Clean but not Cozy: Deadly Choices, a new Thriller from Karen Randau

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An elderly woman with an arrow in her chest. A murdered journalist. A decades-old cover-up. In Deadly Choices (Rim Country Mysteries Volume 3), Rita and Cliff Avery team up again to solve a spate of murders in their picturesque Arizona mountain town of Rim Vista. Rita’s mother Willow delivers gun-wrenching news while falling for the man who could be responsible for four deaths. And Rita must escape a string of life-threatening predicaments thrown at her by an assailant willing to do anything to scare Cliff off the case.

If you enjoy suspense, but don’t care for explicit language or adult scenes, this clean (but not cozy) thriller might be exactly what you’re looking for. Deadly Choices is the third book in the Rim Country Mysteries, but can be read as a standalone.


Karen, thanks for stopping by Island Confidential! Can you tell us a little about your protagonist, Rita?

Rita Avery is a middle-aged woman raised by vegetarian hippies who legally named her Lovely Rita after their favorite Beetles song, “Lovely Rita Meter Maid.” She married Jared Warren immediately out of high school, who fought in the first Gulf War as a Marine. They had two children. When Rita and Jared were celebrating their thirtieth wedding anniversary at a movie theater, a disturbed young man shot and killed fourteen people, including Jared. During the next few months, Rita discovered that her entire marriage had been a lie. She found love again, married Detective Cliff Avery, and honeymooned in Scotland, where she decided to try to reunite with her mother Willow after twenty-five years. Now, she is learning that even Willow lied to Rita.

How much do you and Rita have in common?

There is a lot of me in Rita. In many ways, she thinks like me and acts like me. In other ways, she is who I wish I could be. I like her; she feels comfortable to me. While she can be friendly and engaging, she may be difficult to get to know. She is adventurous and can be fun to be around. Most of all, I feel drawn to her because she is an overcomer who believes she can accomplish anything if she is willing to work hard enough.

Do your characters change throughout consecutive books in the series, or do they stay the same?

Rita has had a dramatic character arc in the three books of the Rim Country Mysteries. She started out naïve and shallow, more concerned about fashion than the people around her. In book 1 (Deadly Deceit), she grew into an independent woman who could trust her own instincts. Because of the extreme trauma she encountered in book 1, she now has PTSD and suffers panic attacks. She barely considers fashion anymore, but she can still spot a good deal. By the end of book 3, she has accepted who she is and is overcoming her panic attacks.

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

No. All of my characters has elements of people I’ve known throughout my life, but I didn’t specifically create any of them to kill them. Sometimes, I’m sorry I had to do them in.

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

My fictional setting is a picturesque small town in the mountains above Phoenix, Arizona. It is strikingly similar to the town where I live, but I’ve used aspects of other places I also like. I do a lot of research to try to be realistic in the situations, culture, and setting.

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

Ashley Judd is Rita Avery and David Boreanaz is Detective Cliff Avery.

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

The best advice is to write what you know about. That makes it a lot easier to be realistic. I didn’t realize how much I knew about until I started putting it into novels, though. The worst advice I’ve heard is that you don’t need an outline. I outline by books, and then rework the outline as the characters take me in different directions than I planned.


About The Author  

Karen Randau is the author of the Rim Country Mystery series. Her fast-paced novels include Deadly Deceit, Deadly Inheritance, and Deadly Choices, each with intricate plots and lots of action and told from the point of view of protagonist Rita Avery.

 

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A novella a month: How’s my 2017 resolution going?

So far so good!

January: To solve the mystery of a disappearing corpse, Mary-Alice has to endure a visit to the Swamp Bar (where decent ladies don’t go) and battle her vindictive cousin, Mayor Celia Arceneaux. Will her gentle temper and unshakable faith in human nature endure?  

The Vanishing Victim

February: 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

 March: Professor Gwendolyn Jackson’s husband sends her a voice mail from the road, telling her he’ll be home soon. Just one problem…by the time the message was sent, he was already dead. When the police dismiss her concerns, Professor Jackson turns to her former student, Fortune Morrow, for help.  

