Category Archives: A DAY IN THE LIFE

a place where characters give you a glimpse into their day

A Conversation with Katherine Hall Page

The Body in the Casket brings together two passions of mine: traditional country house murder mysteries and Broadway musicals. Many months ago as the idea for this book was percolating in my mind the big question was how to stage the book. A house party—or as the British called them during Edwardian times, “a Saturday to Monday”—would supply the country house part and the host, a legendary Broadway musical producer, Max Dane, was soon conjured up to bring in the Great White Way.

Here’s the invitation:

Dane is turning 70 and the invitees have all been involved in his only failure, Heaven or Hell—his last until the production he’s envisioning for this birthday bash twenty years later. Of course Faith Fairchild enters the scene to cater the weekend, but also—as Max puts it—for her “sleuthing ability.” One of his guests plans to kill him and it’s Faith’s job to find out before the deed is done. The reason he is sure is made clear in the beginning of the book and yes, a casket plays a part, as does a Playbill, the distinctive program booklet handed out by ushers at theatrical performances

I’m sitting at my desk with a stack of those Playbills next to me. Although Max Dane’s musicals are off stage in this book, Broadway has happily been in my mind throughout. Living in northern New Jersey, not far from Manhattan, meant growing up with theater in my family. My parents had friends who were professionals and went to on and off Broadway performances often. When we were old enough, we did too.

I wish I had the Playbill from the very first production I saw: Gertrude Lawrence, the famous British actress, in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s The King and I, a matinee in 1952. The musical, which opened in 1951, had taken Broadway by storm. Rex Harrison turned down the role of the king and Yul Brynner, who would forever be associated with it, was cast. I was quite a little girl, but remember the two of them whirling about the stage to “Shall We Dance”, Lawrence’s hoop-skirted silk gown shimmering brightly in the spotlight. The other memory that is still so clear all these years later is of the vibrant colors—the costumes and the sets. The songs must have made an impression as well, but so many were hits that I can’t be sure whether I am recalling the original experience or the repetitions, (Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip’s “song” while courting was “People Will Think We’re in Love”!). Sadly, Gertrude Lawrence died of cancer unexpectedly in September 1952 and Deborah Kerr played Anna in the film. As a first stage memory, nothing could ever equal Lawrence’s elegant, vibrant figure in Brynner’s arms.

My mother, Alice, and her sister Ruth loved musicals. We used to tease my aunt because she wore out the record of Carousel, playing it so much she had to buy a new one. We grew up knowing the lyrics to all the classic musicals. Looking over at my Playbills there’s Robert Preston and Barbara Cook in The Music Man, Joel Grey in Stop The World—I want To Get Off (directed by Anthony Newley), Nancy Kwan in Flower Drum Song and many more. We would take our chances going from Broadway box office to box office on a Saturday morning—we couldn’t go wrong!

Starting when my cousin John and I were twelve, our mothers allowed us to go into the city on our own. While musicals were all well and good, we thought of ourselves as “serious” theatergoers. Richard Burton’s Hamlet—I still get shivers. Albee’s Tiny Alice with John Gielgud and Irene Worth, The Deputy with Emlyn Williams and a very young Jeremy Brett! Colleen Dewhurst as Miss Amelia Evans in Carson McCullers’ The Ballad of the Sad Café. Just now looking at that Playbill, I notice that the artist Leonard Baskin did the cover. And inside those covers, besides reading about the play and the cast, it is and was almost as much fun to look at the ads—“Does She or Doesn’t She?”, “Give her L’Aimant…before someone else does,” and listings for restaurants long gone. We always ate at one of the Automats—the best macaroni and cheese ever created or the baked beans in the little green pot.

In The Body in the Casket, I try to convey some of the excitement of live theater—in this case, however, “live” turns deadly!


You can read more about The Body in the Casket, the 24th book in the “Faith Fairchild” mystery series.

The inimitable Faith Fairchild returns in a chilling New England whodunit, inspired by the best Agatha Christie mysteries and with hints of the timeless board game Clue.

For most of her adult life, resourceful caterer Faith Fairchild has called the sleepy Massachusetts village of Aleford home. While the native New Yorker has come to know the region well, she isn’t familiar with Havencrest, a privileged enclave, until the owner of Rowan House, a secluded sprawling Arts and Crafts mansion, calls her about catering a weekend house party.

Producer/director of a string of hit musicals, Max Dane—a Broadway legend—is throwing a lavish party to celebrate his seventieth birthday. At the house as they discuss the event, Faith’s client makes a startling confession. “I didn’t hire you for your cooking skills, fine as they may be, but for your sleuthing ability. You see, one of the guests wants to kill me.”

Faith’s only clue is an ominous birthday gift the man received the week before—an empty casket sent anonymously containing a twenty-year-old Playbill from Max’s last, and only failed, production—Heaven or Hell. Consequently, Max has drawn his guest list for the party from the cast and crew. As the guests begin to arrive one by one, and an ice storm brews overhead, Faith must keep one eye on the menu and the other on her host to prevent his birthday bash from becoming his final curtain call.

Full of delectable recipes, brooding atmosphere, and Faith’s signature biting wit, The Body in the Casket is a delightful thriller that echoes the beloved mysteries of Agatha Christie and classic films such as “Murder by Death” and “Deathtrap.”

