Nov 172017
 

The Mayor’s Son
Mystery/Crime/Suspense
Setting – Wisconsin
Self Published (August 29, 2017)
Paperback: 254 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0996619578
Kindle ASIN: B0758JN3FT

 

 

 

It’s summer time, 1957. Early on a Sunday morning, a young woman is found dead in the street. She’s been murdered and thrown away like a sack of garbage. Hours later, a second woman is pulled out of the Crawfish River, another victim of a brutal killing.

Chief Augie Austin, Columbus’ top cop, suspects that he may be dealing with a serial killer. But, when the clues send him in two different directions, he realizes that is dealing with two murderers, not one.

Austin’s peaceful world is turned upside down, as he realizes that Columbus is not the unspoiled, perfect little town he thought it was. As he interviews witnesses and friends of the deceased, he finds himself up against one road block after another. People aren’t talking and he wants to know why.

As the evidence builds, Austin recognizes that it is pointing to one of his own officers. Already suspicious that this cop has been bending the rules for personal gain, Austin realizes that he may have a murderer patrolling his streets.

Knowing he must tread carefully, Austin sets out to build a rock solid case against Officer Drollstrom – the Mayor’s son.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

A mystery set in your small home town can be unnerving. This story takes place almost exactly 4 years before I was born. With all the real places, businesses, streets, homes and character names similar to their real ones or descriptions clear enough to recognize who they were based on had me thinking parts of the story could come from actual events, I mean I wasn’t around . . . but the real mayor’s son at the time has assured everyone it is purely fiction.

When a young woman is found dead near the town’s only set of stop and go lights “the four corners” and a second woman is pulled from the river Police Chief Augie Austin fears Columbus may have a serial killer. Trying to find a link between the women is tough because no one will answer his questions. Like him, most residents of this small Columbia County town can’t believe this happened in their close knit community. The investigation starts to move forward when the results on evidence from the crime lab start to come in and they are pointing to one of his own officers. The guy is lazy as they come and doesn’t respect Austin’s authority, but a murderer. . .

This is my first book by this author and clearly it will not be the last. She knows how to set a scene and has created unique characters. I love that in 1957 she has a capable and well trained woman on the police force. All the characters are realistic and their dialogues are believable. Her descriptions make it so easy to picture everything clearly even if you have never set foot in the city.

Murder, prostitution, and small town politics, all come together in a suspenseful mystery with amazing twists and an ending you will never see coming. There is also a fair amount of humor woven throughout the story.

I love my home town.  Taking a step back in time was a pleasure. From the city hall, to Earl’s Cafe (where both my mother and sister worked), to the Fireman’s Tavern, the Stokely canning factory, the popcorn wagon, the Crawfish River and more brought back so many memories. I grew up there and still don’t live too far away. My dad was a milkman, a school bus driver and later the Fire Chief. My mom worked not only at Earl’s Cafe but at the garment factory and later owned a tavern with my dad. Heck, I was runner up to Miss Columbus in 1979. Life there wasn’t perfect but I wouldn’t change a thing.

I admire the author’s imagination and the drama she brought to life in her book. The characters are well crafted and the story really flowed well. I look forward to reading another of her books that hopefully don’t hit quite so close to home 🙂

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

You can find out about Susan and her webpage here.

More Books by Susan Pare’


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Photo of a painting by Columbus resident Susan Stare

*This book was from my private collection.

Nov 102017
 

On Flashback Fridays I will share with you
the books I was not able to review
when they were first released that have been screaming at me
from my To-Be-Read bookshelf.


Last week I reviewed the 1st book in this series Working Stiff,
you can still enter to win a copy
.
I enjoyed it so much I found the next one on my
To-Be-Read shelf for this week.

Scared Stiff
(Mattie Winston Mysteries)

Cozy Mystery
2nd in Series
Setting – Wisconsin
Kensington (September 1, 2010)
Hardcover: 336 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0758234544
Mass Market Paperback: 336 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0758234551
Kindle ASIN: B005B0I2ZY

 

 

When Deputy Coroner Mattie Winston and her boss/best friend, Izzy, are called to the home of waitress and part-time model Shannon Tolliver, they find the ghoulish Halloween decorations a bit too authentic. Among the fake blood and skeletons is the corpse of Shannon herself. Since the whole town knows Shannon recently had a very public spat with her estranged husband, Erik, he’s suspect #1. But Mattie happens to know Erik truly loved his wife, and is simply incapable of the brutal act-even if he owns the exact same caliber handgun as the murder weapon. . .

Determined to unearth the truth, Mattie puts her scalpel-sharp medical skills to work, and digs a little deeper. What she uncovers is stranger than anyone could have imagined. . .

Dollycas’s Thoughts

I now have another author in addition to Julie Mulhern that makes me laugh out loud so much my family thinks I am losing it. The first book in this series,
Working Stiff, made me laugh a lot but this one had me laughing from start to finish.

Former nurse now assistant medical examiner Mattie Winston is a hoot and a half. In this story Mattie gets called away from a blind date to a residence that has taken their Halloween decorations very seriously. Unfortunately one of the dead bodies in the yard is real, part-time model and waitress Shannon Tolliver has died surrounded by her fake tombstones and skeletons. Separated from her husband, he becomes the prime suspect. Maddie’s gut tells her he didn’t do it. She is going to use her new job to dig into the case on her own. Maddie is also called to the site of a car accident in this book.  Her arrival is one of the hysterical moments I mentioned above.

The story picks up almost where the last one leaves off. Maddie has left her husband, the doctor and has taken up residence in her boss/best friend’s guest house. She gets into an accident with her car and not wanting to ask her husband for help getting a new vehicle she ends up making a very interesting choice in her mode of transportation. There is still a growing romantic tension between Maddie and Detective Steve Hurley. Their dialogues are priceless. Maddie reminds me of Lucille Ball/Ricardo (I Love Lucy). You know how Lucy would just get herself in situations where she had the best intentions where everything went wrong and that were sidesplitting funny. Maddie is just like that.

