Tag Archives: Alibi/Random House

A day in the Keys with Dr. Mer Cavallo by Micki Browning

adriftIt’s cold in the Arctic. I know it doesn’t take a Ph.D. to figure that out, but after I lost my research funding, it explains why I decided to temporarily relocate to the Florida Keys. The Keys are warm and a bit of latitude adjustment was just what I needed.

I still get up before dawn, but now it’s to prep the LunaSea, the dive charter boat I work on as a divemaster and scuba instructor. The job is temporary—just until I secure a new research position—but it keeps me in the water and the waters around Key Largo are intoxicatingly beautiful.

Yesterday, I rescued a man from drowning. It’s not as heroic as it sounds, but this incident bothered me. Saving the man wasn’t the problem. The reason he needed rescuing is what doesn’t make sense.

The diver claims he saw a ghost.

If that were the only peculiar thing about the rescue, I’d chalk it up to the diver’s stress level. A near-death experience plays havoc with a person’s mind. But that’s not the only thing about the situation that skews strange.

Here are the facts as I know them.

  1. The diver wasn’t diving from our boat, the LunaSea.
  2. He wasn’t even diving on the same reef.
  3. He was wreck-diving on the USS Spiegel Grove—which is a good five nautical miles from where we were.
  4. The Gulf Stream’s powerful current pushes water north along the east side of the Florida Keys.
  5. We were five nautical miles SOUTH of the shipwreck.

No one, myself included, has yet posited a satisfying hypothesis of how a distressed diver traveled five miles from the Spiegel Grove to Molasses Reef without the use of teleportation, a TARDIS or a wormhole.

Unfortunately, news of the event went viral and since then, the Keys have become absolutely buggy with ghost-hunters. Worse? Now I’m a minor celebrity on an island where the weird go pro, which for the record, is not a plus in the world of academia. My doctorate is in teuthology. If the diver had fled an octopus, I’m confident I’d be able to add some clarity to the situation, but being embroiled in a situation involving a ghost just isn’t in my skill set.

I was feeling a bit sorry for myself that this whole ghost-fiasco would impact my professional credibility. That was when Leroy, the captain of the LunaSea, reminded me that I get points for rescuing someone. He likes to come across gruff, but he doesn’t fool anybody. He has a way of putting things into perspective, and he always cheers for the underdog. That’s why he took me under his wing two months ago when I showed up at the Aquarius dive shop.

But even Leroy couldn’t predict what happened next. A ghost-hunting documentary film crew charted the LunaSea for a midnight dive on the Spiegel Grove to search for this supposed ghost. Guess who ended up being their safety diver? Me.

The crew leader, Ishmael Styx, has the spookiest green eyes I’ve ever seen. When he held out his hand in introduction, I experienced a hesitation that is out of character for me. I’ll admit, he goaded me and I took the bait. He vowed he’d turn me into a believer before the night was out. Not a chance. My mother was born in Sedona and she’s been trying to convert me to her crystal astrology woo-woo beliefs for years.

I went on a bit of a rant. I informed him I deal with facts. Data makes me happy. Adhering to the scientific method makes me downright giddy. Then, I probably went a bit overboard and told him that his quest for paranormal activity struck me as silly. He just laughed and before I knew it, I’d agreed to work the boat. Now I’m the voice of reason, and unless we encounter an angelfish tonight, the crew of the Spirited Divers, Paranormal Dive Team is going to be sorely disappointed.

Sorry to cut this short, but I’ve got to prep the boat for tonight. Usually night dives are on shallow reefs, but this dive will be deep, dark, and focused on finding the dead.

My job is to make sure nothing goes wrong, and I’m determined to do just that.


ADRIFT is the first in the NEW Mer Cavallo mystery series published by Alibi-Random House, January 2017.

In this breathtaking mystery debut, marine biologist–turned-divemaster Meredith Cavallo stands accused of a chilling crime after a dive gone wrong. But do the murky circumstances point to an accident, a murder, or a supernatural encounter?

Mer thought adjusting to a laid-back life in the Florida Keys would be a breeze. But when she rescues a floundering diver who claims to have seen a ghost, she’s caught in a storm of intrigue. News of the encounter explodes on social media, attracting a team of ghost hunters who want to capture proof that a greenish ghoul haunts Key Largo’s famed USS Spiegel Grove shipwreck.

Meredith knows the wreck inside and out, and agrees to act as their safety diver. When Ishmael, the charismatic leader of the group, vanishes during a midnight dive, everyone except Mer is convinced the ghost has claimed another victim. Topside, the tenacious detective in charge of the investigation finds Mer’s involvement in both incidents suspicious, and her enigmatic neighbor resurrects ghosts from her past.

