Jan McCanless: Who Killed the Weatherman? Sunday, Jul 5 2015 

Please welcome author Jan McCanless, whose quirky citizens of Beryl Cove, NC, delight mystery readers with her wild sense of humor. Jan’s talking today about her Royal DNA … British with a Southern flair!


My Royal DNA

by Jan McCanless

I come from a predominately smart family; oh, we have our usual quirky oddball (at least that’s the name they have given me),but otherwise, we have some spectacular DNA coursing through our collective veins.

Well, for instance, there I was,sitting at a church breakfast one Easter morning, and as usual, I was bragging about our famous kin, General AP Hill, of confederate fame. You see, the man next to me was a Civil War buff, he even has his own museum, so we were sharing stories of our ancestors. Proud of old Ambrose Powell Hill, I am, and just happened to mention his esteem among his troops and the entire region. David leaned over to me and said, “You know, of course, the man died of syphilis.” I was crestfallen to say the least. He could’ve at least waited on me to finish my meal !!!

Then, there is Colonel David Gregg, kin on my mother’s side, with a big statue of him in Gettysburg cemetery. I don’t know any scandal about him, except, well, um – — he fought for the other side. We don’t speak too much of him naturally, and I won’t tell if you don’t.

AP and Colonel Gregg are not my only outstanding relatives; there is that Indian woman, Pocahontas. You see, Pocahontas married that English chap, Sir Ralph whatshisname, and, they lived happily ever after in England. Why, they even have a statue of her over there, so revered is she. Anyway, Sir Ralph was a distant cousin of the Queen’s, Victoria, if I’m not mistaken, but, it could have been an earlier monarch, not sure at this point, I’m still getting over the fact that cousin Ambrose died of a social disease. I mean a thing like that can rattle ones cage! Back to Poca baby. She married this English chap, cousin of the Queen’s, and had children by him, and those children eventually led to myself and my brother.

Now, bear in mind, my brother isn’t exactly the sort of fellow one would present to the Queen, but, the DNA is there, and should we take up residence in Buckingham palace, (Buck house to those of us in the family) I could always coach him on protocol. He might, just might, look fetching in knee breeches and morning coat.

The thing is, we are kin, Elizabeth and us, and I think it only right that we be included in all this royal folderol that occurs quite frequently over there. Ascot, the coronations, etc. I have even practiced my Royal wave, it’s sorta like screwing in a light bulb. One has to plaster that fixed half-smile on one’s face when waving to the peons. Don’t get me wrong, I love the British Royal family, kin and all. Elizabeth and Phillip share the same wedding anniversary as the spouse and I — November 20th. Every year I invite Liz and Phil (familiarity amongst family members, you know) to come across the pond and join us in celebration, but so far, they have not accepted. Probably don’t know we are kin yet, but I plan on remedying that forthwith. See, I even talk like British Royalty. I’ve known all my life about our Royal connection, but just haven’t gotten around to taking advantage of it, but this is the year!!!

I’ve been led to believe that there are over 200 rooms at Buck house, so I can’t help but think they would not miss a dozen or so of them, so brother and I and our assorted kinfolk can take up residence there. I mean, it’s rightfully ours, too, doncha know.

Hm, wonder how brother is going to look in those knee breeches, maybe we should start smaller, a portion of the civil list perhaps?

Jan McCanless writes the Beryl’s Cove Mysteries. Her newest, Who Killed the Weatherman? is available at Amazon.com. Amateur sleuths Steve and Suzanne Thomas find themselves assisting local police chief, Nathan Sowinski with an automobile accident that turns out to be murder. His car careens out of control right in downtown Beryl’s Cove, and our beach bunch sets out to solve the crime. Their paths soon cross with drug runners, a smarmy lifeguard and an unsympathetic TV station executive. Meanwhile, the residents of the Cove carry on in the midst of personal crises, not the least of which is Steve’s broken leg. One of the more stable Cove marriages appears headed for the rocks, and police chief Sowinski gets news that really rocks his world, turning it upside down. Suddenly, the moon is full, and nothing or nobody is acting quite right.

Jan’s a well-known author throughout North Carolina. Her list of publications and awards she has received would fill a good-sized volume by themselves. In addition to the Beryl’s Cove Mystery series and other books, she is a freelance columnist for The Salisbury Post, and a regular contributor to Senior Savvy; The Saturday Evening Post; Sophie Woman’s Magazine; and a multitude of other periodicals.

M. P. Cooley: Flame Out Sunday, Jun 28 2015 

An upstate New York native, M. P. Cooley knows the area well and showed that in her debut Ice Shear, introducing police officer June Lyons. She’s back with its sequel, FLAME OUT and it’s every bit as good a story, set in the rustbelt area of Hopewell Falls, along the Mohawk River.

