Posted in Alphabet Soup A -Z Author Edition Challenge Craving For Cozies Cruisin Thru Cozies E-Book Challenge Flashback Friday Giveaways Reviews 2019 TBR Pile Challenge You Read How Many Books Challenge

#FlashbackFriday A Catered Murder (A Mystery With Recipes) by Isis Crawford #Review / #Giveaway


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.


A Catered Murder (A Mystery With Recipes)
Cozy Mystery
1st in Series
Setting – New York
Publisher: Kensington (December 1, 2003)
Hardcover: 304 pages
ISBN-10: 157566710X
ISBN-13: 978-1575667102
Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
ISBN-10: 1575667258
ISBN-13: 978-1575667256
Kindle ASIN: B00AEWIBK0

Bernadette Simmons wasn’t sure what to expect when she left L.A.–and her no-good, cheating boyfriend–to move back in with her family in New York. And her sister Libby had no idea what she was in for when she hired Bernie to work for her catering business. But in between cutting up canapés and dishing up desserts, the two find themselves in the midst of a mystery they can really sink their teeth into. . .

It’s only been a few days since Bernie and Libby started working together at A Little Taste of Heaven, and already they’ve got their hands full–baking cookies and slicing rare beef tenderloin to serve at a high school reunion. The dinner has a “Dracula” theme and a very strange guest of honor: Laird Wrenn, a New York Times bestselling author of vampire novels. Libby and Bernie know this will be an evening unlike any other. And they’re proven right when Laird pours a glass of water, takes a long sip–and drops stone-cold dead. . .

Now, with murder on the menu and Libby under suspicion, the sisters will have to put their heads together to figure out whodunit–in a mystery that promises to be deadly to the very last bite.

Includes 7 Delectable Recipes for You to Try!

Dollycas’s Thoughts

Bernadette Simmons escaped from Los Angeles leaving her cheating ex behind along with most of her belongings to return home to New York. There she starts working with her sister Libby at A Little Taste of Heaven, a store and catering company. They have been hired to cater a high school reunion with a Dracula theme. The guest of honor, author Laird Wrenn, even arrives with his own coffin. Sadly, before the night ends he is going to need it because after a big drink of water he keels over dead. Since Libby provided the bottled water she becomes a prime suspect but everyone at the reunion had access to it so the suspect list is wide open and Bernie and Libby are going to find who sucked the life out of the popular vampire . . . author.

I found the family dynamic interesting in this first book of this series. The sisters are as different as night and day but both seem to attract jerks and deserve better. In addition to working together, they are also taking care of their father, Sean, the former police chief. He is in a wheelchair but no real story as to why as been revealed as yet. Truthfully the author has not given any of the core characters much depth so there is a lot to be revealed in subsequent books.  I did like the interactions between the sisters and with their father. They came across as realistic and true.

The girl’s investigation into the murder was fun to read. Taking along treats when visiting the suspects did loosen some tongues. In fact, the heat was soon off Libby and onto one of her friends. I also liked that they talked things over with their dad to get his expert opinion. His replacement at the police department is a real tool and needed to be put in his place.  I was able to pull all the clues together before Bernie and Libby and the police but enjoyed following along to the end.

This story was good but I wish the characters were more fleshed out so that I would feel more invested in them. I identified a bit with Sean because I too spend a vast amount of time in a wheelchair but want to know more of his story. We did learn Bernie has an eidetic memory which can be annoying and Libby is a really hard worker but again I wanted more.

For me, the book is A Satisfactory Excursion, but I am not writing the series off. I have book #2, A Catered Wedding on my Kindle so I will be giving this author another chance. It is a long-running series, book #15, A Catered New Year’s Eve was just released so I am assuming the flaws I found in this story have all be ironed out.

Your Escape Into A Good Book Travel Agent

About the Author

ISIS CRAWFORD was born in Egypt to parents who were in the diplomatic corps. When she was five, her family returned to the States, where her mother opened a restaurant in Upper Westchester County and her father became a university professor. Since then Isis has combined her parents’ love of food and travel by running a catering service as well as penning numerous travel-related articles about places ranging from Omsk to Paraguay. Married, with twin boys, she presently resides in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York, where she is working on the next Bernie and Libby culinary mystery.



I am giving away 1 Kindle Copy!
The book will be sent directly from Amazon.

The contest is open to anyone over 18 years old.

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.

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

Contest Will End November 15, 2019, 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.”

Posted in Craving For Cozies Cruisin Thru Cozies E-Book Challenge Giveaways Reviews 2019 You Read How Many Books Challenge

Haunted House Ghost: Death At The Fall Festival (Braxton Campus Mysteries) by James J. Cudney #Review / #Giveaway @jamescudney4

HAPPY HALLOWEEN

Haunted House Ghost: Death At The Fall Festival
(Braxton Campus Mysteries)

Cozy Mystery
5th in Series
Setting – Pennsylvania
Gumshoe Books – A Next Chapter Imprint (October 1, 2019)
Digital Edition, 275 pages
ASIN: B07WGKGZ9J

It’s Halloween, and excitement is brewing in Braxton to carve jack-o’-lanterns, go on haunted hayrides, and race through the spooky corn maze at the Fall Festival.

Despite the former occupant’s warnings, Kellan renovates and moves into a mysterious old house. When a ruthless ghost promises retribution, our fearless professor turns to the eccentric town historian and an eerie psychic to communicate with the apparition. Meanwhile, construction workers discover a fifty-year-old skeleton after breaking ground on the new Memorial Library wing.

While Kellan and April dance around the chemistry sparking between them, a suspicious accident occurs at the Fall Festival. Soon, Kellan discovers the true history and dastardly connections of the Grey family. But can he capture the elusive killer – and placate the revenge-seeking ghost.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

Kellan Ayrwick is staying in Braxton and has purchased the old Grey House. A big Victorian that is said to be haunted. Kellan doesn’t believe the rumors until some weird things start to happen as the crew finishes up renovations on the main floor. Kellan gets advice from a psychic and the town’s historian to learn more about the Grey’s family history.  He finds himself a rich old mystery to delve into.

Braxton is also having a Halloween festival complete with haunted hayrides and the college is making way for a new library wing. When one of the buildings is demolished to open space a skeleton is discovered in the debris. The timing is peculiar but many believe the skeleton and Kellan’s “ghost” are connected. As the festival draws near Kellan is on the trail for answers and the truth. But he puts himself in peril as he starts to put the clues together.

