Posted in 2021 Reviews Cloak and Dagger Challenge Flashback Friday Giveaways Literary Escapes Read The Printed Word Challenge TBR Pile Challenge The Backlist Reader Challenge You Read How Many Books Challenge

#FlashbackFriday – Hope Never Dies: An Obama Biden Mystery by Andrew Shaffer #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.


Hope Never Dies: An Obama Biden Mystery
Mystery/Humorous
1st in Series
Setting – Delaware
Quirk Books; First Edition (July 10, 2018)
Paperback ‏ : ‎ 304 pages
ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1683690397
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1683690399
Kindle ASIN ‏ : ‎ B075HY5NPF

Vice President Joe Biden and President Barack Obama team up in this high-stakes thriller that combines a mystery worthy of Watson and Holmes with the laugh-out-loud bromantic chemistry of Lethal Weapon’s Murtaugh and Riggs.
 
Vice President Joe Biden is fresh out of the Obama White House and feeling adrift when his favorite railroad conductor dies in a suspicious accident, leaving behind an ailing wife and a trail of clues. To unravel the mystery, “Amtrak Joe” re-teams with the only man he’s ever fully trusted: the 44th president of the United States. Together they’ll plumb the darkest corners of Delaware, traveling from cheap motels to biker bars and beyond, as they uncover the sinister forces advancing America’s opioid epidemic.

Dollycas Thoughts

Joe Biden is trying to adjust to life after his term as Vice President and his life seems quite boring when compared to his best friend who seems to be jet-setting around the world and living the high life.  But when Amtrack Joe learns from the former President that one of his favorite railroad conductors has died a gruesome suspicious death they decide to work together to get justice for a man Joe thought he knew pretty darn well. What they are saying about him just doesn’t add up and Joe is determined to prove it.


Oh, my stars! Why did I wait so long to read this book? I had snapped it up soon after it came out and it had been languishing on my To-Be-Read shelf ever since. Seeing it was set in Delaware instead of Washington like I first thought I moved it up the stack to help me hopefully complete my Literary Escapes Challenge this year.

Told from the former VP’s viewpoint we are taken on a fabulous journey involving serious topics but in a way that will have you laughing out loud.

The world-famous bromance had hit a bit of a bump in the road until tragedy strikes and brings the dynamic duo back together in an adventure that takes them to the deep dark underbelly of the state Joe calls home. Filled with edge of your seat moments and hilarious interludes this book was very hard to put down.

I am amazed to learn that Hope Never Dies is Andrew Shaffer’s first mystery although not his first humorous work. He has blended both together in this novel masterfully. He has really caught his character’s essence. Biden’s stories and one-liners which we now know even better now that he is President, and Obama’s wit and style clearly shine within these pages. I also love the few cameo appearances of Jill Biden. She knows Joe and seems totally unphased by whatever he has gotten himself into.

The one word that comes to mind about the author’s treatment of the characters and the situations is clever. While the death and the crimes that take place could be very real he has cleverly put two of the most well-known people in the world into the position of detectives but I use the term of detectives very loosely.

If you are looking for a fantastic escape, look no further than Hope Never Dies because readers are truly taken on an escapade. 5 Stars! A Perfect Escape!!!

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About the Author

Andrew Shaffer is the New York Times bestselling author of more than a dozen books. He lives with his wife, novelist Tiffany Reisz, in Lexington, Kentucky, where he teaches at the non-profit Carnegie Center for Literacy and Learning. This is his debut mystery.

 

I am giving one Kindle Copy!
The contest is open to anyone over 18 years old.

(I had intended to giveaway by paperback copy but my laughter piqued another resident in this household’s interest
and he doesn’t read as fast as I do.)

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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Add this book to your WANT TO READ shelf on GoodReads
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Contest Will End December 10, 2021, at 11:59 PM CST
Winner Will Be Chosen By Random.org
The Winner Will Be Notified By Email
and Will Be Posted Here In The Sidebar.

Click Here For Entry Form

*This book was from my private collection.

Posted in 2021 Reviews Cloak and Dagger Challenge E-Book Challenge Wisconsin Author Wisconsin Setting You Read How Many Books Challenge

Mystery in the Hill by Aaron Qualio #Review


Mystery in the Hill
Mystery/Thriller Short Read
Setting – Wisconsin
Dorrance Publishing Co. Inc. (March 13, 2021)
Print length ‏ : ‎ 79 pages
ASIN ‏ : ‎ B08YXG27JG

A small Wisconsin town is shaken to its core when four high school boys stumble upon an unexpected discovery. As past and present secrets are exposed, more unsolved mysteries are revealed, leading to more danger than anyone could have ever imagined.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

Set in 1997 four teenagers uncover quite a find. A find that will rock their world and change their lives forever as the past and present collide in a heartwrenching way. Ashbelle Wisconsin will now have a deadly history that started in 1944 and culminated in 1997.


I was contacted to read and review this book by a publicist who saw I like to support and feature Wisconsin authors. She told me this book was written during the pandemic by a man who was reflecting on his small-town life and how it affected him in big ways. I have to say that really came through in this story. His descriptions took me back to a simpler life in a small town. While I was older in 1997 than the teenagers in this book I could relate to their high school lives. Their friendships, actions, interactions, and curiosities were very familiar. I had a much harder time relating to the people from the past. Their choices and actions gave me chills.  Because of the emotions invoked by both time periods, I would say the author did a fine job of telling this story.

