that Silvercrest has not yet reached the final chapter of the puzzling case.

Someone in this charming artistic community has murder on the mind, and if Emma cannot outwit the killer, she and her beloved aunt will land behind bars, to walk free nevermore.

About Cynthia Kuhn

Cynthia Kuhn is an English professor and author of the Starlit Bookshop Mysteries and the Lila Maclean Academic Mysteries. Her work has also appeared in Mystery Most Edible, McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern, Copper Nickel, Prick of the Spindle, Mama PhD, and other publications. Honors include an Agatha Award, a William F. Deeck-Malice Domestic Grant, and Lefty Award nominations. Originally from upstate New York, she lives in Colorado with her family. For more information, please visit cynthiakuhn.net.

Author Links

Website: cynthiakuhn.net

Twitter: @cynthiakuhn

Facebook: www.facebook.com/cynthiakuhnwriter

Bookbub: www.bookbub.com/authors/cynthia-kuhn

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/39587.Cynthia_Kuhn

Blog: chicksonthecase.com

Newsletter: https://bit.ly/2MPiEMh

Giveaway

Enter to win one (1) digital copy of How To Book a Murder, a Starlight Bookshop Mystery by Cynthia Kuhn AND one (1) $20.00 USD gift card to BookShop.org. Prizes will be distributed via Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours at the conclusion of the giveaway period. Void where prohibited by law.

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TOUR PARTICIPANTS

December 6 – The Book Diva’s Reads – SPOTLIGHT

December 6 – The Book’s the Thing – REVIEW

December 7 – Mochas, Mysteries and Meows – CHARACTER GUEST POST

December 7 – Lisa Ks Book Reviews – REVIEW

December 8 – Literary Gold – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

December 9 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

December 10 – The Avid Reader – REVIEW

December 10 – Cozy Up With Kathy – REVIEW

December 11 – Maureen’s Musings – SPOTLIGHT

December 11 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW, CHARACTER INTERVIEW

December 12 – Laura’s Interests – SPOTLIGHT

December 13 – Socrates Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

December 13 – Sapphyria’s Book Reviews – REVIEW

December 14 – Christy’s Cozy Corners – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

December 14 – Book Club Librarian – REVIEW

December 15 – Reading, Writing & Stitch-Metic – SPOTLIGHT

December 15 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW

December 16 – Mysteries with Character – GUEST POST

December 16 – Moonlight Rendezvous – REVIEW

December 17 – Ascroft, eh? – CHARACTER INTERVIEW

December 17 – Diane Reviews Books – GUEST POST

December 18 – Author Elena Taylor’s Blog – REVIEW

December 19 – BookishKelly2020 – SPOTLIGHT

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Book Spotlight: MIMI LEE CRACKS THE CASE by Jennifer J. Chow

Mimi Lee Cracks the Code (A Sassy Cat Mystery) by Jennifer J. Chow

About Mimi Lee Cracks the Code

Mimi Lee Cracks the Code (A Sassy Cat Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
3rd in Series
Publisher ‏ : ‎ Berkley (November 30, 2021)
Paperback ‏ : ‎ 288 pages
Print ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1984805037
Print ISBN-13 : 9781984805034
Digital ISBN : 9781984805041
Digital ASIN ‏ : ‎ B08XQ2T9BS

Purchase Links #CommissionEarned: IndieBound.org | Amazon | Amazon Kindle | Barnes and Noble | BookDepository.com | Bookshop | eBooks.com | !ndigo | Kobo | Penguin Random House

One of BookRiot’s Best Upcoming Cozy Mysteries for the Second Half of 2021!

 

When murder follows Mimi Lee to her romantic island getaway, she puts on her best sleuthing hat with her sassy cat in tow in this adventurous cozy mystery by Jennifer J. Chow.

Mimi Lee just found an extra perk to being a pet groomer at Hollywoof (other than cuddling animals all day long, that is). Pixie St. James, one of Mimi’s clients and the investor behind Hollywoof, has offered her and her boyfriend, Josh, a getaway at her vacation home, nestled on beautiful Catalina Island. With the island just outside of Los Angeles but still far enough from the hustle and bustle, Mimi, Josh, and their cat Marshmallow (who, of course, wouldn’t be caught dead in a dingy pet hotel) are excited for their relaxing stay.

That is, until Pixie’s last renter, Davis D. Argo, turns up dead. Mimi and Josh’s romantic getaway immediately turns into an enormous buzzkill, especially when Pixie asks Mimi for help. The police suspect Pixie, and Mimi knows a thing or two about wrongful allegations. Mimi figures it couldn’t hurt to snoop a little since she’s already there, and soon discovers that a valuable item is missing. Except Pixie isn’t the only one in the neighborhood who has been robbed. There is something strange happening on the island, and Mimi won’t stop until she finds out what it is.

 

About Jennifer J. Chow

Jennifer J. Chow is the Lefty Award-nominated author of the Sassy Cat Mysteries. The first in the series, Mimi Lee Gets A Clue, was selected as an Overdrive Recommended Read, a PopSugar’s Best Summer Beach Read, and one of BuzzFeed’s Top 5 Books by AAPI authors. She’s active in Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and Crime Writers of Color. Connect with Jennifer online at www.jenniferjchow.com.

