Tag Archives: historical mystery

A day in the life with Lieutenant Piotr Kazimierz by James R. Benn

A day in the life? That is quite a challenge for any colleague of Captain Billy Boyle. There is seldom a normal day to be had at the Supreme Headquarters, Allied Expeditionary Forces. And when we are out on assignment, every day is different. And often deadly.

But where are my manners? Allow me to introduce myself. I am Lieutenant Piotr Kazimierz of the Polish Army-in-Exile, and I work at SHAEF headquarters, Grosvenor Square, London, in General Eisenhower’s Office of Special Investigations. I am also a baron of the Augustus clan, and likely one of the few members of that ancient nobility left alive today.

When the Germans and the Russians invaded Poland, I was at university in England.

My family was not. Now they are dead, murdered by the invaders, both Nazi and Soviet, as they eliminated all forms of opposition to their rule.

But there may be a survivor. I have recently learned that my younger sister Angelika may be alive, and working with the Underground Army in occupied Poland. A dangerous undertaking, after five years of Nazi rule. I hold out hope that we will be reunited one day, if we both survive the war.

Or, if we both do not.

But enough of my family history. You want to know what a normal day in the life of Billy Boyle is like. Today is an anomaly. We are at SHAEF, recently returned from a mission to Switzerland. The Swiss are famous for neutrality, chocolate, and cuckoo clocks. We found their neutrality over-stated, although the chocolate was quite good. I never did hear a cuckoo clock (perhaps it was the gunfire). Our job was to investigate reports of looted gold being laundered by Swiss banks, in order to keep the Nazi war machine well-funded. The Swiss bankers and politicians were not particular about where the gold came from, be it assets of conquered nations or pulled from the teeth of victims in concentration camps. But that is a long story, and has nothing to do with today.

Yesterday we landed outside of London, after a long flight from neutral Portugal. We have been allowed a few day’s rest, which at SHAEF means catching up on paperwork. I am reading intelligence reports concerning the activities of various factions of the French Resistance in Normandy, which is our next destination. Billy is reading Stars and Stripes, his feet up on his desk, a cup of coffee close at hand. He would say a cup of joe, in that marvelous way Americans have of mangling the English language while at the same time using the perfect words to do it.

Billy is a detective. A very good one, from a family of detectives. He is related, in some distant fashion, to General Eisenhower. Some people say he was appointed to the general’s staff because of that. Perhaps. But contrary to what many thought when he first arrived in England two years ago, he has not avoided danger. Far from it.

Myself, I courted it. After all those I loved in this world were taken from me, I did not care if I lived or died. Billy has been a good friend, and has watched out for me through good times and bad. And in a world at war, there are many bad times.

So, Billy is a good detective, as I said. But when it comes to reading intelligence summaries, he is less well suited. As an academic, I quite enjoy it. This is what makes us such a good team. My brains (if I may be so bold) and his instincts. Not to mention his bravery.

We will likely need all those attributes in this next assignment. It has been a month since D-Day, on the sixth of June, 1944, and the Allied forces are stuck in the bocage country of Normandy, where the Germans are putting up a stiff defense. There is something afoot with the various Resistance factions, and we are being sent to investigate. As areas in France have been liberated, a violent surge of reprisals and executions has taken place against collaborators, real and suspected. It seems some old scores are being settled, which may or may not have anything to do with the Occupation. These excesses are being called the épuration sauvage, or the Wild Purge. According to accounts, it is aptly named.

This is a normal day, then. I read reports, and Billy drinks coffee. But once we arrive in Normandy, I think our days of rest will be at an end. The Wild Purge awaits.

You can read more about Piotr in The Devouring, the 12th book in the “Billy Boyle WWII” mystery series.

A murder in wartime Switzerland reveals Swiss complicity with the Nazis during World War II

Europe, 1944: Captain Billy Boyle and his friend Lieutenant Piotr “Kaz” Kazimierz are sent to neutral Switzerland to work with the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), investigating Swiss banks that are laundering looted Nazi gold. The US and Swiss governments are about to embark on diplomatic discussions regarding the Safehaven Protocols, aimed at limiting the amount of war materials exported by Switzerland to the Nazis, stemming the tide of looted gold, and preventing postwar use of Nazi wealth by war criminals. With the talks about to begin and the Gestapo ever present, the OSS wants Billy and Kaz to protect the participants, which turns out to be a very deadly task.

The plans go wrong from the beginning when Billy and Kaz crashland in France. As they make their way through occupied territory to the border, they meet Anton Lasho, a member of the Sinti ethnic group, whose family was slaughtered by the Nazis, and who is, in turn, a one-man Nazi-killing machine. They’ll need his help, because as they find once they make it across the border, Swiss banks are openly laundering gold “harvested” from concentration camps, and those who are profiting will do everything they can to protect their wealth and hide their dark secrets.

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Meet the author
James R. Benn is the author of the Billy Boyle World War II mysteries. The debut title, Billy Boyle, was named a top five mystery of 2006 by Book Sense and was a Dilys Award nominee. A Blind Goddess was long-listed for the Dublin Literary Award; The Rest Is Silence was a best novel nominee for the Barry Award. The twelfth and most current novel (9/12/17) is The Devouring, which recently garnered a starred review in Publisher’s Weekly.

He and his wife Deborah Mandel divide their time between Connecticut and the Gulf Coast of Florida. Benn lives by two writing quotes: one from Oscar Wilde; “The art of writing is the art of applying the seat of one’s pants to a chair.” The other from novelist Rachel Basch; “The story has to move down, as well as forward.” Both are simple, profound, and complex. Connect with James at jamesrbenn.com

All comments are welcomed.

