New Bakery and Biscuits Mystery (with interview!): Bad to the Bone by Linda O. Johnston

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Veterinary technician Carrie Kennersly, owner of the Barkery & Biscuits bakery for dogs, is reluctant to sell her recipes to pet food manufacturer VimPets. Jack Loroco, a VimPets representative, assures Carrie that it would be a great opportunity to grow her business. His promising new relationship with Carrie’s friend, Billi Matlock, doesn’t hurt his cause. But the budding romance takes a bad turn when Wanda Addler, another VimPets employee, sets her sights on Jack.

After threatening to ruin Jack’s career if he doesn’t give her what she wants, Wanda is found dead. Jack and Billi are put at the top of the suspect list, and Carrie is doggone determined to rescue them from a life behind bars.

Island Confidential: Linda, welcome to Island Confidential. Can you tell us a little bit about your protagonist, Carrie?

Linda Johnston:  Carrie Kennersly is a veterinary technician who always wanted to be her own boss.  She also loves creating healthy dog treats for the patients she helps to care for.  When a friend has to leave the town of Knobcone Heights, California, where she lives, Carrie buys the friend’s bakery and turns half into a barkery where she bakes and sells those treats.  The other part remains Icing on the Cake, the bakery for humans.  And when someone who badmouths her efforts is murdered in the first book and Carrie’s considered a suspect, she also becomes an amateur sleuth first to help save herself and, in subsequent books, to help friends who are also accused of murder.

How much are you like Carrie?

LJ: I’m a real animal lover like Carrie, but I couldn’t be a veterinarian or vet tech because of having to potentially cut patients open or give them shots to save their lives.  Nor am I much of a cook, as Carrie is.  But yes, I’d love to meet her and talk to her about saving and feeding animals, particularly dogs.

Do your characters change and evolve throughout consecutive books in the series?

LJ:  Since the protagonists in all my mysteries have love interests, those relationships tend to evolve throughout the series, mostly drawing them closer.  Also, my protagonists kind of get used to the idea of being amateur sleuths, though they didn’t start out that way.  That’s definitely true of Carrie in the Barkery & Biscuits Mysteries, including her relationship with veterinarian Dr. Reed Storme.

Have you ever thought of killing someone that you know in real life–on the pages of a murder mystery, I mean?

LJ:  Yes.  Let’s leave it at that–although I of course would not harm anyone for real.  But that’s part of the fun of writing murder mysteries!

How realistic is your setting? Do you take liberties, or are you true to life?

LJ: For most of my stories now I make up the small towns where my stories occur.  However, my first published mysteries, the Kendra Ballantyne, Pet-Sitter Mysteries and the spinoff Pet Rescue Mysteries, all took place in Los Angeles, where I live.

When the movie or TV series is made, who plays the major parts?

LJ: As I first saw this question, I got online and looked at the actors and actresses who star in the mysteries shown on the Hallmark Movies and Mysteries TV channel.  I even got to hear one of them speak at a Sisters in Crime conference held near my home in the Los Angeles area.  I think it would be great fun to have my Barkery & Biscuits series featured there.  Who could play Carrie Kennersly?  Well, maybe Allison Sweeney, Lori Laughlin or Candace Cameron-Bure.  And of all the love interests in those stories, I’d kind of like to see Cameron Mathison play Dr. Reed Storme from my stories.  I haven’t met a dog who’s just like Biscuit, but I’d be happy with a rescue dog taking her place.

What’s the worst and best advice you’ve heard or received as an author?

LJ: The worst advice?  I’ve heard other authors say they’ve been told by editors or agents that their work isn’t good enough and that maybe they should give up.  I’ve even had a couple of new editors stop buying my work over the years, though fortunately none has been that cruel.  But I’ve also been at this long enough to realize that not everyone will like what you write, so never, ever give up no matter who tells you to quit! The best advice I’ve heard, and that I always pass along?  Keep on writing!


Linda O. Johnston’s first published fiction appeared in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine and won the Robert L. Fish Memorial Award for Best First Mystery Short Story of the year.   Since then, Linda, a former lawyer who is now a full-time writer, has published more short stories, novellas, and 38 romance and mystery novels, including the Pet Rescue Mystery Series, a spinoff from her Kendra Ballantyne, Pet-Sitter mysteries for Berkley Prime Crime, and Harlequin Romantic Suspense as well as the Alpha Force paranormal romance miniseries for Harlequin Nocturne.  She additionally writes the Superstition Mysteries and the the Barkery and Biscuits Mysteries  for Midnight Ink.

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Character Interview: Rory Chasen, owner of the Lucky Dog Boutique

Rory Chasen, manager of the Lucky Dog Boutique in Destiny, California, hopes her new line of good-luck doggy toys will be a hit, especially the stuffed rabbits with extra-large feet. The timing of the line’s debut proves ill-fated, though, as several local shops—including Rory’s—are ransacked and vandalized with spilled salt and other unlucky charms.

