Happy Thanksgiving!

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From our house to yours, may you have a blessed and happy day, filled with love, peace, laughs, family, friends, and delicious food, especially desserts (wink, wink) 😉

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Mailbox Monday

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Mailbox Monday

According to Marcia, “Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week. Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists.

Click on title for synopsis via GoodReads.

Monday: (11/15/21)
Autopsy by Patricia Cornwell~ HC from Harper Collins

 

Mailbox Monday

download

Mailbox Monday

According to Marcia, “Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week. Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists.

Click on title for synopsis via GoodReads.

Tuesday: (11/02/21)
The Passing Storm by Christine Nolfi~ Kindle from Lake Union Publishing Via NetGalley
Mercy by David Baldacci ~ Kindle from Grand Central Publishing

Wednesday: (11/10/21)
Look Closer by David Ellis~ Kindle from Penguin Group

Thursdaysday: (11/11/21)
What Happened To The Bennetts by Lisa Scottoline~ Kindle Penguin Group via NetGalley from XXX

 

Mailbox Monday

download

Mailbox Monday

According to Marcia, “Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week. Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists.

Click on title for synopsis via GoodReads.

Sunday: (10/24/21)
A Stranger’s Game by Colleen Coble~ Kindle from Thomas Nelson via NetGalley
The Long Weekend by Gilly Macmillan ~ Kindle from William Morrow via NetGalley

Tuesday: (10/26/21)
Blood Sugar by Sascha Rothchild~ Kindle from Penguin Group via NetGalley
Woman Last Seen by Adele Parks ~ Kindle from Harlequin Books via NetGalley

Thursday: (10/28/21)
No One Can Hear You Scream by A.B. Whelan~ Kindle from NetGalley

 

Boo!!!!!!

Happy Halloween!!!!

Halloween-6

Death Rang The Bell by Carol Pouliot | #Showcase #Interview #Giveaway

Death Rang The Bell by Carol Pouliot Banner

Death Rang The Bell

by Carol Pouliot

October 1-31, 2021 Book Tour

Synopsis:

Death Rang The Bell by Carol Pouliot

21st-century journalist Olivia Watson thinks traveling back in time to 1934 to attend a Halloween party with her friend Detective Steven Blackwell will be a lot of fun. And it is…until she witnesses the head of the Shipley Five-and-Dime empire murdered, and fears the killer saw her face.

The smart move is to return to the safety of the present, but Olivia possesses a secret and is about to defy the unwritten rules of time-travel. She convinces Steven to let her stay in his time and help unravel the motives behind the murder, even if it means risking her own life to save another.

When Steven delves into the investigation, he discovers how a bitter relationship, a chance encounter, and a fateful decision converged to set the stage for murder. In a maze full of unreliable clues and misdirection, dark secrets refuse to stay buried and forgotten ghosts won’t fade away. Steven is reminded that old sins cast long shadows.

Can Steven catch the killer before time runs out for Olivia?

Praise for Death Rang the Bell:

“This highly inventive series serves up a real treat–a perfect combination of mystery, time travel, and romance.”
~~ Deborah Crombie, New York Times Bestselling author of the Duncan Kincaid/Gemma James novels

“Pouliot has the period details mastered, adding realism and depth to this wholly satisfying read.”
~~ Marni Graff, author of The Nora Tierney English Mysteries

“With engaging characters, a murder mystery, and a trip back in time, Carol Pouliot’s Death Rang the Bell will keep you turning the pages all night!”
~~ Nancy Allen, New York Times Bestselling Author

“A Halloween setting, a house where time folds back on itself, and a crime with deep roots in the past make Carol Pouliot’s Death Rang the Bell a joy for fans of crisp writing and twisty, character-driven plots.”
~~ Connie Berry, Agatha-nominated author of the Kate Hamilton Mysteries

“A delightfully immersive story, filled with surprising twists and turns, a touch of romance — plus a heroine you will happily follow as she jumps between decades, Death Rang the Bell is a truly great escape.”
~~ Alison Gaylin, USA Today and international bestselling author

“This intriguing and beautifully written series will draw you in and make you feel right at home in a time period you’ll wish you could visit.”
~~ Grace Topping, USA Today bestselling author of the Laura Bishop Mystery Series.

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery (Traditional Police Procedural with a Time-Travel Twist)
Published by: Level Best Books
Publication Date: September 21, 2021
Number of Pages: 311
ISBN: 978-1-68512-000-9
Series: The Blackwell and Watson Time-Travel Mysteries, #3 || Each is a Stand-Alone Mystery
Purchase Links: Amazon | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

NOVEMBER 1916 − SYRACUSE, NEW YORK

Chapter 1

Hot coffee spilled over the rim and burned her hand. Lillian wanted to cry. At nine in the morning, she’d been on her feet since six and had seven long hours to go. She didn’t know how much longer she’d be able to keep it up. She was constantly exhausted and the struggle to breathe was worsening; some days it was nearly unbearable. She knew the disease was going to overpower her, and that moment was coming soon.

