Sep 192017
 

A Face to Die For

by Andrea Kane

on Tour September 18th – October 20th, 2017

Synopsis:

A Face to Die For by Andrea Kane

Urban legend says that everyone has a double, or exact look-alike. Would you search for yours? And if you found them, would you risk your life for theirs?

When a chance encounter outside the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan results in mistaken identity, wedding planner Gia Russo is curious to find the person whose cell phone picture has been shown her—veterinarian Dr. Danielle Murano, her exact look-alike. A Facebook private message blossoms into a budding, long-distance friendship, and the two women agree to meet in New York and see the truth for their own eyes.

Shocked at the sight of one another, they quickly bond over drinks, childhood pictures and an uncanny feeling that they share more than just a visual resemblance. Together they decide to end the speculation and undergo DNA testing for siblingship. But when the tests confirm they’re identical twins, more questions are raised than answered.

And with good reason. The same mysterious forces that separated the sisters years ago are still at large, frantic to keep the two women apart. Their attempts to do so become more violent once it becomes clear that the two sisters have found each other. But when the danger escalates and the sisters fear for their lives, Gia turns to a former client of her wedding planning company, Marc Devereraux of Forensic Instincts, for help.

Despite being embroiled in another case, Forensic Instincts agrees to help Gia and Danielle discover who has been threatening them. And when Forensic Instincts discovers that this case is linked to the [Mafia, Organized Crime], they must dig up skeletons better left buried, and get at the frightening truth without destroying the sisters and the families they have grown to love.

**Read my review HERE and enter the giveaway!**

Book Details:

Genre: Psychological Thriller
Published by: Bonnie Meadow Publishing LLC
Publication Date: September 19, 2017
Number of Pages: 336
ISBN: 1682320103 (ISBN13: 9781682320105)
Purchase Links: Amazon 🔗 | Barnes & Noble 🔗 | Goodreads 🔗

Author Bio:

Andrea Kane

Andrea Kane is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of twenty-eight novels, including fourteen psychological thrillers and fourteen historical romantic suspense titles. With her signature style, Kane creates unforgettable characters and confronts them with life-threatening danger. As a master of suspense, she weaves them into exciting, carefully-researched stories, pushing them to the edge—and keeping her readers up all night.

Kane’s first contemporary suspense thriller, Run for Your Life, became an instant New York Times bestseller. She followed with a string of bestselling psychological thrillers including No Way Out, Twisted, and Drawn in Blood.

Her latest storytelling triumph, A Face To Die For, extends the Forensic Instincts legacy where a dynamic, eclectic team of maverick investigators continue to solve seemingly impossible cases while walking a fine line between assisting and enraging law enforcement. The first showcase of their talents came with the New York Times bestseller, The Girl Who Disappeared Twice, followed by The Line Between Here and Gone, The Stranger You Know, The Silence that Speaks and The Murder That Never Was.

Kane’s beloved historical romantic suspense novels include My Heart’s Desire, Samantha, The Last Duke, and Wishes in the Wind.

With a worldwide following of passionate readers, her books have been published in more than twenty languages.

Kane lives in New Jersey with her husband and family. She’s an avid crossword puzzle solver and a diehard Yankees fan. Otherwise, she’s either writing or playing with her Pomeranian, Mischief, who does his best to keep her from writing.

Q&A with Andrea Kane

Welcome!
Writing and Reading:

Do you draw from personal experiences and/or current events?
I frequently get my “what ifs” from current events– big ones or even small tidbits I spot in the news. As for personal experience, I draw from my emotions and memorable moments very often. But my life is far too boring compared to my characters for me to base a book on!

Do you start with the conclusion and plot in reverse or start from the beginning and see where the story line brings you?
A little of both. I never know the exact play-out of the conclusion, but I always know who did it and why. I also know my main characters inside and out before I begin writing. I develop my antagonists with the same painstaking process as I do my protagonists. I never work free-form without some semblance of an outline, but that outline always shifts as the book progresses and I have to constantly regroup and move in other directions.

Are any of your characters based on you or people that you know?
I draw from interesting character traits I see in people. But I always end up tweaking those traits. And I’ve never based a character on an actual person, because that would compromise his/her individuality, which would throw off my whole characterization process. I like to think that each of my characters is unique. They’re each like a dear friend (or foe) to me, and friends (or foes) aren’t interchangeable.

Your routine when writing? Any idiosyncrasies?
Idiosyncrasies and writers go hand in hand! Some of mine? I can’t start a book without a working title. I can’t write out of sequence. I’m miserable when I have to leave a blank space to fill in later, even if it’s something as simple as the designer of a dress my character is wearing. I can’t write amid noise of any kind—no music, talking, TV, nothing. Oh, except for the sounds of nature, like chirping birds outside my window. Those kinds of sounds soothe me. Otherwise, it’s just me, my computer, and my hopefully fertile creative process.

Tell us why we should read this book.
Wow. How do you answer this one without sounding immodest?  I’d like to think you should read A Face to Die For because of its unforgettable characters, its surprise twists and turns, and its relatability to everyone with family who are dear to them—not to mention because you get the chance to spend time with the Forensic Instincts team again!

Who are some of your favorite authors?
This is a tough one, because I can never read as much or as often as I want to. I spend more time reading non-fiction research books than I do savoring the joys of a pleasure read. And now, with my first grandchild on her way, I find myself reading lots of Dr. Seuss as well as other exceptional children’s authors to preview what I’ll be reading to her. But I do sneak time to read a Harlan Coben novel when a new book of his is released. And I’m a big Robert Ludlum fan. I also enjoy Allison Brennan, Nora Roberts, and Mary Higgins Clark (who I’ve been reading for decades). I miss the days when I used to have enough time to read two books a week.

What are you reading now?
I’m actually waiting for a few new releases that won’t be out for a month. So I’m concentrating on screening the children’s books for now. Some of them are so beautiful they make me cry. I’m still a sentimentalist at heart.

Are you working on your next novel? Can you tell us a little about it?
I am working on my next novel and it’s exciting and challenging and a little bit overwhelming for me. For those of you who’ve read the Forensic Instincts series, you’ll know Aidan Devereaux, Marc’s brother, who’s played a covert part in several of their books. Well, Aidan has a clandestine team of his own—a unique group who handle both international and national crises. This will be their first book—AND it will include members of the Forensic Instincts team, as well. I’m researching like crazy, writing and rewriting and editing—and this is just the beginning. I’ve just gotten started and I’m learning about and bonding with the new characters who comprise the team. I’ll tell you lots more as the story unfolds, but right now it’s in its fledging stages.

Fun questions:
Your novel will be a movie. Who would you cast?
You’re going to hate me for this, but I absolutely can’t cast anyone. In fact, every time I read a good book and then see the subsequent movie, I disagree with every single casting decision. My characters are who they are, and no Hollywood replicas exist. My agent once told me that if my books are made into movies, I’ll have to be duct taped and thrown into a closet to keep me from interfering! 

Favorite leisure activity/hobby?
Watching movies with my family, playing word games, and seeing the Yankees play—every single game!

Favorite meal?
Hands down, pizza and ice cream!

Thank you for stopping by CMash Reads and spending time with us.

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Website 🔗, Goodreads 🔗, Twitter 🔗, & Facebook 🔗!

Read an excerpt:

Prologue

Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, New York
March 1990

Anthony slid behind the wheel of his Ford Taurus and started it up, cranking up the heat the instant the engine turned over. It was friggin’ freezing outside. Even in the five minutes it had taken him to walk the babysitter to her front door, the temperature outside felt like it had dropped ten degrees, and his car was an icebox.

Shivering, he zipped his parka up as far as it would go and gripped the steering wheel, maneuvering the car away from the curb. He’d finally shared an evening out with his wife. It should have eased the knot in his gut. After all, it had been the first time that he and Carla had left their infants with a sitter since the babies had been born a month ago. And Judy was the perfect babysitter—a good girl from a good family, one who studied rather than doing drugs and screwing horny guys.

Still, dinner had been strained.

Anthony had only picked at his manicotti, his favorite dish at Raimo’s. His mind was far away, and acid kept building up in his stomach.

Carla couldn’t stop worrying and talking about the babies. She’d checked her watch a dozen times, intermittently giving Anthony puzzled looks and asking if he was okay.

Each time she asked, he’d assure her that he was fine, just exhausted from work and midnight feedings.
As if to contradict his words, some new waiter had dropped a tray of dishes on the floor, and Anthony had nearly jumped out of his skin at the crash.

