Tag Archives: mystery crime thriller

Dead Man’s Doll (Sugarwood Mysteries Book 2) by Diane Bator Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

The holidays bring a bit of horror to the small town of Sugarwood as a woman stumbles across the murder of a local butcher and discovers tales of voodoo and witchcraft integrated into the mystery in author Diane Bator’s “Dead Man’s Doll”, the second book in the Sugarwood Mysteries series!

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The Synopsis

Christmas blooms in Sugarwood in the form of a brightly lit tree in town square, colourful ornaments, and a snowstorm. It’s just Audra Clemmings’ luck that she literally stumbles over the local butcher in Miss Lavinia’s shop. Then a witch doctor arrives in town.

Can Audra solve the mystery before the killer turns their sights on her?

The Review

I absolutely loved the juxtaposition of the holiday settings with the cozy murder mystery meets witchcraft and horror elements of the narrative. The author did an amazing job of bringing a good dose of humor and wit to the narrative amongst the more chilling elements of the story, and the rich detail and atmosphere that the author was able to achieve were inspiring to see come to life on the page.

The character growth and the exploration of our understanding of things like witchcraft, voodoo, and other magical-based belief systems were the true heart of this narrative. The humor and relatability that the author infuses into characters like protagonist Audra and Marilee, and even the inclusion of Audra’s dog Drake, added a depth and captivating element to the cozy murder mystery, while the magical practices element of the story showcased how it is often our own prejudices and misconceptions that make people far more dangerous than the unknown and things classified by society as “supernatural” and having all of this come to life in a Christmas setting was made even better.

The Verdict

Chilling, witty, and entertaining, author Diane Bator’s “Dead Man’s Doll” is a brilliant cozy mystery for the fall/winter season of 2022 and a perfect next chapter in the Sugarwood Mysteries series. The thoughtful and thrilling narrative blends well with the funny character dynamics and rich cultural and spiritual elements explored in the story, making this a one-of-a-kind read you won’t be able to put down. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Diane Bator is a prolific writer published by BWL Publishing. She is a A member of WCYR, Sisters in Crime and a board member for the Crime Writers of Canada. She is the author of several mystery series and a budding playwright.

https://dianebator.ca/

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Spells for Forgetting by Adrienne Young Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

Two people haunted by the past on a small island town find dark secrets emerging as strange happenings unearth the magic and folklore that their town has been steeped into for years in author Adrienne Young’s “Spells for Forgetting”.

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The Synopsis

A deeply atmospheric story about ancestral magic, an unsolved murder, and a second chance at true love.

Emery Blackwood’s life changed forever the night her best friend was found dead and the love of her life, August Salt, was accused of murdering her. Years later, she is doing what her teenage self swore she never would: living a quiet existence on the misty, remote shores of Saoirse Island and running the family’s business, Blackwood’s Tea Shoppe Herbal Tonics & Tea Leaf Readings.

But when the island, rooted in folklore and magic, begins to show signs of strange happenings, Emery knows that something is coming. The morning she wakes to find that every single tree on Saoirse has turned color in a single night, August returns for the first time in fourteen years and unearths the past that the town has tried desperately to forget.

August knows he is not welcome on Saiorse, not after the night everything changed. As a fire raged on at the Salt family orchard, Lily Morgan was found dead in the dark woods, shaking the bedrock of their tight-knit community and branding August a murderer. When he returns to bury his mother’s ashes, he must confront the people who turned their backs on him and face the one wound from his past that has never healed—Emery.

The town has more than one reason to want August gone, and the emergence of deep betrayals and hidden promises spanning generations threaten to reveal the truth behind Lily’s mysterious death once and for all.

The Review

This was such a powerful and captivating mystery thriller. The rich character-driven narrative really did an excellent job of elevating the atmosphere and emotional tone of the narrative. The air of suspicion and secrets run deep in this small island town, and the seemingly small-knit community where everyone knows everyone suddenly becomes a bed of deceit in which everyone is a suspect, even those closest to the protagonists. The heated passion and unresolved feelings between both August and Emery add even more tension to this atmospheric thriller and keep readers invested in their divergent stories until they come together in unexpected ways.

For me, the rich and dynamic setting with the subtle yet the natural feeling way the author incorporated magic and fantasy into this narrative felt so alive on the page. The author did an incredible job of showcasing the concept of town secrets, local legends, and the power that secrets and lies can hold over us in life, and blended these themes into a years-long whodunnit that captivated the audience instantly. The atmosphere of this small town played well into the mystery both in the novel and the genre as a whole, as the story elevated the reader’s curiosity factor while also keeping them emotionally invested in these protagonists. 

