On my way to Left Coast Crime: Honolulu Havoc!

  1. I’m moderating a panel called The Gorgeous Outdoors: Rugged & dangerous, with Christine CarboMadeleine Harris-CallwayAnn Parker, and Dana Stabenow.  This is a hilarious choice on the part of the conference organizers as I am the least outdoorsy person ever, and am impressed by anyone voluntarily living north of the 34th parallel.
  2. I’ll be attending Writing About Hawaii: Surf’s up. A crime wave? Thursday at noon.  With Laurie HananLeslie KarstKatharine M. Nohr, and Mark Troy, and the inimitable Terry Ambrose moderating, this is a must-see. And also Hawaii’s Own Authors: Creating havoc in paradise (Saturday at 9:15) with Rebecca Cantrell, Dawn Casey, Lizbeth Hartz and Jane Lasswell Hoff, moderated by A.J. Llewellyn.
  3. I’m a panelist on Creating Characters Beyond an Author’s Culture with Hal GlatzerJesse KellermanMargaret C. Morse, and Joel Fox moderating.
  4. I’m bringing Mahina State University bags to give away!

Watch this space for updates!

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The Blessed Event is on Kindle Monthly Deals. Only 99 cents in March!

“You may wonder what my least-favorite student was doing in my living room. In a twist of fate that might seem hilarious if it happened to someone else, he was now my stepson.”

Professor Molly Barda is looking forward to a quiet summer in Mahina, Hawaii working on her research and adjusting to married life. But when a visit from her new husband’s relatives coincides with a murder, Molly wonders what she’s married into–and realizes she might have a killer under her roof.


If you like Dorothy Parker, Sarah Caudwell, P.G. Wodehouse, or E.F. Benson’s Mapp and Lucia stories, or are in the mood for a murder in Hawaii, you’ll enjoy this tale of passion, pilferage, and petty politics in the middle of the Pacific.

99 cents on Kindle

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Aloha, Y’all: Miss Fortune Goes to Hawaii

CIA operative Fortune Redding crossed a ruthless arms dealer. Now she’s hiding out in remote Sinful, Louisiana, with a fake identity, fake hair, and a real price on her head. Now Ahmad’s men are getting close, and she has less than 24 hours to make it to the safe house in Hawaii. They’ll be looking for a woman traveling alone, so Fortune needs a companion. A respectable, low-profile, non-trigger-happy companion. Which rules out Gertie and Ida Belle. But there’s one person who might fit the bill…

Mary-Alice Arceneaux just got a big surprise for her 70th birthday–a trip to Hawaii, courtesy of young Fortune Morrow. But with bounty hunters on their trail, and family secrets lurking in the unlikeliest of places, the southernmost state has a few more surprises in store.

ALOHA, Y’ALL comes with ten authentic recipes including loco moco, Spam fried rice, and St. Charles Hotel Chicken Gumbo (original 1920 recipe).

The Miss Fortune series has been described as Miss Congeniality meets Golden Girls, a lighthearted fish out of water adventure with a dash of romance in Louisiana bayou country. Many thanks to Jana DeLeon for letting us write in her Sinful world!


$1.99 on Kindle

The Mary-Alice Files  

We first meet Mary-Alice Arceneaux in SCHOOLED, where she plays a supporting role. In MARY-ALICE MOVES IN, our heroine relocates to Sinful and takes center stage. In BAYOU BUSYBODY, Mary-Alice uses her expert knowledge (derived entirely from her mystery reading) to deal with a strange missing-person case while Ida Belle and Gertie are out of town. In THE VANISHING VICTIM, Mary-Alice is eager to join Gertie and Fortune to do whatever it takes to save Ida Belle from a terrible injustice. Now ALOHA Y’ALL takes the action from the bayous to the Big Island.

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#Giveaway and Character Interview: Lee Alvarez of The CEO Came DOA

>>>Win all three Lee Alvarez e-books<<<

Lee Alvarez takes a job ferreting out the saboteur of a start-up company’s Initial Public Offering in the heart of Silicon Valley. Little does she know early one morning she will find the CEO hanging by the neck in the boardroom wearing nothing but his baby blue boxer shorts.

Was it suicide? Was it murder by one of the many people who loathed the man on sight, such as his business partner? Or maybe one of the many women in his life, including his famous rock singer ex-? The bodies start piling up while Lee is planning her very own Christmas wedding. Ho, ho, ho.


