Mar 172017
 

A Ghostly Mortality

by Tonya Kappes

on Tour February 28 – March 30, 2017

Synopsis:

A Ghostly Mortality

That ghost sure looks . . . familiar

Only a handful of people know that Emma Lee Raines, proprietor of a small-town Kentucky funeral home, is a “Betweener.” She helps ghosts stuck between here and the ever-after—murdered ghosts. Once Emma Lee gets them justice they can cross over to the great beyond.

But Emma Lee’s own sister refuses to believe in her special ability. In fact, the Raines sisters have barely gotten along since Charlotte Rae left the family business for the competition. After a doozy of an argument, Emma Lee is relieved to see Charlotte Rae back home to make nice. Until she realizes her usually snorting, sarcastic, family-ditching sister is a… ghost.

Charlotte Rae has no earthly idea who murdered her or why. With her heart in tatters, Emma Lee relies more than ever on her sexy beau, Sheriff Jack Henry Ross…because this time, catching a killer means the Raines sisters will have to make peace with each other first.

Book Details:

Genre: Cozy Mystery, Paranormal

Published by: Witness

Publication Date: February 28th 2017

Number of Pages: 336

ISBN: 0062466976 (ISBN13: 9780062466976)

Series: Ghostly Southern Mysteries #6

Purchase Links: Amazon 🔗 | Barnes & Noble 🔗 | Goodreads 🔗

Read an excerpt:

Lawdy bee.” Granny scooted to the edge of the chair and lifted her arms in the air like she was worshiping in the Sunday morning service at Sleepy Hollow Baptist and the spirit just got put in her.

I sucked in a deep breath, preparing myself for whatever was going to come out of Zula Fae Raines Payne’s mouth, my granny. She was a ball of southern spitfire in her five-foot-four-inch frame topped off with bright red hair that I wasn’t sure was real or out of a L’Oréal bottle she’d gotten down at the Buy-N-Fly.

“Please, please, please,” she begged. “Let me die before anything happens to Emma Lee.” Her body slid down the fancy, high-back mahogany leather chair as she fell to her knees with her hands clasped together, bringing them back up in the air as she pleaded to the Big Guy in the sky. “I’m begging you.”

“Are you nuts?” My voice faded to a hushed stillness. I glanced back at the closed door of my sister’s new office, in fear she was going to walk in and see Granny acting up. I sat in the other fancy, high-back mahogany leather chair next to Granny’s and grabbed her by the loose skin of her underarm. “Get back up on this chair before Charlotte Rae gets back in here and sees you acting like a fool.”

“What?” Granny quirked her eyebrows questioningly as if her behavior was normal. My head dropped along with my jaw in the “are you kidding me” look.

“Well, I ain’t lying!” She spat, “I do hope and pray you are the granddaughter that will be doing my funeral, unless you get a flare up of the ‘Funeral Trauma.’ ” She sucked in a deep breath and got up off her knees. She ran her bony fingers down the front of her cream sweater to smooth out any wrinkles so she’d be presentable like a good southern woman, forgetting she was just on her knees begging for mercy.

“Flare up?” I sighed with exasperation. “It’s not like arthritis.”

The “Funeral Trauma.” It was true. I was diagnosed with the “Funeral Trauma” after a decorative plastic Santa fell off the roof of Artie’s Meat and Deli, knocking me flat out cold and now I could see dead people. I had told Doc Clyde I was having some sort of hallucinations and seeing dead people, but he insisted I had been in the funeral business a little too long and seeing corpses all of my life had brought on the trauma. Truthfully, the Santa had given me a gift. Not a gift you’d expect Santa to give you, but it was the gift of seeing clients of Eternal Slumber, my family’s funeral home business where I was the undertaker. Some family business. Anyway, a psychic told me I was now a Betweener. I helped people who were stuck between here and the ever after. The Great Beyond. The Big Guy in the sky. One catch . . . the dead people I saw were murdered and they needed me to help them solve their murder before they could cross over.

“I’m fine,” I huffed and took the pamphlet off of Charlotte Rae’s desk, keeping my gift to myself. The only people who knew were me, the psychic and Sheriff Jack Henry Ross, my hot, hunky and sexy boyfriend. He was as handy as a pocket on a shirt when it came time for me to find a killer when a ghost was following me around. “We are here to get her to sign my papers and talk about this sideboard issue once and for all.” Granny stared at me.

My head slid forward like a turtle and I popped my eyes open.

“I’m fine,” I said through closed teeth.

