Tag Archives: cozy mystery

A day in the life of Emily Westhill by Ginger Bolton

I’m Emily Westhill. I set my alarm to go off at five fifteen every morning.

I have a cat.

I seldom need that alarm. . .

Deputy Donut is a tortoiseshell tabby with tri-colored tabby stripes and cute circles on her sides that resemble donuts. I usually shorten her name to Dep. After I’ve fed her and eaten my own breakfast, I get out her halter and leash. She usually lets me fasten the halter around her without much batting and biting, probably because she doesn’t want to be left behind and she likes our daily walk to work. Well, I walk. Dep bounces and pounces.

After about six blocks of our start-and-stop progress, we’re in downtown Fallingbrook, Wisconsin. We enter our café, named Deputy Donut after the cat, by the back door leading into our office. After making certain that both the back door and the one leading into the dining room are securely closed, I release Dep. She races up ramps, staircases, and carpeted “trees” to the catwalk surrounding the room just below the ceiling. She dashes through tunnels up there, grabs toys, and bats them off the edge. By the time she gallops down, I try to be in the dining room, with the door securely shut again. Actually, I try to be in the dining room before the toys start raining down.

I go behind the serving counter to the kitchen. Tom, my business partner, is often there first, making dough and batter while oil heats in our deep fryers. He usually does the frying and I usually do the decorating. When customers start arriving at seven thirty, our display counter is full of delicious fried treats and our coffee makers are ready to dispense rich brews from around the world.

Our customers are wonderful. We have a couple of groups who come in nearly every day, and other townsfolk drop in often. Tourists have discovered us. They come to visit the falls for which Fallingbrook is named, and they stop at Deputy Donut for donuts, coffee, tea, and a taste of our friendly community. And then they spread the word . . .

I was a 911 operator for a couple of years until I could no longer stand the stress. Tom retired recently after being Fallingbrook’s very popular police chief. Both of us have lived in Fallingbrook most of our lives. Between us, we have many friends among Fallingbrook’s first responders, many of whom show up at Deputy Donut for their breaks.

Okay, I’ll admit right here and now that donut-loving cops are a stereotype. Cops truly do not spend their entire days eating donuts and drinking coffee. Most of them work out and stay fit.

However, Fallingbrook police officers are especially fond of the donuts that Tom and I make. Actually, everyone is.

Tom and I rush around all day, but we find time to chat with our customers. Deputy Donut is the perfect place to pick up facts, gossip, rumors, and lies, especially if there’s been a crime.

My two best friends since junior high also still live in Fallingbrook. One is a policewoman and the other is an Emergency Medical Technician. The three of us get together often. We tease each other and laugh until we hurt.

Sometimes I envy those two women for the fast vehicles they drive, complete with sirens and flashing lights.

But I’m not very jealous.

I have donuts. And a cat named Deputy Donut.


You can read more about Emily in Survival of the Fritters, the first book in the NEW “Deputy Donut” mystery series.

Emily Westhill runs the best donut shop in Fallingbrook, Wisconsin, alongside her retired police chief father-in-law and her tabby Deputy Donut. But after murder claims a favorite customer, Emily can’t rely on a sidekick to solve the crime—or stay alive.

If Emily has learned anything from her past as a 911 operator, it’s to stay calm during stressful situations. But that’s a tall order when one of her regulars, Georgia Treetor, goes missing. Georgia never skips morning cappuccinos with her knitting circle. Her pals fear the worst—especially Lois, a close friend who recently moved to town. As evening creeps in, Emily and the ladies search for Georgia at home. And they find her—murdered among a scattering of stale donuts . . .

Disturbingly, Georgia’s demise coincides with the five-year anniversary of her son’s murder, a case Emily’s late detective husband failed to solve before his own sudden death. With Lois hiding secrets and an innocent man’s life at stake, Emily’s forced to revisit painful memories on her quest for answers. Though someone’s alibi is full of holes, only a sprinkling of clues have been left behind. And if Emily can’t trace them back to a killer in time, her donut shop will end up permanently closed for business . . .

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About the author
Ginger Bolton writes the Deputy Donut mystery series–cops, crime, coffee, donuts and one curious cat. When Ginger isn’t writing or reading, she’s crocheting, knitting, sewing, walking her two rescue dogs and generally causing trouble. She’s also fond of donuts, coffee, and cafes were folks gather to enjoy those tasty treats and one another’s company. As Janet Bolin, she wrote the Threadville mystery series.

All comments are welcomed.

A day in the life of Ginger Barnes by Donna Huston Murray

THE MORNING the deceased came into my life I woke up with a start, the way I had when I was a kid. Lifting my head from the pillow, I squinted at pale June daylight leaking through the gap in the bedroom drapes. No doubt about it; I felt different.