Auntie M must confess to a bit of added interest unknown to her until she read this book: one of her three sons is Director of the Cohoes Library, and so she knows the area and can attest that Cooley gets it the depressed neighborhoods just right.

The action sets in quickly, when June is out on patrol and she picks up the scent of gasoline as she rides near an abandoned factory. Knowing arson to be prevalent in the area, she calls the fire in and heads into the factory, over a gas slick, fire extinguisher in hand.

She follows the trail into the building and finds a running van door open, and as the flames reach the van, a woman screams and rises from the mattress stuffed in the back, her clothes on fire. June manages to rescue the woman, but her burns keep the victim in a coma and she’s not identified. Until she is …

That’s the beginning of a twisted and complex plot that will have fingers tracing back into Juen’s own family’s past and that of her partner, Dave Batko, and his family. June’s father is a retired cop who is helping her raise her daughter, yet this case brings back the history of his arrest of the factory’s owner, Bernie Mede, for killing his wife and child, despite their bodies never being found. Then while dismantling the burned factory, the body of a woman is found inside a sealed barrel, walled up inside the factory.

The assumption is that this is Mede’s missing wife, but the identity turns out to have more ramifications for June’s partner, Dave, one that will see him sidelined, with June working alongside FBI Special Agent Hale Bascom to solve the murder and arson–and to unravel the past.

A gripping tale with the setting playing an important role, this rural procedural starts out as a small-town police case and soon grows into a tale of corruption and coverup.

Fran Stewart: A Wee Murder in My Shop~ Sunday, Jun 21 2015 

Auntie M is at her writing group, workshopping the opening to the new Nora Tierney (The Golden Hour, for those of you who are wondering what the next color will be). The cover is completed on Death Unscripted, the first Trudy Genova Manhattan Mystery, and she’ll reveal that shortly.

Please welcome author Fran Stewart, who writes two mystery series,The ScotShop and the Miscuit McKee Mysteries:

Wee Murder

In between writing my ScotShop and Biscuit McKee mystery series, I sometimes go off on tangents of sheer whimsy. One of these inspired moments came as I sat beside the creek in my back yard a few years ago, mulling over how I was going to handle Biscuit. I ended up revising what I’d written and using it in the regular monthly column I wrote for the Atlanta Writers Club. Then a publisher grouped six years of those columns together in a workbook—the easiest book I ever had to write.

Here’s what I came up with that day beside the creek, revised slightly once again. Whether you’re a writer or a reader (we writers LOVE our readers!), you just might get some ideas from this “Pencil Play:”

Spring is a good time to take up where I left off last fall and begin to write outdoors. Even if you have a laptop, why not step outside and write with a pencil, just for the fun of it? Pencils have been around since 1565. Anything that’s lasted that long must have a few things going for it.
Let’s see, a pencil . . .
1. is portable.
2. runs without batteries. For that matter, it can run without brains, but I hope that’s not the case here.
3. has an eraser, the 1565 version of a delete key.
4. provides a handy canvas for tooth imprints. I’ve never known anyone who hasn’t occasionally chewed on a pencil. What computer gives a frustrated writer that kind of alleviation? I don’t group solitaire, Sudoku, or Candy Crush in the same league with a yellow number 2 Ticonderoga.
5. can be thrown across the path / room / deck when simple erasure or chewing isn’t active enough (see numbers 3 and 4 above).
6. can be sharpened without a fancy gadget. My Swiss Army knife works just fine. If the circumstances are dire enough, I can even sacrifice a fingernail to tear the wood back away from the graphite.
7. can be broken in half to fit in a tiny notebook or a small pocket. Of course, this eliminates the delete function of one-half of it, but I can use the bare half for my Journal of Work in Progress. That Journal isn’t edited, after all. It just gets me rolling and gives me a chance to air those vague ideas. And the just plain stupid ones that will never show up in my finished manuscript, but need to be released from my psyche before the good ideas can roll out.

Go ahead. I dare you. Try writing outside, under a tree or on a deck or next to a lake. All because of a simple pencil.

Over the years since I originally wrote this, I’ve continued to follow my own advice. Pencils—and the ideas they seem to generate—have saved my story line most than once. Only last night, my fourteenth-century Scottish ghost wouldn’t stay where I wanted him to be. I kept pounding away at the keyboard, trying to force a recalcitrant character into my (sort of) outline, and he kept growling at me with that wonderful Scottish burr of his: I dinna wish to go there, my lass, and ye canna make me do it.

Finally, in disgust, I brewed a cup of tea, grabbed my spiral-bound notebook and my trusty pencil, headed for the loveseat in my living room, chewed for a moment or two (see number 4 in the list above), and began to follow him where he wanted to go. His journey was, I must admit, much more interesting than what I’d had in mind.