A scene from THE PARIS SPY by Susan Elia MacNeal

The Paris Spy is the newest installment in the New York Times and USA Today bestselling series by Susan Elia MacNeal. The brilliant mathematician and codebreaker extraordinaire, Maggie Hope, continues her work in the Special Operations Executive. This time, she must secretly navigate Nazi-occupied France to find two women during the darkest days of World War II.

It’s springtime in Paris, 1942. The Nazis have captured one of England’s most intrepid spies, who soon discovers that the Germans have a mole working deep in the British SOE. From Paris, Maggie Hope must unmask that traitor—before the enemy learns WWII’s deadliest secret: the site of the planned Allied invasion in Normandy.

The Paris Spy is MacNeal’s most captivating story to date in her award-winning series. Blending thoroughly researched WW II historical facts with one-of-a-kind storytelling and a resourceful, daring heroine, this is an unforgettable read that will transport you straight to Paris.

An Excerpt

“The Rue Cambon entrance didn’t have anything for me, André,” a woman’s voice interrupted. The newcomer was enveloped in a cloud of jasmine and cigarette smoke. “But I’m expecting an envelope with ballet tickets. Would you be a darling and check for me?”

She waggled bony shoulders in exasperation, glancing at Maggie. “Sometimes things for the Rue Cambon side are left here and vice versa—one really must be careful of that.”

The woman was petite, slender, and somewhere in her fifties, Maggie guessed, although her gamine appearance defied age. Her skin was deeply tanned, her hair dyed black, and her cheeks rouged. She wore a simple black suit, but ropes of pearl and gold necklaces and bracelets rattled as she moved. She regarded Maggie with a basilisk gaze. “Nice dress,” she said finally.

Maggie suddenly realized who the woman was. “Th—thank you, Mademoiselle,” she managed, glad she had chosen to wear the Chanel.

Gabrielle Bonheur Chanel, known by her nickname “Coco,” was one of the most famous couturieres and perfumers in the world. She was renowned for taking women out of huge and heavy frilly hats and fussy corsets, and dressing them instead in boyish toppers and creations of tailored streamlined jersey. She’d also created costumes for stage and film, alongside Cocteau, Diaghilev, and Picasso, in addition to creating the world’s most famous perfume, Chanel No. 5, named for her lucky number. She was, in short, a living legend.

“They’ve put you up on the top floor, I suspect?” Chanel asked, her gold chain bracelets jangling as the receptionist looked through cubbyholes for any stray envelopes for her. Maggie nodded. “That’s where I am now as well. I used to have a suite, overlooking the Place Vendôme. However, as you may have noticed,” the couturier continued, her voice hard, “times have changed.”

“As always, you’re correct, Mademoiselle,” André said, handing her an envelope with her name written in beautiful calligraphy.

Chanel took it and opened it, pulling out two tickets. “Excellent,” she said. Then, as she unfolded the accompanying note, her crimson-painted lips pursed.

“Everything all right, Mademoiselle?” asked André.

“Fine, fine.” She waved a hand, brushing off his concern. “André here is the best in the business,” she told Maggie. “Whatever you need he’ll procure—an abortionist, a drug dealer, even a hit man. Anything goes at the Ritz.” Maggie looked shocked, which seemed to please the designer. “And what brings you to Paris?” Chanel continued, tucking everything into her quilted lambskin handbag.

Maggie fixed a smile on her face. “I’m pleased to say I’m in town for fashion, Mademoiselle. My trousseau, to be specific. And a wedding dress.”

“Ah ha! And whose ateliers will you be visiting?”

“Nina Ricci,” Maggie answered, glad she had memorized the designers who still had shops open. “Jacques Fath, Germaine Leconte, Jean Pateau, Lanvin … and, of course, Schiaparelli—”

Chanel rolled her black eyes. “L’Italienne.” Maggie could tell it wasn’t a compliment. “Don’t go to that one. Besides, she’s left Paris for New York, the traitor.”

“But I’m going to them only because your atelier is not open, Mademoiselle Chanel.” Maggie had done her homework. Coco Chanel had closed hers in 1940, when the Occupation had begun, proclaiming it was “no time for fashion.” However, she’d kept her perfume boutique across the street from the Hôtel Ritz open and had made a wartime fortune selling Chanel No. 5 to eager Germans wanting a fragrant souvenir of their Paris sojourn to take home to their wives and sweethearts. From all reports, she was doing a brisk business.

“A response to the times,” was all Chanel said. “You speak French well. But you’re not French or else you would be using the Rue Cambon entrance.” She grazed Maggie’s cheek with an immaculately manicured scarlet-painted fingertip. “And not German, either. Swiss?”


One tweezed eyebrow rose. “Irish?”

Maggie nodded. “Born there. But raised in America for most of my life, shuttling between the two countries. I’m living in Lisbon at present.”

“Lisbon, yes—I’m thinking of opening a shop there. Madrid, too. Perfume only, of course—at least for now. Yes, Irish,” she said, appraising Maggie, like a jeweler inspecting a diamond under a loupe. “I should have guessed with that red hair…”

“Your room is ready, Mademoiselle,” the receptionist said to Maggie, gesturing to a groom in buttoned uniform, white gloves, and cap, waiting with her key.

Maggie smiled. “Thank you.”

You can read more about Maggie in The Paris Spy, the seventh book in the “Maggie Hope” mystery series.

Maggie Hope has come a long way since serving as a typist for Winston Churchill. Now she’s working undercover for the Special Operations Executive in the elegant but eerily silent city of Paris, where SS officers prowl the streets in their Mercedes and the Ritz is draped with swastika banners. Walking among the enemy is tense and terrifying, and even though she’s disguised in chic Chanel, Maggie can’t help longing for home.

