Tag Archives: Midnight Ink

My Musing ~ What Doesn’t Kill You by Aimee Hix

What Doesn’t Kill You by Aimee Hix is the first NEW book in the “Willa Pennington” mystery series. Publisher: Midnight Ink, coming January 8, 2018

Favors are for suckers, especially when they lead you straight to a dead body

Willa Pennington thought that becoming a PI would be better than being a cop. She thought she’d never have to make another death notification or don a bulletproof vest again. She thought she’d be safe.

But she couldn’t have been more wrong, because Willa’s real problem is that she’s always sticking her nose where it doesn’t belong. And people really don’t like that.

Now, agreeing to do a simple favor has netted her a dead body, a missing person, and an old friend who just may be a very bad guy. If whoever is trying to kill her would lay off she could solve the murder, find the missing girl, and figure out if the person she’s trusted with her life is the one trying to end it.

What starts out as a simple request turns into something precarious and Willa who is struggling with her own self-being, is caught up in multiple intensifying situations, that had me enraptured as I followed her story in this riveting debut novel.

The author did a great job in creating a flawed, gutsy, stubborn, pain in the butt protagonist and a narrative to support said heroine, that kept pulling me in deeper and deeper into this action-packed and suspenseful tale with each page turned. There were some tense moments that gave me pause, but once again, the author pulled it off with great aplomb.

Headstrong, you betcha. Personable, yes. Professional, yes. And yet, Willa continues to thwart those in command as her search for a killer puts her in the crosshairs of a much larger case which could jeopardize others. I enjoyed this tightly woven, multi-plot drama that had my adrenaline pumping and at the same time embracing the dynamics of Willa, her friends and family.

This book is a great beginning to what I hope will be a long-running series and I look forward to the next exploits with Willa and her friends.

Pre-Order Link


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

My Musing ~ A Fatal Collection by Mary Ellen Hughes

A Fatal Collection by Mary Ellen Hughes is the first book in the NEW “Keepsake Cove” mystery series. Publisher: Midnight Ink, November 2017

Callie Reed pays a long overdue visit to her aunt, Melodie, at her fairy-tale cottage in quaint Keepsake Cove, which is home to a bevy of collectible shops on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. Just as they’re beginning to reconnect, Callie discovers her aunt’s body on the floor of the music box shop she owns. Grief-stricken, Callie finds she can’t accept Melodie’s death being ruled accidental. How could her strong and healthy aunt take such a fatal fall? And why was she in the shop in the middle of the night?

As Callie searches for the truth, signs seem to come from her late aunt through a favorite music box, urging Callie on. Or are they warnings? If Callie isn’t careful, she could meet a similar deadly fate amid Melodie’s collection.

I love visiting small quaint town and Keepsake Cove is one where we find Callie Reed mourning the loss of her aunt. What appears to be an accident turns into something sinister when the pieces starts falling in place and it’s up to Callie to bring a killer to justice.

I liked the pacing and the comfortable tone of this book which made it easy to follow and kept me entrenched in all that was happening. The narrative was visually descriptive putting me in the middle of all the action. The suspect list was plentiful, and the author gave just enough clues to keep me intrigued in all that was possible, but it was that perfectly timed clue that gave me the “aha” moment and I enjoyed watching it all play out with this wonderful cast of characters as the killer’s identity was revealed. A terrific first book in the series and I can’t wait to read more about Callie and her friends and that small quaint town of Keepsake Cove.

A day in the life of Callie Reed by Mary Ellen Hughes

Hi, I’m Callie Reed, brand new proprietor of a music box shop, and I can assure you I’m a bundle of emotions and nerves as I reach to lift the shade for the first time at House of Melody.

I’ve only recently inherited the shop from my Aunt Melodie, totally unexpectedly. What do I know about running a business? I do know a few things about music boxes because my Grandfather Reed had collected them. His collection formed the foundation of Aunt Mel’s shop, though she’d added many, many more over the years.