Could I have followed him just as well on the computer? Well, okay; I admit the possibility. But the pencil gave me a good excuse to put my feet up, thereby jostling my muse (the cat who had to move her perch when I relocated). Obviously, the newer, better ideas began to flow.
* * *

Fran Stewart is the author of the Biscuit McKee Mysteries – GRAY AS ASHES is the seventh book in that series – as well as a standalone mystery – A SLAYING SONG TONIGHT. Her non-fiction work includes FROM THE TIP OF MY PEN: A WORKBOOK FOR WRITERS. Her new ScotShop Mystery Series from Berkley Press begins with A WEE MURDER IN MY SHOP.

Fran lives quietly with various rescued cats beside a creek on the other side of Hog Mountain, Georgia, northeast of Atlanta.
She sings alto with a community chorus and volunteers at her grandchildren’s school library. She is a member of the National League of American Pen Women, Sisters in Crime, and Mystery Writers of America.
Facebook: http://facebook.com/FranStewartAuthor
Website: http://franstewart.com
Buy the book: http://www.amazon.com/Wee-Murder-Shop-ScotShop-Mystery/dp/0425270319/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1432127258&sr=8-1&keywords=a+wee+murder+in+my+shop


Hamelin, Vermont, isn’t the most likely place for bagpipes and tartan, but at Peggy Winn’s ScotShop, business is booming…
While on a transatlantic hunt for some authentic wares to sell at her shop, Peggy is looking to forget her troubles by digging through the hidden treasures of the Scottish Highlands. With so many enchanting items on sale, Peggy can’t resist buying a beautiful old tartan shawl. But once she wraps it around her shoulders, she discovers that her purchase comes with a hidden fee: the specter of a fourteenth-century Scotsman.
Unsure if her Highland fling was real or a product of an overactive imagination, Peggy returns home to Vermont—only to find the dead body of her ex-boyfriend on the floor of her shop. When the police chief arrests Peggy’s cousin based on some incriminating evidence, Peggy decides to ask her haunting Scottish companion to help figure out who really committed the crime—before anyone else gets kilt…

Photo credit: Mozelle Funderburk

Jeannette de Beauvoir: ASYLUM Wednesday, Jun 17 2015 


Jeannette de Beauvoir says she personal and moral issues through her work, and that is evident in her new mystery, ASYLUM, which introduces Martine LeDuc, the Mayor’s PR Director in Montreal, and is based on historical events that haunt the middle of 20th century Montreal.

For a nice change readers have a strong protagonist who loves her husband, although Martine worries about her role as stepmother to Ivan’s two children. Martine finds herself working with detective Julian Fletcher when four women’s bodies are found in shocking poses on different park benches around the city over several months.

It’s a PR nightmare of epic proportions for the tourist-laden city, and Martine must act as liaison between her boss and the police department. With nothing connecting the four women at first glance other than their macabre manner of death, Martine and Julian launch an investigation that brings them to an unnerving connection to to orphanages of the 1950’s, hell holes where children were the objects of horrific experimentation and drug companies colluded with the doctors.

With the survivors supposedly compensated by the government, it would seem the issue had been dealt with already, yet for someone, these four women have had to die.

What brings the orphans story horribly to life are diary extracts from a young orphaned girl who was sent to the asylum in question, where orphanages were converted to hospitals for the insane due to the better financial situation. These extracts give the story its basis in fact and verisimilitude, and up the ante for readers to root for Martine and Julian to uncover the mad killer in their midst, even as Martine finds herself in jeopardy.

Auntie M hopes this is not the last we have read of Martine LeDuc.

Renee Knight: Disclaimer Sunday, Jun 14 2015 


Readers can add Renee Knight to their growing list of UK authors who will keep you flipping pages and waiting their next book in this startling thriller. DISCLAIMER presents a very creative and original premise. What if you picked up a book to read, only to find a hidden part of your life documented in the guise of fiction, down to the clothes you were wearing on a specific day, and that book ends with your horrific death?

This is the nightmare that hits Catherine Ravenscroft, a documentary filmmaker, which also happens to be Knight’s background. Catherine and her lawyer husband have just moved house to downsize. Their only child, 25 year-old Nicholas, is finally living on his own and they are still unpacking boxes when Catherine comes across the book that will change all of their lives. The Perfect Stranger is the pseudo-fictinal account of a day Catherine thought she’d stored in her memory banks, written by one Stephen Brigstocke.

Suddenly the tension ratchets keenly, as the details are parsed out of the incident she’d rather forget: a vacation to Spain whene her husband was called home early, leaving her and young Nick alone for a few days to finish the trip; the young stranger who seemed fascinated with her; the day her son almost lost his life.

Many of the chapters are told from the point of view of Stephen, the man who has published the book that destroys Catherine’s life, and we see his reasons clearly as the story unfolds. His wife, although long dead, extends her influence, as does his son.

