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Friday, July 20, 2018

Book Spotlight - Lethal Spectre

Today we feature a historical mystery by Donna Fletcher Crow.   Donna is a lifelong Anglophile with a special love for the Victorians, especially their energy, confidence and creativity. She is a former English teacher and the author of 50 books, mostly novels of British history, including the award-winning Arthurian epic, Glastonbury, The Novel of Christian England. She currently authors three mystery series: The Monastery Murders; Elizabeth and Richard Literary Suspense; and Lord Danvers Investigates, Victorian true-crime.


A Lethal Spectre on #Mystery Exchange


A Lethal Spectre, Lord Danvers Investigates, Book 5, a Victorian True-crime mystery The elegance of a London season and the atrocities of an Indian mutiny woven into an intricate tapestry Antonia and Charles are swept up in the glittering swirl of a London season as they present Aunt Aelfrida’s ward to society. In India Antonia’s closest girlhood friend is caught in the most brutal massacre ‘in the book of time’. What could these disparate events have to do with murders in London and Brighton? This  engrossing story comes to life with all the vivid historical detail readers expect from Donna Fletcher Crow.

“A stunning contrast between the dramas and machinations of fashionable London life and the unfurling of an unthinkable tragedy. A story of lights and shadows, all impeccably well researched and realised.”
~Linda Stratmann, author of The Frances Doughty Mysteries

Excerpt:

Chapter 1

It was only midmorning and already the heat was stifling. Hot wind seared and scorching sun radiated from the walls of the barracks behind them. The acrid smell of the buildings of the cantonment beyond, now reduced to black smoldering rubble—all their homes and possessions—stung every nose. Emilia Landry stood among the women and children who had been called from their homes in the civilian cantonment and gathered into the military entrenchment on the orders of General Wheeler.

They had been here a week now, hoping for the best; but fearing the worst. No attack had come on the entrenchment, but mutinous sepoys and vandals had ransacked the city, burned the officers’ bungalows in the new cantonment, and, disastrously, seized the magazine where the army treasury, ammunitions and heavy guns were stored.

Emilia closed her eyes against the sight of the black smoke, and saw in her mind the pleasant bungalow she had occupied with her friend Louisa Chalwin and Louisa’s veterinarian husband Edwin. Louisa had planted a lovely garden, complete with English roses that bloomed undaunted in the Indian summer. A magnificent old banyan tree shaded a summer house where Emilia loved to sit and read in the mornings and take tea in the afternoons. All a blackened rubble now.

They had been hearing dire reports for weeks. Revolt of the native troops at Meerut. Then at Delhi. And riots at Lucknow, only some sixty miles to the northeast. But no apprehension had been felt of treachery on the part of their own troops at Cawnpore.  This morning, however, Sunday morning, the seventh of June, Sir Hugh Wheeler, commanding general at Cawnpore, had received a letter from the Nana Sahib, declaring his intention of attacking.

Now everyone on the verandah of the barracks held their breath, as all in the entrenchment seemed to do. The tension of the soldiers, posted with leveled rifles around the circumference of the barricading mud wall, communicated itself to every person. The mewling of a baby born only a few hours before vibrated on the air. The cry was cut off by the boom of a cannon. Women shrieked; children wailed as the ball struck the barrack behind them.

A bugle call split the air, sounding above the mayhem. The crack of shot was deafening as hundreds of rifles responded. The mutiny had come to Cawnpore.

A moan tore from deep in her throat and Lady Antonia Danvers sat up sharply. She was drenched in sweat, even though the early June night was cold in London. Tonia reached for the carafe of water by her bed and filled a glass to relieve her parched throat. What had she dreamed? How could such vivid horror have come from her own imagination?

She crossed the room and, pushing the heavy drapery aside, raised the sash on her window, letting a fresh breeze bathe her face. She breathed deeply of the blessed, moist air. Still unsettled from the terrors of her dream, Antonia returned to bed. The sky had lightened to silver, however, and the first notes of the dawn chorus rang in the garden before Tonia returned to an uneasy sleep.

She wakened far too late to share her morning tea with her husband as was their custom.  When she inquired of her maid she was informed that her lord would be out for the day, involved with his man of business and taking dinner at his club. She would have no opportunity to discuss the nightmare with Charles, although the phantom spectre continued to follow her.