Reading the first chapter 1 was unsure if this was a story for me but by the end of chapter 2, my own curiosity was building, and mid-way through chapter 3 I was completely engaged. With each subsequent chapter, my reading pace increased. I liked that the chapters went back and forth between time periods wrapping up with the final chapter set in 2015. It gave the story a good rhythm and pace.

Mr. Qualio’s Mystery in the Hill introduced very interesting characters and stunning situations. The short novella length suited the story very well giving a true, ripped from the headlines kind of story feel. This appears to be his first novel and it has piqued my interest and has me wondering what he will write next. Reading his book was a great way to spend an evening. I look forward to more from this author.

*Does include some explicit language.

Your Escape Into A Good Book Travel Agent

 

About the Author 

Aaron Qualio is the author of ‘Mystery in the Hill’, rated a #1 Amazon best-selling book. Aaron is a husband and a stay-at-home dad to two girls. He resides in Green Bay, WI, and grew up in a small Wisconsin town, where much of his inspirations come from.

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 2021 Reviews Cloak and Dagger Challenge Finish The Series Challenge Literary Escapes New Release Challenge You Read How Many Books Challenge

Dark Night: A Mystery (Alaska Wild Series) by Paige Shelton #EarlyReview @MinotaurBooks @AuthorPaige

I had planned on reading this book closer to its release date of December 7 but I kept seeing it pop up on Facebook and on my Kindle so I just had to read it now.

Dark Night: A Mystery (Alaska Wild Series)
Suspense/Mystery
3rd in Series
Setting – Alaska
Publisher ‏ : ‎ Minotaur Books (December 7, 2021)
Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 288 pages
ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 125079627X
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1250796271
Kindle ASIN ‏ : ‎ B08R2KMM3M

Dark Night marks the third book in the gripping, atmospheric Alaska Wild series from Paige Shelton, in which Benedict, Alaska is met with some unexpected visitors…and then disappearances.

Winter is falling in the remote town of Benedict, Alaska, and with the cold comes a mysterious guest. The dreaded “census man,” seemingly innocuous, is an unwelcome presence to those members of this secretive community who would prefer to keep their business to themselves. Meanwhile, thriller writer Beth Rivers has received her own unexpected company: her mother. The last Beth heard, Mill Rivers had gone underground in the lower forty-eight, in search of Beth’s kidnapper, and Beth can’t help but be a little alarmed at her appearance: If Mill was able to track down her daughter, who knows who else might be able to?

Beth doesn’t have time to ponder this for long after a battered woman stumbles into the town bar one night, and her husband is found dead the next morning. Suspicions immediately turn to the census man, but when he, too, goes missing, everyone in Benedict—including the police chief—is suspected, and Beth and Mill must work to uncover the truth.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

The days are getting darker and colder and winter comes to Benedict Alaska. The ferry and aircraft come and go less frequently so making the trek to Juneau is hit or miss depending on the weather. Some of the residents handle the darkness, cold, ice, and snow better than others. People who have lived in Benedict for years all have their own ways of coping and for most, it is just their daily lives.

Residents were surprised when the “census man” arrived in town and he definitely was not welcomed with open arms. He made a definite impression with his visit to Ned and Claudia Withers. After the man left their home Ned beat up his wife and by the next morning, Ned was dead.

Also making the trip to Benedict is Mill Rivers. Her daughter Beth has been hiding in this faraway town since recovering from the injuries sustained when she was kidnapped while her captor is still at large. He was injured when her mother found and shot him but he got away again. She was charged for her actions but has gone on the run. So Beth is both shocked and scared that her mother tracked her down after all her efforts to stay safe.  If her mother found her can her kidnapper be far behind?

So with a murder to solve, a couple of fugitives in town, a census man wandering around, and the probability of a kidnapper stepping off the ferry and day now, Police Chief Gril has his hands full. Maybe Beth and her mom can assist him or will they die trying? Who knows when everyone in town and beyond are on a very long suspect list.


Again, I was thrilled to receive an early copy of this book for review and I couldn’t wait to start reading. The first two books in this series, Thin Ice and Cold Wind really stuck with me and I have been really looking forward to this installment for some answers and another suspenseful adventure with Beth Rivers.

Ms. Sheldon doesn’t disappoint. So much happens within these pages, it is the kind of book that has you opening it up and holding on tight until you reach the end.

First, the setting of Benedict, Alaska is a character in itself. It is a living and breathing place. The weather is frigid, a blizzard can blow through quickly or take up residence and drop multiple inches of snow, or it can be a clear cold day where business can go on as usual. It can have secrets and reveal them at its will. The author describes the place so well I had shivers running up my spine and was tingling when its residents ventured out in the vastness of Alaska.

Beth has survived a horrific experience that left her scarred physically and mentally. She is a powerful character but she still has demons she needs to remember and face before she can truly start to heal. She does have a heartwrenching breakthrough in this story. She also gets several answers thanks to her mother showing up in Benedict.

Her mother is a hard woman due to the life she has lived and her need to track down Beth’s father and now her abductor. She is also a bit of a loose cannon as you never know what she is going to say or do.

These two women are surrounded by a vast supporting cast. I am in awe of the way the author has created so many characters with so many layers and so much depth. And not everything about their lives has been revealed. The characters are well-developed but still have room to continue to evolve.