Lee Alvarez, protagonist of the humorous Alvarez Family Murder Mysteries, speaks out, much to her mother’s dismay.

Q: Aloha Lee, and welcome to Island Confidential. Why don’t we start by telling our readers a little bit about you?

A: Here’s something few people know. I love the sound of a ukulele.  I bought one and tried to play, but it’s harder than it looks. After several minutes, the tips of my fingers were raw. A musician friend heard me and said maybe if I practiced every day for a year, I could advance from ‘horrible’ to ‘amusingly bad’. Lovely idea, but I don’t have the time for such a commitment. So the instrument is gathering dust under my bed. Now and then I pull it out and twang on it, just for laughs.

On a more serious note, I’ve come to terms with the fact I don’t have the talent to be a prima ballerina. At best, I am a mediocre dancer no matter how hard I work at it, and I do a barre nearly every single morning. It doesn’t help that I’m 5’8” tall, either. A good ballerina is usually around 5’4” in height. When I turned sixteen I had to face facts. I’d never advance to anything other than the chorus of a second-rate ballet company.

What I am, however, is a crackerjack ferret. I’m good a putting together past scenarios and coming up with the right answers.  Before Dad’s sudden death two years ago due to an aneurism, he taught me everything he knew about the detective business, hoping I would follow in his footsteps. Our little family has built a thriving investigative service, Discretionary Inquiries. We’re Silicon Valley’s answer to software, hardware, and intellectual property thefts. But I have noticed it seems like I’m always falling over dead bodies, especially when I’m not looking.

And those are my two secrets, a hidden uke and dusty toe shoes. I guess we all have our ‘what if’ things. But I’m smart enough to know that not being able to do a first-rate glissade arabesque is probably one of life’s better regrets to have. It’s not in on the uke yet.

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

A: A year ago, I would have said my kid brother, Richard. He’s a computer geek – actually, a genius – and the main reason why Discretionary Inquiries leads the pack in technologically driven Silicon Valley. You may remember Richard. He’s the one who showed up twenty minutes late to the annual board meeting eating a sauerkraut and peanut butter sandwich. It stunk up the boardroom for a week. He’s a little on the weird side, but I love him to pieces. These days the person I get along with best is my fella, Gurn Hanson. Let’s face it, I’m in love. We manage to get married in the latest Alvarez book, The CEO Came DOA, in between assorted chaos, villainy, and laughs. He’s quite a guy!

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

A: Okay, let’s talk about my mother, Lila Hamilton Alvarez, she who can crack an oyster shell with a single glance. Here’s an excerpt from The CEO Came DOA which I think best describes our differences:

I studied my mother as objectively as possible. She was so loving this. I was right not to try to take the wedding away from her. Besides, soon she would have a new grandchild and leave me alone.

Whoops! Did I say that out loud? No, no, I was just thinking it. I used my inside voice. I’m good.

I relaxed a little and reflected. Yes, here sat the woman who was the Rolls Royce to my Chevy, the conservative to my liberal, the haute couture to my thrift shop, but fate had still seen to throw us together. Chalk it up to one of life’s ironies.

Whoops! Did I just get philosophical on me? Go away, inside voice. Time for a martini.


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

A: Heather Haven is a nice lady, has a good heart and all that, but frankly, she’s peculiar. She can find the most bizarre ways of murdering someone. And she puts me into some pretty stressful situations. I have a tough time keeping up. Of course, I get to wear a spectacular wardrobe, but that’s small compensation.

Q: What’s next for you, Lee?

A: I have no idea. Right now I’m on my honeymoon in Kauai, with my gorgeous hunk of a husband, Gurn Hanson. Sun, fun, a Mai Tai or two, love, and relaxation. Wait a minute. She’s at it again. That Heather Haven is involving me in something to do with strychnine poisoning. What the… Whoops! Gotta go. A new murder to solve. But at least it’s in the balmy breezes of a Hawaiian island!

Q: Well, if you’re in the neighborhood, stop by and I’ll buy you a Loco Moco. Thanks for visiting Island Confidential!


About The Author  

After studying drama at the University of Miami in Florida, Heather went to Manhattan to pursue a career. There she wrote short stories, comedy acts, television treatments, ad copy, commercials, and two one-act plays, which were produced, among other places, at the famed Playwrights Horizon. Once, she even ghostwrote a book on how to run an employment agency. She was unemployed at the time.