The Two-Body Problem

 April: Mary-Alice is thrilled to be invited into an investigation into a series of disappearances in Upstate New York. but by the time she arrives at the forbidding Kilmer House where she will spend the night, she realizes she may be in over her head.  Black Widow Valley

Black Widow Valley

 May:  Mahina State’s fundraising office tasks Professor Molly to serve as the personal tutierge (that’s tutor-concierge) to Jeremy Brigham, whose mother happens to be fabulously wealthy and gravely ill. But once inside the Brigham House, the pregnant Professor Molly realizes something is very wrong. Now she has to decide whether to mind her own business, or risk everything to prevent a murder.  

Mother’s Day

June:  When a young woman vanishes from a roadside motel, Mary-Alice and the gang leave Sinful and head across the border to find her. They soon discover that the unprepossessing McCully Inn holds some Texas-sized secrets.  

The No-Tell Motel

July’s novella is Vampire Billionaire of the Bayou.

The Sinful Ladies’ Detective Agency has just scored a cushy gig: Doing surveillance for a businessman who claims business rivals are after his trade secrets. But just as Fortune, Gertie, Ida Belle, and Mary-Alice are deciding how to spend their easy money, the unthinkable happens.

The Sinful Ladies team up with Sheriff Robert E. Lee, who wants to prove he’s not quite ready for the glue factory. Together, they discover that a bizarre death in a haunted plantation house is far from the strangest thing about this case.

In this modern adaptation of the classic tale The Circular Study, the Sinful ladies encounter ghostly rumors, an unspeakable family secret, and a strangely ageless corpse with a cross draped over his chest.

$1.99 on Kindle


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New from Maggie Toussaint: Dadgummit

>>>Enter to win  your choice of book from Maggie Toussaint’s Backlist <<<

Amateur sleuth Baxley Powell is on vacation at Stony Creek Lake in the north Georgia mountains. Her parents, best friend, and ten-year-old daughter are camping with her. Almost immediately, a young man’s body is found beside the lake. Strangely, there’s no apparent cause of death. The local police have heard about Baxley’s skill at closing unusual cases, and at their urging she agrees to help.

 

Her psychic sleuthing leads the police to a halfway house. There they encounter eight comatose victims and an odd man named Jonas, who also has supernatural abilities. Baxley senses Jonas cruelly drained their life force energy. Jonas escapes, taking the sheriff as a hostage. Deputy Sam Mayes, a Native American, leads the manhunt, and he keeps Baxley close, knowing she’s the key to capturing this powerful criminal.

Baxley’s paranormal talent of dreamwalking, which she uses to traverse the veil of life, draws the unwanted attention of beings believed to be Cherokee folklore. Jonas stole a treasured artifact from them, and they want it back. They hold Baxley’s best friend and two others because they know Baxley can help them. As the clock ticks, Jonas taunts this crime-fighting duo and proves to be a wily adversary.

With the body count rising, Baxley and Mayes realize they are up against an entity who appears to be invincible. Do they have the power to subdue an energy vampire, turn the tide of evil, and save the day?


Death and taxes are not certain
By Maggie Toussaint

Psst. I have news.
My amateur sleuth Baxley Powell became a widow when the army declared Roland, her soldier husband, dead a few years ago. The trouble is Baxley doesn’t believe them. After all, a wife would know if her guy was gone, and she more than most.
Baxley’s dreamwalker talents allow her to search for spirits among the dead. She’s looked and looked, but Roland’s not in the afterlife. Since he isn’t dead, she concludes he must be alive. But where? And why isn’t he coming home to her and their ten year old daughter Larissa?
That uncertainty and lack of closure haunts her days and nights. A few guys ask her out after she legally became a widow by she refuses them. She can’t possibly date anyone when there is a chance Roland lived.
Meanwhile, her days are full of caring for pets and plants, raising Larissa, dreamwalking, and police consulting. With summer drawing to a close, her entire family goes camping in the Georgia Mountains.
Two very different and very troubling things occur once a young man is found dead of no apparent means, and Baxley is asked to consult on the case. First, she’s paired with Deputy Sam Mayes, a full-blooded Cherokee Indian. Second, they are kidnapped by entities straight out of myths and legends. Both encounters rattle the foundations of Baxley’s world.
Sam Mayes, in addition to being ruggedly handsome and a rock solid cop, is another dreamwalker. He understands the challenges Baxley faces as she seeks justice for the dead using her extra abilities. In essence, he speaks her language.
Their kidnappers are known to Mayes. He’s visited the Nunne’hi before, seeking wisdom. This time though the Nunne’hi have their own agenda. They expect Baxley to contact her Other World mentor who will then punish the man who stole a precious artifact from them. To ensure her cooperation, they keep several adults, including Baxley’s best friend, hostage.
While these actions are upsetting on several levels, Baxley is exposed to the concept of multiple realms between the living and the dead. It occurs to her that her missing husband could somehow be trapped in an interim realm, and she renews her pledge to find and rescue him.
As the case wraps up in the Georgia Mountains, Baxley realizes she enjoys working with Mayes. She isn’t ready to say goodbye. Turns out, he feels the same way. Mayes makes it known that he wants to date her, and when she declines a romantic relationship, he says he’ll be her friend instead.
Death and taxes aren’t certainties in Baxley Powell’s world. The only certainty in her world is change. Things continue to change, no matter what she does. These changes seem to be for the good. She has a new idea about where to search for her missing husband and another powerful dreamwalker to help her.
For more about Baxley’s adventures camping in the mountains, check out Dadgummit, book 4 of the Dreamwalker Mystery Series.