Yes, there is a murder mystery to be solved in this book but there are a plethora of mysteries swirling within these pages. Secrets abound. Delving into people’s lives to find a murderer opens doors that lead to astounding revelations. Masterfully plotted this is a story that is impossible to put down.

The Alaska Wild Series is a series that truly should be read in order. Readers need to follow Beth’s path. Her leaving Missouri on the run, her arrival in Benedict, and all the things she encountered in Thin Ice lead to the continuation of her adjustments to Alaska life, and all her experiences in Cold Wind, and that builds to what happens in Dark Night and hopefully future books. There is a large cast of characters and reading the series from the start will enable readers to meet them and follow their journeys.

I have totally escaped into every book in this series. They have held me spellbound and kept me thoroughly entertained. I finish one and get immediately excited for the next installment. Dark Night like the book before it moved me to feel it deserves more than 5 stars. Dark Night has earned a place on my Best Reads of 2021 and receives my Paradise Rating.

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Read my review of Thin Ice here. and my review of Cold Wind here.

Dark Night is available for pre-order now and will be delivered to your inbox on December 7.
You can also pre-order a print copy as well.

About The Author

PAIGE SHELTON had a nomadic childhood as her father’s job as a football coach took the family to seven different towns before she was even twelve years old. After college at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, she moved to Salt Lake City where she thought she’d only stay a few years, but she fell in love with the mountains and a great guy who became her husband. After a couple of decades in Utah, she and her family recently moved to Arizona. She also writes the Scottish Bookshop Mystery series.

Paige Shelton is also the New York Times Bestselling author of the Farmers’ Market Mysteries and the Country Cooking School Mysteries. She’s lived in lots of places but currently resides in Arizona. Find out more at www.paigeshelton.com


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 Great Escapes Book Tours Spotlights

One of Us: A Tower District Mystery by Lorie Lewis Ham #Spotlight / #Giveaway – Great Escapes Book Tour @mysteryrat


It is my pleasure to shine my
spotlight on One of Us today!


One of Us: A Tower District Mystery
by Lorie Lewis Ham

About One of Us


One of Us: A Tower District Mystery
Mystery
1st in Series
Publisher ‏ : ‎ King’s River Life (August 1, 2021)
Paperback ‏ : ‎ 306 pages
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 979-8544783145
Digital ASIN ‏ : ‎ B09BBJ8X6X

At 35, children’s book author Roxi Carlucci finds herself starting over again after her publisher drops her book series. With no income, she has to pack up her life on the California Coast, along with her pet rat Merlin, and move in with her cousin, P.I. Stephen Carlucci, who lives in Fresno, CA. The one redeeming factor is that Stephen lives in the Tower District—the cultural oasis of Fresno.

 

Stephen talks Roxi into helping out with a community theatre production, which is also a fundraiser for a local animal rescue. Little did she know that someone would be murdered during a rehearsal, and that she and Stephen would be hired to find the killer. The killer has to be one of Roxi’s new acquaintances since the theatre was locked at the time of the murder, but no one seems to have a motive. How can they solve a murder without a motive? Could the local gossip website hold any clues? Can they stop the killer before they strike again?

Great Escapes Praise for One of Us: A Tower District Mystery
by Lorie Lewis Ham

Well-written, Ham walks you through the twists, turns, and surprises that face Roxi and Stephen as they work with the local police to solve the murder.
~Christa Reads and Writes

I loved how the author maintained a consistent focus on the plot. After a brief introduction to the protagonist, the plot starts to move and never stops until the end.
~Mysteries with Character

About Lorie Lewis Ham

Lorie Lewis Ham lives in Reedley, California and has been writing ever since she was a child—her first stories were about her stuffed animals. Her first song and poem were published when she was 13, and she has gone on to publish many articles, short stories, and poems throughout the years, as well as write for a local newspaper. Four out of 5 of her previously published mystery novels feature gospel singer Alexandra Walters and are set in the San Joaquin Valley. Those books were inspired by the many years she spent traveling and singing gospel music with her family. One Of Us is the first in a brand new mystery series set in the Tower District of Fresno, California featuring podcaster and part-time detective Roxi Carlucci. Lorie has also been the publisher of the online magazine Kings River Life for the past 11 years (kingsriverlife.com), and of its sister website KRL News & Reviews (krlnews.com). She also launched a mystery podcast called Mysteryrat’s Maze (mysteryratsmaze.podbean.com) 3 years ago which features mystery short stories and first chapters read by local actors, including the first chapter of this book. You can find the podcast on Apple Podcasts, and all of the other usual places. You can learn more about Lorie on her website mysteryrat.com and find her on Twitter @mysteryrat and Facebook. Another way to keep up with Lorie’s writing is to subscribe to her newsletter—you can find info on doing that on her website.

Lorie has been married to Larry for 30 years and they have 2 grown children—Jayce and Joseph Ham. She currently has 5 cats (Merlin, Sam, Dean, Sidney, and Willow), 4 dogs (Lestat, Huey, Xander, and Phoebe), and a pet dwarf rabbit (Sherlock). For many years, she worked in pet rat rescue and has had many pet rats of her own over the years.

Author Links

Website Facebook Twitter

Purchase Links –

AmazonB&NKoboIndieBound


The author is giving away 1 Digital Copy of the book!