I have read each book in this series and each one tops the last. This time the author includes a cast list which I just glanced at as I started reading but soon I was very thankful for that list. While my favorite characters from previous books returned readers are introduced to a vast number of new characters that connect to others, sometimes in a myriad of ways.

What I really enjoy about these stories in the family dynamics at play. Kellen has had a lot of drama in his life but he is working hard to provide a stable home for his daughter. He is trying to move his personal life forward too and I loved the new beginnings of romance in his life but I don’t believe his past love is totally behind him. They will always be connected by their daughter and that leaves a door open for plenty of drama. The Ayrwich family continues to be revealed and evolve as the series continues.  Nana D. continues to be my fave.

Again, the mystery is complex and filled with twists on top of twists.  A skeleton, a missing woman, a ghost . . . at times I thought I should have a flowchart just to keep track of all the players and their deeds, but Mr.Cudney does an excellent job of keeping readers on track and in the know. He also lets humor shine in all the right places.  The book has a complicated and intricate plot that will keep readers on their toes. Several times I slowed down my reading so I didn’t miss a single clue. I still was unable to solve this one totally without everything spelled out. While the mystery is wrapped up at the end of the book Cudney again sets up another cliffhanger.

Haunted House Ghost is a perfect Halloween read with such a touch of paranormal.  It is well-plotted and hard to put down. I found the entire story fascinating.

Now, I find myself tapping my foot waiting for the next Braxton College Mystery. The sneak peek at the end of the book was just unfair. Mr. Cudney, please finish it up soon!

Your Escape Into A Good Book Travel Agent

About the Author

James is my given name; most call me Jay. I grew up on Long Island and currently live in New York City, but I’ve traveled all across the US (and various parts of the world). After college, I spent 15 years working in technology and business operations in the sports, entertainment and media industries. Although I enjoyed my job, I left in 2016 to focus on my passion: telling stories and connecting people through words. My debut novel is ‘Watching Glass Shatter,’ a contemporary fiction family drama with elements of mystery, suspense, humor and romance. To see samples or receive news from my current and upcoming books, please subscribe with your email address at my website: https://jamesjcudney.com

What do I do outside of writing: I’m an avid genealogist (discovered 2K family members going back about 250 years) and cook (I find it so hard to follow a recipe). I love to read; between Goodreads and my blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, I have over 900 book reviews which will give you a full flavor for my voice and style. On my blog, there is humor, tears, love, friendship, advice and bloopers. Lots of bloopers where I poke fun at myself all the time. Even my dogs have segments where they complain about me. All these things make up who I am; none of them are very fancy or magnanimous, but they are real and show how I live every day.

Author Links

Website    Blog

Amazon    Twitter    Author Facebook    Series Facebook

Bookbub    Instagram    Goodreads    LinkedIn    Pinterest

Purchase Links – Amazon 

I am giving away 1 Kindle Copy of Haunted House Ghost!
The contest is open to anyone over 18 years old.
Book 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.

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

Contest Will End November 14, 2019, 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.”

Posted in Cozy Wednesday Craving For Cozies Cruisin Thru Cozies E-Book Challenge Finish The Series Challenge Giveaways Reviews 2019 You Read How Many Books Challenge

Cozy Wednesday featuring Silent Knit, Deadly Knit (A Knit & Nibble Mystery) by Peggy Ehrhart #Review / #Giveaway – @KensingtonBooks


Welcome to Cozy Wednesday!

I am happy to share with you Silent Knit, Deadly Knit today!


Silent Knit, Deadly Knit (A Knit & Nibble Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
4th in Series
Setting – New Jersey
Publisher: Kensington (October 29, 2019)
Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
ISBN-10: 1496723635
ISBN-13: 978-1496723635
Kindle ASIN: B07NCP8S7W

When murder silences the Christmas cheer in charming Arborville, New Jersey, Pamela and her Knit and Nibble pals must unravel the most bone-chilling mystery this side of the North Pole . . .

Pamela has been in merry spirits since her artsy daughter Penny returned home from college for the holidays. But their mother-daughter bonding time gets cut short when a terrified Penny stumbles upon the dumped body of Millicent Farthingale, a wealthy craft shop owner who was popular for all the wrong reasons. From a scheming business partner to a seedy husband several years her junior, Millicent attracted scammers so in love with her assets, they’d toss her down a chimney to get their paws on them. Now, with only a hand-knit red scarf connecting the killer to the crime, Pamela and the Knit and Nibblers could use some extra creativity as they find out who’s really naughty or nice in Arborville—because going up against a looming culprit is DIY or die!

Knitting tips and delicious recipe included!

Dollycas’a Thoughts

Welcome to Arborville, New Jersey, just in time for the holidays . . . and a . . . MURDER!

When Pamela gets a frantic call from her daughter Penny saying she found a dead body while out hiking and sketching Pamela and the Knit and Nibblers rush to her side. Pamela identifies the body as none other than craft shop owner, Millicent Farthingale. With just a little digging many suspects are found but Pamela believes a scarf recently given to the victim and missing from her body is a key clue to finding the killer. With the Nibblers on the case, they hope to knit all the clues together and wrap up the case before their holiday celebrations.

I really enjoy catching up with these characters. If the Knit and Nibble group was real it would be one I would love to join. The members are diverse, all with their own quirks. They come together to create wonderful knit items, eat delicious snacks and snoop into the latest death that has taken place in their fine town. With each story, the author delves a little further into the lives of this eclectic group.  She also introduces new characters in the form of suspects. She unveils more about them as the clues drop and the investigation continues.

In Silent Knit, Deadly Knit, the murder mystery is pretty straight forward and for me was more of a subplot. The main plot this time was more about the lives of the knitting group and the holidays. While the mystery was interesting I think this time the author’s writing style which is very descriptive took over pushing it into the background. I did enjoy all the baking and cooking, Pamela’s quest to find the perfect tree, and her trying to spend as much time with her daughter as possible. There were some funny and sentimental moments and the story did have a good flow. I just wish the mystery would have had as much depth as the characters I have come to love.

Pamela and Bettina make a great team whether sleuthing, butting into each other’s lives, or taking care of their friends. Following these ladies around through these pages is always entertaining. I do encourage the author to tighten up her writing a bit and put more focus on the mystery. I really liked the premise of a unique scarf as a strong connection. It really grabbed my focus. I also loved the description of the tunic Pamela was making for Penny. It sounds gorgeous!