But her missions come first. Maggie’s half sister, Elise, has disappeared after being saved from a concentration camp, and Maggie is desperate to find her—that is, if Elise even wants to be found. Equally urgent, Churchill is planning the Allied invasion of France, and SOE agent Erica Calvert has been captured, the whereabouts of her vital research regarding Normandy unknown. Maggie must risk her life to penetrate powerful circles and employ all her talents for deception and spycraft to root out a traitor, find her sister, and locate the reports crucial to planning D-Day in a deadly game of wits with the Nazi intelligence elite.

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Advance praise for The Paris Spy

“With its riveting plot and cliff-hanger finish, this is a solid addition to a series as well researche as it is entertaining” —Booklist

“A fast-paced climax leads to an ending that will leave readers eagerly awaiting the next installment” —Publishers Weekly

“You will grieve with Paris. You will be outraged by the destruction. You will be terrified for all the heroes, be there with them every step, and care desperately that they succeed and survive. And perhaps above all, like me, you will be overwhelmed with their sacrifice for the freedom we still enjoy.” —Anne Perry, New York Times bestselling author of the Charlotte and Thomas Pitt series and the William Monk series

“This has to be Maggie Hope’s most exciting adventure yet. Vivid and fast-paced, crammed with authentic detail, The Paris Spy is an extraordinary trip through the edgy drama of wartime Paris, skillfully plotted and studded with cameos by real historical figures.” —Jane Thynne, author of the Clara Vine series

“The Paris Spy is a mystery you won’t put down until the absolutely stunning conclusion. Only Susan Elia MacNeal—and the extraordinary Maggie Hope—could wrap such a tale of courage and betrayal around a secret that will cost lives and honor to protect.” —Charles Todd, New York Times bestselling author of the Inspector Ian Rutledge series and the Bess Crawford series

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About the author
Susan Elia MacNeal is the author of The New York Times– and USA Today-bestselling Maggie Hope mystery series, starting with the Edgar Award-nominated and Barry Award-winning Mr. Churchill’s Secretary.

The next book in the series, The Paris Spy, was released on August 8, 2017.

Her previous books include: Princess Elizabeth’s Spy, His Majesty’s Hope, The Prime Minister’s Secret Agent, and Mrs. Roosevelt’s Confidante. The Maggie Hope novels have been nominated for the Edgar, the Macavity, the ITW Thriller, the Dilys, the Sue Feder Historical Fiction, and the Bruce Alexander Historical Fiction Awards.

A former book and magazine editor whose first job was assistant to novelist John Irving, she graduated cum laude and with departmental honors from Wellesley College, cross-registered for courses at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and attended the Radcliffe Publishing Course at Harvard University.

Susan is married and lives with her husband, Noel MacNeal, a television performer, writer and director—who works with Sesame Street, the Muppets, and HBO’s Last Week Tonight with John Oliver—and their son in Park Slope, Brooklyn.

Connect with Susan at susaneliamacneal.com, on Facebook.

All comments are welcomed.

A day in the life of Conan Doyle by Daniel and Eugene Friedman

Sunday, April 4, 1880

All of my efforts to prove myself an able seaman ended abruptly yesterday with Captain Gray’s order to commence the seal hunt. At first, he was reluctant to let me, his ship’s surgeon, work alongside his crew in the bloody enterprise, but with a little work, I was able to convince him otherwise. Beating his steward to a pulp in a boxing match five weeks ago helped. That victory earned me the respect of the crew and officers, and I became one of them! I was unwilling to lose that by shielding myself from the rigors of the hunt. Now, after embarrassing myself on the ice, I’ll have to start over again. It’s virtually impossible to compete with men who don’t set foot on land for a half-year at a time. Although my muscles are burning, I’ll have to pull myself together. Grab that club, Doyle! You can do this!

I put on my sealing clothes, still damp with yesterday’s brine, and head to the officers’ mess for breakfast. I position myself next to Colin McClean, the first mate. He eyes me without smiling and grudgingly sputters “Where’s your mittens, Doyle?” I see he has not forgotten. It seemed funny to me at the time to wear a seal’s hind flippers as if I were a gloved cub, but losing my mittens in the process only served to make me look foolish to McClean and the others. I’ve only eaten a few morsels when McClean suddenly gets up to prepare for the day’s upcoming seal hunt. I decide to skip the rest of breakfast and head to the deck.

Just in the nick of time! Colin’s still here, and he’s coming towards me. “How’s Haggie?” he asks curtly. “The chlorodyne is finally taking effect” I say. But I’m lying to both of us. Haggie’s beyond hope. And with only three years of medical school under my belt, I have no idea what to do for his excruciating abdominal pain. But there is something I can do for the crew, and that’s to help them meet their quota of seal. Their livelihoods depend on it.

McClean jumps over the bulwarks onto the ice. I want to follow, but I need to be more cautious. Yesterday, when I fell into the water, I was caught between two jagged ice floes. If the crew hadn’t hauled me out with a boathook, I would have been cut in half! I need to win back the mens’ respect by catching and skinning some seals by myself today. It’s imperative that Colin and the others see me doing this. The reflection of the Arctic sun on the ice is blinding, and I can’t spot Colin or anyone else, and, I fear, they can’t see me either. I’ll just keep walking about until I find them.

Suddenly, I see a huge bottlenose. I need this one. The footing is treacherous, but nevertheless, I grasp my club tightly and maneuver closer, carefully jumping from one ice floe to the next. She doesn’t see me. She is more intent on bathing in the sun. I daren’t make a sound as I sneak behind her. I steady myself, and visualizing her head as a cricket ball, swing my club. Contact! Her crystalline lenses explode from their sockets like a shower of hailstones, and bright red blood flows down her ink-black skin. I unsheathe my knife and move in for the kill, but in doing so, I slip off the ice and slide backwards into the freezing water.

