“Monday Mystery” – THE BALI MYSTERY (Amelia Moore Detective Series)

Bali web

Linda Weaver Clarke describes her book’s genre as a “cozy mystery,” or, in her words:

“A G-rated story with no swearing or sex. It has many twists and turns and must have very likeable characters so that it can be turned into a series. A cozy mystery focuses on the plot and characters, and the main character is usually an intelligent woman.”

With that understood, let’s take a look at her latest:

Synopsis

Amelia Moore, the founder of the Moore Detective Agency, specializes in missing persons. Her cases have taken her to some very interesting places and put her in some dangerous situations, but she always solves the case. With the help of Rick Bonito, her business is flourishing.

When Mrs. Brody hires Amelia and Rick to find her missing brother, they find themselves in Bali, Indonesia. They are mystified why her brother quit his job, put his home up for sale, and ran off to this mysterious and exotic island without telling a soul.

Excerpt

Amelia narrowed her eyes and pursed her lips as she watched the hefty man walk out of her office. She was upset. He had demanded she drop her new case or she would be sorry. Yes, he had threatened her if she continued her search, but he did not know that his threat only encouraged her.

Amelia Moore, the founder of the Moore Detective Agency, was in her thirties and had a positive outlook on life. She had short honey brown hair that framed her face and complemented her hazel eyes. Amelia was confident, stubborn, and spunky. She took her job seriously and enjoyed her work. She always chose cases that made a positive difference in people’s lives. This assignment, however, was unusual.

Author

Linda Weaver Clarke travels throughout the United States, teaching and encouraging people to write their family history and autobiography. She is the author of several historical sweet romances, a mystery/adventure series, a new cozy mystery series, and two non-fiction books.

Linda Weaver ClarkeYou can purchase THE BALI MYSTERY or any of her other books from her website.

Originally posted 2014-04-21 06:00:11.

“Monday Mystery” – KILMOON (A County Clare Mystery)

I’m very excited to announce Lisa Alber’s debut novel, KILMOON, which takes place in her ancestral homeland, Ireland. Lisa and I met when we were assigned to the same group at the Maui Writer’s Retreat several years ago, and I knew this day would come for her. She’s very talented, as I’m sure you’ll agree once you read her book.

kilmoon_72dpi

Synopsis

Californian Merrit Chase travels to Ireland to meet her father, a celebrated matchmaker, in hopes that she can mend her troubled past. Instead, her arrival triggers a rising tide of violence, and Merrit finds herself both suspect and victim, accomplice and pawn, in a manipulative game that began thirty years previously. When she discovers that the matchmaker’s treacherous past is at the heart of the chaos, she must decide how far she will go to save him from himself—and to get what she wants, a family.

Lisa Alber evokes a world in which ancient tradition collides with modern village life and ageless motivators such as greed and love still wield their power. Kilmoon captures the moodiness of the Irish landscape in a mystery that explores family secrets, betrayal, and vengeance.

Reviews

Brooding, gothic overtones haunt Lisa Alber’s polished, atmospheric debut. Romance, mysticism, and the verdant Irish countryside all contribute to making KILMOON a marvelous, suspenseful read. —Julia Spencer-Fleming, New York Times & USA Today bestselling author of Through the Evil Days

This first in Alber’s new County Clare Mystery series is utterly poetic … The author’s prose and lush descriptions of the Irish countryside nicely complement this dark, broody and very intricate mystery.  —RT Book Reviews (four stars)

In her moody debut, Alber skillfully uses many shades of gray to draw complex characters who discover how cruel love can be. —Kirkus Reviews

Excerpt

A squeal, or perhaps a moan, issued from Lonnie’s office. Merrit froze. A moment later the rat-a-tatting of computer keys ceased and oaths in Ivan’s native Russian took over. Merrit smiled. The minion up to no good in the boss’s office. Now he’d see how much he liked having his personal life threatened with exposure. 

On tiptoes, she stepped past computers and around the service counter behind which Ivan usually sat. Thankfully, the window blinds were drawn. No one could see her as she stepped toward one of two doorways marked “For Employees Only,” only to freeze again, this time in the office doorway with the cat pressed against her chest. She knew death when she saw it. There was no mistaking its particular brand of stillness. Death had sucked the energy out of Lonnie’s body, leaving it as bereft of life as a hologram.

Author

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Lisa Alber received an Elizabeth George Foundation writing grant based on Kilmoon. Ever distractable, you may find her staring out windows, dog walking, fooling around online, or drinking red wine with her friends. Ireland, books, animals, photography, and blogging round out her distractions. Lisa lives in Portland, Oregon. Kilmoon is her first novel.

You’ll learn a lot more about Lisa when I interview her later in May. I promise.

Meanwhile, you can find Lisa at: website | Facebook | Twitter

You can order KILMOON through: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound

 

Originally posted 2014-03-31 06:00:31.

“Monday Mystery” – A DEATH IN THE FAMILY

A Banner for Blog TourAs part of Marlene’s blog tour, I’m featuring her new Erica Coleman mystery here today. It’s available for purchase online at Amazon, Deseret Book, and Seagull Book, as well as in  LDS bookstores, including Deseret Book and Seagull Book.