But she never offered one particular music box for sale, the one I remembered most fondly from my childhood. It’s the one Grandpa Reed would wind up for me to play The Skater’s Waltz, and eight-year-old me would pretend to skate to the tune. Aunt Mel held on to that special one, and she promised to leave it to me, in time.

Imagine my shock when “in time” turned out to be the day after my visit. That’s when I found Aunt Mel dead in the early morning at the shop. The next shock came when I learned she’d left me not just one music box but her entire shop of music boxes and the fairy tale cottage behind it to live in!

So, here I am, ready to raise the shade for my first day as owner and operator of House of Melody with feelings of grief, gratitude, and a smattering of optimism. That last came from knowing I wouldn’t be setting off on this new phase alone. Aunt Mel’s part-time helper was going to be a major support, though her “creative” (some might say “startling”) outfits while doing so will take some getting used to.

Then there are the shopkeepers of Keepsake Cove itself, an amazing section of town that offers all things collectible, from my music box shop to Christmas collectibles, vintage toys, glass figurines and more. You name it, and if it’s collectible, Keepsake Cove has it.

Delia, who lives next door and had been Aunt Mel’s best friend, owns Shake It Up! which sells collectible salt and pepper shakers. Delia has been a wonder of support for me after Aunt Mel’s death. The police have pronounced it an accident. But I’ve been struggling with that. And I’m not the only one. Tabitha has her doubts, too, although she happens to be highly influenced by the readings of her Tarot cards.

But there’s also the unnerving incidents that have to do with Grandpa Reed’s music box. It’s played—all by itself—at times that seemed to be comments of approval, or sometimes warnings. Definitely unsettling, although Tabitha is convinced it’s Aunt Mel sending me messages through her favorite music box. I’m not so sure, but neither can I totally explain what’s happening.

But I do know that I’m going to work hard at finding the truth of what happened to Aunt Mel. If Grandpa Reed’s music box helps guide me to it, then fine. Will it, on the other hand, keep me out of trouble? That I don’t know. But first of all, I need to lift the shade and open my door to this new phase of my life. Is it going to be a positive one? I’ll have to wait and see.


You can read more about Callie in A Fatal Collection, the first book in the NEW “Keepsake Cove” mystery series.

Callie Reed makes a long overdue visit to her aunt Melodie, who lives in a fairy-tale cottage in quaint Keepsake Cove, home to a bevy of unique collectible shops on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. Just as they’re beginning to reconnect, Callie discovers her aunt’s body on the floor of her music box shop. Grief-stricken, Callie finds she can’t accept Melodie’s death being called accidental. How could her strong and healthy aunt take such a fatal fall? And why was she there in the middle of the night?

As Callie searches for the truth, signs seem to come from her late aunt through a favorite music box, urging Callie on. Or are they warnings? If Callie isn’t careful, she could meet a similar deadly fate amid Melodie’s collection.

Buy Link

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About the author
Mary Ellen Hughes is the bestselling author of the Pickled and Preserved Mysteries, the Craft Corner Mysteries, and the Maggie Olenski Mysteries, along with several short stories. A Fatal Collection is the first in her new Keepsake Cove mystery series.

A Wisconsin native, she has lived most of her adult life in Maryland, where she’s set many of her stories, raised two children, and a few cats and vegetables. She credits her husband with being her greatest inspiration as well as top supporter. You can visit her at maryellenhughes.com.

All comments are welcomed.

November 8, 2017 – New Releases

Three new Midnight Ink releases for your reading pleasure

A day in the life of Chloe Ellefson by Kathleen Ernst

All I wanted was a week away. A breather from my misogynistic boss, Ralph Petty. I work as curator at a huge outdoor museum called Old World Wisconsin, and although I love it, Petty can make life difficult.

So I was pleased to learn that I was being “loaned” to Pendarvis, a sister site, to help assess collections storage needs. The site preserves several homes built for the Cornish immigrant families that arrived in the 1830s to mine lead in southwestern Wisconsin.

I’m passionate about immigrant history, and especially love delving into the experiences of those sturdy souls who left little behind to document their experiences. Most of the Cornish immigrants were illiterate. With few exceptions, their material possessions would have been functional items, used up and worn out. I’m especially hoping to learn more about the first Cornish women to arrive.