“You are not fine.” Granny rolled her eyes so big, I swear she probably hurt herself. “People are still going around talking about how you talk to yourself.” She shook her finger at me. “If you don’t watch it, you are going to be committed. Surrounded by padded walls. Then—She jabbed her finger on my arm. I swatted her away with the pamphlet.

“Charlotte Rae will have full control over my dead body and I don’t want someone celebrating a wedding while I lay corpse in the next room. Lawdy bee,” Granny griped. I opened the pamphlet and tried to ignore Granny as best I could.

“Do you hear me, Emma Lee?” Granny asked. I could feel her beady eyes boring into me.

“Don’t you be disrespecting your elders. I asked you a question,” she warned when I didn’t immediately answer her question.

“Granny.” I placed the brochure in my lap and reminded myself to remain calm. Something I did often when it came to my granny. “I hear you. Don’t you worry about a thing. By the time you get ready to die, they will have you in the nut-house alongside me,” I joked, knowing it would get her goat. The door flung open and the click of Charlotte Rae’s high-dollar heels tapped the hardwood floor as she sashayed her way back into her office. The soft linen green suit complemented Charlotte’s sparkly green eyes and the chocolate scarf that was neatly tied around her neck. It was the perfect shade of brown to go with her long red hair and pale skin.

“I’m so sorry about that.” She stopped next to our chairs and looked between me and Granny. She shook the long, loose curls over her shoulders. “What? What is wrong, now?”

“Granny is all worried I’m going to get sent away to the nuthouse and you are going to lay her out here.” The words tumbled out of my mouth before I could stop them. Or did my subconscious take over my mouth? It was always a competition between me and Charlotte, only it was one-sided. Mine. Charlotte never viewed me as competition because she railroaded me all my life. Like now. She’d left Eternal Slumber with zero guilt, leaving me in charge so she could make more money at Hardgrove’s Legacy Center, formerly known as Hardgrove’s Funeral Homes until they got too big for their britches and decided to host every life event possible just to make more money.

Excerpt from A Ghostly Mortality by Tonya Kappes. Copyright © 2017 by Tonya Kappes. Reproduced with permission from Witness. All rights reserved.

Author Bio:

Tonya KappesTonya Kappes has written more than fifteen novels and four novellas, all of which have graced numerous bestseller lists including USA Today. Best known for stories charged with emotion and humor and filled with flawed characters, her novels have garnered reader praise and glowing critical reviews. She lives with her husband, two very spoiled schnauzers, and one ex-stray cat in northern Kentucky. Now that her boys are teenagers, Tonya writes full-time but can be found at all of her guys’ high school games with a pencil and paper in hand.

Catch Up with Tonya Kappes on her Website 🔗, Twitter 🔗, & Facebook 🔗

Tour Participants:

Giveaway:

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours for Tonya Kappes and Witness Impulse. There will be 1 US winner of one PRINTED set of The Ghostly Southern Mysteries #1-6 by Tonya Kappes. The giveaway begins on February 27th and runs through April 2nd, 2017.

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Feb 142017
 

The Riverman

by Alex Gray

on Tour January 9 – February 15, 2017

Synopsis:

The Riverman by Alex Gray

Fans of atmospheric police procedurals will love watching Glasgow vividly come to life with the shocking twists and turns that have made Alex Gray an international bestseller

When a dead body is fished out of Glasgow’s River Clyde the morning after an office celebration, it looks like a case of accidental death. But an anonymous telephone call and a forensic toxicology test give Detective Chief Inspector William Lorimer reason to think otherwise. Probing deeper into the life and business of the deceased accountant, a seemingly upright member of the community, Lorimer finds only more unanswered questions.

What is the secret his widow seems to be concealing? Was the international accounting firm facing financial difficulties? What has become of the dead man’s protégé who has disappeared in New York? And when another employee is found dead in her riverside flat these questions become much more disturbing. Lorimer must cope not only with deceptions from the firm, but also with suspicions from those far closer to home . . .

MY REVIEW

5 stars

This book was SO good! First time I read anything by this author but she is now on my “authors to read” list.

The story and suspense flowed throughout with a cast of characters that were rich in substance. The setting, even though I have never been to Scotland, could picture it with the author’s description of her written words.

Murders, betrayals, savory characters with secrets, disappearance, relationships both good and bad and much more. I had a hard time putting this one down.

And to my pleasure, as I turned the last page, learned that Ms. Gray’s next book, PITCH BLACK will be out in March of this year. Can’t wait!!!!

REVIEW DISCLAIMER

This blog was founded on the premise to write honest reviews, to the best of my ability, no matter who from, where from and/or how the book was obtained, and will continue to do so, even if it is through PICT or PBP.
DISCLAIMER

I received a copy of this book, at no charge to me, in exchange for my honest review.
No items that I receive are ever sold…they are kept by me, or given to family and/or friends.
ADDENDUM

I do not have any affiliation with Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble. I am an IndieBound affiliate. I am providing link(s) solely for visitors that may be interested in purchasing this Book/EBook.

