Tag Archives: Gin Jones

A day in the life of Maria Dolores by Gin Jones

“Maria Dolores! Maria Dolores!” My young assistant, Cary Baines, burst through the flaps of the first aid tent to announce, “I found you, Maria Dolores!”

His enthusiasm was so infectious, I had to smile, even as I wished he wasn’t quite so good at finding me. Of course, his ability to track me down had probably saved my life over Labor Day Weekend when I’d confronted a killer. Besides, it wasn’t as if I were in a truly private space at the moment. I was seated in the back of the first aid tent at the folding table that served as the on-site office for the farmers’ market manager.

“The mayor wants to talk to you,” Cary said, before racing back out of the tent.

Mayor Edward Kallakala came through the tent flaps a moment later. “I wish I had half the energy that young man does.”

“Don’t we all?” I picked up my sling bag filled with emergency supplies—from duct tape and coin rolls to chocolate—and hugged it as if there were something in there for responding to an impromptu job performance review. We hadn’t spoken in the two weeks since Labor Day, and I’d been hoping to have some warning before I had to explain why there’d been another murder during my tenure as the market manager.

The mayor settled into a folding chair with as much grace as it were an ergonomic office chair on level ground. “You know that I supported creating the farmers’ market and I supported the decision to hire you as the manager.”

“I appreciate that.” Unfortunately, I could hear a but coming.

“And you know that I’ll be blamed if the market fails.”

I nodded. “But that won’t happen. People are forming strong bonds with the vendors. One woman told me her kids threatened a hunger strike if they couldn’t have fresh tomatoes from Tommy Fordham’s farm.”

The mayor waved his hand dismissively. “I’m not worried about the vendors. They’re amazing.”

Most of them were, at least. There was always a rotten apple or, in the market’s case, a rotten potato farmer, in every barrel. “So what are you concerned about?”

I held my breath, waiting for him to mention the various disasters that had occurred this summer. He couldn’t blame me for the earthquake, but everything else was fair game. Dark secrets, greed and resentment had all combined to result in people dying, and I hadn’t been able to prevent any of it.

“Two things,” he said. “First, a number of people have mentioned their disappointment that there’s no honey vendor at the market.”

“I’m working on it.” I tried to project confidence, but the mayor had hit on a sore spot. I’d been told by my least favorite vendor that my inability to sign a beekeeper to the market was proof that I didn’t deserve the job. “I’ve got some leads, but the local beekeepers are struggling to keep up with demand and don’t need additional distribution points.”

“I’m sure you’ll find someone by the end of the season.”

It was more an order than a vote of confidence, and it made me nervous that his second topic of discussion would be even more challenging. “And your other concern?”

“I wouldn’t ask if I weren’t desperate,” he said. “And I’d appreciate your discretion. It wouldn’t look good if this got out.”

“As long as you’re not asking me to do anything illegal.” My friend Merle was a lawyer. The good kind, not a shyster.

“It’s nothing that Merle would advise you against.” The mayor glanced over his shoulder as if expecting Cove Chronicles reporter Duncan Pickles to jump out from behind the first aid supplies. Satisfied that no one was listening, he nevertheless leaned forward to speak barely above a whisper. “It’s my sister-in-law. She thinks she’s a really good baker, but she’s the sort who mistakenly uses salt instead of sugar. I do love home-made sweets, but I can’t eat hers, and I can’t be seen buying anything at the baked goods stall here. Could you possibly get me a fruit pie?”

“I can do that.” Relieved, I let my sling bag slide back to the ground.

I’d get the mayor a dozen pies if that was what it took to keep my job as the market manager for the next few weeks. After that, my career would depend on my keeping the final event of the season on Halloween weekend from turning into the Day of the Dead. I might need an extra sling bag or two for all my preparations.

You can read more about Maria Dolores in A Death in the Flower Garden, the first in the Danger Cove Farmers’ Market Mysteries, available now, and the second in the series, A Slaying in the Orchard, also available now, as well as in A Secret in the Pumpkin Patch (October 3).

Labor Day weekend starts with a bang in Danger Cove when a dead body is found in the orchard of Maria Dolores’ mentor and maybe-boyfriend, Merle! While it’s clear the murder took place long ago, the police are still keeping Merle tied up, leaving Maria on her own to run the local farmers’ market. She’s prepared for the petty squabbles, disorganized vendors, and even a rowdy group of costumed pirates—it comes with the territory. But what she isn’t prepared for is the fresh body found in an isolated corner of the market!

Maria would like to leave the investigation to the local homicide detective, but he’s stretched thin with two separate murders, and her nemesis—the farmer who lost out to her for the manager’s job—is demanding quick answers or else. With a nearly endless array of suspects, since the victim had upset just about everyone at the market, Maria has her work cut out for her! Can she prevent another murder in the market… or will she end up the next victim?

Buy Link

# # # # # # # # # # #

Giveaway: Leave a comment below for your chance to win your choice of either a digital copy of A Slaying in the Orchard or a digital ARC of A Secret in the Pumpkin Patch. The giveaway ends September 23, 2017. Good luck, everyone!

# # # # # # # # # # #

About the author
Gin Jones overcame a deeply ingrained habit of thinking and writing like a lawyer in order to write fiction. In her spare time, Gin makes quilts, grows garlic and serves on the board of directors for The XLH Network, Inc. Connect with Gin at ginjones.com.

All comments are welcomed.

A day in the life of Maria Dolores by Gin Jones

The EMTs were missing.

Two weeks earlier, on my first day as the farmers’ market’s manager, I’d thought the size of the first aid tent, easily twice the size of the individual market stalls, was overkill. What could go wrong in the buying and selling of locally produced fruits, vegetables and art? Maybe a bit of dehydration, a bug bite or perhaps an allergic reaction, but nothing that would require such a large and fully stocked medical-emergency area.