Lillian slid around some tables and set a heaping plate of eggs and bacon, potatoes, and toast in front of Arnie McCormack, then topped off his cup from the pot in her other hand. McCormack lowered his newspaper and leered, pinching her behind as she stepped away. Rude bastard. She’d like to pour the scalding coffee over his head and dump his breakfast right in his lap.

The only thing that kept her going every day was the thought of her beautiful little boy. Well, not so little anymore. He was growing up fast, nine years old in January. She managed a smile and wiped away a tear before it became a flood. Best not to think too much about things. Especially money. Lillian knew if she didn’t get the money somehow, she’d never see her son grow into a man.

And what about her letter? It had been four weeks since she’d mailed it. Surely he should have written back by now. She hadn’t been unreasonable, hadn’t asked for much, only enough to pay for treatment at the Little Red Cottage in Saranac Lake.

Dr. Trudeau’s Little Red Cottage. It sounded like heaven. Lillian had heard wonderful things about people being cured there. Imagine, cured! The thought made her dizzy.

Lillian returned to the lunch counter, using the backs of chairs for support. When she arrived at the griddle, she was breathing hard.

Tomorrow, she thought, if I don’t get an answer tomorrow, I’ll send another letter.

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 31, 1934

Chapter 2

The Three Witches of Macbeth were doing a swell job. Annie, Molly, and Lilly led the parade of pirates, sailors, and fairy princesses through Knightsbridge, picking up ghosts, goblins, and a mummy along the way. Crowds of families followed the costumed children down Victoria Avenue to the entrance of The Elks Club, where, from the top of the staircase, The Three Witches hissed, “Double, double toil and trouble; fire burn and caldron bubble.”

Molly cried out, “Beware, all ye who enter here.” Then she thumped a tall gnarled staff on the stone step, and Annie and Lilly grasped the thick iron rings with both hands and heaved. As the massive oak doors creaked open, the masquerading children flew up the stairs and into the community room, awash with the scents of apples and cinnamon.

Carved pumpkins flickered in the semi-darkened room, revealing white cobweb-filled corners and big black spiders and bats hanging so low that adults had to duck. Seeing colorful bags piled on black-draped tables, one little boy jumped up and down, clapping his hands in glee. A girl grabbed her friend’s hand, and they did a little dance, and three teenagers slapped each other on the back. A Halloween treat awaited each of them. Eager to explore, the kids fanned out.

“Ooh! I feel like I’m ten again,” said Olivia, shaking the black-and-orange tin noise maker. “Why didn’t we wear costumes?”

Steven gave her a look. “What if I had to rush out for an emergency?” he asked.

“You could’ve dressed like a cop.” She smirked.

“Hi, Steven.” Decked out in an eye patch and pirate gear, Jimmy Bourgogne appeared from behind Olivia, swept off his hat, and gave a courtly bow, bending low to the floor. “Miss Watson.”

“Jimmy, you look fantastic,” exclaimed Olivia. “I didn’t recognize you with that mustache and goatee.”

“Congratulations, Jimmy. You fellas did a swell job,” Steven said.

“Thanks, but the credit really goes to Leon here.”

A slender young man with light brown hair joined them. He sported a plaid shirt with a tin sheriff’s badge pinned over his heart, red kerchief around his neck, and holster holding a toy gun attached to a leather belt.

“Hi, Leon.” Steven extended his hand. “This is my friend Olivia Watson. Olivia, Leon Quigg is my mailman.”

“Nice to meet you, Miss Watson.” Leon said, nodding as he doffed his cowboy hat.

“I’m glad to meet you, too. This is a wonderful party.”

Jean Bigelow sidled up to Olivia, yelling amidst the racket. “You made it!”

“Jean! Isn’t this swell?” Olivia chuckled to herself. Liz and Sophie would crack up hearing her talk like a real 1934 person.

After several months, acting like she belonged here had become second nature, but Olivia Watson didn’t belong here. She lived in 2014 and only visited 1934 from time to time.

This week Olivia was spending several days in Steven’s time. No passport, no suitcase, no plane ticket required. All it took was a simple step across the threshold of her bedroom door into Steven’s Depression-era house−simple but the key to her recently discovered ability to time travel.

“What are you reading tonight?” Olivia asked the librarian.

“Edgar Allan Poe. ‘The Cask of Amontillado.’”

