Guest Post: Katharine Schellman – DEATH AT THE MANOR

Happy Monday, my bookish peeps. I hope you all had a wonderful weekend and were able to find some time to read. After having an allergic reaction to some coconut, I spent most of Saturday and Sunday heavily medicated and reading. I enjoy reading mysteries, suspense thrillers, romance, and romantic suspense, but there’s a special place in my heart for gothic romance (hey, Jane Eyre is one of my all-time favorite reads!). Whether a story is a traditional gothic tale or gothic-inspired, count me in. I’m very pleased to welcome, Katharine Schellman, author of Death at the Manor to the blog today. Ms. Schellman will be defining gothic storytelling and providing us with a list of suggested gothic reads. I hope you’ll take note and add a few of these titles to your TBR or TBRR (to-be-re-read) list, along with Death at the Manor. Thank you, Ms. Schellman, for stopping by and sharing your insight into gothic stories.

A Gothic Reading List
by Katharine Schellman

If you’ve read one of the Lily Adler Mysteries before, you might have noticed a slightly different flavor in Lily’s third adventure. With a wandering ghost, a run-down manor full of unsettling residents, and a romance brewing, it has a distinctly Gothic feel to it.

That isn’t by accident. During the nineteenth century, when Death at the Manor is set, the Gothic romance was wildly popular. These books were often mysteries that reflected a fascination with the supernatural, the grotesque, or the horrific.

Death at the Manor is still a traditional mystery, but parts of it borrow heavily from the Gothic canon. So what makes a book truly Gothic? It’s a genre that can vary a lot, especially in its modern version, but you’ll usually see a few elements in common.

1. The threat of supernatural events or creatures, such as ghosts, monsters, or vampires
2. Dark, ruined settings, such as old castles, monasteries, or haunted houses, often with secret passages and trap doors
3. A feeling of fear or claustrophobia
4. The past intruding on the present, often through curses, prophecies, omens, or portents
5. Themes of vengeance, imprisonment, or murder
6. Doomed or persecuted romance

The tropes of Gothic writing could easily become overblown and absurd, but they served an important role in the history of literature. Books about ghosts, fear, vengeance, and persecution gave women something other than the marriage plot to write and read about. And they allowed writers and readers to explore the darker side of the social expectations, taboos, and power structures that shaped their lives.

If you’d like to brush up on your Gothic reading, here’s a starter list for you:

1. The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe
2. Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole
3. The Old English Baron by Clara Reeve
4. Zofloya by Charlotte Dacre
5. The Giaour by Lord Byron
6. The Wanderer by Frances Burney
7. Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
8. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
9. The Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allen Poe
10. The Grey Woman by Elizabeth Gaskell

And of course, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen. It’s not a Gothic tale itself, and like Austen’s other works, it doesn’t stray far from the marriage plot. But it’s a brilliant satire of the Gothic genre, which can only be fully appreciated once you’ve read some of the books she was spoofing. ♦

Death at the Manor

by Katharine Schellman

August 8 – September 2nd, 2022 Virtual Book Tour

Synopsis:

Death at the Manor by Katharine Schellman

 

The tortured spirits of the dead haunt a Regency-era English manor—but the true danger lies in the land of the living in the third installment in the Lily Adler mysteries, perfect for fans of Deanna Raybourn.

 

Regency widow Lily Adler is looking forward to spending the autumn away from the social whirl of London. When she arrives in Hampshire with her friends, the Carroways, she doesn’t expect much more than a quiet country visit and the chance to spend time with her charming new acquaintance, Matthew Spencer.

But something odd is afoot in the small country village. A ghost has taken up residence in the Belleford manor, a lady in grey who wanders the halls at night, weeping and wailing. Half the servants have left in terror, but the family seems delighted with the notoriety that their ghost provides. Intrigued by this spectral guest, Lily and her party immediately make plans to visit Belleford.

They arrive at the manor the next morning ready to be entertained—only to find that tragedy has struck. The matriarch of the family has just been found killed in her bed.

The dead woman’s family is convinced that the ghost is responsible. Lily is determined to learn the truth before another victim turns up—but could she be next in line for the Great Beyond?

Book Details:

Genre: Historical Mystery
Published by: Crooked Lane Books
Publication Date: August 9th, 2022
Number of Pages: 352
ISBN10: 1639100784 (Hardcover)
ISBN13: 9781639100781 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 9781639100798 (eBook)
ISBN: 9781666613636 (Digital Audiobook)
ASIN: B0B13RB3XG (Audible audiobook)
ASIN: B09LGVHT9S (Kindle edition)
Series: Lily Adler Mystery #3
Purchase Links #CommissionEarned: IndieBound.org | Amazon | Amazon Kindle | Audible Audiobook | Audiobooks.com | Barnes and Noble | B&N NOOK Book | B&N Audiobook | BookDepository.com | Bookshop.org | Downpour Audiobook | eBooks.com | !ndigo | Kobo Audiobook | Kobo eBook | Goodreads

Author Bio:

Katharine Schellman

Katharine Schellman is a former actor, one-time political consultant, and now the author of the Lily Adler Mysteries and the Nightingale Mysteries. Her debut novel, The Body in the Garden, was one of Suspense Magazine’s Best Books of 2020 and led to her being named one of BookPage’s 16 Women to Watch in 2020. Her second novel, Silence in the Library, was praised as “worthy of Agatha Christie or Rex Stout.” (Library Journal, starred review) Katharine lives and writes in the mountains of Virginia in the company of her husband, children, and the many houseplants she keeps accidentally murdering.

Catch Up With Katharine Schellman:
KatharineSchellman.com
Goodreads
BookBub – @katharineschellman
Instagram – @katharinewrites
Twitter – @katharinewrites
Facebook – @katharineschellman

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Guest Post: David Rabin – IN DANGER OF JUDGMENT

Whew, we’ve made it to another Friday, my bookish peeps. I’m looking forward to the weekend because I get more reading done (as if a book-a-day wasn’t enough for any book lover!). As most of you know by now, I’m an avid reader and enjoy reading from a variety of different genres. Regardless of genre, my fiction preferences are for a well-crafted storyline with a believable plot as well as realistic characters. I’m in awe of the great skill and talent to craft an entrancing read, whether it’s story or character driven. Today’s guest, author David Rabin, will share how he crafted the characters in his character-driven thriller, In Danger of Judgment. I hope you’ll enjoy what he has to say and add In Danger of Judgment to your growing TBR list. Thank you, Mr. Rabin, for joining us today, the blog is now all yours.

HOW I CREATED MY CHARACTERS
By David Rabin

My slogan is “Character-Driven Crime Thrillers.” The books I’ve enjoyed most were those with characters I bonded with and wanted to spend time with, characters so charismatic and fascinating that I wanted to buy the next book so I could spend more time with them. When it came time to conceive my debut novel, I created the characters first and then crafted a story I thought would be a good vehicle for those characters.

First, an introduction to the story to get you oriented. In Danger of Judgment follows two Chicago police detectives in 1987 as they investigate a series of drug-related murders that pull them into a much larger conspiracy originating fifteen years earlier during the Vietnam War. As they dig deeper and try to prevent a drug war, they’re caught in a conflict between a drug lord and a man seeking revenge against him.

Now, on to the characters. I wanted to present multiple points of view because each character can bring something different to the story—different pieces of the plot and different personalities expressing themselves.

The two heroes are the detectives: Marcelle DeSantis and William “Bernie” Bernardelli. I wanted two protagonists because I like the dynamic of characters playing off each other. To pull it off, I had to make them different but complementary.

Marcelle is in her late twenties, brilliant and tough. As a female detective in the Violent Crimes division of the Chicago Police Department in the 1980s, she has to deal with sexism from within and without the law enforcement community.

Bernie is twenty years older than Marcelle and has been a Chicago cop for nearly three decades. He’s the book’s moral center, someone who’s seen it all and has learned to adapt to the horrors of his job without losing his sense of empathy and desire to help others. He and Marcelle have a mentor-protégé/uncle-niece relationship.