Here’s a quick look:

Synopsis

Meet Erica Coleman—a gifted and quirky private investigator with an OCD-like passion for neatness and symmetry, a penchant for cooking, (ten terrific recipes are included), and a weakness for chocolate.

A Cover for A Death in the Family

In A DEATH IN THE FAMILY, the second in the Erica Coleman series, private eye Erica Coleman and her family happily anticipate Grandma Blanche’s eighty-first birthday celebration in the picturesque town of Florence, Oregon. But when the feisty matriarch, a savvy businesswoman, suspects wrongdoing and asks Erica to investigate her company, things get sticky.

Before the investigation can even begin, Blanche’s unexpected death leaves Erica with more questions than answers—and it is soon clear Grandma’s passing was anything but natural: she was murdered. When another relative becomes the next victim of someone with a taste for homicide, Erica uses her flair for cooking to butter up local law enforcement and gather clues.

Erica’s OCD either helps or hinders her—depending on who you talk to—but it’s those same obsessive and compulsive traits than enable Erica to see clues that others miss. When she narrowly escapes becoming the third victim, Erica is more determined than ever to solve the case.

Excerpt

“It’s hard to believe she’s gone,” Kristen said dolefully. “When I moved here, I thought I’d have years with Grandma. She was always so active—I thought she’d keep going for years.”

“And all the time, her heart was getting weaker,” Trent said glumly.

Walter commented, “The last time I saw her, Blanche said the doctor told her she had the constitution of a mule.”

There were a few smiles at this, but Martha’s brow furrowed in confusion. “But Mom’s death didn’t have anything to do with how healthy she was.”

“What are you talking about?” Trent’s impatient voice billowed out and filled the small room.

Martha squirmed but fluttered on, “Well, after what Mom said when she came to visit me, you know—about how something wrong was going on in the company—I worried that something might happen.”

Her response reverberated around the room. Everyone went very still—as if they were holding their breath. 

Martha’s eyes went from one to another. “I didn’t mean—oh, I shouldn’t have said anything,” she stammered. Her voice was pure distress. “It’s just that . . . well, we’re all family here, so it’s okay, isn’t it? I mean, no one else knows.”

“No one else knows what?” Trent said brusquely.

Visibly flustered, Martha’s hands twisted in her lap. “And . . . and Mother was very old and—and the police haven’t even come, have they?”

Erica wondered what Martha could be getting at. Everyone darted quizzical looks at each other, trying to make sense out of Martha’s confused chirruping.

After meeting blank looks all around, Martha blurted, “I mean, that’s good . . . isn’t it? For the family?”

The room remained deadly silent as Martha’s cheeks flamed red.

There was a rumble as Walter cleared his throat. “Why would the police come?”

“Why, to arrest someone.” Martha sounded surprised—as if he had asked something that was completely and absolutely self-evident. She stared at Walter, as if he and he alone could straighten everything out. “Isn’t that why they’re doing an autopsy? I mean, don’t they always do an autopsy when someone has been murdered?” 

Author

A picture of Marlene Bateman

Marlene Bateman Sullivan was born in Salt Lake City, Utah and graduated from the University of Utah with a BA in English. She is married to Kelly R. Sullivan and they are the parents of seven children.

Her hobbies are gardening, camping, and reading.  Marlene has been published extensively in magazines and newspapers and has written a number of non-fiction books, including:  Latter-day Saint Heroes and Heroines, And There Were Angels Among Them, Visit’s From Beyond the Veil, By the Ministering of Angels, Brigham’s Boys, and Heroes of Faith.  Her latest book is Gaze Into Heaven; Near Death Experiences in Early Church History, a fascinating collection of over 50 documented near-death experiences from the lives of early latter-day Saints.

Marlene’s first novel was the best-selling Light on Fire Island. Her next novel was Motive for Murder, which is the first in a mystery series that features the quirky private eye with OCD, Erica Coleman.

A Cover for Motive for Murder You can learn more about what Marlene is up to as an author from her website.

Originally posted 2014-03-17 08:11:21.

“Monday Mystery” – ADRENALINE RUSH and GRAVEDIGGERS

Today I have a double dose of mystery to announce–two thrillers from the same author, Cindy M. Hogan. Let’s have a look at ADRENALINE RUSH first.

Adrenaline RushSynopsis

A madman with a mission is kidnapping groups of thrill-seeking high school seniors across the country, and it’s up to Christy to stop him.

To do so, she must take on a fearless alter ego and infiltrate a group of adrenaline junkies bent on pushing life to the limit. Death-defying stunts are only the beginning: two groups fit the profile, and Christy must discover the real target before it s too late.

If she chooses the wrong group, more people will disappear. But choosing right puts her as the prime target with no guarantee that she’ll get out alive.

Excerpt

     As I hurtled toward my destination at 500 miles an hour, I pulled out a notebook, placed it on the shiny mahogany table in front of me, and scribbled a quick to-do list. Pick out an outfit. Get folders and notebooks. Switch into fourth period drama. I chewed on the end of my pen. Oh yeah–just one more thing. Get kidnapped.