The most likely culprit is disgruntled real estate agent Flora Curtival, whose issues with the town give her a motive. But when Flora is murdered and one of Rory’s toy rabbits is found with the body, Rory needs all the luck she can get while trying to determine just who killed the superstitious vandal. 

Q: Rory, thanks for stopping by Island Confidential. Why not tell our readers a little bit about yourself–maybe something they might not guess?

My name is Rory Chasen, and my stories are being told in the Superstition Mysteries,.  I’m still not sure how I feel about that, but if it helps other people learn to deal with superstitions, whether or not they actually cause the effects they’re reputed to, well, that’s okay with me.

I don’t think it will be surprising to readers, but I’ve always enjoyed pets, most especially dogs.  That was why I happen to own, or be owned by, my spaniel-terrier mix Pluckie, whom I found out was actually good luck, since she’s a black and white dog.  Before I moved to Destiny, California, I worked in a chain pet store, so I arrived here with most of the skills I needed to manage the Lucky Dog Boutique, which is what I do now.

One thing that readers might not know was that I was a fairly ordinary person when it came to superstitions, before my beloved fiancé Warren walked under a ladder and was killed by a car right afterwards.  I did the usual things of crossing fingers and knocking on wood, almost without thinking.  And now?  Every time I do either of those things, or engage in any other superstitious behavior, I think about it a lot!

Q: Who’s the character you get along with the best? Why?

Once again I don’t think what I’m about to say will be surprising to readers, but the person in my stories that I get along with best is Justin Halbertson, the Destiny Chief of Police.  We’ve been getting closer…. Also, I certainly get along well with Gemma Grayfield, my bff, who’s moved to Destiny partially to hang out with me.

Q:  Which other character do you have a conflict with? Why?

Ah… that’s a pretty strange thing and might juice up my superstitious agnosticism.  It seems as if the people here in superstitious Destiny who’ve rubbed me the wrong way end up dead.  That happens even when I’m not the main murder suspect, as I am in my latest adventure UNLUCKY CHARMS.

I suppose if I had to name a person I sometimes have trouble with here who’s still around, that’s probably Mayor Bevin Dermot.  He is so pro-Destiny that sometimes he does or says things that he may believe are in the best interests of the town, but I don’t always agree with him.

Q:  Just between you and me: What do you really think of your author?

Who–Linda O. Johnston?  She’s wonderful in many ways, since she tells my stories so well.  On the other hand–well, since I’ve become just a bit superstitious, I wonder if it’s a good idea for her to be telling the whole world about all of this.  Could it bring me bad luck?  Could it bring herbad luck?

Q: What’s next for you?

Actually, I’m not sure.  I hope to continue my wonderful life in Destiny with all my friends, most especially Justin.  I’m not currently anticipating any more murders, and therefore there may be no additional books about me.  But who knows?  Even thinking such a thing could jinx me in the universe, so maybe I’ll have more adventures sometime in the future.



Linda O. Johnston’s first published fiction appeared in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine and won the Robert L. Fish Memorial Award for Best First Mystery Short Story of the year.   Since then, Linda, a former lawyer who is now a full-time writer, has published more short stories, novellas, and 38 romance and mystery novels, including the Pet Rescue Mystery Series, a spinoff from her Kendra Ballantyne, Pet-Sitter mysteries for Berkley Prime Crime, and Harlequin Romantic Suspense as well as the Alpha Force paranormal romance miniseries for Harlequin Nocturne.  She additionally writes the Superstition Mysteries for Midnight Ink.


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Beyond Lutefisk: Richard Audry, author of the King Harald Canine Cozies, on what you don’t know about Norway.

When springtime arrives in picturesque New Bergen, so do the tourists and antiquers. This year, though, there are some unwelcome visitors. Extortion. Arson. And murder.

After his business tanks and his wife leaves him for a Pilates coach, Andy Skyberg flees the big city for the peace and quiet of his hometown. All he wants is a decent job, a steady girlfriend, a plasma screen TV with a hundred-plus channels, and one loyal dog. But fate has something else in store for Andy, when his big mutt King Harald starts sniffing out crime.



King Harald’s Heist chronicles King Harald and Andy Skyberg on their second adventure.

As the leaves begin to change color in New Bergen, Andy Skyberg wants to turn his full attention to his sister’s new café and art gallery—and to the beautiful Finnish architect who’s managing the project.

But the good-natured, go-to guy can’t seem to catch a moment’s peace.


His next-door neighbors—two elderly sisters—want him to fend off a pushy historian who thinks they had a scandalous past. His parents enlist him to entertain a narcissistic, boring couple they would like to ditch. And his ever-scheming Aunt Bev tricks Andy into seeking an improbable new gig that could land him in the hot seat.