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About the author
Katherine Hall Page is the author of twenty-three previous Faith Fairchild mysteries, the first of which received the Agatha Award for best first mystery. The Body in the Snowdrift was honored with the Agatha Award for best novel of 2006. Page also won an Agatha for her short story “The Would-Be Widower.” The recipient of the Malice Domestic Award for Lifetime Achievement, she has also been nominated for the Edgar, the Mary Higgins Clark, the Maine Literary, and the Macavity Awards. She lives in Massachusetts and Maine with her husband. Visit Katherine at katherine-hall-page.org.

All comments are welcomed.

A day in the life of Amy Flowers by Gayle Leeson

Hi, lovely Dru! And Dru’s lovely readers! Dru asked me to stop by and give you guys a look into my day. Well, don’t get too excited—I live in a small rural Virginia town called Winter Garden, and not a lot happens here. . .well, unless you count the murders.

So, I try to get up in time to linger over a cup of coffee and a light breakfast before I open the Down South Café. Sometimes I can do it, and other times I hit the snooze button a bajillion times and then have to run around getting ready like a lunatic. But don’t think I don’t have my priorities straight, though. I might have to race out of the house wearing two, hopefully, well-aimed swipes of mascara and my wet hair pulled back in a ponytail, but Rory—my terrier—and Princess Eloise—Mom’s cat—are always fed and cared for before I leave the house.

I live in a small house a stone’s throw from where my mom lives with Aunt Bess. Aunt Bess is actually Great Aunt Elizabeth, but she’s always been Aunt Bess to us. Mom’s house belonged to my grandparents, and my grandmother left it to Mom when she passed. Aunt Bess had come to stay with Nana a few years after Pop died, so now she lives there with Mom. It’s great having her and Mom living so close. I enjoy my independence, but it’s nice to know people who love you are right up the hill if you need them.

I open the Down South Café at seven a.m., so I try to be there between six-thirty and a quarter ‘til in order to make sure everything is tidy, to get the coffee started, and to begin breakfast prep. Just about every morning, our first customer is Dilly Boyd. Dilly brings a smile and, usually, a tidbit of gossip, and she always leaves with a biscuit for the raccoon who lives in the woods behind her house.

The other patron we have that you could almost set your watch by is Homer Pickens. Homer comes in each day at 10:30 for a sausage biscuit and a cup of coffee. And, each day, Homer has a new hero with a quote or two that usually applies to whatever is going on in Winter Garden.

The Down South Café closes at three p.m., so after cleaning up, I usually go home and crash on the sofa with Rory for a little while. Sometimes he and I look through our cookbooks to come up with a new dish to try, and other times we either nap or watch TV.

Lately, in the evenings, I’ve enjoyed hanging out with Deputy Ryan Hall when he isn’t working or I don’t have plans with my friends. Ryan and I have been dating for nearly two months now. Who’d have thought I’d be dating a man who once investigated me for the murder of my former boss?

I’ve started selling honey from Stu Landon’s farm on consignment at the café. Drop in and get a jar. You won’t be disappointed!


You can read more about Amy in Honey-Baked Homicide, the third book in the “Down South Café” mystery series.

The owner of a delightful Southern café tastes the sharp sting of suspicion in this delectable comfort food mystery . . .

It’s fall in Winter Garden, Virginia, and business at Amy Flowers’ Down South Café has never been better. So when struggling beekeeper Stuart Landon asks Amy to sell some of his honey, she’s happy to help. The jars of honey are a sweet success, but their partnership is cut short when Amy discovers Landon’s body outside the café early one morning.

As Amy tries to figure out who could possibly have wanted to harm the unassuming beekeeper, she discovers an ever-expanding list of suspects—and they’re all buzzing mad. She’ll have to use all of her skills—and her Southern charm—to find her way out of this sticky situation. . .

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Giveaway: Leave a comment below for your chance to win a print copy of Honey-Baked Homicide. U.S. entries only, please. The giveaway ends December 7, 2017. Good luck everyone!

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About the author
Gayle Leeson is a pseudonym for Gayle Trent. I also write as Amanda Lee. As Gayle Trent, I write the Daphne Martin Cake Mystery series and the Myrtle Crumb Mystery series. As Amanda Lee, I write the Embroidery Mystery series. I live in Virginia with my family, which includes my own “Angus” who is not an Irish wolfhound but a Great Pyrenees who provides plenty of inspiration for the character of Mr. O’Ruff. I’m having a blast writing this new series!

All comments are welcomed.

A day in the life of Charlie Mack by Cheryl A. Head

Charlie was ten minutes into her gym workout when the phone chimed in her earbud. The treadmill’s digital display illuminated 6 a.m. so it was probably her mother. But it could also be a client. Charlie loosened the phone from her waist clip to look at the caller ID. It was Mandy. She turned the speed on the treadmill to 3, and glanced at the man running next to her who seemed focused on cable news.

“What’s wrong, honey?”

“Don just called. He tried to reach you, but you didn’t pick up. He said the mayor’s office wants a meeting at 8 a.m.”

“The mayor?” Charlie said louder than she’d intended. Her neighboring runner’s attention shifted to her.

“Hold on.”

She stepped off the treadmill and headed to the locker room. The gym was packed this morning with Detroit’s young professionals, die-hard health buffs, and a few of the city’s movers and shakers who were walking, riding, gliding, lifting, and pumping before they had to tackle one of Detroit’s dreary February workdays.

“I guess that’s it for exercise. I was going to see Ernestine before I went into the office. I guess that’s off, too.”