Book Details:

Genre: Police Procedurals
Published by: Witness Impulse
Publication Date: January 10th 2017
Number of Pages: 368
ISBN: 0062659138 (ISBN13: 9780062659132)
Series: A DCI Lorimer Novel, #4
Purchase Links: Amazon 🔗 | Barnes & Noble 🔗 | Goodreads 🔗

Read an excerpt:

PROLOGUE

April

THE RIVERMAN

The riverman knew all about the Clyde. Its tides and currents were part of his heritage. His father and others before him had launched countless small craft from the banks of the river in response to a cry for help. Nowadays that cry came in the form of a klaxon that could waken him from sleep, the mobile phone ringing with information about where and when. It wouldn’t be the first time that he’d pulled someone from the icy waters with only a hasty oilskin over his pajamas.

This morning, at least, he’d been up and doing when the call came. The body was over by Finnieston, past the weir, so he’d had to drive over the river towing a boat behind him on the trailer. He was always ready. That was what this job was all about: prompt and speedy response in the hope that some poor sod’s life could be saved. And he’d saved hundreds over the years, desperate people who were trying to make up their mind to jump off one of the many bridges that spanned the Clyde or those who had made that leap and been saved before the waters filled their lungs.

George Parsonage had been brought up to respect his river. Once it had been the artery of a great beating heart, traffic thronging its banks, masts thick as brush-wood. The tobacco trade with Virginia had made Glasgow flourish all right, with the preaching of commerce and the praising of a New World that was ripe for plucking. The names of some city streets still recalled those far-off days. Even in his own memory, the Clyde had been a byword for ships. As a wee boy, George had been taken to the launch of some of the finer products of Glasgow’s shipbuilding industry. But even then the river’s grandeur was fading. He’d listened to stories about the grey hulks that grew like monsters from the deep, sliding along the water, destined for battle, and about the cruise liners sporting red funnels that were cheered off their slipways, folk bursting with pride to be part of this city with its great river.

The romance and nostalgia had persisted for decades after the demise of shipbuilding and cross-river ferries. Books written about the Clyde’s heyday still found readers hankering after a time that was long past. The Glasgow Garden Festival in the eighties had prompted some to stage a revival along the river and more recently there had been a flurry of activity as the cranes returned to erect luxury flats and offices on either side of its banks. Still, there was little regular traffic upon its sluggish dark waters: a few oarsmen, a private passenger cruiser and the occasional police launch. Few saw what the river was churning up on a daily basis.

As he pushed the oars against the brown water, the riverman sent up a silent prayer for guidance. He’d seen many victims of despair and violence, and constantly reminded himself that each one was a person like himself with hopes, dreams and duties in different measure. If he could help, he would. That was what the Glasgow Humane Society existed for, after all. The sound of morning traffic roared above him as he made his way downstream. The speed of response was tempered by a need to row slowly and carefully once the body was near. Even the smallest of eddies could tip the body, filling the air pocket with water and sending it down and down to the bottom of the river. So, as George Parsonage approached the spot where the body floated, his oars dipped as lightly as seabirds’ wings, his eyes fixed on the shape that seemed no more than a dirty smudge against the embankment.

The riverman could hear voices above but his eyes never left the half-submerged body as the boat crept nearer and nearer. At last he let the boat drift, oars resting on the rowlocks as he finally drew alongside the river’s latest victim. George stood up slowly and bent over, letting the gunwales of the boat dip towards the water. Resting one foot on the edge, he hauled the body by its shoulders and in one clean movement brought it in. Huge ripples eddied away from the side as the boat rocked upright, its cargo safely aboard.

The victim was a middle-aged man. He’d clearly been in the water for some hours so there was no question of trying to revive him. The riverman turned the head this way and that, but there was no sign of a bullet hole or any wound that might indicate a sudden, violent death. George touched the sodden coat lightly. Its original camel colour was smeared and streaked with the river’s detritus, the velvet collar an oily black. Whoever he had been, his clothes showed signs of wealth. The pale face shone wet against the pearly pink light of morning. For an instant George had the impression that the man would sit up and grasp his hand, expressing his thanks for taking him out of the water, as so many had done before him. But today no words would be spoken.There would be only a silent communion between the two men, one dead and one living, before other hands came to examine the corpse.