Carla rose, asking him to order her another drink and to get one for himself to calm his nerves. Giving in to her new-mother concerns, she went to the pay phone in the back to call Judy for an update. So far, so good, Judy had reported. But that didn’t totally erase Carla’s fretting. She tried her best to be bright and chatty, but the truth was that, as this point, she was ready to go. She’d fiddled with her napkin and sipped at her drink, making small talk and glancing at the door.

Getting the hell out of there had worked for Anthony. He was more than ready to be home with his family and not out in the open. He’d use his fatigue as an excuse. He had to continue keeping the inevitable from Carla, until he had no choice but to tell her. He’d soften the blow as best he could. But the important thing was that his family would be protected at all costs.

Now, the heat in his car roared to life, warming his body but doing nothing to extinguish his inner chill. He knew the rules. No transgression went unpunished.

Why the hell had he been so preoccupied with new fatherhood that he’d forgotten to make his collections from the designated list of construction foremen these past two weeks? That in itself was a huge black mark against him—one he’d be punished for. But the outcome of his stupidity opened the door to a far more lethal punishment. Someone else had been sent to handle his route, and his money. They would have collected and turned over twice the amount he’d been handing over. And that meant he’d better be able to explain the discrepancy—assuming he’d even be asked before he was killed.

Please God, let him have that chance. He was just on the verge of buying that gas station he’d been single-mindedly building his bank account for, just about to provide for his family’s future.

And now this.

With shaking hands, Anthony switched on the radio, gritting his teeth as Madonna’s voice blasted off the windows, followed by Michael Jackson’s. He turned the dial until finally the soothing tones of Frank Sinatra’s voice filled the car. Sinatra. Perfect. The Chairman of the Board’s crooning was just the right medicine to ease his clawing anxiety.

He reached his street and turned down the line of small brick row houses, all identical in their flat lines, gated fronts, and tiny gardens. There was a certain comfort and peace about the sameness of it all; it made it feel like a neighborhood.

Would he ever feel that sense of comfort and peace again?

He pulled into his narrow driveway and spotted Carla standing at the front door with a broad smile, giving him a thumbs-up. That meant the infants had come through their first babysitting experience with flying colors.

He forced himself to smile back, but even as he did, his gaze swept the area around the house to see if he was alone. It appeared so. Quickly, he turned off the car and then made the frigid dash to his house.

He couldn’t shut and lock the door behind him fast enough.

The soothing warmth from the heating system enveloped him when he stepped inside. Comfort in yet another form. He was home. Carla and the babies were safe. And for the moment, so was he.

With a wave of relief—however temporary—he let the tension in his body ease. He shrugged out of his jacket and hung it on the coatrack.

“You look happy,” he teased Carla. “What’s the final report?”

Carla’s eyes twinkled. “They were perfect. Judy said they’d only woken up once for their bottles and a diaper change. Now they’re sleeping like little angels.”

“Good.” Anthony looped an arm around his wife’s shoulders and led her toward the living room. “How about a nightcap before bed—to celebrate the success of our first night out?”

“That sounds wonderful.” Carla walked beside him, making a left into their comfortable living room.

They’d barely taken half a dozen steps when a tall masked man dressed in black rose from behind the large armchair, his .22 caliber pistol raised.

“Hello, Anthony.”

Anthony knew that voice only too well, and it elicited the chilling knowledge that there was no way out. No threats. Just death. “Welcome home.”

The man’s finger tightened around the trigger.

“No!” Carla screamed.

She threw herself in front of her husband just as the pistol fired.

The bullet pierced her skull, and with a shattering cry, she crumpled to the floor.

“Carla… no… Carla!” Anthony shouted. He dropped to his knees beside his wife’s lifeless body, grabbing her into his arms and openly weeping. “God forgive me. Oh, God forgive me.”

He looked up in dazed anguish, just as a second shot was fired.

The bullet struck Anthony between the eyes. His head jerked backward, and he fell over his wife, dead.
Upstairs, the babies started to cry.

The gunman shoved his pistol back in his waistband. He knew the mob code like he knew his own name. No women. No children. Omertà.

A woman lay dead before him, the taunting evidence of a fuckup.

He took the steps two at a time.

Tucked in their cribs, the babies were still crying as their parents’ killer entered the nursery and hovered over them.

Not even the nightlight could eradicate the darkness.

***

Excerpt from A Face to Die For by Andrea Kane. Copyright © 2017 by Andrea Kane. Reproduced with permission from Bonnie Meadow Publishing LLC. All rights reserved.

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Sep 192017
 

Unexpected Outcomes by Carolyn Ridder Aspenson Tour Banner

Unexpected Outcomes

An Angela Panther Mystery

by Carolyn Ridder Aspenson

September 19, 2017 Book Blast

Synopsis:

Unexpected Outcomes by Carolyn Ridder Aspenson

LIES SECRETS AND THE ULTIMATE BETRAYAL.

When a frantic 911 call stumps a suburban Atlanta police department, psychic medium Angela Panther is asked to help. Without a body or a ransom note, the cops question whether there’s even a crime, but Angela’s certain the woman’s no longer among the living.

On the outside, the woman’s family seems run of the mill, but Angela’s sixth sense tells her something different, she just has to find the evidence—and the victim’s remains, to prove it.

With the help of her best friend, Mel, and Fran, her celestial super sleuth mother, she sets out to find it and stumbles into a web of dark, dangerous family secrets worse than she ever imagined.

When a desperate spirit forces Angela to act on impulse, she makes one wrong move and lands right in the path of the killer. Alone, and begging for her life, Angela realizes she might not make it out alive.

This book is the 4th in the series but as with all the others, can be read as a stand alone.

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery
Published by: Indie
Publication Date: September 19 2017
Number of Pages: 300
ISBN: ASIN:B074CCC3B2
Series: The Angela Panther Mystery Series Book 4 | Each is a stand alone mystery
Purchase Links: Amazon 🔗 | Goodreads 🔗

Read an excerpt:

CHAPTER ONE

“I can’t believe I’m gonna die. Please, no. Why are you shooting at us?”

I pulled the trigger and watched as the bullet raced through the air, smacking my best friend in the center of her chest.

I bolted upright; sweat dripping from my forehead, tears streaming down my cheeks, my heart beating faster than ever. I’d just dreamed I’d shot my best friend. My best friend. “It’s just a dream,” I mumbled. “Just a dream.”

My husband, Jake rolled over and rubbed my leg. “You okay, Babe?”

I lay down and snuggled into him. “I just shot Mel in my dream.”

He squeezed his arms tight around me. “We both know that would never happen. You’d be lost without her. It was just a dream. Don’t let it upset you.”

I glanced at the clock. It was four AM, and I knew I wouldn’t fall back asleep, so I kissed Jake and got up for the day, resigned to the fact that I’d be exhausted before nightfall. I shuffled to the bathroom, closed the double doors, and flipped on the light. My eyes sunk like anchors in the blue and black pits swelling below them. Sleep eluded me most nights, and the nights I did catch a few z’s, were restless and fitful, and it showed.

Downstairs I made a fresh pot of coffee and while waiting for it to finish, replayed the dream in my head. Nothing was clear except Mel. Images of gravel and trees flashed briefly, too fuzzy and indistinct to identify with any clarity. My gift was communicating with the dead, not predicting the future, and half of me thought the dream meant nothing. The other half though threw red flags up all over the kitchen, practically screaming Danger, Will Robinson. That half knew the Universe didn’t have a rulebook and the fear of what it could mean crushed my heart like a ton of bricks. Six months ago I couldn’t feel what a ghost felt, but that had changed, so I knew anything was possible, and that scared the bejesus out of me. I powered on my phone and pounded out a text to Mel.

“I had a bad dream,” I wrote.

It didn’t take long for her to respond. That’s how best friends worked. No matter what time it was, they were there when we needed them. “Wow, me too. It was so strange. I shot you.”

My heart raced into the anaerobic zone. I snatched my keys from the key box, slipped on my tennis shoes and bolted out the door and into my car in the garage. Both of us having the same dream wasn’t a coincidence. It meant something, and I didn’t need my spidey sense to tell me that.

I sped fifteen miles over the speed limit and made it to Mel’s house in record time. I killed the lights as I drove into her driveway, and sent her a text. “Don’t freak when the garage door opens; it’s just me.” I’d had the code for years, just like she had mine because best friends shared that kind of stuff.

