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Giveaway of Mrs. Kaplan and the Matzoh Ball of Death

Mrs. Kaplan and the Matzoh Ball of Death

Author: David ReutlingermrsKaplan

E-Book: 170 pages

Publisher: Random House (November 18, 2014)


Move over, Miss Marple—Mark Reutlinger’s charming cozy debut introduces readers to the unforgettable amateur sleuth Rose Kaplan and her loyal sidekick, Ida.

Everyone knows that Rose Kaplan makes the best matzoh ball soup around—she’s a regular matzoh ball maven—so it’s no surprise at the Julius and Rebecca Cohen Home for Jewish Seniors when, once again, Mrs. K wins the honor of preparing the beloved dish for the Home’s seder on the first night of Passover.

But when Bertha Finkelstein is discovered facedown in her bowl of soup, her death puts a bit of a pall on the rest of the seder. And things go really meshugge when it comes out that Bertha choked on a diamond earring earlier stolen from resident Daisy Goldfarb. Suddenly Mrs. K is the prime suspect in the police investigation of both theft and murder. Oy vey—it’s a recipe for disaster, unless Rose and her dear friend Ida can summon up the chutzpah to face down the police and solve the mystery themselves.


Let me set the scene: Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson are drinking tea in a little cafe. But they’re both wearing flowery dresses, carrying large pocketbooks and have a tendency to say things like “Oy vey!” and, when they aren’t trying to figure out why a woman died they spend their days “lending a hand” to people’s personal (read: love) lives. That is Mrs. Kaplan and the Matzoh Ball of Death. Are you laughing a little bit after this short description? Well, you will be roaring with laughter once you start this book.

Author Mark Reutlinger does a fabulous job capturing the lives of little old ladies with time on their hands and a quirky way of looking at the world (every little old lady I’ve ever known!). The death (somewhat ridiculous) of Bertha is the catalyst for Rose and Ida’s adventure but you get the feeling they would have just as wild a time if someone stole Mr. Goldstein’s favorite pipe or Julian broke Hannah’s heart at the annual Hannakah celebration. What brings this book alive is the relationship of Rode and Ida. Rose is the deep thinker(she has a love of Holmes) and Ida seems to have “unusual” connections. And the situations they get into! Read this and picture your grandmother in some of these situations — and admit it, your crazy grandmother would totally do these crazy things.

I can’t wait to see what Rose and Ida are up to next!

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tlc-logo-resizedThanks to TLC Book Tours for an e-book to review and a chance for all Words by Webb readers to win a copy of Mrs. Kaplan and the Matzoh Ball of Death!

Giveaway: My Sister’s Grave

My Sister’s Grave                                                                                                   Dugoni_SistersGrave_19181_CV_FT-199x300

Author: Robert Dugoni

Paperback: 416 pages (also available in e-formats and audio)

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer (November 1, 2014)


Tracy Crosswhite has spent twenty years questioning the facts surrounding her sister Sarah’s disappearance and the murder trial that followed. She doesn’t believe that Edmund House-a convicted rapist and the man condemned for Sarah’s murder-is the guilty party. Motivated by the opportunity to obtain real justice, Tracy became a homicide detective with the Seattle PD and dedicated her life to tracking down killers. When Sarah’s remains are finally discovered near their hometown in the northern Cascade mountains of Washington State, Tracy is determined to get the answers she’s been seeking. As she searches for the real killer, she unearths dark, long-kept secrets that will forever change her relationship to her past and open the door to deadly danger.


Tracy’s sister Sarah has been dead for twenty years but author Robert Dugoni manages to “bring her to life” for readers with flashbacks to their childhood, last day together, and even a brief peek at the time after she has abducted. Thank you, Robert because the book just wouldn’t be complete without meeting Sarah. By meeting her we don’t just develop sympathy for Sarah but also better understand Tracy and her actions over the past two decades.

In the beginning this seems like a straightforward search for the true killer. But it ends up traveling down a completely different trail. Do not miss this book and this journey that Tracy takes. My Sister’s Grave does a great job of keeping you off balance. Is there anyone in Tracy’s hometown she can trust? What is the secret they all seem to know but aren’t willing to share with Tracy? Your mind will spin into overdrive as you try to figure out what the “big secret” is. Personally, I developed and abandoned at least a half dozen theories about what REALLY happened on that country road and in the days after Sarah’s abduction.

Ask yourself: how far would you go to get justice for the people you love?

Giveaway: Thanks to TLC Book Tours I’m giving away one copy of My Sister’s Grave!

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Review & Giveaway of Mr. Samuel’s Penny

Mr. Samuel’s Penny

by Treva Hall Melvin

on Tour November 1-30, 2014

Book Details:

Genre: YA Murder Mystery

Published by: The Poisoned Pencil

Publication Date: November 4, 2014

Number of Pages: 259

ISBN: 978-1929345045

Purchase Links:


It’s 1972 and fourteen-year-old New Yorker Elizabeth Landers is sent to the sleepy town of Ahoskie, North Carolina to spend the summer with relatives. Her expectation of boredom is quickly dispelled when police sirens and flashing lights draw her to a horrible scene at the Danbury Bridge. Mr. Samuel, owner of Samuel’s Lumber Yard, has driven his car off the bridge and into the river, drowning himself and his daughter. The medical examiner thinks it’s an accident, but the Sheriff finds fresh bullet holes on the bridge right where the skid marks are. Curiously, Mr. Samuel died clutching a unique 1909 wheat penny—a penny that is then stolen from the Sheriff’s office. Lizbeth witnesses Miss Violet’s grief upon learning that her husband and child are dead, and decides she will help by finding the penny.