Besides, the Pendarvis curator, Claudia, is a friend. I really expected the week to be a break from all things stressful.

But the day my boyfriend Roelke and I arrived in town, we learned that administrators were considering closing Pendarvis. Why? Supposedly because too many funds had been funneled to my site, Old World Wisconsin. After hearing that news, some of the locals are not looking kindly on my visit.

Then, Roelke discovered human remains buried in an old Cornish cottage near Pendarvis.

And then it became clear that someone at Pendarvis is keeping a deadly secret.

So it’s safe to say that my days here as guest curator are not at all what I’d expected. Today Claudia didn’t show up for work. Her boss has disengaged. The staff resents me. Town residents are upset. And a killer is wandering among the quaint stone buildings on the site.

One thing is clear. If I can’t figure out what’s going on, I could soon become history myself.


You can read more about Chloe in Mining for Justice, the eighth book in the “Chloe Ellefson” mystery series.

Digging Up Secrets Uncovers a Legacy of Peril

Chloe Ellefson is excited to be learning about Wisconsin’s Cornish immigrants and mining history while on temporary assignment at Pendarvis, a historic site in charming Mineral Point. But when her boyfriend, police officer Roelke McKenna, discovers long-buried human remains in the root cellar of an old Cornish cottage, Chloe reluctantly agrees to mine the historical record for answers. She soon finds herself in the middle of a heated and deadly controversy that threatens to close Pendarvis. While struggling to help the historic site, Chloe must unearth dark secrets, past and present, before a killer comes to bury her.

Buy Link

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About the author
Kathleen Ernst is a former museum curator who remains passionate about history! In addition to the Chloe Ellefson Historic Sites series, she has written many books for American Girl, including nine about the historical character she created, Caroline Abbott. The Chloe series has earned a LOVEY Award for Best Traditional Mystery, and several of her mysteries for young readers have been finalists for Edgar or Agatha awards. Connect with Kathleen at www.kathleenernst.com, Sites and Stories blog, and on Facebook.

All comments are welcomed.

Double-Booked Blog Tour with Shannon Baker and Jess Lourey – Part II

Hi Dru Ann and all you LOVElies (see what I did there?).

Thanks for letting me (Shannon Baker) and Jess Lourey share a little taste of our characters’ days. Jess and I are globetrotting with our second Lourey/Baker Double Booked Blog Tour and we wouldn’t travel a mile without stopping at Dru Ann’s.

Jess’s newest in the laugh-out-loud Murder by the Month mystery, March of Crime, launched in September and my next Kate Fox mystery, Dark Signal, is slated for October 17th. (Pre-order!) Forge is releasing a .99 Kate Fox short story September 17th, but at the time of this writing, I don’t have a link, so I’ll put it in the comments. So here’s some Mira James (from Jess) and Kate Fox (from Shannon) playing dueling dumba**es. Who wins?

KATE FOX:
I shuffled the sheriff department budget worksheet pages for the billionth time. I’d calculated and recalculated and concluded I could afford a new computer to replace the antique on my desk that was as big as a two-ton boulder and about as efficient. Done with that chore, I checked email, picked up my pencil, dropped it on the desk and took the ponytail elastic from my hair. Put it back in my hair and grasped the pencil again.

When the phone rang, I nearly shouted for joy. Anything to break the monotony. “Sheriff.”

Marybeth, dispatcher extraordinaire, spoke in staccato. “Nine-one-one call from First National. Sounds like attempted robbery in progress.”

Holy moly. A real crime in Grand County. It took me less than five minutes to run from the courthouse to the bank.

Skeeter Duning stood on the polished pine floor, in the middle of the bank lobby. He held a gun like he might dangle a horse halter from his right hand. Faded jeans hung from skinny hips, greasy felt cowboy hat limp on his head, he looked like something from an Ace Reid comic.