That just showed how little I really knew about my new job. We’d experienced both an earthquake and murder over the Independence Day weekend. The EMTs—collectively known as the Baxter twins, since apparently I wasn’t the only one who couldn’t tell the brothers apart—had been every bit as much in demand as my sling bag filled with non-medical-emergency supplies.

Their absence on this drizzly July Saturday was worrisome. Usually they could be found loitering outside their tent. When I’d arrived shortly before opening time, the tent and all their equipment had been set up, but the two men were gone. Not a good way to start the day, if someone had been injured enough to need not just one but two EMTs.

I could have called them, but I didn’t want to interrupt if they were responding to an emergency. Instead, I checked with all the vendors near the first aid tent. As I left the last vendor, who like the others hadn’t seen the EMTs leave, I gave silent thanks for the unflappability I’d inherited from my great-great-great-grandmother, the town’s first lighthouse keeper.

Officer Fred Fields was hurrying up from the parking lot. I intercepted him before he reached the beginning of the market stalls. “Do you know where the Baxter twins are?”

Fields’s face tightened with worry. “They should be at their station. Too bad the quilters aren’t here this week. They’d know exactly where the Baxter twins and every other town resident was.”

On major holidays, like July 4th, Labor Day and Halloween, the market expanded into an all-weekend affair and brought in additional vendors, like the quilt guild and the Second Chance Animal Rescue. But not for this Saturday-only event.

“The quilters do have one of the best grapevines in town,” I said. “But we’re on our own today. I’ll take the parking lot and historical garden, if you’ll check Two Mile Beach.”

Fred left, and I trotted around the parking lot, coming up empty. As I was leaving for the historical garden, I was stopped by Henry Atwell, an elderly and curmudgeonly woodworker.

“It’s all your fault,” he said. “My granddaughter put me on a time-out from my very own stall. She never would have done that if she hadn’t seen you do it to me two weeks ago.”

“I’ll have a chat with her later.” I continued past Henry, planning to congratulate Etta on her good sense. Henry would probably make more money while he was away than when he was in the stall, as people rushed to buy his wooden kitchenware without having to deal with his cranky attitude.

The historical garden was tucked into the space between the market and some low, rocky cliffs that sloped down to the beginning of the beach. Garden club volunteers could sometimes get a little over-zealous while protecting the heirloom vegetables there.

I caught a glimpse of movement in the rocky cliff wall near the far corner of the garden. A moment later, one of the Baxter twins emerged sideways from a crevice. His brother became partially visible as I quickly texted their location to Officer Fields.

By the time I arrived, a pair of sheepish-looking teens had also slid out, given their rescuers a quick thank you, and raced off to the beach.

“Poor kids,” one of the EMTs said with a chuckle he couldn’t hold back any longer. “They were looking for a little privacy and got stuck.”

“They’d probably still be in there if I hadn’t noticed them go in,” the other one said. “We’ve responded to a few calls there in the past. It’s a funnel-shaped formation with a number of sharp rocks pointing away from the entrance. Easy to get into, but hard to get out again. They were expecting a long lecture on safety when we showed up.”

“They won’t get one from me,” I said. “They seem to have learned their lesson, and as long as no one was hurt, I’m satisfied with how it turned out.”

That wasn’t entirely true. I wouldn’t be entirely satisfied until the rest of today and the next six Saturdays proved to be uneventful. Then I might start to believe we’d also be able to get through the next weekend-long event on Labor Day without any mischief, mayhem or murder.

You can read more about Maria in A Death in the Flower Garden, the first in the “Danger Cove Farmers’ Market” Mysteries, available now, and the sequels, A Slaying in the Orchard (August 22) and A Secret in the Pumpkin Patch (October).

It’s Independence Day weekend, and Maria Dolores, the descendant of Danger Cove’s first lighthouse keeper, is the new manager of the Lighthouse Farmers’ Market. While she may be a bit uncertain about her career change—trading financial planning for flower stalls and farm fresh produce—she’s still determined to get the market into shape and onto one of the region’s “best of” lists.

From the very beginning, though, events conspire against her. Her mentor and attractive local farmer, Merle Curtis, fails to show up to introduce her to the vendors, the stalls are all in the wrong place, and an earthquake shakes up everyone in the market! In its aftermath, Maria realizes the flower vendor is more than shaken up. . . she’s dead. Maria suddenly finds herself embroiled in a small town mystery that’s got everyone on edge. Will it all lead to the end of Maria’s new career? Or worse yet. . . her life?

Buy Link

# # # # # # # # # # #

About the author
Gin Jones overcame a deeply ingrained habit of thinking and writing like a lawyer in order to write fiction. In her spare time, Gin makes quilts, grows garlic and serves on the board of directors for The XLH Network, Inc. Connect with Gin at ginjones.com.

All comments are welcomed.

Giveaway: Leave a comment below for your chance to win either a Kindle/Nook copy of A Death in the Flower Garden or a Kindle/Nook E-ARC of A Slaying in the Orchard, winner’s choice. The giveaway ends August 2, 2017. Good luck everyone!

A day in the life of Helen Binney by Gin Jones

a-darling-of-death“Is there something wrong with the peas?” my dinner companion, Ambrose Tate, asked me.

“No, they’re fine.” We were supposed to be celebrating my return to the small Berkshire Hills town of Wharton after too many weeks in Boston, undergoing endless medical tests and consultations related to my lupus. I didn’t feel like celebrating anything, and the peas had taken the brunt of my irritation. It wasn’t their fault, though, so I set my fork down. “I just felt like stabbing something.”