Author Links

Website www.jenniferjchow.com

Twitter https://twitter.com/JenJChow

Instagram https://www.instagram.com/jenjchow/

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/JenJChow

TOUR PARTICIPANTS

November 30 – Literary Gold – SPOTLIGHT

December 1 – Sapphyria’s Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

December 2 – Baroness’ Book Trove – REVIEW

December 3 – I’m All About Books – SPOTLIGHT

December 4 – The Book Diva’s Reads – SPOTLIGHT

December 4 – MJB Reviewers – SPOTLIGHT

December 5 – #BRVL Book Review Virginia Lee Blog

December 6 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

December 6 – FUONLYKNEW – SPOTLIGHT

December 7 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW

December 8 – Maureen’s Musings – SPOTLIGHT

December 9 – Cozy Up With Kathy – SPOTLIGHT

December 9 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW

December 10 – Author Elena Taylor’s Blog – SPOTLIGHT

December 11 – Brooke Blogs – SPOTLIGHT

December 12 – BookishKelly2020 – SPOTLIGHT

Giveaway

Enter to win a print copy of Mimi Lee Gets a Clue and Mimi Lee Reads Between the Lines by Jennifer J. Chow via Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours. There will be one (1) winner selected at the end of the giveaway period. Giveaway limited to US residents only. Void where prohibited by law.

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Guest Post: Robert Douglass – THE LITTLE TOWN OF SUMMERVILLE

 

Good day, book people and welcome to December! Am I the only one having a hard time accepting that we’re in the last month of 2021?! Have you ever wanted to be a writer? I used to work with my ex-husband translating documents (he translated, I edited) from Arabic-to-English back in the 1990s and early 2000s. We also worked with an Arab publishing company re-writing several novellas. Let me tell you, good writing is hard work and I don’t know if I can say if what we produced was good writing or not. We kept receiving requests for writing, translation, and editing, so I guess we were doing something right. As a result of that work, I’m in awe of anyone that craft a readable and believable story from scratch. I’m pleased to introduce a new-to-me author, Robert Douglass. Mr. Douglass’s debut work is the cozy mystery The Little Town of Summerville. He has graciously consented to visit today and share his thoughts on learning from a favorite author. Thank you, Mr. Douglass for sharing with us, the blog is now all yours.

Capturing The Style of My Favorite Author

Using the term ‘my favorite author’ is a bit deceiving, as it’s hard to pick just one, but one author that always astounds me is Mario Puzo. Among other works, he wrote The Godfather back in the 60s. The book is divided into three sections and the first section, in my opinion, is top tier gold standard for writing.

I am currently writing a cozy mystery series. It is light, cute, very family friendly and ‘The Godfather’ is the complete opposite. So, how on Earth could I possibly find the writing style of Mario Puzo of any benefit to me? Well, Puzo has tremendous ability to show the struggles and injustice of the world at such a personal level that the reader becomes concerned for the characters and can relate to their problems. Perhaps Puzo is playing on the arrogance of the reader, that he can understand the depth of irony that is unfolding in front to him and so the reader believes he fully understands the situation and wants the character to prevail. I am guilty of such arrogance as it is intoxicating to follow the story line of this new world I have entered.

There are many characters that show these qualities but I’ll only touch on a couple of them. The first character is Amerigo Bonasera. The reader encounters him early in the story during a court appearance and then at an Italian wedding. The wedding is a colorful and rich story world setting with members of the family and friends, lots of food and wine, music from the band and lots of dancing. Amerigo follows the Italian tradition of being allowed to talk to the father of the bride on the wedding day. It’s not a man he usually gets to talk to as he now has a meeting with the Godfather. The reader had seen Amerigo in court and how the crooked judge handled him and is reminded of the injustice as he relays the details. The Godfather explains he will handle the situation and the reader secretly rejoices for justice to be served yet is a bit bewildered as he knows this is very illegal activity. The great writing of Puzo has emotionally hooked him.

The second character is Captain McCluskey, the policeman. The reader has already seen the crooked judge and as Puzo shows McCluskey scene after scene the reader realizes he is a crooked cop. At first the reader dislikes him but through Puzo’s skillful writing as the scenes continue, he starts to wonder if the poor policeman got tricked and pushed into his dishonest ways and starts to feel sorry for him. Eventually the reader catches himself and says, ‘Wait a minute, he’s a crooked cop! He brought all these problems on himself!’ Can I write as skillful as Puzo? No, but I’m sure going to try! Long live the characters!

Robert Douglass
R. T. Douglass

The Little Town of Summerville

A Dog Named Chubby

by Robert Douglass

December 1-31, 2021 Virtual Book Tour

Synopsis:

The Little Town of Summerville by Robert Douglass

Jack Wellington moves from the big city to make a new start. He jumps at the opportunity to become a detective in Summerville.