Determined to find a rational explanation, Mer approaches Ishmael’s disappearance as any scientist would—by asking questions, gathering data, and deducing the truth. But the victim’s life is as shrouded in mystery as his disappearance. Still, something happened under the water and before long, she’s in over her head. When someone tries to kill her, she knows the truth is about to surface. Maybe dead men do tell tales after all.

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Meet the author
micki-browningAward-winning author Micki Browning worked in municipal law enforcement for more than two decades and is an FBI National Academy graduate. She is a professional divemaster and resides in Southern Florida with her partner in crime and a vast array of scuba equipment. Visit Micki at www.MickiBrowning.com and on Goodreads.

All comments are welcomed.

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My Musing ~ Adrift by Micki Browning

Adrift by Micki Browning is the first book in the NEW “Mer Cavallo” mystery series. Publisher: Alibi, January 10, 2017

adriftIn this breathtaking mystery debut, marine biologist–turned-divemaster Meredith Cavallo stands accused of a chilling crime after a dive gone wrong. But do the murky circumstances point to an accident, a murder, or a supernatural encounter?

Mer thought adjusting to a laid-back life in the Florida Keys would be a breeze. But when she rescues a floundering diver who claims to have seen a ghost, she’s caught in a storm of intrigue. News of the encounter explodes on social media, attracting a team of ghost hunters who want to capture proof that a greenish ghoul haunts Key Largo’s famed USS Spiegel Grove shipwreck.

Meredith knows the wreck inside and out, and agrees to act as their safety diver. When Ishmael, the charismatic leader of the group, vanishes during a midnight dive, everyone except Mer is convinced the ghost has claimed another victim. Topside, the tenacious detective in charge of the investigation finds Mer’s involvement in both incidents suspicious, and her enigmatic neighbor resurrects ghosts from her past.

Determined to find a rational explanation, Mer approaches Ishmael’s disappearance as any scientist would—by asking questions, gathering data, and deducing the truth. But the victim’s life is as shrouded in mystery as his disappearance. Still, something happened under the water and before long, she’s in over her head. When someone tries to kill her, she knows the truth is about to surface. Maybe dead men do tell tales after all.

The author is quite knowledgeable and it shows in this multi-plot drama with an amateur sleuth who used her science know-how to break through the barriers that crossed her path and a slew of suspects who all had a much stronger motive than our heroine. The mystery was nicely done and the play by play interaction among the characters added to the dynamics of this puzzling case. There was so much going on and that kept the story moving at a good pace with the narrative heightening the depth and intensity of this tale. With a good cast of characters, engaging dialogue and a nice backdrop set in the Florida Keys, this was an enjoyable read.

FTC Full Disclosure – I received an electronic advanced reader copy (ARC) from the author.

A Day in the Life With Maggie Dove by Susan Breen

maggie-doves-detective-agencySince last visiting Dru, I’ve solved a murder mystery and opened a detective agency. I love my new life as Private Investigator Maggie Dove. I have an office, a badge, stationery and two business partners. Everything is perfect, except for one small problem. I have no clients.

Not a one.

Occasionally one of the patients from the dentist’s office next door meanders into my office and asks questions, but I suspect they’re just killing time until the numbness passes. Cassie Fletcher wanted to hire me to find her driver’s license, but it was in her wallet, so I couldn’t see charging her. Though I did make up a folder. Old Henry Stample wanted me to do genealogical research for him. That seemed promising, but then he died.

Under other circumstances, I would pray over it. I’m a Sunday School teacher (when I’m not detecting) and pray a lot, but I couldn’t see asking God to bring me business. Detectives thrive on misery: on people whose spouses are cheating or employees who are stealing or family members who are lost. I couldn’t bring myself to pray for misery when I’d spent a good portion of my 62 years trying to avoid it.

Still, when the first of October arrived and we’d gone four months without a client, I began to feel the prickles of anxiety I associate with waiting rooms. We can’t stay in business without business forever. If the detective agency closes, I’ll be forced to return to the staid and somewhat melancholy life I’d been living before these adventures started and I don’t want to go backwards.

That was when I noticed Racine Stern walking down Main Street. It’s easy to spot Racine because she always wears a red beret. She’s the daughter of the richest woman in my small village, Darby-on-Hudson. They live in the vast Stern Manor in Belvedere park, and they’re proud. They sit three rows in front of me at church, but they never speak to me. Only to the minister, and God, I suppose.