The Verdict

Haunting, mesmerizing, and entertaining, author Adrienne Young’s “Spells for Forgetting” is a must-read fantasy and murder mystery read. The passionate character development and ideas of destiny and the power of local legends played well with the diverse cast of characters and the sheer volume of twists and turns that will keep readers shocked for days after reading the final pages of this incredible story. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Adrienne Young is the New York Times and international bestselling author of the Sky and Sea duology, the Fable series, and Spells for Forgetting. When she’s not writing, you can find Adrienne on her yoga mat, on a walk in the woods, or planning her next travel adventure. She lives and writes in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina.

For information on release, appearances, ARCs, giveaways, and exclusive content, sign up for the newsletter at https://adrienneyoungbooks.com/

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Hero Haters by Ken MacQueen Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

After becoming the prime suspect in the disappearance of the finalists for the nation’s highest medal of valor for civilians, one man must put himself on the line to find and save these heroes from the sinister web they’ve been ensnared within author Ken MacQueen’s “Hero Haters”.

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The Synopsis

Jake Ockham had a dream job, vetting nominees for the Sedgewick Medallion—the nation’s highest civilian award for heroism. His own scarred hands are an indelible reminder of the single mother he failed to pull from a raging house fire; her face haunts him still. Obligations drag him back to his hometown to edit the family newspaper but attempts to embrace small-town life, and the hot new doctor, are thwarted by unknown forces. The heroes Jake vetted go missing and he becomes the prime suspect in the disappearances. Aided by resourceful friends, Jake follows a twisted trail to the Dark Web, where a shadowy group is forcing the kidnapped medalists to perform deadly acts of valor to amuse twisted subscribers to its website. To save his heroes, Jake must swallow his fears and become one himself…or die in the attempt. 

The Review

This brand-new thriller from a brand new author and seasoned journalist was absolutely fantastic. The author immediately showcased the strength of finding the right balance between character growth and suspense building. The atmosphere and tension really elevated the narrative here, capturing the shocking nature of the crimes and the fight for survival that takes place. The focus on “heroes”, and how we treat our heroes in the world is a great central theme to play into this thriller and did a great job of showcasing the humanity within our heroes.

The brilliant character development and escalating suspense were so well delivered. The chemistry between Tina and Jake as the story develops adds a hint of romance into the narrative, but the complexity of the protagonist’s struggle with his brush with heroism and the blend of guilt for those that couldn’t be saved, as well as the human faults all heroes still have in their daily lives that are often ignored in the wake of their heroism, made their development so mesmerizing to read about.

The Verdict

Thought-provoking, atmospheric, and entertaining, author Ken MacQueen’s “Hero Haters” is a must-read suspense thriller of 2022. The gripping blend of haunting dark web crime and the balance of morality with heroism as a whole made this such a rich and dynamic story to dive head first into, and readers will be hard-pressed to put this novel down. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy or preorder by October 5th, 2022!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Before turning to fiction, Ken MacQueen spent 15 years as Vancouver bureau chief for Maclean’s, Canada’s newsmagazine, winning multiple National Magazine Awards and nominations. He travelled the world writing features and breaking news for the magazine, and previously for two national news agencies.

He has written extensively on crime, politics, disasters, both natural and man-made—and, being Canadian, on the shifting fortunes of Queen Elizabeth II and her clan. All of this is potential fodder for future fiction, though the Queen as action hero seems unlikely.

Hero Haters, set in the Pacific Northwest and rural Pennsylvania, is his debut thriller.

MacQueen covered nine Olympic Games and drew the athletic prowess of Jake Ockham, his protagonist, from tracking elite rowers in training and on podiums in Athens, Beijing and London.

He and his wife divide their time between North Vancouver and British Columbia’s Sunshine Coast.

kenmacqueen.com

Only Lies Remain (An Aoife Walsh Thriller Book 2) by Val Collins Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

The discovery of a body leads to old family secrets being unearthed, and a hunt for a killer who could very well be amongst Aoife Walsh’s family takes center stage in author Val Collins’s “Only Lies Remain”, the second book in the Aoife Walsh thriller series. 

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The Synopsis

Everyone thought Danny Walsh deserted his family when his sons were young. But when Danny’s body turns up fifteen years later and his wife, Maura, is implicated in his murder, accusations and old rumours surface.

Aoife rushes in to clear her mother-in-law’s name. But why is it that Maura’s story surrounding Danny’s disappearance doesn’t quite add up?

Aoife’s investigation uncovers old secrets, long-held jealousies, and lies upon lies. With every new revelation, Aoife realises she doesn’t know her family at all. Now her new boss is acting strangely, her best friend is more and more distant and her husband is no help at all.

With her support network crumbling and her family threatened, Aoife must race to keep one step ahead of danger before more innocent lives are lost. But how will she uncover the truth when only lies remain?