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
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Followers Will Receive 2 Bonus Entries For Each Way They Follow.
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Add this book to your WANT TO READ shelf on GoodReads
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Leave a comment for the author for 5 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 September 28, 2021, 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

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September 19 – Christa Reads and Writes – REVIEW
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September 23 – Mysteries with Character – REVIEW
September 24 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
September 25 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – SPOTLIGHT
September 26 – Cozy Up With Kathy – REVIEW, AUTHOR INTERVIEW
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Posted in Giveaways Great Escapes Book Tours Interviews

An Untidy Affair: A David Blaise Mystery by MB Dabney #AuthorInterview / #Giveaway – Great Escapes Book Tour @mbdabney27


An Untidy Affair: A David Blaise Mystery
by MB Dabney

I am so happy to welcome MB Dabney
to Escapes With Dollycas today!

Hi MB, 

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’m a native Hoosier, born, raised and educated in Indiana, and a retired journalist. During a 20-year portion of my career, I worked in Philadelphia, where, among other things, I covered the 1985 police bombing of the MOVE compound in West Philly. Because of my background as a reporter, I’m most comfortable writing in third-person, although I have won professional awards for editorial writing, which are in first-person, plural.

I wrote the first draft of a Star Trek novel in the mid-80s – I really love Star Trek – and throughout the 90s and early 2000s dabbled with writing a thriller. But I didn’t really focus on writing fiction until about 15 years ago and it was because I wanted a new writing challenge. The first major challenge of An Untidy Affair is that it’s in first-person. That was considerably out of my comfort zone. The next major challenge I faced with Affair was that I completed the first draft in 18 days during National Novel Writing Month. So, as it turns out, my years of deadline writing for United Press International and later for the Associated Press, in addition to two daily newspapers, came in handy.

What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

I tend to generally follow some advice I read by Stephen King, and that is in fiction, if you don’t know something, make it up. Research is very important but if you stay close to your main interests, there are fewer things you have to research. I read lots of murder and crime fiction and thrillers, so that’s mainly what I write. I also rarely write the major portion of a novel in a location I haven’t lived in or visited extensively.

Through attending conferences and networking, I know lots of people who, for example, specialize in areas I am unfamiliar with, such as poisons or strangulation. So, when needed, I can consult with them on those areas. And lastly, there is the Internet. With what you can learn from the Internet, you can write a credible novel set in contemporary Indianapolis, or in the Old West, or 1760s London, or on Mars.

For a variety of health reasons that caused me to delay research for the novel I intended to write, I didn’t decide to write Affair until a week before I started writing it. So, I didn’t have time for much research before I started. It’s why it’s set in Philadelphia in the mid-1980s and involved MOVE. I was there at the time and covered it. What little research I did do was during the writing to confirm things I wasn’t sure I remembered correctly.

 Do you ever suffer from Writer’s Block?

Sometimes, if I don’t know enough about the story before I start writing it, or don’t understand how to get to the end. But with a novel that’s only happened once. Generally, when I get to a stumbling block and struggle with it for a while, I realize I’m boring the reader – me. And if I’m boring me, I will bore other readers. So, I simplify whatever I’m writing to one or two sentences and move on.

But another handy trick I use is to stir things up. There was a point in one of my upcoming novels when I didn’t know what to do next with my protag. So, one night as he was about to enter this apartment, I had him attacked by someone who jumped out of the bushes, and was wearing a clown mask and carrying a knife. Scary, right? Being attacked by a clown. But it opened up lots of possibilities.

Or, when I feel a block coming on, I might write a scene in which someone walks into a room holding a loaded gun. Nothing shakes things up in fiction, or in real life, more than someone walking in with a gun. Whether the person is there with good intentions or not – and the people in the scene won’t exactly know that when the person walks in – the gun changes the dynamic.

If you suffer from a writer’s block, write something surprising and dramatic. It will help get you off your butt. And you can always delete it later.

What advice do you have for someone who would like to become a published writer?

Don’t give up once you start writing, continue to develop your craft and learn about the industry. Network with published writers and learn from them. Chatting with other authors over cocktails at a conference is a major source of knowledge and inspiration, as much so as merely attending the conference. Join a critique group and take the advice that is the most useful for you and disregard the rest. And never, ever give up hope.

When you are not writing what do you like to do?

I like to read. I enjoy walking and playing tennis, though I haven’t found much time for tennis lately. I still have – but don’t use, of course – the wooden racket I first learned tennis with nearly 60 years ago. I love watching Star Trek, and I love auto racing, especially Formula 1 and Indycar. I attend the Indianapolis 500 every year, and other races when possible. And lastly, I love to travel.

How has the COVID pandemic affected you and you’re writing?

The greatest impact is in not meeting with other writers in person. My critique group meets over Zoom but it’s not the same as in person. And just last week while I was on vacation, the organizer of a regional crime writers conference called me to say that the conference scheduled for October is postponed until April. And I hope I can still attend. (Read below.)

If you could travel anywhere in the world where would you go and why?

I came up with an answer to this question but before I wrote it down I asked my wife what she thought.  She said Fiji, which, amazingly enough, was exactly what I was thinking. Years before we retired, we started socking away money in a travel account, so we have funds for traveling once the country and the world are more open to it. But due to the distance and the expense, I doubt we will ever visit Fiji, though I’d love to. The sandy beaches and clear blue water seem so attractive and beckoning.

We had a trip to China planned for October/November 2020 that was postponed and then planned to go to Rome in March 2021. I would have arrived in Rome on my 70th birthday. But that trip was postponed until next March/April. And I hope it doesn’t conflict with the conference I mentioned above.

What is next on the horizon for you?