About The Author  

Formerly a contract scientist for the U.S. Army and a freelance reporter, mystery and suspense author Maggie Toussaint has thirteen published books. Her recent mystery releases include Gone and Done It, Bubba Done It, Death, Island Style, and Dime If I Know. Her latest mystery, Doggone It, is Book Three in her dreamwalker series about a psychic sleuth.

Maggie won the Silver Falchion Award for Best Cozy/Traditional Mystery. Additionally, she won a National Readers’ Choice Award and an EPIC Award for Best Romantic Suspense. She was twice nominated for the Georgia Author of the Year Award and finaled in the Beacon and the Readers’ Crown Contest.

Maggie lives in coastal Georgia, where secrets, heritage, and ancient oaks cast long shadows. Visit her at www.maggietoussaint.com.

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A new Washington Whodunit: Calamity at the Continental Club by Colleen J. Shogan

The Mayflower Society is about to hold its annual meeting at Washington D.C.’s swanky gathering place for the elite, the Continental Club. That means Kit Marshall’s upper-crust future in-laws, Buffy and Winston Hollingsworth, are coming for a visit. Annoyed that Kit has not set a date to marry Doug, Buffy wants her to commit to a high society wedding at the club. Kit, though chief of staff for a congresswoman, feels uncomfortable with Buffy and Winston’s crowd.

Kit receives an unexpected reprieve in the form of murder. En route to her morning jog, she encounters the corpse of the leader of the Mayflower Society, conservative multimedia tycoon Grayson Bancroft. On the security cameras, no one was seen entering or leaving the club, which means the culprit had to be an overnight guest. Little love was lost on Bancroft, but the police have their prime suspect: Doug’s father.

Buffy and Winston, formerly disdainful of Kit’s sleuthing, urge her to investigate. With her future in-laws’ freedom and reputations at stake, Kit sets out once again to solve a murder mystery, this time aided by her fiancé Doug in addition to her friends Meg and Trevor and her dog Clarence. Her search for clues will take her from the club to the Smithsonian Museum, the National Archives, and Mount Vernon.

Calamity at the Continental Club is Book 3 of the Washington Whodunit series, which began with Stabbing in the Senate and continued with Homicide in the House.


Island Confidential: Colleen, welcome to Island Confidential! Can you tell us a little bit about your protagonist? 

Colleen Shogan: Kit Marshall is a plucky, thirty-something Capitol Hill staffer who somehow finds herself embroiled in murder on a routine basis in Washington, D.C. In this book, she’s dealing with her recent proposal and planning a wedding while she solves a double homicide. She’s got her hands full!

How similar are you and Kit?

CS: I previously worked as a congressional staffer, but I’m not Kit Marshall. Instead, Kit is a pastiche of all the women I worked with on Capitol Hill. She’s no one person, but blends a lot of traits and characteristics. Kit tries to balance a lot in her life. She’s a little obsessed with keeping everyone happy: her fiancé, her best friend, her boss. But she also likes to have fun and has an impetuous side. She’d be a good person to know in Washington.

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

CS: Yes, absolutely. I’ve read a number of cozy mystery series and one of my pet peeves is characters who remain static. There’s something comforting to readers about that consistency but it can also grow boring. So I try to keep relationships evolving. Kit’s fiancé, Doug, changes a lot in this story, and that’s going to have long term effects for the role he plays in the series.