She met me in her kitchen, her long black hair pulled into a bun, and her feet snuggled into the fuzzy teddy bear slippers I’d bought her for Christmas last year. “It’s a little early for coffee, doncha think?”

I couldn’t speak. I just flung myself at her and wrapped my arms around her neck, holding on for dear life.

“I…I…you’re cutting off my oxygen.”

I softened my vice-hold but didn’t let go.

She broke free and raised her eyebrows my direction. “I’m sorry I killed you, but it was just a dream.” She shuffled over to her coffee maker and grabbed the pot. “Flavored or regular?” Clearly, ending my life didn’t impact her as much as her death did me. Then again, she didn’t know I’d bumped her off too. The double sucker punch would surely knock her out, or at least I’d hoped it would.

I sat at the counter feeling a bit embarrassed for freaking out but based on the changes in my life over the past few years; I was justified. “Either is fine.”

She rinsed the pot and asked again why I’d showed up at such an ungodly hour.

I knew Mel’s dream increased the probability of the Universe giving me a message I didn’t want to hear. Was Mel going to die? Was I? And by whose hand? I couldn’t imagine any situation where I’d kill my best friend, but then again, a few years ago I couldn’t imagine talking to dead people, and that was a daily occurrence.

She placed a fresh cup of coffee next to me. I held it to my nose and took in the spicy, fruity smell, stalling to answer her question.

“So you gonna spill it or are we gonna sit here and pretend you’re just here to hang out at butt-early o’clock?”

“How did you kill me?”

“Why? You do something that would cause me to carry through?” She giggled, but I didn’t think it was funny and my expression told her so. Her smile flipped over. “Come on, what’s going on?”

“I dreamed I killed you too.”

She dropped into the seat next to me. “Well, that’s alarming.”

I nodded.

“I shot you twice in the chest. Some place outside, but I’m not sure where. It was a quick dream.”

“Mine too, and it was the same.” I sipped my drink. “Did I say anything to you?”

She tightened her bun. “I think so, but I can’t remember.”

“I can’t believe I’m gonna die. Why are you shooting at us?”

She pointed at me. “That’s really freaky.”

It was.

“But,” She rubbed my shoulder. “We didn’t shoot each other, and we’re not going to, so it’s all good. Now can you go home so I can go back to sleep? I’ve got a busy day tomorrow. Deadlines.”

“It means something. I know it does.”

She stared into her cup. “I know you’re right, but if I’ve learned anything, it’s that we can’t rush the powers that be into telling us what we don’t know. If you’re supposed to find out, you will. If you’re not, you won’t. But I don’t think one of us is gonna bite the bullet anytime soon.” She grimaced. No pun intended.”

“I would never shoot you.”

“Of course not. You don’t have a gun.”

“There is that.”

“But I do.” The left side of her upper lip lifted. “And I know how to use it.”

“So in other words, don’t tick you off.”

“If I didn’t shoot my cheating ex-husband, there sure as heck ain’t any reason I’d shoot you.”

“You didn’t have a gun then.”

“Good point.”

I guzzled the last bit of my coffee and when I stood, hugged her again. “I love you.”

“Who doesn’t?” She joked and squeezed me back as hard as I’d squeezed her. “Love you too.”

I drove home thinking about the dream, the air in the car replaced by an impending doom so thick, if I’d had a knife, I could have sliced it into pieces.

* * *

“I can’t believe I’m gonna die. Please, no. Why are you shooting at us?”

I jumped high enough out of my seat I nearly smacked my head on the ceiling of Detective Aaron Banner’s office. “Oh, my gosh, last night Mel and I dreamed we said the same things to each other.”

He smacked his hand down on the stop button of the recorder, and we locked eyes. “Care to explain?”

I did.

He rewound the tape and played it again from start to finish. The boom of a gunshot echoed through the recorder. Something heavy dropped onto the ground with a thud. A woman screamed. “No, why? Oh my God, no.”

A man’s voice mumbled something I couldn’t make out. Then another man muttered something else, but I couldn’t understand him either. Whatever happened, happened in real time, and it was abominable.

“Why? Please God, don’t kill me. My babies. They need me. I can’t believe I’m gonna die. Please, no. Why are you shooting at us?”

The line went dead.

I rubbed my neck. The call had come into the dispatch center earlier that morning, and Aaron called me in to help.

“It’s hard to listen to. Sounds like maybe two men and a woman, but I’m not sure. Thought you might be able to help us with her identity or maybe the location. We don’t know if it’s a robbery or an assault or if the woman is dead—nothing.”

The woman on the line never spoke to the operator directly, and never said her name. It appeared she was just trying to give clues to what was happening. Because of the shots, time was important, and we didn’t have much of it.

“The operator called back once the line went dead. Got a voicemail for a girl named Sarah.”

“Can you trace the call or find out the billing address for the owner?” I asked.

He shook his head. “Track phone. They’re not traceable. We’ve been calling the number back since we received the call, but it just goes straight to voicemail.” He paused and played the recording one more time. “Usually the phone company doesn’t keep the information on the purchaser, but the carrier gave us the number for the last call. Belongs to a man by the name of Stu Walker.” He tapped a pencil on his desk.

“Have you called him or sent anyone out there?”

“Got voicemail on his line, too. Sent a squad out twice already but no one’s been home. Thought I’d call you and have you come out with me.”

I stood. “Let’s go.”

Aaron and I met a few years back when a little boy’s spirit asked me to give his parents a message. I’d been able to communicate with spirits for some time, though according to my mother Fran Richter, I’d done it as a child too, but as I aged, the gift lessened until it disappeared completely. It resurfaced when my mother died and decided to test the psychic waters. When her ghost appeared to me, I thought I’d flipped my lid. It was even harder when other ghosts came around asking for help with their earthly business. I wasn’t thrilled at first but eventually realized the curse was truly a gift. Ever since Aaron saw my gift up close and personal, I’d been his psychic medium consultant, off the record and free of charge. We’d also become friends, and I was grateful for all of it, but for the friendship most of all.

We arrived at a shabby brown stucco house on the outskirts of town, where the city had yet to pilfer all the farmland from its owners and stack two hundred plus home nearly on top of each other in an upscale, amenities-laden subdivisions. The house was in disrepair, with shutters hanging by a hair and a boarded up window in the garage. A Pitbull sat chained to a tree near the gravel driveway. It was thirsty and tired. I wanted to unleash it and take it home with me. The whole scene matched the stereotype image other parts of the country have of the south. I said a silent thank you to the Universe for the blessings in my life.

Aaron knocked on the door and a young man, maybe in his twenties, with a shaved head and a dark, brown, at least six-inch long beard, opened it. “Yeah?”

My spidey senses sent a smidgen of a tingle zipping down my spine.

Aaron flashed his badge. “You Stu Walker?”

The man’s shoulders curved inward just a bit. “Yessir.”

“We understand you made a call to a woman named Sarah at about 9 AM this morning. Can you tell me anything about that woman?”

He shifted his weight from one foot to the other. “Uh, yeah. Sarah Rochen. My cousin. Why you asking?”

“We’re trying to locate her whereabouts. Do you happen to know where she is?”

I caught his eyes widen for a millisecond. Had I blinked, I would have missed it. It sent my spidey sense shooting back up my spine like a just lit firework.

He examined the ground near his feet and then shook his head. “I haven’t talked to her since this mornin’, but you might could talk to her ma.”

Aaron took down the mother’s phone number. “Thank you, Mr. Walker. What was your conversation with Ms. Rochen about?”

He rubbed his head. “I told her I might could get her a new car, and she was supposed to call me back later today to go and see it before she went back to Savannah.”

“Do you know why she was going to Savannah?”

“That’s where she lives.”

“Do you know what she was planning to do today or why she was in town?”

He shook his head. “Something ‘bout seeing her kids.” He hemmed and hawed and kicked at the ground. “I don’t know anything about it really, but her ma might know.”

Aaron cut the meeting short. “You got an address for her mother?”

“I don’t know the address, but I could get you there from here.”

“It’s okay. I can get it through my department. Thank you for your time. You have a nice day.”

I smiled at him and followed Aaron back to the car.

In the car I gave Aaron my two cents. “Something’s not right about that guy.”

“He’s just a good ol’ country boy.” He got on his car radio and asked to have an address run on Sarah Rochen’s mother’s cell number. “You have time to go there, too?”

“Sure.”