George grasped the oars and pulled away from the embankment. Only then did he glance upwards, nodding briefly as he identified the men whose voices had sounded across the water. DCI Lorimer caught his eye and nodded back. Up above the banking a couple of uniformed officers stood looking down. Even as he began rowing away from the shore, the riverman noticed a smaller figure join the others. Dr. Rosie Fergusson had arrived.

‘Meet you at the Finnieston steps, George,’ Lorimer called out.

The riverman nodded briefly, pulling hard on the oars, taking his charge on its final journey down the Clyde.

Excerpt from The Riverman by Alex Gray. Copyright © 2017 by Alex Gray. Reproduced with permission from HarperCollins | WitnessImpulse. All rights reserved.

Author Bio:

Alex Gray

Alex Gray was born and educated in Glasgow. After studying English and Philosophy at the University of Strathclyde, she worked as a visiting officer for the Department of Health, a time she looks upon as postgraduate education since it proved a rich source of character studies. She then trained as a secondary school teacher of English.

Alex began writing professionally in 1993 and had immediate success with short stories, articles, and commissions for BBC radio programs. She has been awarded the Scottish Association of Writers’ Constable and Pitlochry trophies for her crime writing.

A regular on the Scottish bestseller lists, she is the author of thirteen DCI Lorimer novels. She is the co-founder of the international Scottish crime writing festival, Bloody Scotland, which had its inaugural year in 2012.

Connect with Alex Gray on her Website 🔗 & on Twitter 🔗.

Tour Participants:

Visit the other tour stops for more great features and reviews!


Don’t Miss Your Chance in this Giveaway!

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours for Alex Gray and William Morrow. There will be 3 US winners of one (1) PRINT copy of The Riverman by Alex Gray. The giveaway begins on January 9th and runs through February 23rd, 2017.

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Jul 252016
 


BLUE MOON by Wendy Corsi Staub
Published by William Morrow
Publication Date: July 26, 2016
ISBN: 9780062349750
ISBN 10: 0062349759
Pages: 448
Review Copy From: William Morrow
Edition: PB
My Rating: 5

Showcase and giveaway below

Synopsis:

Hair neatly braided, hands serenely clasped, eyes closed, the young woman appeared to be sound asleep. But the peaceful tableau was a madman’s handiwork. Beneath the covers, her white nightgown was spattered with blood. At daybreak, a horrified family would discover her corpse tucked into their guest room. The cunning killer would strike again . . . and again . . . before vanishing into the mists of time.

A century ago, the Sleeping Beauty Murders terrified picturesque Mundy’s Landing. The victims, like the killer, were never identified. Now, on the hundredth anniversary, the Historical Society’s annual “Mundypalooza” offers a hefty reward for solving the notorious case.
Annabelle Bingham, living in one of the three Murder Houses, can’t escape the feeling that her family is being watched—and not just by news crews and amateur sleuths. She’s right. Having unearthed the startling truth behind the horrific crimes, a copycat killer is about to reenact them—beneath the mansard roof of Annabelle’s dream home . . .

My Thoughts and Opinion:

Warning…once started, be prepared to read this book through the night! And maybe read it when you aren’t alone!! It’s a chilling psychological, white knuckle read!

It is the 2nd in the Mundy’s Landing series but easily read as a stand alone. It’s a mystery wrapped in a mystery from a century past.

Ms. Staub tells a story where visuals will have you reeling and feeling that you are a bystander looking on. Characters of Mundy’s Landing are quirky, conventional, eccentric, some unstable and hiding many secrets. Many!!!

I tried reading faster so that I could turn the page to see what was next. A true thriller!

If you enjoy a whodunit, then this book is for you! But you may be surprised, as I was, finding out that there were 2 whodunits and who they were. Right up to the last page! Spine tingling! I do recommend that you read it soon because Ms. Staub gives a sneak peek into the 3rd book of this series. I, for one, can’t wait!

100x30 photo 715a7b0a-fc85-4ee8-a819-679fec1f28ed.jpg

REVIEW DISCLAIMER
This blog was founded on the premise to write honest reviews, to the best of my ability, no matter who from, where from and/or how the book was obtained, and will continue to do so, even if it is through PICT or PBP.
DISCLAIMER
I received a copy of this book, at no charge to me, in exchange for my honest review.
No items that I receive are ever sold…they are kept by me, or given to family and/or friends.
ADDENDUM
I do not have any affiliation with Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble. I am an IndieBound affiliate. I am providing link(s) solely for visitors that may be interested in purchasing this Book/EBook.

Jul 252016
 

Blue Moon

by Wendy Corsi Staub

on Tour July 25th – August 26, 2016

Synopsis:

Blue Moon by Wendy Corsi StaubNew York Times bestselling author Wendy Corsi Staub returns to Mundy’s Landing—a small town where bygone bloodshed has become big business.