Along with all the humor there is a very well plotted mystery they brings in all kinds of secondary characters. They are all very fleshed out and unique and run the gambit of nice to crazy. The story twists and turns with odd connections that have to mean something. This was a tough one to solve and I was totally wrong. The secondary plot line almost overtakes the main one due to the characters involved and I loved the way that part of the story was wrapped up.

Murder, mayhem, romance, a Wisconsin setting, and a huge dose of humor have got me addicted to this series. I have already placed my order for book #3, Frozen Stiff, and will be getting the rest of the series too.

I loved this story but it does cross over some cozy norms by containing explicit language and some coarse and a little gross moments, but dead bodies being found and examined it not all wine and roses. So this book may not be everyone’s cup of tea. If you are a fan of Lucille Ball and Stephanie Plum these books are right up your alley.

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

About the Author

Annelise Ryan is the USA Today bestselling author of the popular Mattie Winston mystery series and a pseudonym for Beth Amos, who also writes the Mack’s Bar Mystery series under the pseudonym Allyson K. Abbott. Beth is a real life emergency room RN living in Wisconsin. She believes laughter is the best medicine, and with the Mattie Winston series she is hoping to “medicate” the masses.

For more Mattie Winston fun and to keep up with the latest news, visit www.mattiewinston.com


I am giving away my hardcover copy of Scared Stiff.

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something you like here and become a follower.

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Contest Will End November 24, 2017 at 11:59 PM CST
Winner Will Be Chosen By Random.org
Winner Will Be Notified By Email
and Will Be Posted Here In The Sidebar.

Click Here For Entry Form

*This was from my personal collection.

Nov 032017
 

On Flashback Fridays I will share with you
the books I was not able to review
when they were first released that have been screaming at me
from my To-Be-Read bookshelf.
Another book that was waiting on my Kindle.


Working Stiff (Mattie Winston Mysteries)
Cozy Mysteries
1st in Series
Setting – Wisconsin
Kensington (August 1, 2010)
Mass Market Paperback: 336 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0758234537
Kindle ASIN: B003IYI84K

 

 

When Mattie Winston catches her husband Dr. David Winston receiving some very special loving care from R.N. Karen Owenby, she quits her job and moves out. Mattie’s best friend Izzy offers her a place to stay and suggests she’d be a natural as deputy coroner. Now, instead of taking patients’ pulses, Mattie’s weighing their hearts and livers.

But Mattie’s first homicide call turns out to be for none other than Nurse Karen, and even though she saw her ex in a heated argument with the newly deceased the night before, she refuses to believe David could be a killer. Keeping mum about what she saw, Mattie is also left speechless by the sight of hunky Detective Steve Hurley. . .

From learning the ropes on her new job to sorting out her feelings about her ex and dealing with her growing attraction to Detective Hurley, Mattie’s in deep water and in danger of sinking quickly, especially when she places herself dead center in the path of a desperate–yet determined–killer. . .

 

Dollycas’s Thoughts

I am late to the party on this series and am kicking myself.

Dr. David Winston cheated on his wife R.N. Mattie Winston and she has moved out of their house and quit her job. She caught him and R.N. Karen Owenby getting very cozy with each other in an operating room. An operating room she worked in with her husband. Her friend Izzy offers her a roof over her head and a job as his new deputy coroner. It will take some getting used to, dead patients instead live ones, but she is determined to make it on her own.

Nervous about her first homicide, which Izzy pulled her out of bed for, she is positively floored when the body is none other than R.N. Karen Owenby. The woman messing around with her husband and the woman she saw him have an argument with not too many hours ago. She also meets Detective Steve Hurley, who is a definite distraction for Mattie.

So she has 2 men on her mind, David couldn’t have killed Karen, could he? and the handsome detective she would like to get to know better. She also is meeting her new coworkers and her new job. She may be in the killer’s sights too, hopefully she won’t end up being the next stiff in the morgue.

I loved this story and I loved Mattie. Her life gets turned upside down, but she picks herself up, dusts herself off and gets on with her life. With a little help from her friends she carries on, even overstepping the requirements of her new job to do a little sleuthing on her own. Izzy and his partner play key roles and they are wonderfully written. I could almost feel the heat between Mattie and Steve burning up the pages. This is going to be an interesting relationship.

The plot was complex with clever twists. I followed each clue right along with Mattie and figured it out mere moments before she did.

The dialogue between the characters was so realistic and the situations were as well. I enjoy that this series is set not too far from where I reside. The local references warmed by heart.

What I did not expect were the laugh out loud funny moments, there were quite a few. I even had my own “spit – take”. Do not read this story and drink at the same time. Luckily my Kindle survived the experience.

I may have come late to this series but I hope to catch up quickly. I can’t wait to dive into Scared Stiff. It is set at Halloween, so I should have read it last month, but I sure am not going to wait for next year 🙂 You may be seeing my review next week.

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

About the Author

Annelise Ryan is the USA Today bestselling author of the popular Mattie Winston mystery series and a pseudonym for Beth Amos, who also writes the Mack’s Bar Mystery series under the pseudonym Allyson K. Abbott. Beth is a real life emergency room RN living in Wisconsin. She believes laughter is the best medicine, and with the Mattie Winston series she is hoping to “medicate” the masses.

For more Mattie Winston fun and to keep up with the latest news, visit www.mattiewinston.com


I am giving away 1 Kindle copy of Working Stiff.
It will be sent to the winner directly from Amazon.

Duplicate entries will be deleted. Void where prohibited.

You do not have to be a follower to enter but I hope you will find
something you like here and become a follower.

Followers Will Receive 2 Bonus Entries For Each Way They Follow.
Plus 2 Bonus Entries For Liking My Facebook Fan Page.

Click the Like Button at the top of this post for a Bonus Entry.

Add this book to your WANT TO READ shelf on GoodReads for 3 Bonus Entries.

Pin this giveaway to Pinterest for 3 Bonus Entries.