Something or someone?” Tate held out a hand to forestall an answer. One finger sported a small bandage, presumably from a minor accident in his woodworking studio. “No, don’t tell me. I probably don’t want to know.”

Always the lawyer, I thought, anticipating how my words could be used against us both. “Inanimate objects will suffice for the moment. And I hope you appreciated that I didn’t stab the maitre d’.”

“It made my day. Although, to be honest, I’m not sure why you were so annoyed with him.”

“He practically ripped my coat out of my hands.” I wasn’t as stable on my feet as I’d like, and his sudden tug on my coat had almost knocked me over.

“Ah, yes,” Tate said. “I forgot how much you hate it when people help you without your asking for assistance. As long as you’re jogging my memory, perhaps you could explain why you’re annoyed with me too. I didn’t take your coat or even open the car door for you.”

“You came to Boston three times while I was there.” I knew I was being irrational. I hadn’t even decided yet whether I was more upset that he’d visited at all or that he’d only visited three times. “I asked you not to make the trip.”

“I had to. Vicky missed me.”

“My cat hates you.” That wasn’t unique to Tate. Vicky hated everyone except me. “She knows you advised me not to adopt her.”

Tate shrugged. “She got over it when I smuggled some treats in to her. She doesn’t hold a grudge. Unlike some people.”

“I like grudges. They give me a reason to get out of bed in the morning.”

“I thought that was what your gardening was for,” Tate said. “And your penchant for challenging violent people to kill you.”

“The garden is shut down for the season, and no one’s threatened to kill me lately.” I had a bad feeling my voice was getting whiney.

“So you’re bored.”

“Not bored, exactly.” Even when I was irritated with Tate, I appreciated the way he helped me to sort through what I was thinking. “More like restless.”

“And you think stabbing things will make you feel better?”

“I know it will.” I always felt better when I had a plan for dealing with my issues. I decided it was safe to pick up my fork again and enjoy the chicken and rice. “Perhaps I should take up fencing.”

“You did assure me you weren’t going to stab people.”

“Fake stabbing doesn’t count.”

Tate sipped his wine while he considered my words. Finally, he said, “I can’t think of anywhere around here where you could take fencing lessons. You’d probably have to go back to Boston for that, and I’m pretty sure you’ve had enough of the big city and living with your niece.”

He was right. Next time I went to Boston, it was going to be for something fun, like a museum tour, and I was staying in a hotel, not my nagging niece’s condo. I might even invite Tate to go with me.

For now, if I couldn’t learn to fence anywhere nearby, maybe there was something else I could do that would be equally cathartic. I needed to vent some of the irritation that I was even taking out on Tate, who didn’t deserve it. Even if he had made the six-hour round-trip to Boston to see me after I’d asked him not to.

Rather than stab something, perhaps I could thump something instead. A friend had recently opened a martial arts studio here in Wharton. He ought to have a punching bag I could use. First thing tomorrow, I was signing up for membership.

“Don’t worry about me,” I told Tate. “I’m already feeling less inclined to stab anything. You and your car will be perfectly safe on the drive home tonight.”

“No one is ever completely safe around you, but I’ve got years of experience with minimizing risks.” Tate reached across the table to take my hand. “Having to keep my woodworking tools locked up so you won’t stab me with them is a small price to pay for being with you.”

You can read more about Helen in A Darling of Death, the fifth novel in the “Helen Binney” Mysteries, coming March 7, 2017.

Helen Binney is frustrated with the challenges of her lupus and is desperate to hit something—anything! So what better place to go than a martial arts studio owned by a friend? Only her frustrations remain when she finds herself in a minor car accident, a female martial arts competitor mocks her physical limitations, and the studio owner won’t let her engage in any satisfyingly high-impact exercise.

But when the rude competitor is found dead in the locker room, Helen is distracted from her personal problems. She learns that the woman owned a Bed & Breakfast, and wasn’t very good at making friends. Murder suspects abound, with several ex-boyfriends, mistreated employees at her B&B, a competing B&B operator, and a romantic rival. And the murder isn’t the only mystery in Helen’s life. Her handsome ex-lawyer Tate seems to be withdrawing from their newly personal relationship, and she can’t get him to tell her what’s wrong. Can Helen keep Tate from giving up on their relationship and defend herself against a killer who was able to overpower a highly skilled martial artist? Or will this be one fight she doesn’t limp away from?

# # # # # # # # # # #

About the author
Gin Jones overcame a deeply ingrained habit of thinking and writing like a lawyer in order to write fiction. In her spare time, Gin makes quilts, grows garlic and serves on the board of directors for the XLH Network. Connect with Gin at ginjones.com.

All comments are welcomed.

A Darling of Death is available at online booksellers.

Giveaway: Leave a comment below for your chance to win a Kindle or Nook copy of A Darling of Death. The giveaway ends March 6, 2017. Good luck everyone!

Christmas with Cozy Mystery Characters by Gin Jones

cozyshortsFranki Amato from “Rosolio Red” by Traci Andrighetti
Ciao, y’all. Franki Amato here, coming at you for Christmas from The Crescent City. Because my best friend and boss, Veronica, is giving me time off from my PI job at Private Chicks, I’m staying in NOLA instead of going home to Houston for the holidays. What I’m not planning to do—watch my landlady, Glenda, dance in the senior stripper revue “Let It Show, Let It Show, Let It Show” at Madame Moiselle’s on Bourbon Street. What I am planning to do—cook up a special present for my sugarplum, Bradley (hint: It’s not a fruitcake!). Anyway, my mom’s calling, so I’ve gotta run. I sure hope everything’s okay with the family . . .