I am working on a prequel to Affair and plan to deliver it to my editor by the end of the year. If I’ve made sufficient progress on the prequel by late-October, I will write a novel in November during National Novel Writing Month. And, most likely, it will be the racing story I intended to write just before I wrote Affair.

Thank you, MB for stopping by today. 

Please keep reading to learn about MB’s book.

About An Untidy Affair

An Untidy Affair: A David Blaise Mystery
Suspense/Mystery
1st in Series
Publisher ‏ : ‎ Per Bastet Publications LLC (June 25, 2021)
Paperback ‏ : ‎ 280 pages
ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1942166761
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1942166764
Digital ASIN ‏ : ‎ B097YPJYWN

Struggling Philadelphia private eye David Blaise gets two routine but unrelated cases on the same day in May 1985 – the day city police firebombed the MOVE house, which killed 11 people and destroyed an entire neighborhood. When Blaise starts following a cheating husband and searching for a missing person who may not actually be missing, he also discovers his cases may be related, and that he is being followed. When his tail is murdered, implicating the P-I, Blaise must find the true killer before he is literally buried alive.

About MB Dabney

MB Dabney is an award-winning journalist whose writing has appeared in numerous local and national publications, such as Indianapolis Monthly, NUVO, Ebony magazine, Black Enterprise.com, the Indianapolis Recorder, and the Indianapolis Business Journal. A native of Indianapolis, Michael spent decades as a reporter working at Business Week magazine, United Press International and the Associated Press, the Indianapolis Star, and The Philadelphia Tribune, the nation’s oldest continuously published Black newspaper, where he won awards for editorial writing. He has co-edited two anthologies — Decades of Dirt: Murder, Mystery and Mayhem from the Crossroads of Crime; and MURDER 20/20 — and has published numerous short mystery stories, including Miss Hattie Mae’s Secret (Decades of Dirt) , Callipygian (The Fine Art of Murder), and Killing Santa Claus (Homicide for the Holidays). An Untidy Affair is his first novel.·         The father of two adult daughters, Michael lives in Indianapolis with his wife, Angela.

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Great Escapes Praise for An Untidy Affair: A David Blaise Mystery
by MB Dabney

This is a new author for me but I must say his writing style is highly enjoyable . . . a great read as the clues keep you guessing at every turn while you are being immersed in a time that really comes to life on the page.
~Books a Plenty Book Reviews

Blaise is streetwise with an innate understanding of human nature yet he is socially awkward, single-minded to a fault, and beautifully damaged. The book is peopled with wonderfully vivid archetype characters that could, but definitely do not come across as cliche.
~I Read What You Write!

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September 1 – Literary Gold – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
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Posted in 2021 Reviews Alphabet Soup - A - Z Reading Challenge Cloak and Dagger Challenge E-Book Challenge New Release Challenge You Read How Many Books Challenge

The Question Is Murder by Mark Willen #Review


The Question Is Murder
Mystery
Setting – Washington D.C.
Publisher ‏ : ‎ Pen-L Publishing (May 14, 2021)
Paperback ‏ : ‎ 322 pages
ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1683132246
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1683132240
Kindle ASIN ‏ : ‎ B091RNCRQ7

Washington D.C. newspaper columnist Sam Turner, known to his readers as Mr. Ethics, faces his toughest moral dilemma yet: Can murder ever be justified?

That’s the question posed to him by a mysterious young woman who says she is being stalked and harassed by an ex-lover too powerful to be stopped any other way. Sam knows that journalists should never get personally involved in a story, but he finds he is being drawn deeper and deeper into this one whether he wants it or not.

So when Senator Wade Morgan turns up murdered, Sam fears the worst. Worried about his own involvement, the man who normally has all the answers is now the one making questionable decisions.

As his investigation into the Senator’s death begins to spin out of control, Sam finds he can’t let go—even as the case grows more complicated and the threats against his life become more immediate. With the fate of a young woman at stake and his own life in jeopardy, Sam can’t back down until the killer—whoever that may be—is brought to justice.

But this is D.C., and justice can be in short supply.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

Can murder ever be justified? That is the question Sam Turner aka Mr. Ethics, a Washington D.C. newspaper columnist is asked in an email from “Truly Desperate”. He feels compelled to learn the mystery woman’s story even though he shouldn’t get personally involved. She tells him the man harassing her is a powerful Washington insider and she believes the only way to stop him is to kill him. No names are revealed but when Senator Wade Morgan is murdered he has a bad feeling that he was the man referred to in the email and his involvement may come back to bite him big time. Instead of backing off, he jumps all in on his own investigation putting his job, his life, and the mysterious woman’s life in danger.


Sam Turner receives many emails for his Mr. Ethics newspaper column but this one draws him in and he makes some terrible decisions which he tries to justify throughout the entire story. Told from multiple points of view the author takes the reader on quite a journey as Sam gets deeper and deeper into the case. The suspect’s first-person accounts really give the story depth but there is some repetition that messed with the flow.

The author brings many ethical questions to light as his characters try to validate what was done. All the characters have flaws and I did have sympathy for their plight. Sam really is at a crossroads in his life and the email plus the suspects are a challenge to him.  Truly Desperate is also struggling but is she guilty?  Is the Senator’s wife involved? What other enemies did the Senator have? I did enjoy the chase. Sam involves his co-workers and other contacts to try to find answers but the entire investigation was a little fuzzy. For that reason, I felt the ending was a little abrupt. Questions were answered but after the ride we had been taken on I just expected more. I felt like the author noticed his word/page count and felt like he just needed to wrap things up.