     According to my pre-mission briefing, kidnappings were up in the States by five percent over the last five years. The significance of which didn’t hit me until I found that the statistics for kidnappings had remained static for a good thirty years. The spike caught the attention of the FBI, and they put their best men on it. The problem? Right when they thought they’d discovered the pattern of the kidnappers, it seemed to change.

     We hit some turbulence, and the force of it pulled me out of my reverie. I sucked in a deep breath, my hands resting on the soft leather side arms of my big comfortable seat as the Gulfstream jet jumped. I let the rollercoaster feeling wash over me like a wave, forcing myself to enjoy every last tingle. I only had this flight and a few hours tonight to assume my new thrill-seeking alias–the one that would lure the kidnappers and save the day before the pattern changed again. I might as well make the most of it.

Reviews

Thrilling, heart pounding, an Adrenaline Rush indeed!” (Konstanz Silverbow, Author of Only Half Alive)

“Jeremy and Christy have a chemistry akin to a younger version of Alias’ Vaughn and Sydney Bristo.” (S.M. Anderson, author of Copied)

“Hunger Games move over – Adrenaline Rush has arrived.” (D.K. Holbrook, reviewer)

ADRENALINE RUSH is available on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle.

 

And now for her second release, GRAVEDIGGERS.

GravediggersSynopsis

Seventeen-year-old Billy thinks his father’s murder will never be solved until he stumbles across an old ammo box while digging a grave in his small-town Tennessee cemetery.

What he finds leads him to question everything he knows, and his search for answers will uncover more than he bargained for: lies, secrets, and conspiracies, and behind them all, a dangerous truth.

 

Excerpt

Why did people have to die in June when it was so dang hot? I jumped on the top edge of my shovel, forcing it into the ground, the metal pressing into the soles of my feet through the holes in the bottoms of my shoes. The muggy late afternoon air sent sweat dripping into my eyes. I wiped my sleeve across my face.

Henry, my best friend since forever, and I had dug three graves in just over two weeks. The average for the Halls, Tennessee cemetery was only one grave a month for the six years we’d been working there. It was hard to believe it would be my last year of digging graves, but I was totally excited about going away to college. Even though I hated sweating to death and would rather be playing baseball, I was stoked about the one hundred bucks I’d earn. I’d finally have a few extra dollars to buy new shoes. I’d seen an awesome looking pair of Nikes at the thrift store just the other day. They had probably belonged to Mikey, Mayor Clement’s youngest son. I didn’t want to have to wear his cast-offs, but I needed every penny for college. Mikey tended to wear something only a few times before tossing it aside anyway. No such luck for me. Use ’em up and wear ’em out was our family’s adage.

 

Reviews

“A thrilling mystery with spine-tingling hints and bone-chilling secrets. Hogan has a knack for creating killer scenes that make her books irresistible. Don’t miss this one!” (Rachelle J. Christensen, Author of Wrong Number and Caller ID)

“Mystery, adventure, danger, and a touch of romance fill the pages of Gravediggers.” (Angela Woiwode, reviewer)

“Friendships are tested to the limit and secrets and lies are uncovered in this unpredictable mystery.” (Susan Tietjen, reviewer)

 

GRAVEDIGGERS is also available on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle.

 

Author

Cindy M. Hogan graduated with a secondary education teaching degree and enjoys spending time with unpredictable teenagers. More than anything she loves the time she has with her own teenage daughters and wishes she could freeze them at this fun age. If she’s not reading or writing, you’ll find her snuggled up with the love of her life watching a great movie or planning their next party. She loves to bake, garden, and hang out and play outdoors.

Cindy Hogan

Originally posted 2013-11-04 11:43:58.

“Monday Mystery” – Mysteries, Suspense Novels, and Thrillers Are Like Driveways

This past week, we had our driveway torn up because of cracking and appearance issues.

photo 3 of driveway

We discovered, in the process, that the pipe for the sprinkler system had been placed just under the concrete surface where it was likely to bear the most weight and wear down.

photo 2 of drivewayphoto 1 of drivewaySo before the new driveway can be poured, a trench needs to be dug and a new pipe fitted to lie more deeply under the ground.

Brian, the guy doing our new driveway, explained that you’ve really got to watch out for builders cutting corners and getting away with it simply because it’s out of view. As he put it, “They come in here ready to pour concrete and they don’t care what’s already there. They’re just going to cover it up.”

Writers can’t be like that. We may be ready to pour out a whole novel’s worth of words, but we’ve got to make sure we’ve laid the proper foundation first. Why? Because our readers will hold us accountable. Particularly when it comes to mysteries, suspense, and thrillers. We have to place certain clues in the right places and in the right ways (there, but not too obvious) and we also have to be sure and include red herrings to keep things complicated enough. After all, our readers are going to be tearing up our “driveways” as they devour our stories and there had better not be any unacceptable surprises.

What kind of driveways are we constructing in the first place? Asphalt? Concrete? One made out of block pavers? It’s pretty easy to tell the difference between all three.

But where do you draw the line in terms of genre between mystery, suspense novel, and thriller?

Author and former literary agent Nathan Bransford came up with these distinctions:

  • Thrillers have action
  • Suspense has danger, but not necessarily action
  • Mysteries have mysteries (something you don’t know until the end)

Still confused? I am. After all, I think THE BOURNE IDENTITY and THE DA VINCI CODE has all three elements.

