Sunday, April 29, 2018

Murder, He Wrote....ROCCO interviews Jon Land!

Merow, my guest this week is the author who has taken over the "Murder She Wrote" franchise! Jon Land!

Jon Land is the USA Today bestselling author of 43 books, including eight titles in the critically acclaimed Caitlin Strong series: Strong Enough to Die, Strong Justice, Strong at the Break, Strong Vengeance, Strong Rain Falling (winner of the 2014 International Book Award and 2013 USA Best Book Award for Mystery-Suspense), Strong Darkness (winner of the 2014 USA Books Best Book Award and the 2015 International Book Award for Thriller, and Strong Light of Day which won the 2016 International Book Award for Best Thriller-Adventure, the 2015 Books and Author Award for Best Mystery Thriller, and the 2016 Beverly Hills Book Award for Best Mystery. Strong Cold Dead became the fourth title in the series in a row to win the International Book Award in 2017 and about which Booklist said, “Thrillers don’t get any better than this,” in a starred review. It was followed by Strong to the Bone, winner of the 2017 American Book Fest Best Book Award for Mystery Suspense ahead of its December ’17 publication.

 Land has also teamed with multiple New York Times bestselling author Heather Graham on a new sci-fi series, the first of which, The Rising, was published by Forge in January of 2017. Jon’s award-wining nonfiction titles include Betrayal (2011), winner of the 2011 International Book Award in True Crime and Takedown (2016) which won both 2016’s USA Best Books Award and the International Book Award in True Crime.  His latest nonfiction title, No Surrender, was published by Post Hill Press on July 4.  And Jon has recently taken over the MURDER, SHE WROTE book series based on the fabulously successful television show; his first effort writing as “Jessica Fletcher,” A Date With Murder, was published in May of 2018. He is a 1979 graduate of Brown University, lives in Providence, Rhode Island and can be reached at or on Twitter @jondland.

Hello and welcome Jon! Would you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Thanks for having me, ROCCO!  Lots of ways to answer that one, but I’m going to keep it simple. I’m somebody who is blessed to be able make a career out of doing what I love to do. That’s one of the greatest gifts a person can be given and I never stop appreciating that fact.

Tell us about your latest venture, taking over the Murder She Wrote series.  How did that come about? 
It’s the classic case of one man’s misfortune becoming another man’s gain. The great Don Bain had written the first 46 books in the Murder, She Wrote series. But he had fallen ill and was no longer able to continue, then subsequently passed away. Since we share the same agent in Bob Diforio, Bob thought I would be a great choice to replace Don. He called me just after Don fell ill, and it took me all of five seconds to say, yes, I’d most definitely be interested. Opportunities like this just don’t come up very often.

Tell us a little about the newest book, A Date With Murder. What sort of trouble does Jessica get into this time?
She comes to realize that an online dating service is somehow implicated in at least two, and maybe more, murders and sets out to find the people behind the curtain. Along the way, she sets herself up as bait, wanting the villains to target her so she can catch them. How’s that for getting into trouble? Ha-ha!

What was it like working with Donald Bain?
Unfortunately, Don had already gotten ill by the time I stepped in, so I wasn’t able to engage him much about the story. I had some pages that he had written with his grandson Zach, who became a crucial collaborator for me, and that was enough for me to run with and to help me find Jessica’s voice.

Tell us about some of your other series.
The other one I think would be of most interest to MURDER, SHE WROTE fans is my Caitlin Strong series. Picture a younger Jessica Fletcher packing a pistol and wearing a Texas Ranger badge—a modern day gunfighter, in other words. There are 9 books in the STRONG series now and I think they’ve continued to improve. While they’re thrillers more than mysteries, what I’d love to see is fans of what I’ve done with MURDER, SHE WROTE gravitate to my Caitlin Strong books as well. From my own experience as a reader, if I like a writer I tend to enjoy all their series, no matter how disparate they might be.

What do you do when you are not writing?
I’m a gym rat, I watch a lot of television, movies, and, of course, I read. And since writing is such a solitary avocation, I’m fortunate enough to be involved with a lot of volunteer efforts at my alma mater, Brown University, that get me out of the house and around people, whether it be through my association with Brown football, the Greek System, my own fraternity, or the library on which I serve on the board. I’m just as passionate about those efforts as I am about my writing, in a different way, of course!