“That’s the one where the guy gets walled up, isn’t it?”

Jean nodded. “I’ve been practicing creepy voices for days.”

“Well, you look the part. I love your cape, very 19th-century.” Olivia touched a fold of Jean’s costume. “Ooh, velvet. I wish I’d worn that.”

The organizers had packed the evening full of entertainment. Steven and Olivia watched a magician pull pennies out of children’s ears and a rabbit out of his top hat, and wondered how he made the mayor’s watch disappear. The kids bobbed for apples, the water sloshing out of the metal washtub soaking the floor. The younger children played Pin-the-Tail-on-the-Donkey and Drop-the-Handkerchief, while the older ones played charades and told ghost stories.

At seven thirty, the kids crowded along the row of tables where members of the Elks handed out treats. Noses in their black-and-orange bags exploring the treasures within, they moved to the far end to select their favorite soda, handing the tall glass bottles of Hires Root Beer, Orange Crush, and Coca-Cola to Jimmy Bou and Leon Quigg, who were armed with metal bottle openers.

The evening culminated with story telling. The village librarian led the young children into a side room, spooky picture books in hand. The older ones gathered behind the curtain on the shadow-filled stage where Jean Bigelow waited in flickering candlelight. When they’d settled in a circle on the floor, Olivia among them, the librarian cleared her throat and began.

“The thousand injuries of Fortunato I had borne as I best could; but when he ventured upon insult, I vowed revenge….”

***

Excerpt from Death Rang the Bell by Carol Pouliot. Copyright 2021 by Carol Pouliot. Reproduced with permission from Carol Pouliot. All rights reserved.

 

 

Author Bio:

Carol Pouliot

Carol Pouliot holds a BA in French and Spanish and an MA in French. She has taught French, Spanish, German, and English. She owned and operated a translating agency for 20 years. Her work has been published in Victoria magazine.

Carol is the author of The Blackwell and Watson Time-Travel Mysteries, which includes Doorway to Murder (book 1), Threshold of Deceit (book 2), and Death Rang the Bell (book 3).

Carol is passionate about the world and other cultures. She has visited 5 continents thus far and always has her passport and suitcase at the ready.

Q&A with Carol Pouliot

What was the inspiration for this book?

I went to London with one of my friends to celebrate our 65th birthdays. After a fantastic visit in the Churchill War Rooms, I bought a book in the gift shop. As I was paging through, a photograph of someone stopped me cold. That face absolutely spoke to me−I couldn’t look away. In a flash, I knew the person’s background, personality, and motive for murder. I built Death Rang the Bell around that picture.

What has been the biggest challenge in your writing career?

I didn’t start writing until after I had retired from teaching. I wish I’d started decades earlier. Because of some orthopedic problems, I can only sit at the computer for an hour at a time. When the ideas are flowing, this can be hard because I want to keep going.

What do you absolutely need while writing?

I wish I were like Agatha Christie who could write anywhere under any conditions. But I’m not. I need my desk to be organized, with all my special inspirational stuff around me. I bought a new L-shaped set-up during the pandemic. It looks like something Dashiell Hammett would have written at and that thrills me. I love it! I also need total quiet.

Do you adhere to a strict routine when writing or write when the ideas are flowing?

I work my writing in and around my exercise routines. Monday, Wednesday, Friday I do an hour of exercises at home then write for my first hour of the day. Tuesday and Thursday, I write an hour then go to the gym, work out in the pool, and swim laps. I try to get at least 3 hours of writing in every day and take the weekends off. If I have a lot of appointments during the week and don’t get enough writing in, I’ll work on the weekend.

Who is your favorite character from your book and why?

My protagonists Steven, a Depression-era cop, and Olivia, a 21st-century researcher and writer, are equally my favorites. Steven, a dedicated policeman, is open-minded, non-judgmental, and curious about the world. He inherited those qualities from his Bohemian artist mother. He got an appreciation and love of routine and organization from his military father. The combination of these characteristics makes him an excellent detective. Olivia is a free spirit with a thirst for knowledge and intense curiosity about the world. She wants to travel everywhere, see everything, and try everything, While Steven is calculated in his actions and what he says, Olivia often speaks and acts without thinking. They balance each other and have built an amazing friendship. I admire both of them−they’re good people.

Tell us why we should read your book.

Each book in my series is packed with multiple plot lines and twists and turns to keep the reader
interested−and guessing−from the first page to the last. There’s always at least one murder and ensuing investigation, the developing−and challenging−relationship between Steven and Olivia, the time-travel storyline, and histories of all the new characters. Since the crimes happen in 1934, the reader gets a glimpse of what police work was like before DNA testing, GPS, cell phones, and advanced forensics. Like Hercule Poirot, Steven relies on his analytical skills, knowledge of people, and powers of observation to solve the case. Olivia is his partner in crime, although he refuses to let her Google anything on her laptop! The books in my series transport the reader into a magical world where anything seems possible.

