New paramedic mystery, giveaway, and character interview: Uneasy Prey by Annette Dashofy

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On the way to the emergency room, an elderly woman regains consciousness long enough to inform paramedic Zoe Chambers that her fall down the basement steps was no accident. Before she can say more, she succumbs to her injuries, launching Zoe and Police Chief Pete Adams into the investigation of a burglary ring targeting the area’s vulnerable senior citizens.

Zoe—in spite of Pete’s objections—takes it upon herself to act as protection detail after the con men, disguised as water company employees, set their sights on Zoe’s beloved former landlady. It’s a decision that eventually puts Zoe in harm’s way.

With Zoe already recovering from one close call, Pete must race against time to stop the crime ring—and a dangerous killer—before they strike again.

Character Interview: Zoe Chambers

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

I’ve been a paramedic since I was 23 but before that I wanted to be a veterinarian!  Unfortunately, I was a horrible student in high school and in college, so that was not to be. Next, I thought I wanted to be a firefighter until Ted and Sylvia Bassi steered me toward EMS. I’ll be forever grateful they did because it’s a much better fit.

Who’s your favorite character in Uneasy Prey?

You’re probably expecting me to say Pete. I love Pete, but we disagree more than we agree. So, I’m going to say Sylvia. She’s a mother hen to just about everyone in Vance Township including me.

Is there any character you don’t get along with so well?

My mother. Absolutely, my mother. Why? We’re polar opposites in most matters. I was my daddy’s girl, and when we lost him when I was eight, neither of us handled it well. Mom remarried, and she and Tom moved to Florida when I was fifteen. I chose to stay behind, claiming I wanted to finish school here but the truth was I didn’t want to deal with her “diva complex” any longer. She’s high-fashion, and I’m t-shirts and barn boots. I think I’m a huge disappointment to her.

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

Annette’s okay. She “gets” me. I do wish she’d dress Pete in tighter jeans, but I guess I can’t have everything. And although she’s a vegetarian, she hasn’t made me give up my cheeseburgers and bacon!

What’s next for you?

I seem to have come into possession of a rundown farm. I have no idea how I’m going to come up with the money to make it livable for me and my horse. Maybe I need to ask Franklin Marshall to give me more duties (and more pay!) in the Coroner’s Office. (Cry Wolf, the 7th Zoe Chambers Mystery is scheduled for a September 2018 release!)


About The Author  

Annette Dashofy is the USA Today best-selling author of the Zoe Chambers mystery series about a paramedic and deputy coroner in rural Pennsylvania’s tight-knit Vance Township. CIRCLE OF INFLUENCE, published by Henery Press, was finalist for the Agatha Award for Best First Novel and for the David Award for Best Mystery of 2014. LOST LEGACY, was released in September 2014 followed in April 2015 by BRIDGES BURNED, which has been nominated for the Agatha for Best Contemporary Novel.

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#Giveaway and Guest Post: Annette Dashofy, author of With a Vengeance

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Paramedic Zoe Chambers and the rest of rural Monongahela County’s EMS and fire personnel are used to wading into the middle of trouble to rescue the sick and the injured.

But when someone with an ax to grind seeks retribution by staging accident scenes and gunning down the first responders, Zoe finds herself forced to not only treat her own brethren of the front lines, but also, in her role as deputy coroner, seek out whoever is killing her friends. At the same time, Vance Township Police Chief Pete Adams races to track down a gun, a mysterious all-terrain vehicle, and the sniper before Zoe goes back on duty, placing herself—and Pete—firmly in the gunman’s crosshairs.



When I started writing the Zoe Chambers mystery series a few years back, one of the first things I decided on—besides the main characters of Zoe and Pete—was the location. I knew I wanted to set the series here in rural southwestern Pennsylvania, but I opted against using the real towns and municipalities.

My reasons for setting the stories locally were numerous. I know the area. No need to travel for research. No need to learn about quirky customs or manners. I grew up around them! And although we’re in the middle of farm country, crime exists. I liked the idea of writing about small town crime being as deadly as anything you’ll find in the city. I can write about corrupt politicians. I can also write about a body discovered in a bin of potatoes in a farmer’s root cellar.