Joanne, the gray-haired teller, stood behind the worn wood counter looking irritated. “He’s all yours, Kate.” Since this was a Tuesday afternoon, the branch manager would be in Broken Butte for the weekly regional meeting, leaving Joanne alone in the bank.

I kept my tone light. “Hey, Skeeter.”

His shoulders dropped even further and he didn’t raise his face to look at me.

I took slow steps his way, keeping my eyes on his gun. “Why don’t you take that pantyhose from your face and tell me what you’re up to.”

* * * * * * * * * *

MIRA JAMES:
“Convince people that Otter Tail County is safe.”

Shouldn’t have been too hard, what Ron Sims was asking. Otter Tail County was plop in the heart of gorgeous northern Minnesota. From the air, it appeared more lakes than land, a fistful of sapphires scattered across an emerald field. On the ground, at least in March, it smelled like melting snow and rich black dirt. Most residents didn’t lock their doors, and they’d be sure to stop and ask if you were okay if they happened upon you stalled on the side of the road. Five bucks at a local café bought you coffee, juice, bacon, toast, and eggs done any way. Kids sold lemonade on corners come summer, about the same time of the year as the turtle races started back up. Norman Rockwell surely had held the area gently in mind when he painted his folksy vision of America.

Convince people that Otter Tail County is safe.

Not only should Ron’s demand have been a slam dunk, as editor, owner, and publisher of the Battle Lake Recall, his request was reasonable. It’s not like he was, say, my gynecologist requesting that I spin a shiny PR web across a whole county. I’d written articles for his newspaper since I’d relocated to Battle Lake, Minnesota, one year ago this month.

But here’s the deal. I’d just found out that what I thought was a quiet restaurant patron sitting two stools down from me was actually a life-sized, realistic doll crafted by an elderly woman named Ida.

Battle Lake, right?

Still, I was considering his request when the restaurant’s door opened behind me.

Ron’s face dropped.

He was not happy to see who had just entered.

I swiveled to check it out.

And immediately regretted my decision.

* * * * * * * * * *

KATE FOX:
Skeeter’s sigh sounded like final surrender. He raised his gun hand and I closed my fingers on the handle of my Smith and Wesson.

Then I understood he wanted me to hold his revolver so he could lift his hat to peel off the pantyhose. I checked the cylinder. No bullets.

The bank’s phone rang and Joanne lifted her plucked eyebrows at me. “I’ve got to get that.”

I nodded and waited for Skeeter to mash his old hat back on his nearly bald head. I didn’t offer the gun back to him.

His chin sank to his chest. “Sorry to roust you from your business.”

I led him to the cracked leather couch under the front window and waited for him to sit. “I wasn’t busy. What’s going on?”

Sad eyes swam in his wrinkled face. “Welp, that ol’ caddy of Ava’s, you know the blue one?”

I knew. Skeeter saved for years to buy his wife that car. A ranch hand doesn’t earn much, so a Cadillac, even in the early 70’s would take a commitment.

Not sure I’d ever seen a face so sad. “Welp, the transmission went out. You know, Ava’s got the cancer, ain’t ’spose to last the year. She loves that car, calls it her baby. I just wanted to make sure she gets to ride in it until the end.”

Joanne mumbled into the phone and I hoped she wasn’t starting the rumor race about Skeeter.

* * * * * * * * * *

MIRA JAMES:
Battle Lake’s Mayor Kennie Rogers, she of the country-music name and the death-metal soul, famous far and wide for her thick make-up, outrageous clothing, questionable politics, fake southern accent, and far-fetched business ventures, was striding into the Stew. Today she appeared to be sporting an ensemble from the Ride Me Barbie collection, starting with a tiny plastic cowboy hat nestled in her crunchy platinum beehive and plastic Barbie boot earrings dangling from her lobes. The accessories would be ridiculous if they didn’t so beautifully accent her sheepskin coat and over a Western snap-front red shirt—currently more front than snap what with her ample bosoms pushing toward the light—and jeans so tight that her camel toe had spawned fingers. Bright pink stiletto cowboy boots finished off the outfit.

Whoo-boy. My roller coaster morning was taking another screeching dip.