One of the lessons I learned when reading comic books during my youth was the importance of great villains. The best villains were as well-developed and interesting as the heroes, and I didn’t want a mustache-twirling Snidely Whiplash (yeah, I’m dating myself now).

The villain is Robert Thornton and he’s the subject of a six-decade backstory. He has a Ph.D., briefly taught as a college professor, served in the OSS during World War Two, spent several years with the CIA, worked as a mercenary in Asia and Africa, and when we see him in the main story, is the chief enforcer for a Southeast Asian heroin cartel. He’s erudite, articulate, unflappable, and has all the social graces, but has devolved from being a hero early in his life to being utterly amoral. I designed him to be not just a formidable adversary but to be equal parts charming and revolting.

The book has two secondary characters, again with the goal of presenting different perspectives and personalities. John Shepard is an accountant who’s a special agent with the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation division, assigned to work with Marcelle and Bernie to take down Thornton. He’s another complementary character—he suffers from tic and generalized anxiety disorders, which prevent him from developing relationships.

The other secondary character, Ed Stepanek, was the most fun to write. Ed lives in suburbia, is well-liked by his neighbors, dotes on his lawn, kills people for a living, and has a tenuous relationship with reality. Rational characters come with restrictions—once we establish their personality, we expect them to stay within certain boundaries of behavior. But with Ed, I gave myself permission to make him as plumb crazy as I wanted.

It took me twenty-eight years to get from the book’s conception to its publication, and I lived with these characters every day during that span. I’m excited to finally be able to present them to the world. ♦

In Danger of Judgment

by David Rabin

August 8 – September 2, 2022 Virtual Book Tour

Synopsis:

In Danger of Judgment by David Rabin

 

When a covert operation during the Vietnam War ends in tragedy, one of its members resolves to kill the man who betrayed it to the enemy. Now, fifteen years later, he’ll finally get his chance.

 

Chicago, 1987. Home of mediocre baseball teams, gangs that rule the streets, and a Mexican drug cartel that supplies the city with heroin. Chicago Police Detective Marcelle DeSantis and her partner, Bernie Bernardelli, are working a series of heroin-related murders, and their job just got more complicated. The man who sabotaged the Vietnam operation, Robert Thornton, is now the chief enforcer for a Southeast Asian heroin cartel, and after fifteen years overseas he’s arrived in Chicago to eliminate the reigning cartel and seize control of the city’s heroin trade.

Racing to stop a drug war, Marcelle and Bernie don’t realize they’re about to be caught in a deadly crossfire: another man is circling in the wings, one of Thornton’s soldiers from Vietnam, who’s preparing to exact his long-sought revenge against his former mentor. He’s the last person anyone would ever suspect, and when he finally makes his move, the paths of these four people will explosively converge.

Praise for In Danger of Judgment:

In Danger of Judgment does a masterful job of juggling multiple, full-blooded characters through high-octane storytelling as they make their way to a shocking, violent ending. David Rabin is a name that is sure to become familiar among lovers of best-selling, full-throttle thrillers”

––David Shawn Klein, award-winning author of The Money

“Mr. Rabin brings a fresh set of characters to the tried-and-true crime drama, and his breezy narrative style and crackling dialogue kept me turning the pages well past my bedtime.”

––Ronald Aiken, author of Death Has Its Benefits and former president of The Atlanta Writers

“Kudos to Mr. Rabin on the high quality of the prose, the thrilling plot with a twist and surprise ending, and the extensive research that went into this novel. I highly recommend it.”

––Jill Caugherty, author of Waltz in Swing Time

“Well-developed characters drive Rabin’s taut thriller. . . . the story builds to a lengthy, sensational final act, brimming with well-earned suspense.”

––Kirkus Reviews

“A stunning debut, David Rabin’s In Danger of Judgment is an engrossing page-turner. Shocking twists barrel full-speed into an action-packed and tense crime thriller readers won’t see coming… Builds an intricately-plotted crime thriller that’s cinematic and wildly compelling. The author’s prose is concise and ‘unputdownable,’ skilled at giving a tangible sense of the time period these characters inhabit.”

––IndieReader

Book Details:

Genre: Crime Thriller
Published by: Black Rose Writing
Publication Date: August 4th, 2022
Number of Pages: 369
ISBN10: 1685130593 (Hardcover)
ISBN13: 9781685130596 (Hardcover)
ISBN13: 9781685130008 (Paperback)
ASIN: B09ZVPW2NN (Kindle edition)
Purchase Links #CommissionEarned: IndieBound.org | Amazon (hardcover) | Amazon (paperback) | Amazon Kindle | Barnes and Noble | BookDepository.com | Bookshop.org | Goodreads | Black Rose Writing

Don’t Miss this Video Trailer

Author Bio:

David Rabin

DAVID RABIN was born in Chicago and raised in its Lakeview neighborhood. He later moved to Atlanta, where he worked as a trial lawyer for thirty-three years. Now retired, he writes fiction, runs a competitive shooting program, and competes in rifle sports, including the discipline of Highpower Rifle, in which he holds two High Master classifications. He and his wife, a former clinical social worker, have two grown sons. In Danger of Judgment is his first novel.

Catch Up With David Rabin:
DavidRabinAuthor.com
Goodreads
Facebook – @DavidRabinAuthor

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Guest Post: Laura Oles – DEPTHS OF DECEIT

Good day and welcome to another month, my bookish peeps. One of the many things I’ve discovered as I read different genres is that time and place or setting can be just as important as the characters within the story. Can you imagine To Kill a Mockingbird taking place anywhere else but the deep South in the 1930s? Or possibly reimagine the Harry Potter series without Hogwarts? Most authors choose the location of their stories with great care. Some of these locations might be based on real cities or towns and other locations may be completely fictional. The important thing is the role setting plays within the story, sometimes just a backdrop and other times a character in its own right. I’m pleased to welcome Laura Oles, author of Depths of Deceit to the blog today. Ms. Oles will be discussing with us the use of setting as character. Thank you, Ms. Oles, for joining us today, I’ll now turn the blog over to you.

Setting as Character
by Laura Oles

Like many readers, I’m often drawn to a strong setting when choosing the next book to read. Louise Penny has given readers the lovely small town of Three Pines in Quebec. Tana French’s Dublin Murder Squad series is steeped in setting. Jane Harper’s novels set in the Australian Outback are so vivid that I can feel the dust settling on my skin as I turn the pages.

Setting, in my opinion, is as important as any other aspect of the novel because it, too, is a character and informs the fictional world and the people living in it. It can influence the characters’ choices, increase tension or encourage delay, wrap them in comfort or punish them with force. And like so many characters, it can present itself in one light and reveal a different reality as the story unfolds.

Setting is more than the physical environment of a locale. Experiencing the sights, sounds, scents, and textures are often our first observations, but it is also found in the people, history, and countless stories that call the setting home.

My protagonist, Jamie Rush is a private investigator living in Port Alene, Texas. After growing up as the child of con-artist parents, Jamie traded her nomadic childhood for a home base in this island town. She has found refuge here, this sunny locale kissed by the Gulf Coast and frequented by day trippers and Winter Texans. It’s known as a vacation destination, but Port Alene has a darker side, and this undercurrent is where Jamie spends most of her time.

Port Alene is inspired by Port Aransas, a small beach town that serves as our favorite vacation spot. When things get hectic, we leave the Hill Country for the Gulf Coast. It’s a quick three-hour drive. We can pack the car after work on Friday and still make it to Port A for a late dinner. Over two decades, we’ve learned where to source fresh shrimp, the best time to stop at our favorite coffee shop, and made friends with a few locals who are gracious enough to share their expertise. We’ve learned the off-peak times to take the ferry (although this varies based on season) and how to avoid the army of golf carts driving down Avenue G.

Over the years, my mind began creating stories about this Gulf Coast getaway. Ideas surfaced in my mind like dolphins dancing between the ferry boats in the nearby ship channel. I took my beloved family-friendly beach retreat and created Port Alene. As I watched my kids fishing in the ocean, my mind built a new world filled with characters making deals, sharing secrets, and selling something extra at the local bait shop.