“How is your mom?”

“She met with her doctor yesterday. I want to look at the results of her test.”

“When you see her, go slow. She needs to be in charge for as long as the Alzheimer’s will let her.”

“I know. Gotta go. I’ll see you tonight.

* * *

The best thing Charlie’s ex-soldier, ex-husband, Franklin had taught her was the 5-minute shower, and she was dressed and in the office by 7 a.m. Don and Gil were already there, and they must have rousted Judy, because she was making coffee.

“Who made the call?” Charlie asked Don.

“The press secretary.”

“Shit. That means Kilpatrick is in another mess, and they want us to run interference.”

“If we take him as a client, we’ll risk our reputation with the business community, and our county government networks,” Gil warned.

“Right, but I don’t see how we can ignore the invitation to meet. We’ll all three go. Don, call DPD. See if any of your police pals know what’s going on. Gil, you’ll be wearing your lawyer hat. We may need a legal reason to say ‘no’ to the mayor.

“I imagine you’ll be doing your black-woman-in-charge act,” Judy said smiling.

Judy’s office manager talents were the least of her assets. She was an astute strategist, liar, and massager of egos, skills that had more than once given the Mack Private Investigations agency an edge over its competitors.

“It’s a tried-and-true way to operate in Detroit,” Charlie replied. “After all, black women have had to solve complex problems all our lives. We know how to put two and two together, see past the BS, and cut through red tape.”

“Excuse me while I get in touch with one of my contacts at headquarters,” Don interrupted. “I’ll be ready to leave in 15 minutes.”

Judy shared a look with Gil and Charlie. In a stage whisper, she offered her assessment. “I guess Don will be driving again.”

“Whatever, Novak,” Don hollered over his shoulder.

“No worries, Judy. I learned a long time ago the best way to maintain control is to give some of it away,” Charlie said.


You can read more about Charlie Mack in Bury Me When I’m Dead, the first installment of the “Charlie Mack Motown” Mysteries.

Charlene “Charlie” Mack is a PI in Detroit. Born and raised in the city that America forgot, Charlie has built a highly respected firm through hard work, smart choices, and relentless ambition. But she also secretly struggles with her sexual orientation, and supports a mother with early-onset Alzheimer’s. When Charlie and her crack team of investigators head to Birmingham, Alabama following the trail of a missing person, what should be a routine case turns into an intricate chase for answers. Shady locals, a southern patriarch with dark secrets, and the FBI obscure their path. It seems like everyone has something to hide, including Charlie. When the case turns violent, with a double murder and an attack on Charlie on a neighborhood street, everything suddenly becomes personal. Who can Charlie trust, and how will she solve the riddles of the Magic City?

Bury Me When I’m Dead was a 2017 Lambda Literary Award Finalist for Lesbian Mystery.

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Meet the Author
A Detroit native, Cheryl A. Head now lives on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. She navigated a successful career in public broadcasting before focusing on fiction writing. Her debut work, Long Way Home: A World War II Novel, was a 2015 Next Generation Indie Book Award Finalist in both the African American Literature, and Historical Fiction categories. The next book in the Charlie Mack Motown Mysteries, Wake Me When It’s Over, will be available May 2018. Head is the Director of Inclusion for the Golden Crown Literary Society. Visit her at: cherylhead.com.

A day in the life with Charley Carpenter by Leslie Nagel

Suburbia is murder, my friends.

I know this, and in the most intimate and shocking way possible. And yet, I simply cannot leave well enough alone. Or maybe it’s the murders that won’t leave me alone. I’m just a shopkeeper, for pete’s sake. Maybe it’s the red hair.

My name is Charlotte Carpenter, aka Charley. I am the humble owner of Old Hat Vintage Fashions, the trendiest boutique in my hometown of Oakwood, a wealthy, insular suburb of Dayton, Ohio. Not exactly your first pick as a likely locale for a series of gruesome murders, you say?

You’d be wrong.

A few months ago, I helped the police solve a baffling case involving the exclusive Agathas Book Club, of which I used to be a member (before most of the membership was knocked off, crime scenes arranged to copy books from our murder mystery reading list). Specifically, I found myself working intimately with the smoking hot Detective Marcus Trenault. Ever since that first investigation, I’ve encountered more dead bodies than any amateur sleuth has a right to expect. I love it. And I’m good at it, too—solving puzzles, tracking down information in pursuit of the truth, going where the police cannot. Before you ask, the fact that I’ve had a major thing for Marc since we were in high school has had no influence whatsoever on my affinity for all things murder. None at all. Seriously.

To return to the business at hand: Murder has found Oakwood once again, and once again, I discovered the body. Estate Agent Calvin Prescott was a dear family friend. My wheelchair bound father Bobby was devastated by the loss of yet another pal from the old days. The fact that I’ve found evidence of a link between Calvin’s death and the recent auction at Mulbridge House hasn’t helped matters. It seems as if everyone in town has a stake in the fate of the crumbling old mansion in the woods.

For example, we have today’s toxic bombshell, a Facebook post by an anonymous witch known only as “Treasure Girl”, a real doozy of a slime job that claims collusion between myself, the Mulbridge heirs and the Oakwood City Council to ram the demolition approval through for our own nefarious ends. When I saw that post, I was so stunned that I almost got run over by a minivan right in front of Old Hat. Good thing my clerk Vanessa was there to drag me out of harm’s way. What is happening to my peaceful, charming little town?

