Mailbox Monday

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Mailbox Monday

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

Click on title for synopsis via GoodReads.

Tuesday:
Local Woman Missing by Mary Kubica~ eBook from Harlequin via NetGalley
Wednesday:
Her Dark Lies by J.T. Ellison ~ eBook from Harlequin via NetGalley
Friday:
Whisper Island by Carissa Ann Lynch ~ eBook from Harper Collins UK via NetGalley
Six Weeks To Live by Catherine McKenzie~ eBook from Atria/S&S via NetGalley
Did I say You Could Go by Melanie Gideon ~ eBook from Simon & Schuster via NetGalley

#Review | THE LAST TO SEE HER by Courtney Evan Tate

The Last To See Her by Courtney Evan Tate
Genre: Domestic Thriller/Psychological Thriller
Published by Mira/HarperCollins
Publication Date: December 15, 2020
ISBN-10: 077830941X
ISBN-13: 978-0778309413
Pages: 352
Review Copy From: Publisher
Edition: Print
My Rating: 4.5

Synopsis (via GR)

A woman disappears into the dark city night…

Gen is on the verge of a divorce from her cheating husband. When her sister, Meg, has a convention to attend in the Big Apple, she invites Gen along to celebrate her newly found freedom. But the perfect sisters’ getaway quickly goes awry when a tipsy Gen defiantly throws her wedding ring off the hotel room’s balcony. Then, wanting some fresh air, she decides to take a late-evening walk alone and vanishes without a trace.

The investigation that follows uncovers secrets–and betrayals–between sisters and spouses that will twist the truth in on itself until nothing is clear.

What really happened to Gen and who, besides Meg, was the last to see her?

My Thoughts

Dr. Meghan Harris has invited her sister, Genevieve Thibault and who considers each other’s best friend, for a NY weekend away to lift Gen’s spirits because she is going through a very tumultuous divorce from her husband Thad due to his infidelity after 10 years of marriage.

On the first night in NY, after the sisters go out to eat and end up having a few too many drinks, they return to the hotel. Meghan asks Gen why she is still wearing her very extravagant wedding band after all these months. Gen decides it’s time to take it off and walks out onto the balcony and throws it off. At this point, she tells Meg that she just needs to be alone and get some air. That’s the last time she is seen.

This is the first book that I have read by this author but it surely won’t be the last.

The story alternates between Gen and Meg, with the then and now.

The writing and storyline were solid. The suspense was unremitting and substantial that it had me glued to every word.

There were so many OMGs!! I didn’t see that coming throughout the book.

My explanation as to why I didn’t give it a full 5 stars was for 2 reasons. Approximately a little over halfway through I did figure out who had kidnapped Gen. Even so, I kept on reading because I felt that there had to be more to this story and I had to know the whys. And it was then that many of the OMGs!!! started. The other reason, which probably wouldn’t bother another reader, but for me, I found annoying was the use of the word mercurial too many times.

Even with that, I will be putting this “new to me” author on my “authors to read” list.

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

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.
  • 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.
  • I do not have any affiliation with Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble. I am providing link(s) solely for visitors that may be interested in purchasing this Book/EBook.
  • Friday | Friendly Fill-Ins


    Hosted by Four-Legged Furballs and 15 and Meowing

    This week’s Fill-Ins:

    1. My favorite kind of homemade cookie is _______________________.
    2. I’m a big fan of ___________________.
    3. I look most forward to _________ during the holiday season.
    4. _________ is my least favorite thing about the holiday season.

    My answers:

    1. My favorite kind of homemade cookie is chocolate peanut butter balls.

    2. I’m a big fan of all holiday desserts.

    3. I look most forward to being with my kids and granddaughters, but unfortunately, not this year during the holiday season.

    4. Trying to figure out what to buy my husband is my least favorite thing about the holiday season.

    THE VENTURI EFFECT by Sage Webb | #Showcase #Interview #Giveaway

    The Venturi Effect by Sage Webb Banner

     

     

    The Venturi Effect

    by Sage Webb

    on Tour November 1 – December 31, 2020

    The Venturi Effect by Sage Webb

    Synopsis:

    After fleeing the crush of a partnership at a large Chicago criminal-defense firm and the humiliation of a professional breakdown, Devlin Winters just wants to be left alone with a couple sundowners on the deck of her dilapidated mahogany trawler on Galveston Bay. But when an old flame shows up on the boardwalk with a mysterious little boy in tow and an indictment on his heels, fate has other plans, and Devlin finds herself thrust onto a sailboat bound for St. Kitts and staring down her demons in the courtroom, as she squares off against an obsessed prosecutor with a secret of his own.

    Book Details:

    Genre: Legal Thriller
    Published by: Stoneman House Press, LLC
    Publication Date: November 15th 2020
    Number of Pages: 329
    ISBN: 9781733737944 (Ebook: 9781733737951)
    Links: Amazon | Goodreads

     

    Author Bio:

    Sage Webb

    Sage Webb practiced criminal defense for over a decade before turning to fiction. She is the author of two novels and the recipient of numerous literary awards in the U.S. and U.K., including second place in the Hackney Literary Awards. Her short stories have appeared in Texas anthologies and literary reviews. In 2020, Michigan’s Mackinac State Historic Parks named her an artist in residence. She belongs to International Thriller Writers and PEN America, and lives with her husband, a ship’s cat, and a boat dog on a sailboat in Galveston Bay.

    Q&A with Sage Webb

    What was the inspiration for this book?

    The Venturi Effect springs from my own experience of moving to Texas to live on a small sailboat when I needed a change of scenery, and from fraud cases in the federal criminal-justice system—not cases I’ve been involved with, but interesting cases for which I’ve read judicial opinions and pleadings. With most of my writing, I like to stay pretty “true to life.” I agree with those who recognize the limits of “writing what you know,” but I still see “writing what you know” as providing a solid springboard for making stories.

    What has been the biggest challenge in your writing career?

    I consider myself lucky. I write full time. Now, most of what I write isn’t that interesting at all; it’s legal or commercial . . . and it’s pretty dry. It’s still writing, though, so I get to work on style, usage, brevity, even typography, every day. But this immersion in the written word (and in my laptop!) also means I don’t get a break. And this lack of a “break,” and the constant specter of deadlines, are the hardest parts of writing for me. There are days when I’d like to have a job working with people, or that involves doing concrete tasks that have marked starting and finishing points. With writing (in any genre or discipline), it sometimes feels like I can go on and on (alone) forever and never have the piece truly finished or polished, like there’s always one more tweak I could give it. So in that sense, the other hard part—the deadlines—does its job. The deadlines provide an end point, at least. But it can be really (like really, really) hard to juggle them. I blame deadlines (when actually it’s lupus) for my hair falling out!