Eager.

Ambitious.

Nearly as happy as my former self: Ginger Struve Barnes, mother of two, DIY enthusiast, and wife of Robert Ripley Barnes, the esteemed, green-eyed, and wickedly funny head of Bryn Derwyn Academy.

During the three years since my husband’s fatal accident on an icy stretch of I-95, the words “eager,” “ambitious,” and “happy” seldom described my mood. Yet lately I have felt physically lighter—never mind that the bathroom scale disagreed. I’ve also caught myself saying “Yes” more often than “No,” especially to invitations.

I’ve rejoined the world! I told Rip telepathically. How about that?

Go for it, babe, he replied, just as I knew he would.

To break the silence, at times I said these things out loud. Never in public though, so what was the harm?

I also talked to my dog. Soon after the accident, I discovered the muddy derelict digging for table scraps in the neighbor’s compost pile. He wasn’t wearing a collar, so I dutifully posted signs and even advertised for his owner. No one called; I had myself a new pet.

Fideaux responded as any physically and emotionally starved animal would, but surprise, surprise. I did, too. I slept better touching the rangy mutt’s curly gray fur. On my worst nights he licked away my tears. If I sighed, he sighed. Whenever I began to feel sorry for myself, he rested his chin on my foot and worried about me.

“Up and at ’em,” I woke him with a nudge on that lovely morning. “We have things to do, people to see.”

He lumbered off the bed and stretched before trotting toward the kitchen door.

I poured kibble and freshened Fideaux’s water before hustling back to get dressed. Since I’d be alone putting down peel-and-stick tiles at my newlywed daughter’s house, I chose my oldest green t-shirt, the one that said “Alaska or Bust.” And jeans, always jeans. I splashed my face, fluffed my short reddish hair.

“Ride in the car,” I informed the dog the instant we finished breakfast.

The newlyweds had purchased a promising fixer-upper in a cozy, treed settlement nine miles by turnpike from where I live. Rush-hour traffic clogged the exit, but when I broke free of the entrance to an industrial park, it was only another three minutes to my destination, a yellow, three-story Victorian close to Chelsea’s teaching job and Bobby’s train commute.

The house sat shoulder to shoulder with its neighbors but possessed a lengthy backyard. Due to some missing fence Fideaux needed to be leashed and supervised back there, a time-consuming chore I preferred to get out of the way before starting the kitchen floor. Unfortunately, the morning’s gray-white sky had lowered during my commute, and the air felt thick with drizzle.

While Fideaux dithered and sniffed, sniffed and dithered, I planned how to go about laying the floor tiles. Tidy up first, then make sure the old Formica was clean and sound. Snap a line to get a square start—for sure the old walls would be off; they always were. . .

Whump.

I jumped. Fideaux growled. Then we both gravitated toward the sound.

Someone had thrown a loaded garbage bag from the third floor of the somber gray Victorian to the left. It landed beyond a shallow cement patio and split, spewing clothes and bricks in a messy heap.

Bricks? I hoped no child had taken such a chance.

I raised up on tiptoes for a better look over the shrubbery-lined fence.

Yes, bricks.

“Hey!” I shouted up to the wide-open window.

No response. Just a gaping black rectangle, no screen, nothing and nobody visible beyond the opening.

Maybe the woman of the house had been cleaning out a closet, tossing her kids’ outgrown clothes, or purging her own unwanted dreck. Faced with carrying a loaded bag downstairs for disposal, I might have tried the three-story drop, too. Once anyway. If nobody was around.

And nobody was supposed to be around. The house in question was the last on the block, Chelsea and Bobby were both at work, and I was here merely by chance.

But bricks?

Somebody should probably look into that.


You can read more about Ginger in For Better Or Worse, the eighth book in the “Ginger Barnes Main Line” mystery series.

Men have once again become an issue for amateur sleuth Ginger Barnes–men who mistreat their wives, men suspected of murder, and men who ask her out.

While working on a DIY project at her newlywed daughter’s house, a bag of bricks is thrown from the neighboring third-story window. Next, pops that sound like muffled gunshots have Gin racing for her phone. Eric, who lives in the house with his grandmother, claims she’s obsessed with mystery novels. Yet after the septuagenarian falls down a flight of stairs, she’s so frantic to keep Eric away that Gin must intervene. Was the fall actually attempted murder?

In her husband’s eyes, Cissie Voight can’t do anything right. Gin occasionally helps the frazzled young mother, and when she needs a dresser carried upstairs, Gin brings Eric along. Bad move! The electricity between the two new acquaintances sparks a chilling premonition. This time Gin’s good intentions will produce grave consequences–for everyone involved.