Based on the address, her mother was only fifteen minutes from where we were. Dawsonville was growing, but there were still a lot of traditional neighborhoods and farms instead of designated subdivisions like mine. Sarah’s mother, LuAnn Jacobs, lived in one of them. Her house, a blue and white, hardieplank sided ranch, sat on a small, weed infested hill. Aaron trudged up the gravel and dirt driveway, and the bumping from the holes in it agitated my sciatica. I rubbed my leg to relieve the throbbing.

LuAnn Jacobs answered the door immediately. “We’re looking to convert, but thanks.” She slammed the door before Aaron could respond.

I giggled under my breath. Aaron however, did not.

He tapped on the door once more. “Mrs. Jacobs, I’m Detective Aaron Banner.” He flipped his badge toward where the closed door met the frame.

She cracked the door open, snuck a peek at the badge, and then swung it open again.

“G’moring, ma’am. Earlier this morning we received a 911 call from a woman who we now believe to be your daughter, Sarah Rochen.”

Aaron explained that the call was disturbing, but didn’t go into any detail. “Have you heard from your daughter, Mrs. Jacobs?”

“Uh, not since breakfast. What’s going on?”

“Do you know why Sarah was in town?”

She clasped her arms across her chest, and in a sticky, almost too sweet voice, said, “Yeah. Uh, she and her husband Larry, they came up from Savannah yesterday, for a visit and maybe to buy a new car.”

A man stood in the doorway behind Mrs. Jacobs. His greasy brown hair was long enough to be pulled into a ponytail at the base of his neck. We made eye contact, and I shivered. The man was scary.

Mrs. Jacobs chewed a piece of gum the way Emily did, her mouth open, making juicy, chomping sounds while she spoke. “Just for a visit. They came to visit.” She explained that they’d come to see their two daughters, and they’d hoped to take them home if they could get approval for the new car.

I forced back the anger brewing in the pit of my stomach. My misophonia—generally coined the hatred of human sounds, and particularly those related to eating—fought to get the best of me, but I refused to let it, instead, focusing on the task at hand.

“Can you explain why her children are here in town?” Aaron asked.

“The county took them away, and they’re living with family ‘til Sarah and Larry get their house in order. They came here so they could get a safe car. Stu was supposed to get them a deal on one.

“When did they arrive?”

“Yesterday.”

“When was the last time you saw your daughter?”

“Last night. She came by to visit with Ashley.”

“Is that one of her daughters?”

“Her oldest. She’s been living with us,” she angled her body toward the man behind her and placed her hand on his shoulder. “My husband Johnny and me, ‘til this whole mess is handled.”

I glanced back at the man and caught him eyeing me again, but he cut away and focused on his wife. The hairs on the back of my neck shot to attention.

“What happened when she came by last night?”

“Nothing. She came by to visit Ashley, and Larry stayed back at the hotel so she could have some alone time with her kid. Also because we don’t want that man here at our house.”

“Why is that?”

“He’s not good enough for my kid or her babies.”

My brain wrestled between her words and the juicy chomping. I wanted to reach into her mouth and yank the clump of gum out like I used to do with my kids, but of course, I couldn’t. I had to force myself to focus on her words, not the chomping.

She said they’d decided to stay at a hotel somewhere about halfway between her house and Sarah’s cousin, Jenny’s house, where her other daughter, Lizzie stayed. LuAnn explained that Sarah told her they’d planned to see Lizzie the next day.

“They got that little two-door thing, and those back seats just aren’t big enough for two car seats, and the seatbelts don’t work neither, so they hoped to get a minivan or an SUV. Stu said he knew someone who could give them a good deal.”

“Is Ashley here with you now?” Aaron asked.

She nodded, and I noticed her husband’s facial expression shift. If I’d blinked, I would have missed it. “She’s in the kitchen eating pancakes. You wanna see her?” She poked her husband. “Johnny, go fetch Ash for them, will ya?”

He stood there for a second, his eyes drilling into his wife’s.

She grimaced. “Please?” Chomp.

A minute later a petite, strawberry blond haired girl ambled over to the door, Johnny’s hand squeezing her left shoulder. She kept her eyes glued to the ground, even though I’d raised the tone of my voice several octaves when I said hi. Her skin was so pasty, I assumed she hadn’t seen the sun in months, and it was unlikely she’d had a good meal in that time either, her face shallow, her cheeks barely there. It made my heart hurt. The good news was she was safe with her grandmother, even though she didn’t appear happy about it.

“Okay,” Aaron said. “So they stayed at the hotel last night?”

“Right, and then they were going to her cousin’s to see Lizzie. I just…I just talked to her a bit ago. She was happy. She was excited to possibly be getting to take her babies home with her.”

“What kind of car were they driving?” Aaron asked.

“Lemme think about that for a bit.” She chewed on the gum like a cow.

“Johnny, what kind of car they do they have again?”

“One of those old Datsuns. A 240Z, I think.”

“That’s right. A gold one. Larry loves that car. He’s torn up that they have to sell it. Too bad for them. Shouldn’t have bought something like that with the babies.” She rubbed her hands together. “Is my baby okay?”

“We’re doing our best to find out, ma’am.” Aaron asked for Sarah’s cousin’s contact information, wrote it down, and then closed his notebook. “We’ll be in touch as soon as we have more information. In the meantime though, if you could write any phone numbers you have for Larry and Sarah, as well as their address, I’d appreciate it.” He handed her his notepad and pen. “And if you hear from your daughter or think of something that might help us, please call me right away.”

She wrote out the information and handed him back his things as he gave her his business card.

As LuAnn closed the door, her husband pushed it back open and stepped outside. “I was you, I’d be looking at Larry Rochen for doing something he ought not to do.” He spoke as if he’d just had a tooth pulled, and his face was still numb, except from the looks of his teeth, it was obvious he hadn’t been to a dentist in years.

Aaron had already stepped away from the door, but he paused and flipped back around. “Why is that?”

He pushed back his shoulders. “Marriage was doomed from the start.”

LuAnn Jacobs opened the door and stepped partially out. “Everything okay out here?”

Johnny Jacobs’s face morphed into a snarl like one of a dog ready to attack. “Get inside, woman.”

Her jaw tensed, and I caught her hands form into fists. She noticed me notice them, released them, and did as she was told.

Back in the car, Aaron called in the make and model of the Rochen’s vehicle and got the tag number. “Set up a BOLO for the vehicle and notify the surrounding counties,” he told his dispatch. He dialed Jenny’s number and put the call on speaker.

“She’s not here,” Jenny said. “She called and said she had something to do before she came by, and she’d call on her way.” She confirmed Lizzie was still there.

Aaron asked her to notify him if she heard from her cousin, but didn’t give any details as to why. I assumed he figured the word would get out soon enough.

“Do you think Larry’s involved?” I asked. “Johnny Jacobs sure threw him under the bus. Actually, LuAnn Jacobs didn’t seem like that big of a fan, either.”

“We usually look at the spouse first in domestic cases.” He headed south on the highway. “We’ll go back to the department, and I’ll find out what we can about him and his family. I’ll get the DA to ask for a warrant to get their financials. See if there’s been any recent transactions since the call, or shortly before. You get anything from the mother?”

I exhaled. “I’m pretty sure I’ve explained the difference between psychic and psychic medium before, so…”

He nodded. “I know the difference, but you’ve got a good—what does Mel call it?”

“Spidey sense?”

He snapped his fingers and pointed at me. “Spidey sense. Figured it was worth a shot to ask.”

“Actually, spidey sense is my term, and I did notice LuAnn didn’t refer to Johnny as Sarah’s father, but other than that, not really. But there’s definitely something off about him.”

“You don’t have to be psychic to notice that. I’m guessing he’s a stepparent.”

“Did her chewing grate on your last nerve?”

He laughed. “The kinds of things I see every day, that’s nothing.”

“Yeah? Well, someone needs to teach that woman some manners. Five more minutes and my brain would have imploded.”

“Glad you didn’t leave me with that mess.”

“You should be. It would have been massive.”

“I bet.”

He dropped me off at my car in the department’s parking lot, and I headed home, calling Mel on the way. “Just hung out with your boy toy.”

“Without me? Rude.”

“Deadlines, remember?”

Aaron and Mel had been a couple for some time, and things were serious between them. They were happy, and I was happy they were happy. After Mel’s husband cheated on her with a younger woman—whom he knocked up and married—she definitely deserved happiness. Though the relationship was a bit awkward for me at first, her dating my uno

“Did you give him a sloppy kiss for me?”

“Yup. A big one, wet, tongue-wrestling one. I think he liked it, too.”