Port Alene is more a sibling than a twin to its inspiration. When creating Port Alene, I decided it would not be an exact replica of the locale I loved. Instead, I took key areas and played with them until they fit into the story. I drew my own maps of Port Alene, fashioning roads and landmarks, bars and restaurants, bait shops, and trinket traps. My protagonist needed these locations because they would prove important in her life. She just didn’t know it yet. But some of the features that make Port Aransas special–Farley boats, the Jetty, the ferry, and the ship channel–all make an appearance to show why Jamie has chosen to call this place home.

The term “island time” is meant to remind visitors to slow down and relax, to not rush unless Happy Hour at Trout Street is almost at a close. Creating a mystery series in an island town meant learning how to honor island time while also escalating the action in the story. In Depths of Deceit, Port Alene’s history is particularly important because Jamie’s latest case reminds her that she knows only a small sliver of her adopted hometown’s story. Every twist reminds Jamie that she’s still an outsider. She must prove herself all over again, and the stakes have never been higher. ♦

Depths of Deceit

by Laura Oles

July 25 – August 19, 2022 Virtual Book Tour

Synopsis:

Depths of Deceit by Laura Oles

Two sisters.

One deadly secret.

No time to lose.

PI Jamie Rush has her hands full with small-time skip-tracing and surveillance jobs in Port Alene, Texas. The work is steady, though she still struggles to make ends meet. But when her partner, Cookie, brings in a low-paying and potentially time-consuming case, Jamie takes it on out of loyalty.

Cookie’s childhood friend, Renata, needs to find her younger sister, Leah. As Jamie digs into Leah’s past, it becomes clear that the missing woman’s life was shrouded in secrets, the kind that could jeopardize those involved in the case.

To complicate matters, PI Alastair Finn has returned, and he’s willing to reclaim his town by any means necessary. Jamie has never been one to retreat, and Alastair enjoys a good fight. Sparks will fly.

A missing woman. Felonies. Finn’s return. Every twist reminds Jamie that she’s still an outsider in this town. Jamie must prove herself all over again, and the stakes have never been higher.

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery, Female PI
Published by: Red Adept Publishing
Publication Date: May 31, 2022
Number of Pages: 292
ISBN: 9781948051859 (paperback)
ASIN: B09YJ1PNCG (Kindle edition)
Series: A Jamie Rush Mystery, #2
Purchase Links #CommissionEarned: IndieBound.org | Amazon | Amazon Kindle | Barnes & Noble | BookDepository.com | Bookshop.org | !ndigo | Goodreads 

Author Bio:

Laura Oles

Laura Oles is the Agatha-nominated and award-winning author of the Jamie Rush mystery series, along with short stories and nonfiction. With two decades of experience in the digital photography industry, Laura’s work has appeared in trade and consumer magazines, crime-fiction anthologies, and she served as a business columnist. Laura loves road trips, bookstores, and any outdoor activity that doesn’t involve running. She lives in the Texas Hill Country with her family.

Catch Up With Laura Oles:
LauraOles.com
Goodreads
BookBub – @LauraOles
Instagram – @lauraolesauthor
Twitter – @LauraOles
Facebook – @lauraolesauthor

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Guest Post: Leslie Wheeler – WOLF BOG

Welcome to another Friday, book people. I hope everyone is staying cool during this global heat wave. As usual, I’ve been doing quite a bit of re-reading (hey, I re-read whenever I have difficulty reading other new-to-me books). One of the books I re-read included a recipe for a Krispy Kreme Doughnut Bread Pudding. I’m not a cook or baker by any stretch of the imagination, but this is one recipe that I may actually make, calories be damned. I don’t often read about meals in books and crave the foods mentioned, but that particular recipe piqued my interest. Food, drink, and reading seem to go quite well together in my opinion. Today’s guest, Leslie Wheeler, is the author of the recently released Wolf Bog. Ms. Wheeler will be sharing her thoughts on food in fiction. So grab something to eat and drink, sit back, and let’s learn about the uses of food in mystery fiction from one author’s perspective. Thank you, Ms. Wheeler, for stopping by and sharing with us today.

The Uses of Food in Mystery Fiction
By Leslie Wheeler

Food and drink figure prominently in some mysteries, especially cozies, but thrillers too—I’m thinking of the mouth-watering meals served up at the Three Pines café in Louise Penny’s books. But not so much in my books—that is, until my latest novel, Wolf Bog. Why, I wondered, is there so much eating and drinking in this book? Is it simply that my characters have become hungrier and thirstier over time? The thirst I can understand, because it’s August in the Berkshires of my story and very hot, but not the hunger. This got me thinking about the role meals can play in mystery fiction.

One obvious function is to give characters something to do while they have a Q and A. An example of this in Wolf Bog is the scene where my main character, Kathryn Stinson, questions the former girlfriend of a teenager, whose body is found in a bog after disappearing more than forty years ago. They meet for lunch at a restaurant called “The Laughing Cow” in Vermont. Kathryn is impressed by how well the ex-girlfriend—now in her sixties—has aged, which she attributes to a healthy diet. So, when the woman orders a vegan burger with a side salad, Kathryn orders the exact same meal. And since “We are what we eat,” as the saying goes, the meal in this scene also reveals something about the character who orders it.

Another function of food—whether consumed or simply observed—is to offer comfort to characters at difficult times. Because the teenager found in the bog was someone she loved and lost, Charlotte Hinkley is especially shaken by the discovery. She finds peace in her vegetable garden with its perfect Big Girl tomatoes. But when a pesky rodent—or so she thinks—takes a bite out of not just one tomato, but all of them, that peace is destroyed. Charlotte has to ask a friend to get her the fruit from a local store, so she can make Tomatoes Provencal for a party she’s having. Yet the trouble doesn’t end there. The party itself is ruined when a friend’s dog that’s been staying with Charlotte accidentally eats the poison put out for the rodents and has to be rushed to the local veterinary hospital. In this instance, a comfort food creates unexpected complications for several characters.

With the addition of poison, food and drink become weapons. But there are less obvious ways of weaponizing food and drink. An example of this is the dinner party that Wally, Charlotte’s estate attorney and longtime friend, throws for her and Paula, a middle-aged woman who claims to be the daughter Charlotte gave up for adoption years ago. Wally is a gourmet cook with a state-of-the-art kitchen and a sophisticated palate. The menu he plans is calculated to appeal to Charlotte and him, but not necessarily Paula, whose palate is more plebian. When he offers runny Brie and pate for appetizers, Paula tells him to put the Brie back in the fridge. She mistakes the pate for cold meatloaf, doesn’t like the taste of it, and washes it down with another daiquiri. As for the meal itself, the butterflied leg of lamb and the roast potatoes go down okay, but the arugula salad stings her mouth like nettles. Nervous and out of her depth, she eats and drinks too much, including two servings of chocolate cake that Wally himself describes as “positively decadent.” By the end of the evening, Paula has made herself sick and loses her dinner. The whole meal is Wally’s way of getting back at Paula, who he believes is trying to take advantage of Charlotte. It’s also meant to add a bit of humor to the book, depending on how you view Paula, who can be pretty obnoxious at times.

Returning to the role of food in Q and A scenes, it can be used to show how stressed one or more of the participants in these sessions becomes. This is evident in a scene where Kathryn’s lover’s mother invites her to a ladies-night-out at a local tavern. Although the purpose of the get-together is for the lover’s mother to confess to doing something she shouldn’t have, she becomes so uncomfortable that she cuts her burger into tiny pieces that she lifts to her mouth, but almost immediately puts back on the plate, leaving most of her dinner uneaten.

Yet if food can be used to show distress and other negative feelings, it can also be used to express love. Every weekend when Kathryn Stinson returns to the Berkshires, she finds her romantic partner, Earl Barker, making dinner—one night he’s grilling a beautiful piece of salmon, another night, it’s a fat, juicy round of kielbasa.