Her first novel started the Silicon Valley based Alvarez Family Murder Mystery Series.  Murder is a Family Business, Book One, won the Single Titles Reviewers’ Choice Award 2011, followed by the second, A Wedding to Die For, 2012 Global and EPIC finalist for Best eBook Mystery of the Year. Death Runs in the Family won the coveted Global Gold for Best Mystery Novel, 2013. DEAD….If Only won the Global Silver for Best Mystery Novel, 2015. Her fifth novel of the series, The CEO Came DOA, debuts September, 2016. She loves writing this series mainly because she gets to play all of the characters, including the cat!

Heather’s other series, The Persephone Cole Vintage Mystery Series, is set in Manhattan circa 1942, during our country’s entrance into WWII. The Dagger Before Me, Book One, was voted best historical and mystery novel by Amazon readers in October, 2013.  It was followed by Iced Diamonds. Book Three, The Chocolate Kiss-Off, is a 2016 Lefty Award Finalist Best Historical Mystery.

On a personal note, her proudest award is the Silver IPPY (Independent Publisher Book Awards) Best Mystery/thriller 2014 for Death of a Clown. The stand-alone noir mystery is steeped in Heather’s family history. Daughter of real-life Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus folk, her mother was a trapeze artist/performer and father, an elephant trainer. Heather likes to say she brings the daily existence of the Big Top to life during World War II, embellished by her own murderous imagination.

Heather gives lectures, speaks at book clubs, and moderates author panels in the Bay Area, as well as teaching the art of writing. She believes everyone should write something, be it a poem, short story or letter. Then go out and plant a tree. The world will be a better place for it.

Author Links



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One Blessed Event, two Giveaways: The newest Professor Molly mystery is here!

>>>Enter to win a paper copy of The Blessed Event on Goodreads<<<

But wait, there’s more…

>>>Enter to win a copy of any Professor Molly mystery in your choice of format<<<

The Professor Molly mysteries

Left to right: The Case of the Defunct Adjunct, The Musubi Murder, The Cursed Canoe, The Black Thumb, The Invasive Species, The Blessed Event.


The Blessed Event, a Professor Molly Mystery

You may wonder what my least-favorite student was doing in my living room. In a twist of fate that might seem hilarious if it happened to someone else, he was now my stepson.

Professor Molly Barda is looking forward to a quiet summer in Mahina, Hawaii, working on her research and adjusting to married life. But when a visit from her new husband’s relatives coincides with a murder, Molly wonders what she’s married into–and realizes she might have a killer under her roof.

Thumbnail flying stork

The Blessed Event was nominated by readers and selected by Amazon’s editorial team via Kindle Scout, Amazon’s reader-powered publishing platform.


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Character Interview: Deena’s brother Russell, from Sharpe Shooter

Burned-out high school teacher Deena Sharpe is ready for a change. She has no idea a fifty-year-old murder case is about to turn her life upside down.

The Perry County Sheriff’s office has found a skeleton in the closet…literally. When they identify the man’s body fifty years after his disappearance, his family turns to Deena to uncover the truth about his murder. The clock begins ticking when she discovers a mysterious writer is about to implicate the victim in his latest conspiracy theory book. She must channel her inner super-sleuth to solve the puzzle and protect her family name. With the help of her off-beat brother and others from the cozy town of Maycroft, Texas, Deena takes on a quest that leads to more questions than answers.
Sharpe Shooter is the first book in the Maycroft Mystery Series. With antique shopping, car chases, and ghosts in the night, the story will keep you guessing as you follow Deena on her quest for the truth.

Q: Tell our readers a little bit about yourself–maybe something readers might not guess?

I am Russell Sinclair, Deena Sharpe’s brother. She’s the star of the show even though she’d couldn’t have solved this mystery without me. I’m a confirmed bachelor. It’s not that I don’t want to get married, I just haven’t found someone willing to put up with my quirks. You see, I serve in Vietnam and came back with PTSD, hearing loss, and killer migraines. I’m an easy-going guy as long as things don’t get too stressful.

And as far as looks, a lot of people say I resemble Jimmy Buffett. It’s probably the Hawaiian  shirts, cargo  shorts, and flip flops. If you knew me better, you would know I am a comic book collector. Don’t tell Deena, though. She’ll want me to sell them in her antique booth.