The Review

This was a captivating and thought-provoking thriller. As a newcomer to the series, I was immediately enthralled with the expansive cast of characters. Protagonist Aoife is such a brilliant presence in the narrative, providing both the determination and strength a thriller’s heroine is meant to have and yet infusing the vulnerability and emotional components that make her character feel well-rounded. The balance of everyday developments in her life, from her tumultuous relationship with her soon-to-be ex-husband and her desire to help her former mother-in-law, to her growing relationship with the lead investigator and the close friendship she has with Orla.

Yet it was the twisted narrative and haunting atmosphere the author built into this story that made the novel so captivating. The rich world-building and stark settings were brought to life brilliantly using powerful imagery and made it feel very cinematic in nature as if it could be turned into the newest BBC murder mystery and thriller series that takes the world by storm much like The Fall or Broadchurch. The chilling nature of the case and the personal connection the protagonist has to it allow the reader to feel the desperation and need to solve the case that drives this story forward.

The Verdict

Brilliantly written, complex yet inviting, and thoroughly entertaining, author Val Collins’s “Only Lies Remains” is a must-read murder mystery thriller. The twists and turns the narrative takes, as well as the shocking reveal of the killer and his or her motives, will have readers hanging off the edge of their seats, and the author’s skills and powerful command over the genre make her future in this industry something that cannot be ignored.  If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Val Collins is the author of the award-winning psychological thriller GIRL TARGETED and the No. 1 international bestsellers ONLY LIES REMAIN, THE SILENT SPEAK and WHERE LOYALTIES LIE. All four books are stand-alone thrillers and they can be read in any order.

Val has lived in Ireland her entire life, and graduated from University College Dublin. She enjoys chocolate, going for long walks in the countryside, seeing as much of the world as possible, meeting friends, writing, and reading. In fact, she devours books at the rate of one per week, and her favourite authors range from Philippa Gregory and Sophie Kinsella to Lee Child and Linwood Barclay.

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The Flower Enigma (Magnolia Bluff Crime Chronicles Book 5) by Charles Breakfield and Rox Burkey Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A man and woman seeking a quiet vacation away from their busy work lives find themselves instead embroiled in one crisis to another as the small town of Magnolia Bluff experiences a new round of intrigue and terror in authors Charles Breakfield and Rox Burkey’s “The Flower Enigma”, the fifth book in the Magnolia Bluff Crime Chronicle series. 

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The Synopsis

JJ and Jo find the ideal spot to get away from their busy work lives—Magnolia Bluff offers Flower Bed & Breakfast, a quaint country destination within the beautiful Texas Hill Country.

They pull up to the picturesque building only to discover a crowd of citizens anxiously awaiting a special podcast, created by a group of local women, to start. Flower B&B is the sponsor of today’s show in this multi-day series. The couple works through the human log jam. As they check in, they learn that a cyber-attack may prevent the show from airing.

JJ, a technology guru, is convinced by Jo to help the group meet their broadcast promise. While he’s working on the issue, Jo spots a girl in the crowd with fear in her eyes who flashes the international help sign. The teenager vanishes into the throng. Fearful young people signaling for help strikes too close to home for Jo.

Their romantic vacation becomes a journey from one crisis to the next as these vacationers help the evangelizing ladies even as risks are multiplying. Threats expand to include all the podcasters, the show location owners, and suspected missing teens.

Authorities discount the gossipy group’s allegations that Mateo Hernandez built a wall around his property for more than privacy. JJ and Jo work to assemble the necessary clues to convince Chief Jager that Hernandez is a bigger menace. Their nosing around places them both in harm’s way. When Jo is attacked it becomes personal.

This romantic getaway isn’t even close to plan. Lives are at stake, and the young couple won’t accept failure.

The Review

This was such a thrilling and fun suspense thriller of a read. The blend of cyber-thriller and the cozy mystery was such a unique and captivating angle to keep the reader invested in this story, and the fast pace of the narrative gave readers an edge-of-their-seat feeling throughout the entirety of the narrative. The authors were able to find the right harmony of atmosphere that wove both lighthearted dialogues between the protagonists and the townspeople and tension-filled moments when delving into the darker mysteries at the heart of this narrative.

What drove this story, as often is the case with great cozy mystery reads, was the rich character dynamics of the book. The story’s opening chapters reflect this greatly, as Lilly, the owner of the Inn the protagonists are staying in, immediately shows a unique small-town charm as she carries on with grand storytelling and makes hilarious assumptions about people. The blend of humorous interactions like this and the twisted confrontations that arise later on made this story so engaging.