Is there an author or book that influenced you or your writing in any way growing up or as an adult?
That’s a great question and, more than anything, it was falling in love with reading in general, and thrillers in particular, that made me want to become a writer. This happened late, while I was an undergraduate at Brown. That’s where I devoured the work of Robert Ludlum, Stephen King, Clive Cussler and David Morrell. For me, being a writer meant I could give to others the joy of reading a great story those authors had given to me. I learned to write by writing. I learned what a story is and how best to tell one by reading those writers.

Are you reading anything interesting at the moment? If so, what is it?
I’ve been saving Lee Child’s latest, THE MIDNIGHT MILE, and now I’m absolutely loving it as I’ve loved all the Jack Reacher books. I look at my Caitlin Strong character as kind of a female Jack Reacher, so you might say other writers I enjoy continue to influence me to this day. And that’s the thing about being a writer: you never stop learning how to do what you do better.

Do you think you may ever go into another genre?  If so, which one?
That’s a great question and, in point of fact, I already have, given that I also write nonfiction which is something else entirely. I’ve also written a science fiction series, just one so far called THE RISING, with the great Heather Graham. So the best way to respond to that question, I think, is to say that no matter what you’re writing or the genre you’re writing in, the thing you must always ask yourself is what’s going to keep the reader turning the pages? What’s going to make them care about the characters and root for them? It doesn’t matter what you write, so long as you can answer those questions. And the way I do it is pretty much the same no matter what I’m writing.

What is the hardest part of writing in your opinion?
No doubt about it: making a living! But, seriously, sometimes the fact that is a business forces you to work with people you might not agree with on a for-hire basis, in which their opinion supersedes mine. I can’t tell you how much I hate that but it comes with the job, with needing to put food on the table and pay the mortgage. When I start to ponder such things, I always come back to the great line in the GODFATHER II, Hyman Roth to Michael Coreleone: “Michael, this is the business we have chosen.”

Where do you see yourself at in five years—writing wise?
No doubt about it: making a better living! But, seriously again, I’m writing around four books a year now. That’s a tough pace to keep and I’d hope, a few years down the road, I can back off at least a bit. Write more on my terms than the terms dictated by the realities of life. The industry has changed so much and it’s becoming harder and harder to sell enough copies of one book to survive. So I’d love to be able to do that five years ago, but I don’t know if I can say I see myself realistically getting there at this point.

What is the easiest part of writing in your opinion?
The process itself. I’m never happier than when I’m knocking out pages and watching the word count of a book climb. Those magical moments when things fall into place. I don’t outline; I write by the seat of my pants and let my instincts and characters take me to where I need to go. And when I get there in any given scene or moment, it’s like winning the mental lottery. There’s no greater feeling and when I’m writing I get to experience it every day.

Is there a genre that you love to read, and would like to write, but just cannot?
Sure, erotica.  Ha-ha, no, just kidding! You gotta write what you know, right? So this clearly isn’t for me!!! But this is really a great question so this answer may seem like a copout.  I’m a professional. I can write anything if I know the characters and can find their respective voices, just as I found Jessica Fletcher’s in A DATE WITH MURDER. It’s all about opportunity. So if the question is, Can I do it? The answer is always, yes, regardless of what “it” is.

Do you have any upcoming appearances that you would like to share with us?
I have a couple of local events coming out, that’s all.

If you were in the witness protection program, what would you choose as a career?
Now that makes me think. A teacher maybe? The truth is, like Stephen King once said about writing, “You scratch where it itches.” So no matter whatever else I tried to do, I think the itch would come back and I’d have to scratch it.

Do you have an “How I got my agent” story you want to share?
I mentioned the fact earlier that I share the same agent as Don Bain in Bob Diforio. We met at the ThrillerFest Conference in New York way back in 2007 and just hit it off. We just always seemed to be in the same place to the point where I’d see him and yell out, “Bob!” which he’d answer with “Jon!” He represented several writers I knew and respected. We remained friends and then maybe three or four years later, I had a nonfiction book I thought would be perfect for him to represent. I’d only had one agent prior to that, Toni Mendez, and she remained my agent until the day she died at 93. So Bob and I came out of the gate together flying and haven’t slowed down since. Bob is a hands-on, no-stone-unturned agent in the sense that in addition to opportunities like MURDER, SHE WROTE, he’s also placed the digital and audio rights to my voluminous back list and has continued to pound the pavement to find me more work. Surviving as a writer today means either working really hard, being a really big name, or both. Sometimes this is a business akin to Alice in Wonderland where you have to run faster and faster just to stay in the same place. Thanks to Bob Diforio I’ve actually been able to get ahead a bit. He’s old school, having come up through Sales and ran the NAL imprint for years, so he gets the business and has proven himself incredibly adept at negotiating all the sea changes and seismic shifts that have so altered the publishing landscape.