If you publicize the giveaway on Twitter or Facebook or anywhere you will receive
5 Bonus Entries For Each Link.

Contest Will End November 17, 2017 at 11:59 PM CST
Winner Will Be Chosen By Random.org
Winner Will Be Notified By Email
and Will Be Posted Here In The Sidebar.

Click Here For Entry Form

*This was from my personal collection.

Oct 202017
 

On Flashback Fridays I will share with you
the books I was not able to review
when they were first released that have been screaming at me
from my To-Be-Read bookshelf.
Another book that was waiting on my Kindle.


Spiced and Iced (A Callie’s Kitchen Cozy Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
2nd in Series
Setting – Wisconsin
Self Published (December 5, 2016)
Paperback: 237 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1520481555
Kindle ASIN: B01N8UXIWC

 

 

The holidays can be murder! Greek-American restaurateur Callie Costas finds herself on thin ice when a colleague is killed. Recipes included!

The season is bright when Calliope “Callie” Costas agrees to contribute her Greek snowball cookies to a December bridal shower at The English Country Inn in the scenic waterfront town of Crystal Bay, WI. But when Callie finds a colleague dead, she’s sucked into another murder investigation — all while juggling her growing business and staggering holiday workload.

As she reluctantly agrees to help the Inn’s owner track the killer, Callie is soon up to her spiced Greek biscotti in difficulties. For one thing, the hotel staff is freezing her out as she tries to uncover information, helped by her feisty Grandma Viv and her sweet but nosy aunt who’s visiting from Greece. And then there’s her deepening relationship with the suave and mysterious Detective Sands, a British expat now living in Wisconsin, who seems to have a few secrets of his own.

The icing on the cake is a host of simultaneous family mayhem including her father’s surprising fixation on a real estate agent and her ex’s plans to move back to Crystal Bay. As the Inn’s annual Christmas Tea approaches, things are heating up in Callie’s Kitchen, but she’s on thin ice! Will Christmas be a festive celebration this year – or will it be murder?

Turn to the end of the book for six delicious recipes, including Greek cookies and savories, plus traditional Midwestern holiday favorites!

Dollycas’s Thoughts

It’s December in Crystal Bay, Wisconsin. The snow if falling, frigid temps are setting in and Callie’s Kitchen is busy baking and making delicious things for the holiday season. She has agreed to provide her Greek snowball cookies for a bridal shower at The English Country Inn but before the shower begins Callie finds the party planner dead in the water. Her relationship with Detective Sands may hit the skids because she just can’t help investigating the death. Her aunt and grandma even get involved. As if she doesn’t have enough on her plate, her ex may be moving back to Crystal Bay and her father appears to be dating. Christmas may be drawing near but Callie is determined to ice the killer just like he iced his victim.

I started reading this story and it felt like home. The author really describes everything about Wisconsin perfectly. The weather, the people, the food, the little language quirks, it warmed by heart.

Callie is a lovable character, she has a huge heart and is a hard worker determined to make her business a success. Her friendship with Samantha struggled a bit in this installment and their interactions were spot on. Her relationship with Detective Sands struggles as well but we learn more about this character as they work to turn things around.  Max and Callie work together in the kitchen like a well oiled machine and he is a great friend to her. Callie’s aunt, “Sweetie” is visiting from Greece and she teams up with Grandma Viv for some laugh out loud moments.  Her father’s life is in a period of change too.  Callie is unsure if it is the situation or the woman that he is seeing that gives her concern. All these characters are well crafted, engaging and true to life.

The murder mystery itself was complicated. There were more suspects that I imagined at first and I was totally wrong about the murderer. Things got really exciting as Callie thought she too had it all figured out. We were both surprised, she actually found herself in what could have been a life or death situation. She was livid by the time she was able to literally track the culprit down. Wow Callie! You Go Girl!

I can’t finish this review without talking about the food. Good gracious, I was practically drooling every time Callie or Max were in the kitchen. I could almost smell the food cooking. I can’t wait to try the recipes in the back of the book.

Christmas in Wisconsin is delightful, (sans murders, of course), the temperatures may be dropping and the snow may be falling, but the food and friendships will warm you right up. Thank you Jenny Kales for this wonderful story.

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

Watch for my review of Secrets and Pies, the 3rd book in this series coming soon! 

About the Author
Award-winning writer Jenny Kales is the author of ON THE CHOPPING BLOCK, the first in The Callie’s Kitchen Mystery Series. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in English and spent several years working as a copywriter and corporate communications marketing writer for many top companies. Her freelance writing about parenting has appeared in many venues including The TODAY Show Parents site. Her award-winning blog, The Nut-Free Mom, has been featured in newspapers and websites around the world.

Fiction writing is her first love and her marriage into a Greek-American Midwestern family inspired The Callie’s Kitchen mysteries, featuring Calliope Costas, food business owner and amateur sleuth. The setting of the story, “Crystal Bay,” is inspired by a favorite family vacation spot – Wisconsin’s beautiful Geneva Lakes.

Jenny is an avid reader, cook and baker and she’s addicted to mystery TV, especially anything on Masterpiece Mystery or BBC America. She lives just outside of Chicago with her husband, two daughters and one cute but demanding Yorkshire terrier.

Author Links

Webpage     Facebook      Twitter     GoodReads      Instagram


I will give away 1 Kindle set of All 3 Books to 1 Winner
Books will be sent directly from Amazon

Duplicate entries will be deleted. Void where prohibited.

You do not have to be a follower to enter but I hope you will find
something you like here and become a follower.

Followers Will Receive 2 Bonus Entries For Each Way They Follow.
Plus 2 Bonus Entries For Liking My Facebook Fan Page.

Click the Like Button at the top of this post for a Bonus Entry.

Sign up for the Author’s Newsletter for 5 Bonus Entries. Click Here.

Add this book to your WANT TO READ shelf on GoodReads for 3 Bonus Entries.