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

CS: Sure, all the time. What’s the point of writing mysteries if you can’t fantasize about killing people who bug you the most?

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

CS: My settings are true to life. This book is set at a fictitious social club in Washington, D.C. but it strongly resembles several real-life locations. At times, you may need to take small liberties to make a particular plot work, but I am pretty obsessive about making sure I’m describing Washington in an accurate way. I want people who have never lived in our nation’s capital to understand what it’s like to reside there.

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

CS: America Ferrera might make a good Kit Marshall. Or maybe Kelly Clarkson. I don’t like it when movies are made and the character in the book wasn’t super skinny, but then the actress who plays her is a size 2. That ruins it. For Meg, I picture a Clare Danes or Kristen Bell. For Doug, it’s harder to say. I think Charlie Day could do it. He could bring a lot of humor and wit to Doug.

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

CS: The best advice has to do with perseverance. It’s important to keep writing and revising. Not everyone is going to like what you write. That doesn’t mean a lot of other people won’t love it! I’ve been lucky and haven’t received too much bad advice. I do remember an agent I met who liked my concept for a mystery series based in Washington, D.C. But she didn’t like the working title of my first book, Stabbing in the Senate. Quite frankly, I adored the alliterative title and so did everyone else who heard about it. So I had to say “thanks, but no thanks!”


About the Author

Colleen Shogan has been reading mysteries since the age of six. A political scientist by training, Colleen has taught American politics at Yale, George Mason, Georgetown, and Penn. She previously worked in the United States Senate and for the Congressional Research Service. She’s currently a senior executive at the Library of Congress, working on great outreach initiatives such as the National Book Festival. She lives in Arlington, Virginia with her husband Rob Raffety and their beagle mutt, Conan.

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New Elmwood Confidential Cozy Mystery: Dead Air and Double Dares

Crystal Cropper, editor of the Elmwood Gazette, has added incentive in finding out who killed Horace Q. Ogilvie, owner of the local radio station and the most reviled man in town. Horace turns up dead minutes before he is supposed to broadcast his next malicious editorial, designed to destroy yet another Elmwood luminary.

Fortunately for the police department, Horace’s list of future targets provides an abundant pool of suspects. Unfortunately for Crystal, her name is at the top!


Guest post from Janis Thornton: Butt-Bustin’, Bloomin’ Boomers

 

Imagine my delight when I read this paragraph in the first email from the new editor assigned to give my book a final scrub:

“I am currently at work on the proofreading of Dead Air & Double Dares. While hunting for misplaced commas and odd spacing, I have been enjoying Crystal’s adventures. I need your help on something. I had my assistant Olivia read DA&DD before I set to work. I told her very little about the book so I could get a fresh read. Olivia found herself quite far into the novel before she realized that Crystal was in her sixties. She assumed our sleuth was in her thirties.”

I had to read it again. Olivia assumed my sixty-plus-year-old protagonist was in her thirties! I wrote back my editor praising her assistant’s presumption.

I enjoyed hearing about Olivia’s surprise finding out Crystal is over 60. What she experienced is exactly what I’m trying to convey through Crystal’s character — that just because someone is well into their “golden years” doesn’t mean they can’t be as vibrant and relevant and youthful as they were in their 30s and 40s.

Part of the fun of writing a novel is creating characters that channel the author’s views and attitudes. Take my protagonist, Crystal Cropper, for example. Crystal is very much like me. I confess, she embodies many of the life experiences that make me who I am: We’re both only-children … we’ve both been editors at small-town newspapers … we’re single, independent, fun loving, and domestically challenged. And although we’re well into our sixties, we both blow our pretty, blonde stacks every time someone dares suggest or treats us like we’re “old ladies.”

While we are proud to be children of the era of skinny Elvis, saddle shoes, and poodle skirts … do not expect us to behave like “old ladies.”

Crystal is a Baby Boomer, but she has no use for society’s long-accepted expectation that she behave in a manner traditionally associated with being older. She lives her life on her own terms, as a woman who’s tireless, culturally current, curious, relevant, and bold. She will not be dismissed, diminished, disregarded, or declared irrelevant simply because there are silver roots at the bottom of her blonde curls.