    What do you absolutely need while writing?

    My laptop. That’s it. Because of those hard parts—the deadlines and the constant presence of the work—I’ve trained myself to write “wherever, whenever, however.” When we go on roadtrips, my husband will drive, and I’ll open up my laptop and write. If I’m choosing ideal circumstances, however, I’ll choose any situation that puts a majestic, judgmental cat close at hand.

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

    For fiction, I write when time allows. I don’t have a routine; it’s simply a matter of working around other deadlines and commitments. When things slow down a little on the commercial/legal front, I’ll settle into a story. Sometimes I’ll feel inspired, and sometimes things will feel flatter, but either way, I’ll try to dig in. As a rule, I aim to work on one book at a time, but sometimes (like right now), I’ll have multiple book-length projects in the hopper.

    Who is your favorite character from your book and why?

    Assistant U.S. Attorney Xavier Charles. Perhaps he’s a little misguided at times, but he has his ideals and he tries to live up to them. He works hard, he tries hard, and he wants to be committed to things he cares about. I’d totally take him out for a cup of tea and debate him. Plus I adore his cats!

    Who is your least favorite character from your book and why?

    Viggo Bryson seems like the natural choice, but honestly, I think it’s Nils. Sometimes, Nils just seems kind of passive or pococurante for me. He kind of lets his life sweep him along, rather than living intentionally. His parents and brother have given him money at various times. He has allowed himself to get caught up in his brother’s tomfoolery. He loves Devlin, but he let her go when they were younger, and then, when she comes back into his life, he kind of fails to pursue her properly.

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

    Most of the details are authentic. The legal citations, the potential sentences for fraud offenses, the fraud scheme itself, the boat banter . . . all that is realistic. Writing the in-court dialogue, I would sometimes pull up publicly available transcripts of proceedings to review attorneys’ and judges’ diction and get into an authentic flow. But the part about Devlin jumping into the water in the storm is pure fiction. An experienced sailor would never do that. And for good reason. No good is going to come of that. I’ve jumped off boats in nice weather, in protected bays, for fun . . . just messing around . . . and it’s really hard to swim fully clothed, especially in shoes, and it’s really, really hard for the person steering the boat to keep track of someone in the water. That whole storm scenario involves a lot of poetic license.

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

    Write reviews! Please! Reviews help authors sell books. They also provide valuable feedback on so many levels, and they help the publishing industry as a whole grow and better cater to consumer preferences. Tell authors and publishers what you think about the books you read: what you think matters a lot!

    Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

    Devlin and I share some background. We both practiced criminal defense in the Midwest, and we both moved to Texas to get a change of scenery (though I decidedly did not break down and take my dog’s tramadol). Like Devlin and the Brysons, I raced small sailboats as a kid, and like them, I’ve sailed in Chicago. Now, my husband and I live on a forty-foot sailboat in a marina off Galveston Bay. We spend our weekends at anchor with our boat dog.

    What’s next that we can look forward to?

    Devlin, the Bryson brothers, and Xavier will return in 2021 in The Cult of Mammon. This second book in the series presents a darker web of fraud, while weaving in a little Civil War history and taking readers to Hawaii and California.

    Then on a more personal level, I’ve got a travel narrative in the works, covering a span when I was ranging through Texas in a 15’ travel trailer in an attempt to do the adult equivalent of “running away to join the circus.”

    For short stories, this past summer, I was honored to be an artist in residence for Michigan’s Mackinac State Historic Parks on Mackinac Island and spent three weeks outlining a story collection to celebrate the island. The final manuscript is due August 2021 and will include some light-hearted pieces, some flash fiction, some historical pieces. . . . Basically, it will showcase this delicious time warp in Lake Huron where cars have no place and every summer feels like 1890.

    You can find Sage at:
    www.sagewebb.com, Goodreads, Twitter, & Facebook!

     

    Read an excerpt:

    Chapter 1
    Carny

    Red metal boxes lined the wood-railed tourist boardwalk, giving children access to fish food if the kids could finagle quarters from parents wilted and forlorn in the triple-digit Gulf Coast heat. With the food, kids could create great frenzies of red drum, snook, spotted sea trout, or whatever fish species gathered at the boardwalk’s pilings in agitated silver vortices. Devlin Winters lifted her ballcap and wiped a sleeve across her brow. She favored long-sleeved t-shirts for just this reason—their mopping properties . . . and to protect her from the Galveston Bay sun in its unrelenting effort to grill her and the other boardwalk barkers. In the two years she’d been on the boardwalk, she’d never fed the fish.

    A kid stopped beside one of the boxes.

    “Can I have a quarter, mommy?” the boy asked.

    He looked about eight or nine, though Devlin had little interest in guessing accurately the ages of the pint-sized patrons fueling her income stream.

    “I’m not sure I have one,” the mom replied.

    She appeared a bit younger than Devlin, maybe late twenties.

    Once upon a time, Devlin would have looked at a mother like that and made a snide remark about crib lizards and dead ends, but nine bucks an hour in the sun makes it awfully hard for a carny to judge others. Lacking a more interesting subject, Devlin watched the woman paw through a backpack-sized purse. The chick produced a quarter and handed it to the kid, who dropped it into the box’s payment slot and ground the dial, catching in his miniature palm a limited portion of the fish food that spilled out of the machine when he lifted the metal flap. The majority of the pellets rained down onto the wooden boardwalk planks, bounced, and disappeared through the cracks between the planks.

    Devlin fancied she could hear the tiny fish-food BBs hitting brown water: plink, plink, plink. Once upon another time, when she was still at Sondheim Baker, but toward the end, she would go outside in the middle of the day. Instead of sitting at her desk, drafting appellate briefs for the Seventh Circuit, she would ride the elevator down to La Salle, down seven hundred feet of glass and stainless steel and terribly expensive architecture. She would drop down those elevator cables at random times, at times rich, successful attorneys should have been at their desks. And she would turn left out of that great glass building the color of the sky and walk over to the river, that nothing-like-the-Styx river that mankind had turned back on itself, contrary to nature.