I’m the first to admit that living at home, surrounded by people who have known me since I was a baby, can be stifling. Sometimes this town feels like one big, flat sidewalk, lined with casserole rotations and predictability, desperate housewives and meaningless rules of conduct. I’m only twenty eight, and there are days when I feel as if life here just isn’t enough, that I don’t really fit in, no matter how hard I try. But I am trying. I’m determined to make it work, for my father’s sake if not my own.

I’ve got good friends here, including my BFF from junior high, Frankie. She and Dmitri, the assistant manager of the hair salon next to my boutique, ensure that life is anything but boring. Those two rascals never hesitate to back me up on a caper, including the time we broke into the—well. That’s a story for another day, preferably after the statute of limitations has expired.

And then, of course, there’s Marcus. He walked away from a career as the rising star in the Chicago PD’s Homicide Division to take a job in this one horse town, where a stolen cellphone is a major crime wave. The poor guy was bored stiff and seriously questioning his own life choices when the Agathas case changed everything. Suddenly, he had more trouble than he could handle.

Including yours truly.

Which brings me to my current dilemma. Dating a cop means you’ve got to keep things like breaking and entering on the down low. But how else will I get the information I need to solve Calvin’s murder? Maybe if I find out what’s really going on in those woods, Marc won’t be too angry about how I did it. The end justifies the means, right? Here’s hoping, because there’s a killer on the loose, and something tells me he—or she—isn’t finished yet. Not by a long shot.


Learn more about Charley in The Antique House Murders, Book 2 in the USA Today bestselling “Oakwood Mystery Series.”

Mulbridge House stood, silent and decaying, deep in the woods at the heart of Oakwood, Ohio, long before the passing of Augusta Mulbridge. Yet suddenly everyone in town seems to have a stake in its fate: the greedy heirs, eager to tear it down for a tidy profit; the local preservationists, determined to maintain it as an historic site; the angry neighbors, staunchly opposed to the construction of a modern subdivision. Even Charley Carpenter is forced to admit that her beloved shop, Old Hat Vintage Fashions, could use an infusion of the estate’s treasures.

The clock is ticking. The wrecking ball is ready to swing. All that stands between Mulbridge House and oblivion is one final vote. That, and murder. . .

The trouble begins when Charley walks into auctioneer Calvin Prescott’s office to find her cherished family friend crumpled on the floor. Detective Marcus Trenault quickly connects his death to a string of increasingly violent burglaries plaguing Oakwood. But when Charley uncovers a link to a massive land swindle worth millions, not to mention a drug ring operating out of the manor’s abandoned outbuildings, that theory crumbles faster than Mulbridge House. Now Charley’s racing to catch a killer before everything falls apart.

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Meet the author
Leslie Nagel is the author of the USA Today and Amazon bestselling “Oakwood Mystery Series.” She lives in the all too real city of Oakwood, Ohio, where murders are rare but great stories lie thick on the ground. In addition to crafting tales about murder, love, and the love of murder, she teaches writing at a local community college. As a self-proclaimed bibliophile, she’s always got at least two books going on her nightstand and in her office, plus a third in audio format in her car. After the written word, Leslie’s passions include her husband, her son and daughter, hiking, tennis, the cat that runs her office, and strong black coffee, not necessarily in that order.

The series debut, The Book Club Murders, was released in 2016, has received hundreds of starred reviews, and quickly hit #1 on Amazon and USA Today’s Top 150. The Antique House Murders is now available wherever ebooks are sold, as well as in audio format from Audible Books.

Connect with Leslie at LeslieNagel.com, on Amazon, on Facebook, on Instagram, on Twitter, at GoodReads, and at BookBub.

All comments are welcomed.

A day in the life with Cat Latimer by Lynn Cahoon

Cat Latimer here. I’m getting ready for the upcoming writers retreat and thinking I might just have to go to the Aspen Hills Grocery to get muffins for the breakfast buffet. The kitchen is dark and nothing is baking. Guests should be arriving sometime Sunday afternoon and I don’t think I’ve even got a room ready for them.

What happened, you ask?

Love.

Love brought down the retreat.

No, Seth and I didn’t get in a fight. It’s Shauna. She’s been seeing a lot of Kevin lately. I mean, a lot. Like staying over at his ranch. The guy even bought her a horse. Shauna’s wanted a pony since she was six years old. It’s a fairy tale romance.

Except I think he’s arrogant and selfish. But, like my mom tells me all the time, it’s not my life.

Anyway, Shauna’s still out at the ranch. She told me she’d be here tomorrow morning first thing, but I’m heading to the store, just in case. Besides, it’s not always all about the food, right?

We’ve got a mixed bunch this time. One writer is retired from an Alaskan police force. She should be interesting. I’m hoping she’s not overbearing. Sometimes, people in law enforcement can think they know everything. Well, except Uncle Pete. He’s never been anything but kind to people. Aspen Hills is really lucky to have him as their police chief. Of course, I might be a little bias.

Anyway, Seth’s coming by to take me to dinner. It’s strange. He’s around a lot during the retreat, but it feels like we don’t get to really talk until the guests go home. To fix that, we’ve started doing a pre-retreat date night. We’re playing mini-golf this evening.

I better go get ready. I’ll see you soon. And if you run into Shauna, don’t tell her I unloaded on you. I’m really trying to be happy and supportive of her in this new relationship. Even if the guy is going to break her heart.