Her search involves Lizbeth in the lives of many Ahoskie residents. Like the owner of the grocery store, mean old Mr. Jake, who—as all the kids in Ahoskie know—hates black folks. Plenty of pennies in his till. Then there is Ms. Melanie Neely, otherwise known as “Ms. McMeanie,” who thinks the lumber yard should belong to her. And Mr. Samuel’s handsome brother Ben, who struggles to keep the business afloat after his more clever brother’s death. Lizbeth searches through the collection plates at church and in the coin jars of crazy old Aunt Ode, a strange old woman missing one eye and most of her teeth, who keeps a flask in her apron pocket and a secret in her soul.

Read an excerpt:


It is peculiarly bright this evening. Will not be dark for another hour or so. The headlights of the ’68 station wagon are on, but their worth cannot be seen until the fog seeps between the slats of wood. The sweet smell of honeysuckle floats through the air on a blanket of steam rising up from the river as the car makes its way across the threshold.

The old bridge aches aloud, for its back has carried many a passenger the last hundred years to and from Ahoskie, North Carolina. Known as “The Only One,” Ahoskie has existed as a settlers’ town and with the Indian name since 1719, but without the Indian’s permission to do For a moment there is a sense of unsteadiness.

Got to get across.

Just one more time.

Sometimes easy.

Most times hard.

Then sometimes someone never crosses back.

Chapter 1

For seven hours, I’d done nothing but unpack and eat. I was ready for something to happen.

But I wasn’t ready for anything like this.

I was standing at the front door that mid-June evening, waiting for Aunt Alice to come home from the grocery store, when I heard the piercing sound of horns and sirens unleashing their fury, synchronized to the flashing red and white lights leading the way south, away from town. The pimples that ran down my spine hurt from the screeching noise. At least five vehicles rushed down the narrow road, leaving great clouds of dirt as though dragged by invisible ropes behind them. Heading for a place where something God awful was happening.

I could see Auntie’s car trotting at a nervous pace behind them, then veering off to the left, down our street. I focused on her torso behind the wheel, then her head, then her eyes, steadfast with purpose.

“Hi Auntie, what’s going on down there?” I asked, with my hand shielding my eyes from the fading sun as she opened her car door to get out.

“I don’t know really, Lizbeth, ‘cept Uncle Frank was called to come in a hurry to help with his wrench truck down by the bridge.”

As the jarring sounds washed out through the tall bushy heads of the trees, Aunt Alice stared out towards the road. With her chin tucked in she spoke:

“Lizbeth, I’m going down there to see what’s going on. It’s going to be dark out soon. You can stay here if you want to, or go over to Mrs. Cooper’s if you get scared.” She placed her hand on my shoulder to reassure me that all would be okay.

“Scared? I’m not scared; I just want to go with you! See what’s happening down there!” I exclaimed, shaking her other hand in a tantrum, dividing her fingers between my two hands.

“You couldn’t fit in there anyway Lizbeth, I have a car full of groceries, girl. And besides, by the time I finish putting them away I may as well stay home.” She had me there, but I wasn’t about to give up. My eyes darted around the yard looking for a way out of the problem.

And there it was.

“You’re right Auntie, I can’t fit in your car, but I can ride my bike!” A prideful smile burned in the flesh of my cheeks.

“But Lizbeth….”

“I got a light on my bike Auntie. Besides, I bet I get there before you do!” That was all that needed to be said.

I arrived at the bridge before Auntie, thanks to my cousins showing me a narrow path just a couple of days earlier. I rode right on up to the bridge and oh so quietly kicked my kick-stand down. There wasn’t one holler, mostly because the police and other officials were concentrating on the sadness below. Good thing I had enough sense to leave my bike where it lay and walk the rest of the way so as not to call attention to myself. As my excitement grew, I tried to hold my breath, feeling my heart thumping through my chest, hoping that my good fortune in not being shooed away would hold out until I got a closer look.

By now the sun was so low the river looked like black ink slapping the shore angrily for letting Uncle Frank’s crane drop into its waters, and men bobbing up and down like red and whites. Flashlights dotting and dashing about like lightening bugs searching for their supper. A few orders jabbed out amongst the men here and there. Other than that, there was silence.

A startling shout came from a man with a white hat, and a tremendous swoosh broke through the dark water. When the crane pulled the car up, with a solemn grinding motion, something burst free from one of the car’s open windows. Shocked me so bad I nearly fell over into the deep, so shaken from the sight.

A man’s hand had set itself free from the car.

At first glance, the hand seemed to be riding the surface of the water, waving happily without care. But then the ashen skin with its grotesque wormy veins made it clear it was not.

