Tag Archives: Crooked Lane Books

A day in the life of DSS Agent Raisa Jordan by Chris Goff

Diplomacy isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Case in point, an hour ago I was babysitting the wife of the U.S. Ambassador to Israel en route to five days in a luxury hotel while she attended an international women’s conference. Then, five minutes after wheels down, I was waylaid by three Marines from the Ukraine embassy. I was really looking forward to some light duty, but now the Regional Security Officer in Kiev, the RSO, had a job for me. Technically he’s my superior and I couldn’t say no. As it turned out, People’s Republic Flight 91 had gone down in eastern Ukraine with a Diplomatic Service Special Agent onboard.

That’s what I do. I’m a DSS Agent.

A lot of people don’t realize how difficult it is to earn the badge. First, you have to earn a Bachelor’s Degree from an accredited university. It could be a B.A. in Underwater Basket-weaving for all they care, but you have to prove you graduated. After that you have to pass a physical, obtain a Top Secret Security Clearance, a medical clearance, and then be determined to be capable, stable, resourceful, trustworthy, and able to assume responsibility by a Suitability Review Panel.

Once you clear all of those hurdles, you’re sent to the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) where you must prove proficiency in job-related subjects that include criminal law, federal court proceedings, use of firearms, personal defensive tactics, driving skills, security techniques and criminal investigation. And it doesn’t hurt if you can speak multiple languages.

That’s what I do. My official title is ARSO-I, which stands for Assistant Regional Security Officer-Investigations, and I speak five languages.

Most people think all DSS Agents do is check for visa and passport violations and oversee the Marine details protecting our embassies. But, in fact, we are the Department of State’s security and law enforcement arm abroad—the only law enforcement agency with representation in nearly every country in the world. Among other things, we investigate the activities of foreign intelligence agencies, look into terrorist incidents and threats, and assist in apprehending fugitives who have fled the United States.

That’s what DSS Agent George McClasky was doing on board PR Flight 91. He was escorting a U.S. citizen wanted for treason out of China, along with a packet of sensitive documents. My job is to secure the package and ensure the Top Secret information isn’t compromised. Much easier said than done.

So why become an agent? you ask.

When I was eleven, my father was shot dead in St. Petersburg Square. I am the daughter of a highly acclaimed Russian hockey player and an American mother. They met while she was attending the Russian Academy of Arts. Eleven years and two kids later, he was murdered during a botched assassination attempt on the U.S. Ambassador to Russia. That’s the official story, anyway. I never believed it, and I’ve made it my life’s mission to find out the truth.

I tend to be a “color inside the lines”-kind of girl. As a rookie agent, I was serving my requisite three years in a domestic post when my boss opened fire on a terrorist. The only problem was the man’s feet were firmly planted on the grounds of the Lebanese consulate. When asked what happened, I told the truth. My boss was demoted, while I was promoted and shipped overseas. I’m still on the fence about whether it was punishment or a reward.

Just weeks after my arrival in Tel Aviv, my predecessor was gunned down in Dizengoff Square. I was tasked with finding out why he was still in Israel instead of back home in Washington D.C., and why someone had shot him. The answers were complicated and I learned a few things I’d rather not know. I also learned that sometimes, in order to get to the truth and nail the bad guys, it’s necessary to color outside the lines.

The case in Israel was difficult, but I worry it’s nothing compared to what I’m facing. Parking the car, I can see the remains of PR Flight 91. Small fires still flare in the rubble, and the stench and devastation are overwhelming. Fragments of the plane’s fuselage along with luggage, computers, pillows and clothing are strewn across the ground for miles. Bodies litter the wreckage, scattered like rag dolls on the scorched earth. When my gaze falls on an orange teddy bear propped against a tangle of twisted metal, I can’t check my tears.

Behind me I hear a voice, speaking a language I don’t know. Ukrainian? Brushing away my tears, I turn around to find a soldier. I get the gist of what he’s saying. He thinks I’m a member of the press.

Vy govorite po-russki?” Do you speak Russian, I ask. I lift the card and lanyard hanging around my neck. “Ya ne is pressy. Ya zdes’ po gosudarstvennym delam.” I’m not press. I’m here on government business.