Hair neatly braided, hands serenely clasped, eyes closed, the young woman appeared to be sound asleep. But the peaceful tableau was a madman’s handiwork. Beneath the covers, her white nightgown was spattered with blood. At daybreak, a horrified family would discover her corpse tucked into their guest room. The cunning killer would strike again . . . and again . . . before vanishing into the mists of time.

A century ago, the Sleeping Beauty Murders terrified picturesque Mundy’s Landing. The victims, like the killer, were never identified. Now, on the hundredth anniversary, the Historical Society’s annual “Mundypalooza” offers a hefty reward for solving the notorious case.

Annabelle Bingham, living in one of the three Murder Houses, can’t escape the feeling that her family is being watched—and not just by news crews and amateur sleuths. She’s right. Having unearthed the startling truth behind the horrific crimes, a copycat killer is about to reenact them—beneath the mansard roof of Annabelle’s dream home…

Book Details:

Genre: Thrillers, Suspense
Published by: William Morrow, Mass Market
Publication Date: July 26th 2016
Number of Pages: 448
ISBN: 0062349759 (ISBN13: 9780062349750)
Series: Mundy’s Landing #2
Purchase Links: Amazon Barnes & Noble Goodreads

***See my review above***

Read an excerpt:

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Mundy’s Landing, New York

Here we are,” the Realtor, Lynda Carlotta, announces as she slows the car in front of 46 Bridge Street. “It really is magnificent, isn’t it?”

The Second Empire Victorian presides over neighboring stucco bungalows and pastel Queen Anne cottages with the aplomb of a grand dame crashing a coffee klatch. There’s a full third story tucked behind the scalloped slate shingles, topped by a black iron grillwork crown. A square cupola rises to a lofty crest against the gloomy Sunday morning sky. Twin cornices perch atop its paired windows like the meticulously arched, perpetually raised eyebrows of a proper aristocratic lady.

Fittingly, the house—rather, the events that transpired within its plaster walls—raised many an eyebrow a hundred years ago.

Annabelle Bingham grew up right around the corner, but she stares from the leather passenger’s seat as if seeing the house for the first time. She’d never imagined that she might actually live beneath that mansard roof, in the shadow of the century-old unsolved crimes that unfolded there.

For the past few days, she and her husband, Trib, have taken turns talking each other into—and out of—coming to see this place. They’re running out of options.

Real estate values have soared in this picturesque village, perched on the eastern bank of the Hudson River midway between New York City and Albany. The Binghams’ income has done quite the opposite. The only homes in their price range are small, undesirable fixer-uppers off the highway. They visited seven such properties yesterday and another this morning, a forlorn little seventies ranch that smelled of must and mothballs. Eau d’old man, according to Trib.

Magnificent isn’t exactly the word that springs to mind when I look at this house,” he tells Lynda from the backseat.

She smiles at him in the rearview mirror. “Well, I’m not the professional wordsmith you are. I’m sure you can come up with a more creative adjective.”

Annabelle can. She’s been trying to keep it out of her head, but everything—even the tolling steeple bells from nearby Holy Angels Church—is a grim reminder.

“Monolithic,” pronounces the backseat wordsmith. “That’s one way to describe it.”

Murder House, Annabelle thinks. That’s another.

“There’s certainly plenty of room for a large family,” Lynda points out cheerily.

Optimism might be her strong suit, but tact is not. Doesn’t she realize there are plenty of families that don’t care to grow larger? And there are many that, for one heartbreaking reason or another, couldn’t expand even if they wanted to; and still others, like the Binghams, whose numbers are sadly dwindling.

Annabelle was an only child, as is their son, Oliver. Trib lost his older brother in a tragic accident when they were kids. Until a few months ago, Trib’s father, the last of their four parents to pass away, had been a vital part of their lives. He’d left them the small inheritance they plan to use as a down payment on a home of their own—a bittersweet prospect for all of them.

“I just want Grandpa Charlie back,” Oliver said tearfully last night. “I’d rather have him than a new house.”

“We all would, sweetheart. But you know he can’t come back, and wouldn’t it be nice to have a nice big bedroom and live on a street with sidewalks and other kids?”

“No,” Oliver said, predictably. “I like it here.”

They’re living in what had once been the gardener’s cottage on a grand Hudson River estate out on Battlefield Road. The grounds are lovely but isolated, and they’ve long since outgrown the tiny rental space.

Still . . . are they really prepared to go from dollhouse to mansion?