It wasn’t her outfit, which I had to admire for its sheer commitment to a single message. Nope. It was that Kennie was one of those people who made your life harder simply by occupying the same space as you. In a special twist of fate, something about me intensified her life-hardening superpower. She sought me out like it was her job, always wanting to involve me in her money-making schemes, either as a customer or a partner.

Before you say “that doesn’t sound so bad,” here’s a sampling of the businesses: a reused marital aid company called “Come Again”; coffin tables (place your coffee cups on it now and your body in it later!); a home bikini waxing service; and her most recent, sales of a raspberry-flavored hair tonic that rumor had it was actually a veterinary-class sedative that caused baldness. I didn’t want to stick around to find out what was up next.

* * * * * * * * * *

KATE FOX:
I wanted to pat Skeeter’s hand or give him a hug, but I’m sheriff and that didn’t seem appropriate. “You know you can’t rob the bank to pay for your car repair.”

He slumped against the couch. “I couldn’t see no other way.” Ranch jobs didn’t offer 401k’s or pension packages. Skeeter and Ava would be getting by on social security. Proud as the old cowboy was, he wouldn’t allow anyone to have a benefit pancake feed or even a collection can set out at the Conoco.

Joanne hung up and watched us from behind her counter. I couldn’t read her expression.

I thought of my budget, the new computer I wouldn’t be getting next year. “It happens I’ve got some odd jobs that need taken care of around the courthouse. If you’d be willing to help me out for a week or so, I’d be grateful.”

Skeeter didn’t move for a few seconds, then he sat up straighter. “I guess I could see my way free to do that.”

I reached out to shake his hand.

His grip was firm and when he let go he smiled, showing the gap where the mama cow had kicked out a tooth. “Can I have my gun back?”

I stood and we walked out together. “I’ll hang on to it for a while.”

I love Grand County and I’m settling into my new job, but I’d bet a rhubarb pie (I hate rhubarb) that no other county has weirder crimes.

* * * * * * * * * *

MIRA JAMES:
I waved at Ron, who was still regarding Kennie like a child watches an incoming spoonful of cough syrup, pitching my voice low so as not to draw Kennie’s attention. “Thanks for the coffee, Ron, but I need to head out.”

Kennie hadn’t noticed us in the rear of the restaurant yet. She was working the crowd near the front door. I’d never been more grateful for the Turtle Stew’s side entrance. I could sneak out unseen! I turned toward the rear exit, a satisfied smile pinching my cheeks. Dang if I wasn’t going to salvage this morning.

“Mira James!”

Kennie’s southern-tinged yell drew the attention of the handful of patrons who hadn’t yet noticed her Western-themed resplendency. I shrank into myself, tossing all my eggs into the “she can’t see me if I don’t look at her” basket.

“Stay where you are, honey!” she continued. “I have a proposition for you.”

My stomach dropped below Battle Lake’s water table. I spun on my heels, committed to sprinting if need be. Unfortunately, I turned so fast that I collided with the nightmarish doll. Ida’s freakshow toppled toward the floor.

“I’m so sorry!” I hollered at the world, watching the crapfest play out in slow motion. My physical reflexes kicked in almost as soon as my apologetic ones, and I dove toward the doll, trying to catch it before it fell. I slipped a hand under it a nanosecond before it hit the floor. My plan was to keep it from smacking in case there were any breakable parts. Instead, surprised by the weight and density of the doll, I found myself falling along with the human puppet.

Something primal recoiled as I plummeted with the doll, a sickly-sweet smell causing my flight response to kick in, though I was off balance and powerless to flee. The doll hit first, with the weight and slap of a side of frozen beef. I tumbled on top immediately after, knocking her akimbo in my effort to not land directly on her.

The doll’s hat and wig went flying, and the coffee cup she’d been holding crashed to the floor. After a collective gasp, the restaurant went deathly silent, everyone watching me scramble to balance myself and fix this mess.