Something glistened in rhythm with the ripples of water flowing over his fingers—a gold band.

But before I could focus, the shoulder and the head of the man slipped through the window like an eel. I could have held on a little longer but for the man’s face turning upward; his eyes bulging out of their sockets like strained ping pong balls. I threw up right then and there on the bridge, and luckily not on my brand new checkered shirt.

“Hey, hey you there girl! Get off the bridge before you drown your fool yourself! We don’t have time to be searching for no more bodies tonight. G’on now!” The man with the white hat again. I wanted to say sorry, but my wobbling legs took the best of me. Luckily I spotted Auntie on the shore, so I got my bike and stumbled to her side. Auntie held me close to her breast for a little while, still keeping her watch over the damage in the Ahoskie River.

I gathered myself and sat on the hood of her car, still hot from the engine, with a sweater between it and my legs. Auntie stood like stone beside me. Even the soft jowls of her face looked hard above her densely clasped hands.

I caught Uncle Frank’s eye across the river, and he waved to me in return. Not the free and happy to see you kind of wave, more like the I am here and so are you kind.

The rumble of a car moving fast towards us made me turn behind myself to see who was in such a hurry to see death. The Spring City emergency squad had already arrived, though late if you ask me, and there was nothing left to do except get that poor soul out of there. As the car’s lights peeked through the woods, I could see a turquoise Ford Country Sedan with a woman behind the wheel. A black woman. She steered wildly, like a cartoon character scripted for disaster, nearly hitting us as she drove up beside us. Punishing the brakes to screeching tears.

Barely before the car had stopped, she ran out towards the bridge.

She had on a light blue dress that ruffled at the collar and short sleeved cuffs. Her black hair, which was once held in a knot, was fast becoming a ponytail with every step she took. And she was beautiful. Only when she reached the water’s edge did I hear her crying. No, not crying.

She made a sound like an animal being torn apart from its limbs. She did not get far, thank God.

“My babyyy!” She hollered. Fighting to break free of the man in the white hat who had taken both her firm arms.

“Noooo, not my baby! Emma! No God, no!”

I looked over to Auntie’s grim face.

She could have been mistaken for a totem pole. I was afraid to speak; to interrupt the stranger’s pain seemed rude, but Auntie must have read my mind.

“Emma is…was their baby.” Aunt Alice swallowed hard when she said ‘baby.’ “The man you saw down there, her husband, Joseph Samuel.” I’ve known my Aunt Alice all of my life.

She obviously had some kind of affection for these folks for her to well up like this. “Joseph and Violet Samuel…and their daughter Emma.”

Lost in misery, we hardly noticed that Uncle Frank had crossed the bridge to meet us. He gave Auntie a long hug, then ushered me in to join them.

“What happened?” She whispered.

“I don’t know, hun’. Sheriff Bigly said the skid marks show Joseph drove that car clear off the bridge.” He stroked her back, gently rubbing the information in, soothing her like oil on a baby’s bottom. She let his powerful strokes sway her back and forth without resistance.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a man dashing to the grieving Miss Violet. A man named Benjamin Samuel, I gathered, from the loud and thankful greeting made by Sheriff Bigly.

Must be someone close in the family, I thought. He barely grazed her arm, when she suddenly turned to see who it was.

“My baby’s dead!” she cried to him.

His long fingers got a hold of her petite arms. As he pulled her closer in, she fought with the strength of twenty slaves to be free from his grasp. But he wouldn’t let go. She kicked her feet wildly to get him off of her, but she failed. I could hear her lungs heaving hard, until her body became limp in his arms.

That moment was hard with silence.


After what seemed like forever, Auntie finally broke her trance, got into the car and turned the engine on. I nearly fell off the hood from the suddenness of her intentions. Thank goodness her headlights were already on. I grabbed the handle and swung myself into the seat.

As soon as my seatbelt ‘clicked’ she was heading out. She braked with a jerk, and then yanked the gear hard into forward. As she pulled around to get back on the road, a dust cloud gathered around the wheels. Crackling bits of dirt and gravel pricked the skin of my arm dangling out the window.

“You okay Auntie?” I asked. I wanted to touch her hand, but both were clinched with a mind to stay on the steering wheel; ten and two o’clock. So I went for the flapping short sleeve of her shirt instead.

She nodded at me with a fleeting smile.



A southern man and his baby daughter drive off a bridge into the river and drown. At first it seems like an accident, but after evidence of gunshots is found it looks more like murder. With I found out about the Southern setting and the young character (Lizbeth is fourteen years old) I thought this might remind me of John Grisham’s The Client. But the mystery aspect of this book is just one small aspect.

Instead, as Lizbeth fumbles around searching for Mr. Samuel’s penny (and perhaps the identity of his killer), readers learn about her and the small North Carolina community she’s visiting for the summer. Since Lizbeth is both an outsider and “family” she enjoys the best of both sides of the coin: she notices things the residents don’t see or are eager to overlook and since she’s “family” she is introduced to people, rumors and traditions that someone passing through town wouldn’t be privy to. I found this to be a fascinating peek at 1970’s small town North Carolina. Although I’m a true blue Yankee, I feel author Treva Hall Melvin did a fine job portraying the Southern way of life. If you’re looking for a mystery that strays from the predictable formula Mr. Samuel’s Penny is for you. But then again, even if you aren’t a mystery fan, you’ll enjoy the rich people that populate Melvin’s town of Ahoskie.