Give us an interesting fun fact or a few about your book?

Chapter 1 of Doorway to Murder actually happened to me. When I was in my late 20s and living alone in an apartment, I woke up from of a deep sleep in the middle of the night. Before I even opened my eyes, I knew someone was in the apartment. A strange man was standing at my bedroom door. He peered in at me then stood up, shook his head as if confused, and walked through the wall. This happened 4 nights in a row. I was absolutely paralyzed with fear. Years later, I learned that Einstein believed there is no past, present or future, all time happens simultaneously, and time can fold over. When I decided to write mysteries, I took this personal and terrifying experience, reinterpreted it, and used it as the basis of my series. This is how my protagonists Steven and Olivia meet each other: they come face to face when time folds over in house where they live−he in 1934, she in 2014.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

If you haven’t read my books yet, I hope you’ll give them a go. They’re engaging stories that will take you out of your life and away from your troubles for a few hours. I think you’ll fall in love with Steven and Olivia like so many of my readers have. If you’re not a fan of science fiction, neither am I. My books are traditional police procedurals with a time-travel twist and a seemingly impossible relationship. If you’ve read and enjoyed the books, thank you! I’m so glad you did. I hope you’ll tell your friends.

Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

My first teaching job was in the South of France. After returning home, I taught French and Spanish for 34 years, ran an agency that provided translations in over 24 languages, and volunteered with USAID. I’ve traveled to 5 continents but still have a long list of places I want to visit. I’ve always felt at home everywhere in the world. I love experiencing new sights, tastes, and cultures. I always try to learn a few words of the language where I’m going because it enriches the experience so much. Having said that, if I were to time-travel into the past like Olivia, I’d stay in New York and go back to the 1930s to talk with my grandfather when he was a young man.

What’s next that we can look forward to?

I set myself a big challenge for RSVP to Murder, book 4 in the series. I love 1930s English country house murder mysteries. I’m going to write one set in the Adirondack Mountains, which are near my fictional town of Knightsbridge. I plan to use one of the Great Camps as my country estate. You’ll find all the usual 1930s suspects in my cast of intriguing characters. I plan to write it this winter after I finish developing the characters and plotting.

The 5th book, working title Murder at the Stage Door, is a Toulouse-Lautrec mystery. Steven’s mother, a French artist and friend of Toulouse-Lautrec, asks him to travel to Paris to solve the murder of one of Toulouse-Lautrec’s models, a prostitute in whom the Paris police have no interest. Steven and Olivia travel back in time to the Moulin Rouge and Paris of la Belle Epoque.

I have a lot of research in my future!!!

Catch Up With Carol Pouliot:
www.CarolPouliot.com
SleuthsAndSidekicks.com
BookBub – @cpouliot13
Goodreads
Instagram – @carolpouliotmysterywriter
Facebook – @WriterCarolPouliot

 

 

Tour Participants:

Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways!

 

 

Don’t Miss Out on This Giveaway:

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Carol Pouliot. There will be Four (4) winners for this tour. Two (2) winners will each receive a $15 Amazon.com gift card; Two (2) winners will each receive 1 print edition of Death Rang The Bell by Carol Pouliot (US Only). The giveaway begins on October 1 and ends November 2, 2021. Void where prohibited.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

 

Get More Great Reads at Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours

 

Mailbox Monday

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Mailbox Monday

According to Marcia, “Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week. Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists.

Click on title for synopsis via GoodReads.

Monday: (10/18/21)
Wish You Were Here by Jodi Picoult~ Kindle from Random House via NetGalley
The Golden Couple by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen ~ ARC from St. Martin’s Press

Tuesday: (10/19/21)
My Wife Is Missing by D.J. Palmer ~ Kindle from St. Martin’s Press via NetGalley

Wednesday: (10/20/21)
The Ex-Husband by Karen Hamilton~ Kindle from Harlequin via NetGalley

Thursday: (10/21/21)
The Widow by K.L. Slater ~ Kindle from Bookouture via NetGalley
I’ll Be You by Janelle Brown~ Kindle from Random House via NetGalley

Friday: (010/22/81)
Ready Or Not by Alex Lake~ Kindle from Harper 360 via NetGalley

 

The Ghosts of Thorwald Place by Helen Power | #Showcase #Interview #Giveaway

The Ghosts of Thorwald Place by Helen Power Banner

The Ghosts of Thorwald Place

by Helen Power

October 1-31, 2021 Virtual Book Tour

Synopsis:

The Ghosts of Thorwald Place by Helen Power
Trust No One. Especially your neighbors.