The theme of The Question is Murder is fantastic, ethics in D.C. is always a slippery slope. I was just very disappointed in the ending. I am open to reading more by this author because this story had a great start but the author seems to have lost his way heading into the conclusion. For me, this is a 3-Star book which is a conundrum because my rating system states those are a Satisfactory Excursion but I was not satisfied with the way the story played out at all.



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About the Author

Mark Willen has been a reporter, editor, producer, columnist, and blogger at The Voice of America, National Public Radio, Congressional Quarterly, Bloomberg News, and Kiplinger. He has published and broadcast hundreds of nonfiction articles from datelines as varied as New York, Concord, N.H., Moscow, Jerusalem, Cairo, Beijing, Tokyo, Buenos Aires, and Cape Town, South Africa.

Mark retired from full-time journalism in December 2010 to devote his energies to writing fiction. His short stories have been published in The Rusty Nail, Corner Club Press, and The Boiler Review. The Question Is Murder is his fourth novel.

Mark also leads a writer’s workshop for teenagers and serves as a volunteer tax preparer for elderly and low-income clients. He lives in Silver Spring, Maryland, with his wife, Janet.

Visit Mark’s Website here.


Also by Mark Willen

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 2021 Reviews E-Book Challenge Giveaways Great Escapes Book Tours New Release Challenge You Read How Many Books Challenge

Choir Loft Murder: Frankie Shep Suspense Novellas by Karen Randau #Review / #Giveaway – Great Escapes Book Tour @klrandau


Choir Loft Murder: Frankie Shep Suspense Novellas
by Karen Randau

About Choir Loft Murder


Choir Loft Murder: Frankie Shep Suspense Novellas
Mystery/Thriller
3rd in Series
Setting – Wyoming
Independently Published – June 22 (print) and August 24 (ebook)
Print Length – 134 Pages
Digital ASIN: B08XY8HW26

Her fiance a murderer? As she digs for the truth, she must fight to survive a plot to frame the man she loves.

 

Frankie Shep has endured too many tragedies in her life. When she finally dares to love again, a revengeful plot threatens to cancel her wedding plans and send her fiance to death row. But this feisty modern-day rancher won’t stand for it.

 

A member of the church choir dies from a blowgun dart to a vital artery, and the murder weapon implicates Quint. Frankie is shocked to discover Quint was a champion blowgun competitor but quit the sport after a family disaster. And now he’s refusing to talk about his fate.

 

So she takes it on herself to track down the killer before Quint accepts a life-altering plea deal. She’s devastated when she unearths his motive for the crime. But someone else lurks in the shadows, and that’s who she’s determined to find. Little does she know the killer follows her every move, ready to strike her down when she gets too close.

Can she unravel the vindictive plot before she becomes a crazed killer’s next victim?

Dollycas’s Thoughts

This third book in the series has Frankie and Pastor Quint planning their life together when a choir rehearsal goes horribly wrong. A new member of the choir with an angelic voice that can hit those amazing high notes is struck down by a dart from a blowgun. The murderer opens the door just wide enough to do the deed and disappears as the resulting chaos ensues.

Frankie is stunned when her fiance is arrested for the crime. She had no idea the man had mad skills with a blowgun and could have easily made the precise shot. He seems to accept his fate but Frankie knows the man she loves is no killer and she is going to prove it. She knows he is being set up but she learns he did have a viable motive.

The trouble is the real killer is watching her every move and is never going to let her find the truth and if she does what’s one more body. Can Frankie free her fiance? Or will she be the next person the kills blows away?


I was on the edge of my seat for most of this story. At just 134 pages the pace is brisk and revenge is on the songchart.

Frankie works tirelessly to follow every clue even if it means traveling miles before she sleeps. She does not give up even when things she uncovers do not make sense. She battled on through each twist and turn. I admired the way she kept investigating even when Quint was about to give up and take a plea. I was a little disappointed in Quint’s behavior but don’t want to say too much and ruin the book for anyone.

Ms. Randau plotted an excellent mystery which led up to a very suspenseful reveal. I was totally blindsided when the killer was revealed. I am embarrassed because I fell into a trap I shouldn’t have and that led me astray.

The author knows how to pack the pages full of intrigue and excitement. I read this story incredibly fast and I never had a moment when I wanted to put it down.

Choir Loft Murder was a true Perfect Escape. I am looking forward to visiting these characters again soon.

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About Karen Randau

Karen Randau authors fast-paced mystery, suspense, and thriller books featuring intricate plots, told from the point of view of strong female protagonists. In addition to the Frankie Shep Suspense series set on a fictional ranch in Wyoming, her Rim Country Mystery Series are set in the quaint fictional mountain town of Rim Vista, Arizona. She is also one of seven authors of novellas in the Tawnee Mountain Mystery Series. She lives in the mountains of Arizona with her multigenerational family.

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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.”

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A Trail of Lies: A Mystery (A Jazz Ramsey Mystery) by Kylie Logan #Review


A Trail of Lies: A Mystery (A Jazz Ramsey Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
3rd in Series
Setting – Ohio
Publisher: Minotaur Books (May 11, 2021)
Hardcover: 320 pages
ISBN-10: 1250768632
ISBN-13: 978-1250768636
Kindle ASIN: B08FZ8143D

A Trail of Lies is the third in the Jazz Ramsey mystery series from national bestselling author Kylie Logan.