What are you working on now and what are your future writing plans?
Well, I’ve turned in my second MURDER, SHE WROTE title, MANUSCRIPT FOR MURDER, which I love and will be published in November. My next Caitlin Strong book, STRONG AS STEEL, is in the final stages as well en route to its April 2019 publication. And I’ve got a few nonfiction books at varying stages. The amazing thing about this business, though, is that if you asked me the same question tomorrow or the next day, you might get an entirely different answer.

Where can we learn more about you and your books?, if I did a better job of keeping my Website updated.  If you want to find out more about me and my books, read them. Give them a shot. People should read me for what I write, not really who I am.

Random Quickies!
1.     Pepsi or Coke? PEPSI
2.     Cats or dogs? DOGS (We wont hold that against you Jon! Merow!)
3.     Favorite movie? JAWS
4.     Favorite book to movie? THE GODFATHER
5.     Hardback/Paperback or eReader? HARDCOVER OR PAPERBACK
6.     Favorite color? BLUE

7.     If you could live anywhere in the world it would be: WHERE I LIVE RIGHT NOW!

Thank you for a wonderful interview, Jon!  Murder She Wrote fans will be anxiously awaiting your debut novel!  (PS: It's fabulous! Dont miss my review of A Date With Murder in next week's blog!)


Jon will give away a signed copy of A DATE WITH MURDER to one lucky commenter!

To enter, leave a comment on this blog post with your name and email address (entries without email will be disqualified). For extra entries, you can do any or all of the below:

* Follow my blog (+ 1 point)
* Follow me on Twitter (+ 1 point) (Link:
* Tweet about the contest (+ 1 point)
* Friend me on Facebook (+ 1 point) (Link:!/
* Mention the contest on Facebook (+ 1 point)
* Mention the contest on your blog (+ 1 point)

Winner will be chosen at random using  Don’t forget to mention all you’ve done in your comment. US entries only, please!  Contest closes midnight, May 5!  Good luck!!!

Sunday, April 22, 2018

ROCCO welcomes thriller author Matthew Iden!

Meow! Today my guest is suspense author Matthew Iden!

Matthew Iden is the author of the suspense novel THE WINTER OVER, a half dozen books in the Marty Singer detective series, and several acclaimed stand-alone novels. His latest, BIRTHDAY GIRL, is a suspense novel featuring Elliott Nash, a former forensic psychologist who  is now homeless but is recruited to save a young girl from a serial kidnapper (March 2018). He has visited seven continents—and written on several of them—but lives in Alexandria, Virginia. Visit him at, on Facebook at, or on Twitter @CrimeRighter.

·       Hi Matthew! Would you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Hello, ROCCO. My name is Matthew Iden. I’m probably best known for my Marty Singer detective series, six books (so far) featuring a retired DC homicide cop who is battling a series of personal health issues while simultaneously fighting crime. But I’ve also written several standalone novels including a thriller set at the South Pole (THE WINTER OVER), a cross-country caper about motorcycle theft (STEALING SWEETWATER), and was commissioned to write a Kindle Worlds novel set in Barry Eisler’s John Rain world (THE B-TEAM). My latest work is a psychological thriller (BIRTHDAY GIRL) set in and around Washington DC that just came out in March.

I wanted to write from an early age, but it took a while. My original education (BA and MA) was in English literature, but I stumbled into a technology career in the mid-90s. After a decade or so of working in cube farms, I told my wife I either needed to start robbing banks or start writing about robbing banks. She kindly suggested I take three months off to try my hand at a novel. That was nine years ago and I haven’t had to rob a bank since.

·       Do you have anything you would like to say to your readers?

There’s something indescribable about getting that first email or tweet or Facebook post from a complete stranger telling you, “I loved your book.” Some of my readers have been with me since the very first Marty Singer book and it’s hard to convey just how special it is to know I’m connecting with thousands of people.