“Oh goodie, because that’s all he’s getting today. These deadlines are gonna be the death of me.” She heavy-sighed.

“You’re working a lot lately.”

“Don’t I know it.”

“I miss hanging out with you. ” My voice bordering on whiny.

“Right back atcha, and you can blame the cheating rat bas—“ She cut herself off. “My ex for that. I don’t get to spend a lotta time with my kids either.”

“I’m sorry.”

“It is what it is. I just don’t like it a whole lot.”

“Neither do I, but you’re providing for your kids and showing them how a single mother steps up, and that’s important.”

“Can you tell them that, please? All they do is complain about me never having time for them.”

“They’re young. They’ll understand eventually.” I knew that didn’t matter at the moment, but it was all I could think to say.

“Well, eventually better come soon because I can only handle so much.”

I decided not to tell her about the 911 call and the connection between our dream since she already had enough on her plate. “Anyway, he’s got me helping him with a possible case. Lemme know when you’ve got time to discuss.”

I made it home just in time for my oldest kid Emily, to ignore me. She’d been on a roll as of late, only talking to me when it was an absolute must. She felt she had reason and to a point she sort of did, but it’d been going on for months, and my patience bucket had reached its limit and teetered on its edge.

A few months back her boyfriend Mike’s mother was killed in a car accident. He was at our house when I found out, and since the Universe had a wicked sense of humor, that’s when his mother’s spirit decided to make an appearance. As the saying goes, the poop hit the fan.

Emily didn’t know about my gift. Jake and I had decided to keep it from her because she bordered a bit on ridiculously overly dramatic to the hundredth power, and what she didn’t know wouldn’t make us crazy. With the death of Michelle Stevenson, Mike’s mom, she’d obviously found out. I’d been working to re-establish trust with her ever since but to no avail. Emily got her stubbornness from me, and sometimes dealing with her was like looking into a magical mirror and glimpsing bits of teenaged Angela and middle-aged Fran and their relationship. It made me want to apologize to my mom.

Repeatedly.

I’d chosen to handle Emily’s latest angst with a slow and steady approach. It hadn’t worked, but I refused to give up. It was better than the alternative; losing my cool, which never worked either, and usually just caused more drama. “Hey Em, how’s it hangin’?” Ugh. My attempts at being cool, calm and collected had such an 80s air to them.

She sat on the couch, I assumed, planning creative ways to ignore me.

My mother shimmered in beside her. “Ah Madone, this kid ain’t ever gonna forgive you if you don’t try and make her.”

I’d already told Emily her grandmother was present more often than not, but she couldn’t see her, and that just made her even more angry with me. Knowing her brother, Josh also had the gift made it a billion times worse, too.

“Your grandmother says I should use force to get you to stop being mad at me.”

“I didn’t say that. I said you oughta make her forgive you.”

“Okay, I stand corrected. She’s saying I should make you forgive me. Apparently, there’s a difference.”

Emily scanned the room for her grandmother. When she couldn’t see her, she huffed and stood. “Can you not? It’s really bizarre, you like, talking to Grandma.” She stomped to the stairs and pounded up them to her room where she drove her point home by banging her bedroom door closed.

“That went well,” I said.

“You oughta drag her back down here by her ear lobe. Time she stops acting like a two-year-old.”

Well then, Ma’s patience had plummeted to rock bottom too, but she was right. I initially thought I’d give Emily some time to adjust to the news, to deal with the fact that ghosts actually existed, and that some of them, her grandmother included, showed up at our house. It turned out my gift didn’t impress her, and she already believed in ghosts. She was peeved we’d kept it a secret, but wouldn’t fess up to what bothered her the most, so all I could do was assume it was that Josh shared my ability. And that was somehow my fault because apparently, I could control what the Universe did. “Why is everything always my fault with that kid? It’s impossible to change something I can’t control.”

“That right there is whatcha call karma. You did the same thing to me when you were her age.”

I rolled my eyes. “I didn’t blame you for everything.”

“You gotta be kidding me. You blamed me for your wavy hair, those child-bearing hips, and remember that whole 1966 red Mustang thing? That was my fault too.”

“Well, actually that kinda was. Had you married that guy I could have had it.”

When I was sixteen, her fiancé Buddy died, she briefly dated a wealthy man who wanted to marry her so badly he told me if I could convince her to, he’d get me a 1966 red Mustang. I gave it my best shot, but couldn’t close the deal, and I never let her forget it.

“I didn’t love him, and I couldn’t help that. I wanted my Buddy, and no one else compared.”

I didn’t understand that until I met Jake. If something–God forbid—ever happened to him, I’d spend the rest of my life alone. My stepmother Helen once said something about my father, and it made sense to me. She said, when you’ve had the best, no one else could live up to that, so why bother trying? I realized my mother never dated anyone after Buddy died, and I understood why.

“I know, but it was a red 1966 Mustang.”

“But it was a red 1966 Mustang. Madone, and it woulda been a loveless marriage.”

“I know, and I get that now, but then all I cared about was myself. What you wanted didn’t even cross my mind.”

She raised her eyebrows.

The irony hit me. I dipped my head back and sighed. “I hate it when you do that.” I poured myself a glass of water and plopped onto a barstool. “I don’t know what to do.”

“You gotta show her that she’s got a bit of the gift, too.”

“But she doesn’t.”

“That don’t matter.”

“Okay then, how do you propose I do that?”

“Ya know, give her a few signs, make her recognize them. Like you got mad at me for doing before.”

Ma had tossed a few pillows, moved a few things on Em’s dressers, and one time she ripped the sheets off her bed after a miracle had happened, and Emily had actually made the thing. Instead of getting the hints, Emily just accused a family member—me—of deliberately messing up her room and of course, snooping. But now that she knows her grandmother is around if Ma did it again, she might realize it’s not me, but her Grandmother, and maybe she’ll think she’s got a little bit of the gift. Maybe being the operative word in that sentence.

“That’s not a bad idea,” I said. “But it’s probably—”

Before I could add to that, she interrupted me. “I’m on it.”

I chuckled, figuring she’d probably headed up to her granddaughter’s room to toss a pillow or two.

I snatched a Diet Coke—affectionately known as Diet Crack in my house—from the fridge and headed to the deck, my place for contemplation and focus. I wanted to try and connect with Sarah Rochen. If she was dead, and I was pretty sure she was, I might be able to concentrate on her spirit and find her. If I was wrong, and she wasn’t, then I was out of luck.

Summoning spirit wasn’t tops on my list of things to do. I could do it, but I didn’t like it, so I avoided it as much as possible. Mel once asked me what I didn’t like about it, and I couldn’t come up with anything other than it made me feel icky. Feeling icky wasn’t reason enough not to do something except workout, so I centered my mind on the photo LuAnn Jacobs gave Aaron and gave it a shot.

“Sarah, can you hear me?” I closed my eyes and thought about the things she’d done since coming to town. “Sarah? Hello? You there?”
The dream played like a movie in my mind’s eye. Me holding a gun pointed at Mel. Mel on her knees, begging me not to shoot her. The gravel, the trees. Pulling the trigger. The booming sound of the bullet exploding from the gun.

I flinched, and my eyes burst open. Sarah was definitely dead. I just had to figure out what was trying to tell me through the dream. Whatever it was, was key to what happened, where we’d find her body, and the answers to the questions running through my mind. And I wouldn’t stop trying to find out until I figured it out.

***

Excerpt from Unexpected Outcomes by Carolyn Ridder Aspenson. Copyright © 2017 by Carolyn Ridder Aspenson. Reproduced with permission from Carolyn Ridder Aspenson. All rights reserved.

Author Bio:

Carolyn Ridder Aspenson

Carolyn Ridder Aspenson currently calls the Atlanta suburbs home, but can’t rule out her other two homes, Indianapolis and somewhere in the Chicago suburbs.

She is old enough to share her empty nest with her husband, two dogs and two cats, all of which she strongly obsesses over repeatedly noted on her Facebook and Instagram accounts, and is working on forgiving her kids for growing up and leaving the nest. When she is not writing, editing, playing with her animals or contemplating forgiving her kids, she is sitting at Starbucks listening in on people’s conversations and taking notes, because that stuff is great for book ideas. (You have officially been warned!)