Crystal’s self-proclaimed mission is to gather support for a long-overdue, age-based demographic: Butt-Bustin’, Bloomin’ Boomers.

Not getting the picture? Then picture this: Meryl Streep. Sally Field. Condoleezza Rice. Helen Mirren. Kathy Bates. Oprah Winfrey. Hillary Clinton. All are relevant, high-energy, resourceful, independent, confidant, accomplished Boomers. They’re all well into their third act, living with the same positive attitude, lust and gusto they exhibited at half their age.

I beg my Boomer-aged friends to reject the long-standing, stereotypical definition of them as gerontologically impaired. I also encourage them to hold up their past as a telephoto lens and focus it on their potential. And their future.

I hope as you read “Dead Air & Double Dares,” Book 2 in the Elmwood Confidential series, you will find a kinship with Crystal Cropper. She’s not old. She’s better than ever — a Butt-Bustin’ Bloomin’ Boomer through and through. I hope my readers — regardless of their generational identity — connect with her. Those who have yet to reach their sixth decade of life are in for an exciting awakening. That classic advertising slogan, “I’m not getting old … I’m getting better,” has never been more relevant. It’s true for Crystal and me, and it should be true for women at every age and stage of life.

So here’s to Olivia … mission accomplished! Thank you for seeing Crystal for the woman she is and not the woman you expected. Crystal Cropper may have lived sixty years, but she is ageless!


About the Author:

Janis Thornton is a writer, personal historian, and journalist. She is the author of two local history books, “Images of America: Tipton County” and “Images of America: Frankfort”; and contributor to “Chicken Soup for the Mother’s Soul 2” (page 189!). “Dust Bunnies and Dead Bodies” is her debut novel (a cozy mystery), released in October 2014. She is a member of Sisters in Crime, the Indiana Writers Center, Association of Personal Historians, and the Midwest Writers Workshop Planning Committee. A 2009 MWW Fellow, she also was a finalist in the Daphne du Maurier contest that year. Her newspaper feature stories have been recognized by Women in Communications (Lafayette, Indiana chapter), Smiles Unlimited, and the Hoosier State Press Association. She lives in Indiana. You may contact/follow/like her at http://www.janis-thornton.com, Twitter (@JanisThornton), and Facebook (facebook.com/janis.thorntonauthor).

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New Ex-Nun Cozy: The Clock Strikes Nun by Alice Loweecey

>>>Enter to win an e-copy of The Clock Strikes Nun<<<

When terrified Elaine Patrick knocks on Driscoll Investigations’ door and insists her house is haunted, Giulia Driscoll’s first response is “we don’t handle ghosts.” When Elaine’s housekeeper and crackpot filthy rich cousin descend on Giulia and demand she find out who’s trying to steal sweet, fragile Elaine’s family business out from under her, that’s a different story. They want DI to provide Tarot readings, ghost hunting sessions, and even an exorcism.

Ghost hunting? There are apps for that. Tarot readings? Experts in the skill are right across the street. Exorcisms? Having a priest for a brother-in-law comes in handy. Giulia plunges into a crash course in all things supernatural, convinced everything happening to Elaine is stagecraft.

Except when it isn’t. Giulia’s about to discover a new dimension to sleuthing, if she can survive attempted murder long enough to see through the web of lies around her client.


Island Confidential: Alice, welcome back to Island Confidential! For our new readers, and those who need a little refresher, can you tell us a little about your protagonist Giulia?

Alice Loweecey: Giulia Driscoll is an ex-nun, now married and running her own private investigation agency. She grows her own vegetables, cooks from scratch as much as she can, and is expecting her first baby. In other words, she’s a multitasking kick-butt woman.

How much of you is in Giulia?

AL: Only a little of me is in Giulia. I’m an ex-nun and I grow veggies and cook from scratch, but it ends there. Giulia is much nicer than I am. She’s also a bit more tightly wound than I am. She never cusses, ever. If we met in person we’d probably share recipes and argue about the merits of the Catholic Church, since she’s still a member in good standing and I walked away a long time ago.

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

AL: Definitely yes. Giulia is much more comfortable in her own skin than she was a few books ago. She has more confidence and even makes jokes. Her assistant Sidney has mellowed a bit with motherhood but not enough to eat processed foods. Some things don’t change! Her admin Zane was a scared genius rabbit when Giulia hired him. Now he’s going undercover and interacting with humans instead of computer screens.