Another agent, Jessica Faust, says there are three different kinds of mysteries: the cozy (usually involving an amateur sleuth and not too many bloody bodies), the mystery (grittier and darker…definitely more blood), and the suspense/thriller (the darkest of the three…more about stopping a killer than solving a crime). Check out her explanation here.

There’s a fascinating post by novelist Janet L. Smith describing the conclusions of suspense master, Alfred Hitchcock:

  • Suspense has no relationship to fear
  • It’s the state of waiting for something to happen
  • Therefore, the viewer or reader must be informed of an awful, impending event in order to be held in suspense, rather than merely surprised when it happens

Smith points out that a mystery, on the other hand, “is a novel of revelation, with action more mental than physical.” In this case, the audience is not kept informed.

And here’s one final analysis by Maeve Maddox.

Let’s say Mystery is Asphalt, Suspense is Concrete, and Thrillers are those driveways built with block pavers. What kind of driveway do you specialize in, and why? Please let me know in a comment below. I’m interested to find out which is most popular these days.

 

Originally posted 2013-07-22 17:40:31.

“Wednesday Writer” – Jean-Pierre Alaux and Noël Balen

Jean-Pierre Alaux and Noël Balen are two French authors who write a whodunit series set in wine country. They are Epicures. Jean-Pierre is a magazine, radio and television journalist when he is not writing novels in southwestern France. He is a genuine wine and food lover and the grandson of a winemaker. Noël lives in Paris, where he shares his time between writing, making records, and lecturing on music.

Jean-Pierre Alaux and Noël Balen(Noël Balen and Jean-Pierre Alaux)

The first in the Winemaker Detective series, TREACHERY IN BORDEAUX, was recently published in English by Le French Book, a digital-first publisher of France’s best crime fiction and thrillers in English. The Winemaker Detective series now has 20 titles in French.

Treachery-in-Bordeaux_cover_F_1-225x300

(Disclaimer: Any winery information I provide about Washington State in this interview was learned through research on the Internet, and I can’t vouch for its accuracy.)

ME:  First of all, I couldn’t help noticing that the main character in TREACHERY IN BORDEAUX, Benjamin Cooker, a winemaking consultant in his fifties, and his younger, handsome assistant, Virgile, somewhat resemble the two of you. Am I imagining this, or did you indeed fashion the two characters after yourselves in some small measure?

JP AND N:  Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, we are both over fifty, but there is clearly a part of us in Benjamin Cooker, with his somewhat sarcastic view of life, a relative distance in the face of life’s hardships, a sense of memory, and some wisdom in the observation of human passions. However, we drew inspiration from our own children and their friends to develop the character of the young assistant, Virgile, who to us represents an optimistic view of the world. He is sometimes candid and decidedly enthusiastic, with a thirst for learning and always the same energy.

ME:  In any case, why did you decide to make your protagonist part British? Why not purely French?

JP AND N:  It was important for us to have a perspective of the wine world that was not ethnocentric, and that goes beyond France’s borders. The vineyards in Bordeaux, Burgundy and Champagne are certainly incomparable, but we are aware of the wealth and variety of wine produced worldwide.

Also, there is a long-standing tradition of wine making and appreciation in Britain and throughout the English-speaking world that we thought interesting to highlight. Historically, the English have contributed a lot to the science of oenology (Note: that’s the study of wines for the uninitiated like me), and they left their cultural mark in the Aquitaine region, and particularly in Bordeaux. And, of course, there is the fact that the British have a certain number of legendary figures in the mystery arena, not the least of which being Agatha Christie and Arthur Conan Doyle. We thought the blend was a fine way to pay homage.

(Indeed!)

ME:  You have both been described as epicures–those who take pleasure in fine food and drink. How did your paths first cross, and how did you happen on this approach to a mystery series?

JP AND N:  Our meeting occurred during a cocktail party that ended up with a fine meal, which of course bode well for the future. The conversation quickly turned to our shared passion for wine and our first thought was to create a crime fiction series focusing on the world of winemaking for television. A wine and crime series had not been done. When we were asking around at the French publishing house, Fayard, for contacts in TV, we were surprised to get an immediate proposal to publish the novels.

We owe this to Claude Durand, who was heading up Fayard at the time, and who supported the project and gave us long-term possibilities by signing on the first ten titles right away. (I like how the French do things!) The series’ success led to a contract for another twelve books. The television series was then the next logical step, considering the project’s origin. Now, each of the novels is adapted for TV. The third season is being written now, and will be shot this summer.

DSC_5514 copy(Noël and Jean-Pierre flanking the stars of the TV series)

ME:  As I understand it, the twentieth book in the series came out this past fall, and the pair travels to wine estates not only in France, but around the world. How many of the books are set in the United States? And have you yet visited any of the vineyards in Eastern Washington where I live?

JP AND N:  Our characters have visited vineyards in Hungary (Tokay) and Spain (Rioja and Ribera Del Duero). We often mention wines from other countries in the stories, and in one of the books, we cover the Napa Valley in more detail, because an investor from California purchases property in the area around Bordeaux. We are also planning on setting a plot in Tuscany to celebrate Italian wines. So why not discover the vineyards in Washington State? We will admit to not being familiar with these wines and it would be a real pleasure to go and taste them in person. Discovering a new wine region is always a fabulous experience. When is the best time to come?