On a more professional note, she is the bestselling author of the Angela Panther cozy mystery series featuring Unfinished Business An Angela Panther Mystery, Unbreakable Bonds An Angela Panther Mystery and Uncharted Territory An Angela Panther Mystery, The Christmas Elf, An Angela Panther Holiday Short, The Ghosts, An Angela Panther Holiday Short, The Inn At Laurel Creek, a contemporary romance novella, Santa’s Gift, a Cumming Christmas Novella and 8 To Lose The Weight, a lifestyle eating program. Carolyn is also a freelance writer and editor with Literati Editing.

For more information, visit http://carolynridderaspenson.com ;
www.facebook.com/carolynridderaspensonauthor;
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Carolynridderaspenson on Instagram
Twitter: @awritingwoman

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Sep 182017
 

A FACE TO DIE FOR by Andrea Kane
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Published by: Bonnie Meadow Publishing LLC
Publication Date: September 19, 2017
Number of Pages: 336
ISBN: 1682320103 (ISBN13: 9781682320105)
Review Copy from: Author
Edition: Signed ARC
My Rating: 5 stars

**Tomorrow: Interview with Andrea Kane….don’t miss it!**

Synopsis:

Urban legend says that everyone has a double, or exact look-alike. Would you search for yours? And if you found them, would you risk your life for theirs?

When a chance encounter outside the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan results in mistaken identity, wedding planner Gia Russo is curious to find the person whose cell phone picture has been shown her—veterinarian Dr. Danielle Murano, her exact look-alike. A Facebook private message blossoms into a budding, long-distance friendship, and the two women agree to meet in New York and see the truth for their own eyes.

Shocked at the sight of one another, they quickly bond over drinks, childhood pictures and an uncanny feeling that they share more than just a visual resemblance. Together they decide to end the speculation and undergo DNA testing for siblingship. But when the tests confirm they’re identical twins, more questions are raised than answered.

And with good reason. The same mysterious forces that separated the sisters years ago are still at large, frantic to keep the two women apart. Their attempts to do so become more violent once it becomes clear that the two sisters have found each other. But when the danger escalates and the sisters fear for their lives, Gia turns to a former client of her wedding planning company, Marc Devereraux of Forensic Instincts, for help.

Despite being embroiled in another case, Forensic Instincts agrees to help Gia and Danielle discover who has been threatening them. And when Forensic Instincts discovers that this case is linked to the [Mafia, Organized Crime], they must dig up skeletons better left buried, and get at the frightening truth without destroying the sisters and the families they have grown to love.

My Thoughts and Opinion:

The team at Forensic Instincts are back and currently working 2 cases. One a stalking case of a Grad student, Brianna, and the other an eerily doppelgänger chance meeting of 2 strangers, Gia and Dani, that turns sinister when their lives are endangered. But why?

They realize, after becoming friends, that they have a lot in common aside from looking so much like the other, one being that they are both adopted. They decide to take a DNA test to see if their resemblance to each other could be familial. They soon find out not only are they related but they are identical twins.

The story begins twenty-seven years ago with a mob hit. Does this have something to do with the twins? And why does the Forensic Instincts team think that their 2 cases are tied together in some way?

The story was fluid with believable characters. A captivating and engrossing read!

There were so many twists and turns in this incredibly suspenseful story. I thought for sure I had it all figured out, once, twice, and even three times when the author delivers a one-two punch that I didn’t see coming. An electrifying and startling ending!!!

A warning, you will be saying to yourself “just one more chapter”, but once you start it, you will want to finish it in one sitting because it is just SO good! A definite unputdownable read!!!!

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Sep 052017
 

Murder in the Dog Days by P.M. Carlson Banner

Murder in the Dog Days

by P.M. Carlson

September 1-30, 2017 Book Tour

Synopsis:

Murder in the Dog Days by P.M. Carlson

On a sweltering Virginia day in 1975, reporter Olivia Kerr, her husband Jerry Ryan, his very pregnant sister Maggie and her family decide to have a beach picnic. Olivia invites her colleague Dale Colby and his family to join them. At the last minute, Dale decides to stay home to pursue an important story. But when the beach-goers return, they find Dale lifeless in a pool of blood inside his locked office.

Police detective Holly Schreiner leads the investigation, battling Maggie—and demons of her own.

Don’t Miss These Great Reviews:

“An ingeniously plotted, fair-play, locked-room mystery, one of the best we’ve encountered.” — Tom and Enid Schantz, The Denver Post

“A dandy locked room murder…The investigation is a dangerous one… [the] solution both surprising and satisfying” — A Suitable Job for a Woman

“A satisfying, fast-paced whodunit that also explores a range of social issues, especially the violence of war and its aftermath.” — Cynthia R. Benjamins, Fairfax Journal

​“[Maggie Ryan] has been a role model for women since the beginning and I loved watching her merge marriage and children with her talent for solving mysteries!” — Margaret Maron

Book Details:

Genre: Traditional Mystery
Published by: The Mystery Company / Crum Creek Press
Publication Date: April 2014
Number of Pages: 271
ISBN13: 978-1932325379
Series: Maggie Ryan and Nick O’Connor #6
Purchase Links: Amazon 🔗 | Barnes & Noble 🔗 | Smashwords 🔗 | Goodreads 🔗

Love this Video Chat Featuring Murder in the Dog Days:

P.M. Carlson

Author Bio:

P.M. Carlson taught psychology and statistics at Cornell University before deciding that mystery writing was more fun. She has published twelve mystery novels and over a dozen short stories. Her novels have been nominated for an Edgar Award, a Macavity Award, and twice for Anthony Awards. Two short stories were finalists for Agatha Awards. She edited the Mystery Writers Annual for Mystery Writers of America for several years, and served as president of Sisters in Crime.

Q&A with P.M. Carlson

Welcome!

Thanks! It’s good to be here.

Do you draw from personal experiences and/or current events?
Yes and yes. Also yes to psychological case studies and to past events. When I’m starting a novel from scratch, I look for for what I call a “constellation” of ideas. For example, before I began MURDER IN THE DOG DAYS, I’d written several Maggie Ryan mysteries about a smart, caring, often humorous woman coming of age in the late 1960’s-70’s. Those turbulent times were redefining much about women’s (and men’s) lives, and the serious economic and personal problems my friends and I faced found their way naturally into the stories. Maggie helped me explore issues and often helped me laugh about them.

But I was beginning to feel guilty about not dealing directly with one major issue for Americans of that generation: the Vietnam war. I started reading veterans’ accounts and talking to vets.

About the same time I read a little story in an Indiana newspaper about a man who had died in an odd way.

And I was getting to know a friend who was an investigative reporter, and realizing that her drive to get a story, though not identical to the love of research that my academic friends shared with me, was also a passion for truth.

And Maggie, of course, was starting a family, so family issues were on my mind.

Veterans, family, reporters, an odd death–– a random collection of ideas, right? But in my head these seemed to relate to each other. That’s what I call a “constellation.” They began to pull other ideas into their orbit. For example, when I thought about the setting for a story about war, it seemed right to put the action in Virginia, which–– as we recently saw in Charlottesville–– still suffers from the scars of the Civil War. But why would Maggie be there? Visiting her brother, of course, which would underline the family issues I was interested in. Characters began to take form, the brother and the reporters, and then the police detective strode into my head and said “Hey, I’m Holly Schreiner, and this book is about me.” I realized the Vietnam war had just checked in, and it was time to write.

Do you start with the conclusion and plot in reverse or start from the beginning and see where the story line brings you?
Both! I’m most efficient with a mystery when I have a sketchy idea of where it will end and how it will get there. The “constellation” of ideas I just described may include the motive and mechanics of the murder. So I make a list–– major turns in the plot, a few important events in subplots suggested by the characters. Then I shuffle and space them so I won’t have chapter after chapter of buildup with all the exciting plot turns put off till Chapter 24.

For me, it’s also important to avoid overplanning, so I keep the “plot” at the bullet-point level. Once I’m writing, the most fun is what bubbles up from the combination of things already in the stories. One reason my detective Maggie Ryan and her actor husband Nick O’Connor enjoy each other’s company is the games they improvise, sometimes to get information, sometimes to thwart an injustice, sometimes just for fun. But Maggie is passionate about finding the truth and a fair conclusion. Of course some of the characters, like Detective Holly Schreiner, don’t agree with her methods, and the resulting arguments can be fierce.

Your routine when writing? Any idiosyncrasies?
I love writing but hate starting to write. In fact, I hate starting anything–– getting out of bed in the morning, closing a book to start lunch, etc. Inertia should be my middle name. So I have to play tricks on myself. Sometimes I stop mid-paragraph, making the next day’s start easier because I’ll know what’s coming up. But my secret weapon comes from my experience training lab rats: the power of reward. I put a chocolate near my desk that I’m not allowed to eat until I’ve written at least a paragraph. By then the writing is its own reward.