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

AL: Hahaha, no. Karma. I will admit to disguising a few people in my books to make unpleasant things happen to them.

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

AL: Absolutely true to life. My books take place in a made-up suburb of Pittsburgh, but my friends in the Pittsburgh area always help me with details. Giulia uses modern equipment and methods and I spend an inordinate amount of time researching. I love research.

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

AL: Oh, from your lips to Hallmark’s ears!
Giulia: Cobie Smulders
Frank: Alan Tudyk
Sidney: Christina Milian
Zane: Paul Bettany

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

AL: The worst: “Don’t write strong female characters. They make male readers uncomfortable.” The best: “It’s okay if the first draft is crap. Get the story on the page. You have coffee and edits after you write The End.”


About the Author

 

Baker of brownies and tormenter of characters, Alice Loweecey recently celebrated her thirtieth year outside the convent. She grew up watching Hammer Horror and Scooby-Doo Mysteries, which might explain a whole lot. When she’s not creating trouble for Giulia Falcone-Driscoll, she can be found growing her own vegetables (in summer) and cooking with them (the rest of the year).

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Character interview: Mrs. Odboddy, Undercover Courier

Asked to accompany Mrs. Roosevelt on her Pacific Island tour, Agnes and Katherine travel by train to Washington, D.C. Agnes carries a package for Colonel Farthingworth to President Roosevelt.

Convinced the package contains secret war documents, Agnes expects Nazi spies to try and derail her mission.

She meets Irving, whose wife mysteriously disappears from the train; Nanny, the unfeeling caregiver to little Madeline; two soldiers bound for training as Tuskegee airmen; and Charles, the shell-shocked veteran, who lends an unexpected helping hand. Who will Agnes trust? Who is the Nazi spy?

When enemy forces make a final attempt to steal the package in Washington, D.C., Agnes must accept her own vulnerability as a warrior on the home front.

Can Agnes overcome multiple obstacles, deliver the package to the President, and still meet Mrs. Roosevelt’s plane before she leaves for the Pacific Islands?

Mrs. Odboddy: Undercover Courier is a hysterical frolic on a train across the United States during WWII, as Agnes embarks on this critical mission.


Island Confidential: Mrs. Odboddy, welcome back to Island Confidential! Would you mind introducing yourself to our new readers?

Agnes Odboddy: My name is Agnes Agatha Odboddy. I live with my granddaughter, Katherine, and my Siamese cat, Ling-Ling. Generally I keep busy volunteering, and keep my eyes open for Nazi spies. I’m sure you know every citizen must be on the look-out for miscreants and conspiracies that try to undermine the war effort.

During WWI, I worked as an undercover agent for the USA. That’s why Colonel Farthingworth thought it would raise less suspicion to have me carry this package to President Roosevelt, since we’re headed to the Capitol anyway. We plan to accompany Mrs. Roosevelt on her Pacific Island Tour.

Katherine and I will cross the country by train from California to Washington. Now you mark my words. I fully expect to deal with Nazi agents along the way, as I’m sure the package contains secret war documents.

Who’s the character you get along with the best?

AO: Katherine is my late son’s daughter. After she lost her fiancé at Pearl Harbor, she moved in with me and went to work as a beautician at Curls to Dye For. She also does the hair and make-up at the Whistlemeyer Mortuary. She has beautiful red hair like me. And no…I don’t dye my hair…. Only fast women and European spies dye their hair. I keep my natural color by freshening it with a special henna shampoo.

Which character do not get along with so well?

AO: Once we get on the train, it becomes fairly obvious that fancy-man, Irving, is a Nazi spy and after my package. The only way he’ll get it is over my dead body! Katherine says that’s what she worried about, but he doesn’t scare me. I brought my WWI service pistol and I know how to use it. Now, if I can just remember which suitcase I put it in…

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

AO: She’s the cat’s meow! Literally! I’m not her first literary fictional creation, you know. She wrote three cozy cat mysteries before the Mrs. Odboddy series. She writes a pretty good story…long on humor, adventure and mystery…as long as I keep telling her what to say.

What’s next for you?