Rachel Drake is on the run from the man who killed her husband. She never leaves her safe haven in an anonymous doorman building, until one night a phone call sends her running. On her way to the garage, she is murdered in the elevator. But her story doesn’t end there.

She finds herself in the afterlife, tethered to her death spot, her reach tied to the adjacent apartments. As she rides the elevator up and down, the lives of the residents intertwine. Every one of them has a dark secret. An aging trophy wife whose husband strays. A surgeon guarding a locked room. A TV medium who may be a fraud. An ordinary man with a mysterious hobby.

Compelled to spend eternity observing her neighbors, she realizes that any one of them could be her killer.

And then, her best friend shows up to investigate her murder.

Praise for The Ghosts of Thorwald Place:

“[An] enticing debut . . . Distinctive characters complement the original plot. Power is off to a promising start.” —Publishers Weekly

“A creative, compulsively readable mystery—haunted by strange entities and told from the unique perspective of a ghost. I couldn’t put it down.” —Jo Kaplan, author of It Will Just Be Us

Book Details:

Genre: Thriller/Supernatural
Published by: CamCat Books
Publication Date: October 5th 2021
Number of Pages: 368
ISBN: 0744301432 (ISBN13: 9780744301434)
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads | CamCat Books

Read an excerpt:

Chapter 3

It takes forever for someone to find my body. At six, the elevator is called to the fourth floor, and an early riser greets the sight of my body with a shrill scream. He stumbles backward, clutching his briefcase to his chest. I get the impression that he’s never discovered a grisly crime scene before. I, on the other hand, am enveloped in the cool indifference that seems to accompany death.

He staggers back to his apartment, shrieking hysterically all the way. Several of his neighbors rush out into the hall. Each person is in various stages of undress. A pregnant woman wearing a silk bathrobe and only one slipper. A man whose face is coated in shaving cream, save for a single bare strip down his left cheek. The look of horror on their faces would have been amusing if I were in the mood for dark humor. The elevator doors slide shut, and I am launched to another floor, where I startle another early commuter. The elevator doors close on the stunned woman’s face, lurching toward its next stop. I’m destined for repetition. Perhaps this is hell.

The police finally arrive, call the elevator to the ground floor, and put it out of service. I have now informally met a quarter of the building’s occupants, which is more than I met in the two years I lived here. A handful of police officers form a perimeter, trying to block the sight of my corpse from the prying eyes of my nosey neighbors. I hover by the elevator door as forensic investigators get to work examining my corpse. I try not to watch—disgusted by the sight of my limp body, which is coated in blood that has begun to cake—but the process is mesmerizing. The flash of cameras, the murmur of voices, and the hypnotic movement of pencils as they scribble in pristine, white notebooks. The forensic experts step gingerly around the scene, careful not to disturb anything, as they scrutinize my body from all angles. As they work, I can’t stop staring at my face. My eyes are still open and glazed over with a milky white sheen. My skin is nearly white, a shocking contrast to the deep crimson gash across my neck. My lips are parted in a soundless scream. A forensic investigator in a white bodysuit steps in front of me, cutting off my view. Relief floods through me, and I turn away before the sight of my own corpse enthralls me once again. I know I gained consciousness only minutes after my death, because blood was still dripping where the arterial spray arched across the walls, looking as if an artist had decided to add a splash of color to the monochromatic gray. I was reluctant to leave my body, but I had no idea what else to do. I had no moment of shock, no moment of revelation where I realized I was dead. I knew it from the instant I opened my eyes and saw the world from the other side. A world which looks different in death. Everything is a little grayer, a little faded. Voices and sounds have a slight echo. It’s as though I’m experiencing everything through a thin film—some indescribable substance that separates the world of the living from mine.

But why am I still here? My body has been found; the police are clearly investigating. It won’t take long for them to figure out it was he who killed me. I leave the elevator and glance around the lobby. I don’t see any obvious doorways or bright lights to follow. How will I know where to go? I bite back the pang of disappointment when I realize that none of my lost loved ones are here to welcome me. No husband. No parents. No Grumpelstiltskin, my childhood dog. Where are they, and how do I find my way to them?

I’m self-aware enough to know that I’ve always feared the unknown, and it’s obvious that this hasn’t changed in death. Instead of searching for my escape, I stay locked in place, eyes glued to the crime scene investigators. After what feels like an eternity, the medical examiner deposits my body into a black bag and wheels it out of the building. I begin to follow. Maybe if I slip back into my body, I’ll awaken, and everyone will laugh, like this was all just one big misunderstanding.