Jazz Ramsey is just getting used to the idea that her on-again-off-again beau, Nick, might actually be a permanent fixture, when she gets an alarming call in the middle of the night from his mother, Kim: there’s a dead man in her backyard. Kim has a long history of drinking and a vivid imagination, so when Jazz’s human remains detection dog, Wally, finds no evidence of a body, Jazz thinks she can breathe easy.

But when the body of a middle-aged man, Dan Mansfield, is discovered in a nearby park, and a photo of Nick and his mom is found in his pocket, Jazz has to admit that something isn’t adding up. Kim claims not to know who Dan is, but the cops find out soon enough: he’s a recently paroled convict who served thirty years for murder. And when Jazz traces his crime back to a bar fight with an antiques dealer, she ends up with more questions than answers.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

Jazz Ramsey works at St. Catherine’s Preparatory Academy, an all-girls school as an administrative assistant. She handles the day-to-day details to keep the school running smoothly. Right now her focus is on the Fall Formal which she will be attending without her boyfriend Nick because he is on assignment with a gang task force. It’s a dangerous job that causes Jazz constant worry. So when she gets a call in the middle of the night from Nick’s mother, Kim, saying she needs Jazz right away because “it’s Nick . . . Nick, he’s . . . he’s dead in my backyard”, she rushes to Kim’s house while trying to reach Nick but her call goes to voice mail. She arrives at Kim’s house and hurries to the backyard but after a quick search, she doesn’t find a body. Nick or anyone else. Kim is a “raging alcoholic” so not the most reliable witness so Jazz is not totally surprised. Kim also changes her story, saying it wasn’t Nick but a different man and that she killed him. Jazz stays long enough to calm Kim down and then goes home thinking Kim’s story is a drunken illusion.

Then Dan Mansfield is found dead in a park near Kim’s house. He has a photo of a younger Kim and Nick in his pocket. Kim claims not to know the man but clues leads Jazz to believe Kim is lying. Now Jazz has more questions than answers and she fears there will be a whole trail of lies before this case is solved.


Jazz is an excellent protagonist. She is smart, strong but tenderhearted too. She has tried to stay away from Kim but with Nick out of town, she feels she needs to stay present in Kim’s life not only to solve a murder but because she starts to see Nick’s life growing up. She realizes he was more parent than child in the relationship with his mom. I appreciated the way the author dealt with Kim’s alcoholism. It was very realistically portrayed, and it does give the story a more serious tone than what we usually find in a cozy mystery. Ms. Logan does a great job though of balancing the darker tone with some fun things too. I love the relationship Jazz has with her co-workers. They are truly friends and support each other. Sister Eileen does something surprising in this story and it makes me like her even more. Of course, a certain Airedale named Wally lightens the story up too. Still, in training his antics bring the humor when needed. I thought all the core characters developed over the course of the story but I was really caught up in what we learned about Nick’s life.

The mystery was extremely well-plotted. It really focused on Kim’s life and the people in it over the years. With some nice twists and suspenseful moments the book really held my attention. Ms. Logan gave us plenty of suspects but several red herrings too that made it very hard to pin down the actual killer. Jazz truly was like a dog with a bone. Even when her own life was in peril she did not give up. That made for a very exciting story from beginning to end.

The title A Trail of A Lies fits this story so well. While it can be read as a stand-alone, I encourage reading the series from the start in order for maximum enjoyment.

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Read my review of The Scent of Murder here and The Secret of Bones here.  

About the Author

Kylie Logan is the national bestselling author of The League of Literary Ladies Mysteries, the Button Box Mysteries, the Chili Cook-Off Mysteries, and the Ethnic Eats Mysteries, among others.

Visit her at – WebsiteFacebookTwitter

Also by this Author

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.”

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Bitterroot Lake: A Novel by Alicia Beckman #Review @LeslieBudewitz


Bitterroot Lake: A Novel
Mystery/Suspense
Setting – Montana
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books (April 13, 2021)
Hardcover: 336 pages
ISBN-10: 1643855808
ISBN-13: 978-1643855806
Kindle ASIN: B08D8J49DP

When four women separated by tragedy reunite at a lakeside Montana lodge, murder forces them to confront everything they thought they knew about the terrifying accident that tore them apart, in Agatha Award-winning author Alicia Beckman’s suspense debut

Twenty-five years ago, during a celebratory weekend at historic Whitetail Lodge, Sarah McCaskill had a vision. A dream. A nightmare. When a young man was killed, Sarah’s guilt over having ignored the warning in her dreams devastated her. Her friendships with her closest friends, and her sister, fell apart as she worked to build a new life in a new city. But she never stopped loving Whitetail Lodge on the shores of Bitterroot Lake.

Now that she’s a young widow, her mother urges her to return to the lodge for healing. But when she arrives, she’s greeted by an old friend–and by news of a murder that’s clearly tied to that tragic day she’ll never forget.

And the dreams are back, too. What dangers are they warning of this time? As Sarah and her friends dig into the history of the lodge and the McCaskill family, they uncover a legacy of secrets and make a discovery that gives a chilling new meaning to the dreams. Now, they can no longer ignore the ominous portents from the past that point to a danger more present than any of them could know.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

Sarah lost her husband to cancer and her mother encourages her to come home to the lodge to help her make some decisions. The lodge holds a lot of heartbreaking history. Twenty-five years ago a weekend turned deadly and ripped Sarah and her closest friends including her sister apart. The fact that Sarah had a dream that could have changed the weekend’s outcome still haunts her today.