Recommended for fans of Sue Grafton and Janet Evanovich.

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Meet the author
Donna Huston Murray’s eight cozy mysteries feature a woman much like herself, a DIY headmaster’s wife with a troubling interest in crime. Final Arrangements, set at Philadelphia’s world famous flower show, achieved #1 on the Kindle-store list for both Mysteries and Female Sleuths. The first in Murray’s new mystery/crime series, What Doesn’t Kill You, garnered Honorable Mention in the 23rd Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards.

At home, she assumes she can fix anything until proven wrong, calls trash-picking recycling, and, although she should probably know better, adores Irish setters.

Donna and husband, Hench, live in the greater Philadelphia, PA, area. Visit Donna at donnahustonmurray.com.

All comments are welcomed.

A day in the life of Lori Reynolds by Teresa A. LaRue

The news sent me reeling. My sister was dead! How could this happen? When I spoke to her on the phone a few days ago, she told me someone had been playing tricks on her, but I never imagined her life would end so abruptly.

Everyone insists her fall down the stairs was an accident. But I know better. She was murdered. And I was here not only to bury her, but to find her killer. The thought that someone I knew, thought of as family, could be a cold-blooded killer, sent chills racing down my spine.

For years, I had stayed away from Oakwood and the memories it held. Mostly, I’d used work as an excuse not to show up for holidays. But the truth was, I couldn’t bear to see the only man I’d ever loved in the arms of another woman.

I have a complicated relationship with Selena, the woman who ended up with the man I was supposed to marry. After my parents died, my sister married her father and I moved in with them. For some reason, Selena got the idea that her dad liked me more than he did her. Which is ridiculous!

When I asked Trevor, my brother-in-law, about Kay’s death, he acted like I was crazy. But there was something in his eyes―fear maybe―that made me wonder if he knew more than he was saying. After floundering around on my own, I enlisted Marc, Selena’s husband, in my investigation. Though seven years have passed since I last saw him, the connection between us is still there. Which makes me realize how important it is to wrap things up and get home to my apartment in Texas.

To make the situation more complicated, there’s all this talk about a Grant family secret. Could it have anything to do with Trevor’s ex-wife moving in with us? She claims she’s only looking out for her daughter, but I don’t buy it. Where was she when Selena needed her? And why does she keep referring to my sister as “that woman”?

Even Trevor’s brother has gotten in on the act, siding with his ex and warning me to lay off the questions. Hopefully, I’ll figure out who killed my sister before someone decides to shut me up. Permanently.


You can read more about Lori in Fatal Fall, the first book in the NEW “Lori Reynolds” mystery series.

Lori Reynolds thought she’d never return to the home where she spent her teenage years, but her sister Kay’s death from a fall down a staircase, changes all that. Having recently spoken with her sister on the phone, and knowing how worried Kay had been about all the strange things happening in her house, Lori suspects that her sister’s fall was anything but an accident and she resolves to investigate. Now that she has arrived for Kay’s funeral, she is caught up in the very family battles that she had tried to avoid when she left seven years ago. From Kay’s husband, Trevor, to his daughter from a previous marriage, Selena, to Lori’s first love and now Selena’s husband, Marc, to Trevor’s brother, Derek, to Selena’s grandmother, to Trevor and Kay’s daughter, Amber, the tension runs high. Then it really explodes when Trevor’s first wife, Jocelyn, decides to make an appearance. Did any of these family members have a motive strong enough to kill Kay? And if so, what was it? Kay moves closer and closer to the truth behind her sister’s fatal fall.

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About the author
Teresa A. LaRue grew up in a small town along the Mississippi Gulf Coast. She’s worked as a secretary, assistant manager of an audio book store, and manager of a fashion jewelry store. She is an avid reader, gardener, and movie buff. She lives across the lake from New Orleans with her family, including a dog named Bones, and a cat named Chloe.

All comments are welcomed.

A day in the life of Daisy Swanson by Karen Rose Smith

Just how did I end up being owner of a tea garden in Willow Creek, Pennsylvania with my Aunt Iris?

A widow, I moved back to Willow Creek with my two teenage daughters, Jasmine and Violet. After much discussion with my Aunt Iris (all the women on my mom’s side of the family have flower names), we decided to open a tea garden to cater to tourists who visited Lancaster County but also all the local folk in Willow Creek and nearby Lancaster and York.