Something was shrieking at me to run, something dark and terrible and slimy, but the terror was so great, so enormous, that it couldn’t get ahead of my mouth, which was still trying to negotiate the social faux pas of tumbling the life-sized doll. “Don’t worry! I’ll put her back just like I found her!”

I gathered the wig and hat, planning to slam them back onto the doll and hoist her back onto the stool before the other patrons had a chance to process what was happening. That’s when the terror caught up to me, silencing me, crashing me finally, fully into the moment.

My slack-jawed horror was reflected in the faces of every person in that restaurant.

They were staring at the doll, their mouths agape.

I followed their horrified gazes.

The only sound I could make was a greenish oof as my heart plummeted.

What had been sitting on that stool all morning wasn’t a doll at all.

When she’d tumbled to the ground, her China doll mask had slipped enough to reveal gray human flesh underneath the macabre porcelain.

I saw a hand reach forward to remove the mask. When the cold porcelain shocked my system, I became aware that the hand was mine, and it was working without my permission. A gentle tug, and the mask was free.

Underneath was a human corpse, female, her icy cold death stare pointed at the drop ceiling, her mouth in a tight angry rictus as if she’d died yodeling.

The mask dropped from my numb hands, crashing to the ground and shattering into white and red shards.

That’s when the screaming started.


We are each giving away three books on the Lourey/Baker Double-Booked Tour. For every comment you make along our tour stop, you’ll get another entry in the contest. Don’t be shy; we love talking to you.

September 2 – Mysterious Musings
September 5 – Janice Hardy
September 7 – The Creative Penn
September 9 – Write to Done
September 12 – Wicked Cozy Writers
September 20 – Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Blog
September 21 – There’s a Dead Guy in the Living Room
September 23 – Femmes Fatales
September 24 – Writer Unboxed
September 25 – Dru’s Book Musings
September 27 – Do Some Damage
October 3 – Terry Ambrose
October 12 – Jungle Red Writers

About the authors
Shannon Baker is the author of the Kate Fox mystery series (Tor/Forge). Set in the isolated cattle country of the Nebraska Sandhills, Kirkus says, “Baker serves up a ballsy heroine, a colorful backdrop, and a surprising ending.” She also writes the Nora Abbott mystery series (Midnight Ink), featuring Hopi Indian mysticism and environmental issues. Shannon makes her home in Tucson where she enjoys cocktails by the pool, breathtaking sunsets, a crazy Weimeraner, and killing people (in the pages of her books). She was voted Rocky Mountain Fiction Writer’s 2014 and 2017 Writer of the Year. Visit Shannon at www.Shannon-Baker.com.

Jess Lourey (rhymes with “dowry”) is best known for her critically-acclaimed Murder-by-Month mysteries, which have earned multiple starred reviews from Library Journal and Booklist, the latter calling her writing “a splendid mix of humor and suspense.” She is a tenured professor of creative writing and sociology, a recipient of The Loft’s Excellence in Teaching fellowship, a regular Psychology Today blogger, and a sought-after workshop leader and keynote speaker who delivered the 2016 “Rewrite Your Life” TEDx Talk. March of Crime, the 11th book in her humorous mystery series, releases September 2017. You can find out more at www.jessicalourey.com.

All comments are welcomed.

My Musing ~ A Christmas Peril by J. A. Hennrikus

A Christmas Peril by J. A. Hennrikus is the first book in the NEW “Theater Cop” mystery series. Publisher: Midnight Ink, September 2017

Sully Must Get Her Childhood Friend Off the Naughty List Before They’re Both Scrooged

When Edwina “Sully” Sullivan’s life imploded, she left behind her job on the police force and her unfaithful husband to start a new life as the general manager of her hometown theater, the Cliffside Theater Company.

For five years, she focused on budgets instead of crime and kept the Cliffside running alongside its mercurial artistic director. But when her childhood friend is suspected of killing his father, no one is looking for another culprit. So, in between keeping A Christmas Carol on budget and Scrooge sober, Sully dusts off her investigative skills to find a murderer. Her two lives collide when her ex-husband arrives on the scene to play lawyer and she’s forced to confront her past in order to save her present.