My reasons for creating a fictionalized version of my corner of the world are less numerous. One: I wanted to be able to move things around and merge three different townships into one. If I had done this using the correct names for places, my readers who live around here would have nailed me to the wall. As is, they take great pleasure in announcing that they recognize that store or that road! Two: I’m not a police officer, but I write police procedure. While I try to stay accurate, if I do get something wrong, I can always say, “That’s how it’s done in Monongahela County!”

One thing that’s very real is the Kroll farmhouse, where Zoe lives in the first three books. It’s the house in which I grew up. My grandparents’ house. While the real structure was razed years ago, having Zoe live there has allowed me to keep my memories alive. Having said that, let me tell you I had not intended for Bridges Burned to end the way it did. Sometimes we authors write the stories. Sometimes they take over and write themselves. Such was the case, and I wasn’t at all happy about it. However, I’ve gone through the seven stages of grief and have moved on.

Zoe’s still working on it.

In With a Vengeance I bring back a number of locations that have shown up or been talked about in earlier books. The reclaimed strip minds known as the Cuts are real. I’ve always thought there was something vaguely sinister about them. A great place for a murder! Same with the State Game Lands. Easy access, and yet desolate. It’s one of my favorite places to drop a body.

Fictionally, of course.

Locations aren’t the only reason I chose to write about this area. The people are as varied as the topography. In With a Vengeance, the characters range from attorneys to mechanics to farmers to survivalists. Hunting is big business around here, so even knowing the murder weapon is a specific kind of deer rifle doesn’t narrow down the list of suspects.


Finally, I admit I’m obsessed with setting. I love reading books that take me someplace I’ve never been—or take me someplace I know quite well. I hope my readers have the same experience with my series, whether they’re experiencing Pennsylvania for the first time, or whether they think of Pete and Zoe as their neighbors.

About The Author  

Annette Dashofy is the USA Today best-selling author of the Zoe Chambers mystery series about a paramedic and deputy coroner in rural Pennsylvania’s tight-knit Vance Township. CIRCLE OF INFLUENCE, published by Henery Press, was afinalist for the Agatha Award for Best First Novel and for the David Award for Best Mystery of 2014. LOST LEGACY, was released in September 2014 followed in April 2015 by BRIDGES BURNED, which has been nominated for the Agatha for Best Contemporary Novel. WITH A VENGEANCE, the fourth in the series, will be available May 3.

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Spotlight and #Giveaway: Shards of Murder

When a glass-making competition turns deadly, glass shop owner Savannah Webb must search for a window into a criminal’s mind…

As the new proprietor of Webb’s Glass Shop, Savannah has been appointed to fill her late father’s shoes as a judge for the Spinnaker Arts Festival, held in downtown St. Petersburg, Florida. With her innovative glass works, the clear winner is Megan Loyola, a student of Savannah’s former mentor.

But when Megan doesn’t show up to accept her $25,000 award, rumors start flying. And when Savannah discovers the woman’s dead body on festival grounds, the police immediately suspect her of murder. To keep from appearing before a judge herself, Savannah sorts through the broken pieces of glass scattered around the victim for clues as to who took this killer competition too far.


>>>Enter to win a print copy of Shards of Murder<<<


About The Author  

Cheryl Hollon now writes full-time after she left an engineering career of designing and building military flight simulators in amazing countries such as England, Wales, Australia, Singapore, Taiwan, and India. Fulfilling the dream of a lifetime, she combines her love of writing with a passion for creating glass art. In the small glass studio behind her house in St. Petersburg, Florida, Cheryl and her husband design, create, and produce fused glass, stained glass, and painted glass artworks. Visit her online at, on Facebook or on Twitter@CherylHollon.



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Interview and Giveaway: N.J. Thames, Happy Homicides, Thirteen Cozy Mysteries

Love can be deadly. As proven by these traditional mysteries, cunningly crafted by thirteen bestselling and award-winning authors. Nearly 500-pages of heart-warming, brain puzzling, and character-driven reads. Your purchase includes a free gift, a file with recipes and craft ideas sure to put you in a romantic mood any time of the year!