My best friend from high school, Tessa Miller, is my kitchen manager and an artiste in every sense of the word. She lives on the second floor of Daisy’s Tea Garden and paints in her attic studio. Another friend from high school, Cade Bankert, who escorted me to my high school prom, is a real estate agent who found us the tea garden property as well as the old barn I had renovated for a home for me and my girls

I recently discovered that Jazzi, who is fifteen and adopted, is now searching for her birth parents. Vi, who is eighteen, went off to Lehigh College last month. Jazzi and I, as well as both of our cats—Marjoram and Pepper—miss her dearly. We have been living in Willow Creek for two years now and the tea garden is doing surprisingly well. At least it is until a murder occurs there.

Jonas Groft, a former Philadelphia detective, owns a woodworking shop down the street from Daisy’s. Although, after my husband died, I decided never to need a man again, I feel something electric whenever Jonas is in the same room. He has a protective attitude that sometimes rankles, but with his help, I found myself solving a murder!

I love to create recipes to offer customers at Daisy’s Tea Garden—soups, salads and baked goods. I look forward to seeing you at Daisy’s Tea Garden as you get to know me. . .and my family. . .and my friends.


You can read more about Daisy in Murder with Lemon Tea Cakes, the first book in the NEW “Daisy’s Tea Garden” mystery series.

In an old Victorian in the heart of Pennsylvania’s Amish country, Daisy Swanson and her aunt Iris serve soups, scones, and soothing teas to tourists and locals—but a murder in their garden has them in hot water . . .

Daisy, a widowed mom of two teenagers, is used to feeling protective—so when Iris started dating the wealthy and not-quite-divorced Harvey Fitz, she worried . . . especially after his bitter ex stormed in and caused a scene at the party Daisy’s Tea Garden was catering. Then there was the gossip she overheard about Harvey’s grown children being cut out of his will. Daisy didn’t want her aunt to wind up with a broken heart—but she never expected Iris to wind up a suspect in Harvey’s murder.

Now the apple bread and orange pekoe is on the back burner while the cops treat the shop like a crime scene—and Daisy hopes that Jonas Groft, a former detective from Philadelphia, can help her clear her aunt’s name and bag the real killer before things boil over . . .

Includes delicious recipes for Iris’s Lemon Tea Cakes and more!

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Giveaway: Leave a comment below for your chance to win a signed copy of Slay Bells Ring plus $10 Amazon gift certificate. U.S. entries only, please. The giveaway ends December 28, 2017. Good luck everyone!

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About the author
USA Today Bestselling Author Karen Rose Smith’s 100th novel is a 2018 release. Her passion is caring for her six rescued cats. . .and other felines who stop by in winter. Her hobbies are gardening, cooking, watercolor painting and photography. An only child, Karen delved into books at an early age. Even though she escaped into story worlds, she had many cousins around her on weekends. Families are a strong theme in her novels in both her mysteries and romances. After writing romances for 20 years, she began writing women’s fiction and cozy mysteries. She hopes to write novels in all of these genres for many years to come.

Reach out to Karen at karenrosesmith.com, on Facebook, on Twitter, on Pinterest, on Goodreads and on her blog.

All comments are welcomed.

A day in the life with Lara Caphart by Linda Reilly

Sixteen years—sounds like a long time, doesn’t it? But that’s how long it’s been since I’ve seen my Aunt Fran.

I’m Lara Caphart, watercolor artist and cat lover. I was eleven when my folks moved from Whisker Jog, New Hampshire to a suburb of Boston, taking me away from my aunt. For a long, long time, I missed Aunt Fran horribly. And I really missed her cats—she always had at least three adorable felines roaming her Folk Victorian home. The quintessential loving aunt, she cheered me on in my artistic pursuits. Every day after school, I headed to her house. She was a teacher, so she got home from work earlier than my folks did. I couldn’t wait to rush into her fragrant kitchen, where cookies, juice, sketch paper, and colored pencils were soon plopped onto the Formica table for me. I drew pictures to my heart’s content—usually with a cat in my lap—until Dad picked me up after work.

But after we moved, everything changed. For reasons I never understood, Aunt Fran and I became estranged. I wrote her letter after letter, but she never replied. And she didn’t call, either. Didn’t Dad give her our new unlisted number? After a while I stopped asking, but I still missed her like crazy.

Now I’m a real artist, living above an Italian bakery in Boston’s historic North End. Yup. Living the dream, as people say. Truth is, I’m a struggling artist. I work part time in the bakery to help make ends meet. . .and to score free pastries.

I have to admit. . .until a few days ago I was reasonably content. Then I got a call from my childhood bestie, Sherry Bowker. Sherry owns a coffee shop in Whisker Jog with her mom, Daisy. My aunt, she confided, is having serious troubles. Aunt Fran’s knees have gotten so bad she was forced to quit her teaching job. To complicate matters, she’s been taking in rescue cats and is now on overload. A few locals have even dubbed her the “crazy cat lady.” Add to the mix the town bully, who’s been harassing my aunt because he wants to buy her vacant lot. Sounds like one big mess, doesn’t it? I guess that’s why Sherry begged me to intervene.