Cat


You can read more about Cat in Of Murder and Men, the third book in the “Cat Latimer” mystery series.

Love is in the air in Aspen Hills, and it’s making a terrible mess of Cat Latimer’s writers’ retreat—especially when blood stains the plot . . .

Ever since her business partner, Shauna, fell for a wealthy landowner in town, Cat has been working double time to keep her writers’ retreat running. And with the January session almost underway, that spells trouble. As if scheduling mishaps aren’t disastrous enough, Shauna skips out on kitchen duties one morning, forcing Cat to serve unsuspecting guests store-bought muffins . . .

But best laid plans really go awry when Shauna discovers her beau missing from their bed. When his body later turns up in the horse barn, they quickly find out the victim’s scandalous lifestyle left many dying for revenge. While balancing an eccentric group of aspiring writers and a suspect list for the record books, Cat soon finds herself on the heels of a killer—and authoring her most deadly conclusion yet . . .

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About the author
Lynn Cahoon is the author of the NYT and USA Today best-selling Tourist Trap cozy mystery series. Guidebook To Murder, book 1 of the series, won the Reader’s Crown for Mystery Fiction in 2015. She also pens the Cat Latimer series. A Story To Kill, and Fatality In Firelight are available in mass market paperback. She lives in a small town like the ones she loves to write about with her husband and two fur babies. Sign up for her newsletter at www.lynncahoon.com.

All comments are welcomed.

A day in the life of Sister Louise “Lou” LaSalle by Olivia Matthews

Routine. Uneventful, but exceptionally fulfilling. That’s how I describe my life.

Or at least that’s how I used to describe it.

Every morning, with the exception of Sundays, my alarm clock wakes me before the sunrise. I climb out of bed in my cozy little quarters in the Motherhouse where I live with 63 other Catholic sisters of the Congregation of St. Hermione of Ephesus. You’ll find us in Briar Coast, New York. The town, which is located just outside of Buffalo, is home to fewer than one thousand people. I know, pretty tiny.

I always make my bed before kneeling beside the mattress for my morning prayers. At the age of sixty-three, that’s not always as easy as it sounds, but I believe that starting the day with a grateful heart helps keep things in perspective. After giving God thanks and asking for His guidance throughout the day, I get dressed to meet Sister Carmen “Carm” Vega for our five-mile morning run.

Sister Carm and I have been running together six days a week for more than six years since the day after we moved into the Motherhouse. We’re both from California. I was born in Los Angeles. Sister Carm was born in Mexico, but grew up in San Diego. We quickly became friends. I love her unquenchably optimistic outlook on everything, and I think my pragmatic approach keeps her grounded.

Our makeshift jogging trail carries us around the Motherhouse with its adjoining congregational office building, then to the campus of the College of St. Hermione of Ephesus. You’re right; the school’s name is not a coincidence. The congregation founded the college in 1871 as an educational institution for women. It became coeducational in 1965. The college’s campus is beautiful, especially its oval set in the center of the grounds. It’s surrounded by red brick buildings, stately trees, rolling lawns and evergreen bushes. Sister Carm and I run laps around the oval before veering off onto the dirt path of a nearby park that leads to the heart of Briar Coast. To complete our five-miles, we run everything in reverse, ending where we began – at the Motherhouse.

After cleaning up and rejoining each other for breakfast at the Motherhouse’s floral décor dining room, Sister Carm goes to work at the college where she’s a professor of Theology. I used to teach Philosophy at the college before I left to serve full-time on the congregation’s leadership team. I miss being on campus every day. Thankfully, Sister Carm and my nephew, Christian “Chris” LaSalle, the college’s acting vice president for advancement, keep me informed of the college’s latest news and events. Chris also gives me great insight on the Briar Coast community through his extensive social network.

As part of my role on the congregation’s leadership team, I have the pleasure of planning our events, including our annual feast day for St. Hermione of Ephesus. This year’s celebration features a world-renown speaker, Dr. Maurice “Mo” Jordan. Mo also happens to be a dear friend. We met in graduate school and have been friends for more than two decades although our hectic schedules make it hard to get together.

Not everyone at the congregation is as excited as I am that Mo is going to be the guest speaker. Sister Marianna Tuller has made her displeasure abundantly – and incessantly – clear. Still it never occurred to me that Mo was in mortal danger – until I found him bludgeoned to death in his hotel room.

Deputy Fran Cole and Deputy Ted Tate of the Briar Coast County Sheriff’s Office insist on putting every sister in the congregation – all 63 of us – on their suspects list. Isn’t that absurd? Perhaps they’re taking such a ridiculous approach to the investigation because they’re uncertain of what they’re doing. After all, Briar Coast has had only one murder in the past eight years. That case wasn’t even investigated since the murderer confessed at the scene.

Mo’s murder also has drawn the attention of a new resident to Briar Coast, Sharelle “Shari” Henson, a reporter with The Briar Coast Telegraph. Shari is almost as anxious to learn who killed Mo as I am. We both agree that no one in the congregation could be involved, not even Sister Marianna. Besides there are plenty of other suspects, including:

  • his wrathful wife
  • his wife’s lustful lover
  • his prideful son
  • a greedy adversary
  • an envious colleague; and
  • his slothful business partner

If the deputies aren’t going to interview these other suspects, I’m willing to do it. With Chris’s and Shari’s help, Sister Carm’s counsel, and God’s guidance, I should be able to muddle through . . . Shouldn’t I?