Readers, what are some memorable meals in books that you have either read or written? ♦

Wolf Bog

by Leslie Wheeler

July 1-31, 2022 Virtual Book Tour

Synopsis:

Wolf Bog by Leslie Wheeler

It’s August in the Berkshires, and the area is suffering from a terrible drought. As wetlands dry up, the perfectly preserved body of a local man, missing for forty years, is discovered in Wolf Bog by a group of hikers that includes Kathryn Stinson. Who was he and what was his relationship with close friend Charlotte Hinckley, also on the hike, that would make Charlotte become distraught and blame herself for his death? Kathryn’s search for answers leads her to the discovery of fabulous parties held at the mansion up the hill from her rental house, where local teenagers like the deceased mingled with the offspring of the wealthy. Other questions dog the arrival of a woman claiming to be the daughter Charlotte gave up for adoption long ago. But is she really Charlotte’s daughter, and if not, what’s her game? Once again, Kathryn’s quest for the truth puts her in grave danger.

Praise for Wolf Bog:

“Wheeler’s deep sense of place—the Berkshires—illuminates a deftly woven plot and a quirky cast of characters that will keep you glued to the pages until the last stunning revelation. It’s always a pleasure to be in the hands of a pro.”

Kate Flora, Edgar and Anthony nominated author

“When a long-lost teenager turns up dead, a cold case turns into hot murder. A deliciously intriguing Berkshire mystery.”

Sarah Smith, Agatha Award-winning author of The Vanished Child and Crimes and Survivors

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery/Amateur Sleuth/Suspense
Published by: Encircle Publishing
Publication Date: July 6, 2022
Number of Pages: 336
ISBN10: 164599385X (paperback)
ISBN13: 9781645993858 (paperback)
ASIN: B0B57VTWS2 (Kindle edition)
Series: A Berkshire Hilltown Mystery, #3
Purchase Links #CommissionEarned: IndieBound.org | Amazon | Amazon Kindle | Barnes & Noble | BookDepository.com | Bookshop.org | Goodreads

Author Bio:

Leslie Wheeler

An award-winning author of books about American history and biographies, Leslie Wheeler has written two mystery series. Her Berkshire Hilltown Mysteries launched with Rattlesnake Hill and continues with Shuntoll Road and Wolf Bog. Her Miranda Lewis Living History Mysteries debuted with Murder at Plimoth Plantation and continue with Murder at Gettysburg and Murder at Spouters Point. Her mystery short stories have appeared in numerous anthologies. Leslie is a member of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime, and a founding member of the New England Crime Bake Committee. She divides her time between Cambridge, Massachusetts, and the Berkshires, where she writes in a house overlooking a pond.

Catch Up With Leslie:
www.LeslieWheeler.com
Goodreads
BookBub – @lesliewheeler1
Twitter – @Leslie_Wheeler
Facebook – @LeslieWheelerAuthor

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Guest Post: Sharon Michalove – DEAD IN THE ALLEY

Good day, my bookish peeps. Authors are highly creative as well as inventive in crafting their works of fiction. They have to not only create characters, come up with the plot, and provide a suitable setting, but then keep track of everything as they write. Some authors will keep detailed notes and/or outlines to keep everything straight. But then they have to not only keep everything straight as they write (or edit) but keep the characters suitably realistic and believable. Please help me welcome, Sharon Michalove, author of Dead in the Alley. Ms. Michalove will be sharing her thoughts on “using what you love” in crafting fictional characters. Thank you, Ms. Michalove, for joining us today, the blog is now all yours.

Using What You Love to Make Your Characters Come Alive
by Sharon Michalove

Every book brings new experiences and deepens my knowledge. I love crafting twisty, tension-filled plots. Creating journeys to places my readers may know, or may want to know. And exploring the mysteries of love. Every book has a couple who learns to build a lasting relationship.

When I start a writing project, the characters come first. Once I know about them, I know where they live, what they like, what they fear, and who they love, and the deep wounds in their background. In the case of Dead in the Alley, I knew early on that the book would be a mystery, but once I had the characters in place, they told me their parts—hero, heroine, victim, suspects, family, sidekicks. That leads me to the setting, motives, and the murderer.

Take the Bishop sisters. Bay Bishop is the female protagonist in Dead in the Alley. She is a chef, one of the many careers I considered when being a high-school history teacher didn’t work out. I talked to a local chef who ran a cooking school about the possibilities He was willing to take me on for professional training and warned me about the early rising and long hours. Those didn’t phase me. Picking up seventy-pound stock pots was another story, so I changed direction.

Bay’s older sister, Laurel, is a college professor. I had many years of experience in academic settings to work with in creating her. She may get a book of her own one of these days.

Livvy, the younger sister, was a little trickier. She is a fashion designer and I had to do research on where she would have gone to school, what hurdles she would face, and what her studio was like. I also have some ideas for her.

Their brother, Toby, is a bookstore owner. That was easier for me. Even though I’ve never owned or worked in a bookstore, I know small business owners and as a former librarian, I have a lot of experience with the book business.

My hero and the love interest, Greg Musgrove, took me back to my love for bike racing. I have followed the major races since a research trip to Paris in the summer of 2000 introduced me to the joys of watching and learning about the Tour de France. A few years later, I was able to see the penultimate stage of the Giro d’Italia because we were staying close enough to Verona to go there for the day.

Standing in the rain for hours in a huge crowd is an unforgettable experience, especially as taller fans with big umbrellas start crowding you out. as they push toward the front By the time the sun came out and the final time trial competitors came through, I couldn’t see a thing. Fortunately, a very tall friend held up my camera and took pictures at the finish line. The feel of being in the crowd was amazing, but now I’d rather watch it on TV.

As a former bike racer and now a drugs officer in this small Michigan town, I was able to tie together why he retired from racing, how his experience made him decide that drug enforcement was the right path, and how he pursued his dream to open a high-end bike shop with a former teammate. As a former cyclist, I’ve hung around bike shops for years and I tried to create the shop I’d love to spend time in.

Should you always write what you know? Not necessarily. I knew very little about the setting, northern Michigan. Research can take you a long way. But being able to write about things you are passionate about is a gift. Writing relatable characters who delight in things I love, gives me the chance to share them with my readers. ♦

Dead in the Alley

by Sharon Michalove

July 18 – August 12, 2022 Virtual Book Tour

Synopsis:

Dead in the Alley by Sharon Michalove

When Bay Bishop’s husband was murdered in the alley behind their northern Michigan restaurant, she thought she’d lost the love of her life.

Now she’s a suspect.

And her high-school boyfriend, who left her broken-hearted years ago, is one of the detectives on the case.

Book Details:

Genre: Traditional Mystery
Published by: Indie Published
Publication Date: August 10, 2022
Number of Pages: 320
ISBN: 9781736918753 (paperback)
ASIN: B09P8QWC31 (Kindle edition)
Purchase Links #CommissionEarned: Amazon | Amazon Kindle | BookDepository.com | Goodreads

Author Bio:

Sharon Michalove

Sharon Michalove grew up in suburban Chicago. She received four degrees from the University of Illinois because she didn’t have the gumption to go anywhere else, and spent most of her career at the university, eventually earning a Ph.D., working in departmental administration, publishing, and libraries. Her specialties are 15th-16th century European history, polar exploration, and food history. She may be one of the few people in America to never live outside her home state.

In graduate school, she met and married the love of her life. They shared a love of music, theater, travel, and cats. He died in 2013.

Sharon also loves hockey, reading, cooking, writing, and various less elevated activities like eating cookies and sampling gins and single malts. After spending most of her life in a medium-sized university town she moved back to Chicago in 2017 so she could go to more Blackhawks games and spend quality time at Eataly. In 2021 she accomplished a lifetime goal by publishing her first novel. Unfortunately, her other lifetime goal, to be English, is likely to remain unfulfilled.

Catch Up With Sharon Michalove:
www.SharonMichalove.com
Goodreads
BookBub – @sdmichalove
Instagram – @sdmichaloveauthor
Twitter – @sdmichalove
Facebook – @sharonmichalove

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Guest Post: Colleen Coble – EDGE OF DUSK

Monday greetings, my fellow book lovers. Have you ever given any thought as to why some fictional characters are memorable and much loved? Think about it. People are still reading Jane Austen and falling in love with Mr. Darcy. I don’t even know where to begin when it comes to the fandom of the Harry Potter world! Some characters are much more than the personas presented on the page, they come to life in the minds of the readers and live on for quite some time. I’m pleased to welcome back to the blog, Colleen Coble, author of the recently released Edge of Dusk. Ms. Coble will be sharing with us her thoughts on the tangibility of fictional characters from an author’s perspective. Thank you, Ms. Coble, for returning to visit with us. I look forward to learning more about your view on this matter.