Aunt Stella from “Christmas, Spies & Dead Guys” by Jennifer Fischetto
Since I’ve been dead, I can’t enjoy the holidays like I used to. No more extra spiced eggnog or my sister’s awful, mushy asparagus. I guess the last one is a plus. I don’t mind too much though. Now I get my jollies in other ways. Like hiding the silverware right before dinner or putting rocks in my brother-in-law’s stocking. It’s the little things that make this ghost chuckle.

Amy Ridley from “Christmas Canapés & Sabotage” by Janel Gradowski
I’m Amy Ridley. I’ve lived in Michigan my entire life, so I’ve dealt with lots of cold weather. One of my favorite ways to stay warm is with a mug of hot chocolate. One of the simplest ways to make this yummy treat is to warm milk over low heat then stir in chunks of chocolate candy bars, like Hershey or Dove, until melted. You can customize it by adding in things like cinnamon, vanilla extract, a shot of espresso or even a bit of rum. Pour into a mug and enjoy!

Ambrose Tate from “A (Gingerbread) Diorama of Death” by Gin Jones
Call me Tate. I’m a retired lawyer, although my landlord Helen Binney keeps ignoring the “retired” part of it, dragging me into murder investigations. I’ve been thinking about inviting her to Christmas dinner with my extended family. Otherwise, I’ll spend the whole day worrying that she’ll get herself into trouble. On the other hand, I have to consider whether she’ll bring that trouble with her. Most people could safely enjoy a holiday event, but Helen couldn’t even judge a gingerbread house contest recently without almost getting herself killed. Maybe I could hire a bodyguard. Not for her. For my family.

Jamie Winters from “Motion for Mistletoe” by Kelly Rey
My daily life doesn’t change all that much during the holiday season. It’s still glamour all the time: traffic jams, layaway, and to-do lists. Especially to-do lists, memorializing things I’ll never find time to do or money to buy, or even my most heartfelt wishes, like a driver’s license for Maizy or a laundry accident that leaves Curt shirtless. Maybe it’s not my heart involved in that one.

Christmas wishes are the granddaddy of them all, and my wish this year especially is for peace, for you and yours, and for everyone. Happy holidays.

Bronwyn Sinclair from “Sleighed at Castle Rock” by Anne Marie Stoddard
Hey, y’all–Bronwyn Sinclair here with a major case of the humbugs. Amelia is out of town, and I’m helping Kat run a Christmas themed music festival and Battle of the Bands competition at Castle Rock–in July. My elf costume is itchy, the eggnog is curdling, and now someone’s slipped mistletoe in one of the judge’s drinks. It looks like it’s up to me to catch the culprit and send them jingle bell rockin’ all the way to jail before the festival is ruined. What would Ame and Kat do without me?

Barb Jackson from “The Blonde Before Christmas,” by Anna Snow
I’m Barb Jackson. Christmas is my favorite time of the year, the snow, the decorations, giving gifts, murder. . .

Okay, so the murder part isn’t exactly part of Christmas, but when you’re a private investigator, you never know what’s going to pop up of any given day. It just so happens that last Christmas, my best friend Kelly and I discovered the dead body of the local mall Santa. Let me tell you, that was one case I’ll never forget. . .

Tessie King from “Baby It’s Cold Outside” by T. Sue VerSteeg
Holidays are always shared with family. Unless I find myself frozen, quite literally, in my work. A raging ice storm and a packed house of cranky patrons stuck with me at the Royal Palace wasn’t exactly how I’d pictured my first Christmas at the helm. There just weren’t enough apple-tinis to go around. I was at least comforted to know that my BFFs were stuck with me, along with one hot, handsome snowboarder. Plans for a festive party to thaw out the frozen Christmas spirit get shoved to the backburner when someone tries to kill me by locking me outside in the storm. I suddenly found myself hot on the trail, you know, once I was able to move again. Was it wrong that I found a silver lining when the ruckus brought the hunky Fed back to town? Enjoy an apple-tini for us! Or two.

Cozy Christmas Shorts is a holiday short story collection, published by Gemma Halliday Publishing, September 2016.

Eleven holiday themed cozy mystery short stories by New York Times, USA Today, and National Bestselling authors! Short holiday bites perfect for enjoying while waiting in holiday lines or binge-reading over a cup of hot cocoa.

**The authors are donating a portion of proceeds from this collection to Toys for Tots!**

# # # # # # # # # # #

About the authors
Traci Andrighetti is an enthusiast of luscious Italian liqueurs, risqué Italian recipes, and embarrassing family encounters, all of which informed the writing of her holiday story.

Jennifer Fischetto writes while staring at the multi-colored lights on her tree and envisioning snarky ghosts.

Janel Gradowski has spent almost every Christmas Eve stuffing herself with holiday treats at her family’s Christmas parties. The experiences provided some of the inspiration for her story

Gin Jones loves gingerbread, mysteries and cold weather, all of which inspired her holiday story.

Kelly Rey loves the first snow and the coziness of a long winter evening spent by the faux fireplace with a good book.

Anne Marie Stoddard loves holiday music and drinking cranberry mojitos that aren’t poisoned with mistletoe. Like Bronwyn, she hates itchy elf costumes and curdled egg nog.

Anna Snow is a wife, mom, lipstick junkie, and USA Today Bestselling Author of the Barb Jackson Mysteries.

T. Sue VerSteeg absolutely loves the glisten of fresh snow on Christmas morning. But it needs to be gone by the next day and replaced by sand, sun, and 80 degree temps. A Midwestern girl can dream, right?

All comments are welcomed.

Giveaway: Leave a comment below for your chance to win a digital copy of your choice of any one book published by Gemma Halliday Publishing and written by one of the Cozy Christmas Shorts authors. The giveaway ends December 25, 2016. Good luck everyone!