Tell us why we should read this book.
Readers who like visiting another time will find an authentic view of the US in the late sixties and seventies in the Maggie Ryan mysteries. They’ll find that Maggie and Nick’s America was dealing with many problems that are resurfacing today, with angry political divisions about racism, anti-Semitism, homophobia, oppression of women, and on and on.

The Maggie Ryan series has also been described as “mysteries of character”. Maggie and Nick enjoy each other’s humor and sometimes play pranks on stuffier folks, although they’ve both had griefs of their own and share a deep sense of justice. As a psychologist I find myself digging deep into all the characters, major and minor, and the problems they are facing.

And of course, Maggie Ryan mysteries are mysteries! Fans of fair-play plotting should know that MURDER IN THE DOG DAYS is a good locked-room mystery.

Who are some of your favorite authors?
William Shakespeare, Dorothy Parker, Anton Chekhov, Christine Downing, Robert Jay Lifton, Miguel de Cervantes, and lots of mystery authors

What are you reading now?
A Kathy Reichs mystery, also Kitty Molony’s memoir of touring America in 1886-87 with the great American Shakespearean actor Edwin Booth.

Can you tell us a little about your next novel?
Next up in the Maggie Ryan series is MURDER MISREAD. It’s different from MURDER IN THE DOG DAYS because it’s an academic mystery told from the points of view of two different professors. It’s similar in the emphasis on character and motive, and on finding a fair resolution to a bad situation.

Favorite leisure activity?
I love seeing live plays! Books are great, movies are great, but in the theatre there’s the additional thrill of being in the same space with the talented human beings who are performing the story at the very moment you’re seeing it. It’s a social event as well as a funny, or moving, or spirit-lifting event. Luckily my husband teaches theatre in New York City so I get to see lots of shows, about sixty a year.

Favorite meal?
I’m with Maggie Ryan on this one–– I love French cooking. Their recipes seem to find the essence of a trout, or a bean, or an apple and enhance it with just the right seasoning. Maggie’s ability to prepare French meals is one of the best things that she learned in her year abroad, and fun to write about when the stories need a food scene.

Thank you for stopping by CMash Reads and spending time with us.

Thanks for inviting me, Cheryl!

Catch Up With Our Author On:
Website 🔗, Goodreads 🔗, Smashwords, & Twitter 🔗!

Read an excerpt:

“I don’t understand!” Donna Colby cried out. Her self-control cracked. She reached toward Holly in appeal, tears starting. “It was bolted! How could anyone—even if Dale let them in, they couldn’t bolt it again after they—”

“Yes, Mrs. Colby.” Holly broke in, firm and reassuring, to deflect the outburst. “We’ll check into it. You can depend on it.”

‘Thank you,” said Donna with a little choking sound.

“Now, what did you do when you realized the door was bolted?”

“Well, he usually takes a nap. I thought maybe he was asleep.” Donna Colby was trying to revert to her numbed monotone again, but a tremor underlay her words. “Then Maggie went to look in the window and came running back in and said hurry up, we had to get the door open. So she did, and—” She stopped. The next part was the unspeakable, Holly knew. Donna Colby turned her face back to the pink flower on the back of the sofa, tracing the outline with a forefinger. “All that blood,” she murmured. “I just don’t… Why?”

“I know, Mrs. Colby.” Holly tried to keep her voice soothing in the face of the incomprehensible. A husband and father lay twisted in the den. Why? Tell me why. And the others, so many others. A flash of reds at the back of her eyes. A blue-green stench. A tiny whispered beat, ten, eleven. Twelve. No more. Hey, cut the bullshit, Schreiner. Just get the details. Ain’t no time to wonder why, whoopee we’re all gonna die. Holly flipped to a new page, keeping her voice colorless. “What did you do when you got the door open?”

“We all ran in—I don’t remember, it was so—I couldn’t—the blood. Maggie went to him. Sent Olivia to call an ambulance. Told me to keep the kids out, take them to the kitchen.”

Holly noted it down. This Maggie sounded like a real take-charge type. “Okay. And then what?”

“I don’t remember much. She made me leave, take care of the kids.”

“What was she doing?”

“I don’t know. There was so much…” The word escaped Donna and she stared at Holly in mute terror before finding it again, with an almost pitiful triumph. “Confusion. The men came back. Maggie will tell you,” she added hopefully, trying to be helpful. All her life, probably, being nice had kept her out of trouble. But now she’d hit the big trouble, and Holly knew that no weapons, even niceness, could help now.

* * *

Excerpt from Murder in the Dog Days by P.M. Carlson. Copyright © 2017 by P.M. Carlson. Reproduced with permission from P.M. Carlson. All rights reserved.

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Aug 312017
 

The Church of the Holy Child

by Patricia Hale

on Tour August 15 – October 15, 2017

Synopsis:

The Church of the Holy Child by Patricia Hale

A woman with a history of domestic abuse is missing. Her sister hires private investigators Cole and Callahan.

When the woman is found dead, her husband is charged but when a second body appears showing the same wounds, questions arise and what looked like a slam-dunk becomes anyone’s guess. The case goes to John Stark, a veteran cop and close friend of Griff Cole.

The bodies are piling up, and one person knows where the killer is. Father Francis, a priest at The Church of the Holy Child, listens to the killer’s disturbed account of each murder and wrestles with the vows that bind him to secrecy.

The case takes an unexpected and personal turn when Cole’s ex-wife goes missing and a connection to his past points to the killer.

**See my review here and enter the giveaway**

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery/Suspense
Published by: Intrigue Publishing LLC
Publication Date: August 15th 2017
Number of Pages: 259
ISBN: 1940758599 (ISBN13: 9781940758596)
Purchase Links: Amazon 🔗 | Barnes & Noble 🔗 | Goodreads 🔗

Q&A with Patricia Hale

Do you draw from personal experience or current events?

A little of both, I think. My life isn’t nearly as exciting as the lives of my characters, but sometimes I give them a quirk or a reaction to something that comes from personal experience. I’ve also reshaped pieces of news stories and I save interesting articles from the newspaper or on-line that I might play around with.

Do you start with the conclusion and plot in reverse or start from the beginning and see where the story line takes you?

Most often I have the ending and work my way back. Sometimes all I have is what I know will be the last line in the book. I rarely have the plot worked out in my head. I just start writing toward what I know is the ending and see how I get there.

Are any of your characters based on you or people that you know?

None of the characters are based on me, but because the series is written in first person with Britt as narrator, some of my sarcasm shows up in her banter with Griff, and impulsivity is a characteristic (or vulnerability) of mine as it is for Britt. Sometimes I use traits from friends in my characters, like Britt’s affinity for honeyberry cigars. My co-worker smokes these on the sly and when I found out, I thought it was a great little vice to use for Britt.

Your routine when writing? Any idiosyncrasies?

I have to write in the morning and it has to be the first thing I do after feeding the dogs and making coffee. I can’t shower or get dressed before I write. If I do, I lose my mind set and creativity. I might as well just vacuum or do errands because showering or getting dressed takes me out of the zone.

Tell us why we should read this book.

The Church of the Holy Child is a mystery/suspense novel so it will satisfy those looking for a good who-dun-it. But the sub-plot of the Catholic priest conversing with the killer in the confessional offers a richer, more complex story. The priest’s ethical dilemma of whether he should go to the police with what he knows or obey his holy orders, draws the reader into considering their own beliefs and challenges them with more than figuring out who the killer is.

Who are some of your favorite authors?

I enjoy reading Stephen King for his writing style. He’s a terrific storyteller. I’ve read a number of Lionel Shriver’s books. She provides a unique perspective and her detailed insights of our everyday lives always make me stop and say, ‘I wish I’d said that’. Dennis Lehane and Tana French need no explanation. And I’ve recently been enjoying Jussi Adler-Olsen’s series.

What are you reading now?

I’m reading Freedom, by Jonathan Franzen. I’ve never read him before, but I’m really enjoying this book. He takes a look at marriage, parenting and middle age through the eyes of the Berglund family with humor and often, painful honesty. His understanding of the fears, fantasies and idiosyncrasies that haunt middle-class America are right on the money.

Are you working on your next novel? Can you tell us about it?