A peculiar case is assigned to him as artwork has been stolen and a dog is missing. Fellow detective Charlie Finch, a man adorned with decades of service, uncovers clues with Jack. They become intrigued by the words and actions of a neighborhood boy and wonder how much he might know.

Clues are followed but it’s the kids in the neighborhood who provide the most relevant clues. As the detectives get closer to them with their questions, the pressure of the kids struggle unfolds.

Kids, dogs, thieves, and a detective who meets a gal named Sally in the little town of Summerville.

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery
Published by: Amazon
Publication Date: November 1, 2021
Number of Pages: 200
ISBN: 9798677929410 (paperback)
ASIN: B09KS12LMY (Kindle edition)
Series: The Little Town of Summerville, 1
Purchase Links #Commission Earned: Amazon | Amazon Kindle | Goodreads

Author Bio:

Robert Douglass

Robert has an AAS in Microsoft Networking Technology from Glendale Community College and is a Microsoft Certified Professional.

He likes reading, writing, and exploring natural wonders. His favorite pastime is telling tall stories around the campfire.

Catch Up With Robert Douglass:
RTDouglass.com
Twitter – @RTDouglassLit
Facebook – @RTDouglassAuthor

Tour Participants:

Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and more!

Click here to view The Little Town of Summerville Tour Hosts.

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Guest Post: V.M. Burns – KILLER WORDS

Good day, my bookish peeps. If you’ve been following my blog for awhile now, you’ve probably noticed that I adore hosting guest authors, especially authors writing in my favorite fiction genres (all of them). I feel that we get to know authors a bit better when they stop by and share with us and we also gain insight into their writings. It is always an incredible pleasure and honor for me to host these visits. Today, I’m very excited to welcome V.M. Burns, author of the “Mystery Bookshop Mystery Series,” including the latest release Killer Words (great title!). Ms. Burns will be discussing what she feels is the beauty found within cozy series. I’m going to grab a cup of chai (in my favorite bookish mug, of course), and will be kicking back to enjoy what Ms. Burns has to share. I hope you’ll enjoy it as well, follow the blog tour to learn more about this book, author, and series, and don’t forget to enter the tour-wide giveaway. Thank you, Ms. Burns for joining us today. The blog is now all yours.

The Beauty of a Cozy Series

One of the things I love most about cozy mysteries, is that they’re almost always presented in a series. Reading the next book in a series is like spending time with an old friend. Many genres don’t lend themselves to continuation in the same way that cozies do, but wouldn’t it be great if they did? Honestly, I can’t believe I’m the only person who would like to see what happens next in Pride & Prejudice to Elizabeth, Jane, and Lydia after they get married. And, what about Mary and Kitty? Do they get married and find their happily ever after? If Jane Austen wrote cozy mysteries, we might know the answer to those questions. Killer Words is the 7th book in the Mystery Bookshop Mystery series, and I’ve been pondering what’s so special about a series and why are cozy mysteries the perfect genre for series?

There’s no universal definition of cozy mysteries. However, there are some characteristics that most (if not all) have in common. Cozies are mysteries that feature an amateur sleuth and don’t have explicit sex or violence, and only minor (if any) swearing. That’s the part that almost everyone agrees on. Now, here are some elements that cozy lovers like to debate. The sleuth is often (although not always) a female. Cozies often take place in small towns or a contained environment, and cozies are often themed. There are exceptions to every rule, and I could rattle off at least ten mysteries that I would classify as a cozy that don’t check all of the boxes. But I would argue that one element that makes cozies perfect for a series is that they tend to be character driven. Readers pick up Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple or Hercule Poirot books because we want to spend time with those characters. Christie’s plots were always great, too. But it was Miss Jane Marple with her knitting and village parallels to people from St. Mary Mead that I found endearing. Or the Belgium private investigator with his egg-shaped head, patent leather shoes, and elaborate moustaches that kept me wanting to find out what new mysteries he would use his “little grey cells” to unravel.

Horror and Thrillers are best suited for standalone books. Readers expect serial killers, terrorist, and bad guys to be dispatched in one way or the other at the end of the book. Romance readers expect a ‘happy ever after.’ However, it’s not uncommon to find romance trilogies with spinoffs of secondary characters. However, it’s rare to find a romance series where the same characters are the focus in multiple books.

Readers often ask if a series can be read out of order or if you should always start with the first book in the series. I’ve rarely found a cozy mystery that I couldn’t enjoy regardless of where the book falls in the series. Just keep in mind, characters in cozies aren’t stagnate. Unlike young adult books like Nancy Drew or The Hardy Boys, the characters in cozy mysteries grow and evolve over time. If you want to follow the progression and see their evolution, then you should start at the beginning. Could you start Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Milhone series in the middle and still enjoy it? Yes. But you’ll really appreciate the books more if you start with A is for Alibi and work your way through the alphabet. You’ll enjoy watching as Kinsey changes over time. And yes, I know Kinsey Milhone is a P.I. and the series isn’t a cozy. Remember, there are exceptions to every rule.