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

Like I said, I’m a pretty easy going guy so long as you don’t cross my friends or family. My best friend is Cliff. Known him since high school. I work as a semi-partner in his appliance repair shop. He knows the real me and somehow still likes me.

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

One guy, Neal Fortune, is a writer. I used to look up to him because of his interest in uncovering the truth in all kinds of conspiracies, such as Area 51 and Watergate. After this experience though, I’m not so sure how I feel about him.

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

From what I understand, she’s a lot like my sister. They are both former journalism teachers who are recently retired. Both have great husbands who are avid sports fans. Both have smart, good-looking brothers. Both love treasure hunting and selling old junk in antique stores. She’s fine by me.

Q: What’s next for you?

My busy-body sister is trying to set me up on dates. I think she just wants me to get married so someone else has to take care of me. Whatever. I just want to hang out with my buddies at the VFW, hunt, fish, and help Deena stay out of trouble. That last one is usually the toughest.

Excerpt from “Sharpe Shooter” by Lisa B. Thomas

 Perhaps I should have had a plan before setting myself up to be fired, Deena Sharpe thought as her eyes traveled around the empty classroom. Thriving just days earlier with busy teenagers, so alive that their youth spilled over into the hallway, the room now seemed like an empty tomb awaiting a sarcophagus.

The tap-tap-tap sound coming down the hallway meant Janice Marshall, the assistant principal, was ready for Deena to vacate the building. No one likes the screeching of fingernails on a chalkboard, but most teachers at Maycroft High School would have chosen it any day over the incessant sound of those clicking heels. Like I always say, Deena thought as the annoyance grew louder, there is something fishy about a woman who can stand on her feet all day in high heels. She is not to be trusted.

Luckily, she would never again have to endure Ms. Marshall’s condescension or shoes.

“How much longer are you going to be, Mrs. Sharpe?” She stood in the doorway as though entering might actually infect her with cooties.

“Oh, just a bit longer.” Deena relished her intentional vagueness. Using her gooiest Southern drawl, she added, “You don’t have to wait for me, dear.”

Ms. Marshall smirked, leaned against the door frame as if she herself were the very foundation of the building, and began occupying herself on her cell phone.

Standing over her desk, the perch from which she ruled her flock, Deena slowed her movements, accomplishing two goals: savoring the moment and bugging her watchman. “Is this how you deal with all teachers when they leave this school? Are you worried I might steal this stapler?” She held it up as a visual aid.

Ms. Marshall rolled her eyes. “No, but this is a special circumstance.”

Still holding the heavy black stapler, Deena contemplated bashing her in the head or shoving it somewhere else. She envisioned the headline in the Northeast Texas Tribune: Ex-Journalism Teacher Bludgeons Assistant Principal with Swing Master II.

She dropped it in the box she was filling to take home.

Deena envisioned herself as Lara Croft: Tomb Raider—always ready to fight the good fight. She called it her Walter Mitty Complex. In her mind, she would kick butt and take names; in reality, she would step aside and apologize. Still, she was always looking for ways to unleash her inner Lara. She even took karate at one time but gave up when she got walloped by a six-year-old warrior princess.

Now, surrendering her classroom keys to the principal’s chief stooge seemed like waving a white flag on her career. She still managed a pained, melancholy smile as she headed out of room 106 and down the hallway for the last time. Surprisingly, she felt no sense of relief, her stomach queasy, her chest tight. Instead, she felt the same foreboding she got every year on the eve of the first day of school.


About The Author 

Born and raised in Texas, I always knew I wanted to be a writer. Finally, after thirty-three years as a high school Journalism and English teacher, I dusted off the laptop and released my first novel. Having grown up reading Trixie Belden, Nancy Drew, and Agatha Christie, I was drawn to the mystery genre.

With two grown children out of the nest, I live a quiet life with my husband and Peekapoo puppy. Besides writing, I enjoy my grandchildren, photography, traveling, and antiquing (aka. buying and selling used junk). Like my main character, Deena, I have an antique booth and enjoy treasure hunting and reselling vintage finds.









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Interview: Amy Reade, author of Big Island mystery House of the Hanging Jade

A dark presence had invaded the Jorgensens’ house. On a spectacular bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean, something evil is watching and waiting . . .