It’s what I do.

You can read more about Agent Raisa in Red Sky, the second book in the “Raisa Jordan” thriller.

When People’s Republic Flight 91 crashes in northeastern Ukraine with a U.S. diplomatic agent onboard, U.S. Diplomatic Security Service Agent Raisa Jordan is sent to investigate. The agent was escorting a prisoner home from Guangzhou, China, along with sensitive documents, and it quickly becomes apparent that the plane was intentionally downed. Was it to silence the two Americans onboard?

To avoid a diplomatic incident, Jordan must discover what the Americans knew that was worth killing hundreds to cover up. With Russia deeply entangled in the Ukraine and the possibility that China could be hiding reasons to bring down its own plane, tensions are high.

As international relations and even more lives hang in the balance, Jordan races to stop a new Cold War. Red Sky, Chris Goff’s pulse-pounding follow-up to Dark Waters, is yet another white-knuckle joyride for fans of Gayle Lynds.

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Meet the author
Chris Goff is an award-winning author of eight novels. Her most recent, Red Sky, is an international thriller set in Ukraine and Asia where DSS Agent Raisa Jordan tests the boundaries of diplomacy as she races to prevent the start of a new Cold War. Goff’s series debut, Dark Waters, was nominated for the 2016 Colorado Book Award and Anthony Award for Best Crime Fiction Audiobook. For more information, visit christinegoff.com.

All comments are welcomed.

A day in the Debra Gallagher by Dawn Eastman

Hello! Debra Gallagher here. I’ve been asked to tell you all about a day in my life. I have to say, I’m thrilled. No one has ever wanted to know all about my day, even my husband. I work as a receptionist at the Baxter Family Medicine Clinic. My husband is a police officer and he thinks his job is much more exciting. Hah! Ever since Dr. LeClair started working here, things have become very exciting indeed.

She worked with us while she was a resident in Ann Arbor (just a fifteen minute drive away) and we all really liked her. The Drs. Hawkins made the excellent choice of hiring her. They are a father-son team and used to get along really well, but something has been causing tension lately. Don’t worry, I’ll figure it out eventually. Anyway, back to Dr. LeClair.

She tells me she doesn’t want to hear gossip, but lately that’s all she’s been interested in. Ever since her patient committed suicide, she’s been on a tear to learn everything she can about the town and all of its citizens. It’s true, I do know a lot about everyone here. I grew up in Baxter and anything I don’t know, my friend at the Clip ‘n Curl picks up just by listening to her clients. Between the two of us, I’ll bet we could write the whole history of the town.

A day in my life is never the same twice. I don’t just answer the phones. I have to schedule the appointments and each doc has their own preferences, so I have a different kind of schedule for each one. I have to be a bit of a therapist on the phone, especially when parents call. Sometimes they even ask me what they should do! I tell them, I just work for the docs, I don’t know how to treat the patients. (Although, honestly, some of it is pretty easy to figure out. If you were walking in the woods and now you have an itchy rash it doesn’t take four years of medical school to know you have poison ivy, but I’ll give you an appointment).

Some days I also have to wrangle kids and I feel more like a pre-school teacher than a business-like receptionist. Some parents have to bring their whole family in for just one kid’s appointment and it can get a little hectic in the waiting room. I also have to sneak to the back to grab charts for add-on patients and to deliver messages. And, recently, I’ve been fielding questions about Dr. LeClair. As the new doc in town everyone wants to know as much as they can about her. She’s not as free with her personal details as I would like, but I do know this much: she lives in town with her younger brother, she did her residency in Ann Arbor, and her patients seem to love her. That last one might be because she talks to them and doesn’t focus on the clock, which is a bad thing according to our nurse. Dr. LeClair does seem to run behind schedule quite a bit.

Recently, the questions have been more about Ellen Riley and how she died. I wish I had answers for them. In fact, I have a few questions of my own. . .

You can read more about Debra in Unnatural Causes, the first book in the NEW “Dr. Katie LeClair” mystery series.

Katie LeClair has finally settled down as the new doctor in Baxter, MI. After years of moving, schooling, and training, she wants nothing more than to find a place she can call home, and a small town outside of Ann Arbor seemed perfect.