Characters Are Real—At Least to Authors
by Colleen Coble

Okay, I admit it. My characters are real. No really. They have to be real, or they wouldn’t take over the story the way they do. I can be typing along with a destination for my character in mind. The next thing I know she’s off doing something I had NO IDEA would happen. Before I was a writer, I heard authors say crazy stuff like that and thought it was a publicity ploy. Um, no. It’s real. Characters have minds of their own, and I often can’t fathom them.

The very best characters live on it in the minds of readers. My long-time readers’ favorite character is Bree from the Rock Harbor series. She eats pistachios and has a search-and-rescue dog. She is crazy about Elvis’s music. She lives in a restored lighthouse on Superior’s south shore. I had so many requests for more books about more Rock Harbor novels that I decided to craft a brand-new series set in the U.P. The first in the Annie Pederson series is Edge of Dusk.

The main character is Annie Pederson, a law enforcement ranger in a national forest up there. And I really like her, but that didn’t keep me from putting her in terrible difficulties, but I did feel a twinge of regret. And really, part of the trouble is her own fault. She veered off into new directions and I had no choice but to follow. She can’t blame me for the mess she’s made of everything. I told her I was washing my hands of it all.

Now you see why authors are thought to be a little demented. We talk to people in our heads. Mostly because we’re alone all day with a computer and it’s either talk to our characters or to ourselves. And since Covid, we need them even more than we ever did. I hope that makes for an even deeper, more meaningful dive into character than usual, but I’m relying on you to tell me whether I achieved it or not!

Do you have a favorite character you think about all the time?

Edge of Dusk

by Colleen Coble

July 11 – August 5, 2022 Virtual Book Tour

Synopsis:

Edge of Dusk by Colleen Coble

Even though secrets lie off the coast of Rock Harbor, the truth will set Annie Pederson free—if it doesn’t kill her first.

Nine-year-old Annie Pederson’s life changed the night her sister was kidnapped. The two had been outside playing on a dock, and Annie never forgave herself for her role in her sister’s disappearance. Twenty-four years later and now a law enforcement ranger, Annie is still searching for answers as she grieves a new loss: the death of her husband and parents in a boating accident.

But Annie and her eight-year-old daughter, Kylie, aren’t the only people in the town of Rock Harbor whose lives have been marred by tragedy. While managing the property around the Tremolo Resort and Marina she inherited, Annie discovers a dead body floating in the cold Superior surf and begins to work with the sheriff’s office to tie the death to a series of other mysterious reports in the area.

At the same time, her first love, Jon Dustan, returns after nine years away, reigniting the town’s memory of a cold case he’d been suspiciously linked to before he left to pursue his orthopedic residency. For the sake of her investigation and her heart, Annie tries to stay away. But avoiding Jon becomes impossible once Annie realizes she is being targeted by someone desperate to keep secrets from the past hidden.

In this new series, bestselling romantic-suspense author Colleen Coble returns to one of her most beloved towns, where familiar faces—and unsolved cases—await.

Book Details:

Genre: Romantic Suspense
Published by: Thomas Nelson
Publication Date: July 12th 2022
Number of Pages: 352
ISBN: 078525370X (ISBN13: 9780785253709)
Series: Annie Pederson #1
Book Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Christianbook.com | Goodreads

Author Bio:

Colleen Coble

Colleen Coble is a USA Today bestselling author best known for her coastal romantic suspense novels, including The Inn at Ocean’s Edge, Twilight at Blueberry Barrens, and the Lavender Tides, Sunset Cove, Hope Beach, and Rock Harbor series.

Connect with Colleen online at:
colleencoble.com
Instagram – @ColleenCoble
Twitter – @ColleenCoble
Facebook – @ColleenCobleBooks

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Guest Post: Ken Harris – SEE YOU NEXT TUESDAY

Saturday greetings, my bookish peeps. Have you ever pondered the quirks we bring to our various routines, including reading? Some of us can’t sleep without reading a few pages. Some of us find reading digitally abhorrent, whereas others find they can only read digitally. You might have a favorite reading chair or spot on the sofa. Perhaps you have a favorite mug or glass you sip your preferred beverage out of while you read? Whether we consider these habits or quirks, we all seem to have them to some extent. Authors are no different, whether speaking about their reading or writing habits. Some authors will only write using certain types of pens or pencils. Others may prefer to use manual typewriters to create their literary works. Please help me welcome back, Ken Harris, author of the recently released See You Next Tuesday. Mr. Harris will be discussing his writing quirks with us. Thank you, Mr. Harris, for taking time away from your busy writing schedule to visit with us again.

What are your writing quirks?

Writing quirks? Oh, I’ve got ’em. Some common, some off the wall. The follow-up question asked is does your routine play into somehow traditionally publishing a complete trilogy in fourteen months? The not, out loud answer is, by the seat of my pants like a rocket sled going off the rails. But, instead, I usually shrug my shoulders with a dumb look and mention I thrive in creating fictional universes and the characters that fill them.

Truth be told, I really do enjoy banging on a keyboard for a handful of hours each day. But there are a few steps, quirks if you may, that lead me to that point in the process. I’d like to share exactly how I manage to keep up this frenetic pace.

All of my ideas start with a pad of paper and a handful of sharpened Ticonderoga #4 pencils. Why #4 is a common question. Being left-handed, as my hand moves across the paper, left to right, graphite from most pencils (#2s) smears across the side of my hand. I find a #4 has a much harder lead and there is practically no transfer from the page to my hand. Less time spent washing my hands equals more pages of notes.

The pencil and pad of paper are also portable and you never know when an idea will hit you. That being said, the notes app on my phone works wonders too, especially when you wake up in the middle of the night with an idea you know that will be forgotten the moment your head hits the pillow again. I’ve lost count of the trips I’ve made, tiptoeing down the hallway to my office and speaking notes into my phone.

What usually is a boatload of handwritten pages are then typed into Word where I can edit and move sections around more freely. This results in the thinnest of outlines, most of which never make the first draft. Finally, those edited pages are cut and pasted into Scrivener where I start pounding away to make the magic happen.

Speaking of making the magic happen, what happens when those creative juices dry up faster than the water at Lake Powell? Enter my strangest but most productive quirk to date: Introvert turned Twitch streamer.

Writer’s block hit me hard during the drafting of the 3rd book in the “From the Case Files of Steve Rockfish” series. I hit the wall at 40,000 words and didn’t write a thing I didn’t not trash the following morning for three months. Going against my previous stance of never forcing the issue (It’ll come, Ken, just give it time), I logged on to Twitch one morning and began live streaming my writing sessions. It turned out to be one of the best writing decisions I’ve made in a very long time. Yes, people draw, paint and play video games on Twitch, but did you know there is an up-and-coming writers’ community on the platform?

I assumed I would have the occasional friend or family member stumble across my stream, but soon I reached affiliate-status and began to look forward to the regular viewers that wander into my channel each morning. Six weeks after I started streaming, the block was crushed and the first draft of the novel came in at 113,000 words. My protagonists were out of their individual quagmires, back together, and moving forward on the big case again.

Apparently, I do my best writing in front of a virtual audience while carrying on and keeping up with the chat. Not to mention my viewers are a great help when my brain dies and I can’t come up with the word I’m looking for.

I’ve used giveaways to attract viewers, followers, and even subscriptions. Yes, I can make the occasional dollar doing this. I’ve given away mugs, Audible codes, challenge coins, and even mentions in the acknowledgments section of that upcoming third in the series (drops March 9, 2023). Twitch has a thing called Channel Points, which viewers can earn by watching and participating in chat. I’ve used these to create rewards that keep me engaged with the viewers. They can use points earned, called Writer’s Blocks, to purchase such things as play DJ and pick a song to be played, buy me a shot, tell them a little-known fact about me from work or writing, and even a community challenge where viewers pooled their points to rename a secondary character in the draft.