I lunge for the edge of the ice floe but can’t gain a firm hold on it. No one can see me! I instinctively grasp at the seal’s flipper as my body goes numb. Unfortunately, the dying seal is slipping over the edge and, with that, my only chance of surviving is fading fast. I challenge her to a risky game of tug of war, well aware that if she falls in, we’ll both be residing in Davy Jones’s Locker. Using the seal as a ladder, I claw my way up her bloody body. As I scramble up, my fingers knead her doughy skin. Now she is more than half submerged, and, yet, I barely have a knee over the sheer icy edge. It’s now or never! I summon up my courage and use all my might to push myself off the seal, making a miraculous leap to the haven afforded me by the ice sheet. Before my adversary sinks into the sea, she showers me with a plume of crimson-colored water.

Skulking my way back to the Hope, I listen to the crackling sounds emanating from my frozen coat of armor and ponder whether it was my good fortune that no one witnessed what just occurred. I see the Captain watching me – tracking me- through his spyglass. He’s coming down to meet the frozen savage who’s covered in sweat and gore. Captain Gray knows precisely what happened, and as I climb over the wall he chuckles “The Great Northern Diver has returned to its nest!”

You can read more about Dr. Doyle in The Strange Case of Dr. Doyle.

In the spring of 1905, members of an exclusive club of crime enthusiasts known as Our Society were taken on a guided excursion through Whitechapel, one of London’s most notorious districts, by Dr. Frederick Gordon Brown, the chief police surgeon for the City of London. But this was no ordinary sightseeing tour. The focus of the outing was Jack the Ripper’s reputed murder sites, and among the guests that day was Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of the world’s greatest detective, Sherlock Holmes.

Here, now, in The Strange Case of Dr. Doyle by first-time son/father writing team Daniel Friedman, MD, and Eugene Friedman, MD, you are cordially invited to join a recreation of that tour. This expedition, however, will differ from the original in one very important way: It will be led by celebrated author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle himself. As you stroll beside Doyle and his other guests, you will travel to the location of each of the five canonical Ripper murders. Thanks to your guide’s observations and opinions, all of which are based on actual historical accounts, you will learn as much about the district of Whitechapel as you will the terrible Ripper killings that occurred there.

After each stop on the tour, you will also become acquainted with the life of Arthur Conan Doyle, from his earliest days in Edinburgh to his first taste of success as a writer. You will observe Arthur’s hardships at home, his experiences at boarding school, his adventures at sea, his university education, and his days as a working medical doctor. You will be granted a picture of the man as few have ever seen him. As you alternate between biography and tour, you will become a Holmes-like detective, unearthing facts, discovering details, and piecing together information about both Jack the Ripper and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. If you maintain a sharp mind and a keen eye, at the end of your journey, you may just uncover a truth you never expected to find.

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Meet the authors
Daniel Friedman received his B.A. from Stony Brook University and his M.D. from St. George’s University School of Medicine. He is a practicing pediatrician in Floral Park, New York, and assistant clinical professor at the Northwell-Hofstra University Medical School. He is the co-author of The Strange Case of Dr. Doyle, a fact-based conjectural Jack the Ripper tour conducted by Conan Doyle, as well as a biography of the creator of Sherlock Holmes. He is working on another book that highlights the multiple aspects of Sir Arthur’s personality, and will also reveal newly discovered Conan Doyle stories. In his spare time, he is a singer/songwriter and bass guitarist with the Friedman Brothers Band. Daniel Friedman resides in Miller Place on Long Island with his wife, Elena, and their three children, Amanda, David, and Andrew.

Eugene Friedman received his BA from New York University, his M.D.from New York Medical College, and completed his residency at Metropolitan Hospital Center where he was Chief Resident. During the Vietnam War, he served as a Major in the U.S. Army at Martin Army Hospital, Fort Benning, Georgia. He has been in private practice for more than forty years and has held multiple leadership positions in organized medicine. He is the co-author of The Strange Case of Dr. Doyle, and is partnering with Dan Friedman on his new book. An avid gardener, lyricist, and translator of late nineteenth-century French poetry, he and his wife, Sheryl, live in Dix Hills on Long Island and have five children and fifteen grandchildren.

All comments are welcomed.

Author Showcase ~ The Painted Queen by Elizabeth Peters and Joan Hess

Amelia Peabody is back for one last hurrah. It’s been seven years since devoted fans of the daring, witty, parasol-toting Englishwoman have followed her adventures across the sands of Egypt.

Release: July 25, 2017
Series: Amelia Peabody #20
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Publisher: William Morrow

Egypt, 1912—Amelia Peabody and her dashing archeologist husband, Radcliffe Emerson, are once again in danger as they search for a priceless, stolen bust of legendary Queen Nefertiti and Amelia finds herself the target of assassins in this long-awaited, eagerly anticipated final installment of Elizabeth Peters’ bestselling, beloved mystery series.

Arriving in Cairo for another thrilling excavation season, Amelia is relaxing in a well-earned bubble bath in her elegant hotel suite in Cairo, when a man with knife protruding from his back staggers into the bath chamber and utters a single word—”Murder”—before collapsing on the tiled floor, dead. Among the few possessions he carried was a sheet of paper with Amelia’s name and room number, and a curious piece of pasteboard the size of a calling card bearing one word: “Judas.” Most peculiarly, the stranger was wearing a gold-rimmed monocle in his left eye.

It quickly becomes apparent that someone saved Amelia from a would-be assassin—someone who is keeping a careful eye on the intrepid Englishwoman. Discovering a terse note clearly meant for Emerson—Where were you?”—pushed under their door, there can be only one answer: the brilliant master of disguise, Sethos.