I want to help my Aunt Fran, honestly, I do—and I definitely want to help with the cats. But will she even want to see me, after all this time? Will she blame me for the falling-out we never really had?

I don’t know the answer to that, but I just knocked on her door. My heart is pumping wildly, and my legs feel like pudding. Even if she answers the door, I’m not sure she’ll invite me in. Maybe you could come along with me. . .you know, for moral support? One thing I can promise—you’ll meet plenty of cats. I only hope I don’t have to deal with that town bully. From Sherry’s description, he sounds dreadful. And I’m not sure why, but I have a sinking feeling he’s going to be one colossal problem. . .


You can read more about Lara and her Aunt Fran in Escape Claws, the first book in the NEW “Cat Lady” mystery series, coming December 26, 2017.

Here, killer, killer, killer . . .

For the first time in sixteen years, Lara Caphart has returned to her hometown of Whisker Jog, New Hampshire. She wants to reconnect with her estranged Aunt Fran, who’s having some difficulty looking after herself-and her eleven cats. Taking care of a clowder of kitties is easy, but keeping Fran from being harassed by local bully Theo Barnes is hard. The wealthy builder has his sights set on Fran’s property, and is determined to make her an offer she doesn’t dare refuse.

Then Lara spots a blue-eyed ragdoll cat that she swears is the reincarnation of her beloved Blue, her childhood pet. Pursuing the feline to the edge of Fran’s yard, she stumbles upon the body of Theo Barnes, clearly a victim of foul play. To get her and Fran off the suspect list, Lara finds herself following the cat’s clues in search of a killer. Is Blue’s ghost really trying to help her solve a murder, or has Lara inhaled too much catnip?

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Giveaway: Leave a comment below for your chance to win a digital copy (Kindle or Nook) of Escape Claws. The giveaway will end December 26, 2017. Good luck everyone!

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About the author
Linda Reilly is the author of the Deep Fried Mysteries published by Berkley Prime Crime, and the Cat Lady Mysteries published in e-book format by Kensington Lyrical. A dyed-in-the-wool New Englander, she lives with her husband in southern New Hampshire. You can visit her at lindasreilly.com. She loves to hear from readers!

All comments are welcomed.

A day in the life of Daria Dembrowski by Greta McKennan

What a day! In the space of twenty-four hours I learned that my client’s will was stolen, handled a mortuary urn containing the remains of a man who died in a house fire, cobbled together an eighteenth century gown for a crotchety old lady, met a grad student at the university and heard a shocking story of treason that took place during the Revolutionary War, took a road trip from my small town of Laurel Springs to Philadelphia, witnessed a fire on my front porch steps, fit a wedding dress for the bride-to-be of my former fiancé, and almost beaned my brother over the head with a cast iron skillet.

I wonder what tomorrow will bring.

The worst part was the fire. I was on my way home from Philly with my favorite obnoxious photographer Sean McCarthy when we saw the smoke rising from my downtown neighborhood. We followed the fire trucks to my house, a solid three-story building dating from the mid-nineteenth century that was home to me, my older brother Pete, and my housemate Aileen, the lead singer in the metal band, the Twisted Armpits.

A pile of brush on the porch steps was on fire. When I looked closer, I saw that it was my new Japanese maples, the ones that I had rescued from the renovations at Compton Hall. My sweet old client Priscilla Compton had arranged for them to be torn out because they weren’t historically accurate. She was in the midst of restoring her house to its original state from the eighteenth century, as part of the TV reality show, My House in History.

“Out with the new, in with the old,” the gardener had said as he uprooted the trees. As the only historical seamstress in town, my job on the set was to sew period clothing for Priscilla and her ornery sister Ruth. If Compton Hall got the most votes from viewers, Priscilla would win a million dollars. I wasn’t sure it was worth a million dollars to destroy Priscilla’s prize-winning Japanese maples.

Pete and I had rescued two of them and transplanted them in front of my house, and now they were burnt up. I felt like crying. After the smashed eggs and the dead mice strewn all over the porch, not to mention the creep who tried to break into the house in the middle of the night, this was the last straw. Somebody was definitely trying to intimidate us.

Of course, nobody could intimidate Aileen. Standing six feet tall without her six-inch boot heels, she stomped around the porch barefoot in a black trench coat with her hair up in a towel, trying to put out the fire. She looked like she was ready to take on all foes. But were any of us ready to tangle with a murderer?