The main character, Lizabeth, is just 14 years old so I think this book would be equally appealing to teen readers and adults. It is definitely a great book for parents and children to share since it brings up many issues that are easier to talk about with a literary jumping off point: prejudice, poverty, infidelity, jealousy.

Author Bio:

Treva Hall Melvin, has been a practicing attorney in all levels of government as a prosecutor and criminal defense attorney. A native New Yorker, she graduated from Villanova Law School in Pennsylvania and now lives in the Philadelphia area with her husband, their two children, and their dog Audrey. She loves athletics and antiquing.

Tour Participants:

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5Ws with Austin Williams

Don’t miss my review and giveaway of Austin Williams latest, Misdirection,here. And today get to know a bit more about Williams and being a writer.

There’s also another chance to win a copy of Misdirection — print or e-book — your choice.

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Who would you have dinner with if you could pick five mystery/thriller writers (and of course feel free to bring someone back from the dead)?

In no particular order: Arthur Conan Doyle, Elmore Leonard, Agatha Christie, James Ellroy, and John le Carré. I think that group would make for some pretty lively conversation, though Ellroy might feel restrained from using too much profanity in the presence of Dame Agatha. Then again, maybe he wouldn’t.

What would you be doing if you weren’t writing thrillers?

I’d most likely be involved with writing and/or editing of some sort. I’ve done quite a bit of freelance work in the SEO field, creating online content for clients in the travel and tourism industries. It’s an enjoyable way to earn a paycheck but obviously not as challenging or satisfying as working on a book.

Why did you decide to set your novel in my favorite vacation spot — Ocean City? Are you a native or a vacationer?

I grew up in Baltimore and spent summer vacations with my family on the Delaware Shore, which included trips to Ocean City. I’ve always been impressed by the sheer scale of the place; its famous boardwalk is three miles long and certain sections are lined with condominiums the size of Manhattan skyscrapers. It struck me as an ideal location for a thriller, especially one that takes place in late fall, when all the tourists have packed up and gone home. A weird atmosphere takes hold in a resort town during the off-season. You’ve got street after street of vacation homes standing empty and abandoned for the cold weather months, creating an eerily calm and slightly ominous vibe that lends itself to all kinds of shady activity. Great place for a crime spree, at least in the pages of a fictional book like Misdirection.

Where do you do your writing?

I have a home office that suits the purpose well. Nothing fancy, but it has a few essential features. It’s quiet, my desk faces a window allowing for fresh air and sunlight (though overcast days are the best for writing) and I have easy access to any research materials I might need, either online or in a bookcase close enough to reach from where I sit while typing.

When did you decide you were going to be a writer?

There was no specific moment of decision. I’ve been an avid reader since childhood and enjoyed any kind of creative writing assignments in school. My original career interests lay in filmmaking, and, like pretty much everyone in Los Angeles, the first writing project I managed to complete was a screenplay. A pretty bad one. As it became clear screenwriting wasn’t going to pan out for me, I started writing short stories just for the fun of it. From there, taking a stab at a full novel seemed like the next logical step. I’m just a fan of good storytelling, whether in prose, on film, or any other medium.


The Rusty Diamond Trilogy

by Austin Williams

on Tour at Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours October 17 – November 21, 2014

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Thriller

Published by: Diversion Books

Publication Date: June 24, 2014

Number of Pages: 266

Series: 1st in The Rusty Diamond Trilogy

ISBN: 9781626813557

Purchase Links:


A street magician needs more than sleight-of- hand to survive getting embroiled in a murder case in this blistering novel of suspense, perfect for fans of Harlan Coben and George Pelecanos.

After years of chasing fame and hedonistic excess in the bright lights of Las Vegas, Rusty “The Raven” Diamond has returned home to Ocean City to piece his life back together. When he finds himself an innocent suspect in his landlord’s brutal murder, Rusty abandons all hope of maintaining a tranquil existence. Acting on impulse, he digs into the investigation just enough to anger both the police and a local drug cartel.

As the unsolved case grows more complex, claiming new victims and inciting widespread panic, Rusty feels galvanized by the adrenaline he’s been missing for too long. But his newfound excitement threatens to become an addiction, leading him headfirst into an underworld he’s been desperately trying to escape.


OK, truth be told I wanted to read Misdirection because it takes place in Ocean City and that’s where my family has gone on summer vacation since…well, since we were a family. So a thriller that takes place at my beach getaway was irresistible. What would it take for you to try and get justice for a murder? for Rusty Diamond it seems cookies and eggplant casserole will do it. His landlady is dead and he’s out for justice armed with…well, magic. Magic and a lifetime’s knowledge of Ocean City.

Austin Williams has created a complex character with Rusty. He’s living with two pasts: his Ocean City past and his Las Vegas past. And people are popping up from both pasts. Rusty seems stuck between his past and his future…treading water in Ocean City wondering what to do next. And while he’s wondering he decides to help bring his landlady’s murderer to justice. But is the person who killed her enough? Williams gives us an interesting look at murder, not just at the person who “pulled the trigger” but at the entire culture that made the murder possible, even inevitable.