AO: My third adventure is already completed. Mrs. Odboddy –And Then There Was a Tiger, to be published sometime next year. Yes. There is a real, live, breathing tiger, and he plays into an exciting tale of counterfeit money, a county fair, and someone determined to destroy Mrs. Odboddy’s stellar reputation. If I only knew who was behind it…but in the meantime, I know you’ll enjoy a hysterical romp across the country with me as I match wits with a train full of suspicious characters.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Elaine is a member of Sisters in Crime, Inspire Christian Writers and Cat Writers Association. She lives in No. Calif with her husband and four house cats (the inspiration for her three humorous cozy cat mysteries, Black Cat’s Legacy, Black Cat and the Lethal Lawyer, and Black Cat and the Accidental Angel).
Mrs. Odboddy’s character is based in no way on Elaine’s quirky personality. Two more Mrs. Odboddy adventures will publish in the near future. Many of Elaine’s short stories have appeared in magazines and multiple anthologies.

Keep up with Elaine:

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New Series (Big Lake Murder Mysteries) and Character Interview: Dumpster Dying

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Emily Rhodes came to rural Florida for the cowboys, the cattle, and to do a little country two-step, not to fall head first onto a dead body in a dumpster.

Ah, the golden years of retirement in the sunshine state. They’re more like pot metal to Emily, who discovers the body of the county’s wealthiest rancher in the Big Lake Country Club dumpster. With her close friend accused of the murder, Emily sets aside her grief at her life partner’s death to find the real killer. She underestimates the obstacles rural Florida can set up for a winter visitor and runs afoul of a local judge with his own version of justice, hires a lawyer who works out of a retirement home, and flees wild fires hand-in-hand with the man she believes to be the killer.


Toby, welcome to Island Confidential! Can you tell our readers a little bit about yourself? 

Toby Sands: My name is Toby Sands, and I’m a detective with the local police department, but I’m treated like dog doo doo by my fellow officers. Only my captain is any kind of friend, and that’s because we go way back to the police academy where we first met. I did well there–

I’m sorry, it says here you barely passed? Um, never mind. Go ahead.

TS: Yea, anyway, when I graduated, I took a job in Miami where I ran into a bit of trouble. It was all a big misunderstanding on the part of my partner who told my boss I was pocketing money from local merchants. My partner, a woman wouldn’t ya know, said I was claiming to give businesses special protection in high crime areas if they slipped me some cash under the table.

The real story is that a lot of businesses were grateful to me when I warned off gang members and other bad dudes and showed their appreciation by giving me a “tip”, especially if I let them know I could close them down for some legal infractions on their part. I mean, pay at that time was lousy. Everyone knew it, so these friendly folks wanted to show their appreciation for my going out of my way for them. My durn partner also claimed I showed excessive violence when I “talked” to guys we encountered on the street. She said they was just standing there. I said I could tell they was thinking of doing some illegal. That’s why women shouldn’t be cops. They are so bad at reading criminal minds. Anyway, I was encouraged to move on. In return, my record in Miami remains spotless, as well it should cuz I was innocent. Durn femiNazi partner! Luckily, my old classmate from the academy understood how it was, and he hired me.

Someone told us you were hired by your old classmate because the city was desperate to fill a vacancy and you were available. The same source claimed that you got down on your knees and begged, then rolled around on the floor blubbering and crying until you were finally taken on with a warning to behave. Is there any truth to that?

TS: Who told you that?

It’s not important. Let’s move on to something more positive. Who’s the character you get along with the best? 

TS: Well, like I said, my captain gave me a break when I needed it, but he’s coming around to share others’ views of me. It’s totally unfair, and it’s only because everyone is jealous of how quickly I get things done.

I see here that your collars occur in record time.

TS: Darn straight.

How many of those have resulted in convictions? Uh, never mind. You were talking about your colleagues?

TS: So I can’t really say I like too many people. I’ve got a cop’s mindset and that means I can see larceny in a person. I kinda favor some of the bigwig lawyers in town who ask me to do jobs for them. They know how to get around severely restrictive laws and they pay nicely for my help. In a recent event where I took an early retirement, I drew the line at excessive violence. I’m now doing some work for the county as an undercover informant.  [Interviewer’s note: Toby couldn’t be convicted of murder in this case due to lack of evidence.]

Which other character do you have a conflict with?