    She would stand and look down into the water, which was sometimes emerald, sometimes the color of jeans before they are ever washed. Once or twice, she had reached into her purse (expensive purses, Magnificent Mile purses from Burberry and Gucci and Hermès) and she had dug around until she’d found a penny. She’d dropped the penny into the river and, even now, on the sauna-hot boardwalk with the whistle of the kid-sized train behind her and the pulses of unimpressive pop music overhead, she was sure she could hear those pennies hit the Chicago River, hit and sink down, down, and farther down.

    Plink. Plink. Pli—

    “You want to try this one?”

    The fish-feeding entertainment had run its course and the mother stood in front of the water-gun game Devlin guarded. She gestured toward Devlin and the row of stools in front of their narrow-barreled water guns.

    “Is it hard?” The kid looked up at his mom, and the mom turned to Devlin.

    “He can do it, right?” she asked. “I mean, he can figure it out, right?”

    “Sure, it’s easy.” Devlin lifted her cap for another mop across her hairline, and then wiped perspiration away from her eyes under her sunglasses. “It’s fun, little dude,” she said to the kid in his obviously secondhand clothes.

    She wanted to care, wanted to be “affable” or whatever it is a carny should be toward summer’s ice-cream-eating cash-crop flux of kids. But wanting alone, without effort, is never enough.

    The mom held out a five-dollar bill.

    “You both wanna do it? I gotta have more than one person to run it for a prize.” Devlin rubbed the top of her right flip flop and foot against her left calf.

    “Oh,” the woman said, “I wasn’t planning to play. I’m no good at these things.”

    “Um,” Devlin stepped out of the shade of the game’s nook and cast her eyes up and down the boardwalk, “we’ll find some more kids.” She took the woman’s money without looking away from the walkway and the beggarly seabirds.

    A young couple, likely playing hooky from jobs in Houston, held the hands of a girl sporting jet-black pigtails and lopsided glasses.

    “Step right up, princess. You wanna win a unicorn, right?” Devlin reached back into her game nook and snatched a pink toy from the wall of unicorns, butterflies, bees, and unlicensed lookalikes of characters from movies Devlin had never heard of. She dangled the thing in the girl’s direction.

    “Would you like to play, habibti?” The mom jiggled the girl’s arm.

    “Tell ya what.” Devlin turned to the mom. “The whole family can play for five bucks. We’re just trying to get some games going, give away some prizes to these cuties.” She turned back to the first mother. “And don’t worry, I’ll give him three games for the fiver.”

    “Hear that, Vince? You’ll get to play a few times. Is that cool?”

    Vince picked at his crotch. Devlin looked away.

    “Yes, we’ll all play,” the second mother said. The dad pulled a twenty out of a pocket and Devlin started to make change while Vince’s mom hefted Vince onto a stool.

    “Just a five back,” the father said. “We’ll play a few times.”

    “Sure thing,” Devlin replied. Then she raised her voice to run through the rules of the game, to explain how the water guns spraying and hitting the targets would raise plastic boats in a boat race to buzzers at the top of the game contraption. She offered some tired words of encouragement, got nods from everyone, and counted down. “Three, two, one.”

    She pushed the button and the game loosed a bell sound across the boardwalk.

    A guy in waiter’s livery hurried past, hustling toward one of the boardwalk’s various restaurants, with their patios overlooking the channel and Galveston Bay. He’d be serving people margaritas and gimlets in just a few more steps and minutes. Devlin wanted a gimlet.

    She drew a deep breath, turned back to her charges. “Close race here, friends.”

    An ’80s-vintage Hunter sailboat slid past in the channel, leaving Galveston Bay and making its way back to one of the marinas up the waterway on Clear Lake.

    When Devlin turned back to her marksmen, the girl’s mother’s boat had almost reached the buzzer.

    “Looks like we’ve got a leader here. Come on, madam. You’re almost there.”

    Devlin checked her watch. She’d be off in less than an hour. She’d be back on her own boat fifteen minutes after that, with an unopened bottle of Bombay Sapphire and a net full of limes rocking above the galley sink.

    The buzzer blared.

    “Looks like we have a winner. Congratulations, madam.” Devlin clapped three times. “Now would you like a unicorn, a butterfly, or,” Devlin pulled a four-inch-tall creature from the wall, not knowing how to describe it, “this little guy?” She held it out for the woman’s inspection.

    Habibti, you pick.” The mom patted her daughter’s back. The kid didn’t say anything, just pointed at the butterfly.

    “Butterfly it is, beautiful.” Devlin unclipped the toy from the wall of plush junk and handed it to the girl. “Well, we’ve got some competition for this next one, folks, now that you’re all warmed up. Take a breather. We’ll start the next game when you’re ready.”

    “Can I try?” A boy pulled at a broad-shouldered man’s hand, leading the guy toward the row of stools. It was hard to tell parentage with these kids and their mixed-up step- and half- and melded-in-other-ways families, and with this one, the kid’s dark curls and earnest eyes contrasted with the dude’s Nordic features and reminded Devlin of a roommate she’d had in undergrad, a girl from Haiti who’d taught Devlin about pikliz. Devlin hadn’t thought about Haitian food in ages. She decided she would google it later and see what she could find in Houston. A drive to discover somewhere new to eat would do her good.

    Any chance at plantains and pikliz would have to wait, though. The kid and the dude now stood in front of Devlin. Ultra-dark sunglasses hid the guy’s eyes, and a ballcap with a local yacht brokerage’s logo embroidered on it cast a shadow over his face. Devlin cocked her head. She narrowed her eyes and hoped her own sunglasses were doing as good a job of being barriers. He reminded her of—

    “Still time to add another player?” The dude pulled out a wallet and handed Devlin a ten.

    “Sure,” she said. “Is this for both of you? You should give it a try, too. This’ll get you both in on the next two games.”

    She didn’t wait for confirmation. She shoved the money in the box beside her control board of buzzer buttons and waved the guy and his kid toward stools on the far side of the now-veteran players already seated.

    “Uh, sure,” the guy said, putting a hand on the kid’s back and guiding him to a seat.

    Running through the rules again, Devlin envisioned those gimlets awaiting her. With Bombay Sapphire dancing before her, she counted down and then pushed the button to blast the bell and launch the game. The buzzer over the newcomer father’s boat’s track rang moments later. What kind of scummy guy just trounces a kid like that? Devlin rolled her eyes behind the obscuring lenses.

    “Looks like our new guy is the winner, ladies and gentlemen. Now, would you like a unicorn, a butterfly, or this little dude?” Devlin again proffered the hard-to-describe creature, walking it over for the fellow to examine.

    “What is it?” the guy asked.

    Devlin shrugged. “What do you get when you cross an elephant and a rhino?”