(Spring, early summer and fall, according to Wine Enthusiast Magazine. Avoid July and August.)

ME:  Jean-Pierre, you have said, “The world of wine is no more respectable than the world of finance . . . [it] has all the requirements for a detective novel: death, crime, inheritance, jealousy. You name it, all human weaknesses are present.” My question is, do the two of you ever base your plots on actual stories in newspapers or magazines, whether French or not?

JP AND N:  In our experience, reality always exceeds fiction. We will often imagine particularly nasty scandals, terrible violence, warped backstabbing and the most twisted acts, and then when we start digging through local archives, exploring history and even more recent news, we are surprised to find that people have never lacked imagination when it comes to harming their neighbors. The novelist’s job is to put the darkness of the human spirit to music, turning what defies comprehension into a credible story. (That’s a great quote!)

ME:  Now that your series has become a TV hit in France, has it made it a bit more difficult to travel around and do research to capture the history, traditions and flavor of a locale? How important is the setting in your stories?

JP AND N:  Every region has its own specific, singular and absolutely incomparable context. That is what is so incredible about the world of winemaking. Every aspect–the region’s geography and geology, the human factors and social ramifications, the specific climate, the culinary tradition, political choices, and historical events–becomes palpable when you are attentive and receptive.

When we go out researching, we focus both on the people we meet, on their attachment to the region and their way of approaching their work, as well as the numerous details we observe in the field (architecture, nature of the soil, local festivities, etc.). We are very careful to note all the details that contribute to a region’s flavor, its local culture and way of life, right down to the smallest door stud (in copper or porcelain) and the most insignificant road taken (be it paved or unmaintained).

(Okay, if you’re coming to Washington, you might want to check out the wineries on the western side of the state in April when the Tulip Festival takes place in Skagit County.)

ME:  When did each of you know you wanted to be a writer, and what was your first attempt at creative writing?

JP:  I’m less driven by the idea of being a writer than that of telling stories. My work as a reporter was quick to take the mystery out of the act of writing. Being a journalist is more often than not about telling a story with both realism and imagination in order to make things understandable to readers. My first books were short stories, then biographies and finally novels. One thing led to another until writing became a daily part of my life.

N:  Writing is a natural addition to a life that focuses on music. As a child, I read a lot, then later I worked as an instrumentalist and then a record producer. I never envisioned doing anything other than writing and composing. In books, I look for the rhythm, the melody, the harmony, and the alchemy of notes. It doesn’t matter what the story is, as long as the partition invites the reader to take the voyage. My first book was a collection of noir stories, followed by several novels, along with musicology essays and biographies.

ME:  I know that one of you uses a Mac and the other a PC, but I’m wondering what each of your writing spaces look like. Where and when do you do your best writing?

JP AND N:  Yes, one is Mac and one is PC, but that is just a fun detail. Our respective working tools are a sign of how we complement each other and they make us very compatible despite our differences. Jean-Pierre is very attached to his region and his house perched above the Lot River valley, while Noël love Paris a stone’s throw away from the Champs-Elysée.

View of Lot River Valley(A view of the Lot River Valley)

Champs Elysée

(Downtown Paris and the Champs Elysée)

Jean-Pierre works better in the morning, and Noël is a night owl. Our approaches are different and our lifestyles pretty much opposite each other, but we share a number of common points, which is our strength and what holds us together. In addition to our love for food and wine, we also share the same tastes for painting, literature, antiques, outdoor cafés, Moleskine notebooks for jotting down our ideas (YAY! My regular readers know how much I like Moleskine notebooks!), fires in the fireplace and old buildings.

ME:  I read an excellent review of your co-authoring process on the blog, Mystery Fanfare, but how do you manage to fold two separate first drafts (based on a mutually formed outline) into one finished manuscript? How long does it generally take?

JP AND N:  One of us is responsible for doing the fieldwork and writing the first draft, based on a pre-approved plot line. With observations from the sites and an in-depth knowledge of how things are done there, he can give a better feel for the observed reality. The final polishing is then done by the other one, although occasionally, we’ll both do it together.

The time it takes to complete a book varies a lot, but we can say it takes an average of six months between the basic idea and the final manuscript. It depends on the subjects as well as our available time, because we also write our own books in addition to the series.

ME:  Finally, how many more books do you envision for the series, and have you thought about working together on any other kind of series?

JP AND N:  We have the feeling that this writing adventure is a never-ending source of inspiration, kind of like the image of the Daughters of Danaus, whose task was never completed, except that for us it is never a punishment. There is still so much to learn, so many regions to explore, mysteries to unveil and wines to discover. As long as our health permits (helped with some reasonable wine consumption, perhaps), we will continue our explorations. Our readers, and now our television audience, are pushing us to continue, and we can’t let them down.

(Hopefully, they’ll travel to Washington State for one of their future novels.)

Next Wednesday I’m interviewing Frédérique Molay, who won France’s most prestigious crime fiction award for her novel, THE 7TH WOMAN, an international bestseller.

Frederique Molay

Originally posted 2013-01-30 14:11:28.