A Conversation with Matt Viera by Gin Jones

Robbing Peter to Kill Paul

I’m Matt Viera, currently a reporter for the Cove Chronicles, and I’m supposed to be telling you a story about how hard it is to date a celebrity. I used to be something of an internet sensation. That’s all behind me now, and people are starting to forget, which is what I want, so these days it’s Keely Fairchild who’s getting all the attention. Solve a murder or two, and it’s hard to go anywhere without people staring and pointing.

But I just heard about another murder in the quilt world, and I’ve got to run, so for now, I thought you might be interested in a conversation Keely and I had about her bank vault. The one in her house, I mean. The building used to be a small bank branch. Removing the vault would have cost too much, so she renovated around it. And now she won’t let anyone see what’s in it. Which sets my reporter’s antennae to twitching.

So, there we were, having dinner at the Smugglers’ Tavern. (It’s under new management, in case you haven’t heard. But that’s a story for another time, after I’ve had a chance to do some interviews.) And I very subtly asked, “So, when are you going to let me see your bank vault?”

KEELY: “Why are you so interested in it, anyway?”

ME: “Because you don’t want me to see it.”

KEELY: “You’d be disappointed. It’s just a room like any other.”

ME: “If that were true, you wouldn’t be so reluctant to give me a tour.”

KEELY: “If we were in court, you wouldn’t be able to testify to that. It’s an opinion, not evidence.”

As an aside, I should probably mention that Keely used to be a high-powered trial lawyer, and she quit at the height of her career to become a quilt appraiser. She won’t explain about that either.

ME: “Fortunately, we’re not in court. In fact, if the legends about the smugglers’ activities during the early days of Danger Cove and this tavern are true, we’re in a place where no one much cared about the rule of law.”

KEELY: “Were there really smugglers operating here?”

ME: “I could tell you all about sunken treasure and the pirate’s hook out in the cove. But that’s going to have to be a story—or, really, several stories—for another day. I know what you’re doing. You’re trying to change the subject, and you still haven’t answered my question about the vault.”

KEELY: “It could just be empty space.”

ME: after some thought: “It could be, but it’s not. You’re too practical to let all that square footage go to waste.”

KEELY: “It’s only about ten feet square.”

ME: “That rules out my first guess. I’d read about people converting abandoned vaults into coffee shops and cafes.”

KEELY: “Definitely not big enough for that.”

The arrival of our food gave me some time to consider what might or might not be in the vault. Another woman might have filled the safe deposit boxes with jewelry or used the space as a dressing room. Not Keely, though. She isn’t particularly interested in clothes or accessories. I undoubtedly know more about fashion than she does.

ME: “All those little cubbyholes would be great for a collection of some sort.”

KEELY: “Mmm.”

I wasn’t sure if that was a noncommittal agreement with my guess or simply an indication that the entree she’d just tasted was up to the standards of the prior management of the Smugglers’ Tavern.

ME: “My sister was horse-crazy when she was a teen, and she collected model horses. The vault’s cubbies would make perfect stalls for them.”

KEELY: “I was never all that interested in horses.”

ME: “Perhaps a live pet then? A deep-sea aquarium that doesn’t require natural light? Bats? Geckos? An exotic wildcat?”

KEELY: “No pets of any sort. Although I have been thinking about getting a house cat. The quilt guild seems to think it’s impossible to appreciate a quilt without a cat. Or vice versa.”

ME: “I’m running out of options here. Perhaps you’re using it as a family vault, with ‘cremains’ in each safe deposit box.”

KEELY: Silently wrinkled her nose and went back to concentrating on her meal.

ME: “Okay, nothing morbid. What about chocolate? There were rumors of a cocoa bean shortage, so perhaps you stocked up.”

KEELY: “I might have, if I’d known about it. I have to wonder, though, if that supposed shortage wasn’t as much of a far-fetched story as the ones about Danger Cove pirates and smugglers.”

And so it went for the rest of the evening, according to the notes I scribbled down after I got home—alone—that night.

Keely might not have spilled any of her secrets, but we had a good time, and I made her laugh. A big improvement over when we first met, and all she would do was scowl at me suspiciously. Besides, the evening had been a nice change from all of our previous encounters. We’d finally managed to have a date that didn’t involve any dead bodies.

Robbing Peter to Kill Paul is part of the multi-author Danger Cove Mysteries, and the third book in the Danger Cove Quilting mystery series, published by Gemma Halliday Publishing, August 2016

For quilt appraiser Keely Fairchild, the opportunity to appraise more than a hundred quilts feels almost too good to be true. And then she learns the bad news: the quiltmaker was murdered and the police have no leads. Keely suspects that the quilts hold the key to the dead woman’s death as well as to her life. While looking for answers in the quilts, Keely uncovers a variety of suspects, including the greedy heir, a smarmy used-car salesman, a feuding neighbor, and even a rival quiltmaker. As if this project weren’t enough to complicate Keely’s quiet life, she’s also under a short deadline to find new meeting space for the quilters’ guild and she’s running out of time to decide whether to let charming local reporter Matt Viera into her life. Of course, those other problems may not matter if the quiltmaker’s killer strikes again, this time to prevent Keely from finding the clues in the calico.

# # # # # # # # # # #

About the author
Gin Jones overcame a deeply ingrained habit of thinking and writing like a lawyer in order to write fiction. In her spare time, Gin makes quilts, grows garlic and serves on the board of directors for the XLH Network. Connect with Gin at ginjones.com.

All comments are welcomed.

Giveaway: Leave a comment below for your chance to win a digital copy of Robbing Peter to Kill Paul. The giveaway will end August 16, 2016 at 12 AM (midnight) EST. Good luck everyone!