Silent Knit, Deadly Knit is a nice addition to this series.  To really get to know Pamela and the rest of the Knit and Nibble group you really need to read the series from the beginning.

Your Escape Into A Good Book Travel Agent

You can read my review of Murder, She Knit here, Died in the Wool here, and Knit One Die Two here.

PEGGY

About the Author

Peggy Ehrhart is a former English professor who writes mysteries and plays blues guitar. She holds a doctorate in Medieval Literature, and her publications include a prize-winning book dealing with classical mythology in the Middle Ages. Her Maxx Maxwell mysteries, Sweet Man Is Gone (2008) and Got No Friend Anyhow (2011), feature a blues-singer sleuth.
Peggy is currently writing the Knit and Nibble mystery series for Kensington Books. Set in the charming (fictional) town of Arborville, New Jersey, it features amateur sleuth Pamela Paterson, founder and mainstay of the town’s knitting club. Peggy is a member of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime. She plays guitar with the Still Standing Band. (From Amazon)

Find out more about Peggy on her website here.


Coming March 31, 2020


Thanks to the publisher I have 1 copy to give away!
The contest is open to anyone over 18 years old
with a U.S. 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.
Plus 2 Bonus Entries For Liking My Facebook Fan Page.

Follow Kensington Books on Twitter for 2 Bonus Entries!

LIKE Kensington Publishing on Facebook for 2 Bonus Entries!

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 13, 2019, 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.”

 

Posted in Craving For Cozies Cruisin Thru Cozies Giveaways Read The Printed Word Challenge Reviews 2019 You Read How Many Books Challenge

Can’t Judge a Book By Its Murder (Main Street Book Club Mysteries) by Amy Lillard #Review / #Giveaway @PPPress @AmyWritesRomance

Available Today!


Can’t Judge a Book By Its Murder (Main Street Book Club Mysteries)
Cozy Mystery
1st in Series
Setting – Mississippi
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press (October 29, 2019)
Mass Market Paperback: 320 pages
ISBN-10: 1492687774
ISBN-13: 978-1492687771
Kindle ASIN: B07VVT2LFF

Not every murder is by the book…

As Sugar Springs gears up for its all-class high school reunion, Mississippi bookstore owner Arlo Stanley prepares to launch her largest event: a book-signing with the town’s legendary alum and bestselling author, Wally Harrison. That’s when Wally is discovered dead outside of Arlo’s front door and her best friend is questioned for the crime.

When the elderly ladies of Arlo’s Friday Night Book Club start to investigate, Arlo has no choice but to follow behind to keep them out of trouble. Yet with Wally’s reputation, the suspect list only grows longer—his betrayed wife, his disgruntled assistant, even the local man who holds a grudge from a long-ago accident.

Between running interference with the book club and otherwise keeping it all together, Arlo anxiously works to get Chloe out of jail. And amidst it all, her one-time boyfriend-turned-private-eye returns to town, just another distraction while she digs to uncover the truth around Wally’s death and just what Sugar Springs secret could have led to his murder.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

Arlo and Chloe’s Books & More is set for a book signing for bestselling author Wally Harrison as part of the Tenth Annual All Class Reunion. Then Arlo receives a phone call that will bring that event to a screeching halt. Arlo has been summoned to the store because a dead body has been found on the sidewalk directly in front of the bookstore. The man has been identified as Wally Harrison and the death is classified as suspicious.  Suicide? Murder? It looks like Arlo’s best friend and business partner Chloe may be involved.

It isn’t long before the ladies of the Friday Night Book Club decide to start their own investigation. Unable to stop them Arlo finds herself investigating too if only to keep the book club members safe. When Chloe is arrested, Arlo is given ten days to prove someone else did the job or Chloe will be transferred to a bigger jail until her trial. Arlo hopes to get a little help from an old boyfriend who is now a P.I. but he may be working the case for another client. All she knows is Chloe didn’t do it and she is going to make sure the right person is booked for murder.

______________

Sugar Springs, Mississippi is full of the requisite quirky characters. We are introduced to a fantastic group of core characters in this first Main Street Book Club Mystery. Arlo and Chloe own and operate the bookstore. Arlo takes care of the books and Chloe takes care of the coffee. Chloe is the mother of the deceased Wally Harrison’s son. We also meet Camille, Fern, and Helen, an elderly group of friends and the original members of the Friday Night Book Club. A spunky group of women who are ready for whatever comes their way. Then there is Chief Matthew “Mads” Keller, Officer Jason Rodgers, and Private Investigator Sam Tucker. Sam and Mads both make Arlo’s heart race. I can’t forget Faulkner, the very vocal Amazon parrot that resides at Arlo and Chloe’s Books & More. All the characters nicely fleshed out for the first book in a series but are left with plenty of room to grow as the series continues.

Like most first books in the series, the murder mystery was interesting but not as complex due to the time needed to introduce readers to the characters and setting. That being said there were some nice twists. Chloe does have motive but Arlo quickly finds others with motive too. I was able to solve this one before Arlo and Mads but found myself very entertained from beginning to end.

I love the small-town ways and feeling. The fact that the book clubbers were able to provide the meals for Chloe reminded me of Mayberry from the Andy Griffth Show. Sugar Springs is full of Southern charm and appealing residents.

This series is off to a terrific start. I see a lot of potential for these characters and the mysteries they could get involved in. Can’t wait for book #2.

Your Escape Into A Good Book Travel Agent

About Amy Lillard

Amy Lillard is the award-winning author of more than twenty novels, including the Wells Landing series, The Quilting Circle novels, the Sugarcreek Amish Mysteries and the Kappy King Mysteries. Born and raised in Mississippi, she now lives with her husband and son in Oklahoma. Please visit her online at www.AmyWritesRomance.com.

Author Links:


Cozies also by Amy Lillard

Find more books by Amy Lillard here.


I am giving away my Advance Review Copy!
The 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.
Plus 2 Bonus Entries For Liking My Facebook Fan Page.

Follow Poisoned Pen Press on Facebook for 2 Bonus Entries.

Follow Poisoned Pen Press on Twitter for 2 Bonus Entries.

Follow Poisoned Pen Press on Instagram for 2 Bonus Entries.

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

Contest Will End November 12, 2019, 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.”