Killer Words is the 7th book in the Mystery Bookshop Mystery series. Readers who’ve followed Samantha Washington from the beginning, The Plot is Murder, will have the satisfaction of seeing Sam realize another of her dreams. Readers new to the series will meet Sam, her grandmother, Nana Jo, and the girls from the retirement village and will also get the satisfaction of seeing Sam realize her dream. Whether you’re new to the series or returning to spend time with old friends, give a cozy mystery series a try.

Killer Words (Mystery Bookshop)
by V.M. Burns

About Killer Words


Killer Words (Mystery Bookshop)

Cozy Mystery
7th in Series
Setting – North Harbor, Michigan
Publisher ‏ : ‎ Kensington Cozies (November 30, 2021)
Paperback ‏ : ‎ 256 pages
ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1496728971 (paperback)
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 9781496728975 (paperback)
ISBN  : 9781496728982 (eBook)
ASIN  : ‎ B08Y65TD1X (Kindle edition)
Purchase Links #Commission Earned: IndieBound.org | Amazon | Amazon Kindle | Apple Books | Barnes and Noble | Books-A-Million | Bookshop.org | eBooks.com | Google Play Books | !ndigo | Kobo eBook

Bookstore owner and mystery writer Samantha Washington comes to the aid of the cop who once arrested her own grandmother . . .

 

Sam and Nana Jo are back in sleepy North Harbor, Michigan, where Sam is eagerly awaiting the publication of her first book. In search of more immediate excitement, Nana Jo hits the casino with her fellow Shady Acres Retirement Village gal pals—but they get more than they bargained for when they witness Detective Bradley Pitt decking mayoral candidate John Cloverton.

 

As Sam well knows, mystery novels are full of brilliant detectives, genius sleuths, and hero cops. Detective Bradley Pitt—aka “Stinky Pitt”—is another story. In the past, the dull-witted detective has mistakenly accused members of Sam’s family for crimes they didn’t commit. Now, it’s his turn: when Cloverton turns up dead, he’s arrested. With his predilection for polyester, Pitt has been wanted by the fashion police for years, but Nana Jo knows her former elementary school math student would never commit murder—it doesn’t add up. Somebody’s framed the flatfoot to take a fall, and Sam and Nana Jo must step in to restore the reputation and good name of Detective Pitt.

 

About V.M. Burns

V.M. Burns was born and raised in the Midwestern United States. She is a member of Mystery Writers of America, Dog Writers Association of America, Thriller Writers International, is on the national board for Sisters in Crime. She currently resides in the warmer area of the U.S. with her two poodles. Readers can visit her website at http://www.vmburns.com

Author Links

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/v-m-burns
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/vmburnsbooks/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/burnsvm
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/vmburnsbooks/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/vmburns
Website: vmburns.com

TOUR PARTICIPANTS

November 29 – Author Elena Taylor’s Blog – CHARACTER INTERVIEW

November 30 – The Book Diva’s Reads – GUEST POST

November 30 – My Reading Journeys – REVIEW

December 1 – Maureen’s Musings – SPOTLIGHT

December 1 – Sapphyria’s Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

December 2 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW

December 2 – Diane Reviews Books – REVIEW

December 2 – I’m All About Books – SPOTLIGHT

December 3 – Brooke Blogs – CHARACTER GUEST POST

December 4 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

December 4 – FUONLYKNEW – SPOTLIGHT

December 5 – Reading Is My SuperPower – REVIEW

December 6 – Literary Gold – SPOTLIGHT

December 6 – Laura’s Interests – REVIEW

December 7 – Cozy Up With Kathy – CHARACTER GUEST POST

December 7 – I Read What You Write – REVIEW, AUTHOR INTERVIEW

December 8 – Reading, Writing & Stitch-Metic – CHARACTER GUEST POST

December 8 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW, AUTHOR INTERVIEW

December 9 – Novels Alive – GUEST POST

December 9 – Nellie’s Book Nook – REVIEW

December 10 – Here’s How It Happened – REVIEW

December 10 – View from the Birdhouse – REVIEW

December 11 – StoreyBook Reviews – GUEST POST

December 12 – BookishKelly2020 – SPOTLIGHT

Tour-wide Giveaway

This is a Rafflecopter giveaway by author V.M. Burns via Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours. This giveaway is for five (5) Amazon gift cards valued at $20.00 USD each. Winners will be notified by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours at the end of the giveaway period. Void where prohibited.

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Guest Post: Steven C. Harms – THE COUNSEL OF THE CUNNING

The Counsel of the Cunning

by Steven C. Harms

November 8 – December 3, 2021 Virtual Book Tour

Good day, book people. For those of you in the US, Happy Thanksgiving! One of the many things I’m grateful for are the amazing characters developed by authors. Where would a good story be without good characters (and an amazing talent for crafting readable and believable storylines)? Like many of you, I have beloved characters from classic literature as well as contemporary fiction. However, I never really gave any thought to an author having a favorite character in anything they craft. I’m incredibly pleased that Steven C. Harms, author of The Counsel of the Cunning is willing to stop by and discuss just that, his favorite character in his writings. Sit back, grab your favorite beverage, and let’s learn which character Mr. Harms likes best. I hope you’ll stick around to follow the blog tour and learn more about this book and author. Thank you, Mr. Harms for joining us today. I’ll now be turning the blog over to you.