“Monday Mystery” – CROOKED HOUSE

Marlene Bateman has another brand new Erica Coleman Mystery out, entitled CROOKED HOUSE. And I am honored and pleased to kick off its blog tour.

ACrooked House Blog BANNER with dates

Synopsis

Someone is trying to kill Liz Johnson and it’s up to quirky private investigator, Erica Coleman, to find out who. Erica is no stranger to murder and mystery, which is why her best friend’s daughter, Megan, turns to her when unaccountable and potentially fatal “accidents” threaten her roommate’s life.

Once Erica arrives at the ramshackle old mansion known as Crooked House, matters go from disturbing to deadly as it becomes clear someone is trying to kill Liz. As Erica begins to unearth secrets, she discovers a twisted web of love, money, greed, and deception. Although the police and friends sometimes find Erica’s OCD annoying, its those very traits that help her sift through evidence and see clues that others miss. Erica must draw upon her all her investigative prowess to keep Liz safe and unmask the killer before he can accomplish his deadly objective.

With a dash of romance and surprising twists, this thrilling mystery will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very last page. As with all Erica Coleman mysteries, ten delicious recipes are included.

A Cover for A Crooked House

Excerpt

“I’m scared.”

Erica’s heart turned over when she heard the quaver in her young friend’s voice on the phone.

Then Megan asked, “Can you come?”

“Of course.” Erica’s reply was automatic. She would do anything she could to help. Although she often received emotionally-laden phone calls in her job as a private investigator, there was a difference when the call came from the teen-aged daughter of her best friend. The very fact that Megan—who was usually so calm and composed—sounded frightened out of her wits, put Erica on high alert.

“I think someone’s trying to kill my roommate, Liz,” Megan said.

“What makes you think that?” Erica asked. “Has someone threatened her?”

“No, but Liz has had a couple of serious accidents lately—at least she says they’re accidents, but either one of them could have killed her.”

Erica made an effort to reel in her skepticism. “Tell me about them.”

“First, someone tampered with her car. The brakes went out and Liz ended up driving across someone’s yard and hitting a tree. Fortunately, she was okay. The second one happened downtown. Liz was on the sidewalk waiting for the bus when someone shoved her. She fell into the road. A truck was coming and if a guy hadn’t pulled her back, Liz could have been killed.”

Still, they could have been accidents, Erica thought, at least until the third one occurred—this time at Crooked House.

A picture of Marlene Bateman

Bio

Marlene Bateman was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, and graduated from the University of Utah with a BA in English. She is married to Kelly R. Sullivan. Her hobbies include gardening, camping, reading, and enjoying her four cats and three dogs.

A Cover for Motive for MurderMarlene’s first novel was the best-selling Light on Fire Island. Her next novel was Motive for Murder—the first in a mystery series that features Erica Coleman, a quirky private eye with OCD. The next book in that line, (they do not have to be read in order) is A Death in the Family.

A Cover for A Death in the FamilyMarlene has also written a number of LDS non-fiction books under the name Marlene Bateman Sullivan. Those books include: Gaze Into Heaven; Near-death Experiences in Early Church History, which is a fascinating collection of over 50 documented near-death experiences from the lives of early latter-day Saints, Heroes of Faith, and Latter-day Saint Heroes and Heroines. Marlene also wrote three books about documented accounts in early LDS church history when a person either saw or heard an angel; Visit’s From Beyond the Veil, And There Were Angels Among Them, and By the Ministering of Angels.

All three mysteries in the series are available in such physical bookstores as Deseret Book and Seagull Book, as well as online at Amazon, Deseret Book, and Seagull Book.

For more information about the author, check out her website as well as my previous  interview with her.

Originally posted 2015-04-20 06:00:11.

“Monday Mystery” – THE MYSTERIOUS DOLL (Amelia Moore Detective Series)

Here is the latest mystery in Linda Weaver Clarke’s series. Amelia Moore, the founder of the Moore Detective Agency, specializes in missing persons. Her cases have taken her to some very interesting places and put her in some dangerous situations, but she always solves the case. With the help of her partner, Rick Bonito, the business is flourishing and now she’s got another case:

Mysterious Doll web

Synopsis

Pauline Jones is confused why her boyfriend took off without telling a soul where he was going. But that isn’t all. Sam Whitaker is accused of stealing a valuable porcelain doll from the museum. His disappearance makes him look guilty, but Pauline is convinced he is innocent. When Amelia finds Sam, she realizes they need to prove his innocence. Where is the antique doll and who has taken it?

Excerpt

As she closed the drawer, a young woman walked through the door with red-rimmed eyes. It looked as if she had been crying, and Amelia could tell she was upset.

“You’ve just got to help me,” said Pauline as she pushed her thick dark hair out of her eyes. “Sam’s innocent. He didn’t do it.” With a look of despair, she softly said, “Sam didn’t steal that porcelain doll. He’s not a thief. He’s been framed.”

As Amelia sat down, she motioned to a chair in front of her desk. “Please have a seat, Miss Jones.”

Pauline walked to the chair and sat down. She then took a calming breath and said, “A porcelain doll was stolen from the museum.”

Amelia nodded. “I read about it in the paper.”