>>>Enter here to win a dozen red roses<<<

Included in the anthology are:

Cara Mia Delgatto and the Stupid Cupid– (Joanna Campbell Slan) Cara hopes to find the man of her dreams. Instead she gets caught up in a lover’s nightmare.

Bones and Arrows by Carolyn Haines—Sarah Delaney Booth and her partner Tinkie Armstrong tackle a thieving Cupid.

Missing Jacket by Randy Rawls—A two-timing husband hires a retired cop to retrieve a stolen gift. But nothing is as it seems!

Murder at Catmmando Mountain by Anna Celeste Burke—A murder at a theme park puts Georgina “Georgie” Shaw at risk, when the killer sets Georgie up to take the fall. Will the hunky detective assigned to the case believe her plea of innocence?

And today’s interview guest, Nancy Jill Thames, author of Teddy Saves Christmas.  When Jillian Bradley finds herself alone for the holidays, her dog Teddy latches onto a homeless woman with a dangerous secret. Jillian is forced to get involved. Can she find a way to save her new friend in time for a Merry Christmas?





Q: Nancy, thanks for stopping by.  Can you tell us something about Jillian Bradley, the heroine of Teddy Saves Christmas?

A: Jillian Bradley is a feisty garden columnist for the San Francisco Enterprise living in Clover Hills, a small Bay Area bedroom community. Since she’s widowed and childless she takes her Yorkie, Teddy, with her wherever she goes which makes some consider her eccentric. Jillian does not mind at all. She knows who she is and what she stands for. Truth, justice, and the American way fits her to a T. Jillian has a great tendency to root for the underdog, particularly when she believes the wrong person has been accused of murder. Serving afternoon tea to her garden club friends is her all-time favorite thing to do besides gardening and collecting fine art. Although she’s considered well-to-do, it does not prevent her from being generous when the need arises.

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

A: : I once left a stroller with three children at the mall and chased down a young man who had violated me. Some would call that not being afraid of anything which is exactly the way Jillian Bradley is. I created a protagonist that would live my dream life, which is pretty close at the moment except I am married with four grown children and seven grandchildren, so far.
I do serve afternoon tea, but instead of collecting fine art I do my own paintings or have works my mother painted. Unlike me, Jillian does not play the piano. I think if I were to meet Jillian Bradley in real life I would find her gracious, but strong-willed, which some personalities find difficult to be around for a long period of time.

Q: That stroller episode sounds like it could be a story in itself! I see that you’ve just released Book Ten of the Jillian Bradley Series, Murder at the Empress Hotel. Have your characters changed throughout consecutive books ?

A: My characters do change and evolve throughout the series. Jillian only grows more like herself while her closest companions, Walter and Cecilia Montoya have gone from him being a hotel valet and she a housekeeper at the same hotel to him being a homicide detective and she working as a journalist for the Half Moon Bay Review.

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

A: Others have suggested possible victims but I only create victims from my imagination, they are never based on anyone I know.

Q: How realistic are your settings? Do you take liberties, or are you true to life?

A: : The settings are hallmarks of my books since many of them take place in actual resorts and hotels where I have been privileged to stay. Perhaps one day I can take liberties if my imagination allows. For now I write true to life, with the exception of changing the names of the actual place where Jillian lives and some nearby communities.

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

A: Kim Cattrall for Jillian, Christian Bale for Walter, and Emily Blunt for Cecilia.

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

A: The worst advice I’ve heard is from the first book I read on how to write a mystery. It said if one desires to be an author they should immediately turn and run the other way.
On the other hand, the best advice I’ve read is to never give up – just keep going, and growing, and getting better at being a writer/author/publisher/marketer.

About The Author  

Nancy Jill Thames was born to write mysteries. From her early days as the neighborhood storyteller to the Amazon Author Watch Bestseller List, she’s always had a vivid imagination and loves to solve problems – perfect for plotting whodunits. In 2010, she published her first mystery “Murder in Half Moon Bay,” introducing the well-loved protagonist Jillian Bradley and clue-sniffing Yorkie “Teddy.” When not plotting Jillian’s next perilous adventure, Nancy Jill travels between Texas, California, and Georgia finding new ways to spoil her grandchildren, playing classical favorites on her baby grand, or having afternoon tea with friends. She lives with her husband in Texas and is a member of ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) CenTex Chapter.