My Favorite Character in the Viceroy series

When I created detective Roger Viceroy, one of my major influences was Jack Reacher from Lee Child’s amazing series. I fashioned Viceroy’s character somewhat in that mold, but I wanted and needed him to be different. I landed on the back story and the environment in which Viceroy operates the differentiator.

Whereas Jack Reacher embodies a free-wheeling vigilante, random happenstance plot involvements, and a homeless vagabond to a degree, Viceroy by comparison was placed into a structured environment as head of a special detective unit. But the differences didn’t end there. The most obvious one you’ll find as you read the series, is the support team. While Reacher was a loner who primarily worked solo, Viceroy has a team of two behind him as they work the crime investigations as a three-part team. I believed a series where the reader not only falls for the protagonist (in my case Roger Viceroy), but also bonds with two other support members was appealing.

I came up with two characters – Regina Cortez and Trevor “Silk” Moreland. I drew Regina’s physical appearance and demeanor from a former assistant I had in a previous job. She was someone I had the utmost respect for as she brought professionalism to work every day during our eight years together. It was that loyalty and dedication that resonated with me and ended up being Regina’s style as well.

But it’s the second character that I want to focus on – Silk, a former high school athletic star who went onto a decade’s work as a top-flight detective for the Milwaukee PD. Silk is part of Viceroy’s detective unit by the time the first book, Give Place to Wrath, opens. He grew up on Milwaukee’s streets, standing 6’5″ with a wit and a well-timed irreverent attitude that seem to work well. Silk is, by far, the character that gets the most response from readers. They love him and want to see more of him in future books.

As I developed the character, it was Silk’s irreverential trait that opened a door, allowing me to write his dialogue with some humor and flare, and his interactions and reactions with a much wider berth, while also providing me the freedom to use him for plot moments that worked better than Viceroy or Regina.

Silk seems to resonate with readers in a way that I wasn’t expecting. I think it’s his dry, yet pinpoint humor he invokes at just the right moments combined with his dedication to being “a monster for details,” as Viceroy describes him. He’s completely sold out to being a detective and is passionate about finding clues or angles that others may have missed. Silk knows that being a detective is his life’s calling and the chapters he’s in just seem to have a more energetic bounce to them.

I’m confident Viceroy and Regina provide plenty of likability as well, but Silk stealthily beats them to being the reader’s favorite of the three. Who am I to argue? ♦


 

The Counsel of the Cunning

by Steven C. Harms

November 8 – December 3, 2021 Virtual Book Tour

Synopsis:

The Counsel of the Cunning by Steven C. Harms

Roger Viceroy faces a return to the FBI and a life he vacated long ago, until a knock on his front door announces the presence of billionaire and former U.S. Senator, Jürgen Sandt.

The past has come back to rear its ugly head. Sandt stands on his threshold for a reason: a decade prior the senator’s only son disappeared into the jungles of Guatemala, and Sandt has come to convince Viceroy that further investigation is now necessary. A package left mysteriously outside the family estate, opens the door to the possibility that his son is still very much alive.

Viceroy and his team agree to take on the hunt. Their search steers them from the back streets of Milwaukee to the stealthy corridors of Washington, D.C.—an eerie trek that will ultimately lead to an ancient site that supposedly doesn’t exist.

As Viceroy closes in on the truth, a parallel plot emerges. Not only could it point to the reason behind the cryptic disappearance of Bertram Sandt, but it could also launch a deadly battle that will put millions of lives at stake. On pure instinct, Viceroy knows nothing is adding up. Somehow, somewhere they missed a clue, and if it’s not discovered soon…it may be too late.

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery
Published by: Suspense Publishing
Publication Date: November 9th 2021
Number of Pages: 268
ISBN: 9780578933795 (paperback)
ASIN: B0973PH3H8 (Kindle version)
Series: Roger Viceroy Series, #2
Purchase Links #CommissionEarned: IndieBound.org | Amazon | Amazon Kindle | BookDepository.com | Goodreads

Author Bio:

Steven C. Harms

Steven C. Harms is a professional sports, sponsorship, broadcast sales, and digital media executive with a career spanning over thirty years across the NBA, NFL, and MLB. He’s dealt with Fortune 500 companies, major consumer brands, professional athletes, and multi-platform integrated sports partnerships and media advertising campaigns. He’s an accomplished playwright having written and produced a wildly successful theatrical production which led him to tackle his debut novel, Give Place to Wrath, released November 9, 2021 from Suspense Publishing. Harms is a native of Wisconsin, a graduate of the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse. He now resides in the greater Milwaukee area as a sponsorship executive.