The Church of the Holy Child is the first in a three book series. In the second book, Durable Goods, Britt goes undercover looking for a missing girl and ends up over her head in the sex trade industry. The third book in the series is Scar Tissue, in which Britt and Griff are hired to investigate a young girl’s suicide. In their search to find the reason why, they expose the lines parents will cross to insure success as well as revenge. Both of these will follow The Church of the Holy Child, but I don’t have release dates yet.

Your novel will be a movie. Who would you cast?

This question made me laugh because when I was thinking about what Britt and Griff looked like, I went on-line and looked at actors to get different characteristics in my head. Now… dead center on my desk, above my computer I have two pictures. One is of Hugh Jackman (Griff Cole) and the other is Natalie Portman (Britt Callahan). In the picture, Natalie has a very short, black, pixie style hair cut. My dream team!

Favorite leisure activity/hobby?

I am a yoga and animal enthusiast. I do a yoga routine every day and I hike in the woods with my dogs. I have a German shepherd and a Beagle mix who are my constant companions. I am also looking forward to becoming a foster home for an organization called Beagle Freedom who rescues animals from laboratory testing. Most labs use Beagles because of their size and sweet temperaments and many of these dogs have never been outside of a laboraory. I’ll provide an interim home until the dogs become acclimated to their new life and can be placed in forever homes. (I’m sure a few will find their place with me.)

Author Bio:

Patricia Hale

Patricia Hale received her MFA degree from Goddard College. Her essays have appeared in literary magazines and the anthology, My Heart’s First Steps. Her debut novel, In the Shadow of Revenge, was published in 2013. The Church of the Holy Child is the first book in her PI series featuring the team of Griff Cole and Britt Callahan. Patricia is a member of Sister’s in Crime, Mystery Writer’s of America, NH Writer’s Project and Maine Writer’s and Publisher’s Alliance. She lives in New Hampshire with her husband and two dogs.

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Read an excerpt:

Inside the wooden confessional there’s a man who talks to God. At least that’s what my mother told me the last time we were here. But a month has passed since she disappeared so today I’ve come to the church alone. I no longer believe that she’s coming back for me like she said. Instead, I’ve become her stand-in for the beatings my father dishes out. That’s what he calls it, dishing out a beating, like he’s slapping a mound of mashed potato on my plate. He swaggers through the door ready for a cold one after coming off his seven to three shift, tosses his gun and shield on our kitchen table and reaches into the refrigerator for a Budweiser. I cringe in the corner and make myself small, waiting to hear what kind of day he’s had and whether or not I’ll be his relief. More often than not, his eyes search me out. “’C’mere asshole,” he says, popping the aluminum top, “I’m gonna dish out a beating.” If anyone can help me, it has to be this guy who talks to God. I open the door of the confessional with my good arm and step inside.

Twenty-three years later

ONE

His breath was warm on my neck, his lips hot and dry. His tongue searched the delicate skin below my ear. Heart quickening, back arching, I rose to meet him.

The phone on the nightstand vibrated.

“Shit,” Griff whispered, peeling away from me, our clammy skin reluctant to let go. He swung his feet over the edge of the bed and flashed me his bad-boy, half-smile. “Cole,” he said into the phone.

At times like this, cell phones rate right alongside other necessary evils like cod liver oil and flu shots. I leaned against his back and caressed his stomach, damp dunes of sculpted muscle. Not bad for a guy north of forty. Griff still measured himself against the hotshots in the field. But in my book he had nothing to worry about; I’d take the stable, wise, worn-in model over a wet behind the ear, swagger every time.

He pried my fingers from his skin and walked toward the bathroom still grunting into the phone.

I slipped into my bathrobe and headed for the kitchen. I have my morning priorities and since the first one was interrupted by Griff’s phone, coffee comes in a close second.

Twenty minutes later he joined me dressed in his usual attire, jeans, boots, tee shirt and sport jacket. Coming up behind me, he nuzzled my neck as I poured Breakfast Blend into a travel mug. Coffee splashed onto the counter top.

“Gotta run,” he said taking the cup from my hand.

“What’s up?”

“Not sure yet. That was John. He said he could use a hand.

“Sobering up?

Griff flinched like I’d landed one to his gut.

“Sorry,” I said. “Cheap shot.”

“Woman found dead early this morning.”

“When’s he going to admit that he can’t run the department with a pint of scotch sloshing around in his gut?”

“The job’s all he’s got left, makes it hard to let go.”

“I’m just saying that he shouldn’t be head of CID. Not now. I’m surprised Haggerty has put up with it this long.”

“There’s a lot going down at the precinct. Internal Affairs is having a field day after that meth bust.

They’ve got so many guys on leave right now that a bottle of Dewar’s in John’s desk is the least of Haggerty’s problems.”

“I just don’t want you to get sucked into CID.”

He slipped his hands inside my robe and nuzzled my neck. “No chance of that. Nobody on the force feels like this.”

I pushed him away halfheartedly.

I’ll call you when I know what’s going on.”

The door closed behind him.

I sank onto a kitchen chair and flipped open the People magazine lying on the table. Griff and I had just finished an investigation for an heiress in the diamond industry whose sticky handed husband had resorted to blackmailing her brother as a way around their pre-nup. The ink on her twenty-thousand-dollar check made out to Cole & Co. was still wet. And being that I was the & Co. part of the check, I’d earned a leisurely morning.

The phone rang just as I was getting to the interview with Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell on the secrets of a long-term relationship. Caller ID told me it was Katie Nightingale, our go-to girl at the office. Katie kept track of everything from appointments to finances to take-out menus.

I lifted the phone and hit ‘answer’.

“Britt?” Katie spoke before I had a chance, never a good sign.

“What’s up?” I asked.

“Missing woman.”

“Since when?”

“Last night.”

“What makes her missing? It hasn’t even been twenty-four hours.”

“The woman who called said her sister was leaving an abusive husband and was supposed to let her know when she was safe by ringing the phone once at seven-thirty. The call never came. Now she can’t get hold of her. She said her sister carries your card in her wallet.”

“What’s her name?”

“The woman who called is Beth Jones. Her sister is Shirley Trudeau.”

I nodded into the phone. I can’t remember every woman I encounter, but Shirley’s name rang a bell. Since giving up my position as a Family Law attorney with Hughes and Sandown, I’d been offering free legal aid for women who needed advice but couldn’t afford it. Mostly I worked with wives trying to extricate themselves from abusive marriages. Given the reason I’d abandoned my law career, it was the least I could do. Shirley hadn’t been living at the women’s shelter, but she’d spent enough time there to have Sandra, the shelter’s director, hook her up with me.

“And Beth thinks Shirley’s husband found her?”

“That’s what it sounded like once she’d calmed down enough to form actual words.”

“I’m on my way.”

I set the phone down, making a mental note to call Sandra. She’d upgraded from a caseworker in Connecticut to Director in Portland, Maine a few months ago. I’d stopped by her office to introduce myself when she started and left my business cards. Our paths didn’t cross that often but we respected each other’s work and always took a few minutes to chat. I knew she’d been on the swim team in college and that she could bench-press her weight. We were close in age and like minded when it came to the politics of non-profits. No doubt Beth Jones had called her too.

After a shower and a quick clean up of last night’s wine glasses, Chinese takeout containers and clothes that we’d left strewn around the living room, I locked the apartment door and began my fifteen-minute trek to our office on Middle Street. I savored my walk through the Old Port, the name given to Portland, Maine’s waterfront. The summer heat that a month ago had my shirt stuck tight against my back was a thing of the past and the snow and ice that would make walking an athletic event had not yet arrived. The cool, crisp air was like a shot of espresso. As long as I didn’t let my mind wander to what nature had in store, I could enjoy the rush.

I hit “contacts” on my phone and scanned the names for Sandra’s.

“Sandra, it’s Britt,” I said when she answered. “I wish this was a social call, but it’s not. Shirley Trudeau is missing.

“I know. Her sister called this morning. I’m on my way in now. How did you find out?”

“Her sister hired us to find her. “Was someone helping her leave?”

“She had a caseworker, but I wasn’t in on the plan. I’ll know more once I get to my office and talk to the person she was working with.”

“Okay if I call you later?”

“I don’t know how much I’ll be able to tell you. You know the rules. If she was on her way…”

I stopped mid-stride and lowered the phone from my ear. Sandra’s voice slipped away. That dead body that Griff went to look at… my gut said, Shirley Trudeau.

***

Excerpt from The Church of the Holy Child by Patricia Hale. Copyright © 2017 by Patricia Hale. Reproduced with permission from Patricia Hale. All rights reserved.

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