Posted in My Reading Itinerary Monday

My Reading Itinerary Monday! – Week #44 2019

Welcome to My Reading Itinerary Monday!

Where are your books taking you this week?

I will be visiting West Virginia and Connecticut!

Here’s what I read and what I have planned for this week.

Escapes Completed


Can’t Judge a Book By Its Murder (Main Street Book Club Mysteries)
by Amy Lillard
Release Date – October 29, 2019
Setting – Mississippi
My Review will be up tomorrow! 


Silent Knit, Deadly Knit (A Knit & Nibble Mystery
by Peggy Ehrhart
Release Date – November 1, 2019
Setting – New Jersey
I will feature this book on Cozy Wednesday this week!


Haunted House Ghost: Death At The Fall Festival (Braxton Campus Mysteries)
by James J. Cudney
Release Date – October 1, 2019
Setting – Pennsylvania
Watch for my review on Halloween!

A Catered Murder (A Mystery With Recipes)
by Isis Crawford
Release Date – November 1, 2004
Setting – New York
My Flashback Friday Read!

Scheduled Escapes


Apple Cider Slaying (A Cider Shop Mystery)
by Julie Anne Lindsey
Release Date – October 29, 2019
Setting – West Virginia
The Great Escapes Book Tour stops here next Tuesday!


Three Widows and a Corpse (A Food Blogger Mystery)
by Debra Sennefelder
Release Date – October 29, 2019
Setting – Connecticut
The Great Escapes Tour stops here for Cozy Wednesday next week!


A Woman of Two Minds
by Bourne Morris
Release Date – November 9, 2019
Setting – ??
For Review
Not up on GoodReads yet 🙁

Future Escapes

October 28 – November 3, 2019


Click Here to check out my Current Giveaways!

Please Share Your Reading Itinerary in the Comments below!
Happy Reading!!
Your Escape Into A Good Book Travel Agent
Posted in Giveaways Spotlights

The Bodies in the Library (A First Edition Library Mystery) by Marty Wingate #Spotlight / #Giveaway @BerkleyMystery @martywingate

I am excited to shine my spotlight on the start of a new series from Marty Wingate!


The Bodies in the Library (A First Edition Library Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
1st in Series
Publisher: Berkley (October 8, 2019)
Hardcover: 336 pages
ISBN-10: 1984804103
ISBN-13: 978-1984804105
Kindle ASIN: B07MCRHSSM

Hayley Burke’s fresh start as the curator of The First Edition Society’s library in Bath, England, is about to take a rotten turn in this charming new mystery series from USA Today bestselling author Marty Wingate.

Hayley Burke has landed a dream job. She is the new curator of Lady Georgiana Fowling’s First Edition library. The library is kept at Middlebank House, a lovely Georgian home in Bath, England. Hayley lives on the premises and works with the finicky Glynis Woolgar, Lady Fowling’s former secretary.

Mrs. Woolgar does not like Hayley’s ideas to modernize The First Edition Society and bring in fresh blood. And she is not even aware of the fact that Hayley does not know the first thing about the Golden Age of Mysteries. Hayley is faking it till she makes it, and one of her plans to breathe new life into the Society is actually taking flight–an Agatha Christie fan fiction writers group is paying dues to meet up at Middlebank House.

But when one of the group is found dead in the venerable stacks of the library, Hayley has to catch the killer to save the Society and her new job.

About Marty Wingate

Marty Wingate is a Seattle-based writer and speaker who shares her love of Britain in her two mystery series. The Potting Shed books feature Pru Parke, a middle-aged American gardener transplanted from Texas to England, and Birds of a Feather follows Julia Lanchester, bird lover, who runs a tourist office in a Suffolk village. Marty writes garden articles for magazines including Country Gardens and the American Gardener. She is a member of the Royal Horticultural Society, Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and the Crime Writers Association. She leads garden tours to England, Scotland, and Ireland, spending free moments deep in research for her books. Or in pubs.

Marty Wingate’s captivating mysteries can be enjoyed together or separately, in any order:

The Birds of a Feather seriesTHE RHYME OF THE MAGPIE | EMPTY NEST | EVERY TRICK IN THE ROOK | FAREWELL, MY CUCKOO

The Potting Shed series: THE GARDEN PLOT THE RED BOOK OF PRIMROSE HOUSE | BETWEEN A ROCK AND A HARD PLACE | THE SKELETON GARDEN | THE BLUEBONNET BETRAYAL | BEST-LAID PLANTSMIDSUMMER MURDER

Author Links  – Facebook    Twitter    Goodreads    Website     Pinterest    Amazon Author Page

Also by Marty Wingate



Thanks to the publisher I have 1 copy to give away!
The contest is open to anyone over 18 years old
with a US 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.
Plus 2 Bonus Entries For Liking My Facebook Fan Page.

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

Contest Will End November 9, 2019, 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

Your Escape Into A Good Book Travel Agent
Posted in Giveaways Great Escapes Book Tours Interviews

#SpecialGuest – Lois Winston – Author of Handmade Ho-Ho Homicide (An Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery) – Great Escapes Book Tour @Anasleuth

Handmade Ho-Ho Homicide
(An Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery)
by Lois Winston

About Handmade Ho-Ho Homicide


Handmade Ho-Ho Homicide (An Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
8th in Series
Independently Published
Print Length: 212 pages
Digital ASIN: B07VG2QZXV

Two and a half weeks ago magazine crafts editor Anastasia Pollack arrived home to find Ira Pollack, her half-brother-in-law, had blinged out her home with enough Christmas lights to rival Rockefeller Center. Now he’s crammed her small yard with enormous cavorting inflatable characters. She and photojournalist boyfriend (and possible spy) Zack Barnes pack up the unwanted lawn decorations to return to Ira. They arrive to find his yard the scene of an over-the-top Christmas extravaganza. His neighbors are not happy with the animatronics, laser light show, and blaring music creating traffic jams on their normally quiet street. One of them expresses his displeasure with his fists before running off.

In the excitement, the deflated lawn ornaments are never returned to Ira. The next morning Anastasia once again heads to his house before work to drop them off. When she arrives, she discovers Ira’s attacker dead in Santa’s sleigh. Ira becomes the prime suspect in the man’s murder and begs Anastasia to help clear his name. But Anastasia has promised her sons she’ll keep her nose out of police business. What’s a reluctant amateur sleuth to do?

Christmas craft projects included.

Author Interview

I am excited to have Lois visit today! 