You can read more about Sister Lou in Mayhem & Mass, the first book in the NEW “Sister Lou” mystery series.

A Los Angeles transplant, Sister Louise “Lou” LaSalle feels right at home in Briar Coast, New York. After all, her beloved nephew, Chris, works at the college founded by her congregation. But while Sister Lou has always played by the rules, she’s about to have her faith in herself tested—by murder…

Sister Lou expects some pushback when she invites her friend, Maurice Jordan, to be the guest speaker for the St. Hermione of Ephesus Feast Day presentation. The theology professor is known far and wide for his controversial views. What she’s not prepared for is finding him dead in his hotel room, bashed over the head.

When the local deputies focus on the members of her congregation as suspects, Sister Lou takes matters into her own hands. Against Chris’s wishes, she teams up with a cynical local reporter to delve into Maurice’s life. The unlikely partners in crime-fighting uncover a litany of both devotees and detractors. And though it might take a miracle to find the killer, Sister Lou vows to carry on until justice prevails . . .

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Meet the author
Olivia Matthews is the cozy mystery pseudonym of award-winning author Patricia Sargeant. A voracious reader, Patricia first realized she wanted to be a published author at the age of nine. She’s been inspired by writers such as Walter Mosley, Dick Francis and Tami Hoag, who put ordinary people in extraordinary situations and have them find the Hero Inside. Her Sister Lou character was inspired by Catholic sisters whose courage, determination and faith have helped build communities and formed rich, lasting legacies. Raised in New York City, Patricia lives in Ohio with her husband. She loves to hear from readers. You can reach her at BooksByPatricia@yahoo.com. Learn more at her website, authoroliviamatthews.com.

All comments are welcomed.

A day in the life of Halsey and her yellow lab, Bardot by Christine E. Blum

I was dressed in my hiking outfit for the day, army green shorts with lots of pockets, an off-shoulder white embroidered peasant blouse and pink high-top Chuck Taylors. I have to keep up appearances after all. I put a leash on Bardot and we went out the door and started up the hill.

I live towards the top end of Rose Avenue and that allows for an un-obstructed ocean breeze that cools the house all year long. At the very top of the hill sits a community garden offering six acres of fifteen by fifteen-foot plots of incredibly rich soil that are guaranteed to produce, well, produce.

The view up there was fabulous and the briny air I breathed in while admiring the ocean on the horizon made me think of Blue Hawaiian drinks and bronzed Hawaiian men.

A garden buddy had left me a basket of pears from her over-abundant crop. I clipped some watercress and arugula from my little horn of plenty and lunch was starting to take shape in my mind. I needed one more ingredient, a pomegranate. The owner of the tree near my plot had given me carte blanche to help myself. I examined the branches and saw that for the most part they were bare. Except for one large to almost bursting bulb at the top. It clearly needed to be liberated.

“Bardot, if I fall and break my leg go and get help. If I fall and break my neck go and get the bottle of La Tache that I’ve been saving for Armageddon.”

I hoisted myself up onto the first branch and looked skyward into the tree to chart my course. As I snaked through the branches I looked down and saw Bardot waiting patiently for me to send a squirrel her way. The glass is always half full for her.

When I reached my quarry I still had to stretch another foot or so to get my hand on the fruit. When I did, balancing on my tiptoes, I yanked but the pomegranate remained firmly attached to the limb. I was a good twenty feet above the ground and was not about to climb down, trod home and return with some pruning sheers.

I could clearly see the Santa Monica airport from here, brimming with activity as small planes taxied, took off or landed. The sound of their engines buzzing echoed up the hill.

Time for my second attempt.

I elongated my body and caught hold of the fruit. My other hand was clasped around the strong center trunk to hold me steady. This time when I pulled I lifted my feet to let the entire weight of my body apply the pressure. Two things happened next. The pomegranate broke free from its stem and a yellow and black small plane buzzed by only about fifteen feet from my head.

My feet never found the branch again, the hand holding onto the trunk slipped, and because I stupidly refused to let go of my prize in the other hand I was now falling through the tree.

My free arm caught a horizontal branch and I was able to swing and wrap my legs around it like a monkey would. My other hand hung freely gripping the pomegranate. I was about six feet from the ground, Bardot was jumping up and down and wagging her tail, and one of my neighbors and her two young kids had stopped their nature walk to watch.

“Oh my goodness, how can we help,” asked the mom warily.

“There’s a ladder over by the fence, can you bring it here and open it?”

“Sean?”

“On it!” The boy went on his mission like an exemplary first responder.

When at last I was on terra firma I took a breath and surveyed the damage. I had some scrapes on my forearm and a skinned shin. And an intact pomegranate.

“Thank you guys so much, I don’t know what I would have done if you hadn’t been walking by. Bardot is a wonderful dog but I’ve never been able to get her to set up a ladder for me. She’s always grumbles something about opposable thumbs.”

The kids giggled.

“Did you see that plane? It nearly hit me!”

“I’ve seen them lose altitude on their approach to the airport for landing, but never that low,” mom said nodding to her offspring as if this was a teachable moment. “Are you sure you’re okay? I can go get the car and drive you home.”

“Thank you, that’s sweet. But no motor vehicle is going to relieve what hurts the most right now.” I too can play teacher and the kids were hoping I’d reveal some huge gouge on my body spewing entrails.

“My pride,” I laughed. “This ranks right up there as one of my silliest ideas.”