The Verdict

Captivating, thrilling, and engaging, authors Charles Breakfield and Rox Burkey’s “The Flower Enigma” is a must-read cozy mystery meets suspense thriller read and a great addition to the Magnolia Bluff Crime Chronicles series. The rich storytelling and entertaining characters of this small town mystery will have readers invested in this narrative, and the twists and turns it takes will keep you hanging off of the author’s every word. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Charles Breakfield is a renowned technology solutions architect with years of experience in security, cloud computer, hybrid data/telecom environments, artificial intelligence, and unified communications. He finds it intriguing to leverage his professional skills in writing the contemporary award-winning stories of the Enigma Series and the short stories he creates with his co-author.

Never one to sit still, he uses his spare time to explore books on World War II his¬tory, travel with his family, and cultural exchanges everywhere. Charles’ love of wine tastings, cooking creations on the grill like individual pizzas, and Harley riding are sometimes sprinkled throughout the Enigma Series.

Recently, Charles commented that being a part of his father’s military career stationed at various outposts, has positively contributed to the many characters in the stories. He enjoys exploring the various character perspectives and interactions pulling from real people. He accepted the challenge to try to teach Burkey humor which is also incorporated into many of the stories in an unexpected manner.

Burkey commented that If Charles is not creating a new story he paces like a caged tiger. So yes there is another story in the works. You can enjoy snippets of their stories, book trailers, audible sections, and get FREE stuff at www.EnigmaSeries.com.

Rox Burkey is the co-author of the 13 books in the Enigma Series. The prequel, Out of Poland, historical fiction released in 2021. In addition to her award winning novels and nurmerous short stories, she is a techologist by profession. She is known for helping business customers modernize and optimize customer experience (CX) with processes, technology shifts, and building roadmaps to success. Nothing makes her workday go better than for a customer to indicate she helped reach their business goals. She is adept at learning the drivers for customers and helping to measure their success as well as adjust their journey using CX principles.

Rox loves writing fiction as much if not more than her professional job. More than once she has been a featured speaker, workshop leaders, subject matter expert, interviewer, podcaster, book reviewer through RoxBurkey.com. Her favorite is writing the novels and short stories of the Enigma Series. She convinced her co-author Charles Breakfield that writing fiction is a lot more fun than white papers or documentation.

As a child, Rox jumped at the chance to lead the other kids with exciting new adventures built on make believe characters. As a Girl Scout until high school, she contributed to the community and went on to support the local Head Start program. Rox enjoys her family, cross country travel (okay international too) listening to people, outdoors activities, sewing, cooking, baking, and imagining the possibilities.

Recently Rox indicated that her humor was lousy, and Charles was helping her. You can enjoy snippets of their stories, book trailers, audible sections, and get FREE stuff at www.EnigmaSeries.com.

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Devil’s Chew Toy (Hayden & Friends Book One) by Rob Osler Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

A gay relationship blogger teams up with a take-charge lesbian and a feisty bull terrier to find a missing go-go dancer and take down an international crime ring in author Rob Osler’s “Devil’s Chew Toy”, the first book in the Hayden & Friends LGBTQ+ Mystery Series! 

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The Synopsis

Perfect for fans of T.J. Klune, Becky Albertalli, and David Levithan, this hilarious, big-hearted LGBTQ+ mystery follows an unlucky in love—and life—gay relationship blogger who teams up with a take-charge lesbian and a fiesty bull terrier to find a missing go-go boy and bring down an international crime ring.

When Hayden McCall’s new crush suddenly disappears, the twenty-something gay ginger relationship blogger and middle-school teacher teams up with a take charge butch lesbian, a gentle giant, and a feisty bull terrier to find the missing guy. 

Driven by a belief that the police won’t take the crime seriously, the improbable crime fighters prove that friendship — fueled by a lot of caffeine — has the power to bring down a diabolic international crime ring.

The Review

I absolutely loved this book. The humorous and captivating story balanced out so well with the rich and diverse characters. The pacing and atmosphere that the author crafted within this narrative were so engaging for a reader to dive into, and each scene and character felt alive on the page as if you could just step right into it. The themes the author explores in this book, from police brutality to the struggle of being “illegal” while living in the United States and so much more made the heart of this narrative feel so important as well.

The thing that really stuck out to me as a reader was the LGBTQ-driven themes and how prominent the ammeter sleuth meets crime thriller and humorous cozy mystery genres were within the story itself. The dynamics between Hayden, Hollister, and Burley were great to see, and getting to see the evolution of their friendship was so fun to connect with. Yet the actual mystery aspect of the narrative kept me on the edge of my seat, constantly guessing the truth behind this young dancer’s disappearance. 

The Verdict

Captivating, thoughtful, and entertaining, author Rob Osler’s “Devil’s Chew Toy” is a must-read ammeter sleuth meets LGBTQ+ humor and crime thriller! The way these cozy mystery reads have gained more and more popularity, especially in the face of the hit Hulu original series Only Murders in the Building, has given bright and original stories like this the spotlight they deserve, and the author’s unique blend of humor, wit, and charm with important themes and heartfelt character growth will have readers eager for more of this engaging series. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today! 