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I have a degree in graphic design and illustration from back in the pre-computer dinosaur era and worked for decades as a designer and editor in the consumer crafts industry. Now I’m a bestselling and award-winning author of 17 adult novels, 1 middle-grade novel, 5 novellas, one nonfiction book, and several short stories. I began my writing career penning romances and romantic suspense before switching over to cozy mysteries. I now write two cozy series—The Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries, featuring reluctant amateur sleuth and crafts editor Anastasia Pollack, and The Empty Nest Mysteries, which is my homage to the classic Thin Man movies but with a modern twist.

What are three things most people dont know about you?

  1. I can play Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon in two degrees. Not that I’ve ever met Kevin Bacon, but his father and I attended the same church when I lived in Philadelphia.
  2. I wanted to be an astronaut, but NASA isn’t interested in vertically challenged astronauts who suffer from motion sickness.
  3. I’m one of a select few people in the world (or so it seems) who hate peanut butter. I can’t even stomach the smell of the stuff. I used to hold my breath when I made PB&J sandwiches for my kids.

What is the first book you remember reading?

Fun with Dick and Jane. Does that show my age?

What are you reading now?

The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden by Jonas Jonasson

What books have most inspired you?

This is one of those questions I find really hard to answer because there are so many ways to be inspired by books. I love books that make me laugh, and I love books that pull on my heartstrings. There are some books that have stayed with me even though I read them years ago because the plots and characters were so fabulous and the writing so gripping. Have they inspired my own writing? I’m sure everything I’ve ever read has inspired me in one way or another. It’s very hard for a writer not to be inspired by everything she reads, sees, and experiences.

What made you decide you wanted to write mysteries?

Long story short—one day an editor told my agent she was looking for a cozy series featuring crafts. Knowing my background in the crafts industry, my agent suggested I try writing one. It turned out to be love at first tap of the computer keys. I never went back to writing romance.

Do you have a special place you like to write?

I have a dedicated office for my writing. There’s a large, L-shaped desk, lots of bookcases, and two large windows.

Where do the ideas for your books come from?

I’m a news junkie. Just about all of my plots have been inspired by what I’ve read in the newspaper or seen on the local or national news. For instance, the plot of Handmade Ho-Ho Homicide was inspired by a murder that took place last year about twenty miles from where I live.

Is there anything about writing you find most challenging?

Some writers plot out every scene of every chapter before they ever begin writing the first sentence. If I did that, I’d find writing the actual book too much like drudge work because I’d already know everything that was going to happen. The most I’ll ever do in the way of plotting is write a couple of paragraphs of a general idea for the story. So sometimes I wind up writing myself into a corner, and it takes a few days of mulling things over in my head and brainstorming with my critique partner before I can figure out a way to move forward. It’s frustrating when it happens, but it always works out in the end.

What do you think makes a good story?

A book has to hook me from the very beginning with interesting characters and well-written prose. If it doesn’t, I toss it aside and move on to the next book. Life is too short to spend any time with mediocre writing and boring characters.

Which, of all your characters, do you think is the most like you?

I think I subconsciously instilled much of my personality into Anastasia. We’ve also had similar careers and communist mothers-in-law.

What makes your books different from others out there in this genre?

When I was asked to write a crafting cozy, I did a lot of research into the sub-genre and found they all centered round a crafter who worked in one specific craft or who owned a specific type of craft shop. I wanted to do something different rather than compete with what was already out there. Writing about a protagonist who works as the crafts editor of a women’s magazine enables me to feature different crafts in each book.

In addition, most cozies take place in small towns. Mine takes place in a suburb of New York City.

Whats next on the horizon for you?

I’m already thinking about the next book in my Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery Series and am mulling over a few different plot ideas.

Thank you Lois for dropping by today!

 

More About Lois Winston

 

USA Today bestselling and award-winning author Lois Winston writes mystery, romance, romantic suspense, chick-lit, women’s fiction, children’s chapter books, and nonfiction under her own name and her Emma Carlyle pen name. Kirkus Reviews dubbed her critically acclaimed Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery series, “North Jersey’s more mature answer to Stephanie Plum.” In addition, Lois is a former literary agent and an award-winning craft and needlework designer who often draws much of her source material for both her characters and plots from her experiences in the crafts industry.

Author Links – Website     Blog     Pinterest     Twitter     Goodreads     Newsletter sign-up

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Posted in Cozy Wednesday Craving For Cozies Cruisin Thru Cozies E-Book Challenge Giveaways Reviews 2019 You Read How Many Books Challenge

Cozy Wednesday featuring Fudge Bites (A Candy-Coated Mystery) by Nancy Coco #Review / #Giveaway @KensingtonBooks @nancy_coco

Welcome to Cozy Wednesday! 

I am happy to feature Fudge Bites by Nancy Coco today!


Fudge Bites (A Candy-Coated Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
7th in Series
Setting – Michigan
Kensington (September 24, 2019)
Mass Market Paperback: 320 pages
ISBN-10: 1496716086
ISBN-13: 978-1496716088
Kindle ASIN: B07MH9XDNQ

Halloween on Mackinac Island is a season of fun tricks, but finding a corpse is no treat for fudge shop owner Allie McMurphy . . .

NIGHT OF THE REALLY DEAD

It’s late October, off-season for tourists, but locals are up and lurching for the annual zombie walk charity event. Though everyone’s living it up, trouble is just a few pawprints away. Allie follows the bloody tracks of her calico cat, Carmella, to a body in the alley behind the Historic McMurphy Hotel and Fudge Shop. Unlike the island’s other walking dead, this one’s flatlined for good. It seems that someone is using the zombie fest as the perfect backdrop for murder. Now amateur sleuth Allie and dreamboat officer Rex Manning must use every trick in their treat bag to unmask a killer in disguise.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

What happens on Mackinac Island in the off-season for Halloween? A Zombie Walk! It’s for charity and a lot of fun until one of the “zombies” is found dead. Allie’s calico cat, Carmella appears to have been the first at the scene because she is all bloody when she is found in the alley behind the Historic McMurphy Hotel and Fudge Shop. Everyone knows Allie McMurphy is on the case but an unexpected visitor has returned to the island with a proposition. Can she stayed focused and catch the killer?

This time Nancy Coco has pulled out all the stops and blown up a mystery everyone will love.