Pin this giveaway to Pinterest for 3 Bonus Entries.

If you publicize the giveaway on Twitter or Facebook or anywhere you will receive
5 Bonus Entries For Each Link.

Contest Will End November 3, 2017 at 11:59 PM CST
Winner Will Be Chosen By Random.org
Winner Will Be Notified By Email
and Will Be Posted Here In The Sidebar.

Click Here For Entry Form

*This book was from my personal collection.

Oct 122017
 


Mining for Justice (A Chloe Ellefson Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
8th in Series
Midnight Ink (October 8, 2017)
Paperback: 384 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0738753348
E-Book ASIN: B01N7UGNZB

Chloe Ellefson is excited to be learning about Wisconsin’s Cornish immigrants and mining history while on temporary assignment at Pendarvis, a historic site in charming Mineral Point. But when her boyfriend, police officer Roelke McKenna, discovers long-buried human remains in the root cellar of an old Cornish cottage, Chloe reluctantly agrees to mine the historical record for answers.

She soon finds herself in the center of a heated and deadly controversy that threatens to close Pendarvis. While struggling to help the historic site, Chloe must unearth dark secrets, past and present . . . before a killer comes to bury her.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

This time Chloe Ellefson takes us along on a trip to Mineral Point as she goes there to help out for a week. Roelke drives her there and plans to spend the weekend helping a friend update a family home. Chloe is hoping for a quiet week away from the drama brought on by her boss at Old World Wisconsin but when Roelke uncovers human bones in the root cellar Chloe knows her week in going to be far from quiet. She agrees to do some research to try to determine who the remains belong to and who buried them. This is all before she sets foot in Pendarvis, the historic location of her temporary assignment. A recent newspaper article has the employees there up in arms and Chloe finds herself the person to blame for a state funding problem. She also find another body.

I have lived in Wisconsin my whole life but I always learn something new when reading a Kathleen Ernst mystery. Pendarvis is one of 12 historic sites owned and operated by the Wisconsin Historical Society. “Tucked away in historic Mineral Point, Pendarvis celebrates the restoration and preservation efforts of Robert Neal and Edgar Hellum, who saved a significant part of Wisconsin’s past.”* Sadly, I have never visited there, but using the author’s descriptions I feel like I have. With all the main buildings, land and nearby cottages it makes a wonderful setting for a murder mystery or two. Roelke back in Eagle has a mystery to solve as well.

The  brilliance of this book is the way the author blends history with life in Wisconsin in the 1980’s. We get the story of a Cornish family coming to America and then to Wisconsin in search of a life provided by the mines. Pendarvis recreates and celebrates this time in history but has problems of the current day which for this series is the 1980’s.

Both time periods have very strong females. The woman in the story that immigrated in the 19th century had  to be strong to live among the men working the mines, she even worked at the mines herself before she came to America. She was a trailblazer is protecting children at a time when most were forced to work in the mines. Chloe is the strong woman of current time. She searches for the truth and doesn’t give up even when she is putting herself in danger. She has a resilience that I truly admire.

Many issues are faced within the story, an abusive husband, drug dealers, financial worries, and of course, murder. It is also a story with a nice romance. Chloe and Roelke relationship has grown at a very comfortable place over this series. Set before cell phones, I really enjoy their nightly calls to check-in with each other when they are apart. The way they work together is heartwarming.

Kathleen Ernst is a real treasure. She researches these stories intensely and creates fictional drama based on facts that keep the reader fascinated from the first page to the last. She is an excellent storyteller whose words come alive. Her love of Wisconsin history shines brightly in this and all of her books in this series.  The characters are believable with great dialogues.  The setting always plays a key part and she always leaves me wanting to visit the location as soon as possible.

Each of the books in this series can be read all on their own, but to enjoy the character development you really should read them all. Mining for Justice has become my favorite book in this series and will be included in my Bests Reads of 2017.

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

*Quote from the Pendarvis website.



About The Author

Kathleen Ernst is a social historian, educator, and author. Her Chloe Ellefson mysteries reflect the decade she spent as a curator at a large outdoor museum, and feature historic sites in the Upper Midwest.  Library Journal says, “Ernst keeps getting better with each entry in this fascinating series.” Kathleen has also written many mysteries for young readers.  Honors for her work include a LOVEY Award and Agatha and Edgar nominations.  Kathleen lives and writes in Wisconsin.

Webpage Facebook – Blog 

Purchase Links
AmazonB&N 

Praise For Mining for Justice (A Chloe Ellefson Mystery)
by Kathleen Ernst

Have no fear as this author weaves a masterful tale. She never drops the ball. Being in Wisconsin I am naturally drawn to the series but anyone who appreciates history and a well written mystery will not want to miss Kathleen’s books.
~Laura’s Interests

This is one of my favorite cozy mystery series. I love that the author mixes history in her mysteries and that you can learn while reading a fun book.
~A. Holland Reads

Wow, this book grabbed my historian heart and held my sleuthing mind to the last page.
~Bibliophile Reviews

Mining for Justice is an outstanding story in an equally outstanding series, one that has quickly become a favorite of mine.
~The Power of Words

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TOUR PARTICIPANTS – Check out all the stops 🙂

October 5 – Laura’s Interests – REVIEW, CHARACTER GUEST POST
October 5 – Books,Dreams,Life – SPOTLIGHT
October 6 – A Holland Reads – REVIEW
October 6 – Girl with Book Lungs – CHARACTER INTERVIEW
October 7 – A Blue Million Books – INTERVIEW
October 8 – Bibliophile Reviews – REVIEW  
October 9 – The Power of Words – REVIEW
October 10 – View from the Birdhouse – SPOTLIGHT
October 11 – My Reading Journeys – REVIEW
October 11 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – INTERVIEW
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October 16 – Back Porchervations – REVIEW
October 16 – Readeropolis – INTERVIEW
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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Sep 062017
 

Welcome to Cozy Wednesday!