Catch Up With Steven C. Harms:
StevenCHarms.com
Goodreads
BookBub – @StevenCHarms
Instagram – @stevencharms
Twitter – @steven_c_harms
Facebook – @authorstevencharms

Tour Participants:

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Book 349: CITY OF TIME AND MAGIC by Paula Brackston

City of Time and Magic, Found Things #4, by Paula Brackston
ISBN: 9781250260697 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9781250260703 (ebook)
ISBN: 9781250818874 (digital audiobook)
ASIN: B08TZ38281 (Audible audiobook)
ASIN: B08R2HCFLR (Kindle edition)
Publication date: November 23, 2020
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Genre: Fiction | Historical Fiction | Fantasy | Time-Travel

Xanthe meets Brackston’s most famous heroine, Elizabeth Hawksmith from The Witch’s Daughter, in this crossover story with all the “historical detail, village charm, and twisty plotting” of the Found Things series (Publishers Weekly).

City of Time and Magic sees Xanthe face her greatest challenges yet. She must choose from three treasures that sing to her; a beautiful writing slope, a mourning brooch of heartbreaking detail, and a gorgeous gem-set hat pin. All call her, but the wrong one could take her on a mission other than that which she must address first, and the stakes could not be higher. While her earlier mission to Regency England had been a success, the journey home resulted in Liam being taken from her, spirited away to another time and place. Xanthe must follow the treasure that will take her to him if he is not to be lost forever.

Xanthe is certain that Mistress Flyte has Liam and determined to find them both. But when she discovers Lydia Flyte has been tracking the actions of the Visionary Society, a group of ruthless and unscrupulous Spinners who have been selling their talents to a club of wealthy clients, Xanthe realizes her work as a Spinner must come before her personal wishes. The Visionary Society is highly dangerous and directly opposed to the creed of the Spinners. Their actions could have disastrous consequences as they alter the authentic order of things and change the future. Xanthe knows she must take on the Society. It will require the skills of all her friends, old and new, to attempt such a thing, and not all of them will survive the confrontation that follows.

 
Purchase Links #CommissionEarned: IndieBound.org | Amazon | Amazon Kindle | Audible Audiobook | Audiobooks.com | AudiobooksNow.com | Barnes and Noble | BookDepository | Bookshop.org | Downpour Audiobook | eBooks | !ndigo Books | Kobo Audiobook | Kobo eBook

Xanthe Westlake no longer only has Harley to rely upon when finding lost things that sing to her. She has confided her talents to step through time to her mother, Flora, and her boyfriend, Liam. The third book of this series, The Garden of Promises and Lies ended with Xanthe traveling back in time with Liam. Unfortunately, Liam was snatched from her when they attempted to return to their own time. Now Xanthe, Harley, and Flora are eager to find something that not only sings to Xanthe but will take her back to the right time to rescue Liam. Xanthe’s past travels haven’t been without danger, especially in the form Benedict Fairfax, another time spinner. But this time she has to deal with dangers that not affect those of that time period, but her loved ones as well. Is Liam safe? Where is he? How is he? What dangers, if any, are awaiting Xanthe back in time? And what would motivate another time spinner to snatch Liam in an effort to obtain Xanthe’s attention?

If you’ve been following me for any time now, you know beyond any reasonable doubt that I re-read the previous books in this series—Little Shop of Found Things, Secrets of the Chocolate House, and The Garden of Promises and Lies—to re-familiarize myself (that’s my excuse and I’m sticking with it), before reading City of Time and Magic. Just as the third book in this series was a bit different from the first two, this book reintroduces us to Elizabeth (Hawksmith) Balmoral, originally introduced in The Witch’s Daughter, as well as Mistress Lydia Flyte, Erasmus Balmoral — a time stepper, former lover to Lydia Flyte and now married to Elizabeth Hawksmith, Dougal Harley — publican, neighbor to Flora and Xanthe, and Xanthe’s “advisor.” We’re also introduced to a host of other characters that play major and minor roles within the story, including more time spinners. This particular chapter of Xanthe’s ongoing saga, she must not only right a wrong from the past, but she also to choose the side of the righteous spinners. Her choice will have repercussions on her friends and acquaintances from the past as well as her contemporary loved ones. Does she have to battle evil again, well you’ll need to read the book to find out for yourself!

Reading City of Time and Magic took me a bit longer than normal, not because I found in uninteresting but because of a variety of family trials (elderly parental health issues and a death in the family). I was simply unable to focus my attention on reading for a few days because of these situations. However, once I began to re-read this book, I was enraptured and couldn’t wait to find out what would happen next. I enjoyed the interaction between Liam and Mistress Flyte, Liam and the Balmorals, as well as Harley with everyone else. Yes, Harley gets to travel back in time to assist Xanthe. Xanthe, Liam, and Harley make quite the team in this story and although I can’t tell you more about what happens, I sincerely hope that they will have more adventures in the future, especially with Elizabeth Hawksmith Balmoral! Can you tell I enjoyed this story? City of Time and Magic has hints of romance, intrigue, magic, betrayal, and more. I can’t say that this is the best book in the Found Series because I love them all. I can say that if you’ve read any of the previous books in this series then you owe it to yourself to grab a copy of City of Time and Magic to read. This author provides the reader with fascinating glimpses of the past and usage of past items when compared to contemporary times. The juxtaposition of the timelines is just one of the many things that make this series so enjoyable, at least to this reader. If you enjoy historical fiction, contemporary fiction, bits of fantasy, or just plain good writing, then I encourage you to read this series, consider it a gift to yourself for the holiday season! Something tells me I’ll be getting all four books for my 87-y.o. mother to read.