“Well, the very day it disappeared… so did Sam. The police think he took it.” She wrung her hands and said adamantly, “But it’s not true.”

“Tell me why you think he’s innocent,” said Amelia.

“Because I know him. He wouldn’t do such a thing. Not Sam. He’s too smart for that. Besides, why would he become a thief just before asking me to marry him?”

Amelia raised a curious brow. “How do you know he was going to propose?”

Pauline leaned forward and said, “It wasn’t hard to figure out. A woman can tell those kinds of things. Lately we’ve been talking about a more serious relationship. But that isn’t all. I accidentally found an engagement ring in his glove compartment. Of course, I didn’t tell him. I didn’t want to ruin the surprise.’

When Amelia laughed, a slight smile tugged at Pauline’s lips.

After a moment, Pauline became sober as she asked, “Miss Moore, will you please find him for me?”

Lindaforweb

Bio

Linda Weaver Clarke travels throughout the United States, teaching people to write their family history and autobiography. She has traveled to seventeen states and given over 450 workshops. Clarke is the author of several historical sweet romances, a mystery/adventure series, a children’s book, and a cozy mystery series. All her books are family friendly.

(If you want to know more about Linda, check out my earlier interview with her here.)

THE MYSTERIOUS DOLL can be purchased online from Amazon or Barnes & Noble. In fact, all her e-books are available at Smashwords.

Originally posted 2015-02-02 09:37:13.

“Monday Mystery” – BLIND MAN’S BARGAIN

In the mood for a mystery with a great twist right at the end? You might want to check out Tracy Winegar’s latest, BLIND MAN’S BARGAIN.

Final BMB cover

Synopsis

When a blind old man hobbles into Nelson Rune’s private investigation office, the young PI doesn’t expect to be hired to solve a forty-five year old murder mystery.

Harry Fletcher claims he adored his wife, Caroline — so why did he go to prison for her murder?

With the help of Cleo, his pretty neighbor, young Nelson will sift through clues of Harry and Caroline’s marriage to clear Harry’s name and find the real killer.

Tracy Winegar seamlessly weaves a story of love and secrets, opportunities and regrets in a novel that surprises to the very last page.

Excerpt

Nelson reviewed everything he had pertaining to Harry Fletcher’s case and had come to the conclusion that there was nothing that he hadn’t overlooked in his own trove of records and evidence. He determined that he would have to figure out a way to actually look at the evidence from that night. He would have to try to talk his way into being allowed to see it; that’s what he would do. But how?

When he inquired into the matter, he was told that no one was allowed access to evidence, even to a case as old as the Fletcher case. It was an irritation, much worse than a burr under a saddle. To come so close to wrapping it up, to nearly having all of the loose ends neatly tied, and then be rebuffed was more than he could bear.

And then it dawned on him. As he struggled with sleep one night, the answer came to him in a soft sibilant murmur to his brain, as if someone else had given him the solution to his problem. If he wanted to see the evidence, he was going to have to steal it…

SAMSUNG DIGIMAX A503

Bio

Tracy Winegar enjoys cooking and gardening in her free time. She loves all things vintage and considers several family heirlooms to be her prized possessions. She’s also always on the lookout to score pieces to add to her growing Jadeite collection. Tracy lives with her husband and four beautiful children in Northern Utah. Although she doesn’t mind living in the desert, she still misses the green of the Midwest where she was born and raised. Her philosophies of life, love, and family are deeply anchored in those small town Indiana roots.

(If you want to know more about Tracy, check out my earlier interview with her here.)

BLIND MAN’S BARGAIN can be purchased online from Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

Originally posted 2014-09-08 09:34:38.

“Wednesday Writer” – Linda Weaver Clarke

Linda Weaver Clarke says she enjoys writing stories that have adventure and romance with good old-fashioned values. I would say that the books she has published thus far certainly fill the bill. Some emphasize the romance, others the adventure, but they’re always “clean reads.” Now to dig a little deeper. :D

Linda Weaver Clarke

ME:  Some of my ancestors helped settle southeastern Idaho. In which town were you raised, what were your favorite and least favorite chores on the farm, and how did you end up in southern Utah? (I’d love to post pictures of you as a youngster on the farm and then as a mother in southern Utah.)

LINDA:  I was raised in Whitney, near Preston. (That’s about 165 miles south of my dad’s hometown of Parker.) My favorite chores were mowing the lawn and hanging up the clothes to dry. My least favorite was weeding the garden. (Here is a pic of me in Idaho when I was little. I’m with my mom and older sister.)

Eastertime(Dressed for Easter)

I ended up in southern Utah because my husband found a job here. We were instantly interested in this area simply because of the warm winters. We were both tired of shoveling snow, especially driving in it. (Here is a pic with my six daughters, sons in law, and grandchildren at our home in St. George.)

Family2(We’re practically neighbors!)

ME:  What was the first thing you ever wrote that made you think, “Hey, I’m pretty good at this. I think maybe one day I’ll get published?” And how old were you at the time?

LINDA:  When I was a young girl, I wrote plays and added songs to them; songs that were published, of course, since I was so young. I always thought my little musicals were clever.