Tired of the cold winters in Washington, D.C. and disturbed by her increasingly obsessive boyfriend, Kailani Kanaka savors her move back to her native Big Island of Hawaii. She also finds a new job as personal chef for the Jorgensen family. The gentle caress of the Hawaiian trade winds, the soft sigh of the swaying palm trees, and the stunning blue waters of the Pacific lull her into a sense of calm at the House of Hanging Jade–an idyll that quickly fades as it becomes apparent that dark secrets lurk within her new home. Furtive whispers in the night, a terrifying shark attack, and the discovery of a dead body leave Kailani shaken and afraid. But it’s the unexpected appearance of her ex-boyfriend, tracking her every move and demanding she return to him, that has her fearing for her life . . .

Q: Amy, thanks for stopping by Island Confidential today. I think this is my first author interview with someone who’s written a Native Hawaiian protagonist. Can you tell us something about her? 

A: My protagonist is Kailani Kanaka, a sous chef originally from the Island of Hawaii, commonly called the Big Island. As the story opens Kailani is working in Washington, DC, but she decides she’s had enough of the winter weather and decides to return to the tropics.

Q: How much of you is in Kailani? How would you feel about her if you met her in real life?

A: The part of me that is most recognizable in Kailani is my love of cooking and of the Big Island. She tries always to have the spirit of aloha, but there are circumstances in the book which make her angry and afraid. That aloha spirit wanes during those scenes, but she strives for overall balance and peace. I think we’re alike in that way, too.

Q: Do your characters change and evolve, or do they stay pretty much the same?

A: House of the Hanging Jade, like my first two novels, is a standalone book. Kailani and the other characters evolve over the span of the book. She emerges from her difficulties and challenges as a stronger woman, one who is well aware of the consequences of her decisions.

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

A: Great question! The answer is, quite simply, “most definitely.” You can read about it in one of my upcoming books! Of course, I can’t tell you which book and I can’t say who the person is or what that person did to make me mad enough to kill him (or her?) in the pages of a fictional story, but let’s just say I’m looking forward to writing it.

Q: When you wrote the Big Island setting, how true to life did you try to make it? (I’m particularly interested because I write a Big Island-ish setting, but I add many fanciful embellishments.)

A: My setting is as true to life as I could make it. Even the house in the book is based on one I toured on the Big Island a few years ago. The only things I made up were a few stores and a farm stand. And who knows? Those places might actually exist.

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

A: What I love about this question is the phrasing: “When the movie… is made,” not if! Here are my casting choices:

Kailani: Tao Okamoto, a Japanese actress who appeared with Hugh Jackman in “Wolverine.”

Lars Jorgensen: Owen Wilson, because he’s got the look and the persona I imagine for Lars.

Barbie Merriweather-Jorgensen: Gillian Anderson, because she is intriguing and has played roles with just the right attitude necessary for the character.


source: Wikipedia

Liko: Jason Momoa, a Hawaiian actor with the perfect physical qualities, with the exception of his height. Liko isn’t quite as tall as Momoa.


source: Wikipedia

Marcus: Asa Butterfield, because he’s tall and thin, with the appropriate manifestation of seriousness.
Justine: Mackenzie Foy, about 5 years ago, because she was adorable. Not that she isn’t still adorable, but she’s really too old to play Justine now.

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

A: The best advice I ever received was to start promoting a book the day you decide to write it, not the day you decide to publish it. The worst advice I ever received was to put my children in my books (note: this advice came from my children).



Amy M. Reade grew up in northern New York. After graduating from college and law school, she practiced law in New York City before moving to southern New Jersey, where she lives now with her husband, three children, dog, two cats, and a fish. She writes full time and is the author of Secrets of Hallstead House, a novel of romantic suspense set in the Thousand Islands region of New York, and The Ghosts of Peppernell Manor, a novel in the same genre set outside Charleston, South Carolina. Her third novel, House of Hanging Jade, is set in Hawaii. She is currently working on the first book of a series set in the United Kingdom (expected release date in early 2017). She loves cooking, reading, and traveling.

Keep up with Amy:

Website: www.amymreade.com
Blog: www.amreade.wordpress.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/amreadeauthor
Twitter: www.twitter.com/readeandwrite
Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/amreade
Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/amyreade

Buy: Amazon  |  B&N 


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Spotlight: The Color of Clouds by J.C. Whyte

Pedro’s on a mission. And Pedro is dead.

Spirit guide Pedro normally busies himself with conveying messages from departed loved ones through a psychic named Gwen. But when he encounters a recently deceased teenager, the boy’s anguish breaks Pedro’s heart. Pedro reaches out to help–but meddling in the affairs of the living is a troublesome business, as he soon discovers.