A Norwegian Rhapsody

Guest Post by Richard Audry

“November always seemed to me the Norway of the year,” wrote Emily Dickinson to a friend in 1864. Given that she rarely left home, Dickinson no doubt based her impressions on a stereotypical Norway—a snowy, dreary country of fjords and piney forests. I’d like to think that, if she were alive today (and willing to hop on an airplane), she might hold quite a different opinion of this Scandinavian country.

I don’t claim to be an expert on all things Norske, but I do have Norwegian blood in my veins. And I grew up in Minnesota, the state with the highest number of Norwegian-Americans. It was only natural, then, that the town where my cozy mystery series is located would be called New Bergen, and the characters would have last names like Skyberg and Engebretson and Hofdahl. And then there is my sleuth Andy’s sidekick, a jumbo mutt with a nose for crime, who coincidentally has the same moniker as Norway’s monarch—King Harald.

On the menu at Ansel’s Café, the restaurant where Andy works, you probably won’t find lutefisk. This Nordic delight (or disaster, according to some) is created by soaking cod or other whitefish in lye until it comes to resemble Jello in consistency. It is, to say the least, an acquired taste. Even with my Norwegian lineage, I took one taste and I was done.

But you might be able to find salmon sushi on Ansel’s menu in New Bergen. In fact, this fish was introduced to the sushi-loving Japanese in the 1980s by the Norwegians—who were desperate to sell more salmon in the Far East.

Another fun food fact about Norway is that Roald Dahl, a British writer with Norwegian parents, used a famous Norwegian hot chocolate factory, Freia, as his inspiration for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen credited Freia chocolate for providing energy necessary to help him reach the South Pole in 1911, the first man to do so.

You could argue that Norway’s most important contribution to worldwide cuisine might just be a storage facility in the farthest northern reaches, on a remote archipelago in the Arctic Ocean. That’s where the Svalbard Global Seed Vault is located. Known as the Doomsday Vault, it has the capacity to store 4.5 million seed samples and serves as a backup for other seed banks around the world. Should a worldwide catastrophe occur—such as a nuclear winter—precious seed stock from Svalbard will be available to replenish human agriculture.

Ironically, the most beloved food in Norway these days is a commercial frozen pizza called Grandiosa. A cultural phenomenon, it is also roundly despised. Many Norwegians call it their “national dish,” while others say it is “refrigerated evil.”

Given that modern skiing began in Telemark in the 19th century, it’s not surprising that Norway has won more medals in the Winter Olympics than any other country. But what may be surprising is that archeologists who have studied ancient rock carvings estimate that Norwegians may have been skiing 4,000 years ago.

When they aren’t outdoors enjoying winter sports, you might find many Norwegians reading books. Norwegians read more than any other population in the world. And the government encourages this by buying a thousand copies of any book published in Norway for distribution to the country’s libraries. As an author, I’m jealous of those Norwegian writers.

Aquivit is probably the best-known alcoholic beverage in Norway. But, beware. If you’ve had a bit too much of it in Oslo, don’t even think of getting behind the wheel. A DUI in Norway results in an automatic 30-day jail sentence and a loss of license for a year, plus fines of up to ten percent of your yearly income.

If you do get thrown in a Norwegian slammer, though, you might not mind the accommodations. Prisoners in Halden, a high-security facility, are put in cells furnished with a flat screen TV, a private shower, and fluffy towels. I’m not sure if they get regular massages and spa treatments.

And what is there to watch on those flat screens? Well, if you just want to zone out, perhaps one of the popular shows on Norway’s NRK channel might appeal. There’s the eight-hour train ride, the twelve-hour footage of a log burning in a fireplace, and eight hours of salmon spawning.

I’ll bet everyone reading this post would instantly recognize Edvard Munch’s iconic masterpiece—one of the most famous paintings ever. And sometimes you might even feel like the person it depicts.


“One evening I was walking along a path, the city was on one side and the fjord below,” the Norwegian painter recalled. “I felt tired and ill. I stopped and looked out over the fjord—the sun was setting, and the clouds turning blood red. I sensed a scream passing through nature; it seemed to me that I heard the scream. I painted this picture, painted the clouds as actual blood. The color shrieked. This became ‘The Scream.’”


A pastel version of “The Scream” (one of four versions made by the artist) was sold in 2012 for $120 million—at the time the highest price ever paid at auction for an artwork.

But don’t worry. If you happen to visit my little fictional town with the Norwegian lineage, the only screaming comes from the occasional murder victim. I guarantee that you will be perfectly safe in New Bergen. Hope you stop by soon.

—Richard Audry


Richard Audry is the pen name of D. R. Martin. As Richard Audry, he is the author of the King Harald Canine Cozy mystery series and the Mary MacDougall historical mystery series. Under his own name he has written the Johnny Graphic middle-grade ghost adventure series, the Marta Hjelm mystery, Smoking Ruin, and two books of literary commentary: Travis McGee & Me; and Four Science Fiction Masters. You can follow D. R.’s musings at

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