Read an excerpt:

The bloodstain was shaped like Florida. Rusty didn’t know much about geography, probably couldn’t point out more than a handful of states on a map. But he knew what Florida looked like, even though he’d never been there. And the mass of drying blood stretching across the hardwood floor, coming to a rounded tip a few inches from his leather boots (this tip just slightly darker than the wide stream comprising most of the stain) was a dead ringer for the Sunshine State.

He knew it was a strange thing to consider, given the circumstances. Hardly an appropriate mental response to such an intensely disturbing situation. He wasn’t in shock, exactly, but he had no idea what to do with himself. There was nothing he could do until the police arrived. Which should be any minute now. In fact, he was starting to wonder what the hell was taking so long.

Rusty wasn’t sure of how much confidence to place in the Ocean City Police Department. When it came to traffic stops and busts for disorderly conduct, open containers, public nudity and the like, the OCPD was surely qualified.

But murder? That had to fall well outside the parameters of what the local law was accustomed to handling on a regular basis. Or so Rusty mused, mainly to occupy his mind and not keep checking his wristwatch every ten seconds.





Rusty stared at the bloodstain’s surface congealing in the reflection of an overhead lamp. About two feet in width at the center, it grew wider near its source. That source was the throat of a frail silver-haired woman who lay crumpled on the floor. The upper half of her body reached into the living room while her legs protruded onto the dull yellow linoleum of the kitchen. One orthopedic shoe lay on its side next to the stove, the other still on her left foot.

Two more minutes and I’m calling 911 again, he told himself.

This house in which he was currently the sole occupant—not counting its recently deceased owner—wasn’t technically located in OC proper but in a remote enclave called Ocean Pines, separated from the main town by eight miles of salty bay water. A quiet upscale community, Rusty had a fairly complete knowledge of its character, having spent the first eighteen years of his life here and moving back ten months ago.

Next Thursday would be his thirty-sixth birthday. He had little awareness of that fact, and less interest in it.

For all Rusty knew, this was the first murder to darken the Pines’ suburban pastoral facade since the town was incorporated in 1958. And it definitely was murder, of that he had no doubt. No one could conceivably take their own life in such a manner, and certainly not a frail seventy-eight-year-old spinster.

The opening in Ms. Garrett’s throat was not long, maybe three inches at most. It looked like more of a gouge than a slash. There was no knife or sharp implement anywhere in the room, and Rusty didn’t dare step over the body to take a look in the kitchen.

The skin around the gash didn’t appear to have been torn with a blade, but hacked away by a cruder implement.

Fingernails? Teeth?

Rusty shuddered as he pondered the options, and forced himself to stop thinking about it.

The hum of a car’s engine and pebbles crunching underneath a set of tires claimed his attention. He walked to the front door, pulling aside a sash by the adjacent window to look outside into the hazy afternoon light.


An Ocean City Police Department patrol unit sat in the driveway, engine idling. Rusty saw the door swing open, and a powerfully built officer stepped out. He grimaced. The cop didn’t appear to be much older than a high schooler. Probably fresh out of the Academy with plenty to prove behind the badge.

Why didn’t they send a detective, Rusty wondered, unlatching the door and opening it slowly so as not to make a surprise appearance on the front porch. Well, it was possible the OCPD’s homicide unit didn’t keep more than one ranking detective on any given shift. They probably didn’t need more than that.

The young patrol cop was taking purposeful strides toward the house, fleshy face set tight as he spoke into a shoulder mic, confirming with a dispatcher his arrival at the location. His eyes widened just slightly before narrowing as he made a quick appraisal of Rusty Diamond.

“You’re the one who made the call?”

Rusty nodded.

“She’s in there,” he said, stepping aside to let the patrol officer enter the house.

The cop had not taken two full steps into the living room when he stopped abruptly, one hand falling onto the service revolver holstered on his right hip.

“Jesus Christ.”

“Yeah,” Rusty said. “That was pretty much my reaction.”

For a moment they stood there, two tall male shapes looming over a plump female form in a spattered floral dress.

“Found her just like this?”

“That’s right. I didn’t touch anything.”

“How long?”

“Can’t be much more than fifteen minutes. I called right away.”

“You know her?”

“Her name’s Thelma Garrett. She’s my landlord.”

The sound of that didn’t sit right with Rusty; it was too removed and devoid of any kind of feeling. He almost added something like, ‘She was kind to me’, but figured that was bound to come out wrong.

The cop finally looked up from the old woman’s body, seeming to peel his eyes away by an act of will.

“You live here?”

“No. She owns … owned a second house not far from here, on Echo Run. I’ve been renting it.”

Those words brought on a sudden rush of memory. Rusty could see with total clarity in his mind’s eye the day he first met Ms. Garrett. Just over ten months ago, on a frigid January morning. The meeting didn’t happen here but at the rental house he’d occupied ever since.