In the end, my quirks might seem normal to some, off the wall to others. But in the end, it’s all about getting words down on the screen in a timely fashion in a way that works for you. Sometimes the most off-the-wall idea works. And if it doesn’t, move on. Don’t get stuck in that rut. It sucks there. ♦

See You Next Tuesday

by Ken Harris

July 11 – August 5, 2022 Virtual Book Tour

Synopsis:

See You Next Tuesday by Ken Harris

From the Case Files of Steve Rockfish

PI Steve Rockfish’s father loses part of his retirement savings in an online romance scam while partner Jawnie McGee handles the firm’s newest client who spins a tale of alleged spousal infidelity. Rockfish ignores his current case load and becomes fixated on tracking down those responsible for the fraud. Restitution is coming in the form of cash or broken bones. At the same time, Jawnie’s surveillance of the cheating spouse reveals more acts of kindness than sex leading to a client who doesn’t want to believe the good news.

Unbeknownst to the partners, each investigative path leads the partners to the Church of the Universal Nurturing II where the fraud is on a cryptocurrency level. Their new SunCoin is marketed as the only post-rapture currency accepted inside the pearly gates. After all, who wants to show up to the after party with out-turned pockets and not get past Heaven’s paywall?

Church elders court Rockfish and his new-found Hollywood wealth with an old-fashioned honey pot. The danger level ratchets up as Rockfish counters by sending the firm’s two new confidential informants undercover only to find the church’s endgame grift is larger and deadlier than anyone expected.

Praise for See You Next Tuesday:

“Action-packed and smartly written.”

Kevin Somers, GoodReads Review

“Harris has created his own sub-genre with this series, which is a beautiful and unique thing to see. Beloved characters must brave the most dangerous, harrowing journey yet. The suspense woven through this tale is done with a finesse rarely seen, and ensures we stay glued to the page.”

Ben Eads, author of Cracked Sky and Hollow Heart

“The second in the Case Files of Steve Rockfish series begins with separate cases involving a cheating husband, a corrupt religious cult, a stockpile of poison gas, and a currency scam. The cases come together in a wild ride worthy of a chase scene in a movie, as the detectives pursue the cult leader in a rip-roaring page-turner of an ending.”

Carolyn Geduld, author of Take Me Out The Back and Who Shall Live

“Harris takes you on two journeys you hope will never happen to family members but fear it could. The emotional roller coaster you will ride, keeps you reading and hoping the end comes with a taste of sweet revenge. Harris finds a way to weave a story that keeps you turning the pages and wanting more Rockfish.”

Stephen W. Briggs, author of Family of Killers-Memoirs of an Assassin

Book Details:

Genre: Crime Fiction, Crime Thriller
Published by: Black Rose Writing
Publication Date: July 14th, 2022
Number of Pages: 546
ISBN10: 1684339898 (paperback)
ISBN13: 9781684339891 (paperback)
ASIN: B09ZKQ1S3P (Audible audiobook)
ASIN: B09VLKZ291 (Kindle edition)
Series: Case Files of Steve Rockfish, #2
Purchase Links #CommissionEarned: IndieBound.org | Amazon | Amazon Kindle | Audible Audiobook | Barnes & Noble | BookDepository.com | Bookshop.org | Goodreads

Author Bio:

Ken Harris

Ken Harris retired from the FBI, after thirty-two years, as a cybersecurity executive. With over three decades of writing intelligence products for senior Government officials, Ken provides unique perspectives on the conventional fast-paced crime thriller. He is the author of the “From the Case Files of Steve Rockfish” series. He spends days with his wife Nicolita, and two Labradors, Shady and Chalupa Batman. Evenings are spent playing Walkabout Mini Golf and cheering on Philadelphia sports. Ken firmly believes Pink Floyd, Irish whiskey, and a Montecristo cigar are the only muses necessary. He is a native of New Jersey and currently resides in Northern Virginia.

The Pine Barrens Stratagem was published on January 27, 2022. The sequel, See You Next Tuesday published July 14th, and the third in the trilogy, A Bad Bout of the Yips, is coming March 9, 2023.

Catch Up With Ken Harris:
www.KenHarrisFiction.com
Goodreads
BookBub – @08025writes
Instagram – @kenharrisfiction
Twitter – @08025writes
Facebook – @kah623
Twitch – @KenHarrisFiction

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Guest Post: Tom Mead – DEATH AND THE CONJUROR

Good day, my bookish divas and divos. I hope you’re having a lovely season, no matter where you are globally, and getting some reading done. Whether you refer to an author as a scribbler, wordsmith, or writer, they are all, in essence, magicians using the written word to pull us into the stories they’ve crafted. I’m pleased to welcome Tom Mead, author of Death and the Conjuror, to the blog today. Mr. Mead will be discussing his love of magic and the role it plays in his book. I hope you’ll enjoy what he has to say and grab a copy of Death and the Conjuror for your reading pleasure. Thank you, Mr. Mead, for joining us today. I’ll now turn the blog over to you.

HEY PRESTO: MAGIC, MYSTERY & ME
By Tom Mead

I love magic. I love illusions. I love seeing how tricks are done; unravelling all the clever and seemingly inconsequential details that go into the construction and performance of a stage illusion. I often think that a mystery novel is like a magic show, with the author as a magician: when you are writing, you are trying to keep your audience looking in the wrong direction, so that they don’t spot the workings of the trick. That’s the approach I used when I was writing my book Death and the Conjuror.

And because I love magic so much, I couldn’t resist including a host of real-life illusions and gimmicks in the story, to keep readers guessing. My detective character, Joseph Spector, is a retired music hall conjuror in 1930s London. I’ve written several short stories about him, in which he solves a range of macabre and seemingly impossible crimes by applying the principles of stage magic. One of these stories, for example, is called “The Indian Rope Trick,” and in it Spector is called on to judge a competition between two magicians to judge who can perform the best version of the titular trick. When one of the magicians is murdered, things start to get a little more complicated.

My new book Death and the Conjuror is a locked-room mystery, a subgenre of crime fiction that is in itself a kind of magic trick. The acknowledged master of the genre, John Dickson Carr, was a genius when it came to misdirection, and his works like The Hollow Man and The Problem of the Green Capsule are flawless examples of literary illusion. He was also heavily influenced by the world of magic and magicians, and demonstrated a fascination with the work of Harry Houdini and- particularly- Nevil Maskelyne. Using Carr’s work as a starting point, I thought it would be interesting to look at the many other examples of classic mystery fiction that feature (or are written by) magicians.

The UK TV show Jonathan Creek was my first experience with both magic and murder mystery. Written by the brilliant David Renwick, the title character (played by Alan Davies) makes his living by devising tricks for a professional illusionist. He also frequently (and unwittingly) finds himself embroiled in all kinds of macabre mysteries which require his unique talent for explaining the inexplicable. Many of these shows (particularly the early ones) are flawless impossible crimes. Episodes such as “The Black Canary,” “The Reconstituted Corpse” and “The House of Monkeys” provide a masterclass in misdirection, eventually offering logical explanations to the seemingly uncanny occurrences. Watching this show at such a young age stimulated my fascination with magic-themed mystery, and led me to discover Carr, as well as a host of other excellent writers.

For instance, Clayton Rawson was a professional magician who also happened to write a handful of ingenious golden-age murder mysteries. These featured the suave and ingenious magician-sleuth The Great Merlini, who tackles outlandish and apparently impossible problems in The Footprints on the Ceiling, No Coffin for the Corpse, The Headless Lady, and (arguably his masterpiece) Death from a Top Hat. As the titles imply, these are colourful and fiendishly entertaining mysteries that make frequent use of real-life magic tricks and give a fascinating insight into the life of a professional conjuror. Rawson was close friends with Carr, and the two writers occasionally challenged one another to come up with a gimmick to solve an impossible problem of their own devising. For instance, a challenge was issued to see which of the two authors could commit a (fictional) murder in which the victim was found dead in a room that was not merely locked, but sealed on the inside with tape. This challenge proved fruitful for both writers, with Carr producing the excellent He Wouldn’t Kill Patience and Rawson coming up with the arguably superior gimmick in the remarkable short story “From Another World.”