Just when you think you know what has happened, everything turns and twists into something else entirely. The nightmare extends and extends again as every aspect of Catherine’s life becomes infected by the story of those lost days in Spain. Her husband turns on her; then her son; then her colleagues.

This was a book Auntie M found tough to put down. It creeps into you much in the manner of S. J. Watson’s Before I Go to Sleep. You’ll be waiting for Knight’s next one~ and for the film shortly to go into production. But read the book first. It will grab you all the way through to its unsettling ending. A terrific psychological thriller the centers on revenge, guilt, grief and hiding the truth.

Sharon Bolton: Little Black Lies Wednesday, Jun 10 2015 

Sharon Bolton attracted attention with her fabulously-plotted stand-alines, such as Sacrifice and Awakening, and more recently with her Lacey Flint series (A Dark and Twisted Tide). She returns with a new stand-alone, LITTLE BLACK LIES, as well done as her others and not to be missed.


Bolton takes readers to the remote wilds of the Falkland Islands, off South America’s southeast coast, where remnants of the UK’s conflict with Argentina still resonate, and which prove an attractive draw for former soldier Callum Murray. The islands are home to Catrin Quinn, nature conservationist, a woman swallowed up in grief after the death of her two young sons, and harboring a terrible secret she plans to act on.

They are also home to Rachel, her childhood friend, who Catrin holds responsible for their deaths. And to Ben, Catrin’s ex-husband, who has moved on in to remarry and has a new child with his second wife. Into this mix are the murmurs of of two missing children whose bodies have never been found. And then a third child goes missing, and it becomes impossible to ignore that there is a killer in their midst.

Told in sections from the viewpoints of Catrin, Callum and Rachel, the readers sees different parts of the story from each view, as what has happened comes together to form a vivid whole. There are lies and untruths told, as the tensions rises and Catrin finds herself the object of people’s suspicions. Each character’s voice is compelling and individual as the various secrets that have held come tumbling out in ways that the reader can’t possibly anticipate.

The setting adds to the story, a place of wild and natural beauty, of fierce and unexplained natural happenings that augment the troubles that fall to these people. It is a well-told story of the ways people can damage each other, deliberately and even without meaning to–and of the terror parents feel when their child is missing.

Publishers Weekly says: “This brilliantly plotted thriller, filled with lies and betrayals, builds to an unexpected, mesmerizing ending.”
Auntie M quite agrees~

Matt Hilton:The Joe Hunter Thrillers and More~ Sunday, Jun 7 2015 

Please welcome UK author Matt Hilton, here to introduce USA readers to his long-running exceptional Joe Hunter thriller series:

This year (2015) is a busy one for me, seeing the release of three novels and a short story, from various publishers throughout the world. Of course, it isn’t only the publications that will keep me on my toes; I’m also hard at the keyboard writing another two novels, along with everything else that goes with being a working author these days. I’m not complaining. I like busy. I love writing. I also enjoy meeting and speaking with readers, both old and new, so I think this will be a good year.

For anyone unfamiliar with my name, I’m best known for my Joe Hunter thriller series. Hunter is an ex-soldier from England, now working in the USA as a PI, bodyguard, and sometimes vigilante. Sometimes Hunter can be uncompromising when it comes to dealing with the bad guys of the world, but he’s a good guy at heart. He has been compared to Jack Reacher, Travis McGee and Joe Pike, but he’s also his own man. To date in the UK there have been nine Joe Hunter books published by Hodder and Stoughton, and number 10 is just a few short weeks away from hitting the shelves on June 4th.

The Devils Anvil Cover

In The Devil’s Anvil – Joe Hunter 10 – Hunter accepts the task of protecting Billie Womack. The job is a no-brainer for the ex-counterterrorist soldier, but it comes with its own set of complications. Billie’s husband, Richard, stole thirty million dollars from some violent people. He apparently died in a car crash with Billie’s daughter, Nicola, during a desperate attempt to elude his pursuers.

But his enemies don’t believe him dead. They think he escaped the plunge into the icy river that killed Nicola and has now decided to come back for the money. If he’s alive, they believe he’ll contact Billie. It doesn’t take long for the bad guys to arrive at her remote farmhouse. Soon she and Hunter are fugitives. Dead or alive, Richard’s fate means nothing to Hunter, but he promises to do everything in his power to protect the grieving mother. Even if it means taking a bullet for her, it’s a price he’ll pay. It’s a price he will come to regret.

Publication of the Hunter series in the USA is a little behind the UK, and to date six novels have been published by William Morrow and Company (Harper Collins), with book 7 recently published by Down and Out Books. This June also sees the publication by Down and Out Books of book 8 called Rules of Honor.
When Rink’s father is murdered, Joe Hunter vows to help his friend avenge his brutal death. Rink’s mother Yukiko isn’t talking, her silence governed by the Bushido tradition of giri, or moral obligation. But other people known to Yukiko are also dying, all due to a shameful secret from their past that Hunter must uncover if he hopes to end the murders. To do that rules must be broken, and Hunter doesn’t care what he must break to stop the killer.