I am so excited to have my friend Sally Goldenbaum drop by for a visit today!
Her new book Murder Wears Mittens was released last Tuesday by Kensington!

One of my favorite things about the excitement that surrounds a book release is the chance to spend time right here in Dollycas’s cozy corner. Thank you for inviting me back. I love spending time with you.

A Sense of Place

One of the things I enjoy most about writing is the challenge of creating a sense of place. Helping readers step into a world in which they can feel and taste and hear and see everything that surrounds the characters. At least that’s my goal.

This August I spent many hours walking the shores of Cape Ann, where the fictitious town of Sea Harbor is now so firmly rooted in my imagination that I see it at every turn. But as I walked around, I realized I was taking more credit than I deserved for creating the town. It isn’t my imagination alone that has helped me achieve that sense of place that I covet. It’s the place itself.

It’s Cape Ann and its small towns—Essex, Manchester-by-the-sea, Rockport—and the city of Gloucester. Some of you have visited the area, and even spotted places you’ve read about in the mysteries. Which gave me the idea of a tour—checking out places that have inspired me while writing the seaside mystery books. I hope you fall in love with the place, just as I have.

First, for some basics: Izzy’s yarn shop, Harry’s Deli, The Book Store and Ocean’s Edge Restaurant—oh, and Jake’s Gull Tavern. They are all on Harbor Road, Sea Harbor’s active main street inspired by those of Cape Ann’s towns.  (Well, Gloucester’s main street doesn’t look exactly like the photo on the right anymore, but I loved the 1875 photo of it. I’m sure some of the original buildings are still there, but like Izzy’s yarn shop, spruced up a bit. The photo on the left is a main street in Manchester by the Sea, which has the same corner park and big tree as does Sea Harbor.)

In Murder Wears Mittens, a Laundromat on Harbor Road becomes important when Cass finds children’s clothing mixed up with her own. The next day she summons Izzy, Nell and Birdie to meet at their favorite brunch place to talk about the young boy she saw fleeing with only half his laundry load.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
This restaurant, Annabelle’s Sweet Petunia, was inspired by Sugar Magnolias, located on Gloucester’s Main Street. You can see why the knitters like it so much, right? The omelets definitely provide brainpower, or so Cass claims.

The boy’s left-behind clothes lead the knitters to two children and to a missing mom, and from there they become deeply involved in the mysterious death of a reclusive Sea Harbor woman somehow tied to this familya—a family they quickly become attached to. Birdie’s enormous home, built on a bluff overlooking the town harbor, becomes a quiet place for them to meet and gather clues.  (I often walk by this East Gloucester home—I hope the owners don’t mind me claiming it for Birdie.)

Another spot that I/the knitters love to visit is the Ocean’s Edge Restaurant. It’s where they often meet with friends and where many clues have fallen into place. The restaurant is inspired by a Gloucester hotel, the Beauport, a beautiful place on the edge of the harbor with a firepit-warmed deck where one can watch the sun set.  And sometimes (at the Ocean’s Edge Restaurant), observant diners spot suspicious exchanges between staff and visitors, words and actions that linger dangerously and may help move an investigation along.

There are so many more real places that feature in the lives of Nell, Izzy, Cass, and Birdie. The Canary Cove Art Colony, for one, is the baby sister, inspired by Gloucester’s Rocky Neck Art Colony, one of the oldest continuing working art colonies in the United States. There’s Nell’s neighborhood and the yacht club, the beaches the women walk as they try to figure out life—and death.

And, of course, there’s Izzy’s Yarn Shop, a place that centers the seaside knitters’ spirits and minds and souls. A place that is the result of dozens of wonderful shops I’ve visited everywhere we travel. A place the knitters call home.

Hopefully, this small glance at the seaside knitters’ environs will look familiar, and you will paint them even more brightly with your own imaginations.

Thank you for stopping by. And I hope you enjoy Murder Wears Mittens. I’d love to hear from you.
Happy reading,
Sally

Thank you Sally for being here today!! 

Murder Wears Mittens (Seaside Knitters Society)
Cozy Mystery
1st in Series
Setting – Massachusetts
Kensington (August 29, 2017)
Hardcover: 272 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1496711021
E-Book ASIN: B01MSVCTH9

 

 

As autumn washes over coastal Sea Harbor, Massachusetts, the Seaside Knitters anticipate a relaxing off-season. But when murder shatters the peace, the craftiest bunch in town must unravel a killer’s deadly scheme . . .

After retrieving fresh lobster nets from a local Laundromat, Cass Halloran rushes to attend a last-minute gathering with her knitting circle. But Cass can’t stop worrying about the lonely boy seen hanging around the dryers, and the school uniform he left behind in a hurry. When the ladies return the lost clothing the next day, they find the child and his younger sister alone, seemingly abandoned by their mother . . .

The knitters intend to facilitate a family reunion, not investigate a crime. But the death of Dolores Cardozo, a recluse from the edge of town, throws the group for a loop. Especially when the missing mother and one of their own become tied to the victim’s hidden fortune—and her murder . . .

Before scandalous secrets break bonds and rumors tear Sea Harbor apart, the Seaside Knitters need to string together the truth about Dolores—while preventing a greedy murderer from making another move!

  • Includes a knitting pattern *
Dollycas’s Thoughts

This is one of my very favorite series. Now it has been reborn as Seaside Knitters Society Series by Kensington Publishing. For fans of this series it picks up right where Murder at Lambswool Farm (Seaside Knitters Mystery) leaves off.  For those just discovering this fabulous group of characters there is a cast list at the beginning of the book, don’t panic by the long list, the author gives plenty of detail throughout the story so you can get to know the characters easily.

If I could I would pack my bags today and move to Sea Harbor, Massachusetts. The residents are smart and fun and generous. They are always willing to give a helping hand, a little advice, a warm hug and a full belly. Their dinners on the deck will make you swoon. They will also be sure you have all the sweaters, scarves and mittens you need.