Another golden age mystery writer I admire greatly is Hake Talbot. Talbot wrote only two novels, The Hangman’s Handyman and Rim of the Pit, but they are both masterpieces of the impossible crime subgenre. “Hake Talbot” was in fact a pseudonym used by the magician Henning Nelms. Under his own name, Nelms also wrote a fantastic book about the theory and practice of stage magic called Magic and Showmanship. It contains all kinds of useful insights about the psychology of audiences which I have found invaluable when writing my own mystery stories.

But the rich tradition of magic-themed mysteries did not end with the golden age. More recently, French author Paul Halter has established himself as one of the pre-eminent purveyors of locked-room mysteries and impossible crime stories in recent decades, and one of his greatest novels- The Crimson Fog– features a magician murdered during a magic trick. The novel is a brilliant and audacious piece of work; a true latter-day masterpiece of a subgenre that still has plenty to offer.

Case in point: Gigi Pandian’s latest novel (published in March 2022), the first in a new and hopefully long-running series, is called Under Lock & Skeleton Key. It’s a brilliant book that introduces a delightful amateur sleuth, Tempest Raj, a magician who has fallen on somewhat hard times and becomes embroiled in a real-life locked-room mystery. The novel is a fantastic achievement which makes me excited to see what the author comes up with for the sequel, and also what the genre produces next.

As you can imagine, when I began to write a novel featuring my own magician-detective Joseph Spector, I knew it had a lot to live up to. This was my opportunity to channel my enthusiasm for magic into a murder mystery written in the golden age style, which also pays conscious tribute to the many richly imaginative writers (past and present) that continue to inspire me. Whether or not Death and the Conjuror succeeds is not for me to say. But I can tell you that if readers have a quarter as much fun with it as I had writing it, I’ll consider it a job well done. ♦

Death and the Conjuror

by Tom Mead

June 27 – July 24, 2022 Virtual Book Tour

Synopsis:

Death and the Conjuror by Tom Mead

A magician-turned-sleuth in pre-war London solves three impossible crimes

In 1930s London, celebrity psychiatrist Anselm Rees is discovered dead in his locked study, and there seems to be no way that a killer could have escaped unseen. There are no clues, no witnesses, and no evidence of the murder weapon. Stumped by the confounding scene, the Scotland Yard detective on the case calls on retired stage magician-turned-part-time sleuth Joseph Spector. For who better to make sense of the impossible than one who traffics in illusions?

Spector has a knack for explaining the inexplicable, but even he finds that there is more to this mystery than meets the eye. As he and the Inspector interview the colorful cast of suspects among the psychiatrist’s patients and household, they uncover no shortage of dark secrets―or motives for murder. When the investigation dovetails into that of an apparently-impossible theft, the detectives consider the possibility that the two transgressions are related. And when a second murder occurs, this time in an impenetrable elevator, they realize that the crime wave will become even more deadly unless they can catch the culprit soon.

A tribute to the classic golden-age whodunnit, when crime fiction was a battle of wits between writer and reader, Death and the Conjuror joins its macabre atmosphere, period detail, and vividly-drawn characters with a meticulously-constructed fair play puzzle. Its baffling plot will enthrall readers of mystery icons such as Agatha Christie and John Dickson Carr, modern masters like Anthony Horowitz and Elly Griffiths, or anyone who appreciates a good mystery.

Praise for Death and the Conjuror:

“This debut, a tribute to John Dickson Carr and other Golden Age masters of the locked-room mystery, will appeal to nostalgia buffs and fans of the classics”

Library Journal, April 2022 (**STARRED REVIEW**, Debut of the Month)

“Set in London, Mead’s stellar debut and series launch, an homage to golden age crime fiction, in particular the works of John Dickson Carr, introduces magician Joseph Spector. […] Mead maintains suspense throughout, creating a creepy atmosphere en route to satisfying reveals. Puzzle mystery fans will eagerly await the sequel.”

Publishers Weekly, April 2022 (**STARRED REVIEW**)

“Mead’s debut novel is a valentine to the locked-room puzzles of John Dickson Carr, to whom it is dedicated […] Mead faithfully replicates all the loving artifice and teasing engagement of golden-age puzzlers in this superior pastiche.”

Kirkus Reviews, April 2022

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery
Published by: Mysterious Press
Publication Date: July 12th, 2022
Number of Pages: 254
ISBN10: 1613163185 (hardcover)
ISBN13: 9781613163184 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9781613163191 (eBook)
ISBN: 9781696608114 (audiobook)
ASIN: B0B1968HBQ (Audible audiobook)
ASIN: B09LF7LHGV (Kindle edition)
Series: Joseph Spector #1
Purchase Links #CommissionEarned: IndieBound.org | Amazon | Amazon Kindle | Audible Audiobook | Barnes & Noble | BookDepository.com | Bookshop.org | Goodreads | The Mysterious Bookshop

Author Bio:

Tom Mead

Tom Mead is a UK crime fiction author specialising in locked-room mysteries. He is a member of the Crime Writers’ Association, International Thriller Writers, and the Society of Authors. He is a prolific author of short fiction, and recently his story “Heatwave” was included in The Best Mystery Stories of the Year 2021, edited by Lee Child. Death and the Conjuror is his first novel.

Catch Up With Our Author:
TomMeadAuthor.com
Goodreads
BookBub
Twitter – @TomMeadAuthor
Facebook – @tommeadauthor

Plus, join the Instagram – #TomMead Party 😀

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Guest Post: Mary Alford – AMONG THE INNOCENT

Happy Monday, my bookish divas and divos. Happy Independence Day to those of you celebrating here in the US. Every writer seems to have a strange and somewhat circuitous path to becoming a published author. It’s rare that an author receives a contract with their first submission (it does happen, but it is very rare). Most published authors participate in writing and critique groups, and attend writing conferences, they write and rewrite with each submission and rejection until finally, acceptance and publication happens. Thankfully, these talented folks don’t give up and we readers ultimately reap the benefits of their diligence and persistence. I’m pleased to welcome Mary Alford, author of Among the Innocent. Ms. Alford will be sharing with us part of her journey to becoming a published author. Please sit back, grab a beverage or snack, and let’s hear what Ms. Alford has to say about her best day (psst, might I suggest you put Among the Innocent on your TBR list). Thank you, Ms. Alford, for taking the time to join us today; the blog is now all yours.

When My Strangest Day Became My Best Day!
by Mary Alford

 

Okay, I know what you’re thinking—how does that happen? Quite unexpectedly actually.

When I first started taking my dream of becoming a published author seriously, I tried lots of different genres and unfortunately failed.

But I didn’t give up. Through all the rejections, one piece of advice I’d received kept popping into my head. Write what you like to read.

So that’s what I did.

I’m a huge fan of the romantic suspense genre, specifically Christian romantic suspense. If you’ve ever perused the genre, there are some wonderful authors who write Christian romantic suspense and I read all of them. I submitted several story ideas and got some positive feedback, but still no contract. I kept trying, though it was frustrating at times.

Then in 2012, I entered an online contest and was selected to pitch a story to an editor. I was thrilled. . .until I remembered we were going to be in the middle of the Rocky Mountains of Colorado without internet service.

Lost Valley

I admit for about half a minute, I thought about giving up, but I’d fought so hard to get there.

My husband and I decided to drive to the closest town, which was Pagosa Springs, Colorado where we found internet service in front of the Ace Hardware store. I remember I sat inside our car and typed my pitch. I still can’t tell you today what I wrote because my fingers were shaking so badly. Whatever it was, the editor liked it because she requested a synopsis, then 3 chapters, and then the full. Through each request, I kept telling myself not to get my hopes up. Several months went by and then in December of 2012, I got the call that I’d sold my first book! I was going to become a published author. That was many books ago, but I still remember the strange day that I sat in my car and did the pitch that would change my life.