Available on Amazon (click here)

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Friday, July 13, 2018

Author Guest Post - Kris Bock

#MysteryExchange - The Murder That Inspired a Romantic #Mystery Novel, with @Kris_Bock

Many writers are inspired by real events or people in their
lives. This makes difficult situations a form of research. “This stinks, but maybe I can use it in a book!” I write romantic suspense for adults as Kris Bock and middle grade novels (for ages 9 to 12) as Chris Eboch. In most of these
books, the connection to real-life experiences isn’t obvious. 

In my romantic
suspense Whispers in the Dark, my
heroine is an archaeology Masters student working at the fictional “Lost
Valley” monument, which is closely based on Hovenweep National Monument, where I once spent a week camping. In Counterfeits, the heroine inherits a children’s art camp, which I based on a camp near Jemez Springs, New Mexico, where I’ve attended many writing retreats. Using real locations helps me bring the settings to life even if I did not, for example,
fall into a ravine while fleeing from a bad guy.

But What We Found was inspired by helping to uncover a true case of murder.

Lest you think that makes me some kind of amateur detective, my involvement was purely accidental. Two friends and I were exploring the mountains, looking for some suitable gravel to try gold panning (because, why not?). We found a likely spot and were about to take a sample when the guys smelled something horrible. A glance in the right direction showed them a dead body hidden just out of sight of the path.

The next hour passed in a surreal blur. We'd left our phones
in another vehicle, at the base of the mountain. Once we retrieved them, we still had to find a place with cell reception. We called 911, waited for the police, and led them to the body. Later that night we were interviewed by
detectives.

By the following day, they had identified the body as a
woman who had been missing. Her estranged ex-boyfriend was already a suspect in her disappearance, but without her body they'd have trouble prosecuting him.  Seeing her picture on TV and learning about her family made the situation real in a new way. We wanted justice for someone we’d never met.

It’s All Research

As a writer, I knew I was getting rare first-hand experience
into something powerful. I took pages of notes during that first week, even though I didn’t know how or when I might use them. I was fortunate to be with two men who talked openly about their experiences: the nightmares, the guilt over violence against women, the anxiety that came from now wondering what you might see in the bushes.

Three things struck me most strongly.

First, we all felt deeply invested in the case, even though
we’d never met the woman in life and didn’t know anyone else involved. We followed the news stories, even though they made us anxious. When the murderer was finally sentenced … well, we weren't happy (the sentence of less than 20 years of less than 20 years was not, in our opinion, nearly long enough), but we were relieved that it was over.

Second, it affected every aspect of our lives for weeks.
Even though the likelihood of finding another body, or even witnessing a different crime, was extremely slim, we were on high alert at all times. It was a struggle to put it behind us while still honoring the memory of the victim and holding on to what we had learned.

And finally, someone in law enforcement said that often
people don’t report crime scenes like these. How could someone walk away from that? I started thinking about all the reasons someone might want to cover up their discovery, even if they had nothing to do with the crime. And that inspired What We Found.

Turning Truth into
Fiction

Several years passed before I felt distant enough from the
experience to fictionalize it, but I still had all those notes and memories to draw on. Some elements of What We Found, mainly the emotional ones, are taken directly from that experience. Most character and plot elements are fictional, although some are loosely inspired by the real events.

This isn’t an experience I would wish on anyone, but we’re
glad we helped bring a crime to light and a murderer to justice. And it led to what I consider my most powerful and personal novel to date. After all, one benefit to being a writer is that the worst experiences are still valuable as
research.

That’s the truth behind What We Found.


When Audra goes back to her small hometown after college, she simply wants to fit in, work hard, and protect her 12-year-old brother from their overbearing mother. Finding a dead body in the woods changes everything.

Her former crush, Jay, insists they don’t report the body.  But the dead woman was murdered, and someone starts targeting Audra. She has to
stand up for herself in order to stand up for the murder victim. It’s a risk, and so is reaching out to the mysterious young man who works with deadly birds of prey. But with danger all around, some risks are worth taking.