Katie quickly gets to work in building a life for herself in Baxter, and beyond reviving her love life, she also finds a pair of business partners in a team of father and son family practitioners. But that idyllic dream is immediately shattered when one of her patients is found dead. That wouldn’t be the worst thing, except the death is ruled a suicide, and as evidence has it, the suicide was a result of the medication Katie had prescribed. But she doesn’t remember writing it.

When a closer investigation reveals it was murder, Katie is catapulted into an off-the-books investigation that leads her down a dark path of past secrets. But someone is willing to kill to keep part of the town’s history in the shadows, and Katie must race to find out who before it’s too late in nationally bestselling author Dawn Eastman’s riveting series debut Unnatural Causes.

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About the author
Dawn Eastman lived in Michigan for many years, in a house full of animals, unusual people, and laughter. After attending medical school in New York City, she returned to Michigan to complete her training in Family Medicine. Much of that time was spent in a small-town practice. She now lives in Iowa with her family and one extremely bossy small dog. She is the national bestselling author of The Family Fortune Mystery Series, which features psychics, quirky characters and murders. This is her first Dr. Katie LeClair mystery.

All comments are welcomed.

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 Rupert by Elizabeth J. Duncan

In the gray light before dawn, Rupert stood by the bed, watching and waiting. His patience was rewarded when Ray slid his legs over the side of the bed. A moment later when the bathroom door clicked shut, signaling Ray was getting ready to report for the early shift, Rupert launched himself on the bed and hunkered down beside Charlotte. She put an arm around him, pulled him close to her, and the two drifted lazily in and out of sleep for another hour. When they awoke, the morning light was beckoning through the curtains, spilling warm little puddles of sunshine on the floor. Rupert stirred beside her, and together they welcomed a new day.

That’s me! I’m Rupert, a tri-color Pembroke corgi, and that’s how I like to start my day. I am the much-loved companion of costume designer Charlotte Fairfax, and we live in a bungalow in the grounds of Jacobs Grand Hotel, in upstate New York. I can’t remember a time when Charlotte and I weren’t together.

Mornings are my favorite time of day. We start with a stroll in the grounds of the hotel so I can do a sniff-check of all my favorite places, and then I have my breakfast. Sometimes Charlotte leaves me at home while she goes to work at the Catskills Shakespeare Theater Company, and sometimes she takes me with her. I have a bed of my own in her workroom where I am always ready for a good scritch under the chin or a belly rub from my friends in the company. From my bed I can watch the comings and goings as actors arrive for fittings, or sometimes they just need someone to confide in. Charlotte’s a good listener and she knows what anxious actors need to hear. And sometimes she hears things that help her solve a murder.

Charlotte’s an amateur sleuth and I’m happy to help out. So far, I’ve found a murder weapon and rescued a stolen dog. But mostly I just leave all that to her while I do corgi things and look really cute while I’m doing them. How cute? Just check out the cover of the latest Shakespeare in the Catskills mystery!

My main job is to keep Charlotte happy and judging by all the pats and treats I get, I’m champion at that.

If you come to Jacobs Grand Hotel to see a play, which I hope you will, look for me in the hotel grounds. You might catch a glimpse of me rustling in a pile of red and gold autumn leaves, resting in the shade of a friendly tree on a summer’s day, or frolicking in the first snowfall of the season. I’ll be here, with Charlotte, waiting for you.

You can read more about Rupert and his companion, amateur sleuth and costume designer Charlotte Fairfax, in Much Ado About Murder, number three in the “Shakespeare in the Catskills” mystery series.

Here’s what it’s all about:

Costume designer Charlotte Fairfax has another murder on her hands as she prepares for the latest production of the Catskills Shakespeare Theater Company, “Much Ado About Nothing.” The company’s steady growth enables them to cast star British actress Audrey Ashley, who arrives on scene to play the lead role of Beatrice. But things immediately get more complicated when Audrey insists the company replace the current director with new, up and coming British director Edmund Albright.

Edmund plans to change the popular romantic comedy, which alienates several people associated with the production. And the list of people he upsets only grows: the laid off former director, the hotel owner’s secretary, and even Audrey herself. Just as Edmund’s plans are about to come to fruition, his body is discovered on his sofa, holding a gun in his hand. His death is quickly ruled a suicide but Charlotte thinks otherwise. Why would Edmund, on the brink of greatness, kill himself? And in such an American way?