At the time Rusty was so disoriented at finding himself back in Ocean Pines after such a prolonged absence that he had some difficulty maintaining a conversation with the chatty spinster. He agreed to her proposed rental fee, which seemed low for a three-bedroom furnished property overlooking Isle of Wight Bay. Location alone must have made the house a highly desirable piece of real estate, and he couldn’t figure why she was willing to rent it out for such a reasonable sum.

Speaking in the kindly, crinkly voice he’d come to associate with her in all moods, Ms. Garrett replied she had no use for the property or a large boost in income. Once shared with her husband and the scene of many festive gatherings, it was too big for her current needs. And too lonely. Living as a childless widow in a modest two-bedroom tract house on nearby Heron Lane was much more comfortable.

Thelma (she’d insisted Rusty use her first name) didn’t want to go through the hassle of trying to sell the larger house in a lackluster market, and was glad to simply know it would be occupied after many dormant years. It depressed her to think of the house where she and her family had shared so many good occasions sitting dark and forlorn all this time. Rusty signed the lease, feeling halfway guilty for paying so little.

“How’d you happen to find her?” the patrol officer said, yanking Rusty back from his reverie.

A slight whiff of something Rusty didn’t like crept into the cop’s voice. A taunt, almost, most likely the by-product of youth and rattled nerves. He scanned the badge pinned to the kid’s chest.

“Tell you what, Officer Neely. Why don’t we go through the whole thing when a detective gets here. Someone’s on the way, right?”

“I’m the one you need to talk to now.”

“Officer, trust me. I’m going to give my full cooperation. Whoever did this needs to …”

He stopped. The cop was looking at him with a new kind of scrutiny. Now that the initial shock of seeing the dead woman was fading, he seemed to take a full view of Rusty for the first time. The expression on his face didn’t make much of an effort to hide a sense of disgust.

Rusty suddenly wished he’d kept his leather jacket on, but the living room had become stifling as he stood here waiting for the cavalry to arrive. The jacket lay draped on a sofa and he was wearing a black tank top, leaving his shoulders and arms open to easy view. Perusal would be more accurate, given the snaking tracks of words and symbols tattooed across much of his upper torso, coiling around the back of his neck and splitting into two vines that reached down both arms almost to the wrists.

“Latin, for the most part,” he said with a self-deprecating shrug. “Just for looks, really. I don’t know what half of it means myself.”

Officer Neely’s posture tensed visibly. His fingers once again found a place to rest on his gun.

“Turn around slowly, and show me your hands.”

Rusty tried to pretend he’d misheard.

“Sorry, what?”

“Come on, do it.”

“You’re going to cuff me? I’m the one who called this in, remember?”

“Just turn around. We’ll keep you nice and snug till backup gets here.”

“Look, I’m as freaked out as you are. But I didn’t do anything to this poor woman.”

“You’re resisting? I said let’s see those hands.”

He unsnapped the button on top of his holster. It seemed like a good moment to do something.

“For the last time, turn around!”

Rusty knew he could disarm this uniformed frat boy in just about 2.7 seconds. The task wouldn’t present much of a challenge. He could easily divert Neely’s eyeline with a lateral, non-aggressive movement of his left arm.
Momentarily distracted, the cop would never see the fingers of Rusty’s right hand extracting a one-inch smoke pellet from a customized hidden pocket in his jeans. Pinched at the proper angle, the pellet would explode in a blinding flash followed by a plume of gray smoke. Utterly harmless but highly effective for misdirection.

The span of time Officer Neely would need to recover from his surprise would offer Rusty ample opportunity to relieve him of the gun. Using his fingertips, he’d grab the wrist and isolate pressure points causing Neely’s hand to open involuntarily. From there, Rusty would simply reposition his body at a 45-degree angle and use his left hand to retrieve a sterling set of monogrammed handcuffs tucked in a different hidden pocket. One more second would be sufficient to cuff the young patrolman to a column of the bannister directly behind him.

They were only trick cuffs, but Officer Neely didn’t know that. And unless he could perform with great precision, the sequence of twisting wrist movements needed to unlatch them, the knowledge wouldn’t do him any good.
So, yes, the maneuver would surely come off. Just as successfully as it had in a thousand performances, even if those all occurred some time ago and Rusty’s reflexes were no longer quite what they used to be.

But what would any of that accomplish other than to greatly amplify a sense of suspicion for his role in a brutal murder he had absolutely nothing to do with? Plus bring on a raft of other charges for failing to comply with orders, impeding police business, assault, et cetera. Obviously it was a bad play all around, however tempting.

So Rusty slowly turned 180 degrees and lowered his hands. Audibly relieved, Officer Neely stepped forward and bound them with a pair of un-monogrammed OCPD handcuffs. They closed around his wrists more tightly then necessary, pinching hard on the skin.

Hearing the cuffs snap shut, Rusty glanced up and was startled by his reflection in a mirror above the sofa. He’d deliberately removed all mirrors from his own residence the day he moved in, and hadn’t gotten a good look at his face in many months.

Given his appearance today, he could hardly fault this overeager junior lawman for wanting to lock him in restraints. For a guy who’d once placed such a premium on maintaining a well-cultivated exterior, it was shocking to see just how unkempt he was. Had he really let himself go that much in the past year? Evidently, if the mirror was to be believed.