    The guy’s sunglasses gave away nothing. But something she couldn’t articulate made her feel like he was studying her.

    “An ’el-if-I-know,” she said.

    Still nothing . . . except that feeling of scrutiny.

    “Dude, I’ve got no idea,” she replied to her reflection in the lenses.

    “Grant, which one do you want?” The guy turned away and handed the unnamed creature to the kid, and then gestured at the identifiable unicorns and butterflies hanging on the wall over Devlin’s control station.

    “Those are for girls,” Grant said, waving at the recognizable plushes on the wall.

    “So is this one okay?” The guy patted the thing in the kid’s hand.

    Grant wrinkled his nose. “Yeah, I guess so.”

    “All right, folks. You’ve all got another game coming here. Competition is fierce. Who’s gonna take this last one?” Devlin strode back to her place at the control board.

    “Deep inhale, everyone. Relax. All right, here we go. Three, two, one.” She pushed the starting button.

    Up shot the new guy’s boat again. What a bastard. Poor Grant. This patriarchal showmanship would be worth about five or ten grand at the therapist’s in twenty-five years.

    Out in the channel, two jetskis purred past, headed toward the bay. The day’s heat had cracked and the sky hinted at evening. Behind her, the victory whistle sounded. She turned. The dude with the sunglasses sat patting Grant’s shoulder, with Grant’s boat at the top of its track. So the guy wasn’t a complete fool.

    “A new winner here, ladies and gentlemen.” She walked to Grant’s stool. “Now, little man, because you’ve won two prizes today, you can trade that one you’ve got and this one you’re going to get for one bigger one. You can pick from these if you want.”

    She pointed at a row with only-slightly-bigger caterpillars, ambiguous characters, and a dog in a purple vest.

    “That one,” Grant said, pointing at the dog.

    “That one it is, good sir.” Devlin retrieved the dog, taking back the first creature and returning it to the wall in the process.

    As she retraced her steps to Grant, the dog in her hand, fuzzy pictures coalesced in a fog and mist of bygone memories.

    Devlin handed the dog to Grant. “There you go.”

    She looked at the guy again, focusing on him for longer than she should have, feeling him perhaps doing the same to her. Yes, she had it right: it was him. She pushed a flyaway strand of bleached hair back into place beneath her cap and turned away.

    “Thanks for playing this afternoon, folks,” she called. “Enjoy your evening on the boardwalk.”

    The parents gathered their kids, and Devlin walked back toward her control board. Waiting for Grant and him to head off down the row of games and rides, she fussed with the cashbox and then lifted her water bottle to her lips. She could feel him and the kid lingering, feel them failing to move along, failing to leave her to forget what once was and to focus on thoughts of gimlets at sunset on the deck of a rotten old trawler.

    “Um.” His voice sounded low and halting behind her. A vacuum, all heat and silence, followed and then a masculine inhale . . . and then the awkward pause.

    He cleared his throat.

    “Sorry to interrupt, but are you from Chicago?”

    ***

    Excerpt from The Venturi Effect by Sage Webb. Copyright 2020 by Sage Webb. Reproduced with permission from Sage Webb. All rights reserved.

     

     

    Tour Participants:

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



     

     

    Giveaway!:

    This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Sage Webb. There will be Fourteen (14) winners for this tour. Seven (7) winners will each receive a $15 Amazon.com Gift Card and Seven (7) winners will each receive a physical copy of The Venturi Effect by Sage Webb (US addresses only). The giveaway begins on November 1, 2020 and runs through January 2, 2021. Void where prohibited.

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

     

     

    Get More Great Reads at Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours

     

    SLIGHTLY MURDEROUS INTENT by Lida Sideris | #Showcase #Giveaway

    Slightly Murderous Intent by Lida Sideris Banner

     

     

    Slightly Murderous Intent

    A Southern California Mystery

    by Lida Sideris

    December 7 – 18, 2020 Tour

    Synopsis:

    Slightly Murderous Intent by Lida Sideris

    There’s a shooter on the loose who keeps missing his target. But that doesn’t stop him from trying again…and again. It’s up to Corrie Locke, rookie lawyer and spunky sleuth, to find the gunman before he hits his mark, Assistant Deputy D.A. James Zachary, Corrie’s hunky and complicated frenemy.

    When Corrie is stuck with more questions than answers, she enlists a team with various strengths, from weapons to cooking skills, to help her find the shooter. Her computer whiz boyfriend Michael is onboard. So is former security guard Veera. Toss in an over-the-hill informant and a couple of feuding celebrity chefs and Corrie’s got her very own A-Team. Okay, maybe it’s more like a B-Team.

    Can Team Corrie hunt down the shooter before he scores a bulls-eye?

    Book Details:

    Genre: Traditional Mystery with some Humor
    Published by: Level Best Books
    Publication Date: October 20th 2020
    Number of Pages: 280
    ISBN: 9781947915930
    Series: A Southern California Mystery, #4 || Each can be read as a Stand-Alone book
    Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

    Read an excerpt:

    The last of my patience dripped onto the concrete floor beneath my feet. My fists clenched, my jaw tightened and my stomach rumbled like the start of an avalanche. I’d officially reached the cracking point.

    “Today was V-day for us. Victory with a big fat V.”

    Los Angeles Senior Deputy District Attorney Bruce Beckman stood at the head of our table, arms raised high. The first two fingers of each hand formed a “V”. Meanwhile, everyone’s dinner sat in front of them. Everyone’s, that is, but mine. All I had was an empty plate and an empty stomach.

    “Where’s our server?” I whispered. The beach side diner was packed. “Did they run out of food?”

    Beckman dropped his pose and glared at me so fiercely, my cheeks glowed from the heat.

    “Sorry,” I mumbled. What did he expect? His mac n’ cheese was half eaten. I licked my lips.

    “The case came close to swinging in the opposite direction,” Beckman continued. “We couldn’t have won today’s trial without this guy.” Beckman gestured toward the deputy D.A. sitting next to him.

    I half stood and peered past the other diners. No sign of our server. “Slacker,” I mumbled. I slammed my napkin down beside my plate.

    “Have some of mine,” Michael whispered. “Please, Corrie.”

    If anyone else had offered, I would’ve cleaned his plate in thirty seconds. But Michael was my oldest friend slash newest boyfriend, and I loved him dearly from his dark floppy hair to the Chuck Taylors on his feet. We sat in a crowded hipster restaurant in Santa Monica, a hop, skip and a jump from the sparkling Pacific Ocean. Michael had barely touched his burger, waiting on my dinner with me. His stomach growled right alongside mine.