With a whole cast of characters to investigate, Charlotte is determined to unmask each one before it’s final curtain call on the whole production in award-winning author Elizabeth J. Duncan’s third Shakespeare in the Catskills mystery, Much Ado About Murder.

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Giveaway: Leave a comment below for your chance to win a print copy of Much Ado About Murder. U.S.A. residents only, please. The giveaway ends November 20, 2017. Good luck everyone!

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About the author
Elizabeth J. Duncan is a two-time winner of the Bloody Words Light Mystery Award (Canada) and a finalist for Agatha and Arthur Ellis awards. She is the author of the long-running Penny Brannigan series set in North Wales (St. Martins Press), and the Shakespeare in the Catskills series (Crooked Lane Books). She lives in Toronto.

For more information, visit www.elizabethjduncan.com, like her Facebook page, or follow her on Twitter at @elizabethduncan.

A day in the life of Mimi Rousseau by Daryl Wood Gerber

Opening a new restaurant and bed-and-breakfast inn can be quite an undertaking. Luckily the places my benefactor Bryan Baker purchased in Nouvelle Vie were already constructed and in decent shape. All we had to do was gut them in order to transform them into Bistro Rousseau and Maison Rousseau.

All morning today, we have been tackling the bistro. Yesterday, the tile floor was laid in the kitchen. The wood floors are being installed in the dining room now. I love them. The grain is perfect. However, I can barely breathe or hear because I’ve got dust in every opening of my head—my ears, my nose, and my mouth—but it’s worth it. I can’t wait until we install the bar that we imported from France and to see the candelabra-style chandeliers hanging from the ceiling. I’m as eager as a kid on Christmas Eve to serve our first meal and hear the raves from the customers. Oh, a girl can dream.

I glance at my watch and call out, “Break, everyone. Thirty minutes.” I don’t want anyone to complain about being overworked. The only way to make sure a building is completed on time, Bryan says, is to treat people like family.

For my break, I agreed to meet him and my best friend Jorianne “Jo” James who introduced me to Bryan, at Chocolate, an adorable café a few minutes walk from the bistro. When I arrive, I see he has already ordered my usual: a cup of hot chocolate and croissant. Jo is late.

I slip into the coffee-cup shaped chair and fold my arms on the table.

“How’s it going?” he asks as he takes a large bite of his bacon-egg sandwich. Bryan, who is in his late sixties, nearly twice my age, reminds me of Paul Newman, with brilliant blue eyes and an easy smile. Thanks to him, less than a year after my late husband left me with tremendous debt, I am back on my feet and feeling positive about life.

“It’s going—”

“Sorry!” Jo races into the café and slides to a halt, the skirt of her blue sheath twisted around her thighs. She shimmies it down and drinks in a gulp of air. “We had a last minute issue at the inn.” Jo, who graduated with an MBA from UC Berkeley, has agreed to manage Maison Rousseau for me. She’s a whiz with numbers. “Did you—” Her eyes go wide. “What’s wrong with Bryan?”

I turn and see Bryan gasping for air. His face is turning blue. Is he choking? I flash on a time at summer camp when we were roasting shish kebabs late at night. I swallowed too big a piece of meat and started to choke. My counselor tried the Heimlich maneuver, but it didn’t work. Then she. . .

Move, Mimi!

I race to Bryan and whack him in the back with my palm. He shakes his head. “Raise your arms,” I command. He does. I wheedle myself between the chair and him and wrap my arms around his ribcage. My hands reach, but my fingers barely interlock. Even so, I tug. He continues to choke. “Can you get on your feet?” I ask. “I need a better angle.” He shakes his head. “Dang. Okay, I apologize, but. . .” I scramble to the front of him and, following my camp counselor’s lead, shove my fingers down his throat. I scoop out the offending sandwich—ugh—and hand Bryan a glass of water. “Drink.”

When Bryan is breathing normally, he says, “Thanks.”

I punch his arm. “Don’t scare me like that ever again. Take smaller bites from now on.”