Here’s a brief excerpt from Rules of Honor:

My friend Jared Rington moved along the carriage with an easy pace, but even from this end I could see the muscles working in his jaw, an old knife scar standing out as a white slash against his tawny skin. Rink hadn’t gone to the trouble I had. He wasn’t disguised, and didn’t see the need. He wanted Chaney to know who was coming for him, and who his executioner was going to be. The only compromise to his usual colourful attire was a pair of black leather gloves. Chaney had his back to Rink, but my friend isn’t the type to do a hit from behind. Rink’s voice was muffled, but I still heard his sharp command: ‘Stand up you piece of shit.’
Chaney dropped his phone and went for his gun, already turning as he rose.
Rink struck him with the edge of his hand, a chop to the side of the big man’s neck. Uncontrolled the blow could kill, but Rink had tempered the force. It was still enough to stagger Chaney and while he was weakened, Rink took the gun from him with a practiced twist of the wrist. Chaney grunted something, continued his turn and tried to grapple for the gun. Rink hit him again, a sweeping elbow strike that contacted with Chaney’s face and knocked him back a few steps. Rink followed him, bringing up the Glock he’d liberated to point it directly at Chaney’s forehead.
Time I did something.
I hit the button and the door swept open.
As I entered the carriage my view of Rink was slightly obscured by Chaney’s thick body. I had a horrible feeling that Rink would shoot, and the bullet would go directly through Chaney’s skull and hit me. I sidestepped, placing myself in the open next to the exit doors. Rink was taller than Chaney, and I knew he’d seen me from the slight narrowing of his eyes. That was all the notice he gave me, though, because his attention was on the man he was about to kill.
I brought up my SIG Sauer P226 and pointed it at Chaney’s back. My other hand I held open to Rink. ‘Don’t do this, brother,’ I said to him. ‘Chaney’s a piece of shit, but he doesn’t deserve this.’
Rink didn’t even look at me. Nausea squirmed a passage through my gut.
‘Don’t,’ I said again.
‘What’re you going to do, Hunter?’ Rink’s eyes never left Chaney. ‘Shoot me?’
‘I don’t want to,’ I said.
‘That’s something, at least.’ Rink ignored me then and took a step nearer Chaney.
The enforcer reared back on his heels, bringing up his hands in a placating motion. ‘Whoa! What’s this all about?’
‘I’m about to kill you,’ my friend snarled.
‘Rink. Don’t do it.’ I hurried towards him. ‘Don’t cross the line, brother.’
‘It’s too late for that, Joe.’
I knew then that there was less than a heartbeat to spare.
I fired.

The short story I have upcoming is called After the Red Rain Fell and is a complete left-turn from my Joe Hunter output. I was chuffed to bits when Geoff Brown, editor in chief at Cohesion Press asked me to contribute to their SNAFU anthology series, and I jumped at the chance to exercise my horror-writing muscles again. Anyone who has been following me will probably know that I also write horror and supernatural tales and have published various novels in these genres as well. I was also the creator of the webzine Thrillers, Killers ‘n’ Chillers and you can probably tell from the name that I’m comfortable writing in the various genres it encompasses, and love nothing more than mixing the genres up when I’m allowed. After the Red Rain Fell is probably best described as a military-horror with a Spec-Ops team coming up against a nightmarish extraterrestrial terror loosely inspired by ‘The Blob’, ‘The Thing’ and ‘Aliens’. It is also firmly based on a true event from a few years ago where Indian scientists discovered bacterial life forms living in our outer atmosphere where I’ve pondered the age old question: What if? My tale will feature in SNAFU: Survival of the Fittest.

Taking another step away from Joe Hunter, I’ve a new series starting this year, with November as the launch month for Blood Tracks. It’s the first in a new mystery series featuring Tess Grey and Nicolas ‘Po’ Villere, and sees the mismatched pair – one an ex-cop, the other an ex-con – attempting to trace a witness in the steamy bayous of Louisiana, before a murderous killer can get to him first. My readers can expect the same level of excitement as they’re used to from Hunter, but also stories that are more whodunit in nature. Severn House will publish Blood Tracks for the UK market this November as I said, but the US editions will not hit shelves until Spring 2016.

So, there you are. I’m going to be busy, busy, busy. But in between all the business, I’ll still be busy writing too, with “Joe Hunter 11” and “Tess and Po 2” both vying for my attention.