Happy Reading, y’all!


Disclaimer: I received a free digital review copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss+. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Book Showcase: FOREVER HOME by Elysia Whisler

Forever Home, Dogwood County #2, by Elysia Whisler
ISBN: 9780778311607 (trade paperback)
ISBN: 9780369706119 (ebook)
ISBN: 9781488212642 (digital audiobook)
ISBN: 9781665105125 (audiobook on CD)
ASIN: B08Y66F6F1 (Audible audiobook)
ASIN: B08R919BQD (Kindle edition)
Publisher: MIRA Books
Release Date: November 30, 2021
Genre: Fiction | Women’s Fiction | Military Romance | Family Life

 If home is where the heart is, Dogwood County may have just what Delaney Monroe needs

Newly retired from the Marine Corps, Delaney is looking for somewhere to start over. It’s not going to be easy, but when she finds the perfect place to open her dream motorcycle shop, she goes for it. What she doesn’t expect is an abandoned pit bull to come with the building. The shy pup is slow to trust, but Delaney is determined to win it over.

Detective Sean Callahan is smitten from the moment he sees Delaney, but her cool demeanor throws him off his game. When her late father’s vintage motorcycle is stolen from Delaney’s shop, Sean gets to turn up in his element: chasing the bad guy and showing his best self to a woman who’s gotten under his skin in a bad way.

Delaney isn’t used to lasting relationships, but letting love in—both human and canine—helps her see that she may have found a place she belongs, forever.

Read an Excerpt:

ONE

Three Rebels Street.

Delaney should’ve known that this was where she’d end up. This was the kind of street a woman went down when all the big changes in her life were happening at once. You simply couldn’t hit a retirement ceremony, the road and a funeral all in one week and not end up on Three Rebels Street.

Small is not the right word. I prefer quaint.” The real estate agent, Ronnie, gazed around the studio apartment situated on Three Rebels Street, and nodded her head in approval. “You said it was just for you, right? Which means it’s the perfect size.”

Stop trying to sell me on the apartment. Ronnie had described it as an “alcove studio”—not just a studio—because even though the living room and kitchen were all in one large space, the bedroom was situated in a little nook, with its own door. Delaney didn’t care. The living quarters didn’t really matter. Right now the place was dumpy. Dust everywhere, the ceiling fan hanging crooked with exposed wires, and debris in the corners, like the previous tenants hadn’t taken care of the place and then left in a hurry.

“We didn’t have a chance to get this cleaned before your showing,” Ronnie said, following Delaney’s gaze. “Remember, I suggested waiting until Friday.”

But Delaney hadn’t been able to wait.

Ronnie lowered her voice to a near whisper. “They were evicted. But this place cleans up nice, I promise.”

“Can we go back down to the shop?” Delaney ran her hands through her hair, rubbing the weariness from her scalp. Ronnie had whisked them through the front bay door and up the stairs, like the apartment was the prize inside the cereal box. And Delaney supposed it was—small, an add-on, not really the point. For Delaney, the shop downstairs was the entire point.

“Of course.” Ronnie’s voice was bright, forced, like she didn’t give two shits. This was probably her last showing of the day and she wanted to get home, into a hot bath with a glass of red as soon as possible. She clacked down the stairs in her high heels.

Delaney followed, the earthy clunk of her motorcycle boots the bass drum in the cacophony of their feet.

“The shop.” Ronnie swept out her arm. “Look how much space.” There was no enthusiasm in her voice. Ronnie, who probably did mostly living spaces, had no idea how to sell the garage.

Didn’t matter. Delaney sized up the shop herself: concrete floor, perfect for working on bikes. It was kind of dinged up, but that was okay, she was already envisioning painting it beige with nonslip floor paint. Modern fluorescent lighting. Large bay door, wide-open to the cool air, excellent for ventilation. A countertop with a register. Empty shelves on one side for parts and motor clothes. Showroom space for custom bikes, and enough room for at least two workspaces out front. The rest, Delaney would provide. Hydraulic lifts. Workbench. Parts tank. Tools. Parts. Bikes.

She wanted to pinch herself, but chose a poker face. Ronnie stood in the center of the floor, like she was trying to avoid touching anything, to avoid getting any grease or oil on her smart red suit. The shop was in better condition than the apartment, but it still looked like the last occupants had left quickly—or, if they’d truly been evicted, perhaps reluctantly was a better word. Nothing important remained, but the place hadn’t been swept or washed or readied for sale in any manner.