And it’s the connection that counts. A book with no readers is a diary. My readers make my current life and dreams possible. “Thank you” doesn’t begin cover it.
·       Tell us about your newest release! 
BIRTHDAY GIRL is the story of Elliott Nash, a once-brilliant forensic psychologist who is homeless and living on the streets after a horrible family trauma. Amy Scowcroft, a single mom battling her own inner demons, turns to Elliott for help finding her kidnapped daughter after the police have given it up as a cold case. Working together, they discover that they have only short time before the worst will happen.

  • ·       What was the inspiration behind this story?

Both the homeless and the mentally ill inhabit our physical world, but experience a very different version of it than most of us. I wanted to explore how and why someone like Elliott would voluntarily leave a comfortable existence and how or why someone like Sister, the book’s antagonist, might do so involuntarily…and how both come to terms with that world being disrupted. When you read or hear the personal histories of those in either situation, you realize most have led, and continue to lead, complicated lives that are worth learning about. BIRTHDAY GIRL was an attempt to crack that nut, with a hopefully compelling mystery at its core.

  • ·       Tell us about your main character.

Although BIRTHDAY GIRL is an “Elliott Nash Thriller,” in some ways there are actually two main characters, Elliott and Amy Scowcroft, the single mom looking for her kidnapped daughter.

I love Amy because I saw her as a foil to Elliott who is, at times, humorless, logical, academic, and skeptical. Amy, on the other hand, is a neo-hippie, guided by “feelings,” intuition, star charts, and numerology. She manages to show Elliott that having a soft side is as valuable and useful as having a clinical detachment to life.

  • ·       Tell us something funny about one of your characters.

The name Elliott Nash came a bit out of the blue, but I realized the second I settled on his name that he a) had late-blooming hippie parents and b) like any self-respecting hippies, they would name their only child after a favorite band, so at one point in the novel, Elliott admits to Amy that his full name is actually “Elliott Crosby Stills Nash.”

She replies, “Thank God they didn’t like Neil Young.”

  • ·       Your character is at a bookstore. Which section is he/she shopping in? What book is in his/her hand right now?

Elliott is in the psychology section with a frown on his face, leafing through Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking Fast and Slow.

Amy got stopped ten feet inside the door at the point-of-purchase display and has flipped to the end of The Celestine Prophecy.


·       What do you do when you are not writing?

I love to travel and I’ve been fortunate enough to indulge the passion—my wife and I have been to all seven continents (Antarctica was #4) and I was lucky enough to circumnavigate the globe by boat with the wonderful Semester at Sea program as the tour’s IT manager.

Favorite international destinations/experiences include: fixing Arch-bishop Desmond Tutu’s email on the way to Capetown, South Africa; exploring Kyoto, Japan on foot; and a nighttime gondola ride through Venice…when the only illumination was the moon and the occasional lamp from a canal-side villa.

·       Where can we purchase this book?

BIRTHDAY GIRL is available through Amazon in Kindle, paperback, and audio versions (the last narrated by the very talented James Anderson Foster) at

·       Are you reading anything interesting at the moment? If so, what is it?

I just finished David F. Dodge’s classic To Catch A Thief and loved it for a number of reasons. For one thing, aside from a bit of generational if cringeworthy chauvinism (although there are two very strong women in it), it holds up very well almost seventy years after its 1952 release. The book is tightly plotted, the dialogue is crisp and fun, the coincidences are kept to a minimum, and there’s a surprising amount of deeper thoughts about the recently-ended war, the nature of friendship, and fate.

I also loved it because Dodge was a seasoned and observant traveler—he describes with delight a Cote d’Azur that my father saw as a young Navy seaman in the 60’s and that I visited in the 2000’s, once with my wife and again with my father.

·       Do you think you may ever go into another genre?  If so, which one?

My first love is actually fantasy, but my early attempts were pretty much failures. Constructing a world from scratch (while not burying your reader in its details) is insanely difficult. But I’ve got a notebook full of ideas that I may tackle one of these days.

·       Would you ever write a screenplay?

I’d love to. I’m  fascinated by how sparse the writing is, yet how much can be conveyed (a good example: Taylor Sheridan’s screenplay of Wind River).

·       How do you “get to know” your characters before and while you’re writing the books?