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Prior to Devil’s Chew Toy, Rob Osler’s short story, Analogue, which was published in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, won the Mystery Writers of America Robert L Fish Award as part of the 2022 Annual Edgar Awards. Rob lives in California with his long-time partner and a tall gray cat. 

Website: http://robosler.com

Facebook: http://facebook.com/roboslerwriter

Twitter: http://twitter.com/robosler

Instagram: http://instagram.com/roboslerwriter

Amazon: https://amzn.to/3pb3YYz

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/57997935-devil-s-chew-toy

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Author Q&A

On writing:

How did you do research for your book?

As DEVIL’S CHEW TOY is a contemporary novel set in a city I’m extremely familiar with, there was not a heavy research task. Also, because the two main characters are VERY amateur sleuths, I could avoid needing to get a lot of police procedure right—though there is some police interaction. That said, it’s amazing how many little questions arise in every chapter that require a pause and some desk research. 

Which was the hardest character to write? The easiest?

The hardest character to write was Hollister—not that she was too challenging. I strove to be respectful of Hollister’s identity as a Black lesbian in America without going so deeply into her character that hers became a story that wasn’t mine to tell. 

The easiest character to write was Hayden McCall. Why? Because there’s a whole lot of me in him. We are both naturally shy and smaller of stature (though he’s shorter and slighter). I took Hayden on the type of adventure—with a bolder, stronger, and more courageous friend—that I would love to go on.

There are many cozy mysteries out there….What makes yours different?

My story features two extremely amateur sleuths, one mild-mannered gay ginger and one butch lesbian. I’ve heard from some reviewers and readers that while pairing a gay and a lesbian as the main protagonists is not unprecedented it is uncommon. Also, I intentionally wrote a story in which the queer characters are neither the villains nor the tragic victims. 

What advice would you give budding writers?

Understand that whatever amount of patience you have will be depleted and then some. Publishing moves in increments of months. It takes a long time—and a lot of collaborators—to bring a book to market.

Your book is set in Seattle. Have you ever been there?

I set the book in Seattle because it’s my “Spirit City.” I lived there for nearly twenty years and loved it. Given as much time as it takes to write a book, I wanted to return to Seattle and its neighborhoods and hills and waterways during the long writing process.

Do you have another profession besides writing?

I have been a marketing and branding strategist for many decades, both at agency/consultancies and at technology corporations. I think the general mind set of prioritizing activities that matter most has helped me with all aspects of writing and the navigating the publishing process.

How long have you been writing?

I actually started my professional career as advertising copywriter writing television commercials for Kellogg’s and Tropicana and Procter & Gamble. Fiction writing also uses words to communicate but that’s about the only commonality I’ve found! It’s the difference between landing one memorable message versus telling a compelling, captivating story over three hundred-plus pages. Trust me, a novel is way harder.

Do you ever get writer’s block? What helps you overcome it?

You know, I really never do. But then I’m not much of a procrastinator either—not that they’re the same thing. My biggest challenge is going off on a tangent with a character or a scene that needlessly complicates the story and “writes me into a corner.” I do a lot revisions.

What is your next project?

I have recently sold my second short story to Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine. It features a fifty-something cross-dressing whacky amateur sleuth named Perry Winkle who solves a murder at his Palm Springs condo community.

What genre do you write and why?

I write traditional mysteries because that has been the genre I have always most loved to read. And I feature LGBTQ+ main characters because I am gay and we need more books—of all genres—that represent the great and glorious rainbow of humanity. 

What is the last great book you’ve read?

Two spring to mind. The first: THE SAVAGE KIND by John Copenhaver, who also happens to be a very nice human being. This novel—no surprise—won the Lambda Literary Award for best mystery this year. The second: DEAD LETTERS FROM PARADISE by Ann McMan is sheer delight. Both books are truly terrific.

What is a favorite compliment you have received on your writing?

“I can’t wait to read the next one!”

How are you similar to or different from your lead character?

Both Hayden and I are gay, mild-mannered, quiet, but good for an occasionally humorous one-liner. We both play tennis and enjoy big personalities. As Hayden says, “we balance each other out.”

If your book were made into a movie, who would star in the leading roles?

The characters are so distinct in my head, I can’t picture a known movie star playing either Hayden, Hollister or Burley. However, I can see Della Rupert, the oddball proprietress of Barkingham Palace, played superbly by Melissa McCarthy.

If your book were made into a movie, what songs would be on the soundtrack?

Stanley Kellogg’s “Falling Hard,” of course! This song, which was made up along with the new country star himself, reoccurs throughout the story. Fun fact! After the book was published, a good friend, Ben Davis, and I completed the lyrics and Ben wrote the music and produced the track. It’s on my website. Check it out!