Case in point;  Cass Halloran is at the laundromat when she finds some unusual items in her dryer. She is surprised when a young boy hurries in, pulls some things out of her dryer and quickly rides off on his bicycle. She tries to catch up but can’t. Then she finds a school uniform just like she used to wear that the boy had left behind. She just can’t get the child out of her mind,  with a little help she finds out his name and where he lives. She along with her friends Izzy, Nell, and Birdie go to return the uniform only to find the boy and his sister alone, no sign of their mother. While trying to track down the woman they also find themselves investigating another death. A recluse, Dolores Cardozo, is found dead in her home and the children’s mother could be involved. So now in addition to knitting mittens for charity they are going to have to knit together all the clues to solve this murder.

The Seaside Knitters, Izzy, Nell, Cass and Birdie, along with their spouses, significant others, kids and friends are some of the best characters right now in cozy literature. Over the years the group has grown because as a whole and they are all so welcoming. Knitting may have brought them together in the beginning but it is their friendships that have stood the test of time. They are realistic, engaging, with hearts as big as all outdoors. Such a fine group of people. With each book I feel as I am returning to visit old lifelong friends.

These character’s lives would make a great women’s fiction story on their own but Ms. Goldenbaum knits and purls them right into a fantastic mystery. Dolores Cardozo mostly kept to herself. Few people knew her by name, they would see her walking on the beach but didn’t really know much about her. Now that she has gone and named Birdie executor of her will, plus the news that she may have been murdered by the mother of the children that Cass has become attached to sends this story in a very interesting direction. The plot is thought out and so well written. I was invested in the new characters just as much as those that have warmed my heart in 11 previous books. I needed to know how things would turn out. The ending was surprising and so satisfying.

This is a story of friendship first and foremost but the mystery is top-notch. I try to slow down and savor my visits to Sea Harbor but find that impossible because I need to solve the crime right along with the Seaside Knitters. I have enjoyed every story but hate to say good-bye after the final page. Same time, next year…..can’t wait.

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

About The Author

Sally Goldenbaum was born on the shores of Lake Michigan, in Manitowoc, WI, to a homemaker mother and a ship-building father. Although she now lives in landlocked Prairie Village, KS, her longing for lakes and the sea is satisfied in part by writing the USA Today bestselling Seaside Knitters Mystery series, set on Cape Ann, MA. She is a sometime philosophy teacher, a knitter, and an editor, and the author of more than thirty novels. Her fictional knitting friends are teaching her the intricacies of women’s friendship, the mysteries of small-town living, and the very best way to pick up dropped stitches on a lacy knit shawl. Murder Wears Mittens is the first book in the Seaside Knitters Society series. A continuation of the Seaside Knitters Mystery Series.

Follow Sally

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Thanks to the publisher I have 1 copy to give away!
Contest is open to anyone over 18 years old
with a US mailing address.

Duplicate entries will be deleted. Void where prohibited.

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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Jul 072017
 


On Flashback Fridays I will share with you the books I was not able to review
when they were first released that have been screaming at me
from my To-Be-Read bookshelf.

This is a series I have wanted to start for a long time.

Murder on the Rocks
(Mack’s Bar Mysteries)
Cozy Mystery
1st in Series
Setting – Wisconsin
Kensington (August 6, 2013)
Mass Market Paperback: 352 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0758280152
Kindle ASIN: B00BPYGR0M

 

 

Mack’s Bar is one of those nice, friendly places where everybody knows your name. That’s great when someone’s buying you a round, but not so hot when you find yourself atop a list of murder suspects–with your fingerprints on the bloody knife!

Mackenzie “Mack” Dalton is a Milwaukee bar owner with a nose for trouble–literally. A neurological glitch has left her with extra perceptive senses. So when she stumbles upon a dead body in the alley behind the bar–the same spot where her own father was shot eight months earlier–she can tell right away there’s something fishy in the air. The lead detective thinks there’s a link between the two deaths, and he’ll need Mack’s help to sniff out the murderer amid the crowd of eccentric regulars. But when all the evidence points to her as the most likely culprit, it could be an early last call for Mack–and celebratory cocktails for a killer.

Includes drink recipes

Dollycas’s Thoughts

Growing up in Wisconsin my parents owned and operated a tavern, much like Mack’s Bar. Drinks, food, pool table, dart boards, regular patrons and visitors from out of town. Thankfully we never found a dead body in the back alley.

Mackenzie “Mack” Dalton has taken over her father’s bar after he was murdered. That case is still open but without any real clues as to the killer. When Mack finds another body in almost the exact same place and she is one of the suspects she tries to stay calm and cool. She knows she didn’t kill anyone. But since the murder weapon did belong to the bar the suspects could be anyone of her staff or customers. When she explains to the lead detective about a neurological issue she was born with he actually doesn’t think she is crazy. He thinks maybe her hyper senses may aid in the capture of the killer. A killer that he thinks took her dad’s life as well. When he wants to go undercover and work at the bar she just can’t say no.

These characters are so likable. Mack loves what she does and in a business like hers you have to. Days are quickly consumed by the work it takes to keep the place up and running. She does have a boyfriend who is a paramedic, but they don’t have much time to spend together. Detective Duncan Albright seems more Mack’s type and they do have chemistry. In fact, when they are together is sends quite a rush to Mack’s senses. Most of the regulars remind me of customers who became friends with my parents over the years. All their reactions and actions rang true to life. Even the part where they gathered together trying to solve the crime themselves with the facts available to the public.

Learning about Mack’s Synaesthesia was very engrossing. When Mack explains the condition to Duncan the author is explaining it to the readers as well. It is a rare  and complicated condition that at first thought must be awful but Mack has adjusted to it so well, it absolutely amazed me.

I really enjoyed that the author brought some Milwaukee history to the story. Yes, Al Capone once owned a bar in Milwaukee complete with some interesting basement activity. It is not much of a stretch of the imagination to think Mack’s Bar just might be the place. To spin the mystery to include part of this history was a fun plot line to follow with a twist that brings the whole story together.  A little different from a normal cozy, Mack works hand in hand with the police and they appreciate her input. The police also love the coffee she serves so they were stopping by often, even ones not involved in the case.