    “Obviously, I picked the right man for the job,” Beckman said. “And gave him a few tips. Quite a few, actually.” He chuckled.

    Weak laughter trickled around the table, followed by a groan. Did that come from me? Beckman shot me his signature scowl. I managed a shadow of an apology, and his attention returned to the man on his left. My hunger pangs took a brief hike while I assessed the object of Beckman’s praise. Assistant Deputy D.A. James Zachary flashed a grin. He was a sight for sore eyes. Or any eyes, for that matter.

    “Thanks to James,” Beckman continued, “defense counsel didn’t stand a chance.”

    Cheers erupted. I clapped and wriggled around in my seat. My stomach rumblings grew even louder. That’s what happened when my last meal was breakfast.

    “I’ll be back,” I whispered to Michael and shoved away my chair. We sat around a table of five. Three of us were members of the world’s oldest profession. The oldest after toolmakers, farmers, the military and doctors. We were lawyers. I was the only lawyer unaffiliated with the D.A.’s office.

    “Wait.” Michael took my hand.

    Michael Parris wasn’t a lawyer, but he was the associate dean of the computer science department of a private tech college near downtown L.A. Michael’s lips were moving but shouting voices, clanging dinner plates and background music swallowed up his next words.

    “What?” I leaned in closer, sniffing a sweet combo of sandalwood and fresh laundry that made my empty insides tingle.

    He wiped his mouth on a napkin and said, “Stay here. I’ll go to the kitchen. Help yourself to my burger while you wait. I promise I won’t return empty-handed.”

    “No, you stay. I want to make sure they get my order right.” I touched his shoulder. “Be back soon.”

    We locked stares and his hazel eyes softened. “Two minutes. If you’re not back, I’m coming after you.”

    I’d insisted my table mates eat without me, figuring my meal was on its way…fifteen minutes ago. I aimed for the kitchen, wading sideways between packed tables when I bumped into our server. She tried to push past, but I blocked the way.

    “I’m still waiting,” I told her.

    “No, you’re not,” she said. “You got served.”

    “Crispy chicken sandwich with spicy slaw and chili cheese fries, hold the onions. It’s not on our table.” I pointed my thumb over my shoulder.

    “I brought all the orders out personally.”

    “Not mine.”

    “You wanna talk to the manager?”

    “I demand to talk to the manager.”

    She tipped her head and pitched it to one side. “Big Sam’s up front by the cashier.”

    I moved out of her path, and she hustled past. I continued my sideways trek, filing between chairs and dodging scurrying servers. Nearly closing time and the place was still hopping. I slowed and looked back at the kitchen. Maybe I’d get somewhere if I talked to the cook. I was about to swivel around when I spotted a manager-type; a stocky guy with a shaved head and goatee, chatting up a group of wannabe diners near the bar.

    I headed for him and waited behind the blonde hostess. The cash register drawer popped open with a ping. She plucked wads of bills from beneath the drawer and shoved them into a vinyl bank bag.

    “Excuse me,” I said.

    She jumped and turned to me, zipping up the bag and pushing it behind her. “Yeah?” Long bangs stabbed at her eyes.

    I pitched my chin toward the stocky guy. “That the manager?”

    “He owns the place. Big Sam Neely.” Her attention went back to the bag. She unzipped it and continued stuffing bills inside.

    I navigated closer to Big Sam and leaned against a pillar, waiting for a chance to butt into the conversation. Meanwhile, a lanky dude in a dark gray hoodie and faded jeans edged his way inside. His clothes were baggy; his hood was up and over his head. Only his nose, mouth and tinted shades were visible. Sunglasses at night weren’t unusual in L.A. I stared out at the room. A couple of diners wore shades.The guy in the hoodie flitted past me. He threw out his anchor near the hostess. My heartbeat quickened. The cash drawer still gaped open. I elbowed my way back toward him, half-expecting the guy’s hand to dart out and grab the bank bag, but he ignored the money. Instead, he eased forward and stared out toward the back of the diner. My gaze dropped to the lower left side of his jacket. The bottom edge had latched onto the large violin shaped leaf of an ornamental ficus, exposing the top of his jeans. My heart hammered against my chest. The grip of a revolver stuck out of his pocket.

    ***

    Excerpt from Slightly Murderous Intent by Lida Sideris. Copyright 2021 by Lida Sideris. Reproduced with permission from Lida Sideris. All rights reserved.

     

     

    Author Bio:

    Lida Sideris

    Lida Sideris’ first stint after law school was a newbie lawyer’s dream: working as an entertainment attorney for a movie studio…kind of like her heroine, Corrie Locke, except without the homicides. Lida was one of two national winners of the Helen McCloy Mystery Writers of America Scholarship Award for her first book. She lives in the northern tip of Southern California with her family, rescue dogs and a flock of uppity chickens.

    To learn more about Lida, please visit her:
    www.LidaSideris.com, Goodreads, BookBub, Instagram, Twitter, & Facebook!

     

     

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    Mailbox Monday

    xmas mailbox

    Mailbox Monday

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

    Click on title for synopsis via GoodReads.

    Monday:

    Twenty by James Grippando~ HC from Harper Collins
    Balcony Of Fog by Rich Shapero ~ HC from TooFar Media

    SHADOW RIDGE by M.E. Browning | #Showcase #Interview #Giveaway

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    Shadow Ridge

    by M.E. Browning

    December 1-31, 2020 Tour

    Synopsis:

    Shadow Ridge by M.E. Browning

    Death is one click away when a string of murders rocks a small Colorado town in the first mesmerizing novel in M. E. Browning’s A Jo Wyatt Mystery series.

    Echo Valley, Colorado, is a place where the natural beauty of a stunning river valley meets a budding hipster urbanity. But when an internet stalker is revealed to be a cold-blooded killer in real life the peaceful community is rocked to its core.

    It should have been an open-and-shut case: the suicide of Tye Horton, the designer of a cutting-edge video game. But Detective Jo Wyatt is immediately suspicious of Quinn Kirkwood, who reported the death. When Quinn reveals an internet stalker is terrorizing her, Jo is skeptical. Doubts aside, she delves into the claim and uncovers a link that ties Quinn to a small group of beta-testers who had worked with Horton. When a second member of the group dies in a car accident, Jo’s investigation leads her to the father of a young man who had killed himself a year earlier. But there’s more to this case than a suicide, and as Jo unearths the layers, a more sinister pattern begins to emerge–one driven by desperation, shame, and a single-minded drive for revenge.