What were the biggest rewards with writing your book?

Hearing from readers that they enjoyed it. 

In one sentence, what was the road to publishing like?

Long.

What is one piece of advice you would give to an aspiring author?

Every time you are certain you’re done working on a book, know that you aren’t.

Which authors inspired you to write?

Agatha Christie and Armistead Maupin.

What is something you had to cut from your book that you wish you could have kept?

There’s a line that 91-year-old Jerry delivers in reply to Hayden’s question: “How did you get to be so wise old man?” Over the whistle of the kettle, Jerry replies, “I managed to live a long damn time.”  That “damn” was an Eff-bomb until the final edit. It was the only strong swear word in the book. By removing it the book avoided an R rating, if you will. But I still love the idea of Jerry saying the line with more gusto!

On rituals:

Do you snack while writing? Favorite snack?

No snacking. But I do try to drink plenty of water.

Where do you write?

I have a home office. I’ve never been able to do the coffee shop thing. I am too easily distracted.

Do you write every day?

Not every day. But I do write most days. 

What is your writing schedule?

I usually write in two- to three-hour spurts. In a mystery, context and pacing is so important I am not skilled enough to dipping in and out.

Is there a specific ritualistic thing you do during your writing time?

Nope. I just plop my butt down and starting tap, tap, tapping. I will say I find it very difficult to stop writing before I finish a chapter, even in the roughest draft form.

In today’s tech savvy world, most writers use a computer or laptop. Have you ever written parts of your book on paper?

No. But I do use notebook paper to scribble plot ideas before I write.

Fun stuff:

If you could go back in time, where would you go?

The seventies. The music was awesome. Though I’m still wary of bell bottom pants.

Favorite travel spot?

Switzerland.

Favorite dessert?

Raspberry rhubarb pie

If you were stuck on a deserted island, which 3 books would you want with you? 

The Mouse and the Motorcycle

Tales of the City

All the Light We Cannot See

What’s the most courageous thing you’ve ever done?

I set off for Alaska to work on fish processing barge after my sophomore year at college. If fish were running, the shift was 16 hours, every day until all the fish were processed. I still don’t know why I did it, but I returned two more summers. 

Any hobbies? or Name a quirky thing you like to do.

I have been life-long tennis player and watcher. I can usually name the top twenty men players—and often in order!

If there is one thing you want readers to remember about you, what would it be?

Rob Osler writes traditional mysteries featuring LGBTQ+ main characters. 

What is something you’ve learned about yourself during the pandemic?

We are social creatures who need human interaction.

What TV series are you currently binge watching?

Inventing Anna by Shonda Rhimes on Netflix.

What is your theme song?

“Sultans of Swing” by Dire Straits. 

What song is currently playing on a loop in your head?

“The Seaside” by The Lazy Eyes

What is something that made you laugh recently?

Jinx Monsoon’s roast performance on RuPaul’s Drag Race. Hi-lar-ious.

What is your go-to breakfast item?

Toast and yogurt with berries.

What is the oldest item of clothing you own?

I have a green argyle sweater I bought in Seattle thrift store about forty years ago.

Tell us about your longest friendship.

Twin girls, Kelly and Shelly. I grew up with them. We went to elementary, middle school, high school and then to the same out-of-state college! Just a few months back, I did a book event at the wonderful Boise bookshop Rediscovered Books. Guess who was in the front row?

Who was your childhood celebrity crush?

Willy Ames who played the role of Tommy on Eight is Enough.

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Guest Post: Adding More Color To Cozies

Adding More Color to Cozies

Within the mystery genre are several sub-genres, including suspense, hard-boiled, noir, historical, amateur sleuth, police procedural, detective, and cozy. Perhaps the one in the list that is least familiar to most readers is the cozy. If the term is new to you, just think of Jessica Fletcher and Murder She Wrote or most of Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple mysteries. The hallmarks of a cozy are the avoidance of gratuitous violence, graphic sex, and profanity. But being on the tamer end of the mystery spectrum doesn’t mean a cozy can’t deliver a terrifically entertaining read packed with engaging characters, adventure, intrigue, and loads of humor. 

Given the nature of cozies, they have tended to appeal to a more conservative audience, predominately featuring white and straight main characters in smaller towns populated with other white and straight residents. That said, there have been many truly great exceptions. To name drop just a few: Dean James Simon-Kirby Jones series that features a gay vampire (now that’s different!), Stephen E. Stanley’s Luke Littlefield series, Michael Craft’s Claire Gray series, Mystery Writers of America Grand Master, Ellen Hart’s Jane Lawless series, among others, and Kellye Garrett’s HOLLYWOOD HOMICIDE. 

While diverse cozies are nothing new, it seems there are more coming than ever before. And that’s a very good thing.