I’ll spend the rest of my days wearing a scarf, elegantly positioned to hide my gaping neck wound, like the girl in that urban legend.

I slam into an invisible wall about a dozen feet from the elevator. Slightly disoriented, I shake my head. I press forward.

Again, I’m stopped by an imperceptible force. I reach out, and my hand flattens midair. I run my hand along this invisible barrier, but it seems to run as high as I can reach and down to the marble floor.

I follow the barrier, tracing my hand along it. It cuts across the entire lobby, but not in a straight line. It’s slightly curved. Beyond the wall, I can see the medical examiner exit the building with my body, leaving my soul behind. I slam a hand against the invisible wall once again, but there’s no give.

My attention is drawn by the sound of a familiar grating voice. Elias Strickland, the concierge, is speaking with a police officer who looks like he’s desperate to leave. The invisible wall can wait. I approach the pair to eavesdrop.

“We have excellent security here,” Elias says. His perpetually nasal voice is exacerbated by the tears that stream down his face. “How could this have happened? My residents will want an explanation immediately.”

“We have someone reviewing the security footage of the exits. If the killer left the building, we’ll have them on film,” the police officer says.

If they left the building? Are you saying they might still be here?” Elias tugs at his cheap tie.

The killer might still be in the building. I look around and notice for the first time that the residents aren’t allowed to simply leave. Police officers guard the front door, questioning each individual before they allow them to go to work or to the spa or to do whatever they think is more important than mourning my death.

“What can you tell me about the victim? Ms. Rachel Anne Drake?” the police officer asks.

“Well . . .” Elias runs a hand through his thinning, brown hair. “She is—was—an odd one. She rarely spoke to anyone. She kept to herself. I think I was her only friend in the building.”

I stare at him, just now realizing that the tears streaming down his face are for me. I feel a pang of guilt. I’ve never considered us “friends.” I interact with him once every few weeks—only when I have mail to pick up or complaints about the security guards.

Elias continues, “She even had her groceries delivered. I haven’t seen her leave the building in months.”

The police officer suddenly looks interested. He pulls a small, wire-bound notebook from his pocket and uncaps his pen.

“Do you think it’s possible that she may have been hiding from someone?”

“Possibly . . . She was always really interested in the security in the building. Like that was the main reason why she moved here, not the fabulous party room or the services I provide as concierge.” I wince in pity as he says the word with a dreadful French accent. He should have picked a line of work that he could pronounce.

“Did she have any visitors?”

“There was a man who used to come around, but I haven’t seen him in a few months,” Elias says. At the police officer’s prompting, he continues on to describe him. I realize he’s talking about Luke.

The police officer asks a few follow-up questions, and I’m surprised by just how much Elias knows. He knows the date and time of my weekly grocery deliveries, that once every couple of weeks I’ll treat myself to pizza delivered from the greasy place down the street, and that I get a haul of books delivered every time BMV Books has a sale.

“Well, if you think of anything else, please contact us immediately.” I peer over the police officer’s shoulder to look at the scribbles in his notebook, but he’s used a shorthand that I can’t decipher.

A nearly identical police officer emerges from the security office holding a flash drive. He glances at the concierge, then turns to his partner and begins speaking rapid French.

“The video doesn’t show anybody leaving the building between one and two this morning. But apparently, there was a power outage for about five minutes, and the killer could have left during that window.”

“No! That power outage happened before I died. The power came back, and then he killed me.” I blink and glance around. I hadn’t thought I’d be able to speak.

It makes no difference. Neither police officer reacts to the sound of my voice. I look at Elias, but he’s watching the officers intently. I turn my attention to the rest of the people milling about, but none of them seem to have heard me either. But I’m not yet discouraged.

I approach the pot-bellied man standing the closest to the crime scene tape. He cranes his neck to see into the elevator.

“THERE’S NOTHING TO SEE HERE!” I shout into his face. He doesn’t react. I try to shake him, but my hands fall through his fleshy body. I feel nothing—no chill, no warmth—as I slide my hands through him. I examine his face, but it’s clear that he doesn’t sense me in the slightest.

I strategically progress through the lobby, shouting at each bystander, attempting to reach them through any means.

I try everything I can remember having seen in movies about ghosts—from waving my hands through their heads to shouting obscenities in their ears. No one reacts. No one so much as shivers.

I’m angry, disappointed, and beginning to feel helpless. I brace myself, preparing to do my calming breathing technique, but there are no symptoms of a panic attack. My body is overcome by the numbness of being incorporeal. I could get used to this. I suppose I’ll have to.