Riding Along with Jack Clary by Gin Jones

A Dawn of DeathI’m Jack Clary, the on-call driver for the ex-First-Lady of Massachusetts.

I know what you’re thinking, but Ms. Binney isn’t stuck up or anything. It’s just that her lupus makes her unsafe behind the wheel.

She’s a lot more interesting than anyone else I’ve worked for. Her friend Tate—well, he’s more than a friend, really—is a lawyer, and he’s always saying he won’t bail her out of jail the next time. So I was really nervous when he showed up at the police station where I was waiting for Ms. Binney to be released. After he had a word with the officer at the desk, he came over to sit next to me.

“I tried to stop her,” I said. Tate was a good guy, for a lawyer, but he wouldn’t hesitate to destroy me if he thought I’d endangered Ms. Binney. “You know how Detective Peterson sets her off.”

“I get that much,” he said flatly. “She was visiting friends at the nursing home, and Detective Peterson must have stopped by to see his uncle.”

I hoped he wasn’t manipulating me into confessing something he could use against me. “Betty and Josie told Peterson someone had been stealing their most expensive yarns, and he lectured them about wasting police time, implying that they were senile and had imagined the thefts. Ms. Binney let him know that, on his very best day, he wouldn’t be half as sharp as they were on their very worst days.”

“Sounds like her. What I don’t understand, though, is how the crochet hook I made Helen ended up impaled in Peterson’s arm.”

“It was totally an accident.” Although I doubted Tate would see it that way. “She baited the thief by talking loudly about how valuable the hook was. She set it down and pretended to forget about it until a recently hired orderly pocketed it.”

Tate closed his eyes and leaned back. “I’m not going to like the rest, but go ahead. Better to get it over with.”

“The good news is that Ms. Binney is definitely feeling more spry these days. Otherwise, she wouldn’t have been able to catch the thief out in the hallway and grapple with him to reclaim the hook.”

“You should have been a lawyer.” Tate said, but it didn’t sound like a compliment.

“Peterson thought he finally had his chance to arrest Ms. Binney. The orderly saw the detective coming after them and suddenly let go of the crochet hook. The sudden release caused her to start falling backwards. She managed to twist around and fall forward into Detective Peterson who’d been rushing up behind her. When she grabbed his arm to break her fall, their combined momentum brought them together like two cars crashing head-on, and she stuck him with the hook.”

“With enough force that it broke in half?” Tate made it sound even worse than it was.

“She felt really bad about that. She said you’d used one of your favorite pieces of wood to make it.”

“I guess I should be grateful she appreciates my sacrifices,” he said dryly.

“It’s going to be okay. Peterson only needed two stitches, and it hasn’t worked out so well in the past when he tried to blame Ms. Binney for anything.”

“I’ve already confirmed that he’s not pressing charges.”

“See?” I said. “It all worked out. The yarn thief is in jail and Ms. Binney isn’t.”

“For now.”

“She’s not going to have time to get into any trouble after this,” I said. “The community garden’s starting up soon, and that will keep her busy.”

“Yeah,” Tate said. “What could possibly go wrong when Helen switches from using a blunt crochet hook to wielding razor-sharp trowels, hoes and pitchforks?”

A Dawn of Death is the fourth book in the Helen Binney mystery series, published by Gemma Halliday Publishing, March 2016.

Helen Binney’s never felt better! Her lupus is in remission, and she’s taking up gardening for its health benefits. Only her first day at the community garden is anything but relaxing when she finds a woman’s body, lying beside a bulldozer that belonged to the dead woman. Was the early-morning death an accident, as the police believe, or did it have something to do with a dispute over title to the garden’s land?

Helen finds out that the victim was a real estate developer, but she wasn’t the only one with an eye on the property. Could she have been killed by one of the gardeners to prevent the land from being sold? Perhaps the outspoken, Harley-riding, ex-military town clerk…or a rival developer? Helen’s handsome friend/lawyer Tate warns her to stay out of the investigation, but she’s feeling invincible and can’t resist asking a few questions. If she’s not careful, though, there might be another death at dawn.

# # # # # # # # # # #

About the author
Gin Jones overcame a deeply ingrained habit of thinking and writing like a lawyer in order to write fiction. In her spare time, Gin makes quilts, grows garlic and serves on the board of directors for the XLH Network. Visit Gin at ginjones.com.

Giveaway: Leave comment below for your chance to win a digital copy of A Dawn of Death. US entries only, please. The giveaway will end March 25, 2016 at 12 AM EST. Good luck everyone!

All comments are welcomed.

A Day in the Life of Emma Quinn by Gin Jones

Tree of LIfe and Death“I will never understand why it’s taking Keely so long to show Matt her vault,” Dee Madison said as we waited for Keely at the Smugglers’ Tavern.

Dee was my best friend, so I accepted that she sometimes spoke a little thoughtlessly and without consideration for double-entendres. Especially after she’d had a full mug of hard pear cider. “You probably shouldn’t mention it while she’s here.”

“It’s the truth,” Dee said. “Matt Viera isn’t just an excellent reporter. He’s one fine-looking man. And it’s not like Keely has anything to hide. Other than her tendency to faint, of course.”

“She prefers to call it passing out,” I reminded her. “Promise you won’t upset her. We need her help.”

“All right, all right.” Dee signaled for another drink.

The Tavern’s owner, Hope Ramsay, was behind the bar, and she knew us. This second mug was unlikely to have any alcohol in it.

“For someone who’s a lot younger than me,” Dee said, “you fuss over me like a mother hen.”

Keely came into the room just then. “Dee, Emma.” She tossed her quilted messenger bag onto the bench beside me and slid in next to Dee. “I hope you haven’t been waiting too long.”