When I saw Racine striding along, banging into Joe Mangione and his coffee, and then bumping into Mr. Cavanaugh and his little dog, I imagined she was on her way to the train station and some appointment in New York City. So you can imagine my surprise when she stopped right outside the door to my detective agency. I had only enough time to quickly push aside the book I’d been reading, The Brothers Karamazov, and then, there she was, in my office.

“How can I help you?” I asked.

“I want to hire you,” she said.

“Fabulous!” I grabbed a piece of paper and wrote down the word “hire.” Then underlined it three times.

“What do you want me to do?”

Racine licked her lips. They looked chapped, and I noticed her wrists were flaked with dry skin. “Do you believe in evil, Maggie Dove?”

That startled me, but I remembered a night last April when evil had come close to taking my life. I could still smell the honeysuckle. Cold prying eyes that sought to destroy me. “Yes, I said, “I believe in evil, but I don’t know that I’m equipped to deal with it. Can you tell me what scares you?”

“Oh, I’m not scared,” Racine said. “But my sister is evil, and I want you to stop her from coming home.”

That made me shiver. Couldn’t help myself, because I feel I’m about to be tested in ways I never have before. I just hope I’m up for the job.


Maggie Dove’s Detective Agency is the second book in the Maggie Dove mystery series, published by Alibi, November 2016.

As Susan Breen’s compelling cozy mystery series continues, Maggie Dove’s budding detective agency has given her a new lease on life. Only one thing stands in the way of success: her clients—or lack of them.

After catching the killer who shook her small Hudson River town, former Sunday School teacher Maggie Dove stumbled onto an exciting new career and found a way to take her mind off her own tragic past. Now, despite her best efforts to promote the agency, Maggie can’t seem to land any new cases—until Racine Stern, one of the village’s wealthiest residents, offers her a thousand dollars to convince her “evil” sister, Domino, to stay out of town.

While Maggie’s business partner thinks she’s crazy for turning down a potential client, she doesn’t want her agency to get a reputation for accommodating bizarre requests. However, Maggie is soon caught up in the family drama anyway. Racine may fear for her life—and her inheritance—but it’s Domino who takes the fall when she plunges to her death from a tower at Stern Manor. Was it an accident or something more sinister? Maggie’s investigation will test her faith—and her ability to survive.

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About the author
Susan Breen is the author of the Maggie Dove detective series, published by a digital imprint of Penguin Random House. Her second book, Maggie Dove’s Detective Agency, was published on November 8, 2016. Susan’s short stories have been published by a number of magazines, among them Ellery Queen’s Detective Agency and Best American NonRequired Reading. An upcoming issue of Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine will include a new Maggie Dove story. Susan lives in a small village in the Hudson Valley with her husband, two dogs (cockapoos) and a cat. Her three grown children are flourishing elsewhere. Her website is www.susanjbreen.com.

All comments are welcomed.

Giveaway: Leave a comment below for your chance to win a kindle edition of Maggie Dove’s Detective Agency plus a tote bag. The giveaway ends November 23, 2016 at 11:59 AM EST. Good luck everyone!

My Musing ~ Maggie Dove’s Detective Agency by Susan Breen

Maggie Dove’s Detective Agency by Susan Breen is the second book in the “Maggie Dove” mystery series. Publisher: Alibi, November 8, 2016

maggie-doves-detective-agencyAs Susan Breen’s compelling cozy mystery series continues, Maggie Dove’s budding detective agency has given her a new lease on life. Only one thing stands in the way of success: her clients—or lack of them.

After catching the killer who shook her small Hudson River town, former Sunday School teacher Maggie Dove stumbled onto an exciting new career and found a way to take her mind off her own tragic past. Now, despite her best efforts to promote the agency, Maggie can’t seem to land any new cases—until Racine Stern, one of the village’s wealthiest residents, offers her a thousand dollars to convince her “evil” sister, Domino, to stay out of town.

While Maggie’s business partner thinks she’s crazy for turning down a potential client, she doesn’t want her agency to get a reputation for accommodating bizarre requests. However, Maggie is soon caught up in the family drama anyway. Racine may fear for her life—and her inheritance—but it’s Domino who takes the fall when she plunges to her death from a tower at Stern Manor. Was it an accident or something more sinister? Maggie’s investigation will test her faith—and her ability to survive.

I love stories where I feel like I’m part of the action and this, the second book in the series, did just that. The narrative pulled me in and I couldn’t help but react to the various scenes that resonated with me. The author presented a well-crafted story with a wonderful, yet quirky, cast of characters and an engaging mystery that had me quickly turning the pages as I had to know how this will all play out. This was a good read and I look forward to the next book in this pleasantly appealing series.

FTC Full Disclosure – I received an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) from the publisher.