But neither assassins nor the Genius of Crime will deter Amelia as she and Emerson head to the excavation site at Amarna, where they will witness the discovery of one of the most precious Egyptian artifacts: the iconic Nefertiti bust. In 1345 B.C. the sculptor Thutmose crafted the piece in tribute to the great beauty of this queen who was also the chief consort of Pharaoh Akhenaten and stepmother to King Tutankhamun.

For Amelia, this excavation season will prove to be unforgettable. Throughout her journey, a parade of men in monocles will die under suspicious circumstances, fascinating new relics will be unearthed, a diabolical mystery will be solved, and a brilliant criminal will offer his final challenge . . . and perhaps be unmasked at last.

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About the authors
Barbara Mertz, aka Elizabeth Peters, began her career with a Ph.D. in Egyptology from the University of Chicago’s Oriental Institute. A recognized academic authority on Egyptology, her nonfiction books, including Temples, Tombs, and Hieroglyphs: A Popular History of Ancient Egypt, and Red Land, Black Land: Daily Life in Ancient Egypt, are in print today, thirty years after their publication. After early publishing success, Mertz found that as the Institute’s youngest female graduate at 23, her career options in the field were limited. She turned to writing fiction, using pen names to distinguish that work from her scholarly efforts. As Barbara Michaels, she published 28 thrillers. As Elizabeth Peters, creator of the legendary Amelia Peabody series, she wrote 20 novels, expressing her passions for adventure, archeology, humor, Edwardian England, and the sands of Egypt.

Over the course of her 50-year career, Barbara was the recipient of numerous writing awards, starting with her first Anthony Award for Best Novel in 1989. A cascade of prestigious awards and nominations followed over the years, including grandmaster and lifetime achievement awards from the Mystery Writers of America, Malice Domestic, and Boucheron. In 2012, she was given the first Amelia Peabody Award, created in her honor, at the Malice Domestic convention. She died in 2013, leaving a partially completed manuscript of The Painted Queen.

Joan Hess is the author of the Claire Malloy Mysteries and the Arly Hanks Mysteries, formally known as the Maggody Mysteries. She is a winner of the American Mystery Award, the Agatha Award, for which she has been nominated five times, and is a member of Sisters in Crime and a former president of the American Crime Writers League. She has contributed to multiple anthologies and book series, including Crosswinds, Deadly Allies, Malice Domestic, and The Year’s 25 Finest Crime and Mystery Stories. She also writes the Theo Bloomer mystery series under the pseudonym Joan Hadley. She lives in Austin, Texas.

Giveaway: Leave a comment below for your chance to win a print copy of The Painted Queen. US entries only, please. The giveaway will end July 26, 2017. Good luck everyone!

All comments are welcomed.

A day in the life of Capability “Kitty” Weeks by Radha Vatsal

New York City. 1916. Nineteen-year-old Kitty Weeks wakes up at 7:15 in the morning when her maid, Grace, draws back the curtains in her bedroom. She slips into her modern bathroom, showers in a tub complete with hand-shower and running hot and cold water. She brushes her teeth with toothpowder and then pads out her dressing room to choose her outfit for the day.

Kitty lives with her father, Julian Weeks, in the grand New Century Apartments on West End Avenue in Manhattan. He has the master bedroom; she’s converted the two back bedrooms into a suite for herself. The apartment boasts a living room, dining room, and study as well as kitchen and pantry, two maids’ rooms and a maids’ bathroom. The Weeks’ household includes two live-in staff—Grace, and their cook, Mrs. Codd. A daily also comes in to help.

After she dresses for the day, probably in a skirt with a matching jacket and a silk blouse paired with discrete pearl earrings, Kitty heads to the dining room to join her father for breakfast. He eats a hot meal—eggs, meat and coffee; she’s a bit of a health fiend, and enjoys Kellogg’s cornflakes. They both read the paper and discuss the news of the day. Then, a few minutes before nine, Kitty heads off to work—she’s a journalist who writes for the “Ladies’ Page” of the New York Sentinel.

Even though she has her own car, a sporty Stutz Bearcat, the Weekses’ chauffeur drives Kitty to the office in the family’s Packard because it’s difficult to park on Broadway. Kitty checks in with her boss, the indomitable Helena Busby, then settles in beside her co-worker, the shopgirl-turned-typist-turned-Ladies’-Page-assistant Jeannie Williams. Kitty only works until lunch, after which she leaves for home—or to secretly continue working on a case she might be investigating. In Murder Between the Lines, it’s the mysterious death of a sleepwalking boarding school student, Elspeth Bright; in A Front Page Affair, it’s the shooting of Hunter Cole, a society ne’er-do-well. Afterwards, she might go riding in Central Park, or visit her posh friend, Amanda Vanderwell. Kitty also enjoys trips to museums, going to the ‘movies’ to watch her favorite heroines on screen (with Grace to accompany her, naturally!), and she usually ends the day with dinner with father. From the description of her day-to-day activities you would never guess that there’s a huge war going on in Europe… and soon, as Kitty discovers, everything’s going to change…

You can read more about Kitty in Murder Between The Lines, the second book in the “Kitty Weeks” mystery series.

Intrepid journalist Kitty Weeks returns in the second book in this acclaimed WW1-era historical mystery series to investigate the death of a boarding school student.

When Kitty’s latest assignment for the New York Sentinel Ladies’ Page takes her to Westfield Hall, she expects to find an orderly establishment teaching French and dancing-but there’s more going on at the school than initially meets the eye.

Tragedy strikes when a student named Elspeth is found frozen to death in Central Park. The doctor’s proclaim that the girl’s sleepwalking was the cause, but Kitty isn’t so sure.