I glance around, noticing that the police officers have long gone, and they’ve been replaced by a cleaning crew of four burly men who are crammed into the elevator. They’ve already bleached the walls in an attempt to remove all trace of my messy execution. The lobby is nearly empty now. Only Elias stands at his station, compulsively wringing his hands in between fielding calls from curious residents and the media.

I survey the expansive, high-ceilinged lobby. Unlike the rest of the building, it was designed with the sole purpose of impressing visitors. The floors are marble, polished to near perfection. The wallpaper is a pale blue with gold foil accents in the shape of falling leaves. A hefty, ornate clock is the only decoration on the stretch of the wall across from the front desk. There are two wing chairs and a sofa positioned underneath it. It serves as a sort of waiting area, though in my two years living in this building, I’ve never seen a single person sitting out here.

I can only access half of the lobby, so I need to find a way around this invisible barrier. I approach the elevator and look down the hall to the right. I tentatively step through the wall. I’m in the guest suite that’s reserved for visitors of building residents. The bed is neatly made, with the corners of the bedspread tucked tightly. There’s a lounge area sparsely decorated with cool tones. A gray, leather couch is angled toward an impressively-sized TV.

The room is windowless, but a single painting of a blue sky over a grassy field hangs on the wall opposite the door, creating the illusion of something beyond.

I stride across the plain gray rug and easily pass through this wall as well. I’m in the ground-level parking garage, which is located below the building. I continue to walk until I slam against the barrier. It doesn’t hurt, but it’s disorienting.

I place my hand on the barrier and follow it around until I reach the wall twenty feet from where I entered. The barrier is clearly circular. Is it meant to keep me contained? I shake my head at that thought, then I continue to follow the barrier through the wall, out of the garage, and into the library.

With gorgeous oak-paneled walls and towering bookshelves, the building’s library is quite a sight to behold. The leather couches look comfortable, with antique copper lamps strategically positioned between them. I’ve been down here several times over the last two years, but I never dawdle. I usually grab a handful of books and hurry back upstairs to the safety of my apartment, where I can actually relax and enjoy my reading.

I walk through the room divider into the “party” area. The dim overhead lights reveal a bar in the corner, which is framed by tall mirrors, making the room seem larger than it actually is. I scan the rest of the room. Circular tables are set up around a polished dance floor. I quickly hit another barrier only a few feet into the room.

I follow this barrier, clockwise, until I’ve made an entire lap of the enclosure. I was right. It is a circle. There are no breaks or gaps in the wall; nothing I can slip through to escape. What is this barrier? Who put it here? I have so many questions and no one to answer them.

Back in the lobby, the cleaning crew has finished their sterilization of the elevator. A starchy-looking woman stands in Elias’ face, complaining loudly about the inconvenience of having only one operating elevator. I’m glad that my death is nothing more than a disruption to her “busy” life. Shouldn’t she be disturbed that a brutal murder occurred hours ago in that very elevator? That the killer hasn’t even been caught? Hell, she should be worried that it’s haunted.

She spins on her heel and leaves a bedraggled Elias in her wake. She scowls at the cleaners, who are gathering their supplies and politely averting their eyes from her shrewd gaze. She presses the elevator button and boards the other one, which was already idling on this floor. She didn’t even have to wait five seconds. I’d love to see what a convenient elevator experience is like for her.

After she’s left, Elias tips the cleaners and reactivates the elevator. The doors slide shut, as if sealing my fate.

A man in snug jogging shorts strolls into the building, salutes Elias, and heads to the elevators. Elias nods and returns to his station. I decide to head over toward him to see what exactly he keeps behind the desk. It lies just beyond the invisible wall, so I might be able to see what he always stares at so intently on his computer.

Just as I reach the edge of the invisible barrier, a powerful sensation of vertigo overcomes me. My skin begins to crawl. I stare down at my arms in astonishment. My entire body is vaporizing, shredding into a million pieces, wisps of flesh fading into the world around me. I squeeze my eyes shut tightly, willing the end to come quickly.

***

Excerpt from The Ghosts of Thorwald Place by Helen Power. Copyright 2021 by Helen Power. Reproduced with permission from CamCat Books. All rights reserved.

 

 

Author Bio:

Helen Power

Helen Power is obsessed with ghosts. She spends her free time watching paranormal investigation TV shows, hanging out in cemeteries, and telling anyone who’ll listen about her paranormal experiences. She is a librarian living in Saskatoon, Canada, and has several short story publications, including ones in Suspense Magazine and Dark Helix Press’s Canada 150 anthology, “Futuristic Canada”. The Ghosts of Thorwald Place is her first novel.

Q&A with Helen Power

What was the inspiration for this book?