    As Jo closes in, she edges ever closer to the shattering truth–and a deadly showdown that will put her to the ultimate test.

    Book Details:

    Genre: Mystery (Police Procedural)
    Published by: Crooked Lane Books
    Publication Date: October 6th 2020
    Number of Pages: 296
    ISBN: 1643855352 (ISBN13: 9781643855356)
    Series: A Jo Wyatt Mystery, #1
    Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Penguin Random House | Goodreads

     

    Author Bio:

    M.E. Browning

    M.E. BROWNING served twenty-two years in law enforcement and retired as a captain before turning to a life of crime fiction. Writing as Micki Browning, she penned the Agatha-nominated and award-winning Mer Cavallo mysteries, and her short stories and nonfiction have appeared in anthologies, mystery and diving magazines, and textbooks. As M.E. Browning, she recently began a new series of Jo Wyatt mysteries with Shadow Ridge (October 2020).

    Micki is a member of Mystery Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, and Sisters in Crime—where she served as a former president of the Guppy Chapter. A professional divemaster, she resides in Florida with her partner in crime and a vast array of scuba equipment she uses for “research.”

    Q&A with M.E. Browning

    What was the inspiration for this book?

    I had read an article that delved into the misogyny women faced in the gaming industry and the chilling effect it had on women at all levels—from those who merely wanted to enjoy playing games to those who wanted to design them. As a writer, I saw an opportunity to parallel a female gamer’s issues with a female officer’s battle against sexism in the ranks of her department. The story took off from there.

    What has been the biggest challenge in your writing career?

    Balancing the myriad tasks writers must do that don’t involve actual writing. Social media is a wonderful way to interact with readers and I’ve discovered I enjoy creating graphics to post—but it is easy to get distracted and fall down the rabbit hole.

    What do you absolutely need while writing?

    Tea: hot, bracing, and plain. I have to admit to being a bit of a snob about it. I brew loose-leaf. My favorite purveyor is Harney & Sons—I love their Paris blend, Victorian London Fog, and spicy Holiday blend. If I can find it, I’ll splurge on Mariage Frères. Once I have tea in hand, I’ll reach for my mechanical pencil and pad, and scratch out my day’s objective. Only then will I open up Scrivener on my computer and get to work.

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

    I do something to further my career every day, but it may not be actual writing. I start by reviewing my prior day’s words which inevitably leads to a bit of revision—not much, but enough to drop me back into my story world. Once I’ve been writing for a bit, I’ll switch gears and go for a walk. That break is often all that’s needed to come up with the solution to a problem that looked insurmountable inside my office. In the afternoon, I’ll tackle the business side of the profession.

    Who is your favorite character from your book and why?

    Detective Jo Wyatt. She’s a second-generation cop in a small southwestern Colorado city. I had a reader describe her as “Smart enough to know her limitations, confident enough to trust her gut, and determined enough to unravel the threads in any case.” She makes mistakes, but owns them. By the time the last page is read, I hope readers believe she’s exactly who they’d want on their doorstep if they ever needed to call for help.
    Quinn, however, was the most fun to write—she doesn’t have any filters and I could push her boundaries in ways I couldn’t with Jo.

    Who is your least favorite character from your book and why?

    That’s a difficult question! I think a writer has to have an affinity for all her characters or they’ll fall flat on the page. But on a would-I-enjoy-sharing-a cup-of-tea-with-them scale, Professor Lucas is at the bottom of the list.

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

    Jo muses about cycling along a particular mountain road that was based on one of my favorite training rides when I lived in Durango, Colorado. Cycling for 20-30 miles through the changing colors of aspens in autumn was almost enough to distracted me from the burn in my legs and the fire in my lungs from the climb.

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

    Thank you! I believe a book isn’t truly a book until it’s been read. As the author, I can only control half the equation. Once the edits are finished, my job is done. It’s readers who bring my characters back to life.

    Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

    I dedicated 22 years of my life to law enforcement and during that time I was a field training officer, academy trainer, hostage negotiator, and coordinated the Citizens Police Academy where I met a quiet, witty woman named Sue Grafton. By education, I’m a medieval historian, and I play the Celtic harp…badly.

    What’s next that we can look forward to?

    Thanks for asking! I’m currently hard at work on the next Jo Wyatt adventure. Jo is called out to investigate a missing child, but as she digs into the girl’s fractured family life, Jo unearths a trove of secrets and half-lies that paints a different picture of the two parents she’s known since high school.

    Catch Up With M.E. Browning On:
    MEBrowning.com, Goodreads, BookBub, Instagram, Twitter, & Facebook!

     

    Read an excerpt:

    Chapter One

    Detective Jo Wyatt stood at the edge of the doorway of the converted garage and scanned the scene for threats. She’d have the chance to absorb the details later, but even at a glance, it was obvious the occupant of the chair in front of the flickering television wouldn’t benefit from her first-aid training. The stains on the ceiling from the gun blast confirmed that.

    Officer Cameron Finch stood on the other side of the sorry concrete slab that served as an entrance. “Ready?”

    The only place hidden from view was the bathroom, and the chance of someone hiding there was infinitesimal, but someone always won the lottery. Today wasn’t the day to test the odds. Not when she was dressed for court and without her vest.

    She pushed the door open wider. Her eyes and handgun moved in tandem as she swept the room.

    A mattress on the floor served as a bed. Stacks of clothes took the place of a real closet. A dorm-sized fridge with a hot plate on top of it made up the kitchen.

    Jo avoided the well-worn paths in the carpet and silently approached the bathroom. Its door stood slightly ajar, creating enough space for her to peer through the crack. Never lowering her gun, she used her foot to widen the gap.

    No intruder. Just a water-spotted shower stall and a stained toilet with the seat up. A stick propped open the narrow ventilation window above the shower. Too small for even the tiniest child, but an open invitation to heat-seeking raccoons.

    “Bathroom’s clear.” She holstered her gun. The cut of her wool blazer fell forward and did its best to hide the bulge of her Glock, but an observant person could tell she was armed. One of the drawbacks of having a waist.

    She picked her way across the main room, staying close to the walls to avoid trampling any evidence. A flame licked the edges of the television screen—one of those mood DVDs of a fireplace but devoid of sound. It filled the space with an eerie flicker that did little to lighten the gathering dusk.

    Sidestepping a cat bowl filled with water, she stopped in front of the body and pulled a set of latex gloves from her trouser pocket.