Read more about Daria Dembrowski in Historically Dead, the second book in the “Stitch in Time” mystery series.

Seamstress Daria Dembrowski must find a historically-minded killer before the fabric of her peaceful town rips wide open . . .

When the reality show My House in History comes to Laurel Springs, Pennsylvania, savvy seamstress Daria Dembrowski sees a business opportunity. The show follows two elderly sisters’ quest to restore their colonial mansion, and that means a heap of work for a seamstress who specializes in historical textiles. Although one of the old women is a bit of a grump, Daria loves the job—until she discovers one of the researchers dead, and the whole project threatens to unwind.

As a series of historical crimes pile up, from a stolen Paul Revere platter to a chilling incident of arson, Daria must find the killer quickly, for her life is hanging by a thread.

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Meet the author
Greta McKennan is a wife, mother, and author, living her dream in the boreal rainforest of Juneau, Alaska. She enjoys a long walk in the woods on that rare sunny day, reading cozy mysteries when it rains, and sewing the Christmas jammies on her antique Singer sewing machine. She is hard at work on the next novel in her Stitch in Time Mystery series featuring seamstress Daria Dembrowski. Find her online at www.gretamckennan.com.

A day in the life of Amy Webber by Victoria Gilbert

If you’d asked me what a day in my life was like before he walked into my library and my life, I’d have a very different response.

Especially after we stumbled over that dead patron. . .

Now, I admit working in a public library has taught me to expect surprises. Like picking up the picture book with the bubblegum smeared all over its cover by one of our readers, or discovering Young Adult books erroneously shelved between auto repair manuals by the patron we’ve lovingly dubbed “The Nightingale.” (For the nurse, not the bird).

But dead bodies are still a bit of a shock.

I’m Amy Webber, the somewhat new—one year and counting—library director at the Taylorsford Public Library. I used to work as an academic librarian, but that was before the fateful reception where I caught my former boyfriend, a pianist, tickling the fancy of a blonde violinist instead of the ivories. Since I was conveniently clutching a glass of champagne, I chucked at him. Sadly, my shaking hands threw off my aim and I hit the Dean of Music instead. I wasn’t fired, but the sheer mortification of this event compelled me to flee my old job as well as my failed romance.

Fortunately my aunt still lives in our historic family home in a nearby Virginia mountain town. Her offer of free housing allowed me to accept the grossly underpaid position as library director of Taylorsford. Since then my days have been as smooth, as lovely—and about as exciting—as Aunt Lydia’s string of matched pearls.

But that was before our new neighbor, Richard Muir, showed up.

Good-looking? You bet. He has the grace and body of an athlete too, which isn’t surprising since he’s a well-known contemporary dancer and choreographer. After renovating the farmhouse that once belonged to his Great-Uncle Paul Dassin, Richard sought my research assistance to help him prove that the woman his great-uncle loved was innocent of a sensational 1925 murder.

Naturally my first thought was to dig into the town archives, which are housed in a small stone building behind the library. I thought we might find some clues in old newspapers and documents. Instead we found a body.

Yeah, it was that kind of day—a “meet a charming guy and fall over a dead patron” kind of day. Not my usual, I must admit. Although if I’m totally honest, there’s a part of me that finds the idea of investigating mysteries exciting. It’s like research. You never know where digging into the past might lead.

Truthfully? I can’t wait to start sleuthing. . .


If you want to find out where Amy’s adventures lead her and her charming but eccentric band of family and friends, pick up A Murder For The Books, the first installment in the “Blue Ridge Library” mystery series.

Fleeing a disastrous love affair, university librarian Amy Webber moves in with her aunt in a quiet, historic mountain town in Virginia and busies herself managing the town’s public library The last thing she needs is a handsome new neighbor whose charm lures her into trouble.

Dancer-turned-teacher and choreographer Richard Muir inherited the farmhouse next door from his great-uncle. Town folklore claims the house’s original owner was poisoned by his own wife, an outsider. Determined to clear the name of the woman his great-uncle loved, Richard implores Amy to help him investigate the case. Amy’s skeptical, until their research raises questions about the culpability of the town’s leading families— including her own.

When inexplicable murders plunge the quiet town into chaos, Amy and Richard must crack open the books to reveal a cruel conspiracy and lay a turbulent past to rest

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Meet the author
Victoria Gilbert, raised in the shadow of the Blue Ridge Mountains, turned her early obsession with reading into a dual career as an author and librarian. She’s a member of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and International Thriller Writers. When not writing or reading, she likes to watch films, garden, or travel. She lives in North Carolina with her husband and some very spoiled cats. You can find out more about Victoria and connect with her via her social media links at her website: victoriagilbertmysteries.com.

All comments are welcomed.