Determined to uncover the truth, Kitty must investigate a more chilling scenario-a murder that may involve Elspeth’s scientist father and a new invention by a man named Thomas Edison.

For fans of Jacqueline Winspear and Rhys Bowen, Murder Between the Lines combines true historical events with a thrilling mystery.

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Meet the author
Radha Vatsal is the author of A Front Page Affair, which was selected by Library Journal as Debut Mystery of the Month, and Murder Between the Lines (May 2017), the first two novels in the Kitty Weeks mystery series set in WWI-era New York. Vatsal studied women filmmakers and action-film heroines of silent cinema at Duke University, where she received her Ph.D. from the English Department. Her writing has appeared in the Smithsonian.com and the Atlantic.com. She is also co-editor of the Women Film Pioneers Project. She was born in Mumbai, India and lives in New York City. You can find her at www.radhavatsal.com

All comments are welcomed.

Giveaway: Leave a comment below for your chance to win a print copy of Murder Between The Lines. U.S. entries only, please. The giveaway ends July 10, 2017. Good luck everyone!

A day in the life with Frank Malloy by Victoria Thompson

If you’ve read about me in any of the Gaslight Mysteries, you probably remember me as a Detective Sergeant with the New York City Police. I was a cop my entire adult life, up until they fired me about a year ago. Oh, don’t feel sorry for me. They fired me because I got too rich to be a cop. But that’s a story for another day. Today’s story starts at home. Now that Sarah Brandt and I are married, we live in this gigantic house her neighbor, Mrs. Ellsworth, found for us. I’m glad it’s big because we share it with my mother, my son, Sarah’s daughter, our Nanny, our maid and our cook. So after breakfast is over, I’m often glad I’ve got an office to go to.

The office is the detective agency I now own, thanks to my former colleague from the police department, Gino Donatelli. While Sarah and I were on our honeymoon, Gino and our Nanny, Maeve Smith, decided I needed something interesting to fill my time, and they’d already solved our first case by the time Sarah and I got home from our European tour.

This morning I arrived at my office to find Gino had found a new client for us. Will Bert was looking for his brother who worked as a newsboy in the city. The orphaned boys had gotten separated when Will had been taken out west on the Orphan Train to find adoptive parents. Now that Will is grown, he wants to find Freddie and give him a home.

Since I don’t have to worry about earning a living anymore, I can take the cases I like, even if I don’t get paid, and I didn’t need to get paid to help these two brothers find each other. The trouble was, once Gino and I started investigating, we found out everything Will Bert had told us was a lie, including his name. That gave us a whole new mystery to solve, and we were very interested to find out the real reason Will Bert wanted to find Freddie. Then people started turning up dead, and the situation became more and more desperate. What did a missing debutant, a gangster from the Bowery, and a poor newsboy have in common?

The answers we found surprised us, but I won’t spoil it for you. Meanwhile, I’m on to the next case.

You can read the whole story and find out what Sarah and the rest of her family have been up to as well in Murder in the Bowery, the 20th book in the Gaslight Mystery Series.

Former police sergeant turned private detective Frank Malloy and his wife Sarah are caught up in the strange world of a society woman who enjoyed flirting with danger but found death instead. . . Frank Malloy’s latest client is well-dressed Will Bert. He’s searching for his brother, a newsboy named Freddie so he can share his new financial good fortune. Frank makes quick work of the case and locates Freddie but a happy reunion between brothers is not in the cards.

When Will’s name is mentioned, Freddie runs off—only to be found dead a short time later. A suspicious Frank tracks down Will who spins a tale of lust and deceit involving a young society woman Estelle Longacre. Estelle’s risky behavior took a fatal toll but Frank can’t be sure if the company she kept is to blame or if her own ruthless family had a hand in her death.

Frank will need Sarah’s help to unearth the dark secrets of the Longacres and to discover if there is a connection between Estelle and Freddie’s death. Together they must navigate an underground web of treachery to find answers.

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About the author
Edgar® and Agatha Nominated author Victoria Thompson writes the Gaslight Mystery Series, set in turn-of-the-century New York City and featuring midwife Sarah Brandt. Her latest, Murder in the Bowery, is a May 2017 release from Berkley Prime Crime. She also contributed to the award winning writing textbook Many Genres/One Craft. Victoria teaches in the Seton Hill University master’s program in writing popular fiction. She lives in Illinois with her husband and a very spoiled little dog. Find out more at www.victoriathompson.com.

All comments are welcomed.

Giveaway: Leave a comment below for your chance to win a print copy of Murder in the Bowery. US entries only, please. The giveaway ends May 12, 2017. Good luck everyone!

A day in the life of Hannah Vogel by Rebecca Cantrell

a-trace-of-smokeHannah gets up early, even though she would rather sleep in. She’s a crime reporter in Berlin in 1931, and she has a lot to do before she has to show up at the courthouse.

She has a quick breakfast—a roll and some tea, with butter and sugar respectively if she’s feeling flush—dons her cloche hat, and takes the subway to the police station at Alexanderplatz. It’s an imposing building that covers a square block, but she’s used to dodging automobiles, cars, and the occasional earnest police officer.

Folding several newspapers under her arm, she has to keep up, she goes into the massive hall and heads down the gloomy corridor called the Hall of the Unnamed Dead. Police hang death photos of unidentified bodies there. It’s a gruesome sight—a hundred corpses who have been shot, drowned, overdosed, or frozen to death stare down at her as she walks. She’s used to it, but after she saw her brother’s picture there, she averts her eyes.