This is a well written story with characters I want to know more about. Murder with a Twist has moved way up on my To-Be-Read stack. I am excited about this series. 

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

About The Author

Allyson K. Abbott is a pseudonym used by suspense writer Beth Amos. Beth has enjoyed a varied writing career that included a stint as a book reviewer and several years of nonfiction freelancing. Now she writes only fiction, and in stark contrast to her “day job” as an ER nurse, where she gets to save lives, the one common factor in her fiction, no matter what name it’s written under, is that someone always dies. Allyson K. Abbott is my little insider joke at having to pick yet another pseudonym. It’s not coincidence the initials are what they are.  Check out her webpage here and on Facebook here.

My review copy is a retired library copy.
If the winner would rather have an e-copy of the book that is o.k. with me.

Contest is open to anyone over 18 years old
with a US or Canadian mailing address for the print copy.
International if you choose an e-copy.

Duplicate entries will be deleted. Void where prohibited.

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This book was from my private collection.

May 232017
 

The Simplicity of Cider: A Novel
Women’s Fiction
Setting – Wisconsin
Gallery Books (May 16, 2017)
Hardcover: 336 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1501179723
Paperback: 336 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1501154928
Kindle ASIN: B01HMXRVKO

 

 

Fall in love with The Simplicity of Cider, the charming new novel about a prickly but gifted cider-maker whose quiet life is interrupted by the arrival of a handsome man and his young son at her family’s careworn orchard by the author of The Coincidence of Coconut Cake and Luck, Love & Lemon Pie.

Focused and unassuming fifth generation cider-maker Sanna Lund has one desire: to live a simple, quiet life on her family’s apple orchard in Door County, Wisconsin. Although her business is struggling, Sanna remains fiercely devoted to the orchard, despite her brother’s attempts to convince their aging father to sell the land.

Single dad Isaac Banks has spent years trying to shield his son Sebastian from his troubled mother. Fleeing heartbreak at home, Isaac packed up their lives and the two headed out on an adventure, driving across the country. Chance—or fate—led them straight to Sanna’s orchard.

Isaac’s helping hands are much appreciated at the apple farm, even more when Sanna’s father is injured in an accident. As Sanna’s formerly simple life becomes increasingly complicated, she finds solace in unexpected places—friendship with young Sebastian and something more deliciously complex with Isaac—until an outside threat infiltrates the farm.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

After read Luck, Love & Lemon Pie last year I knew this was an author I would keep me eye on. When I heard about this new book I couldn’t wait to read it.

Isaac Banks and his son Bass, short for Sebastian, are on a cross country adventure. Isaac is trying to protect his son from the realities at home. They soon find themselves in Wisconsin’s Door County. A beautiful place full of cherries, a restaurant where goats graze on the roof, Green Bay (not the town where the Packers play), lighthouses and apple orchards. Isaac and Bass soon find themselves at Idun’s, an apple orchard that has been owned by the Lund family for five generations. Sanna Lund and her father now run the place and Sanna has a special talent for making cider. Her father has mortgaged the farm to purchase all the equipment she needs to produce on a large scale. Her brother has nothing to do with the orchard anymore but thinks it needs to be sold to take care of the debt because they have received a huge offer.

Issac and Bass agree to help with the chores. It is like fate brought them to this place. Sanna really doesn’t like kids but after a couple of days that changes as Bass finds a way into her heart. She and Isaac also feel a connection neither of them understand. When someone’s actions threaten Sanna’s precious trees and the entire orchard things get complicated.

This is such a beautiful story and so well written. The author has a way of writing that pictures of people, time, and place just come alive with such detailed imagery. Maybe it is because I have traveled to Door County several times that I had a crystal clear picture of everything she described but I truly believe it was her words that took me right along with Sanna, Issac and Bass.

She gives us a story of family, love, loss, and a little touch of something that “just is” and can only be explained by the belief that love carries through the generations and appears in unexpected ways.

These are such special characters. Their hearts are heavy with secrets and vulnerability that ebbs and flows through the entire series, even after some trust has been earned. The relationships built are so unique.

The Simplicity of Cider flows at a nice and easy pace. It was a relaxing read. I usually read a book like this in one or two nights but I didn’t want the story to end. I took time to savor every page and word. This book will make my list of Best Reads for 2017.

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

Find out more about Amy and her books here

Thanks to the publisher I have 2 copies to give away!
Contest is open to anyone over 18 years old
with a US or Canadian mailing address.

Duplicate entries will be deleted. Void where prohibited.

You do not have to be a follower to enter but I hope you will find
something you like here and become a follower.

Followers Will Receive 2 Bonus Entries For Each Way They Follow.
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Contest Will End JUNE 6, 2017 at 11:59 PM CST
Winner Will Be Chosen By Random.org
Winner Will Be Notified By Email
and Will Be Posted Here In The Sidebar.

Click Here For Entry Form

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Jan 102017
 

My First Book Read in 2017

The Mutual Admiration Society: A Novel
by Lesley Kagen
Fiction/Family Life
Setting – Wisconsin
Lake Union Publishing (February 1, 2017)
Paperback: 282 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1503941038
Kindle ASIN: B01G50QX2C

 

 

 

From the New York Times bestselling author of Whistling in the Dark comes an unforgettable novel that illuminates the sweet and brittle bonds of family, the tenderness of growing up, the heartbreak of longing for what we’ve lost, and the poignancy of finding love.

FACT: Unbeknownst to eleven-year-old Theresa “Tessie” Finley, she’s in over her head.

PROOF: After hearing a scream and catching a glimpse of a mysterious man carrying a body beneath the flickering streetlights in the cemetery behind her house, Tessie adds solving a murder case to her already quite full to-do list.