I write long letters from the characters themselves, written in the first person and framed as though speaking to an off-camera interviewer. Loads of stuff comes out in this way, things you simply wouldn’t think of while trying to invent a well-rounded character in a vacuum. It’s also a lot of fun.

·       Where can we learn more about you and your books?

My Amazon author page ( has all of my writing. My website (of course): I also announce things through a newsletter and I’m active on Facebook at I have a Twitter account, but don’t know how to use it.

o   Random Quickies!

·       Pepsi or Coke? Cappuccino
·       Favorite kind of chocolate? Dark
·       Cats or dogs? Dogs
·       Do you read more than you write? Yes
·       Favorite movie? The Third Man
·       Favorite book to movie? The Quiet American (for Michael Caine only)
·       Favorite book or author? Yeah we know it can be hard to choose! ;)
Elmore Leonard
·       Hardback/Paperback or eReader? eReader
·       Favorite color? Blue
·       How many paperback/hardcover books do you own? <Gulp> 2,000?
·       Do you own a laptop or desktop computer? Both
·       What book are you reading today? Whiz Mob: A Correlation of the Technical Argot of Pickpockets with Their Behavior Pattern. It’s for research, I swear.
·       If you could live anywhere in the world it would be: the south of France: Eze, Antibes, Nice, Villefranche, Provence…anywhere in the region. I’m not picky.

 Thanks for a great interview, Matthew!

Now, kiddies....It’s Giveaway time!!!!!!

Matthew will give one lucky commenter their choice of BIRTHDAY GIRL in either audio (physical or download), signed paperback or Kindle!

To enter, leave a comment on this blog post with your name and email address (entries without email will be disqualified). For extra entries, you can do any or all of the below:

* Follow my blog (+ 1 point)
* Follow me on Twitter (+ 1 point) (Link:
* Tweet about the contest (+ 1 point)
* Friend me on Facebook (+ 1 point) (Link:!/
* Mention the contest on Facebook (+ 1 point)
* Mention the contest on your blog (+ 1 point)

Winner will be chosen at random using  Don’t forget to mention all you’ve done in your comment. Good luck! Contest ends midnight, April 28!

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Mysteries and Menus- Linda Wiken


My guest blogger this week is author Linda Wiken!

Linda Wiken writes the Dinner Club Mysteries as herself, is writing the new Castle Bookstore Mysteries as Essie Lang, and has written the Ashton Corners Book Club Mysteries as Erika Chase.  She was nominated for an Agatha Award for Best First Novel and has also been short-listed for an Arthur Ellis Award from Crime Writers of Canada for Best Short Story. She is a former mystery bookstore owner and still loves reading all the mysteries she can get her hands on.  She also loves singing in a choir, which is not always so pleasant for her Siamese cat, Keesha, who must endure hours of practice.

Thanks ROCCO!

Do you have to be a foodie to enjoy reading the Dinner Club Mysteries? No, but it does help. I mean, if you’re a fan of the cozy mystery, that’s really enough. Because, try as she may, event planner J.J. Tanner feels compelled to do some sleuthing in each of the three books.

The food is integral to her pals and cohorts, the Culinary Capers Dinner Club, but not to solving the mystery. I mean, poison is never the weapon, I’ll declare that up front. That’s because the Culinary Capers, for their monthly dinners together, use a real cookbook found on the bookshelves of your local bookstore. So, not wanting to be sued, poison is never an added ingredient.

In the first two books, events that J.J. had planned included a murder that wasn’t on the agenda. So, what’s a conscientious planner to do but try to solve the crime. Add the fact that one of the dinner club members just happens to be a suspect – sometimes more than one, and even J.J. herself – then it’s her duty to get involved.
It helps that she’s aided by sexy P.I. Ty Devine, although he’s usually doing it to keep her out of his investigation. Or out of danger. And those Culinary Capers are proving to be as good at following clues as at following recipe directions.

In the newest book, Marinating in Murder, which just came out last month, one of their own, police officer Alison Malkovich is the prime suspect after the body of her estranged husband is found in the back of her SUV. All hands aboard for this one.
If you are a foodie, you’ll enjoy being part of their many meals and, hopefully you’ll try the recipes included at the end of each book. In Roux the Day, the second one, they used the Mystery Writers of America Cookbook and with the authors’ permission, I included some of their recipes. It was a lot of fun to do and the Culinary Capers enjoyed talking about their books, too.

Food and mystery? They do go together and present a deliciously satisfying menu.