He convinces his medium Gwen to take an ocean voyage, and that’s when the trouble begins. Within days of leaving port, two passengers on the cruise ship fall into a mysterious coma. Gwen seeks Pedro’s help, but natural as well as unnatural obstacles keep getting in the way. And by the time the ship docks in Honolulu, the still-living are scrambling for their lives!

A playful blend of science fiction and the paranormal, The Color of Clouds offers a glimpse into the unseen world while taking the reader on an extraordinary ride. The adventure includes danger, mystery, humor, sweet romance and even a dash of thriller.

About The Author  

J.C. Whyte discovered her love for writing while still in elementary school, creating children’s stories. But as an adult, J.C. had to face the harsh reality that such writing seldom pays the bills. So she earned degrees in both Journalism and Communications, and then turned to Public Relations, where for ten years she focused her creative energies into feature writing.


After marriage, kids, several more degrees and occupations (including stints as a travel agent and paralegal), J. C. entered law school. While there, she became a columnist for the school newsletter and later, one of her humorous articles was even published in The National Jurist.

 Graduating and passing the Bar, J.C. realized within a few short years that creative writing was still what made her heart sing. So now, as a grandma, she has returned to where her life’s calling began, beginning in 2013 with publication of her children’s book Karmack and now in 2015 with her first novel for adults, The Color of Clouds.



Looking for more hawaii mystery? PREORDER THE CASE OF THE DEFUNCT ADJUNCT

3.99 .99 introductory price through December 7


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Interview: Cathy Ace, author of The Corpse with the Diamond Hand

Professor Cait Morgan and Bud Anderson have finally said ‘I do’. To celebrate, they set sail on a romantic Hawaiian honeymoon cruise and, for nearly two weeks, the mystery solving newlyweds are worry-free. But then a man drops dead in the games room right in front of them and Cait and Bud can’t help but lend their expertise.

To the others in the games room, the sudden death of Tommy Trussler—the ship’s onboard card-game tutor—appears to have been from natural causes. But the professor suspects something much more sinister. With only two days left at sea—and thousands of possible suspects—the head of security is eager to solve the case and invites Cait and Bud to aid in the investigation. But the unique circumstances of an at-sea investigation mean their involvement cannot be official, and Cait must lean on her charm to conduct her own covert interviews.

Complete with laugh-out-loud moments and mouth-watering descriptions of the ship’s cuisine, the case of the The Corpse with the Diamond Hand will once again have you marvelling at Cait’s cleverness as she brings another murderer to justice.

The Corpse with the Diamond Hand is #6 in the Cait Morgan Mysteries.


Q: Aloha Cathy, thanks for stopping by! When I saw that The Corpse with the Diamond Hand was set in Hawaii, and featured a sleuthing professor no less, I had to read it for myself. I really enjoyed it! It was impeccably researched, tightly plotted, and fast paced. It started with a bang and pulled me through one twist after another, but it wasn’t all action; it was also rich with detail.  I really enjoyed seeing Hawaii through the eyes of an author who’s obviously spent time there observing. I also liked spending time with Cait and now I can’t wait for the next adventure. For those readers who have not yet had the pleasure of meeting Cait and Bud, can you tell us what the book is about?

A: The setting for the book is a cruise ship that’s visited the Hawaiian Islands, prior to its journey across the Pacific to Vancouver. Cait Morgan, a Welsh Canadian professor of criminal psychology who specializes in victim profiling at the University of Vancouver, is enjoying a belated honeymoon with her “relatively new” husband, Bud Anderson , a retired homicide detective. They still have two sea-days left before they arrive at their home port of Vancouver when Tommy Trussler, the man employed by the cruise-line to teach card games on the ship, drops dead pretty much in front of them. Called in by the ship’s head of security to lend their special skills to the investigation, Cait and Bud initially focus on working out “whodunit”, only to discover they need to protect the innocent, as well as unmask the audacious culprit.

Q: Can you tell us a little bit about the history between Cait and Bud? And talk about how, over a series, you might decide to change some elements but keep others constant?