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Find out about all of the Happy Homicides 2 authors

Joanna Campbell Slan | Teresa Trent | Neil Plakcy | Elaine Viets | Annie Adams | Camille Minichino | Kathi Daley  | Nancy Jill Thames | Linda Gordon Hengerer | Carolyn Haines | Randy Rawls | Anna Celeste Burke | Maggie Toussaint


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Interview and Giveaway: Marla Bradeen, author of Murder in White Sands

One dead body, one interrupted marriage proposal, and too many suspects to count.

On the night of her engagement, Rae Lynn Dobbs stumbles across a dead body on the beach of White Sands, Florida. Not only does she recognize the murder victim as one of the retirement-home residents where she serves dinner, but it looks increasingly likely that someone there also killed him.

To her fiancé’s dismay, Rae Lynn launches her own investigation. Between the gossipy widows, the home’s last surviving bachelor, and her coworkers, Rae Lynn doesn’t have any shortage of suspects. But the more she learns, the more it seems anyone could be guilty. And if she doesn’t find out “whodunit” quickly, her fiancé might just become fed up enough to leave.



Rae Lynn Dobbs has just accepted her boyfriend Caleb’s marriage proposal (and the hideous ring that accompanies it) when the couple come upon a body face-down in the sand. When the deceased turns out to be someone Rae Lynn knows, she finds herself compelled to try to solve the case herself, which causes more than a few difficulties in both her personal and her work life.

Murder in White Sands is a fun (and funny) read.  Rae Lynn, the narrator and main character, is sympathetic without being saccharine. A retirement-home worker, Rae-Lynn can be understandably exasperated with her demanding boss, her pillock of a fiance, and her sometimes-tedious job, but she’s unfailingly kind to the elderly residents of the White Sands Retirement Village.

The murder was well-plotted, deftly interwoven with other plot elements. While the murderer’s identity wasn’t obvious at all before the reveal, it made sense in retrospect, striking the perfect balance between too much foreshadowing and too little. One of my favorite elements of the book was Rae Lynn’s ongoing struggle to be balance truth and tact on the topic of her fiance’s taste in wedding jewelry. I envisioned the ring as looking something like this

except with cats’ paws instead of human hands.

The various plotlines in this sweet and good-natured story wrap up nicely. If I were to make any suggestion, it would be to shorten the first chapter and jump right into the second, with its entertaining description of Rae Lynn’s encounter with White Sands’ finest.

Murder in White Sands is a funny, readable cozy mystery with a satisfying conclusion. Highly recommended for readers who are looking for a light, funny, and engaging mystery with a likable protagonist.


Q: Marla, thanks for stopping by! I really enjoyed reading Murder in White Sands. For those who haven’t yet read it, tell us about your protagonist, Rae Lynn.

A: Rae Lynn Dobbs is a 36-year-old retirement home waitress who has just gotten engaged when she finds the dead body of one of the home residents. She’s a little curious by nature, but who wouldn’t be if someone they knew died mysteriously? She doesn’t like cats, and she really doesn’t like engagement rings that feature cat paws. Overall, she’s basically a good person who wants to do what’s right.

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

A: Rae Lynn is similar to me in the way she thinks. We’re both sarcastic. I used to be a waitress in a retirement home too, so we share that. However, I didn’t set out to model her after me, and we differ in a lot of respects too (I love cats, for the record). If we met in real life, I’m sure we’d get along great. Since I have control over everything she does, I could make her fold my laundry, wash dishes, etc. Seriously though, I’m fond of all my protagonists. If they weren’t fictional, they would be the type of people I’d like to hang out with.

Q: Do your characters change and evolve throughout consecutive books, or do you prefer to write stand-alones?

A: My novels are all stand-alones. I do like my main characters to evolve somewhat throughout their individual stories, even if that’s just to become more aware of themselves and their own motives. I mean, there has to be more to life than finding dead bodies, right?