Allie wants to be a year-round resident of the island but with her friend Liz off living in Chicago, she is a little lonely and missing her sleuthing buddy. She has contracted the renovation of one of the floors of the hotel and the addition of a rooftop deck this offseason.  Newlyweds Frances and  Mr. Devaney are there to help her out as she comes up with a few ideas on how to investigate the murder without venturing too far from the hotel. I really enjoyed the way the community came together throughout the story. A little peek into those people the stay on the island the full year or until the snow starts to fly was nice too.

Ms. Coco has filled these pages with action and drama and a huge moment that brought tears to my eyes. The mystery ties into the past in a surprising way. There is even a second body found. A plethora of twists and turns distract and lead both Allie and readers along before the real story comes into focus. A subplot opens a door for Allie and I was cheering as she made her choice.

You will want to take a BIG bite of Fudge Bites! It has fantastic characters, a well-written mystery with suspense, drama, humor, a little bit of romance, and a whole lot of FUDGE. Like Allie, I did miss Liz, With the way to book ends, I think Allie is going to need her friend even more in the next book in the series. I truly can’t wait to see what happens next.

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Find out more about Nancy Coco/Nancy J. Parra and her books on her webpage here

Written as Nancy J. Parra

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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.”

 

Posted in Craving For Cozies Cruisin Thru Cozies E-Book Challenge Reviews 2019 You Read How Many Books Challenge

The Skeleton Stuffs a Stocking (A Family Skeleton Mystery) by Leigh Perry #Review @DiversionBooks @Family_Skeleton


The Skeleton Stuffs a Stocking (A Family Skeleton Mystery)
Paranormal Cozy Mystery
6th in Series
Setting – Massachusetts
Diversion Books (September 24, 2019)
Paperback: 280 pages
ISBN-10: 1635766478
ISBN-13: 978-1635766479
Kindle ASIN: B07V1YFW55

Sid is back with a murder that’s sure to send a chill down your spine in Leigh Perry’s festive new mystery.

Dr. Georgia Thackery is back at home with her parents after finding a new adjunct position at Bostock College. Everyone is excited for their first family Christmas with nothing to hide. Why? Because Georgia’s daughter Madison is now in the know about Sid, their walking, talking family skeleton.

But their Christmas cheer is interrupted when the Thackerys’ dog Byron goes missing on a cold December night. When he’s finally found, he has a femur clutched between his jaws, and Georgia and Madison race to apologize to Sid for letting the dog gnaw on him yet again.

Except that all of Sid’s bones are present and accounted for.

This bone is from somebody else, and when they trace Byron’s trail to an overgrown lot nearby, they find the rest of the skeleton. It’s the normal kind, not moving or telling jokes, and when the police come to take charge, they’re sure it was murder.

And one of Georgia’s adjunct friends could be implicated.

With tensions stirring at the college and everyone hiding a secret or two, Sid and Georgia must uncover the truth before the ghost of a Christmas past strikes again.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

We meet many wonderful characters in most of the books we read, and in cozy mysteries, we meet their canine, feline and bovine friends too. But hands down Sid is my favorite character of all. This smart, savvy, witty, wonderful skeleton stole my heart back in book #1 – A Skeleton in the Family. Sid is a walking – talking – dancing skeleton that is Dr. Georgia Thackery’s best friend. Sid’s phalanges fly over the computer keyboard in his attic room, where he does his research to help Georgia solve murder mysteries. He is also quite portable in a special bag where he can stealthy see what is happening and text on his cell phone faster than I will ever be able to do with one hand. It is also not unheard of for him to don a disguise or two to help Georgia out.  Sid is a character I will never forget and wish I had a Sid of my own.

This time Georgia is working at Bostock College and living with her daughter back at home with her parents.  Christmas is right around the corner and it should be merry because the family is back together. But when the family dog, Byron brings home a prize bone that turns out to be a human femur (that does not belong to Sid) the merriment hits a bump in the road.  Bryon becomes the star of the hour and they follow his trail to find the rest of the body. A body that may have ties to Bostock College. Hoping to wrap the case up before Christmas, Sid and Georgia use all their talents to catch a killer.

Georgia Thackery who I believe is in her early 40’s is an adjunct English professor so she goes where the job is around the New England area. Her parents are tenured professors at the local college and you can usually find a student or two at their dinner table. Georgia’s sister Deborah is a security expert and can open almost every lock. Georgia also has a teenage daughter, Madison. Sid has been a part of this household for years and is the family’s secret.

The mystery starts when the body that is found but then twists and turns with connections between the present and the past. I felt the story was very unique and was totally delighted to go along for the ride. I had completely escaped into the story excited for the big killer reveal which was great but that was surpassed by a whiplash-like twist Ms. Perry throws at us at the end. Nicely played Ms. Perry! Nicely played.

As you can imagine with a skeleton being a lead character, this story is full of humor. Readers will experience tittering, giggling, a chortle or two, and even laugh out loud moments. Ms. Perry also adds a little romance to Georgia’s life with a former character returning too. The Skeleton Stuffs a Stocking excels at everything I look for in a cozy mystery.

“Oh, my spine and femur!” This is such a fantastic book! Leigh Perry has penned a marvelous cozy mystery. With winter/Christmas as a background, readers get to follow Georgia and Sid ever step of the way.  This book is classified as a paranormal or supernatural cozy mystery. I really don’t think of it that way. For me Sid just is Sid, nothing spooky or supernatural about it 🙂 Coccyx, You just have to read it! Read the whole series!! You will come to love Sid as much as I do!

This book will be on my Best Reads of 2019 list!

Your Escape Into A Good Book Travel Agent

 

You can find out more about Leigh Perry and her books on her website 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.”

Posted in Giveaways Spotlights

A Merry Murder (A Special Pennyfoot Hotel Mystery) by Kate Kingsbury #Spotlight / #Excerpt / #Giveaway / @BerkleyMystery


A Merry Murder (A Special Pennyfoot Hotel Mystery)
Historical Holiday Cozy Mystery
10th in Series
Publisher: Berkley (October 1, 2019)
Paperback: 304 pages
ISBN-10: 1984805924
ISBN-13: 978-1984805928
Kindle ASIN: B07PLFH8BJ

It is an Edwardian Christmas, and the Pennyfoot Hotel is all dressed up. But when one of the guests turns up dead, owner Cecily Sinclair Baxter realizes it is not only the Pennyfoot that is back in business—the hotel’s Christmas curse is, too…

The Pennyfoot halls are decked with boughs of holly, a magnificently decorated tree graces the lobby, and the hotel’s bookings are finally looking up. Owner of the Pennyfoot, Cecily Sinclair Baxter is in high holiday spirits until disaster strikes, threatening to ruin yet another Yuletide. Her chief housemaid Gertie McBride has found a man’s body in the hotel laundry room—with a woman’s scarf wrapped around his neck and a note in his pocket from the hotel’s new maid.