His long black hair, once treated daily by a personal stylist, was now a ratty mane. The two-pointed devil’s goatee, formerly a key visual hallmark of his stagecraft, looked no more than an uneven graying scrub. And all that ink: pentagrams, death’s head skulls and weird incantations etched up and down his sinewy arms.

Hell, anyone with a working pair of eyes would find Rusty Diamond a more than credible murder suspect.


Author Bio:

The new thriller by Austin Williams, Misdirection, is now available from Diversion Books. It is the first novel of The Rusty Diamond Trilogy.

Williams is the author of the acclaimed suspense novels Crimson Orgy and The Platinum Loop. He is the co-author (with Erik Quisling) of Straight Whisky: A Living History of Sex, Drugs and Rock ‘n’ Roll on the Sunset Strip.

He lives in Los Angeles.

Learn More:

Stop by tomorrow for an interview with Austin Williams.

Tour Participants:

Win Your Own Copy of Misdirection by Austin Williams:

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I Once Was a Princess by Stacy Verdick Case

Stacy Verdick Case PhotoWhat made you want to be a writer? It’s a common question for me and I never know what to say. Then the other day I watched my daughter playing dress up, which is something she does on a regular basis. I admit that sometimes I join her. As I watched her parade around in all her princess grandeur I realized that I’m still playing make believe, except now I do it on paper instead of in front of a full length mirror.

When I sit down to write I can be anyone I want to be including a princess. During the course of writing An Intimate Murder I became every character I put on the page, all of them from a Police Detective to a murderer, slipping on each persona as easily as putting on a tutu and crown to be a princess.

I have laughed as my characters and cried as them too. I’ve even held the knife of my killer and felt justified when I used it to take another character’s life.

Sometimes writing can be a very uncomfortable form of make believe. It’s a scary place to be when you can justifyprincess killing someone even if they are fictional, but that’s what writers do. We tap into parts of ourselves that everyone has buried inside, but thanks to impulse control we don’t act on. Everyone can be a killer if properly motivated. Likewise, we can all be heroes if properly motivated.

It’s so much easier to be a princess or in my case a goddess (hey, all princesses have to graduate at some point). The days that I have to dig down inside me to the dark side of my personality exhaust me and make me tense.
Then there are the days when I’m able to experience joy as my character. Or the days I get to relive something from my past like my first kiss, the day I met my husband, or the birth of my daughter. Ah, those days are worth the discomfort that comes along with writing.

I guess training for being an author starts with playing make believe. Author’s just never grow up. We are really committed to our lands of make believe. Or perhaps we just need to be committed. Six of one, half a dozen of the other. It all depends on your perspective. Either way, I was once a princess and I might be again if motivated enough.

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Review: An Intimate Murder

Are you ready for a double dose of Catherine O’Brien? Today I review An Intimate Murder, the third book in the Catherine O’Brien mystery series and tomorrow I have a guest post from author Stacy Verdick Case and a chance to win a copy of An Intimate Murder. And if that isn’t enough you can also stop by Goodreads to win a copy today — but today’s the last day!

An Intimate Murderaim cover Web Large

Author: Stacy Verdick Case

Paperback: 284 pages (also available in e-formats)

Publisher: Before the Fall Books (October 7, 2014)


When Jonathan and Susan Luther are murdered in their home, St. Paul homicide detective Catherine O’Brien and her partner Louise discover this isn’t the first time the Luther family has been visited by tragedy. Is it a case of bad family luck or is there something more?


Catherine is not a super hero, all-knowing crime solver. She can’t hold her tongue (with suspects, the press or fellow cops), she forgets to call her mother (and her husband), she’s grumpy, she wants to always be right (and is even grumpier when she isn’t), she’s addicted to coffee and in her own words, “short, pale, and too round in certain places to be considered slim. I’m more bumpy than curvy, and more dorky than graceful.” In other words, Catherine is me — with a gun and coffee instead of chocolate. Maybe that’s why I enjoy reading Catherine O’Brien mysteries.

This is definitely a crazy family. It starts out with a husband and wife getting murdered for seemingly no reason. And every time Catherine and her partner Louise (cheers for two female detectives as partners) turn around another crazy family member is turning up. Got to love those crazy families. Are they just garden variety crazy family or the type that resort to shot guns and ice picks?

This book is low on action and high on investigation. But that makes the few scenes of violence even more impressive. There are a few clues that I felt we readers didn’t get a fair chance at considering but for the most part you got to follow Catherine and Louise (along with a cast of humorous assistants) through their investigation and learn what they learned, as they learned it.

Need to play catch up with Catherine O’Brien? You can learn about her debut in my post about A Grand Murder and an interview with author Stacy Verdick Case here.

Review: Never Too Late

Never Too Late: Your Roadmap to Revinvention (without getting lost along the way)

Author: Claire Cook

Paperback: 124 pages (also available in e-books)nevertoolate

Publisher: Marshbury Beach Books (July 16, 2014)


Wondering how to get to that life you really thought you’d be living by now?

Claire Cook speaks to real women—our fears and obstacles and hopes and desires—and gives us cutting edge tools to get where we want to go.