“There are fourteen rooms,” Lynda waxes on, “including the third-floor ballroom, observatory, and servants’ quarters. Over thirty-five hundred square feet of living space—although I have to check the listing sheet, so don’t quote me on it.”

That, Annabelle has noticed, is one of her favorite catchphrases. Don’t quote me on it.

“Is she saying it because you’re a reporter?” she’d asked Trib after their first outing with Lynda. “Does she think you’re working on an article that’s going to blow the lid off . . . I don’t know, sump pump function?”

He laughed. “That’s headline fodder if I ever heard it.”

Lynda starts to pull the Lexus into the rutted driveway. After a few bumps, she thinks better of it and backs out onto the street. “Let’s start out front so that we can get the full curb appeal, shall we?”

They shall.

“Would you mind handing me that file folder on the floor back there, Charles?” Lynda asks Trib, whose lanky form is folded into the seat behind her.

He’d been born Charles Bingham IV, but as one of several Charlies in kindergarten, was rechristened courtesy of his family’s longtime ownership of the Mundy’s Landing

Tribune. The childhood nickname stuck with him and proved prophetic: he took over as editor and publisher after his dad retired a decade ago.

But Lynda wouldn’t know that. She’s relatively new in town, having arrived sometime in the last decade. Nor would she remember the era when the grand homes in The Heights had fallen into shabby disrepair and shuttered nineteenth-century storefronts lined the Common. She’d missed the dawning renaissance as they reopened, one by one, to form the bustling business district that exists today.

“Let’s see . . . I was wrong,” she says, consulting the file Trib passes to the front seat. “The house is only thirty-three hundred square feet.”

Can we quote you on it? Annabelle wants to ask.

“I can’t imagine what it cost to heat this place last winter,” Trib comments, “with all those below-zero days we had.”

“You’ll see here that there’s a fairly new furnace.” Lynda hands them each a sheet of paper. “Much more energy efficient than you’ll find in most old houses in the neighborhood.”

Annabelle holds the paper at arm’s length—courtesy of advancing farsightedness—and looks over the list of specs. The “new” furnace was installed about fifteen years ago, around the turn of this century. The wiring and plumbing most likely date to the turn of the last one.

“Oh, and did I mention that this is the only privately owned indoor pool in town.”

She did, several times. Some potential buyers might view that as a burden, but Lynda is well aware that it’s a luxury for Annabelle, an avid swimmer.

Still, the house lacks plenty of key items on her wish list. There’s a ramshackle detached garage instead of the two-car garage she and Trib covet. There is no master suite. The lot is undersized, like many in this historic neighborhood.

“You’re never going to find exactly what you want,” Lynda has been reminding her and Trib from day one. “You have to compromise.”

They want a home that’s not too big, not too small, not too old, not too new, not too expensive, not a rock-bottom fixer-upper . . .

Goldilocks syndrome—another of Lynda’s catchphrases.

This house may be too old and too big, but it isn’t too expensive despite being located in The Heights, a sloping tree-lined enclave adjacent to the Village Common.

Its owner, Augusta Purcell, died over a year ago, reportedly in the same room where she’d been born back in 1910. Her sole heir, her nephew Lester, could have sold it to the historical society for well above market value. But he refused to entertain a long-standing preemptive offer from the curator, Ora Abrams.

“I’m not going to cash in on a tragedy like everyone else around here,” he grumbled, adamantly opposed to having his ancestral home exploited for its role in the notorious, unsolved Sleeping Beauty case.

From late June through mid July of 1916, a series of grisly crimes unfurled in the relentless glare of both a brutal heat wave and the Sestercentennial Celebration for the village, founded in 1666.

Forty-six Bridge Street was the second home to gain notoriety as a crime scene. The first was a gambrel-roofed fieldstone Dutch manor house just around the corner at 65 Prospect Street; the third, a granite Beaux Arts mansion at 19 Schuyler Place.

No actual homicide took place inside any of the three so-called Murder Houses. But what had happened was profoundly disturbing. Several days and several blocks apart, three local families awakened to find the corpse of a young female stranger tucked into a spare bed under their roof.

The bodies were all posed exactly the same way: lying on their backs beneath coverlets that were neatly folded back beneath their arms. Their hands were peacefully clasped on top of the folded part of the covers. Their long hair—they all had long hair—was braided and arranged just so upon the pillows.

All the girls’ throats had been neatly slit ear to ear. Beneath each pillow was a note penned on plain stationery in block lettering: Sleep safe till tomorrow. The line was taken from a William Carlos Williams poem published three years earlier.

The victims hadn’t died where they lay, nor in the immediate vicinity. They’d been stealthily transported by someone who was never caught; someone who was never identified and whose motive remains utterly inexplicable to this day.