Cecily is determined to track down the culprit, but with multiple suspects icing her out of crucial clues, she realizes this killer may be more slippery than most. With Christmas right around the corner, it is up to Cecily to prevent this holiday season at the Pennyfoot from turning out more fatal than festive.

Excerpt – A Merry Murder (A Special Pennyfoot Hotel Mystery)

Chapter 1

Pausing to catch her breath at the top of the backstairs, Gertie McBride shifted the pile of linens she carried higher in her arms. From the kitchen below, she could hear the clatter of pots and pans, and Michel’s strident voice bitterly complaining in his stupid French accent that didn’t fool anyone.

The volatile chef always got frantic at Christmastime, and today was no exception. Mrs. Chubb could be heard screeching at him to shut up. Shaking her head, Gertie thanked the heavens that, for a change, she wasn’t the one on the business end of the housekeeper’s wrath.

Breakfast had been served over an hour ago, but already the midday meal was being prepared. Gertie could detect a faint whiff of onions, but the smell was overwhelmed by the fragrant aroma of pine and cedar that wafted across the hotel lobby.

In just a few days it would be Christmas Eve. She cast a glance at the grand curving staircase leading to the upper floors, where huge boughs of evergreens hung on the railings. Bright red ribbons decorated the wreaths as well as little silver bells that tinkled when Gertie’s skirts brushed against them on the way down from the guest rooms.

In the far corner, the magnificent Christmas tree glowed a welcome to the arriving visitors. Gold and silver stars covered the branches, while little white angels with silvery gowns and red and green balls sparkled in the light from the massive chandelier above. A couple of guests passed by the tree, pausing to admire the decorations before strolling on toward the staircase.

Heaving a sigh, Gertie stomped down the stairs. The sooner she got the linens down to the laundry room the better. Mrs. Baxter, or madam as everyone called her, would get testy if she saw her chief housemaid carrying dirty washing across the foyer.

The Pennyfoot’s owner was always kind and considerate to the downstairs staff, as long as they obeyed the rules and minded their manners. She could be an ogre, however, if one of them did something to upset the hotel guests.

Normally the sheets and pillowcases would be sent down the chute to the downstairs hallway, but the upstairs door was stuck again and Archie would have to mend it. Thinking about the new handyman reminded Gertie of Clive, who used to have the job.

She tried not to think about Clive these days.

She had always loved this time of year. Besides the housekeeping, Mrs. Chubb also baked, and nothing spelled “Christmas” like the enticing smell of her mince pies and plum puddings. Unless it was the sound of Phoebe Fortescue’s dance group practicing their horrible out-of-tune singing in the ballroom, or the decorations brightening the halls of the Pennyfoot, or the excitement in her own twins’ faces as they eagerly awaited the visit from Father Christmas.

This year, however, was different. It didn’t seem possible that it had been a whole year since Clive had proposed. She’d been so excited and happy. She’s accepted on the spot, and by rights she should be celebrating the season with a new husband and father to her twins.

It was only three months later when everything fell apart. Clive-the gentle, considerate man she’d fallen in love with-had turned into a domineering, selfish bugger.

When she’d told him that after she was married she still wanted to work at the Pennyfoot, he’d thrown a bleeding fit. He’d told her no wife of his would be anyone’s maid, and that her place was in the home, taking care of him and her children. He’d made it sound as if her work was too blinking beneath him to be worth anything. As if she wasn’t worth anything.

Well, that did it. Just because he’d left his job as the Pennyfoot’s handyman and bought that flipping toy shop didn’t make him bleeding royalty. He was no better than she was, and she’d wasted no time in telling him that. They’d had a good old blowup and she’d told that snot to shove off.

Reaching the floor, she closed her eyes for a moment to picture the scene, as she had done so many times since the spring. She’d missed him at first, but she’d kept reminding herself that she’d had a lucky escape. He would have dominated her whole life, and no one dominated Gertie Brown McBride. Still, the memories kept coming back to taunt her, making her wonder what might have been if she’d done what he asked.

In the next instant, she heard a grunt of pain as she smacked into something soft.

Opening her eyes, she stared into the gaunt face of Lilly Green, one of the latest maids to have been hired at the Pennyfoot. Lilly was almost as tall as Gertie, who towered over the rest of the staff with the exception of Michel. While Lilly was as skinny as a rake, however, Gertie was fighting a tendency to balloon out of her clothes.

She was built like a bloody bull to begin with, but had always managed to keep everything in proportion until this last year. No matter how little she ate now, it all seemed to end up on her blinking hips. She’d soon be as plump as Altheda Chubb. The bossy housekeeper was always complaining that her corset was pinching her.

“You smacked me in the stomach with those,” Lilly said, frowning at the linens in Gertie’s arms.

“Sorry, luv. I wasn’t looking where I was flipping going, was I.” Gertie paused for a moment, silently chiding herself. She’d promised herself so many times that she’d try to stop the curse words that seemed to explode from her lips with no way to stop them.

She’d grown up hearing that language from her dad all day long, and sometimes all night, too, and it had become so much part of her speech, she didn’t even know she was doing it until someone said something. Usually Mrs. Chubb, who was always on at her to talk like a lady. Some bleeding hope of that.

“Why weren’t you?” Lilly seemed about to cry. Then again, Lilly looked like that much of the time. She’d been working at the Pennyfoot for over a year, and she still acted like she’d wandered into a house of mirrors and couldn’t escape.

There was an air of desperation about her that Gertie simply couldn’t understand. It had taken Lilly months to get used to the work, and at times she still turned her nose up at some of the tasks, as if the whole thing was beneath her. She was finicky about everything, and went out of her way to avoid contact with the guests. Especially the men.

Gertie tried to get along with her, but was irritated by such a lack of gumption. As for herself, she would tackle anyone or anything that got in her bloody way. Besides, it irked her that Lilly always had her cap on straight and the straps of her apron sitting firmly on her shoulders. Gertie, on the other hand, rarely accomplished either. “Why wasn’t I what?”