TS: Like I said, I’m not real crazy about women who stick their noses into other people’s business whether that be another cop who tattles on me or that snoopy little bartender Emily Rhodes who’s sweet on my partner here in rural Florida, Detective Stanton Lewis. See, I know wimmin are best suited to the kitchen or the bedroom. She gives him too many ideas about what I should or shouldn’t be doing with my time. If I’ve been working hard on a case, why shouldn’t I enjoy the afternoon in the bar or a siesta in my cruiser in the shade of a palm tree. This is rural Florida and it’s hot here. A working man needs a drink and a nap to get through this heat and humidity. But I almost got her back for all her snooping. She’d be a white slave in some African country if she hadn’t sicced that wild pig on me. Like to scare me half to death. I still shake thinking about it.

What..? Why don’t we move on to the next question. Just between you and me: What do you really think of your author?

TS: Just another uppity woman who thinks she knows more ’ bout right and wrong than I do, me, Toby Sands who’s been in the crime business for years.

Yes, everyone I’ve spoken to agrees you’ve been in the crime business since you graduated from the academy.

TS: I don’t need no Yankee school teacher telling me when and where I can chew a wad or where I can spit it or nothin’ about how a man should treat his wife. Okay, so I did help kidnap that Rhodes’ woman’s daughter for her husband, but she’d sassed him and no man needs a wife like that. She needed to be taught a lesson, and I was the one who could teach her one—for the right amount of money.

So what’s next for you?

TS: The court says I got to do some time, but I guarantee you I’ll be out sooner than you can spit a wad in an alligator’s eye. No sir. Toby Sands can work the system. I’ll be living the good life soon. Meantime, if you can believe it, the man is free on bail.
It just ain’t fair. No one appreciates me.

[Note: there are so many charges against Toby that it may take the legal system some time to sort them all out.]


About The Author

Lesley retired from her life as a professor of psychology and reclaimed her country roots by moving to a small cottage in the Butternut River Valley in Upstate New York. In the winter she migrates to old Florida—cowboys, scrub palmetto and open fields of grazing cattle, a place where spurs still jingle in the post office, and gators make golf a contact sport. Back north, the shy ghost inhabiting the cottage serves as her literary muse. When not writing, she gardens, cooks, frequents yard sales and renovates the 1874 cottage with the help of her husband, two cats and, of course, Fred the ghost, who gives artistic direction to their work. She is the author of a number of mystery series and mysteries as well as short stories. The third book in the Eve Appel murders (from Camel Press) A Sporting Murder was awarded a Readers’ Favorite Five Star Award and her short story Gator Aid a Sleuthfest (2009) short story first place. She has fired the alligator that served as her literary muse when she is in Florida and is interviewing applicants for the position.

 

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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!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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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A New Nic and Nigel Mystery: A Perfect Manhattan Murder

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Thrilled that their friend’s Broadway debut was a rousing success, Nic and Nigel Martini, along with Nic’s college pal Harper, are trying to enjoy the exclusive after-party. Unfortunately, all the champagne and repartee in the world aren’t enough to overlook the churlish behavior of Harper’s husband, Dan. Nic is shocked the next morning when she learns that Dan’s been murdered. Nigel thinks the world may be a better place without him.
Still, Harper’s their friend and they’re intent on helping her any way they can. The Martinis will stop at nothing—with the possible exception of cocktails and walks with their bull mastiff Skippy—to see that the killer ends up behind bars.


About the Author

tracyportrait

Tracy Kiely is a self-proclaimed Anglophile (a fact which distresses certain members of her Irish Catholic family). She grew up reading Jane Austen, Agatha Christie, and watching Hitchcock movies. She fell in love with Austen’s wit, Christie’s clever plots, and Hitchcock’s recurrent theme of “the average man caught in extraordinary circumstances.”

After spending years of trying to find a proper job that would enable her to use her skills garnered as an English major, she decided to write a book. It would, of course, have to be a mystery; it would have to be funny; and it would have to feature an average person caught up in extraordinary circumstances. She began to wonder how the characters in Pride and Prejudice might fit into a mystery. What, if after years of living with unbearably rude and condescending behavior, old Mrs. Jenkins up and strangled Lady Catherine? What if Charlotte snapped one day and poisoned Mr. Collins’ toast and jam? Skip ahead several years, and several different plot ideas, and you have her first mystery Murder at Longbourn.

While she does not claim to be Jane Austen, Agatha Christie, or Hitchcock (one big reason being that they’re all dead), she has tried to combine the elements of all three in her books.

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