“Another action-packed suspense novel by Kris Bock, perhaps her best to-date. The author weaves an intriguing tale with appealing characters. Watching Audra, the main character, evolve into an emotionally-mature and independent young woman is gratifying.” Reader Ellen
Rippe.
This title stands alone and is not part of a series.

Excerpt:

An engine started.
The battered old truck stood out like a janitor at the prom. It was dark blue, splattered with mud and probably decades old, with a cap on the bed. The evening sun glared off the side window, but as I walked slowly past the front I saw a figure inside – the one-handed man. He had his hand on the wheel but his head back, eyes closed.

 I paused, studying his face. I guessed he was in his twenties, with short, light brown hair and pleasant features in a mask as still as death.

 He opened his eyes and looked straight into mine.

 I couldn’t move as he held my gaze. My heart thumped against my ribs. He studied me without expression, no smile, no frown, nothing in his face but weariness.

 Finally I had to blink, and once the eye contact was broken, I jerked my gaze away and kept moving. I quickly turned between the next two cars, to get out of his view. I’d have to cross behind his truck to reach my car, which might look odd if he was still watching, but I didn’t care so long as I got out of there, fast.

 I noticed the rusty screeching again. It was coming from his truck. I stumbled to a stop, staring at the back of the truck.
What could be making that sound? The tailgate and back window on the cap were closed, hiding the sight inside, but the screech came again and again like someone – something – screaming.

 The screams seemed to echo in my head. I couldn’t take any more. I turned away with a hand over my mouth to hold back my own scream and hurried to my car.


Kris Bock writes novels of suspense and romance with outdoor adventures and Southwestern landscapes. All ebooks are .99c to $3.99 or free with Kindle Unliminted.

The Mad Monk’s Treasure follows the hunt for a long-lost treasure in the New Mexico desert. In The Dead Man’s Treasure, estranged relatives compete to reach a buried treasure by following a series of complex clues. In The Skeleton Canyon Treasure, sparks fly when reader favorites Camie and Tiger help a mysterious man track down his missing uncle. Whispers in the Dark features archaeology and intrigue among ancient Southwest ruins. In Counterfeits, stolen Rembrandt paintings bring danger to a small New Mexico town.

To learn more about her latest work, visit www.krisbock.com or her Amazon page. Sign up for Kris Bock’s newsletter
for announcements of new books, sales, and more.


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THANK You Kris Bock for joining us today.  



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Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Review - Pairing a Deception

I reviewed the 1st in series, Decanting a Murder (click here) by Nadine Nettmann - a real-life Sommelier.  I missed the second in the series, but here is the third in the series for you.

Author: Nadine Nettmann

Copyright: May 2018 (Midnight Ink) 240 pgs

Series: 3rd in A Sommelier Mystery series

Sensuality: Mild

Mystery Sub-genre: Amateur Sleuth

Main Character: Katie Stillwell, Restaurant Sommelier prepping for Master Sommelier exam

Setting: Modern, Santa Barbara

Obtained Through: Publisher for an honest opinion -Netgalley

Cover Blurb:  "With only a few days left until her Advanced Sommelier exam, Katie Stillwell hopes to balance studying with attending a wine and food festival in Santa Barbara.

The weekend with Detective Dean is off to a great start―until an attendee is murdered and suspicion falls on the festival emcee, Master Sommelier Hudson Wiley. Katie tries to keep her focus on the festival and her last-minute studying, but when she discovers people aren’t who they say they are, she finds herself in the middle of a tangled web where nothing, except the wine, is what it seems."

Katie Stillwell takes most everything in stride, including her boyfriend having to rush back to the city for his job in the middle of their romantic weekend.  She  isn't intentionally investigating, not much, but she is putting together a number of clues.  Detective Dean is the romantic interest who gets called back to his job a few times in the course of this novel.  Thus, there wasn't much revealed about him in this novel other than he is trying to make the relationship work. Hudson Wiley, the Master Sommelier and prime suspect exhibits plenty of strange behavior and you never quite know what his deal is.  This time around there is no wine tasting group or friends in the story, but there is an eclectic group of festive attendees.

The setting of the wine festive works well.  The plot was a little disjointed for me (may just be me), and the pacing stayed steady, perhaps a little too steady.