Matt Hilton quit his career as a police officer to pursue his love of writing tight, cinematic American-style thrillers. He is the author of the high-octane Joe Hunter thriller series, including his most recent novel The Lawless Kind – Joe Hunter 9 – published in January 2014 by Hodder and Stoughton, and the upcoming The Devil’s Anvil – Joe Hunter 10 – coming in June 2015. His first book, Dead Men’s Dust, was shortlisted for the International Thriller Writers’ Debut Book of 2009 Award, and was a Sunday Times bestseller, also being named as a ‘thriller of the year 2009’ by The Daily Telegraph. Dead Men’s Dust was also a top ten Kindle bestseller in 2013. The Joe Hunter series is widely published by Hodder and Stoughton in UK territories, and by William Morrow and Company and Down and Out Books in the USA, and have been translated into German, Italian, Romanian and Bulgarian. As well as the Joe Hunter series, Matt has been published in a number of anthologies and collections, and has published novels in the supernatural/horror genre, namely ‘Preternatural’, ‘Dominion’, ‘Darkest Hour’ and ‘The Shadows Call’. He is currently working on the next Joe Hunter novel, and editing a new thriller novel called Blood Tracks, soon to be published by Severn House.

Edith Maxwell: Farmed and Dangerous Sunday, May 31 2015 

Auntie M thoroughly enjoyed Edith Maxwell’s newest Local Foods mystery, Farmed and Dangerous.

The mystery follows the latest adventure of organic farmer Cameron Flaherty. Moran Manor Assisted Living is now home to the man who raised her, Great-Uncle Albert, and his new romantic interest, Marilyn. But it’s much more to Cam, trying to establish herself as an organic farmer. She’s hoping to get the contract to provide produce for the Manor and to that end has dropped off some of her delicious greens, root veggies, squash, herbs and even homemade pesto for a trial meal. With her rescued chickens, including the recalcitrant TopKnot slow to lay eggs in the cold weather, Cam works hard alone at her farm with only occasional help.

With her detective beau Pete Pappas making her a fabulous Greek meal that night, Cam’s fingers are crossed that dinner at Moran Manor is going well. Then Pete gets a call that changes everything: one of the Manor’s patients has died, poisoned after eating the meal based on Cam’s produce. And Pete must step back from their relationship until she’s cleared.

Since no one else at the Manor who ate the same meal was poisoned, the question soon becomes: Who would want Bev Montgomery to die? Surely not the handsome opera singer/farmer Richard Broadhurst, seen taking Bev out to dinner recently. Could it be her own daughter, Ginger, who wants to use Bev’s farmland for luxury condos? And what is Cam’s friend’s ex husband doing at the Manor? Ruth Dodge’s husband, Frank, hasn’t been seen or heard from in months, yet it suddenly appears his photographs are being featured at the Manor.

You’ll learn about the intricacies of organic farming while Cam unearths a killer in this second Local Foods mystery. But wait–there’s more!

Auntie M had the pleasure of interviewing fellow Sister in Crime, author Edith Maxwell. This is not the only series Edith writes. Let’s hear from her in her own words about how she juggles writing.

Auntie M: Edith, you have such an interesting background. Could you tell readers how you came to write crime fiction?

Edith Maxwell: I love reading mysteries, especially cozy and traditional mysteries. It just made sense that I would write in that genre, too. I started my first book when my younger son went off to kindergarten while I was home with the kids for a few years and being an organic farmer. It was the first time I’d had every morning to myself since my older son was born, and I jumped into mystery writing feet first, knowing nothing much about creative writing except my urge to do exactly that.

AM: You juggle writing FOUR different mystery series! It boggles my mind how busy you must be with The Local Foods Mysteries; The Quaker Midwife Mysteries; The Country Store Mysteries; The Lauren Rousseau Mysteries. What made you decide to go in these very different directions?

EM: It was a pretty organic process. I will say that, for now, I have no plans for additional Lauren Rousseau books after Bluffing is Murder, which came out last November. Three series is enough to keep me more than busy, even though Speaking of Murder was my very first completed mystery novel and dear to my heart.

The Local Foods series was my first contract with a major publisher. After I turned in the third book, I wasn’t sure if they were going to extend the contract, so I created the Country Store series set in southern Indiana, where I used to live. Lo and behold, my editor at Kensington bought it, AND continued the Local Foods series for at least two more books. Delivering the Truth, the first in the historical Quaker Midwife Mysteries, which is set in my town in 1888, was a book I simply had to write, combining my love of local history with the legacy of independent and courageous Quaker women. I feel so privileged that Midnight Ink acquired it and awarded me a three-book contract. I’m just starting to write the second book now.

AM: How do you keep four different series straight? Talk about juggling—what’s your routine for writing and keeping things straight and organized?

EM: I write every morning, starting by seven. I do my very best to be working on only one book at a time. While I’m working on the first draft in one series, a draft in a different series might be sitting. Seasoning, as Quakers call it, and giving me some distance before I plunge into revisions. Sometimes, of course, the system blows up a little, like when copyedits come in on one book, a synopsis is due for a different book, and all I really want to be doing is creating the story of a third. But usually it works pretty well. Mind you, I am a complete failure at juggling actual balls.