Bursting with inspiration, insider stories, and practical strategies. Filled with humor, heart, encouragement, and great quotes.

Claire Cook shares everything she’s learned on her own journey— from writing her first book in her minivan at 45, to walking the red carpet at the Hollywood premiere of Must Love Dogs at 50, to becoming the international bestselling author of eleven novels and a sought after reinvention speaker.

You’ll hop on a plane with Claire as you figure out the road to your own reinvention. You’ll laugh a lot and maybe even shed a few tears as Claire tells her stories and those of other reinventors, and shares her best tips for getting a plan, staying on track, pulling together a support system, building your platform in the age of social networking, dealing with the inevitable ups and downs, overcoming perfectionism, and tuning in to your authentic self to propel you toward your goals.

Never Too Late: Your Roadmap to Reinvention (without getting lost along the way) is real, grounded, and just the book you need to start reinventing your life.


It’s easy to feel we are too old, too busy, too ignorant, too…something to become that person you always wanted to be. Claire Cook swipes away all those excuses in Never Too Late not because she is some super inspirational speaker, some psychology expert or some super success (although she is, in my eyes a super success). the reason she makes you believe maybe you can accomplish your goals and become that person you always wanted to be is because she was once in your shoes. She was once the person wondering, Can I really do it? Reading Never Too Late is like talking to an old friend.

You can also download a free Never Too Late workbook as a companion to the Never Too Late book here. It’s a short little booklet but it is a great help pulling what you want to remember from her book and gathering it all in one place.

Review and Giveaway: The Corpse Who Walked in the Door


The Corpse Who Walked in the Door

by Jackie King

on Tour September 2014

Book Details:

Genre: Cozy Mystery

Published by: Deadly Niche Press

Publication Date: June 2014

Number of Pages: 206

ISBN: 978-162016-112-8

Purchase Links:


Former society wife Grace Cassidy is learning to live on the minimum wage she earns as a bed & breakfast inn-sitter. Grace finds her cat’s bloody paw prints leading away from a bathtub and wants to run for her life. But she can’t. Her 19-year-old son is accused of pushing his pregnant girlfriend down a flight of concrete steps and she won’t abandon him.


In the beginning I thought Grace was just too…accommodating…for her own good. She needed to pipe up and start standing up to the difficult people in her life. Thankfully, as the book went on Grace became spunkier. Happily, she surrounds herself with some interesting people, particularly the folks who have “fallen on hard times” and live in the lower quarters of the B&B where she works.

This was a fun, light-hearted romp of a mystery made memorable more by the people who live in Grace’s life than by the people who die in it. It’s very easy to picture yourself as Grace, juggling all the everyday minutiae: bosses, families, employees, catty women, secrets and just for good measure, throw in a dead body!

Read an excerpt:

Blood colored paw prints trailed from the white tile bathroom onto the faux Oriental rug in the bedroom where Grace stood. The cat-feet marks immobilized Grace. She closed her eyes and prayed that she had been claimed by stress-induced insanity, that there were no dark-red blots before her eyes, but a hallucination. A nice long rest in a mental hospital didn’t sound too bad. Anything except another dead body in this inn where she worked.

Author Bio:

Jackie King loves books, writing tall tales, and murdering the people she dislikes on paper. Her latest mystery The Corpse Who Walked in the Door is available in ebook format. She is a member of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, Romance Writers of America, Oklahoma Writers Federation, and Tulsa NightWriters.To learn more about Jackie, check out my 5Ws interview yesterday here>.

Catch Up With Jackie:

Tour Participants:


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Free Book: Love Gone to the Dogs

It’s the dog days of summer. So what’s an author with a book featuring neighbors and their battle over their dogs supposed to do? Give away e-copies for the month of August, of course! Don’t miss out on your last few days to download Love Gone to the Dogs. So you’ll have something fun to read on Labor Day after you finish your grilled chicken, corn on the cob and watermelon. Sounds yummy, doesn’t it? This book is too.

Love Gone to the Dogs (Second Chances Book 1)

Author: Margaret Daleymargaretdaley

E-Book: 166 pages

Publisher: Amazon Digital (July 4, 2012)


Single mom, Leah Taylor, has her hands full with a grandfather, an inventor, who lives a bit risky when it comes to his job and two sons, one a rambunctious genius. But it is her free spirited beagle who gets her into trouble with her new neighbor, Dr. Shane O’Grady, when her dog makes a move on his champion bichon that he wants to breed.

Leah and Shane clash over their dogs that clearly like each other. Leah is determined to ignore her neighbor, but when her youngest son who tries to defy gravity and fly ends up hurt, it is her neighbor, the doctor, who takes care of her son. Can Leah and Shane find love or has love gone to the dogs?

Read an excerpt here.


If you’re looking for a light-hearted romance you can enjoy on a hot summer afternoon, Love Gone to the Dogs is it. It’s a classic romance novel boy meets girl, obstacle, obstacle, obstacle and finally, success. The humorous family in this book will make you smile. Actually, it’s the story of three unlikely romances: Leah and Shane, Albert and Princess (their dogs) and a third one I don’t want to spoil for you.