Mom gave me an appreciative smile and class was dismissed. As they continued on their walk I heard Sean say, “That was pretty dumb.”


You can read more about Halsey and Bardot in Full Bodied Murder, the first book in the NEW “Rose Avenue Wine Club” mystery series.

As the newest member of the Rose Avenue Wine Club, Halsey wants to expand her palate—not solve murders. But when a neighbor is found dead, it’s up to her to pair the culprit with a deadly crime . . .

Leaving behind a failed marriage, New Yorker Annie “Halsey” Hall is ready to begin the next phase of her life in coastal Southern California. From the moment she arrives at her new digs on cozy Rose Avenue, she looks forward to joining the neighborhood ladies for their weekly Wine Club gathering. With only a rambunctious yellow lab puppy to keep her company, Halsey could really use a confidant—and a glass or two of her favorite white wine . . .

Unfortunately, she finds nothing but red at the Wine Club meeting—and judging by the dead woman lying face down in the backyard, it’s not spilled merlot. Halsey accidentally stumbled into the wrong address at the wrong time, and with suspicions about her past on the rise, she must prove that she isn’t a killer. Enlisting the eclectic talents of the Wine Club ladies, Halsey searches for the true criminal at large. But separating friends from foes isn’t easy on Rose Avenue, and as she racks up a suspect list, Halsey can’t shake the feeling that someone in her inner circle has a taste for murder . . .

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Meet the author
Christine E. Blum was born in Shaker Heights, Ohio. At 7 her parents moved to Europe and luckily, took her with them. Christine grew up in Paris, Brussels and finally London and along the way developed her unique brand of humor. She lives in Southern California where she’s allowed to share a house and pool with her famous yellow Lab, Bardot. Who just happens to be able to dive 10’ underwater, has appeared on Animal Planet and was in the NY Times Bestseller, Underwater Dogs. When not signing paw-tographs she can be found lounging by the pool and solving murders. Readers can visit her website at www.christineeblum.com.

All comments are welcomed.

A day in the life of Samantha Washington by V.M. Burns

“Sam, wake up!”

I must not have responded quickly enough because the next thing I knew my grandmother pried open one of my eye lids.

Nana Jo’s face was mere inches away. Unfortunately, the activity had also awakened Snickers, one of my two chocolate toy poodles. Snickers took the opportunity to hop up onto the bed. She used my body as a runway walked toward me, stopping on my chest.

“What the—”

As soon as I opened my mouth, I knew I’d made a fatal mistake. Snickers took that opportunity to insert her tongue.

“Blah.” I pulled up the covers and used them to wipe the inside of my mouth while flopping around in an effort to unbalance the poodle from my chest. I turned to glare at Nana Jo for waking me, but she was already heading toward the door.

“Wake up. I heard a noise downstairs.”

Nothing short of ice water could have gotten me awake sooner. I hurried out of bed and slipped on my houseshoes. I grabbed the baseball bat from my closet and slid the lock to release my other poodle, Oreo, from his crate. My poodles were small, but they’d proven in the past that they were fearless when it mattered. Besides, if this turned out to be nothing, which I prayed, dear God please let this be nothing, then I could always let them outside to take care of business and maybe buy myself a couple extra minutes of sleep before I had to get up for work.

Bat in hand, the poodles and I followed Nana Jo downstairs. I didn’t need lights to see her sillouette against the brick wall of the brownstone that was now my home and North Harbor’s only mystery bookstore. In her hand was a gun.

We crept silently through the hallway and around the corner to the main bookstore.

Nana Jo held up a hand and we stopped. Snickers and Oreo took the opportunity to stretch. I looked down at them and noticed they weren’t barking or growling or showing any of the signs of distress they did the last time someone had broken into the bookstore. I glanced at the light for the door alarm and noticed it was still armed.

I came out of my batting stance and loosened my grip on the bat. “Are you sure you—”

“Shhhush!” Nana Jo turned, fingers to her lips, head cocked to the side.

That’s when I heard it. A swishing, flapping sound came from behind the office door.

I gripped my bat tightly and returned to my stance.

Nana Jo slowly twisted the doorknob, waited a few seconds and then flung open the office door.

We lept from around the corner into the room and flipped the light switch. That’s when I saw the black wings flying around the room.

I screamed and ran out of the room into the hallway. I stood in the hallway, marching around and flinging my arms around my head.

“What the heck are you doing?” Nana Jo stepped out and stared at me.

“It’s a bat!”

“I know it’s a bat.” She stared at me marching around the hall floor. “Oh good grief.” She got a broom from a nearby closet and marched back into the office.

I peeked around the corner and saw her push the button to raise the large glass garage door that opened onto the back courtyard.

Snickers and Oreo took the opportunity to head outside and take care of their business, totally oblivous to the flying mammal.

I watched as Nana Jo shoo’d the bat outside. What a way to start the day.


You can read more about Samantha Washington in To Plot Is Murder, the first book in the NEW “Mystery Bookshop” mystery series, coming November 28, 2017.

The small town of North Harbor on the shores of Lake Michigan is about to have a new mystery bookstore. But before the first customer can browse its shelves, the store’s owner is suspected of her own murder plot . . .