Michael Craft is back with DESERT GETAWAY, a delightful new Dante (gay guy) and Jazz series (Black woman P.I.). Raquel Reyes’s MANGO, MAMBO, AND MURDER (A Caribbean Kitchen Mystery), Mia P. Manansala’s ARSENIC AND ABODO, Jennifer J. Chow’s DEATH BY BUBBLE TEA, Frank Anthony Polito’s RENOVATED TO DEATH (yes, gay 😊), and Zac Bissonnette’s A KILLING IN COSTUMES (also gay). And yes, my own debut novel, DEVIL’S CHEW TOY, features a gay, ginger middle-school teacher and gay dating blogger and his amateur sleuth partner, a Black butch lesbian.

Representation is important. While I hope the murders and other crimes that anchor even cozy mysteries don’t befall readers, it’s important to have book options that put diverse characters at the center. True inclusion isn’t relegated to the periphery. I, for one, enjoy reading stories I can relate to because of a shared experience with a character and characters that introduce me to new cultures and experiences. That’s an adventure. That’s transportive and escapist. Isn’t that why we read fiction? 

And here’s the best part: a good book is a good book. So even straight readers can enjoy a great mystery with diverse main characters. 

So hooray for the new wave of diverse cozies. They promise any mystery lover a delightfully colorful read.

Ten Days Gone (An A.L. McKittridge Novel) by Beverly Long Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

Two detectives must race against the clock as a serial killer closes in on their next victim in author Beverly Long’s “Ten Days Gone”, the first book in the A.L. McKittridge Series. 

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The Synopsis

They know exactly when he’ll strike… They just have to find him first.

In all their years working for the Baywood police department, detectives A.L. McKittridge and Rena Morgan have never seen anything like it. Four women dead in forty days, each killed ten days apart. With nothing connecting the victims and very little evidence, the clock is already counting down to when the next body drops. A.L. and Rena will have to act fast if they’re going to find the killer’s next victim before he does.

But identifying the killer’s next likely target is only half the battle. With pressure pushing in from all sides, a promising breakthrough leads the detectives to Tess Lyons, a woman whose past trauma has left her too damaged to appreciate the danger she’s in. Unwilling to let another woman die, A.L. and Rena will put everything on the line to keep Tess safe and end the killer’s deadly spree once and for all—before time runs out again.

The Review

I was hooked from the very first page of this addictive thriller. The shock and intrigue the author created in the book’s atmosphere early on was spot on, and the mystery surrounding this serial killer’s actions was phenomenal to see get fleshed out as the story progressed. What made this such a unique story was how the author utilized multiple perspectives, and yet kept the killer hidden in the shadows until the final pages of this book, never giving them a voice and keeping the focus instead on the investigative process instead. 

The character development was superb. The relatability of the detectives and their camaraderie was fantastic to see unfold and to see a realistic perspective that shows both detectives working together without any sexual tension between them, instead of focusing on mutual respect was a nice change of pace from other novels. Getting to see each detective’s home life mixed into the narrative put the mystery and their detective work into perspective greatly, and putting the story in a small town setting raised the fear factor of the people they came into contact with. 

The Verdict

Captivating, thoughtful, and entertaining, author Beverly Long’s “Ten Days Gone” is the perfect first novel in a brand new mystery and thriller series. The suspense and action feel natural to the narrative being told, and the edge of your seat adrenaline readers will feel as the killer’s identity is revealed and the race to save the latest victim becomes perilous will have readers hooked on this author’s incredible star power. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Beverly Long had written over twenty suspense and romantic suspense novels. Readers will not want to miss TEN DAYS GONE and NO ONE SAW, the first two books in a new suspense series featuring Detective A.L. McKittridge. Please visit her website at http://www.beverlylong.com and sign up for her quarterly newsletter for the latest news and opportunities to win free books. Like her on Facebook @BeverlyLongAuthor.

http://beverlylong.com/

Lethal Waters (The Gift Legacy Book 4) by J.P. McLean Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

After a series of events forces her to take on the role of an undercover agent, a young woman with extraordinary gifts finds herself in the midst of a drug investigation that includes murder, all while trying to keep her gifts hidden from the world in author J.P. McLean’s “Lethal Waters”, the fourth book in The Gift Legacy series.

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The Synopsis

A body in the water. A vast ocean. A killer on the loose.

In the midst of a bloody rebellion, Emelynn Taylor exposes her gift of flight to save a man’s life. Now International Covert Operations knows her secret. The powerful organization is willing to cover up the carnage and protect her secret—in exchange for her services.

Her first assignment, a drug case in the coastal city of Vancouver, soon reveals a grisly murder that implicates one of her own kind.

Stalked by the ancient Tribunal Novem and vilified by a distrustful team of detectives, Emelynn takes on a perilous undercover role embedded in a drug ring where anyone could be the murderer.