A day in the life of Taylor O’Brian by Nancy J. Parra

Hi, I’m Taylor. I live in Sonoma, California with my cat Clementine and my Aunt Jemma. I moved back to my home town a few months ago when my aunt had a heart attack. She asked me to come and take care of her, but in fact I think she was just lonely. She seems pretty capable of taking care of herself, unless I talk about returning to San Francisco and my old job in advertising. Suddenly she feels twinges in her chest.

She isn’t fooling anyone. She wants me to stay in Sonoma with her and help her with her vineyard and winery. The trouble is she has people who do that. So I started my own small business. Taylor O’Brian’s Off the Beaten Path Wine Tours-catchy name isn’t it? You see most people spend a day or two in Sonoma county going from one famous winery to another and they miss all the cool and quirky places to visit-like the Asian botanical gardens, which offer some of the rarest of Asian flowering shrubs and trees.

I’m excited for my first tour. I’m taking a cranky yoga marketer and her employees out to hike the Quarry gardens and spend time in the hills and valleys of Sonoma county. Things have been pretty hard for this new team and the uptight CEO – uptight and yoga seem a bit mismatched to me, but there you have it.

On the hike, Laura–the uptight leader of this group–pulls me aside and tries to convince me that I need her marketing skills for my small business. I’m a little peeved to say the least, I mean I have a degree in marketing and worked for a large firm. Meanwhile she is a yoga instructor who took a course from another yoga instructor and is claiming to teach marketing to other yoga instructors. I might have stormed off.

I wish I hadn’t and when Laura disappears and I find her at the bottom of a cliff with my wine corkscrew sticking in her carotid artery. In my defense, I didn’t even know the corkscrew was missing until I laid out the picnic I had planned for the group. (Hint, always serve food before you go wine tasting. It’s best to keep people from getting too tipsy and that means better insurance rates. Except my insurance rates just went through the roof. Not that I’m complaining, I mean a woman is dead.)

The problem is I’m suspect number one and the handsome Sheriff Hennessey thinks our argument is motive for murder.

My day ends with my next two tours cancelling on me, and my Aunt Jemma and my best friend Holly telling me to trust the judicial process. I mean, innocent people don’t go to jail, right? I find Clemmie in her box in the closet and pull her out to hug her to my chest. Things couldn’t possibly get worse, could they?


You can read more about Taylor in A Case of Syrah, Syrah, the first book in the NEW “Wine Country” mystery series.

Taylor O’Brian is a new businesswoman, founder of “Taylor’s Off The Beaten Path Wine Tours,” who lives on a small winery with her Aunt Jemma. She plans to take small groups around romantic Sonoma county to discover some of the county’s outdoor gardens. It’s all running as smooth as can be until Laura, the leader of the group of yoga instructors she’s leading, is found dead. And it’s Taylor’s corkscrew that’s found buried in Laura’s neck.

She’s not sure who to trust, and everyone around suddenly seems suspect. Only two weeks after the murder, her very own administrative assistant, Amy, marries Laura’s husband, Dan, who doesn’t seem very bereaved about being widowed, and the three yoga masters who were also out on the tour begin to seem shady. Taylor can’t afford to jump ship from her new business endeavor, but just as she begins her investigation, another dead body surfaces. This time, it’s Dan’s sister. And the killer is coming for Taylor next.

Now it’s up to Taylor to uncork this open-bottle mystery, before more blood is spilled. For fans of Laura Childs and Ellen Crosby, A Case of Syrah, Syrah is the charming first in bestselling author Nancy J. Parra’s Wine Country mysteries.

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About the author
Nancy J Parra is the author of the Perfect Proposal Series and the Baker’s Treat mystery series. She lives in Oregon with her trusty bichon-poo. You can visit her website for all of her titles at nancyjparra.com

All comments are welcomed.

A day in the life of Linn Sommer by Dani Baker

“Serial killer on the loose?” read the newspaper’s headline before I left the house.

The air was crisp, the sun was just about to rise, and the clear sky promised a nice day. The park was quiet when I crossed the bridge over the small river. Running before another day of work at the bakery would definitely clear my mind of the murdered woman I found two days ago.

Suddenly, I felt a warm drop on my upper lip. I wiped under my nose and noticed blood on my fingers. Surprised, I stopped running as the first drop was followed by a constant stream of blood trickling down my face. I quickly pulled a tissue out of my jacket and pressed it onto my nose while tilting my head back at the same time.

Blood ran down my throat and I had to cough. I leaned forward to spit it out. Immediately, some blood streamed down beside the tissue and spread over my running clothes.

“Darn it!” I muttered.

Cold winter days sometimes triggered nosebleeds but I couldn’t remember a time when it was this bad.