Samantha Washington has dreamed of owning her own mystery bookstore for as long as she can remember. And as she prepares for the store’s grand opening, she’s also realizing another dream—penning a cozy mystery set in England between the wars. While Samantha hires employees and fills the shelves with the latest mysteries, quick-witted Lady Penelope Marsh, long-overshadowed by her beautiful sister Daphne, refuses to lose the besotted Victor Carlston to her sibling’s charms. When one of Daphne’s suitors is murdered in a maze, Penelope steps in to solve the labyrinthine puzzle and win Victor.

But as Samantha indulges her imagination, the unimaginable happens in real life. A shady realtor turns up dead in her backyard, and the police suspect her—after all, the owner of a mystery bookstore might know a thing or two about murder. Aided by her feisty grandmother and an enthusiastic ensemble of colorful retirees, Samantha is determined to close the case before she opens her store. But will she live to conclude her own story when the killer has a revised ending in mind for her?

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Giveaway: Leave a comment below for your chance to win a print copy of The Plot Is Murder. U.S. entries only, please. The giveaway ends November 29, 2017. Good luck!

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Meet the author
Valerie Burns was born and raised in South Bend, Indiana. She holds a Bachelor’s degree from Northwestern University and a Master’s degree from the University of Notre Dame and a Master of Fine Arts in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University. Valerie is a training supervisor for an appliance manufacturer. She lives in Chattanooga, Tennessee with her two poodles.

Reach out to Valerie at vmburns.com and on Facebook.

All comments are welcomed.

A day in the life of Cassidi Conti by Traci Andrighetti

Hey, y’all! I’m Cassidi Conti, and I own a beauty salon in Danger Cove, Washington. It’s called The Clip and Sip, and the Victorian house it’s located in is also where I live with my makeup-artist cousin, Gia Di Mitri. Speaking of Gia, she’s on her way home from Christmas shopping, so I have to make this quick. Because when she’s around, no one gets a word in but her. Case in point, two years ago she stole my slot on Dru’s blog!

Before I tell you about my day, let me give you some backstory. From 1860 until 1955, the Victorian I own was a brothel for local lumberjacks, that is, until their wives set it on fire. Forty years later, my uncle Vincent Conti restored the building and ran a salon on the first floor. Uncle Vinnie was a ladies’ man who tended to more than his clients’ coiffures. And sadly, I think that’s what got him murdered, although I still don’t know for sure.

Since my uncle left me the property in his will, I’ve worked hard to restore the reputation of our family and the business. But every time my back is turned, someone reminds me of the Victorian’s past. The latest incident happened the other night. Right before The Clip and Sip’s holiday open house, someone sabotaged my rooftop sleigh display by replacing Santa’s toys with sex dolls.

Oh my gosh, I think I smell something burning upstairs. Hold on, okay? I’ll just be a second.

Yo, yous guys! Gia here. Don’t worry about the smoke smell. Between you and me, I burned an eyeliner pencil to sidetrack Cassidi for a few minutes. I don’t know why that girl thinks she’s the protagonist of this story, when it’s as plain as the nose on Rudolph the reindeer’s face that it’s me.

Anyway, I heard Cassidi telling you about our sleigh saboteur. I’m convinced that the culprit was a rival salon owner who blew in from L.A. six months ago and stole our clients. Her name is Ivy Li, and like the comic book character, she’s pure poison.

The subject of poison brings me to the point of this post. Recently, a mysterious woman came to town, and yesterday she had a manicure at Ivy’s salon, which, by the way, looks like a Greek version of Versailles. And after the woman’s nails had dried, she went outside and keeled over near the gold-breast-plated statue of Athena guarding the door, and she died.

But here’s the kicker. Cassidi and I got a note from the killer saying that the woman’s death was our fault. Of course, since she dropped dead at Ivy’s salon, how could it have been us? As it turns out, there is a way, and it has to do with Poison Poinsettia nail polish and a bottle of peach liqueur.

And the nightmare doesn’t end there. The killer also said that Cassidi and I are next on his list, and he doesn’t mean the one he’s sending to Santa. So we have to find out who this maniac is.

Or our Christmas could be canceled—for good.


You can read more about Cassidi in A Poison Manicure and Peach Liqueur, the second book in the “Danger Cove Hair Salon” mystery series.

It’s Christmas in Danger Cove, and all Cassidi Conti wants is clients. A rival salon owner has come to town and stolen The Clip and Sip’s business. Her holiday hopes go south, however, after someone sexes up the sleigh display at her open house, and an incident from the past makes the paper. Luckily, her tough talkin’ Texan aunt rides to her rescue, and she’s madder ‘n The Grinch in a gift shop. But when a nail client drops dead at her rival’s salon, and the killer sends unseasonal greetings to The Clip and Sip, Cassidi wonders whether an entire Texas cavalry could save her from the impending disaster. She has to act fast to figure out who the manicure murderer is, or her Noël could be nixed—forever.

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Giveaway: Leave a comment below for your chance to win copy of A Poison Manicure and Peach Liqueur, either Kindle/Nook (open to everyone) or print (U.S. residents only), winner’s choice. The giveaway will end November 28, 2017. Good luck everyone!

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About the author
Traci Andrighetti is the USA TODAY bestselling author of the Franki Amato Mysteries and the Danger Cove Hair Salon Mysteries. In her previous life, she was an award-winning literary translator and a Lecturer of Italian at the University of Texas at Austin, where she earned a PhD in Applied Linguistics. But then she got wise and ditched that academic stuff for a life of crime—writing, that is. Visit Traci at traciandrighetti.com.

All comments are welcomed.