Ghastly death portraits were printed in newspapers across the country in the futile hope that someone might recognize a sister, a daughter, a niece. In the end, their unidentified remains were buried in the graveyard behind Holy Angels Church.

Is Annabelle really willing to move into a Murder House?

A year ago, she’d have said no way. This morning, when she and Trib and Oliver were crashing into porcelain fixtures and one another in their tiny bathroom, she’d have said yes, absolutely.

Now, staring up at the lofty bracketed eaves, ornately carved balustrades, and curve-topped couplets of tall, narrow windows, all framed against a blood red foliage canopy of an oppressive sky . . .

I don’t know. I just don’t know.

“Since you both grew up here, I don’t have to tell you about how wonderful this neighborhood is,” Lynda says as the three of them step out of the car and approach the tall black iron fence that mirrors the mansard crest.

A brisk wind stirs overhead boughs. They creak and groan, as does the gate when Lynda pushes it open. The sound is straight out of a horror movie. A chill slips down Annabelle’s spine, and she shoves her hands deep into the pockets of her corduroy barn coat.

The brick walkway between the gate and the house is strewn with damp fallen leaves. For all she knows, someone raked just yesterday. It is that time of year, and an overnight storm brought down a fresh barrage of past-peak foliage.

Yet the grounds exude the same forlorn, abandoned atmosphere as the house itself. It’s the only one on the block that lacks pumpkins on the porch steps and political signs posted in the yard.

Election Day looms, with a heated mayoral race that reflects the pervasive insider versus outsider mentality. Most residents of The Heights back the incumbent, John Elsworth Ransom, whose roots extend to the first settlers of Mundy’s Landing. Support for his opponent, a real estate developer named Dean Cochran, is stronger on the other side of town, particularly in Mundy Estates, the upscale townhouse complex he built and now calls home.

A Ransom for Mayor poster isn’t all that’s conspicuously missing from the leaf-blanketed yard. There’s no For Sale sign, either.

Trib asks Lynda if she’s sure it’s on the market.

“Oh, it is. But Lester prefers to avoid actively soliciting the ‘ghouls’—not the Halloween kind, if you know what I mean.”

They do. Plenty of locals use that word to describe the tourists who visit every summer in an effort to solve the cold case. The event—colloquially dubbed Mundypalooza—has taken place every year since 1991. That’s when, in conjunction with the seventy-fifth anniversary of the cold case, the historical society first extended a public invitation: Can You Solve the Sleeping Beauty Murders?

So far, no one has—but every summer, more and more people descend to try their hand at it. The historical society sponsors daily speakers, panel discussions, and workshops. Even Trib conducts an annual seminar about the sensational press coverage the case received in 1916.

He turns to Annabelle. “That’s something we’d have to deal with if we bought this place.”

“You’re right. We’d be inundated with curiosity seekers. I don’t think I want to—”

“Just in the summer, though,” Lynda cuts in quickly, “and even then, it’s not a big deal.”

“This house will be crawling with people and press,” Annabelle points out.

After all, a Murder House isn’t just branded by century-old stigma; it bears the brunt of the yearly gawker invasion. No local resident escapes unscathed, but those who live at 46 Bridge Street, 65 Prospect Street, and 19 Schuyler Place are inundated.

“Let’s just walk through before you rule it out,” Lynda urges. “A comparable house at any other address in this neighborhood would sell for at least six figures more. I’d hate to have someone snatch this out from under you.”

The odds of that happening are slim to none. Lester, who insists on pre-approving every showing, requests that prospective buyers already live locally. Not many people fit the bill, but Annabelle and Trib passed muster and they’re here. They might as well look, even though Annabelle is sure she doesn’t want to live here after all. She’d never get past what happened here during the summer of 1916, let alone what will happen every summer forever after, thanks to Mundypalooza.

They step through the massive double doors into the dim, chilly entrance hall. So far, so not good.

Before Annabelle can announce that she’s changed her mind, Lynda presses an antique mother-of-pearl button on the wall. “There, that’s better, isn’t it?”

They find themselves bathed in the glow of an elegant fixture suspended from a plaster medallion high overhead. Surprisingly, it is better.

There’s a massive mirror on the wall opposite the door. In it, Annabelle sees their reflection: Lynda, a full head shorter even in heels, bookended by herself and Trib, who could pass for siblings. They’re similarly tall and lean, with almost the same shade of dark brown hair and light brown eyes—both attractive, if not in a head-turning way.

Their eyes meet in the mirror, and he gives her a slight nod, as if to say, Yes, let’s keep going.