AM: And while we’re on the subject of juggling, you also have a short story that was nominated for an Agatha –how did you fit that in?

EM: Once I get the idea for a short story, it doesn’t take me that long to write. Short works also go through their own seasoning and polishing process, but it’s all so abbreviated I can fit it in around the edges of my other work. I took Amtrak to Bethesda for the Malice Domestic conference, for example, and most of my work time down and back was working on a Poe-themed short story.

AM: Could you compare writing short fiction to a full-length novel for readers?

EM: Sometimes a short story plot just isn’t big enough for a novel. And the complexity of a novel-length work would overwhelm a 4000-word short. For example, the seed of Delivering the Truth was a short story I wrote, “Breaking the Silence,” which was published in a Level Best Anthology (and which I have reissued as an ebook called “Fire in Carriagetown”). But its story of malicious arson wasn’t big enough for a book, and the protagonist, a seventeen-year old mill girl, wasn’t strong enough to carry a series. So I invented her midwife aunt, Rose Carroll, who is the sleuth in the books, and added a couple of murders.

AM: When you have down time, which I suspect there isn’t much of, what else besides writing interests you?

EM: I love gardening, once the snow has stopped. Which took a long time this year! I cook, I read, I go for long walks, and we love to see movies on the big screen at our local Screening Room.

AM: When you squeeze in reading time, what’s waiting on your To Be Read Pile?

EM: I still pretty much read only in the genre. Right now next up is two of the Wicked Cozy authors’ new releases: The Icing on the Corpse by Liz Mugavero, and Musseled Out by Barb Ross. Then I’m dying to read Catriona McPherson’s new thriller, Come to Harm, and Victoria Thompson’s latest Gaslight Mystery, Murder on Amsterdam Avenue, also an historical featuring a midwife-sleuth. But I’ve also agreed to blurb a collection of short stories by fabulous Quaker author Chuck Fager, so that’s going to bump the novels. So many books, so little time!
AM: Finally, what’s one thing readers would never guess about Edith Maxwell?

EM: I’ve said before publically that I hold a long-dusty black belt in karate as well as a long-unused doctorate in linguistics, so those won’t work. Okay, here’s one. When I was twenty-two, traveling cross- country on a Greyhound pass for a month, I sometimes climbed up and stretched out in the overhead luggage rack on long nighttime rides between far-flung western cities. No, I didn’t tell my parents. And if you actually know me, this won’t surprise you all that much. Also, see the last line in my answer to question 4…

MaxwellCrop Agatha-nominated and Amazon-bestselling author Edith Maxwell writes four murder mystery series, most with recipes, as well as award-winning short stories. Farmed and Dangerous is the latest in Maxwell’s Local Foods Mysteries series (Kensington Publishing). The latest book in the Lauren Rousseau mysteries, under the pseudonym Tace Baker (Barking Rain Press), is Bluffing is Murder. Maxwell’s Country Store Mysteries, written as Maddie Day (also from Kensington), will debut with Flipped for Murder in November, 2015. Her Quaker Midwife Mysteries series features Quaker midwife Rose Carroll solving mysteries in 1888 Amesbury with John Greenleaf Whittier’s help, and will debut in March, 2016 with Delivering the Truth.

A fourth-generation Californian, Maxwell lives in an antique house north of Boston with her beau and three cats. She blogs every weekday with the other Wicked Cozy Authors (http://wickedcozyauthors.com), and you can find her at http://www.edithmaxwell.com, @edithmaxwell, on Pinterest and Instagram, and at http://www.facebook.com/EdithMaxwellAuthor.

Ausma Jehanat Khan: The Unquiet Dead Sunday, May 24 2015 

Unquiet Dead
Rarely is Auntie M affected by a book so much that she has to let time go by to give it a fair review.
But that’s what happened after closing the last page of this disturbingly powerful novel, The Unquiet Dead by Ausma Zehanat Khan.

When the Bosnian War was ongoing, Auntie M was aware of the situation, but for a mother, nurse and new wife without relatives there that were directly affected, it became something noted on the nightly news. Khan removes that distance by bringing war atrocities and their aftermath directly to the reader in the form of lasting affects on several characters who managed to escape.

At the same time, it’s also a police procedural of the strongest kind, set in Toronto with a Muslim veteran police detective, Esa Khattak, and his partner, Detective Rachel Getty. As head of Toronto’s Community Policing Section, Khattack’s team handles sensitive minority cases all the time. They are tasked with investigating the death of Christopher Drayton, a successful businessman who has fallen off a cliff near his home.