Thanks Linda!

If you like food, you will definitely enjoy the Dinner Club Mysteries!
Titles in Order:
Toasting Up Trouble
Roux the Day
Marinating In Murder

Hope y’all caught my review of Marinating in Murder on last weeks’ blog post!


Linda will give away a copy of Marinating In Murder to one lucky commenter!
To enter, leave a comment on this blog post with your name and email address (entries without email will be disqualified). For extra entries, you can do any or all of the below:

* Follow my blog (+ 1 point)
* Follow me on Twitter (+ 1 point) (Link:
* Tweet about the contest (+ 1 point)
* Friend me on Facebook (+ 1 point) (Link:!/
* Mention the contest on Facebook (+ 1 point)
* Mention the contest on your blog (+ 1 point)

Winner will be chosen at random using  Don’t forget to mention all you’ve done in your comment. Contest ends midnight, April 22! Good luck!

Saturday, April 7, 2018


Meow!  Here are my cozy reviews for April.

We'll start with my top pick:

Coffeehouse Mystery Series
Cleo Coyle
Berkley Prime Crime
Five Paws
ON SALE:  4/17/18

As Village Blend manager Clare Cosi attempts to finalize a date for her wedding, her ex-husband becomes addicted to making dates through smartphone swipes. Clare has mixed feelings about these quickie matchups happening in her coffeehouse. Even her octogenarian employer is selecting suitors by screenshot! But business is booming, and Clare works hard to keep the espresso shots flowing. Then one dark night, another kind of shot leaves a dead body for her to find. 

The corpse is a successful entrepreneur who became notorious for his "hit it and quit it" behavior: prowling for women on dating apps, then devastating his conquests with morning-after insults. Though the NYPD quickly arrests one of his recent victims, Clare finds reason to believe she's been framed. 

Now, with the help of her ex and crew of quirky baristas, Clare starts "swiping" through suspects in her own shop, determined to find the real killer before another shot rings out. 

ROCCO sez:  The 17th instalment of this popular series does not disappoint!  jam packed with action and well crafted.  Fans of the series will love it, and new converts can easily catch up on background. A sure fire hit!  Five Paws!

Jenn McKinlay
Cupcake Bakery Mysteries
On Sale:  4/3/18
Four and one half paws!

With Angie and Tate's wedding just around the corner, it's a happy time for Melanie Cooper and the bakery crew. Not only are they finessing the last minute details of the big day, but their bakery, Fairy Tale Cupcakes, has just been hired to bake cupcakes for the blockbuster book signing of a controversial author who wrote a steamy bestseller filled with juicy local gossip.

But one by one, the people Angie has hired to work at the wedding begin turning up dead. As the body count rises, the bestselling author is the next to bite the dust. Mel quickly realizes she needs to figure out how the murders are connected and why--before the killer brings the entire cupcake crew crumbling down. After all, Angie and Tate deserve their sweet happily ever after.

Book 10 in this engaging series does not disappoint!  Mystery is well crafted and it's a treat to be back with Melanie and her bakery crew!  One by one the hired workers crumble in a story reminiscent of Ten Little Indians.  Do Angle and Tate get their sweet ending? Read the book to find out!  four and a half paws.

Rebecca Adler
"Taste of Texas" Mysteries
On sale:  4/3/18
Four Paws

It's fiesta time in Broken Boot, Texas, and tourists are pouring into town faster than free beer at a bull roping for the mouthwatering Cinco de Mayo festivities. Tex-Mex waitress Josie Callahan, her feisty abuela, and even her spunky Chihuahua Lenny are polishing their folklórico dances for Saturday's big parade, while Uncle Eddie is adding his own spicy event to the fiesta menu: Broken Boot's First Annual Charity Chili Cook-off.

But Uncle Eddie's hopes of impressing the town council go up in smoke when cantankerous chili cook Lucky Straw is found dead in his tent. And when Josie's beloved uncle is accused of fatal negligence, she, Lenny, and the steadfast Detective Lightfoot must uncover who ended the ambitious chilihead's life--before another cook kicks the bucket.

Book 3 in the Taste of Texas series.  We're back in Broken Boot Texas where Josie Callahan is getting ready for the First Annual Charity Chili Cook-Off.   When an ornery cook is found dead and Josie's uncle is accused of negligence, she and her spunky Chichihua Lenny must discover the culprit before another cook bites the chili dust!  A solid entry in this series.  I enjoyed it very much and I'm not a big chili fan LOL. Four paws!  