“I’ll consider this.” Delaney rubbed her chin as she strode through the shop. “It’s a little small.” It was actually larger than she’d expected. “Light’s good, but might get a little cold in the winter.” It was winter now, technically. Mid-March. Delaney loved this time of year, when winter and spring intersected, like lovers making up after a nasty fight, the weather edgy and unpredictable.

“There’s a lot of interest in this space.” Ronnie clutched her clipboard to her chest as she looked around. She could be looking at the inside of a spaceship and hold that same expression.

Motorcycle shops were going out of business, all over the place, including the one that had recently vacated. After suddenly finding herself on Three Rebels Street last week, in front of a shop-apartment combo for sale, Delaney had done her research. The previous tenants, who she now knew had been evicted, were brothers who ran a shop by day and lived upstairs by night. They sold mostly new bikes and motorcycle gear. Repairs and maintenance were basic. Their website was still up, despite the fact that Dude’s Bikes had closed. Dude’s appeared to focus mostly on male riders, leaving Delaney to wonder if Dude’s was just about dudes or if one of the owners was, indeed, named Dude.

“What’s the story on this place?”

Ronnie glanced at her clipboard. “The owner wants to sell. After the last renters’ lease ran out, they were given the option of buying or moving. I don’t think their shop was doing well, because they couldn’t afford to buy. They weren’t even paying their rent. And they weren’t quick about moving. The rest, as they say, is history.”

If the last motorcycle shop had failed, buying would be a gamble. But any business venture was a gamble.

Life was a gamble.

“There are a couple of people looking, after you.” Ronnie continued, “About five.”

Delaney could respect white lies in the sales biz but seriously? Five? Five or so people were waiting to check out the bike shop with an overhead apartment suitable for one small, low-maintenance tenant? She had no idea how two brothers had managed up there.

She strolled through the space, wanting a good feel. She needed to touch things, inhale the shop, draw its molecules into her lungs and taste its history before she could decide on the symbiosis of her dream space. Triple M Classics—short for Martin Monroe’s Motorcycles, named after her father—would own her as much as she would it, so this relationship was going to be deep and mutual. Through the front window, she could see the parkway that ran the length of the county. At just past eighteen-hundred hours, rush hour was a jam of red taillights in the waning daylight. No amount of time would erase Delaney’s memory of her last tour here, when she had to commute to work every day. Pure hell. It would be nice to go right upstairs to her cozy little apartment after closing, rather than having to sit in that mess.

Across the street was a row of shops, including a grocery story and an Italian restaurant. Food. Check.

On the south side, the shop butted up to the woods, which had a downward slope of grass and weeds that led to the trees. Privacy. Double check. Plus, Delaney figured if there was a tornado, that slope could count as a ditch, and would probably be the safest place to run. She laughed at herself. This wasn’t Omaha. Virginia tornado season consisted of a few warnings that rarely panned out.

Delaney withdrew the listing, printed from the internet, from her back pocket, crammed together with a grocery receipt for extra firm tofu, Tater Tots and Ben and Jerry’s Cherry Garcia. “This is the price, right?” She handed over the paper. Money would be tight, but Delaney should be able to manage for a little while until things got going.

That is, if she was going to do this.

Was she really going to do this?

All her adult life Delaney had moved around, from station to station. Forts, camps, bases. Not shops. Not homes. She’d never put down roots. Never had anything permanent other than her childhood home with Dad. Never owned a thing she couldn’t cram into a duffel bag.

Ronnie looked at the paper. “No.” She sniffed. “There’s a newer listing.” She flipped through her clipboard, laid it on the counter and pointed. “Here we go.”

Delaney looked at the asking price, choked a little bit, almost thanked Ronnie for her time and left. That would be the smart thing to do. Sometimes childhood dreams just needed to stay dreams.

She strode around once more, mentally saying goodbye to everything that she’d never even made hers. Even though all of this had been a panster move, it felt like all the blood in her veins had been replaced with disappointment. She stopped by the far wall, where a ratty piece of paper hung by a sliver of tape. Delaney smoothed out the curled edges and read the flyer.

Fiftieth Annual Classic Motorcycle Show.

Dogwood County Fairgrounds.

The event was in July. There was a contest, including prizes. The grand prize for the winning classic cycle was five grand plus a feature article in Ride magazine.

The disappointment started to drain away. Five grand wouldn’t pay all the bills, but exposure in a major motorcycle magazine would be a boon for business. Plus, there was something about that poster, just hanging there like that.

It seemed like a sign.

Excerpt from Forever Home by Elysia Whisler.
Copyright © 2021 by Elysia Whisler.
Published by arrangements with Harlequin Books S.A.
Reproduced with permission. All rights reserved.

 

Meet The Author

Author – Elysia Whisler

 

Elysia Whisler was raised in Texas, Italy, Alaska, Mississippi, Nebraska, Hawaii, and Virginia, in true military fashion. If she’s not writing she’s probably working out, coaching, or massaging at her CrossFit gym. She lives in Virginia with her family, including her large brood of cat and dog rescues, who vastly outnumber the humans.

 

Connect with the Author:  Facebook | Goodreads | Instagram | Twitter | Author Website
This excerpt brought to you by MIRA Books