This is a great introduction to a new series where we learn all about Sully and her circle of friends. Sully is an ex-cop, current theater manager who have to use her old skills to begin an investigation in order to clear her cousin, who is the prime suspect. The fresh new drama was staged seamlessly with a comfortable tone and a nice pacing that made it an easy and enjoyable read. This finely tuned mystery had plenty of suspects and clues scattered throughout and some surprising twists and turns that enhanced how well this multi-plot story was told. The author did a great job in presenting a likable tale that had me wanting more. Boasting a great cast of characters, engaging dialogue and a perfect backdrop, this was a delightfully entertaining debut series and welcome addition to the cozy genre.

A day in the life of Sully Sullivan by J.A. Hennrikus

A day in the life? This should be entitled what a difference a few years make. A few short years ago I had a great career on the police force, was happily married to a handsome assistant district attorney, living in Boston, firmly on the side of truth and justice. Where did it all go wrong? Hard to say. I was brought into an investigation that got political, and some of the bad guys won. My career went off a cliff, and I was given an early retirement. You’d have to know me a little bit better to understand that I was not the easiest person to live with those days, and I shut Gus, my now ex-husband out. I felt vindicated when I found out he was having an affair, but the breakup of my marriage was as much on my shoulders as it was on Gus’s. Then my dad got sick, and I went back to Trevorton to take care of him. After he died, I decided to stay in my hometown.

When I moved back, I had to decide what to do next. A lot of ex-cops become private investigators, but I didn’t want to go that route. If I couldn’t wear the badge, I didn’t want to do the job. A few weeks after my father died I saw a notice that the Cliffside Theater Company was looking for a general manager. I asked my friend, Eric Whitehall, about the job. He was on the board of the Cliffside, and had talked to me about the recent incarnation of the company. Years ago, my late mother had worked in various capacities at the Cliffside, and the theater company held a sentimental place in my heart.

Eric didn’t doubt that I could do the job, with some training. His question was why I wanted to do it. The artistic director was a genius, but mercurial. He went through at least one general manager a year. The theater was well regarded, but deep in debt. Patience was running low for the entire enterprise, and there had been talk in town about other ways to use the harbor side space. I decided to throw my hat in the ring, and I got the job.

Now, I’m not setting myself up as the hero in this situation. I often think that my mother orchestrated my new career in her heavenly attempt to reboot my life. Trust me when I say that taking this leap was not in my modus operandi. I also didn’t expect it to be anything but a one season pursuit. But here I am, five years later, working on our annual production of A Christmas Carol, trying to keep the guest star we hired to play Scrooge sober, recasting Marley, and figuring out how to spend more money on lights and sound. Instead of walking on the razor’s edge of justice and the law, I’m walking the edge of art and entertainment. I’m also feeling more alive than I have in years. Joy has re-entered my life.

At least it had until recently. Eric’s father was killed last week, and I’m worried that my friend is on the suspect list. Do I need to put my investigator’s hat back on? After all these years, will it still fit?


You can read more about Sully in A Christmas Peril, the first book in the NEW “Theater Cop” mystery series.

When Edwina “Sully” Sullivan’s life imploded, she left behind her job on the police force and her unfaithful husband to start a new life as the general manager of her hometown theater, the Cliffside Theater Company. For five years, she focused on budgets instead of crimes and kept the Cliffside running alongside its mercurial artistic director.

But when her best friend is arrested for killing his father, the rich and powerful Peter Whitehall, no one is looking for another suspect. So, in between keeping A Christmas Carol on budget and Scrooge sober, Sully dusts off her investigative skills to find a killer. Her two lives collide when her ex-husband gets on the suspect list and she’s forced to confront her past in order to save her present.

Buy Link

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About the author
J.A. Hennrikus writes the Theater Cop series for Midnight Ink. The debut of the series, A Christmas Peril, came out on September 8. As Julianne Holmes, she writes the Agatha nominated Clock Shop Mysteries for Berkley Prime Crime. The third in the series, Chime and Punishment was released on August 1, 2017. She has short stories in three Level Best anthologies, Thin Ice, Dead Calm and Blood Moon. She is on the board of Sisters in Crime, and is a member of MWA and Sisters in Crime New England.