Sarah does return to the lodge and the dreams along with her friends are back too. Another person connected to that weekend is killed and one of the friends becomes a prime suspect. While trying to prove her innocence the group of women delve into the history of the lodge and the family that owns it. What they uncover changes everything. Danger lurks nearby as they try to make sense of everything they learn.


What a fabulous cover, it drew me to the book before I ever read the synopsis of the story. Learning that the author was one of my cozy mystery faves made my desire to read it even stronger.

This is a very complex mystery with a lot of threads that entwine in and out with each other. I enjoyed the bit of paranormal included within the pages as it really enhanced the story and gave it some new depth. I liked the lodge setting and all the treasures found within.

Sarah is dealing with so much and this reunion truly tests her but she needs answers. She is grieving, counting the days since her husband’s death but her visions need to be explained along with learning what she may have missed all those years ago. I was drawn to Sarah, she was very relatable and felt genuine to me. All the characters she interacted with developed nicely over the course of the story too. They all have their flaws which make them believable.

This is a story you can not just plow through to find the killer, in fact, that turns out to be a minor part of the story. There is a lot of nuance in these pages. There are situations that could be called chilling and there are situations that really drive the story forward. I found the way the author blended history with modern-day incredible and the part secrets play through both periods very intriguing. From an attempted rape to the loss of a loved one and broken friendships this book will hit readers on many levels. There were a couple of areas where I thought the text needed to be tightened up because the flow seemed a little off but these instances were few and far between.

Bitterroot Lake lets the author explore a darker mystery than she can in the cozy realm and she excelled at it. As this is a stand-alone title we will not meet these characters again but I am very interested in where Ms. Beckman takes us in the future.

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About the Author

Alicia Beckman adored living in Seattle as a college student and young lawyer, but is happiest back home in her native Montana, where she lives with her husband, a musician, and doctor of natural medicine, and their full-figured gray tuxedo cat. As Leslie Budewitz, she’s the bestselling author of the Seattle Spice Shop and Food Lovers’ Village mysteries. A three-time Agatha Award winner, for Best Short Story (2018), Best First Novel (2013), and Best Nonfiction (2011), she is a past president of Sisters in Crime and a current board member of Mystery Writers of America.


Written as Leslie Budewitz

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.”

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Gone Astray by Terry Korth Fischer #Review / #Giveaway – Great Escapes Book Tour @terryiswriting


Gone Astray
by Terry Korth Fischer

About Gone Astray

Gone Astray
Mystery/Suspense
Setting – Nebraska
Publisher: Wild Rose Press (February 15, 2021)
Paperback: 300 pages
ISBN-10: 1509235256
ISBN-13: 978-1509235254
Digital ASIN: B08SQCWXBG

A heart attack sends detective Rory Naysmith reeling. Too young to retire, he accepts a position in small-town Winterset, Nebraska. Handed an unsolved truck hijacking case, with the assistance of a rookie, Rory sets out to prove he is still able to go toe-to-toe with younger men. When the body of a Vietnam veteran turns up, he dons his fedora and spit-shines his shoes. But before he can solve the murder, an older woman disappears, followed closely by a second hijacking. He doggedly works the cases, following a thread that ties the two crimes together. But can Rory find the mental and physical strength to up his game and bring the criminals to justice before disaster strikes and he loses his job?

Dollycas’s Thoughts

Leaving a job in the city following a heart attack, Rory Naysmith settles in Winterset, Nebraska, a small town in need of a detective. The chief expects big things like clearing a cold case involving a truck hijacking. Not familiar with people and places in his new home he requests a little help and the chief assigns a young rookie. The cold case gets pushed aside when a Vietnam Vet is murdered quickly followed by a missing person. Then there is another truck hijacked.  A crime wave has hit the little midwest town and the chief expects his new detective to handle it all. While working hard he starts to believe at least two of the crimes could be connected, could the third be connected as well? In an effort to prove himself he needs answers.


Rory Naysmith is a very interesting character with a fascinating new hobby trying to reduce stress while still keeping his presence vital. A complicated character that I immediately found intriguing. I enjoyed his keen sense of humor and that he grew over the course of the story.  The author surrounds him with an eclectic supporting cast including a rookie that is eager to please so much so it could get him in a lot of trouble, the daughters of the missing woman, the chief of police, and other residents of Winterset. All are cleverly written and feel true to small-town life.

Solving the cases was not easy and I really enjoyed Rory’s process. As the plot started to come together the suspense ratcheted up nicely. The detective’s decisions were a little iffy in places but felt true to his nature. What I loved what the surprising reveal. My heart took a hit too before the book drew to a close.

Gone Astray piqued my interest from the first page. Quality characters with an exciting whodunit held on tight to the very end. I hope this isn’t the last we see of Rory Naysmith and the fine people of Winterset.

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About Terry Korth Fischer

Terry Korth Fischer writes mystery and memoir. Her memoir, Omaha to Ogallala, was released in 2019, S&H Publishing, Inc. Her short stories have appeared in The Write Place at the Write Time, Spies & Heroes, Voices from the Plains, and numerous anthologies. Transplanted from the Midwest, Terry lives in Houston with her husband and their two guard cats. She enjoys a good mystery, the heat and humidity, and long summer days.

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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.”