    “Really?” Cameron asked.

    Jo snapped them into place, then pressed two fingers against the victim’s neck in a futile search for a pulse—a completely unnecessary act that became an issue only if a defense attorney wanted to make an officer look like an idiot on the stand for not checking.

    The dead man reclined in a high-backed gray chair that appeared to have built-in speakers. In the vee of his legs, a Remington 870 shotgun rested against his right thigh, the stock’s butt buried in the dirty shag carpet. On the far side, a toppled bottle of whiskey and a tumbler sat on a metal TV tray next to a long-stemmed pipe.

    “Who called it in?” Jo asked.

    “Quinn Kirkwood. I told her to stay in her car until we figured out what was going on.”

    Jo retraced her steps to the threshold, seeking a respite from the stench of death.

    A petite woman stood at the edge of the driveway, pointedly looking away from the door. “Is he okay?”

    So much for staying in the car. “Let’s talk over here.” Not giving the other woman the opportunity to resist, Jo grabbed her elbow and guided her to the illuminated porch of the main house, where the overhang would protect them from the softly falling snow.

    “He’s inside, isn’t he?” Quinn pulled the drawstring of her sweat shirt until the hood puckered around her neck. “He’s dead.” It should have been a question, but wasn’t. Jo’s radar pinged.

    “I’m sorry.” Jo brushed errant flakes from a dilapidated wicker chair and moved it forward for her. “Is there someone I can call for you?”

    She shook her head.

    “How well did you know—”

    “Tye. His name is—was—Tye Horton.” Quinn played with the tab of her hood string, picking at the plastic that kept the ends from fraying.

    Jo remained quiet, digesting the younger woman’s unease. She was all angles: sharp shoulders, high cheekbones, blunt-cut dark hair, and canted eyes that looked blue in the open but faded to grey here in the shadows.

    A pile of snow slid from a bowed cottonwood branch and landed with a dull plop. The silence broken, Quinn continued to fill it. “We have a couple classes together up at the college. He missed class. I came over to see why.”

    “Does he often cut class?”

    “He didn’t cut class,” she said sharply. “He missed it.” She pulled out her cellphone. “The project was due today. I should tell the others.”

    What would she tell them? She hadn’t asked any questions. The pinging in Jo’s head grew louder. “Did you go inside before the officer got here?” She looked at the woman’s shoes. Converse high-tops. Distinctive tread.

    Quinn launched out of her seat, sending it crashing into the porch rail. “I called you guys, remember?”

    “It’s a simple yes or no.”

    The smaller woman advanced and Jo fought the impulse to shove her back. “No, Officer—”

    “Detective Wyatt.”

    The top of Quinn’s head barely reached Jo’s chin. “Tye and I were classmates with a project due, Detective. I called him, he didn’t answer. I texted him, he didn’t respond. He didn’t show up for the game last night, which meant something was wrong. He never missed a game.”

    Football. Last night Jo had pulled on her uniform and worked an overtime shift at the Sunday night game. Despite the plunging temperatures, the small college stadium had been filled to capacity.

    “Did you check on him afterward?” Jo asked.

    “No.” Color brightened Quinn’s pale cheeks. “By the time the game ended, it was too late. After he missed class today, I came straight over. Called the police. Here we are. Now, can I go?”

    “Was Tye having any problems lately?”

    “Problems?”

    “With school? Friends?”

    “I shared a class with him.”

    Another dodge. “You knew he wasn’t at the game.”

    “I figured he was finishing up his end of the project. Are we done? I’ve got class tonight.”

    “I need to see your identification before you leave.”

    “Un-fucking-believable.” Quinn jammed her hand into her jacket pocket and removed an old-fashioned leather coin purse. Pinching the top, she drew out her driver’s license and practically threw it at Jo.

    “I’m sure you understand. Whenever there is a death, we have to treat it as a crime until we determine otherwise.”

    The air left Quinn in a huff of frost. “I’m sorry. I’m just…” She dipped her face but not before Jo saw the glint of tears. “I’m just going to miss him. He was nice. I don’t have a lot of friends in Echo Valley.”

    “Were the two of you dating?”

    The sharpness returned to her features. “Not my type.”

    “Do you know if he was in a relationship?”

    “Not that I know of.”

    “Would you know?”

    Cameron joined the women on the porch and extended his hand to Quinn. “I’m Sergeant Finch.”

    Jo sucked in her breath, and covered it with a cough. The promotional memo hadn’t been posted even a day yet.

    “I’m sorry about your friend,” Cameron added.

    Quinn crossed her arms, whether for warmth or for comfort, Jo couldn’t tell. “Your badge says Officer. Aren’t sergeants supposed to have stripes or something?”

    “It’s official next week.”

    “So. Really just an officer.”

    Jo bit the inside of her cheek to keep from smiling. Served him right for acting like an ass.

    “I wouldn’t say just.” Cameron hooked his thumb in his gun belt.

    “Of course you wouldn’t.” Quinn drew a deep breath and let it out as if she feared it might be her last. “What happened?” she finally asked.

    Jo spoke before Cameron could answer. “That’s what we’re here to find out.” She opened her notebook.

    Quinn sized up the two officers like a child trying to decide which parent to ask, and settled on Cameron. “Will you get me the laptop that’s inside? It’s got our school project on it.”

    “I’m sorry,” Jo answered. “But until we process the scene, everything needs to stay put.”

    Quinn sought confirmation from Cameron. “Really?”

    Jo shot him a look she hoped conveyed the slow torturous death he’d suffer if he contradicted her and compromised the scene.

    Cameron placed his hand on Quinn’s forearm. “I’m certain it won’t take long and I’ll personally deliver it to you as soon as I can.”

    “Thanks.” She shook off his hand and addressed Jo. “Am I free to go?”

    Prickly thing. Jo handed Quinn’s license back to her. “I’m truly sorry about your friend. May I call you later if I have any questions?”

    Cameron stepped closer, all earnestness and concern. “It would be very helpful to the investigation when she realizes she forgot to ask you something.”

    The coin purse snapped shut. “Sure. Whatever.”

    “Thank you,” Jo said, then added, “Be careful.”

    Quinn jerked. “What?”

    The wind had picked up, and waves of snow blew across the walkway. Jo pointed toward the street. “The temperature drops any lower and it’ll start to ice up. Be careful. The roads are going to be slick.”

    Quinn bobbed her head. Hunched against the cold, she climbed into her bright yellow Mini Cooper.