A: In the first book in this series, THE CORPSE WITH THE SILVER TONGUE, we met Cait sleuthing alone in the south of France, and learned Bud was a friend and work colleague – indeed, you might say he was her boss, because he was the one who’d been hiring her, on occasion, to profile victims on behalf of his homicide team. Cait trusts Bud enough to call upon him when she’s in trouble, as she does in the first in the series. Events unfold in that book which allow Bud and Cait to think about dating. However, because Cait and Bud are so busy solving puzzling whodunits within the books, their relationship grows “between the books”. This means there’s only a hint of romance in my work, but readers can easily spot how things are developing between two mature adults who each have enough tragedy in their past lives to make a new start seem appealing – though maybe a little scary. We learn more about their past lives, their present attachment, and their future plans, in each book.

The way my series is written, each book has an entirely new cast of characters, and a fresh location. Cait and Bud are the constants as they travel to BC’s wine country (THE CORPSE WITH THE GOLDEN NOSE), to a resort on the Pacific coast of Mexico near Puerto Vallarta (THE CORPSE WITH THE EMERALD THUMB), and to Las Vegas (THE CORPSE WITH THE PLATINUM HAIR). We most recently met them holed up in a creepy Welsh castle where they were planning their destination wedding, in THE CORPSE WITH THE SAPPHIRE EYES. Because of the way jacket notes work, I’m not really giving anything away when I tell you that, despite some terrible problems, they do finally manage to get married, and are now on their honeymoon. One of the things I was keen to avoid was a constant “will they, won’t they” issue across too many books – so I think they’re on just about the right trajectory. Challenges they face, even though their wedding is behind them, are Bud accepting his retirement, and Cait – who has married at the age of forty-eight and a half – getting used to no longer living a single, solitary, academic life anymore.

Q: Writing closed room mysteries is one of the most challenging things to do. How do you do your research and come up with solutions?

A: I enjoy reading books where only a small group of people could have dunnit – so that’s what I write. But, beyond that, I try to tell a slightly different type of tale each time. I’m pretty certain my readers are a well-read bunch, so are familiar with the different sub-genres of traditional crime fiction, and I like to play with that idea. My first book was a classic “dinner table” mystery, focusing on the diners at a deadly meal at a swish apartment block in the south of France. My second involved an entire wine-growing village-style community, where vintners and restaurateurs rubbed cold shoulders, and indulged in some strange cult-like activities. In the book set in Mexico, an ex-pat community living in their newly-constructed “wonderland” at an agave plantation provided the pool of suspects, and in my fourth – possibly the most challenging to write (which might be why it won the Bony Blithe Award for Best Canadian Light Mystery in 2015) I set up a situation where a corpse and a group of suspects were locked in one room. In many respects it’s a bit like “And Then there Were None” but set in a room, rather than on an island. Of course the bodies pile up and the suspect pool dwindles, and at times I wished I’d decided on a less constricted setting, but, as readers told me, that was the thrill of the story!

In the fifth book I allowed myself to indulge in a Nancy Drew meets Edgar Allen Poe situation, where creepy corridors, deadly staircases, and bewildering acts of vandalism take their toll on the weird family hosting Cait and Bud at their clifftop Welsh castle. In Cait’s sixth adventure, while a cruise ship might seem to provide a massive pool of potential killers, we quickly find that someone in the room at the time of the death in question must have had a hand in the killing.

All classic set-ups, all with a little twist, but all remaining true to a general theme. With Cait’s background in criminal psychology, it’s how the mind of the killer works, rather than the forensics of the case, that tends to be the core of the puzzle – though, of course, how-dunnit is always a good game to play while considering who-dunnit. For the who-dunnit part of the puzzle, like my character Cait Morgan, my own background is in psychology, which I enjoy having the chance to “apply” in my tales. I carry out a great deal of research into the how-dunnit part of my puzzles. I’m fortunate to have built an online relationship with a very accommodating coroner, whose responses to my emails are wonderfully detailed. That said, I hope no one is watching my search history, because the number of methods of killing people it covers is quite alarming!

Q: What is the difference between a closed room mystery and a locked room mystery? 

A: Locked room mysteries are when the body is inside a locked room and the puzzle is how anyone did it. I will write one of those, but I haven’t done so yet – I write closed room/closed circle mysteries where only a small number of people could have done it…which is where the puzzle lies.

Q: And speaking of research, do you personally visit every setting that you write about?