“Yes, Mom.” He laughs good-naturedly. “In the meantime, why don’t you tell Jo to stop running in like there’s a disaster?”

“So it’s my fault?” she huffs, but I can see the sheer relief in her eyes.

Mine must look the same.

Have you ever had to save someone’s life?

You can read more about A Deadly Éclair, the first in the NEW “French Bistro” mystery series.

Mimi Rousseau’s dream to open her own bistro has seemed beyond her grasp ever since she was chased back home to Nouvelle Vie in Napa Valley by her late husband’s tremendous debt. Fortunately, her best friend Jorianne introduced her to entrepreneur Bryan Baker, who invested in the promising restaurateur’s project. So Mimi works the bistro and inn until she’s able to pay it off and call it her own. Now, Mimi is throwing the inn’s very first wedding—the nuptials of famous talk show host Angelica Edmonton, daughter of Bryan’s half-brother, Edison.

This wedding will be the talk of the town, but anxious Mimi is sure the bride’s puffed-up expectations will collapse, especially when Edison gets drunk and rowdy at the out-of-towners’ dinner. By the evening, things are looking sweet again. . .until the next morning, when Bryan is found dead at the bistro with an éclair stuffed in his mouth.

All the fingers point at Mimi, whose entire loan is forgiven if Bryan dies. So it’s up to her to éclair—er, clear—her name before the killer turns up the heat again in A Deadly Éclair, Agatha Award-winning author Daryl Wood Gerber’s scrumptious series debut.

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Daryl is giving away to two commenters, print books from her “Cookbook Nook” or “Cheese Shop” series, winner’s choice. Leave a comment below for your chance to win. The giveaway ends November 9, 2017. Good luck everyone!

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About the author
Agatha Award-winning Daryl Wood Gerber is best known for her nationally bestselling “Cookbook Nook Mysteries” and “Cheese Shop Mysteries”, which she pens as Avery Aames. She will soon debut the new “French Bistro Mysteries”. A Deadly Êclair comes out November 2017. Daryl also writes stand-alone suspense: Day Of Secrets and Girl On The Run. Fun tidbit: as an actress, Daryl appeared in “Murder, She Wrote.” She loves to cook, and she has a frisky Goldendoodle named Sparky who keeps her in line!

Connect with Daryl at darylwoodgerber.com

All comments are welcomed.

My Musing ~ A Deadly Éclair by Daryl Wood Gerber

A Deadly Éclair by Daryl Wood Gerber is the first book in the NEW “French Bistro” mystery series. Publisher: Crooked Lane Books, coming November 7, 2017

In Agatha-Award winning author Daryl Wood Gerber’s delectable series debut, Mimi Rousseau serves up piping hot suspects to clear her name of murder.

It’s always been Mimi Rousseau’s dream to open her own bistro, but it seems beyond her grasp since she’s been chased back home to Nouvelle Vie in Napa Valley by her late husband’s tremendous debt. Until her best friend Jorianne James introduces her to entrepreneur Bryan Baker who invests in promising prospects. Now, working Bryan’s bistro and inn until she’s able to pay it off and call it her own, Mimi is throwing the inn’s first wedding ever.

The wedding will be the talk of the town, as famous talk show host Angelica Edmonton, daughter of Bryan’s wealthy friend, Eddie, has chosen the inn as her perfect venue. Anxious, Mimi is sure things are going to turn south, especially when Eddie gets drunk and rowdy at the rehearsal dinner, but by the evening, things begin to look up again. That is until six AM rolls around, and as Mimi arrives at the bistro to begin wedding preparations, Bryan is found dead with an éclair stuffed in his mouth. And the fingers point at Mimi, whose entire loan is forgiven in Bryan’s will.

Now it’s up to Mimi to clear her name and get to the bottom of things before the killer turns up the heat again in A Deadly Éclair, the scrumptious series debut by Agatha Award-winning author Daryl Wood Gerber.

Talk about a culinary delight, this book is the pinnacle of deliciousness as I devoured all that was written in this exciting new series featuring Mimi and her friends. When her beloved mentor is found dead on her property, Mimi takes it upon herself to find his murdered and the more questions she asks, the more the killer wants to remain cloistered.