The initial idea for this plot came to me in a dream. When I was a kid, I had night terrors, and now that I’m older, I still have vivid dreams and nightmares. In my dream, I was a ghost attached to an elevator. I would try to escape the elevator and visit the adjacent apartments, but then the elevator would move, pulling me back before I could escape. When I awoke, I jotted this idea down along with a working title: Ghost Storey (Cheesy, I know!). While there’s a common trope of ghosts being attached to the place where they died, the possibility of a ghost being attached to a place that isn’t stationary hadn’t really been explored. I took this idea and experimented with it, and it eventually led to The Ghosts of Thorwald Place.

What has been the biggest challenge in your writing career?

Navigating the world of publishing is honestly the trickiest part. Writing isn’t without its own challenges, but it’s generally a solitary activity. It’s fun. Exciting. Creating characters out of thin air and confronting them with obstacles and villains and seeing where the story leads is an exhilarating feeling. But the publishing part?
Crunching down your 90,000-word novel into a single-page query letter and sending it to complete strangers who determine your publishing fate is incredibly time consuming, terrifying, and at times disheartening.

What do you absolutely need while writing?

I need access to the internet. So often I read author blog posts where they rave about the benefits of disconnecting, going to stay at a quaint cottage by a lake with absolutely no wifi, and how nature inspires them to write like the wind. I would probably only last one page before I started to get the shakes. I need the internet like most writers need coffee. (I’m strangely not a caffeine addict.) I’m constantly Googling answers to questions, opening the online thesaurus when my brain just won’t come up with the right word, and whenever I feel stuck in my writing, sometimes I find that shutting off my brain and scrolling through Instagram or news articles can give me the distance I need to figure out a problem in the back of my mind.

Do you adhere to a strict routine when writing or write when the ideas are flowing?

I wrote the first 50,000 words of this novel during National Novel Writing Month 6 years ago. (For those who don’t know, NaNoWriMo is a challenge where participants write 50,000 words in 30 days.) Even though the purpose of NaNoWriMo is to help you to get into the habit of writing every day, I still can’t do that. I’m very much a mood writer. Some days I’ll write 60 words, and other days I’ll write 6,000. That said, if I need to meet my word count goals, or if I have a looming deadline, I have a few hacks that trick me into being productive. One is to set a timer for a half hour – the Pomodoro technique – and force myself to write for that amount of time. If, once the timer is up, I’m still not in the mood to write, I let myself quit. At least I got some work done. But usually after the half hour passes, I’m already entrenched in the world I’ve created, and I’m inspired to continue plugging away at the keyboard.

Who is your favorite character from your book and why?

This is such a tricky question! My book is full of morally gray characters, and I love each of them for different reasons. While I do love my protagonist, I think my favourite character is someone that nobody would guess – Alexei Utkov. He’s a TV personality, a medium who may or may not be a complete fake. My protagonist, Rachel, is a ghost, and his authenticity means the world to her. Alexei is enigmatic and mysterious, but he’s also incredibly ambitious and self-centered. What will he do when confronted with the fact that there might be a killer in Thorwald Place? Will he try to do something to help? What will he do if he finds out that interfering can have a catastrophic impact on his career goals? You’ll have to read the book to find out.

Tell us why we should read your book.

The Ghosts of Thorwald Place is the ultimate genre-blender. My protagonist is a ghost. There’s no escaping the paranormal elements, but at its heart, the book is a mystery. There are multiple subplots, all following the different types of characters you’d expect to meet in an affluent apartment building. Their stories intersect in surprising ways, and there are many twists that drive the plot forward. There’s something for everyone in this book, whether you’re a fan of domestic suspense novels or ghost stories.

Give us an interesting fun fact or a few about your book?

The brutal murder of my protagonist occurs in Thorwald Place, which is a highly secure apartment building with wealthy inhabitants. Part of the inspiration for the setting – including the layout of the building and its security feature – is the building where my uncle lives, where there was a triple homicide a few years back. You wouldn’t expect something like that to happen in a place like this, but it does. Even in Canada.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Write a review! Even if it’s only a sentence long, this can do wonders for promoting a debut author.

Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

I’m an academic librarian living in Saskatoon, Canada. I did my undergraduate degree in Forensic Science, and while there are very few murders in the library where I work, I get to use this knowledge a lot in my writing.

What’s next that we can look forward to?

I’m currently working on my next novel, another supernatural thriller, but this one has a science fiction bent.

Catch Up With Our Author:
HelenPower.ca
Goodreads
BookBub – @helen_power
Instagram – @powerlibrarian
Twitter – @helenpowerbooks
Facebook – @helenpowerauthor

 

 

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