Tessie has elected herself president of the crime-stopping Mutual Admiration Society—as if dealing with her “sad madness” over the tragic drowning of her beloved father; showering tender loving care on her “sweet but weird” younger sister, Birdie; and staying on the good side of their hard-edged mother weren’t enough. With partner in crime Charlie “Cue Ball” Garfield, Tessie and Birdie will need to dodge the gossips in their 1950s blue-collar neighborhood—particularly their evil next-door neighbor, Gert Klement, who’d like nothing better than to send the sisters to “homes.” And, of course, there’s the problem of steering clear of the kidnapping murderer if they have any hope of solving the mystery of all mysteries: the mystery of life.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

FACT: Lesley Kagen captures the voices of children in a profound way.

PROOF: This story!

Set in Milwaukee Wisconsin, we meet 11 year old Theresa “Tessie” Finley, her younger sister, Birdie, and her “fiancee”, Charlie “Cue Ball” Garfield. They make up the Mutual Admiration Society. Tessie is sure she saw a crime committed and the society needs to start its investigation right away. They just need to get around some house rules and Gert Klement, their next door neighbor, who is not their biggest fan. In fact, she believes they need to be sent away.

These characters were first introduced to readers in The Undertaking of Tess, released in 2014. While the author does give plenty of details so that this book can be read on its own, you may want to read the prior story first for more background on the Finley’s. 

As a mystery lover I enjoyed Tessie and her lists and methodical investigation and that Birdie found a key clue and really helped Tessie figure out the suspected murder. Through the eyes of children in the late 1950’s I was able to see things in a different way. It was quite an adventure. Tessie has already dealt with so much in her young life and is responsible for watching over Birdie every day. Her lists do get a little repetitive but through them readers clearly see the way her mind works.

Kagen has crafted a heartwarming story but at times it is heartbreaking too. Her characters are so unique and the dialogue is true to a child’s voice and sprinkled liberally with humor. The world has changed since 1959. It was wonderful to escape back in time and tag along on this adventure with the Mutual Admiration Society.

I have enjoyed everything I have read by this author. She is an extremely talented storyteller.

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

Find out more about Lesley Kagen and her books on her webpage here

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Nov 182016
 

9WbGnJTR
On Flashback Fridays I will share with you the books I missed when they were first
released that have been screaming at me from my To-Be-Read bookshelf.
Did a little rearranging on my bookshelves last week and was so excited I found this book I read it before I read the book for yesterday’s post. 🙂

dead-insider
Dead Insider (Loon Lake Mystery)
13th in Series
Mystery
Setting – Wisconsin
Tyrus Books (June 18, 2013)
Paperback: 208 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1440533563
E-Book ASIN: B00CA9DKE2
goodreads-badge-add-plus

 

 

In the midst of a catastrophic August rainstorm, a grisly discovery shatters the serenity of a summer evening in northern Wisconsin. Moving quickly to prevent a panic among tourists, Loon Lake Police Chief Lewellyn Ferris enlists the forensic and interrogation skills of her close friend and fellow fly fisherman, the retired dentist “Doc” Osborne. Within hours of launching their investigation, they find themselves faced with a national media circus as Loon Lake becomes the focus of a murderous scenario that links the murder to the race for the U.S. Senate by a woman who is heir to a Northwoods fortune and other, less savory, family traditions.

In the meantime, Doc Osborne’s eldest daughter, Mallory, enters into a relationship that may put her life at risk–unless her father and Chief Ferris can find the killer stalking the residents of Loon Lake.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

Reading this after the crazy political season we just experienced seemed fitting.

It is raining cats and dogs in Look Lake. Roads and fields are flooding and while blocking vehicles from traveling through the water something awful is found floating now a new rainfall river. The findings lead to a woman running for the U.S. Senate. Loon Lake Police Chief Lewellyn Ferris has her hands full. Thankfully her friends and officers are there to help her pull all the pieces of this terrible murder investigation together.

Fly fisherwoman Lew Ferris has caught a huge case and relies on the resources available to her to solve it. I had my main suspect but the twisted plot made the conclusion and the motive totally surprising.  What followed was a tragic tale that left me almost visibly shaking. The pain felt by the killer’s mother just broke my heart.

Ms. Houston dug deep for this one. The laid back community of Loon Lake was not only rocked by the flooding but a terrible murder. People came together to help with the case and handle the media because tourism in the bread and butter of this community. I felt a plethora of emotions as the story continued. How could something so awful happen in this little town?

I enjoy these characters and admire the soothing calm they find standing in a lake or river casting their line time and time again. Sometimes never catching a thing. It’s in those places Lew and Doc can order their thoughts and break away from the stress and trauma of the case. I can see their faces so clearly. My grandfather was a fisherman and his perfect place to relax was in his little boat out on the water with a fishing pole in his hands. He never had the stress of a murder to solve but his life wasn’t easy. I loved going out in his boat with him. Some days we caught a lot of fish and some days we just caught some sun and had good conversation, me the youngster not even in my teens and him sharing his life’s stories with me. The look on his face was just peaceful out on the water. Times I will never forget. The stories in this series touch my heart because of my relationship with him. Doc Osbourne’s thinking and temperament remind me so much of the wonderful fisherman in my life. Lew is a strong woman in a top position and she takes her job seriously. Together they make a great team.

Sadly, these little vacations north to Loon Lake are way too short. I hope to return again soon. Not so much for the mysteries, although those are good, but for the serenity outside of the drama. Both grab a hold and don’t let go.

perfect 2016

 

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

 

To find out more bout Victoria Houston visit her webpage here.

GIVEAWAY
I am giving away my signed copy!
with a US or Canadian mailing address.

Duplicate entries will be deleted. Void where prohibited.

You do not have to be a follower to enter but I hope you will find
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Followers Will Receive 2 Bonus Entries For Each Way They Follow.
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Contest Will End December 2, 2016 at 11:59 PM CST
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This book was from my private collection.

Murder on the Toy Town Express: A Vintage Toyshop Mystery by Barbara Early Get Your Copy Today!
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