A: Absolutely. I always choose a place I’ve spent a good deal of time in already. I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have traveled a great deal throughout my life – often working in a city or an area for months, so I had the chance to get to know places like an “insider”. Now I can take readers to locations I know well, and love, in my books. The setting for THE CORPSE WITH THE DIAMOND HAND is especially close to my heart because, on one of my many visits to Hawaii, my husband and I were married at a friend’s home near Honolulu, and we took this very cruise, sailing back to our home in Vancouver.

By the way, I also always make sure I have eaten and drunk everything Cait consumes – a part of the research I am happy to undertake…all in the quest for authenticity, you understand!

Q: In keeping with the Golden Age spirit of closed room mysteries, your covers are beautifully retro. Can you tell us a little about those–how was it decided to go for that vintage feel, and who does them?

A: Thank you – I adore my book covers! I’m fortunate that my publishing house, TouchWood Editions, allows me to be very “hands on” with them. They have an in-house artist, Pete Kohut, who puts a lot of time into finding exactly the right photograph, based upon the handful I send him with my vision for the cover. Usually he finds a much better version of the key elements I’ve put forward. Once he has the right photo and layout, he adds a touch of ageing, to give the cover the right feel. His choice of typeface is the icing on the cake. I think it respects the feeling of the Golden Age of the 1930’s without aping it. The style was established with the first in the series and, because each book has a different setting, it’s fun to try to make the series of covers look like a retro series of travel posters.

Q: When people talk about “cozy” mysteries, it can mean anything from “cats, recipes and punny title” to Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Millhone books. Do you consider your series “cozy?” “Traditional?” Something else?

A: I always think of the term “cozy” as referring to a continuum of many different types of works. What they all have in common (generally speaking) is a lack of foul language, no/little violence on the page, no sex on the page, and no children or animals being killed/harmed. I’m comfortable with that, because there’s such a lot left to work with. Within that range I’d say I write “traditional” mysteries; there are no cats (though there’s Marty, Bud’s tubby, black Labrador), recipes (though there’s usually a good deal of description of the local foods in which Cait loves to indulge), or even a punny title (I accept that each book needing a title incorporating a corpse with a precious body part is something that creates its own challenges, but I enjoy it!). However, there are lots of clues, red herrings, suspects, intriguing facts emerging, and, ultimately, there’s the classic denouement where the sleuth (in my case she’s not an absolute amateur, as she is well versed in criminal psychology) confronts all the suspects and unmasks the perpetrator/s. One of the review quotes I’m most proud of is from The Globe and Mail when it referred to my work as having “…touches of Christie or Marsh, but with a bouquet of Kinsey Millhone…”. It made me so happy, I actually cried.

Q:  Writing can be very solitary. How do you balance the need for solitude with the need to get out and be with people?

A: I’m very fortunate to live in a peaceful, rural haven. Even so, I’m never alone. My two chocolate Labradors are my constant companions, and, even if they desert me for a bout of squirreling, or are snoring on the sofa (as they are right now) I have lots of people in my head talking to me all the time! I’ve always been happy with my own company, but, when I do socialize, I really throw myself into it, and enjoy it. For me, this life allows me the perfect balance.

Q: What’s next for Cait and Bud?

A: I’m delighted to tell you they’re off to one of my favorite cities, Amsterdam, in THE CORPSE WITH THE GARNET FACE, which comes out in the spring of 2016. In this book they have the chance to fill in some of Bud’s missing family background, after he discovers his mother had a brother she never, ever mentioned. Was her long-lost sibling the scoundrel she assures her son he was, or a talented artist and Van Gogh devotee who could have made so much more of his life? After that, Cait is sent by her university to teach a special course in Budapest, so in the fall of 2016 we get to meet THE CORPSE WITH THE RUBY LIPS. On this occasion, Bud has to stay in Canada when Cait jets off to endure a Hungarian winter. Cait’s alone again, and faced with specters from a Canadian cold case, that might have its roots in the cold war.


About The Author  

Cathy Ace
About The Author –
Originally from Wales, now-Canadian Cathy Ace writes the Cait Morgan Mysteries. Her series has found her criminal psychologist, foodie sleuth stumbling upon Corpses with a Silver Tongue, a Golden Nose, an Emerald Thumb, Platinum Hair, Sapphire Eyes and, now, a Diamond Hand during her globetrotting. The winner of The Bony Blithe Award for Best Light Mystery in 2015, when not helping Cait solve traditional, closed-circle mysteries, Cathy’s a keen gardener, ably assisted by her green-pawed chocolate Labradors.

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