What first appears to be a straightforward accident of a fall from the cliffs overlooking Lake Ontario in the dark turns out to be so much more. Khattak soon comes to believe that Drayton was really Drazen Krstic, a war criminal responsible for the slaughter of thousands of Muslims during what has come to be known as the Srebrenica Massacre. Then it comes to light that Drayton has been receiving letters that contain quotations from war survivor’s testimony. Could his death be a revenge killing by relatives of survivors who’ve settled in Canada?

The case has personal ramifications for Khattak, and with Getty carrying her own secrets, the duo are learning to trust each other. Yet even as they build respect and trust in each other, they are learning from each other about the different cultures they represent. As their investigation continues, it will bring them more questions than answers that center on the conclave where Drayton lived and the small neighborhood there. Drayton was due to be married shortly, and his fiancee and her two daughters are several of the interesting characters Khan has created. There is also the question of a large donation he was to give to a museum in the same area and his participation in it.

Khan alternates the investigation against the background of the war, with several survivors stories representative of the horrific experiences of many. Without harping on political issues but with the travesty of war atrocities the focus, the novel stays firmly in the realm of a police investigation, with well-drawn characters, as the threads of the past and the present become woven into a chilling climax.

It is revealed after reading the novel, and there is not really a spoiler alert needed here, that the letters Drayton received contain lines from actual testimony from war crimes trials. In a lengthy and well-documented addendum, the author explains the origins of the quotes, showing the horror of ethnic cleansing that occurred at the time when a culture and its followers were attempted to be rubbed off the face of the earth.

This is an outstanding debut, meticulous in its research, compelling in its characters, and Auntie M can only hope this is not the last we’ve seen of this detective duo. Highly recommended.

Madeleine Mysko: Stone Harbor Bound Sunday, May 17 2015 

Please welcome author Madeleine Mysko and her new release: Stone Harbor Bound


Confessions of Wannabe Mystery Writer

Unlike many of Auntie M’s guests and readers, I’m neither a writer of mystery novels nor a lifelong reader of them. I guess you could call me a wannabe—a “literary” novelist who occasionally hangs out in the mystery genre, hoping to pick up a few tricks of the trade from the respected practitioners.

Among writer friends, I make a joke of my addiction to re-runs of Masterpiece Mystery—Inspectors Morse, Lewis, and Lynley . . . Miss Marple, Wallander—but then, turning serious, I muse that watching mysteries can be a good thing for those of us interested in plot development. I expect my friends to believe what I’ve made myself believe—that an afternoon of watching murder mysteries (when I ought to be writing) isn’t really procrastinating, not as long as I’m “studying” in what order the writer makes things happen on the screen.

My brother (not a writer but an audiologist) has long been an avid reader of mystery novels. For years now, he’s been saying he and I should collaborate—that he could come up with the story line, drawing from his familiarity with detectives and police procedurals and all sorts of formulae for whodunits. And of course I would do the writing. There’s something wistfully half-serious about my brother’s proposal. He really loves mystery novels. He really loves me. Maybe he thinks I could actually deliver on my half of the bargain.

Once, out of the blue and without my brother’s help, I came up with an idea for a mystery novel. I was very pleased with myself. I had what seemed the necessary ingredients: setting (contemporary Baltimore), sleuth (somewhat jaded nurse about my age), and murder (or what appears to be murder to the nurse-sleuth, but to no one else.) I wrote the first chapter of my first mystery novel in a glow of self-satisfaction. Then right after I typed “Chapter Two” I was in trouble.

Determined to follow through, I ordered several manuals with bold, no-nonsense titles like “How to Write a Mystery Novel.” I devoured these manuals with pleasure, as though they were novels themselves, the heroine a person just like me who crafts a gem and finds both agent and publisher to adore her. This was ten years ago. I still have Chapter One of my first mystery novel on my computer. As for the how-to books, I think they may have left the house last fall, in a box headed for the Hospital Auxiliary Sale.

I’ve recently launched my second novel, Stone Harbor Bound (Bridle Path Press). Already, much to my surprise, I’m happily working away at a third. I’ve got the setting (contemporary Baltimore) and the main character (a somewhat jaded nurse about my age). I’ve even raided Chapter One of my first mystery novel for some of those details that delighted me the first time around.

But the main character of my third novel isn’t actually a sleuth. Turns out she’s just a wannabe, like me.

* * * * *
Madeleine Mysko’s poetry, fiction, and essays have been published widely in journals that include Smartish Pace, The Hudson Review, Shenandoah, Little Patuxent Review, and Bellevue Literary Review. She is the author of two novels, Bringing Vincent Home and Stone Harbor Bound. A graduate of The Writing Seminars of The Johns Hopkins University, she has taught creative writing in the Baltimore area for years, and presently serves as contributing editor at American Journal of Nursing.

Stone Harbor Bound is available from Bridle Path Press: http://www.bridlepress.com
and from Amazon.com

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