    Snow had collected on the bumper and Jo noted the plate. She’d seen the car around town, its brilliant color and tiny chassis a contrast to the trucks and four-wheel-drive SUVs most locals drove.

    The car crunched down the driveway. Jo returned to the task at hand, ignoring Cameron as he followed her.

    Two buildings—the main residence and the converted garage—stood at the center of the property. The driveway dumped out onto an alley and the hum of downtown carried across the crisp air. Dogs barked. Cars slowed and accelerated at the nearby stop sign, their engines straining and tires chewing into the slushed snow. A sagging chain-link fence ringed the property, pushed and pulled by a scraggly hedge.

    Built in the days when a garage housed only a car and not the detritus of life, the building was barely larger than a tack room. A small walkway separated the dwellings. She followed the path around the exterior of the garage.

    Eaves kept snow off the paint-glued windowsill on the far side of the outbuilding. Rambling rosebushes in need of pruning stretched skeletal fingers along the wall. Jo swept the bony branches aside. A thorn snagged the shoulder of her blazer.

    She studied the ground. Snow both helped and hindered officers. In foot pursuits, it revealed a suspect’s path. But the more time separated an incident from its investigation, the more it hid tracks. Destroyed clues. This latest snow had started in the early hours of the morning, gently erasing the valley’s grime and secrets and creating a clean slate. Tye could have been dead for hours. The snow told her nothing.

    As she stood again at the door, not even the cold at her back could erase the smell of blood. The last of the evening’s light battled its way through the dirty window, failing to brighten the dark scene in front of her.

    She tried not to let the body distract her from cataloging the room. Echo Valley didn’t have violent deaths often. In her twelve years on the department, she’d investigated only two homicides, one as an officer, the second as a detective. Fatal crashes, hunting accidents, Darwin Award-worthy stupidity, sure, but murder? That was the leap year of crimes and only happened once every four years or so.

    Cameron joined her on the threshold and they stood shoulder to shoulder. He had a shock of thick brown hair that begged to be touched, and eyes that said he’d let you. “Why so quiet, Jo-elle?”

    The use of her nickname surprised her. Only two people had ever called her that and Cameron hadn’t used it in a long time. “I don’t want to miss anything.”

    “What’s to miss? Guy blew his brains out.”

    “It’s rarely that simple.”

    “Not everything needs to be complicated.” He laughed. The boyishness of it had always charmed her with its enthusiasm. Now it simply sounded dismissive. Perhaps it always had been, but she’d been too in love to notice. “Hey, you got plans tonight?” He tried to sound innocent. She had learned that voice.

    “Other than this? I don’t see as that’s any of your business.”

    “Of course it’s my business. You’re still my wife.” He stared into the distance as he said it. A splinter of sun pierced the dark clouds and bled across his unguarded expression.

    Yearning.

    Jo stood as if on ice, afraid to move lest she lose her balance.

    He seemed to wake up, and after a deep breath, he surveyed the room. “The landlord is going to be looking for a new tenant. You should give him your name. It’s got to be better than living with your old man.”

    Fissures formed beneath her and it took her two blinks before she recovered her footing.

    “I need to get my camera. I’ll be right back.”

    She left him at the door. The December chill wormed through her wool dress slacks as she trudged the half block to her car. She drew breath after breath of the searing chill deep into her lungs to replace the hurt, the anger, the self-recriminations that burned her. She sat in the passenger seat and picked up the radio mic. She wasn’t ready to face Cameron. Not yet.

    To buy herself some time, she ran a local warrant check on Quinn. Something wasn’t quite right about the woman. A warrant might explain things.

    Dispatch confirmed Quinn’s address, but had nothing to add.

    Jo grabbed her camera bag and crime scene kit and schlepped back to the scene, prioritizing her actions as she went. She’d need to snag another detective. Interrupt a judge’s dinner to get a search warrant. Swab the victim’s hands for gunshot residue. Try to confirm his identification. Hopefully, the person in the front house would return soon so Jo could start collecting background on the deceased. Take overview photos of the exterior first. Inside there’d be lights. Then evidence. Identify it. Bag it. Book it.

    She reached the door before she ticked through all the tasks. Cameron was circling the chair.

    Jo stopped on the threshold, stunned.

    “No wonder they didn’t promote you.” Cameron peered into the exposed cranium. “If you can’t tell this is a suicide, you got no business being a cop—let alone a detective.”

    “Get out.”

    “We’re not home, sweetie. You can’t order me out here.”

    “Actually, I can. Detective, remember? This is my scene and you’re contaminating it.”

    He laughed. “Sergeant outranks detective.”

    “I think it’s already been established that you’re not sporting stripes.”

    “Yet. Couple more days.”

    Three. Three days until he started wearing the stripes that should have been hers. Three days until he outranked her. Three. Damn. Days. “And until then, Officer Finch.” With exaggerated care, she took out her notebook and started writing.

    “What are you doing?”

    “Making a note of the path you’ve taken. Try to retrace your steps. I’d hate to have to say how badly you mucked things up.” She paused for effect. “You getting promoted and all.”

    “You’re such a bitch.”

    “Is that how you talk to your wife?”

    He picked up the overturned bottle on the TV tray. “Johnnie Walker Gold.” He sniffed the premium Scotch whisky. “And here I would have pegged him for a Jack fan, at best.” Cameron tipped the bottle back into place and retraced his steps.

    The latex gloves did nothing to warm her fingers, and Jo shoved her hands in her pockets. Had he changed or had she? “When did you become such an ass?”

    “When’d we get married?” He shouldered past her, swinging his keys around his finger. Outside, the streetlamps flickered to life. “I’ll leave you to it. Even you can see it’s a slam dunk.”

    She didn’t want to agree with him. “It’s only a suicide when the coroner says so.”

    “Oh, Jo-elle.”

    There was that laugh again, and she hated herself for warming to him.

    “You’ve got to learn to choose your battles.”

    ***

    Excerpt from Shadow Ridge by M.E. Browning. Copyright 2020 by M.E. Browning. Reproduced with permission from M.E. Browning. All rights reserved.

     

     

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    This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for M.E. Browning. There will be 1 winner of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card and there will be 2 winners of one (1) physical copy of Shadow Ridge by M.E. Browning (US and Canada ONLY). The giveaway begins on December 1, 2020 and runs through January 2, 2021. Void where prohibited.

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    Many Thanks!!!

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    I want to give a HUGE shoutout, and with many thanks, to Gina from Hott Books and Hott Designs for the facelift of my blog!! I LOVE it!!!!!