At the end of her walk is an office that contains her childhood friend, Fritz Waldheim. He lets her look through the most recent crime reports. Sometimes she finds her next story there, and sometimes it makes her sad. Often, both.
After she takes her notes, she tries to get out before she’s spotted by Kommissar Lang. He’s a devout National Socialist and he’s paying too much attention to her. In her experience, it’s never a good thing when a cop or a Nazi gets too interested.

Then she’s off to the giant courthouse at Moabit. She’s covering a trial for the paper and she needs to get a good seat because she’ll be doing courtroom sketches. They often end up in the Berliner Zeitung, and they pay extra.
After the trial she’ll head back to the bullpen to type up her story, see if she can convince them to buy a sketch, and then it’s home to bed.

When her brother was alive she’d sometimes go to cabarets to watch him sing and enjoy a free drink. He usually sang at gay clubs, which meant no one bothered her. She liked the anonymity.

That’s an ordinary day. But Hannah almost never has one of those. She’s either investigating a murder or spying for the British or trying to control a drunken source or getting into prison to investigate or talking to a madam. It’s what she loves best—danger, excitement, and no day like the last.

You can read more about Hannah in A Trace of Smoke, the first book in the “Hannah Vogel” historical mystery series.

It’s 1931 in Berlin, and the world is on the precipice of change—the affluent still dance in their gilded cages but more and more people are living under threat and poverty. Hannah Vogel is a crime reporter forced to write under the male pseudonym Peter Weill. As a widow of the Great War, she’s used to doing what she must to survive. Her careful facade is threatened when she stumbles across a photograph of her brother in the Hall of the Unnamed Dead. Reluctant to make a formal identification until she has all the details, Hannah decides to investigate, herself. She must be cautious as Ernst’s life as a cross-dressing cabaret star was ringed in scandal, and his list of lovers included at least one powerful leader in the Nazi party.

She’s barely had a chance to begin before an endearing five-year-old orphan shows up on her doorstep holding a birth certificate listing her dead brother Ernst as his father, and calling Hannah ‘Mother.’ Further complicating matters are her evolving feelings for Boris Krause, a powerful banker whose world is the antithesis of Hannah’s. Boris has built a solid wall preventing anyone from disturbing his, or his daughter Trudi’s, perfectly managed lives—a wall Hannah and Anton are slowly breaking down.

As Hannah digs, she discovers political intrigues and scandals touching the top ranks of the rising Nazi party. Fired from her job and on the run from Hitler’s troops, she must protect herself and the little boy who has come to love her, but can she afford to find love for herself?

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Meet the author
rcantrellNew York Times and USA Today bestselling author Rebecca Cantrell has published twelve novels in over ten different languages. Her novels have won the ITW Thriller, the Macavity, and the Bruce Alexander awards. In addition, they have been nominated for the GoodReads Choice award, the Barry, the RT Reviewers Choice, and the APPY award. She and her husband and son just left Berlin for Hawaii’s sunny shores. Connect with Rebecca at rebeccacantrell.com.

All comments are welcomed.

A Trace of Smoke is available at online booksellers.

A day in the life with Agnes Agatha Odboddy by Elaine Faber

mrs-odboddy-undercover-courierMy name is Agnes Agatha Odboddy. I live with my Siamese cat, Ling-Ling, and my granddaughter, Katherine. She lost her fiancé last year at Pearl Harbor but there’s a new doctor in town, and things are heating up in the romance department. Katherine works at the Curls to Dye For Beauty Salon and does the hair and make-up at the Whistlemeyer Mortuary, here in Newbury. We live close to the ocean and I serve a shift at the watchtower every Wednesday. Last year there was quite a to-do when I spotted a Japanese air balloon bomb. These days, every citizen is a home front warrior and must be alert to Nazi-Jap conspiracies and spies.

Thanks to the way I handled the balloon-bomb affair, Colonel Farthingworth asked me to carry a package to President Roosevelt, since Katherine and I were headed to Washington to join Mrs. Roosevelt on her Pacific Island tour. Naturally, I assumed the package contained secret war documents too sensitive to travel through the mail. What better way to get them delivered than in the hands of a plump, red-headed, elderly, eccentric old gal like me?

I fully expected evil-doers to get wind of our plans. As an experienced WWI undercover agent, I felt confident that I could thwart any attempt on the part of a Nazi spy intent on stealing the package.

Mrs. Odboddy Undercover Courier mostly takes place on the train between California and Washington, D.C. and the people we meet, the risks I’m forced to take and the consequences of pitting my intuition and unlimited experience against the most diabolical enemy agent. Along the way, we befriend two soldiers headed for training as Tuskegee airmen and face the Jim Crow laws in Tennessee. We meet the insensitive caregiver to a delightful child who steals Katherine’s heart, and experience first-hand J. Edgar Hoover’s bigotry toward Mrs. Roosevelt. The rotten scoundrel!

All that may sound pretty dull, but I assure you, there is a laugh a minute throughout the book. Katherine says my wild imagination always gets me into trouble but I’m never wrong. . .well. . .mostly never wrong. I know a Nazi spy when I see one. . .usually. There was that one time when I thought there was a Nazi plot involving stolen ration books. . .but that’s another story. (Mrs. Odboddy Hometown Patriot)

Mrs. Odboddy Undercover Courier is a hysterical romp on a train across the U.S.A. during WWII as I prove, yet again, that even old ladies can be home front warriors. In the exciting conclusion, when I come face to face with the enemy agent, determined to steal my package, I’m forced to acknowledge my own vulnerability when dealing with younger, stronger enemy forces. Are my undercover warrior days over?

Not on your tintype! Not as long as there’s henna in the shampoo jar and breath in this old body. Look for another adventure next year with Mrs. Odboddy – And Then There Was a Tiger!