“Not as long as Matt’s been—”

I cut Dee off. “I’m starved. Let’s order.”

Dee barely waited until we’d placed three identical orders for the seafood special before getting down to business. “The quilt guild is organizing a workshop to make ornaments for a Christmas tree in the lobby of the Danger Cove Historical Museum. We’ve hired an instructor to motivate the die-hard quilters, but we’d like to offer something for people who own quilts but haven’t made one. Yet.”

Keely didn’t hesitate. “How can I help?”

Dee had already moved on to her second mug of cider, as if everything had been settled. That left me to work out the details. “We were hoping you’d offer to do some appraisals for a nominal cost. Perhaps limit them to holiday quilts, given the time of year.”

Keely considered me for a long moment. “Okay, what aren’t you telling me?”

Dee set down her empty mug. “You’re such a suspicious person.”

“Just realistic,” Keely said. “I’ve been through too many situations where clients held back important information. The best way to ensure a perfect event is to know all the risks in advance.”

“You’re as much of a downer as Emma,” Dee grumbled. “And you don’t even have the excuse of being an old fuddy-duddy.”

I knew she didn’t mean it the way it sounded. And, to be honest, I was something of a fuddy-duddy.

I directed my response to Keely. “There shouldn’t be any problems. The guild will organize everything. But people can be somewhat emotional about their quilts, especially the ones associated with holiday memories.”

Keely looked at me skeptically. “That’s all? No protest marches? No Plan B’s that involve hiring a hit man? No match-making?”

Fortunately, Dee was working on her third mug of cider, and couldn’t swallow fast enough to answer before I did. “No match-making.”

Dee set down her mug. “Speak for yourself, Emma. Matt will be there to report on the event for the Cove Chronicles and he said he’d make a few ornaments. It would be a crime if Keely missed the chance to see him operating a sewing machine. There’s nothing quite as sexy as a man who knows how to use power tools. It’s bound to convince her she should learn to quilt.”

Keely laughed. “If that’s all you’re planning to do, I think I can resist the urge to throw myself at Matt. Or at the sewing machine. But what about the protests and hit men?”

Dee shrugged. “I can’t think of anyone I want to picket or kill.”

“Then you can count on me,” Keely said.

I could relax and enjoy my own cider now.

Dee might not mean it when she said she wished someone was dead, but there were too many people, even here in quaint little Danger Cove who did mean it.

Fortunately, that wasn’t my problem. All I had to do was organize the volunteers for the event. Then, if anyone ended up dead, well, that was just one more reason why we needed Keely there. She knew what to do about dead bodies.

Gin Jones’s Tree of Life and Death is the seventh book in the multi-author Danger Cove Mysteries series, and the second in the Danger Cove Quilting Mysteries subseries, published by Gemma Halliday Publishing. The first book of the overall series is Secret of the Painted Lady, and the first quilting mystery is Four-Patch of Trouble.

GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 12 a.m. eastern on November 30 for your chance to win a digital copy of TREE OF LIFE AND DEATH.  Good luck everyone!

About the author
Gin Jones is a lawyer who specializes in ghost-writing for other lawyers. She also makes quilts, grows garlic and serves on the board of directors of the XLH Network. Visit Gin at her website, www.ginjones.com.

Danger Cove’s Fred Fields Speaks by Gin Jones

Four Patch of TroubleTranscript from a speech by Officer Fred Fields

I’m here to talk about community policing.

I know, I know. Most of the time, guys with fancy degrees come up with some academic theory, and then us patrol cops are stuck with making it apply to real life. Which it never does.

But community policing is different. It’s what I’ve always done: getting to know the citizens of Danger Cove and working with you to solve problems.

Take the case I closed last week. I got a call from Shirley’s Ice Cream Parlor that their lighthouse had been stolen. Not the real one overlooking the cove, but the foot-tall, plastic one that collected donations for repairs to the real one.

I could have just filed a report, but that’s not how community policing works. Instead, I talked to everyone who had one of the little lighthouses. I started with the Cinnamon Sugar Bakery, and I see that some of you are snickering. I do have something of a sweet tooth, but it was actually solid police instinct. Riley told me she’d seen three teen boys hanging around the counter looking guilty, and after they left, she realized they’d added about twenty dollars to the plastic lighthouse.

I thought it was just a weird coincidence until I talked to Cassidi at The Clip and Sip. And before you ask, no, I didn’t accept one of the complimentary drinks she offers her customers. Cassidi had seen the three teens, they’d lurked a bit, and then after they left, the plastic lighthouse was noticeably fuller.

I got the same story from George at the Enchanted Florist and Gil at the museum. I was on my way to talk to Bree at the Ocean View B&B, when I got a message that the owner of the Smugglers’ Tavern wanted me to stop by. There was a lighthouse there too, and it was just up the road, so I decided the B&B could wait.

Hope Foster was behind the bar, and she silently pointed me toward her only customers, three teens slumped at a corner table. I didn’t need to do a field test to know they’d been drinking, and I knew without asking that they hadn’t gotten their alcohol at the Tavern. See? Community policing at work.

Two of the kids were completely passed out, but the third one raised his head. He gave me a big smile. “Hi, Ossifer. Looking for this?” He raised a plastic lighthouse into the air and waved it at me.

I pulled out my handcuffs, dragged the kids down to the station, and all three of them are locked up until they turn eighteen.

Ha! Gotcha!

They’re grounded, but they’re not locked up. That’s the whole point of community policing. We work together, so responsible business owners can get involved without fearing that they’ll be blamed unfairly, and kids who get caught up in a bit of foolishness won’t get punished disproportionately to their actions.