“Just look at that mosaic tile floor!” Lynda exclaims. “And the moldings on those archways! And the woodwork on the grand staircase! We haven’t seen anything like this in any of the houses we’ve looked at, have we?”

They agree that they haven’t, and of course wouldn’t expect to in their price point.

Annabelle can picture twelve-year-old Oliver walking through those big doors after school, dropping his backpack on the built-in seat above the cast-iron radiator with a Mom? I’m home. As she runs her fingertips over the carved newel post, she envisions him sliding down the banister curving above.

The long-dormant old house stirs to life as they move through it. One by one, doors creak open. Spaces beyond brighten courtesy of wall switches that aren’t dime-a-dozen rectangular plastic levers. These are period contraptions with buttons or brass toggles or pull-pendants dangling from thirteen-foot ceilings. Lynda presses, turns, pulls them all, chasing shadows from the rooms.

Annabelle’s imagination strips away layers of faded velvet and brocade shrouding the tall windows. Her mind’s eye replaces Augusta’s dark, dusty furnishings with comfortable upholstery and modern electronics. Instead of mustiness and cat pee, she smells furniture polish, clean linens, savory supper on the stove. The ticking grandfather clock, dripping faucets, and Lynda’s chirpy monologue and tapping footsteps are overshadowed by the voices Annabelle loves best, echoing through the rooms in ordinary conversation: Mom, I’m home! What’s for dinner? I’m home! How was your day? I’m home . . .

Yes, Annabelle realizes. This is it.

This, at last, is home.

 

Wendy Corsi StaubWendy Corsi Staub

USA Today and New York Times bestseller Wendy Corsi Staub is the award-winning author of more than seventy novels and has twice been nominated for the Mary Higgins Clark Award. She lives in the New York City suburbs with her husband and their two children.

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WELCOME BACK FRANCES FYFIELD

FRANCES FYFIELD

“I grew up in rural Derbyshire, but my adult life has been spent mostly in London, with long intervals in Norfolk and Deal, all inspiring places. I was educated mostly in convent schools; then studied English and went on to qualify as a solicitor, working for what is now the Crown Prosecution Service, thus learning a bit about murder at second hand. Years later, writing became the real vocation, although the law and its ramifications still haunt me and inform many of my novels. I’m a novelist, short story writer for magazines and radio, sometime Radio 4 contributor, (Front Row, Quote Unquote, Night Waves,) and presenter of Tales from the Stave. When I’m not working (which is as often as possible), I can be found in the nearest junk/charity shop or auction, looking for the kind of paintings which enhance my life. Otherwise, with a bit of luck, I’m relaxing by the sea with a bottle of wine and a friend or two.”-Frances Fyfield
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ABOUT THE BOOK

Pip Carlton is a devoted husband and a highly respected pharmacist, cherished by his loyal customers. When his wife dies in her sleep, with no apparent cause, he is distraught. Comforted by his caring assistant, Pip ignores the rumors about Margaret’s death, relieved that the police seem to have moved on.

But Prosecutor Helen West refuses to believe that Margaret simply slipped into her final slumber. As she probes deeper into the affairs of the neighborhood, she uncovers a viper’s nest of twisted passion, jealous rage, and lethal addictions.

As a sudden act of violence erupts, shaking the community, one lone man, armed with strange love potions, prepares to murder again…

READ AN EXCERPT

Pip Carlton is a devoted husband and a highly respected pharmacist, cherished by his loyal customers. When his wife dies in her sleep, with no apparent cause, he is distraught. Comforted by his caring assistant, Pip ignores the rumors about Margaret’s death, relieved that the police seem to have moved on.

But Prosecutor Helen West refuses to believe that Margaret simply slipped into her final slumber. As she probes deeper into the affairs of the neighborhood, she uncovers a viper’s nest of twisted passion, jealous rage, and lethal addictions.

As a sudden act of violence erupts, shaking the community, one lone man, armed with strange love potions, prepares to murder again…

He checked the window, but the unbearable sobbing continued and suddenly the idea was fully formed, plucked out of cold storage into the stuffy heat. The window was shut. No ventilation, no moving air as he returned to bed and took her stiff little body in his arms.
‘Come on, sweetheart, there, there, there.’ She clutched him so hard he could feel her long nails digging into his shoulders. His sweating had stopped and his skin to her touch felt as cold as ice.

BOOK DETAILS:

Genre: Crime Fiction
Published by: Witness Impulse
Publication Date: 1/21/2014
Number of Pages: 276
ISBN: 9780062303967

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I received a copy of this book, at no charge to me, in exchange for my honest review. No items that I receive are ever sold…they are kept by me, or given to family and/or friends.
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