Woman typing on a laptop in a car

And then, 2 years ago, I submitted a partial to Revell and once more tried not to get my hopes up. A few months later, I had a contract for Among the Innocent.

It’s been such an amazing journey. Sometimes, I wonder what might have happened if I hadn’t entered that contest. If I’d given up and not done the pitch. Would I still be struggling to become a published author? Who knows? But I do know everything happens for a reason and I was supposed to be at the Ace Hardware Store in Pagosa Springs, Colorado in 2012 to make that pitch. And boy am I glad I did.

All the best. . . ♦

Among the Innocent

by Mary Alford

July 1-31, 2022 Virtual Book Tour

Synopsis:

Among the Innocent by Mary Alford

When Leah Miller’s entire Amish family was murdered ten years ago, the person believed responsible took his own life. Since then, Leah left the Amish and joined the police force. Now, after another Amish woman is found murdered with the same MO, it becomes clear that the wrong man may have been blamed for her family’s deaths.

As Leah and the new police chief, Dalton Cooper, work long hours struggling to fit the pieces together in order to catch the killer, they can’t help but grow closer. When secrets from both of their pasts begin to surface, an unexpected connection between them is revealed. But this is only the beginning. Could it be that the former police chief framed an innocent man to keep the biggest secret of all buried? And what will it mean for Leah–and Dalton–when the full truth comes to light?

USA Today bestselling author Mary Alford keeps you guessing as two determined souls plumb the dark depths of the past in order to forge a brighter future–together.

Among the Innocent is no buggy ride BUT A RACE TO STOP A KILLER”
– DiAnn Mills, bestselling and award-winning author

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery
Published by: Fleming H. Revell Company
Publication Date: June 7th, 2022
Number of Pages: 297
ISBN10: 0800740262 (paperback)
ISBN13: 9780800740269 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781705064719 (digital audiobook)
ASIN: B09LWN9DXD (Kindle edition)
ASIN: B09Z7C3G57 (Audible audiobook)
Purchase Links #CommissionEarned: IndieBound.org | Amazon | Amazon Kindle | Audible Audiobook | Audiobooks.com | Barnes & Noble | B&N Nook Book | BookDepository.com | Bookshop.org | Christianbook.com | Downpour Audiobook | eBooks.com | !ndigo | Kobo Audiobook | Kobo eBook | Goodreads

Author Bio:

Mary Alford

Mary Alford is a USA Today bestselling author who loves giving her readers the unexpected, combining unforgettable characters with unpredictable plots that result in stories the reader can’t put down. Her titles have been finalists for several awards, including the Daphne Du Maurier, the Beverly, the Maggie, and the Selah. She and her husband live in the heart of Texas in the middle of 70 acres with two cats and one dog.

Catch Up With Mary Alford:
MaryAlford.net
Goodreads
BookBub – @MaryAlford
Twitter – @maryalford13
Facebook – @MaryAlfordAuthor

Tour Participants:

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Guest Post: Michael Bradley – NONE WITHOUT SIN

Hello, my bookish peeps. Setting can be a crucial part of any story we read, whether the author has crafted a fictional city/country/planet or set the story in a well-known city. Can you imagine a story set in a pre-9/11 New York City that doesn’t mention the World Trade Centers, Empire State Building, Central Park, the Statue of Liberty, or Times Square? Or a story set in San Francisco that ignores the Golden State Bridge? Yes, this might be nitpicking on my part, but the setting is important. If an author places his story in a known environment, then I want references to known features in that city. Of course, authors may and will take a certain amount of creative license with the settings in their stories, but real locations need to be recognizable (at least they do for this reader). Please help me welcome Michael Bradley, author of None Without Sin as he discusses settings and world-building. Thank you, Mr. Bradley, for joining us today. I’m looking forward to your thoughts on world-building as it relates to None Without Sin.

Welcome to Newark:
Building the World of None Without Sin
by Michael Bradley

Welcome to Newark, Delaware, home to approximately 34,000 people. If you were to pull up the city on Google Maps, you’d see that there isn’t much to the city; only a little over 9 square miles in size. Newark’s most notable feature is probably the campus of the University of Delaware, which is interspersed throughout the western part of downtown. Its quaint one-way Main Street is lined with shops and restaurants, which draw residents of all ages, races, and ethnicities.

Newark—the Newark of None Without Sin—is also home to the Newark Observer, a twice-weekly newspaper run by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Brian Wilder. The Newark of the book, in many ways, resembles Newark in real life. Many of the street names are the same, as well as the major landmarks, like state parks and historical sites. There is an old church on the corner of Main and South Chapel Streets which plays a prominent role in the book, although it has been renamed in the book. If you walk along Main Street, you’ll find a building clad in faded yellow brick that serves as the fictional home of the Newark Observer newspaper.

Why set my mystery novel None Without Sin in a real city? I could easily have created a fictional city with fictional streets and landmarks. But I’ve always been the kind of writer that likes to incorporate a bit of realism into my stories. The world that I see around me is far better than any world that I could create out of my imagination. Using the real city of Newark as a blueprint for my fictional one grounds the story in reality. It acts as a foundation onto which I can overlay my story with all its plot twists, characters, and dialogue.

I’ve used real settings in my previous books as well, so this practice isn’t new for None Without Sin. Two of the books were set in and around the Philadelphia area. A few readers have even expressed their excitement at the mention of a street or location with which they’re familiar. They spoke of the memories the book invoked as they relived their own experiences within the limits of the city. And that is what I’m trying to do with my stories, invoke feelings. That extra bit of realism can sometimes be just enough to heighten a reader’s pleasure while reading the book.

So, I say again, welcome to Newark. I hope you enjoy your stay. ♦

None Without Sin

by Michael Bradley

July 1-31, 2022 Virtual Book Tour

Synopsis:

None Without Sin by Michael Bradley

Be sure your sin won’t find you out.

When a Delaware real estate mogul is murdered, newspaper journalist Brian Wilder wants the scoop on the killing, including the meaning behind the mysterious loaf of bread left with the corpse. Reverend Candice Miller, called to minister to the grieving family, quickly realizes that the killer has adopted the symbolism of sin eating, a Victorian-era religious ritual, as a calling card. Is it the work of a religious fanatic set to punish people for their missteps, or something even more sinister?

As more victims fall, Brian and Candice follow a trail of deceit and blackmail, hoping to discover the identity of the killer—and praying that their own sins won’t catch the killer’s attention.

“Loaded with twists, Bradley’s vibrant and gripping thriller will make readers eager for more.”
—August Norman, author of Sins of the Mother

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery
Published by: CamCat Books
Publication Date: August 2, 2022
Number of Pages: 400
ISBN10: 0744305950 (hardcover)
ISBN13: 9780744305951 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9780744305517 (eBook)
ISBN: 9780744305982 (Digital Audiobook)
ASIN: B09RJNQLS3 (Kindle edition)
ASIN: B09WG5PB85 (Audible Audiobook)
Purchase Links #CommissionEarned: IndieBound.org | Amazon | Amazon Kindle | Audible Audiobook | Barnes & Noble | B&N Nook Book | BookDepository.com | Bookshop.org | eBooks.com | !ndigo | Kobo Audiobook | Kobo eBook | Goodreads | CamCat Books

Author Bio:

Michael Bradley

Michael Bradley is an award-winning author from Delaware. He spent eight years as a radio DJ “on the air” before realizing he needed a real job and turned to IT. Never one to waste an experience, he used his familiarity with life on the radio for many of his suspense novels. His third novel, Dead Air (2020), won the Foreword INDIES Award as well as the IBPA Benjamin Franklin Award.

Catch Up With Michael Bradley:
www.MBradleyOnline.com
Goodreads
BookBub – @mjbradley88
Instagram – @mjbradley88
Twitter – @mjbradley88
Facebook – @mjbradley88

Tour Participants:

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https://www.linkytools.com/basic_linky_include.aspx?id=307026

GIVEAWAY:

This is a giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Tours for None Without Sin by Michael Bradley. See the widget for entry terms and conditions. Void where prohibited.

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