You can read more about Agnes in MRS. ODBODDY UNDERCOVER COURIER, the second book in the Mrs. Odboddy WWII mystery series.

Asked to accompany Mrs. Roosevelt on her Pacific Island tour, Agnes and Katherine travel by train to Washington, D.C. Agnes carries a package for Colonel Farthingworth to President Roosevelt.

Convinced the package contains secret war documents, Agnes expects Nazi spies to try and derail her mission.

She meets Irving, whose wife mysteriously disappears from the train; Nanny, the unfeeling caregiver to little Madeline; two soldiers bound for training as Tuskegee airmen; and Charles, the shell-shocked veteran, who lends an unexpected helping hand. Who will Agnes trust? Who is the Nazi spy?

When enemy forces make a final attempt to steal the package in Washington, D.C., Agnes must accept her own vulnerability as a warrior on the home front.

Can Agnes overcome multiple obstacles, deliver the package to the President, and still meet Mrs. Roosevelt’s plane before she leaves for the Pacific Islands?

Mrs. Odboddy: Undercover Courier is a hysterical frolic on a train across the United States during WWII, as Agnes embarks on this critical mission.

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About the author
Elaine Faber is a member of Sisters in Crime, Inspire Christian Writers, NCPA, and Cat Writers Association. She has elaine faberpublished three cozy cat mysteries and two WWII mystery-adventures. Elaine’s award-winning short stories are included in eight anthologies and various magazines. Elaine’s humorous mystery/adventure WWII novels, Mrs. Odboddy Hometown Patriot, and Mrs. Odboddy Undercover Courier are available at Amazon in print and e-book ($3.99).

All comments are welcomed.

Mrs. Odboddy Undercover Courier is available only at Amazon.

A day in the life with Rose Carroll by Edith Maxwell

called-to-justiceIndependence Day, 1888

During the parade to celebrate our country’s one-hundred-and-twelfth birthday that hot Seventh Month day, I found the militaristic marching distasteful. But I giggled and pointed along with the rest of the crowd at the various horribles (as they call them) walking by. My favorite was policeman dressed as a British bobby pulling an outhouse on a cart labeled “Amesbury Lockup.”

Thee might be aware that, while the rest of our bustling mill town of Amesbury enjoyed a day of rest and festivities, babies can decide to come into the world at any moment. As a midwife I was fortunate to have none appearing so far, but if I was called to a birth, I would go.

After the parade the new statue of Josiah Bartlett, an Amesbury resident and the second signer of the Declaration of Independence, was to be dedicated. My friend and fellow Quaker, the famous abolitionist and poet John Greenleaf Whittier, had been asked to write a poem for the occasion. Because John did not care for public speaking a professor from Andover, the assigned reader, rose and cleared his throat. The familiar cadences ended thusly:

And thou, O Land he loved, rejoice
That in the countless years to come,
Whenever Freedom needs a voice,
These sculptured lips shall not be dumb!

It was just like John to make sure freedom was mentioned. After the speech, I found myself following some paces behind a tall colored man whose jaunty gait looked familiar.

“Akwasi,” I called. “Is that thee?”

He halted and craned his head to glance behind him. “That it surely is, Rose. What a delight to see thee.” He pivoted and held out both hands to greet me, squeezing my pale hands in his when I arrived. His smile was broad and white in his dark face, and smiling made his ears stick out farther than they usually did. He was a warm and generous member of the Society of Friends, but he hadn’t always been. John Whittier had sheltered a teenaged Akwasi in the hidden quarters in the cellar of the Meetinghouse as part of the Underground Railroad during the last year of the War for the Union. Akwasi had chosen to stay on in Amesbury even though not all local residents had welcomed him. He’d been diligent about his studies, mentored by John, and had become a member of the Meeting.

“Did thee hear the poem of Friend John?” I asked.

He released my hands and laid his right hand on his heart. “‘Whenever Freedom needs a voice, These sculptured lips shall not be dumb!’ Let us hope that comes to pass, Rose. Let us pray it does.”

You can read more about Rose in Called To Justice, the second book in the “Quaker Midwife” historical mystery series.

Quaker midwife Rose Carroll is enjoying the 1888 Independence Day evening fireworks with her beau when a teenaged Quaker mill girl is found shot dead. After a former slave and fellow Quaker is accused of the murder, Rose delves into the crime, convinced of the man’s innocence. An ill-mannered mill manager, an Irish immigrant, and the victim’s young boyfriend come under suspicion even as Rose’s future with her handsome doctor suitor becomes unsure. Rose continues to deliver babies and listen to secrets, finally figuring out one criminal – only to be threatened by the murderer, with three lives at stake. Can she rescue herself, a baby, and her elderly midwifery teacher in time?

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About the author
National best-selling author Edith Maxwell is a 2017 double Agatha Award nominee for her historical mystery Delivering the Truth and her short story, “The Mayor and the Midwife.” She writes the Quaker Midwife Mysteries and the Local Foods Mysteries; as Maddie Day she writes the Country Store Mysteries and the Cozy Capers Book Group Mysteries. Her award-winning short crime fiction has appeared in many juried anthologies, and she is honored to served as President of Sisters in Crime New England.

A fourth-generation Californian and former tech writer, farmer, and doula, Maxwell now writes, cooks, gardens, and wastes time as a Facebook addict north of Boston with her beau and three cats. She blogs at Wicked Cozy Authors, Killer Characters, and with the Midnight Ink authors. Find her at edithmaxwell.com and elsewhere.

All comments are welcomed.

Called To Justice is available at retail and online booksellers or you can ask your local library to get it for you.

Giveaway: Leave a comment below for your chance to win a print copy of Called To Justice. US entries only, please. The giveaway ends April 9, 2017. Good luck everyone!