The climax had a slight killer confrontation that was okay, but I didn't really feel it.  I really prefer a killer reveal that has me flipping pages with my heart pounding - this didn't do that for me.  I have even enjoyed books that have less suspense for more realistic with the police involved in the killer reveal, but that wasn't the case here either. 

This was a fast read in that it seemed short and compact (a mere 240 pages). The story was entertaining enough, but I didn't feel a sense of urgency for Katie to solve the crime.  I would have liked a bit more suspenseful killer confrontation or romance to get the blood pumping and invest me in the story, but others may like the even emotions of the story.  I really enjoyed the wine references and notes throughout and the setting.

Good - A fun read with good qualities for those who enjoy a tamer mystery. 


~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Don’t know much about wine? Or perhaps you know a friend
who wants to enjoy wine, but just hasn't found a wine they really love?  Want to understand why you like some but not others?  Want to just know what others mean when talking wine?

Do you or a friend want to understand the wonderful world of wine but the books available are more exhaustive textbooks and loose your interest? 

‘The Little Wine Guide’ spans Cabernet to Chardonnay with tips on how to chill and store wine to buying wine among the vast options.

This jam-packed little book removes the mystery and makes savoring a fine wine fun. Learn the lingo fast through an overview of wine to get you on your feet pronto. Learn about the basic wine types to planning your own wine tasting, the intricacies of restaurant presentation etiquette to an overview of wine in America to assist you on your personal wine journey! Understand your unique taste preferences and what interests you in the world of wine from blogs, movies, documentaries, magazines or books on the people of the wine world.


Buy Here:  Amazon | Barnes & Noble  | Website

Kerrianne (Goodreads) 5 star  "Great and compact intro into the world of wine. Can't wait to tour some local wineries with my new found knowledge. So happy I was able to win this through a Goodreads Giveaway!"

Cynthia Calongne--Lyr Lobo 5 star  "What a great book - fun content, well-organized and easy to read and digest!"




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Thursday, June 28, 2018

Mystery Podcast


Kings River Life Magazine has a brand new mystery podcast called Mysteryrat's Maze Podcast. Episodes will consist of mystery short stories, and first chapters of mystery novels, read by actors in the San Joaquin Valley of California. 

The first one went up in June and is a short story by Nancy Cole Silverman. The 2nd one went up on July 3 and is a short story by Joan Leotta. Coming up we have Jeri Westerson, Dennis Palumbo, Lesley Diehl, Elaine Viets and more. There will be a new one up the first Tuesday of every month, and possibly some bonus ones as well. 

To listen to these episodes and subscribe to the podcast you can go to mysteryratsmaze.podbean.com. We are also on iTunes and Google Play. You can also subscribe to our podcast newsletter to keep up with all of the news tinyletter.com/kingsriverlife.


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Monday, June 11, 2018

ICED: Resort to Murder Mystery I on SALE

On Sale for a Limited Time

ICED: Resort to Murder Mystery I
Julienne has her ideal job as an event planner at a prestigious
resort. During a luncheon event she coordinated, a renowned celebrity pastor is killed next to the buffet. All eyes turn to her as the suspect. If she wants to stay out of jail or even keep her job, Julienne needs all the help she can get to solve the crime. 

She has her work cut out for her with a vengeful high school rival now reporter, the public demanding she be fired, plus family who knows what's best for her, and a boyfriend who doesn't understand her. She turns to friends and a new ally to uncover who wanted to put the pastor on ice. 

Julienne goes undercover and investigates a local swingers group as she follows the trail of clues before they go cold. Can she gather enough suspects and motives to convince the police to her widen their investigation? Can she do it before the killer sets his murderous sights on her? Will her personal life ever be as simple as unveiling a murderer?

SALE LINK Amazon  

Praise for ICED: 

"Avery Daniels’ Iced: A Resort to Murder is a great beginning to what I hope is several books.  The story was very entertaining with twists and turns that I couldn’t hazard a guess because another motive or clue would be revealed leading to a crescendo ending of 'Oh, my!'  The story was engaging, the characters entertaining, and I love the idea that there will be more at another resort…Her world travels begin!”  King's River Life Magazine

Avery Daniels Links:
Newsletter  
Website
Facebook
Twitter
BookBub
Goodreads
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