This was a wonderfully light whodunit that had me involved in the various interactions between Mimi and those who visit her bistro. The mystery was nicely baked to perfection filling me with suspects and peppered with clues and a few twists that propelled this story forward. I did like that with each clue Mimi discovered, she went straight to the sheriff. The narrative was enticingly pleasing keeping me glued to the pages as I had to know how this was all going to end. All the main characters played pivotal roles that enhanced the telling of this tale. This book had everything, a nice little mystery, engaging conversation, camaraderie between friends, romance and the perfect setting of a French bistro. I can’t wait for the next book with Mimi, Nash, Tyson, Jo and the rest of the gang.

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FTC Full Disclosure – I received a digital ARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley.

My Musing ~ Unholy City by Carrie Smith

Unholy City by Carrie Smith is the third book in the “Claire Codella” mystery series. Publisher: Crooked Lane Books, coming November 7, 2017

Despite their rocky history, Detective Claire Codella and Precinct Detective Brian Haggerty come together when senior churchwarden Philip Graves’s bloody body is found lying in the herb garden of historic St. Paul’s Episcopal Church on Manhattan’s Upper West Side just two days before Good Friday. Upon first glance, it looks like a random act of big city violence, but it soon becomes clear churchwarden Philip’s death was the result of a meticulously calculated ploy by someone who knew him.

There are five vestry members and a choir director in addition to the ten homeless men asleep in the church basement. Any one of them could have done it, but what did Philip Graves do to warrant such a merciless death? Struggling to share the case and salvage their personal relationship, Claire, Brian and trusted Detective Eduardo Munoz work around the clock to uncloak the desires, secrets, and resentments that find home through the iron gates and into the hidden beauty of one historic Romanesque church in Unholy City, the haunting third installment in Carrie Smith’s Claire Codella mysteries.

So many secrets among the church member of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church where multiple murders took place and no one is telling a soul. It’s up to Claire, Brian and Eduardo to dig deep into the suspected parishioners’ consciousness to shine a light on a murderer hiding in plain sight.

This was a well-written drama that captured my attention immediately and I could not put this book down until it was all said and done. The pacing was on par with the ease in which this tightly woven story was told. The author did a great job in keeping all the suspects involved throughout giving each one a voice that was heard amidst all that was happening as the detectives worked their case. I liked the way the author directed the storyline so that systematically those secrets were exposed and would eventually lead to the revelation of the killer’s identity. Bonus to me was the outcome with her Lieutenant. This was one of the best in the series and I can’t wait to see where we go next with Codella and her friends.

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FTC Full Disclosure – I received a digital ARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley.

My Musing ~ Death Overdue by Allison Brook

Death Overdue by Allison Brook is the first book in the NEW “Haunted Library” mystery series. Publisher: Crooked Lane Books, October 2017

Carrie Singleton is just about done with Clover Ridge, Connecticut until she’s offered a job as the head of programs and events at the spooky local library, complete with its own librarian ghost. Her first major event is a program presented by a retired homicide detective, Al Buckley, who claims he knows who murdered Laura Foster, a much-loved part-time library aide who was bludgeoned to death fifteen years earlier. As he invites members of the audience to share stories about Laura, he suddenly keels over and dies.

The medical examiner reveals that poison is what did him in and Carrie feels responsible for having surged forward with the program despite pushback from her director. Driven by guilt, Carrie’s determined to discover who murdered the detective, convinced it’s the same man who killed Laura all those years ago. Luckily for Carrie, she has a friendly, knowledgeable ghost by her side. But as she questions the shadows surrounding Laura’s case, disturbing secrets come to light and with each step Carrie takes, she gets closer to ending up like Al.

Now it’s due or die for Carrie in Death Overdue the delightful first in a new cozy series by Allison Brook.

This was a fun book to read and I enjoyed the pacing and the ease of how this drama moved from chapter to chapter. The mystery was nicely done and the author did a great job in presenting the suspects and clues to keep me glued to the pages. Every time I thought I had a handle on the killer, the author changed direction which added to how well this story was being told. The characters were well-developed and the narrative put me in the middle of all the action. Boasting a likeable cast and engaging dialogue, this was a good introduction to this debut series.