Intrigue and danger lurk in the cold Pacific, challenging Emelynn’s unique gift and pitting her loyalties against her honour. And her choice is guaranteed to hurt someone.

The fourth book in The Gift Legacy series, Lethal Waters is a thriller that skirts the edges of reality in a world within our own. Don your life jacket and escape the ordinary: take flight with Emelynn Taylor.

(Lethal Waters was previously published as The Gift: Penance)

The Review

I am a massive fan of this series. I always love seeing the author naturally blend the events of the previous books and the events that individual characters have undergone into the narrative without feeling like a summary and instead more of a natural progression of the modern story. The characters continued to evolve the history and mythos of those with her gifts while turning more into the mystery aspect of the narrative. Emelynn’s turn as an undercover agent of sorts, brought in unexpectedly into an investigation after a series of synchronicity style events puts her in the investigation’s path, added a depth of intrigue and mystery that readers are going to absolutely love.

The descriptive narrative the author utilized here really brought this world to life in the reader’s mind. The action and suspense of who the main players in this investigation were and who could be trusted added a burst of adrenaline as the events began to pile up one after the other for Emelynn. 

The Verdict

Entertaining, heart-pounding, yet highly thoughtful in its approach to the mystery, author J.P. McLean’s “Lethal Waters” is a must-read novel and the perfect addition to this growing series. The action and mythos really will keep readers on the edge of their seat, while the new direction the author takes the protagonist will breathe new life into this fantasy universe, making this a book in the series that is not to be missed. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

JP (Jo-Anne) McLean writes urban fantasy and supernatural thrillers which have received honorable mentions from the Whistler Independent Book Awards and the Victoria Writers Society. Reviewers call her books addictive, smart, and fun. Her work includes endorsements from award-winning and best-selling authors, E.E. Holmes, Jennifer Manuel, Elinor Florence, Jennifer Anne Gordon, and Eileen Cook.

JP is a graduate of the University of British Columbia’s Sauder School of Business. She is a certified scuba diver, an avid gardener, and a voracious reader. Raised in Toronto, Ontario, JP lived in various parts of North America before settling on Denman Island on Canada’s west coast, where she now lives with her husband. When she’s not writing, you’ll find her cooking dishes that look nothing like the recipe photos or arguing with weeds in the garden.

Visit her at https://jpmcleanauthor.com

Mine (A Deadly Sins Novel Book 3) by Rachael Tamayo Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A drunken night of debauchery in Vegas leads one man into a marriage he never wanted, and into a deadly world where no one is who they claim to be in author Rachael Tamayo’s “Mine”, the third book in the Deadly Sins series.

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The Synopsis

What happens in Vegas just might kill you.

When divorcee Justin Gray wakes up next to a beautiful stranger in Vegas on his birthday weekend, he assumes it’s just a drunken mistake. When he discovers that he’s married to said stranger in her early twenties, he insists on an annulment and assumes his life will return to normal once he gets back home.

He assumes wrong.

As the shapely blonde refuses to give him an annulment and insists the marriage continue, what was a wild weekend turns into a deadly mistake.

Murder is only the beginning.

Get ready for a tale of greed so twisted you won’t know what’s on the next page or who anyone really is until the…

very…

last…

page.

The Review

I was absolutely enthralled by this mystery. The narrative took so many twists and turns throughout the novel that everything readers suspected throughout the narrative would prove true for a while before another curveball completely changed the game forever. The way the author layered mystery upon mystery on top of one another kept the intrigue and suspense prevalent throughout the entirety of the novel, and the theme of truth versus lies really played a pivotal role in the story for all of these characters.

I loved seeing the character growth here, as many of the twists came from the revelation of these characters themselves. There were so many characters that kept so much mystery and underlying motives about them that the only characters who felt authentic throughout the novel were Justin and his daughter Abby, who became pawns in someone’s twisted game. The multiple POVs really enhanced the narrative and kept the mystery alive and well up until the final chapter of this novel.

The Verdict

Engaging, shocking, and absolutely gripping, author Rachael Tamayo’s “Mine” is a must-read suspense thriller of 2022. The twisted motivations and shocking revelations these characters share as the plot moves forward will keep readers on the edge of their seats, as will the shocking alliances and partnerships that arise from these revelations. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy on February 26th, 2022!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Rachael Tamayo is the Best-Selling Author of the Deadly Sins books, among several other titles. Including multiple award-winning and award-nominated titles. Former 911 operator, a twelve-year veteran with slight PTSD now pens psychological fiction. Her 911 service gave her a unique insight into mental illness, human behavior, and the choices humans make when faced with bad, bad things that she weaves into her characters and plots. 

The Houston, Texas native lives with her husband and their two children. 

https://rachaeltamayowrites.com/