Then one day my daughter wrote home and said that her mission president wanted her to know more about her ancestors, so she requested me to write their stories. I did, but when I was done, I couldn’t stop writing. That was the beginning. I now have six historical romances, four mystery/adventure novels, one children’s story, two non-fiction pieces, and a new cozy mystery series.

(Prolific!)

ME:  I take it college was interrupted for you by marriage. If so, what were you majoring in at the time, and at that time did you think you’d finish your degree one day? Why or why not?

LINDA:  I started back to college in 1998, when all my children were in school. At the time, I wasn’t sure if I would be able to graduate or not because I was so worried that it might be more than I could handle. To put it simply, I was scared.

It took one of my daughters saying, “Hey, take a class with me. It’ll be fun.” So I did and it was fun. I majored in music and theatre and graduated in 2002 at Southern Utah University.

(Congratulations!!!)

ME:  I have to hand it to you. It takes an awful lot of courage to step back into a college classroom thirty years later to pick up where you left off. What was the same and what was different? Please share some of the highlights of those later college years (along with a picture or two).

LINDA:  My husband was so proud of me. (I’ll bet!) He’s giving me a “congratulations kiss” in this pic.

George and me3

What was the same? The professors.

What was different? My mind wasn’t as young as it used to be. And scantrons? I had never heard of such a thing. Not only that, but computers were a new thing to me. My children had learned how to use them in school, but I was completely baffled at how they worked. They said I couldn’t graduate without taking a computer class. I think that was my most difficult class of all. If not for my daughter, I would have been so lost.

One of the highlights I had was being in Guys and Dolls. I was the head missionary: General Cartwright. It was fun. (Too bad you didn’t include a picture of you in costume.)

ME:  What was the first book (fiction or nonfiction) that you had published, and how does it compare to your latest of that same genre?

LINDA:  MELINDA AND THE WILD WEST was my first published book. It’s a historical romance and it won an award. It was one of the semi-finalists for the Reviewers Choice Award. I was so excited because this was my first book. All my romances are clean and sweet.

MWW web

How does it compare? My husband said he could see that my writing skills improved with each book I wrote.

(That’s always a good sign.)

ME:  You’ve written (and are continuing to write) several series. What’s easier and more enjoyable for you—a stand alone novel or a series, and why? Also, which of your series is the most fun to write, and why?

LINDA:  A series isn’t harder than a stand-alone because each book has its own plot. I love writing a series because I usually fall in love with the characters, and then I can create another story for them. When I write a series and it’s the last book, I usually shed a few tears because it’s like a “farewell” to those people. Crazy, huh?

I’ve had the most fun writing my cozy mysteries. I don’t know why, either.

ME:  I know you do a lot of research for your novels. Which book was the most fun to research, and which was the most difficult, and why?

LINDA:  The most fun was learning about Bali Island in THE BALI MYSTERY and learning about Ireland in THE SHAMROCK CASE. I wanted to go there so bad after my research.

The most difficult research for me was for MAYAN INTRIGUE. It was hard work. I had to read The Trial of the Stick of Joseph and Ancient Ruins of America by Jack H. West. I took the knowledge I gleaned from that book and let my characters tell the story of the Mayan people. It turned out to be one of my favorite mystery/adventure stories.

Mayan IntriqueME:  Tell us about your latest book and what you’re working on now?

LINDA:  This is called the Amelia Moore Detective Series and it’s book number 2. Amelia Moore, the founder of the Moore Detective Agency, specializes in missing persons. Her cases have taken her to some very interesting places and put her in some dangerous situations, but she always solves the case. With the help of Rick Bonito, her new partner, her business is flourishing.

Shamrock web

In THE SHAMROCK CASE, Amelia is hired to search for her client’s grandparents. The case takes them to Ireland. Kate must learn about her heritage. Who are her grandparents and could they still be alive after all these years? Why did her parents leave Ireland suddenly and move to America? Is there more to this case than meets the eye?

What am I working on now? Book number 3 in this series. It’s called The Missing Heir. Dell Murphy has passed on and left a fortune to his nephew. He wants his nephew to continue his work at the orphanage in Mexico, but there is one problem. Neal Woods is missing! If Amelia and Rick can’t find him soon, the fortune will be turned over to Dell’s brother and sister who intend to close down “Uncle Dell’s Orphanage.” If that happens, where will the children go?

ME:  Finally, please describe your writing space, highlighting the three things about it that make it uniquely yours. (And I must have a picture of that space.)

LINDA:  I have several writing spots. I have a small desk that I can write at. If I’m not feeling good or my back is sore, then I put pillows behind me and I write in bed. If I miss the out-of-doors, I go outside and sit on my swing, put my laptop on my lap, and have fun writing. When summer arrives here in St. George, it gets in the hundred degrees, so I usually go outside early in the mornings and am back in the house by eleven o’clock. So it always varies with me, depending on my mood. Here’s a pic of what I see when I’m outside on my swing. We call it Big Red.

big-red-web(Here’s the view without the room. It looks very familiar.)

For more information about Linda and her writing, click on her website. She even has a page for purchasing her books.

As a special treat, I’ll be interviewing Linda’s daughter, Serena Clarke, next week. Unlike her mother, she delves entirely in fantasy.

Serena Clarke

Originally posted 2014-05-21 06:00:49.