Susan Wittig Albert
China Bayles Mysteries
ON SALE:  4/3/18
Four Stars

A present day ghost leads China Bayles to a secret from Pecan Springs's past in this haunting mystery from New York Times bestselling author Susan Wittig Albert.

While helping Ruby Wilcox clean up the loft above their shops, China comes upon a box of antique handcrafted lace and old photographs. Following the discovery, she hears a woman humming an old Scottish ballad and smells the delicate scent of lavender.... 

Soon, strange happenings start to occur in Thyme and Seasons: misplaced items, a ringing bell, and the appearance of lavender sprigs in odd places. When a customer mentions seeing a mysterious woman picking flowers nearby and then suddenly disappearing, China must finally admit what Ruby has always known--their building is haunted. But by whom?

As China investigates, the tragic story of a woman in one of the old photographs unfolds. Annie Laurie was a young widow who'd lost both her husband and her child in the same day. She manages to survive through her lace-making business and finds happiness again only to have a suspicious death overshadow her new life.

China delves into Annie's century-old mystery and realizes that solving it could have unimaginable repercussions in the here and now.

I discovered this series a few volumes ago and am in the process of catching up on background. I particularly liked this volume because I'm a sucker for anything with a supernatural tie-in.  Like all of Albert's stories, the mystery is well plotted and satisfying. China is rapidly becoming one of my favorite sleuths.  Four Paws! 

Gaslight Mystery Series
Victoria Thompson
Four Stars
On Sale: April 3, 2018

The latest Gaslight Mystery from the bestselling author of Murder in Morningside Heights finds Sarah Brandt and Frank Malloy searching for a connection between a murdered newsie and a high society woman with dangerous habits.Frank Malloy’s latest client is the well-dressed Will Bert. He’s searching for his brother, a newsboy named Freddie, so he can share his new financial good fortune. Frank makes quick work of the case and locates Freddie, but a happy reunion between brothers is not in the cards. 

When Will’s name is mentioned, Freddie runs off—only to be found dead a short time later. Suspicious, Frank tracks down Will who spins a tale of lust and deceit involving a young society woman, Estelle Longacre, also recently deceased.  Frank can’t be sure if Estelle’s risky behavior and the company she kept was to blame, or if her own ruthless family had a hand in her death.

Frank will need Sarah’s help to unearth the dark secrets of the wealthy Longacres and to discover if there is a connection between Estelle and Freddie’s death. Together they must navigate a perilous underground web of treachery to find the truth.

A solid entry in a long running series.  Well plotted and characters come right off the page.  Recommended!  Four stars! 

Juliet Blackwell
(Witchcraft Mysteries)
Four and a half Stars
On sale:  4/3/18

Witch and vintage store owner Lily Ivory faces her most difficult mystery to date with a case of mistaken identity that hits close to home...

Lily Ivory and her friends are planning a 1950s-themed brunch to benefit the local women's shelter. When a figure from her past shows up unannounced, threatening her unless she returns something that belonged to him, Lily's fianc√©, Sailor, steps in to defend her. After the same man is found dead later that day, Sailor is the primary suspect. He swears he's innocent, but multiple witnesses ID him as the perpetrator of the assault. Lily vows to clear his name...only she's not sure where to start with the mounting evidence against him. 

When she sees Sailor in the neighborhood despite knowing he's in jail, Lily starts to wonder if there could be a doppelganger in San Francisco. When she's not busy helping customers find matching outfits for the upcoming event, searching for a vintage wedding dress for her own nuptials, and dealing with an ill-timed magical cold, Lily begins to suspect one of her magical foes is targeting her loved ones in an attempt to weaken her.

This is Book Nine in this series.  Once again, I'm a sucker for anything that combines mystery and supernatural. Throw in vintage clothing (any clothing, really) and I'm hooked!  Lily Ivory brings her own special blend of sassy as she fights to clear her fiance Sailor of suspicion of murder.  Plenty of witchcraft, dopplegangers and suspense to satisfy everyone!  And come on, who doesn't love a magical pig??????
Love all the books in this series.  Just keeps getting better and better.  Would love to see a Hallmark movie of this series, Juliet Blackwell!!!!!  four and a half stars!


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