See, the teens had wanted to help raise funds for the lighthouse renovations. They stumbled across some internet articles about stolen charity boxes, and they noticed that afterwards, people were so outraged by the theft that they showered money on the charity. That gave the boys the not-so-bright idea to steal one of the little lighthouses in order to increase donations.

They were working on returning all the money in the stolen lighthouse, dividing it among all the collection boxes, when they started to have second thoughts. They stopped at a nearby friend’s house to have a drink or three for courage before continuing on to their last stop, the Smugglers’ Tavern.

They forgot to be stealthy about filling the lighthouse on the bar and they even brandished the stolen lighthouse while they were high-fiving each other on a mission accomplished. Hope encouraged them to stay and enjoy a free mug of local cider, letting them believe it would be the hard variety, but actually serving them the alcohol-free version, and then she called dispatch to contact me. The boys were turned over to their parents, and I’m confident they won’t do any more illegal drinking or lighthouse-lifting in the future.

I hope you’ll remember this story and contact me through our website, dangercovemysteries.com if you see anything suspicious here in town. Only you can put the U in community policing.

Okay, I know that was corny. The guys with the fancy degrees told me to say it.

Gin Jones’s Four-Patch of Trouble is the fourth book in the multi-author “Danger Cove” mystery series, published by Gemma Halliday Publishing. The first book is Secret of the Painted Lady.

GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 12 a.m. eastern on July 10 for the chance to win a digital copy of Four-Patch of Trouble. The giveaway is open to everyone. Winner will be notified within 48 hours after giveaway closes and you will have three days to respond after being contacted or another winner will be selected.

About the author
Gin Jones is a lawyer who specializes in ghost-writing for other lawyers. In her spare time, Gin makes quilts, grows garlic and serves on the board of directors of the XLH Network. Visit Gin at her website, ginjones.com.

A Day in the Life of Helen Binney by Gin Jones

A Draw of Deathas told by Geoff Loring, reporter for the Wharton Times

I’m Geoff Loring, reporter for the Wharton Times. Don’t worry, I’m not the annoying, gruesome kind of reporter. My motto isn’t “if it bleeds, it leads,” but rather “if it bleeds, somebody please call 911 and leave me out of it.”

Here’s my most recent published story related to Helen Binney, as published in the “community events” column:

The Wharton Friends of the Library held a special meeting on Monday to discuss their lecture program in the wake of the murder of its most recent speaker. The meeting adjourned without any official action.

That’s not the whole story, of course.

I always attend the Friends of the Library meetings; they’re usually good for getting a lead on the kind of personal interest story I write. What they’re usually not good for is discussion of a murder investigation.

This one was different. It started when Gail Whyte, who’s taken over the role of annoying know-it-all since the death of Angie Decker, made a motion that Helen Binney should be banned from the library.

“We don’t ban books,” said President Terri Greene, who’s also a popular high school coach who once played professional basketball. “And we don’t ban volunteers either. We need every one we can get.”

“Not if they’re going to sully our reputation,” Gail insisted.

Gail had a point. Helen Binney had been the one responsible for convincing professional poker player, Victor Rezendes, to give a speech at the library on the day before he was killed.

“Helen had nothing to do with the ….” Terri searched for just the right word. “The incident. If anyone’s to blame for not anticipating that our local anti-gaming advocate would heckle Victor into storming off, it was me. Do you want to ban me too?”

Gail couldn’t meet Terri’s eyes, and the rest of the room was equally silent.

“Well, then, it’s settled,” Terri said. “No banning.”

“But what about the murder?” Gail insisted. “That isn’t going to reflect well on us. No one’s going to come to any of our future lectures, and we’re counting on them to raise enough money to meet our budget.”

It wasn’t my place to speak, just to observe. Otherwise, I could have told Gail she was wrong, and that people—most people, anyway, just not me—would probably flock to the next library event, hoping that something equally exciting would happen. Especially if Helen Binney had chosen the speaker.

“That’s just silly,” Terri said. “Victor’s murder had nothing to do with the library event. It didn’t even have anything to do with Helen Binney.”

That was wishful thinking, I thought at the time. Oh, it wasn’t Helen’s fault that the Purple Pig of Professional Poker had been killed early Sunday morning, even if she had been in the group of people who’d found his body. But the murder could well have had something to do with the library event. The anti-gaming heckler could have killed Victor.

I stopped myself before I could follow that train of thought. I didn’t investigate murders or any criminal cases at all. Not my job. I left that sort of thing to Helen Binney. For a frail-looking, middle-aged woman, she had an enviable track record at catching killers. Enviable by the local homicide detective, that is, not by me.

The meeting ended in a stalemate, with half the room inclined to politely ask Helen Binney to stay away and the other half automatically siding with their daughters’ coach.

I wrote up the brief summary and sent it in to my editor. Then I added a note to myself, which was also becoming part of my standard operating procedure: stay away from Helen Binney until she declares herself satisfied that Vic Rezendes’s killer is in custody.

You can read more about Helen and her friends in A Draw of Death, the third book in the “Helen Binney” mystery series, published by Gemma Halliday Publishing. The first two books in the series are A Dose of Death and A Denial of Death.

GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 12 a.m. eastern on May 11 for the chance to win a digital copy of A Draw of Death. The giveaway is open to everyone. Winner will be notified within 48 hours after giveaway closes and you will have three days to respond after being contacted or another winner will be selected. Make sure to check your SPAM folder.

About the author
Gin Jones is a lawyer who specializes in ghost-writing for other lawyers. She prefers to write fiction, though, since she doesn’t have to worry that her sense of humor might get her thrown into jail for contempt of court. In her spare time, Gin makes quilts, grows garlic and serves on the board of directors of the XLH Network. Visit Gin at her website, ginjones.com.