She blogs with the Wicked Cozy Authors and Killer Characters. Connect with J.A. at JHAuthors.com, on Twitter, and on Instagram.

All comments are welcomed.

A day in the life of Ali McGovern by Catriona McPherson

I start the morning with lemon in hot water, a probiotic yoghurt and some almonds. There’s no use a beauty therapist having dog-rough skin from bacon butties and too much coffee. Then it used to be the gym, but gym membership was one of the first things to go. After my Vogue subscription but before the shift to supermarket own-brands.

Now I push the couch back, put the coffee table up on its end and do a twenty-minute work-out with Davina McCall. Or in theory, I do. But the couch is heavy and the coffee table’s always laden. It’s been a while, if I’m honest. And I’ve started having a Pop-tart for breakfast too.

But my beauty regime is unchanged: I wash my face with plain water and a rough flannel, I spritz it with rose-water and I dab on a bit of SPF 15. All before my shower. In the shower, I exfoliate, I pumice, I brush with a bristle brush, I work my loofah toward the heart. Sometimes I think I’m trying to wipe myself out, one dermal layer at a time.

My hair gets washed once a week. That’s plenty so long as you don’t fiddle with it. Or work in a coalmine, I suppose. It’s all the touch-touch-touching with dirty fingers that makes hair greasy – nothing to do with your scalp oils, And it’s the same thing with spots and bad skin. People are always touching their faces. No wonder winter colds do the rounds. As a beauty therapist, I’ve trained myself not to touch my mouth, eyes, nose or ears with my fingers. And I haven’t been ill in ten years.

Once I’m dressed for the day – in white tunic and trousers, comfy clogs and no jewellery – it’s a bit of a blur. I’m lucky if I can grab an apple and slice of cheese at lunchtime. A single appointment is half an hour – lashes, brows, half-leg waxes – and then the full-waxes, mani-pedis and facials are all double appointments. My book’s full and I don’t like to let people down.

Except, look what just happened. I slipped right back into the past, to when Face Value was my pride and joy, when I had a book of regular clients and no time for lunch. Truth is, my whites are put away in vacuum bags and my products are oiled to keep them fresh, clingfilmed and packed in the dark. I thought it would only be for a month or so. I keep meaning to open them up and check them. They’re probably drying out, oxidizing. They’re probably useless by now.

So let’s try that again. I do look for jobs. I look at Indeed.co.uk online, and I even go to the Job Centre sometimes, even though it is hands-down the most depressing place on earth. Worse than a hospital ward. Worse than the visiting room in an undertaker’s. I imagine. And it’s nice to be home when Angelo gets in from school. He’s too cool to talk to me, of course, but if there’s a sandwich made, he’ll eat it. And they do say it’s not quality time that matters, don’t they? It’s just time.

Time.

It heals. That’s another thing they say. And they’re wrong. They’re idiots. Time doesn’t heal anything. It just passes and – sometimes – it tells.


You can read more about Ali in House. Tree. Person., a novel of suspense.

The body found in a muddy grave across the street is just the latest horror threatening to tear Ali McGovern’s life apart seam by seam. She knows Angelo, her brooding teenage son, is keeping secrets. She fears he’s in danger, too. But her new job at the psychiatric hospital, the job her husband pushed her into, is using up everything she’s got every day. She can try to ignore the sounds that surely can’t really be there. And she can try to trust the doctors, who can’t be as dark as they seem. But can Ali hold herself, her life, and her family together without getting blood on her hands?

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About the author
Catriona McPherson is the multi-award-wining and best-selling author of the Dandy Gilver mysteries, set in Scotland in the 1930s, and six modern suspense thrillers, for which she has been Edgar and Mary Higgins Clark shortlisted. House. Tree. Person. (UK: The Weight Of Angels) is her twentieth novel. Catriona lives in northern California. Reach out to Catriona at catrionamcpherson.com.

All comments are welcomed.