“Looking where you were going.”

“Oh!” Gertie frowned. “I was thinking about something, that’s why. Where are you off to anyway? Aren’t you supposed to be cleaning the silver?”

Lilly raised her hand to tuck her hair more securely beneath her cap. “Mrs. Chubb sent me to tell madam that she’s baking the Christmas puddings. She wants to know how many madam wants her to make.”

“Then you’d better get on with it, hadn’t you.” Gertie stepped past her, adding over her shoulder, “You don’t want Chubby after you for loitering. She’ll have your bloody guts for garters.” Bugger it, she thought. She was swearing again.

She could hear Lilly’s black patent leather shoes clicking on the stairs as she hurried up them. Shaking her head, Gertie headed for the laundry room. If she didn’t get back to the kitchen right away, it would be her guts turning into bloody garters.

Mrs. Chubb was like a mother to her, and to the rest of the maids. Her sharp tongue, however, would give them all a lashing if they got behind in their work. Gertie grinned as she shoved the door open with her shoulder. Chubby didn’t take no nonsense from anyone. Not even madam, or Mr. Baxter. Gertie liked that. You knew where you was with her.

Stepping inside the empty room, she marched over to one of the sinks and dumped the linens into it. Three of the ironing boards were stacked against the wall, while a fourth stood a few feet from the window. One of the maids had forgotten to put it away.

Gertie was tempted to leave it there and get back to the kitchen. She had actually turned toward the door when habit, engrained by years of following the strict rules of the Pennyfoot Hotel, forced her to turn back and fold up the ironing board.

As she carried it over to its place against the wall, something caught her attention in the dark corner by the sinks. A bundle of dirty clothes. Someone must have been in a hurry, chucked them at the sink, and missed. She probably hadn’t even noticed that they’d landed on the floor. Most likely it was the same bloody twit who’d left the ironing board in the middle of the room.

Cursing under her breath, Gertie stomped across the room to pick up the bundle. As she drew closer, however, cold shock slammed into her chest. It wasn’t a bundle of clothes after all. It was a man, lying curled up on his side, his eyes open and staring blankly into space.

“Here!” Gertie demanded, backing up a step or two. “What the bloody hell are you doing in here? You’d better get out of here before I call the copper and have you thrown in the bloody clink.”

The man didn’t even twitch, and looking at the bloodless face, Gertie thought she knew why. This man wasn’t getting up again. He was bleeding dead.

Upstairs in the lavish suite overlooking the bowling greens, Cecily Sinclair Baxter watched her husband settle into his comfortable armchair with the latest edition of the Illustrated London News.

It had been almost a year since a bout of pneumonia had come close to taking Baxter’s life. Every time she looked at him, she felt again the anxiety and dread that had filled her very soul when Dr. Kevin Prestwick had turned to her in that dim, candlelit room, his face grave with concern. She had lost her first husband in that same room. She could not bear to lose another.

Baxter had survived, thank the good Lord, but the illness had left him weak and depressed for months. So much so that he had officially declined the position offered to him as a director of overseas acquisitions-work that would have taken them to all four corners of the world.

Baxter had declared one evening over dinner that he had come to the conclusion he was too old to be taking on such a monumental task. “I am much more suited to managing one hotel in one place, rather than chasing all over the world taking on one headache after another,” he’d told her.

She’d pretended to be dismayed, but had fallen to her knees later that night and given thanks for this reprieve. The only reason she’d agreed to the opportunity in the first place was because Baxter had come close to being seriously hurt while aiding her in a murder investigation. She had decided they would both be on safer ground away from the Pennyfoot and her penchant for tangling with villains. The possibility of seeing her sons again, both of whom lived abroad, was also an incentive.

Even so, she’d hated the very thought of leaving her home and the staff who had become as close as family to her. She had become even more overjoyed when Baxter had surprised her later with a suggestion.

“I think we should purchase the Pennyfoot from your cousin,” he’d said, and for a long moment Cecily had stared at him, afraid to believe what she was hearing in case she was mistaken.

When she didn’t answer him, Baxter had added, “We could turn it from a country club back into a hotel. The memberships have been dwindling in the last year or so, and with a hotel we would attract a more diverse and hopefully a more abundant clientele.”

She had leapt at the idea with so much enthusiasm, Baxter had told her he wished he’d thought of the idea sooner.

So now that they were once again the owners of the Pennyfoot Hotel, Baxter seemed happy and content and, more important, healthy again. He had maintained his business in London, though he had cut back a good deal of it and now did most of the work at home.

Christmas was less than a week away, and the aroma of seasonings and spice from the kitchen, blending with the fragrance of fresh greenery from the woods, filled the halls.

It was her favorite time of the year, and Cecily was so overjoyed, she felt a strong urge to hug her husband. She had actually stretched out her arms to do just that when a sharp rap on the door halted her.

Baxter sighed and rattled his newspaper as she turned toward the door.

“Come in!” Cecily seated herself on her gold Queen Anne armchair as the door opened and Gertie edged into the room.

“I’m sorry, m’m,” she said, dropping a slight curtsey. “I got some bad news.”

Baxter groaned, and lowered his newspaper. “What now?”

Gertie’s gaze seemed to fix on Cecily’s face. “I was in the laundry room and I thought it were a bundle of clothes lying on the floor, but it weren’t.” She appeared to have something to add, but apparently had trouble getting it out.

Cecily was already getting a nasty feeling in her stomach. Every year at this time they seemed to have some kind of disaster. She called it the Christmas Curse, and for years the name had been whispered among the downstairs staff with the same dread that she felt right now.

She tried to sound calm as she gave Gertie an encouraging smile. “So, what is it, Gertie?”

Baxter, who had none of his wife’s patience and restraint, growled, “Come on, girl. Spit it out.”

Gertie swallowed, heaved air into her lungs, and announced in a voice hoarse with anxiety, “It were a dead body, m’m. Mr. Baxter. Mrs. Chubb has already sent for the police constable.”

“Oh, Lord,” Baxter muttered, folding his newspaper.

Cecily could feel her heart pumping. Not again. Not now. Just when they were beginning to see a large increase in bookings. They were already taking reservations for next year. They didn’t need another calamity to frighten off prospective guests, or the ones still due to arrive for the holidays, for that matter. “Who is it, Gertie? Is it one of the staff? A footman? Could you tell how he’d died?”

~From Amazon

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