“Didn’t I tell you?” the little devil on my right shoulder grumbled. “Running before breakfast is a stupid idea.”

The little angel on the other shoulder, who had supported my athletic plan/ intention, looked away in embarrassment.

As I raised my head again, I felt dizzy. Obviously, I wasn’t used to running on an empty stomach anymore. Let alone losing blood while doing so. I slowly sat down and closed my eyes for a second.

“Oh, dear God!” someone screamed suddenly. “Help!”

Dazed, I opened my eyes and saw two women with dogs. I looked around but couldn’t see anything unusual. Then I realized that they were running straight toward me.

One was shouting into her cell phone, “A new brutal murder! A young woman at Victoria Park. She’s still alive. We need an ambulance and the police!“

With wide-opened eyes, the other dog owner bent down to me. “Can you hear me? No worries, everything will be fine.”

“But I—” I started saying but she hushed me, “Don’t talk. Try to relax.“

“You don’t understand, I’m not—”

“Helen!” the woman yelled, waving to her friend who was just shoving her cell phone into her bag. “Help me! She has to take it easy.”

“Oh, Marge, just look what this monster has done to her.” Helen stared at my bloody jacket. Her little black terrier sniffed at my feet and barked like a madman.

“Helen, has Onyx found someone’s trail? Unleash him; maybe he can lead us to the murderer.”

“I’m not dead,” I said but both women ignored me.

An approaching siren wailed loudly. I groaned and closed my eyes again. Maybe everything was just a bad dream. Soon I would wake up in my bed.

“Over here!” Helen shouted.

“Shit!” I heard a familiar voice say. “Linn?”

I opened my eyes and here they were again: the deepest blue and most beautiful eyes ever. Shocked, I slumped and avoided his gaze.

“Just stay calm and cool,” the little devil whispered into my ear. “If you play it right, he’ll take the bait.”

“Are you nuts? Look at her!” the little angel barked. “Do you really think he fancies sweaty and blood-smeared women?”

The little devil made a dismissal gesture. “Blood shouldn’t be a concern in his line of work.”

Police inspector Bas van de Groot knelt down in front of me with a concerned look on his face. “What happened?”

At that moment two paramedics appeared behind him.

“Get out of the way,” one commanded. He pushed Helen, Marge and the inspector aside, bent down, and promptly searched for my pulse.

“Can you tell me what happened?” he asked me.

I inhaled deeply as five pair of eyes stared at me.

“I was running. Then my nose started bleeding.“

“Okay. What happened then?“

I gazed down to my shoes. “My head was spinning. I haven’t had breakfast yet. So, I sat down and closed my eyes.“ This situation was getting more embarrassing every second. I cleared my throat. “Then these two ladies came and suddenly you arrived.”

The paramedic scrutinized my jacket and my bloody hands. “You aren’t hurt anywhere else? All this blood came from your nose?”

I nodded.

The paramedic let go of my hand. “You should eat something immediately and take it easy for the rest of the day.” He got up. “Are you able to walk or should we drive you home?”

Before I could answer, Bas whipped out his police badge. “Don’t worry, I’ll look after her.”


You can read more about Linn in Santa’s Last Muffin, the first book in the “Hansel & Pretzel” mystery series.

Yuletide season seems to be a merry time in Kitchener, Ontario. Everyone is enjoying the town’s traditional Christkindl Market, until Santa Claus is discovered – with a knife stuck in his back . . . The murder investigation cancels Linn Sommer’s date with her big crush, the handsome police inspector Bas van de Groot. But wait and see, isn’t her cup of tea. Working at the German bakery ‘Hansel & Pretzel’, she starts digging into the late Santa. His reportedly perfect niceness resembles puff pastry: The more layers she reveals, the naughtier the secrets that emerge. With visits from ghosts of Christmas past, she not only zeroes in on the killer, but also stumbles upon the true reason why Bas doesn’t have any time for her anymore . . .

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Meet the author
German-born Dani Baker has lived in several cities in Germany, as well as in Berne, Switzerland and San Francisco, California. Since 2010, she calls Kitchener, Ontario, home. If she’s not shoveling snow in winter or chasing away skunks, wild turkeys, rabbits, or numerous chipmunks from her vegetable beds during summer, she’s working freelance for different German educational publishers.

Moreover, she’s teaching baking and cooking classes as well as exciting her friends with European baked goods made by DCK – Dani’s Chaos Kitchen.

To date, she has published three books as Daniela Wolff and three titles of the Hansel & Pretzel series in German.

“Santa’s Last Muffin” is her first book in English. Visit Dani at danibakerbooks.com.

All comments are welcomed.