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

A: Never! Everyone I murder is completely fictional (in name, anyway).

Q: How true to life is the town of White Sands? 

A: White Sands is a fictional town, but it’s roughly based on Sarasota, Florida. The original setting was going to be Sarasota, but the story needed more of a small-town feel so I made up a place. For my novels that take place in real cities, I try to stay true to the city layout, but I make up most businesses. I will say though, when my Seattle characters drive around, traffic moves much more quickly than it does in real life.

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

A: I’m going to really date myself here because I don’t watch much TV and I have no idea what a lot of the recently famous actors look like. Personally, I love Sandra Bullock, and I think she’d be great as Rae Lynn (although I think she’d be great in any role). Betty White would be fantastic as one of the retirement home residents. She has the right mix of energy and humor. That said though, I’d really like to see a lot of unknowns cast. As an indie author I know how hard it is to gain public attention, and I’d love for my book’s movie version to pave the way for some lesser-known actors. Now if only someone offered to buy the film rights!

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

A: This is a tough one because I’ve learned so much from other authors since I started self-publishing. I suppose the best advice would be to write every day, whether you feel like it or not. Establishing a routine is the only way I can ever finish a book. I haven’t really received any bad advice. I’ve tried a lot of things that haven’t been very effective, but I think that’s part of the process of figuring out what works for you and your stories.

About The Author  

Marla Bradeen previously worked as a software consultant and analyst. In 2012, she gave up a traditional job for no other reason than to have more time to pursue personal interests, such as sleeping in late and taking naps. Although she misses seeing regular deposits into her bank account, she hasn’t once regretted that decision.

She didn’t initially intend to begin writing novels, but after several weeks of doing nothing, she realized sleeping all day isn’t as easy or enjoyable as her cats led her to believe. Over the ensuing months, she wrote Lethal Injection, which she self-published in 2013.

Join her readers’ group to receive a free copy of her cozy, chick-lit mystery novel Lost Witness

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The Good Bad Review

Before I was a mystery author, I was a college professor, so I’m no stranger to reviews. We professors have end-of-semester student evaluations, as well as public websites that invite students to rate their professors on such criteria as easiness, helpfulness, and –Heaven help us—hotness.  Some reviews are more helpful than others. The negative ones can be among the most useful because they tell you something about fit. (A quick perusal of my own online reviews shows that among those students who have yet to master the spelling of “professor,”  few enjoyed my upper-division writing-intensive class.)

And just as no one class is right for every student, no book is a good fit for every reader.

On this point, it’s instructive to read the reviews for Sarah Caudwell, one of my favorite authors. Her books are very English, very mannered, and very funny. But Hemingwayesque, she is not.

Consider this opening passage from Caudwell’s first novel, Thus Was Adonis Murdered.

Scholarship asks, thank God, no recompense but Truth. It is not for the sake of material reward that she (Scholarship) pursues her (Truth) through the undergrowth of Ignorance, shining on Obscurity the bright torch of Reason and clearing aside the tangled thorns of Error with the keen secateurs of Intellect. Nor is it for the sake of public glory and the applause of the multitude: the scholar is indifferent to vulgar acclaim. Nor is it even in the hope that those few intimate friends who have observed at first hand the labour of the chase will mark with a word or two of discerning congratulation its eventual achievement. Which is very fortunate, because they don’t.

Here she sets up the persona of  Hilary Tamar, the pompous and not-so-self-aware Oxford don.  This paragraph isn’t a quick read, but in my opinion it’s a rewarding one.  It is definitely, however, not everyone’s cup of tea.

Favorable Goodreads reviews describe Caudwell’s first novel  as “very funny,” “an incredible plunge into British wit (second to none),”  “witty,” and “probably the most charming murder mystery that I’ve ever read.”

Now, let’s hear from the haters:

“If emotional involvement in a story is important to you, avoid this book at all costs…[a]smug, self-consciously witty, piece of tripe.”

If I’m looking for something mannered, witty, and not emotionally taxing, this one-star review wouldn’t necessarily put me off.  This is a review that does a service to potential readers, giving us a clear, if negative, perspective​. The next one is an even better bad review.

“Style-wise, I’d give it 5 stars–Ms. Caudwell is/was a terrific writer; very funny in a very British sort of way. But you have to accept the plot-style, which involves way more talk than action. The mystery is essentially sussed out via roundtable discussions and letters from the “suspect” (Julia) that, while incredibly enjoyable, aren’t a bit credible as letters. No one could relate verbatim dialogue in a letter as Julia is purported to do.”

This was voted most helpful negative review on the book’s Amazon page, for good reason. It tells the reader what the reviewer liked and disliked, and why. I am fully prepared to suspend  disbelief  for the sake of entertaining dialogue; others may not be.

Now, I have to give this next one-star review…one star.

“Couldn’t read more than a few chapters.”

This doesn’t help the reader at all.  Why couldn’t the reviewer read more than a few chapters? Was there too much gore? Explicit sex? Typos and formatting errors? Did the reviewer recently emerge from a bank vault to find that she was the last person on earth, and drop her only pair of reading glasses? Why couldn’t you read more than a few chapters, reviewer, why?

“Couldn’t read more than a few chapters” is a bad bad review.

I think there are two important lessons here:

  • you can’t (and shouldn’t) cater to everyone, and
  • a review says as much about the reviewer as about the thing being reviewed—and that’s a good thing. I don’t want to read the most popular book; I want to read a book that readers like me enjoy.

So when I say I appreciate honest reviews, I really mean it. But I should say that I mean helpful honest reviews.  If you have to leave a bad review, make sure it’s a good bad review.

And of course plain old good reviews are always appreciated.



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The Musubi Murder reviewed on

Shelby Foister is a writer, reviewer, gamer, photographer, and dad. His book reviews are thoughtful and detailed. He gives the reader a great sense of a book’s strong and weak points, and avoids spoilers.

His review of The Musubi Murder is honest and insightful. I’m thrilled that the overall verdict is favorable, but I also appreciate learning what does and doesn’t work for a reader.

My favorite sentence:

This book is basically 60% character development, 30% direct plot points and 10% “Holy s**t this actually all connects somehow!”



THE MUSUBI MURDER August 2015 Amazon / B&N /Powell’s /Audible / iTunes

Bad book reviews = great sales?

Maybe the one-star review, that bane of every author’s ego, isn’t such a bad thing after all.

Stanford Daily reports that the only thing worse than bad publicity is no publicity.

By measuring the size of sale spikes in the week following the release of each book review, the study showed two main points: positive publicity benefited all titles and the bad publicity only helped lesser-known and obscure authors.

Just one more reason to stop fretting about reviews, and sit down and write another, better, book.

The original study is here.



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Library Journal: “Certain to appeal to readers who love well-drawn settings or academic cozies”

Library Journal

Reviewed on JULY 1, 2015  |  Mystery

Molly Barda is a faculty member at Mahina State University, teaching at the College of Commerce in Hawaii. All she wants to do is lay low and work until she is granted tenure. Fast-food guru Jimmy Tanaka makes a donation to the college but fails to show up for the ceremony. Nobody can find him. Old secrets, long-standing grudges, and murder are on the menu. This humorous debut makes entertaining use of the local patois. Anyone who has ever labored on a college campus will recognize the place and its resident academic egos. VERDICT Certain to appeal to readers who love well-drawn settings or academic cozies such as Sarah Shaber’s “Simon Shaw” series or Clea Simon’s “Dulcie Schwartz” books.


THE MUSUBI MURDER Amazon / B&N /Powell’s /Audible / iTunes

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Publishers Weekly reviews THE MUSUBI MURDER by Frankie Bow

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“ . . . winning first mystery. . . Bow, who teaches at a public university, uses wry humor to alleviate the horror of her heroine’s situation and is familiar enough with island culture to know the popularity of Musubi rice balls with a heart of Spam.”

Read the full review at Publishers Weekly.

Order today and get a pre-order discount


THE MUSUBI MURDER August 2015 Amazon / B&N /Powell’s /Audible / iTunes