Three Dog Day, by Lia Farrell: a Body Washes Up Near a Puppy Mill

3dogThree Dog Day ($14.95, 286 pages, ISBN: 978-1-60381-971-8), is the third cozy mystery by Lia Farrell in a series featuring Mae December, the successful owner of a dog boarding business in Rosedale, Tennessee. After Mae discovers a dead “John Doe” on a riverbank near an abandoned puppy mill, the subsequent search for answers is far trickier than anyone anticipated.

** Click the cover image to purchase online **

** Or buy it in Kindle, Nook, or other eBook formats on Smashwords **

The first two books in the Mae December Mystery series are One Dog Too Many and Two Dogs Lie Sleeping. The series will continue with a new title in 2015.

It’s bitter cold in Rosedale, Tennessee, the most frigid January in decades. The kind of chill they used to describe as requiring sleeping with three dogs just to make it through the night. Mae December has found yet another body, this one on the banks of the Little Harpeth River. It’s another murder for her boyfriend, Sheriff Ben Bradley, to investigate. Only Mae’s broken her wrist, which makes helping out with the case difficult. That’s okay, because the murdered man was found near a puppy mill, and all evidence points to the owner as the killer. Surely the case will be a slam dunk.

Mae’s injury also hampers her ability to run her dog boarding business and care for the three pit bull puppies she’s fostering, so she hires Ray Fenton, the kid who blew the whistle on the now-shuttered puppy mill. Meanwhile, Sheriff Bradley’s office manager, Dory Clarkson, struggles to pass the physical tests that will allow her to fulfill her dream of becoming a deputy, Mae and her friend Tammy are busy planning Tammy’s Valentine’s Day wedding to the brother of Mae’s deceased fiancé, and Detective Wayne Nichols must revisit his painful past as he fights to free his foster mother from prison.

Rosedale is the last place you’d expect to harbor a killer. Now the sheriff’s department must solve its third murder in a year.

Lia Farrell is actually two people. Mother and daughter writing team Lyn Farquhar and Lisa Fitzsimmons live in Michigan and Tennessee respectively. Both are life-long readers who are also dog lovers. Lyn owns two Welsh corgis and Lisa has one pug and a Siberian husky. Lisa works as a Muralist and Interior Designer and her mother, Lyn, is a Professor of Medical Education. Click here to find them online.

Says Lyn, “We were inspired to write Three Dog Day to honor the frustrating, often thankless, work of the police in identifying the unidentified—John and Jane Does who call out for justice from beyond the realm of the living. That so many are ultimately identified and their killers brought to justice is a testament to the ‘thin blue line’ of police officers who stand between ordinary citizens and the worst of criminals.”

Keep reading for an excerpt:

She found the nature preserve parking area with no problem. The gravel lot was deserted. Good thing I’ve got a big dog with me. Lulu wouldn’t harm anyone, but she had a look of deceptive ferocity, due to her large size and wild markings. She clipped the heavy duty leash onto Lulu’s collar and found the marker for the blue trail, which Kim had said was her favorite. The big dog surged ahead, sniffing and pausing to pee every few yards. They stayed on the path, following the blue arrows every time there was a fork in the trail, and ended up down near the bank of the Little Harpeth River. The sun was beginning to warm the air, and Mae took off her gloves and paused to put them in her pocket with the cellphone. Lulu tugged hard on the leash suddenly and seemed to be headed right to the edge of the dark, fast-moving water.

Mae pulled back on the leash, shouting “Lulu, no!” but she was no match for the strength and determination of the eighty pound dog. Mae stumbled and grabbed a tree to steady herself. The leash slipped out of her grip and Lulu jumped down onto a rock ledge, sniffing at something at the very edge of the water. The hound sat down, threw her head back and howled. Mae got a clear view of what Lulu had been sniffing, let out a scream and jumped down to grab Lulu’s leash.

A man lay face down, with one arm trailing in the water. His flannel shirt and brown corduroy pants were wet and covered with debris from the river. His face was turned away, but the skin on his neck and the hand on the side nearest her was a horrible shade of pale blue and dotted with mud. Mae pulled Lulu back and knotted the leash over a branch, then went back to kneel on the rocky ledge by the water. She tentatively touched the man’s hand. It was cold and stiff, like a partially defrosted steak. Mae gagged, tasting coffee and the protein bar she’d had earlier.

Standing back up, she swallowed convulsively and shook her head. Mae took several deep breaths. There was nothing she could do for this poor man. No ambulance could save him. I don’t need to call 911, I need Ben. She went over to Lulu, who had stopped howling and was emitting a low, steady moan.

Season’s Regency Greetings: Two Christmas Novellas by Carla Kelly

seasons_greetingsSeason’s Regency Greetings ($11.95, 154 pp., ISBN: 978-1-60381-254-2), presents two Christmas-themed novellas by Carla Kelly set in England in the early 19th century. In “Let Nothing You Dismay,” Cecilia Ambrose accompanies a young student to her grand estate, where she meets a bachelor dedicated to helping the poor. Can Cecilia help him? In “No Room at the Inn,” the former “Lady” Mary finds herself an uninvited guest in the home of a common businessman and soon learns that happiness does not require a title. First published in 2003 and 2002, respectively.

** Click the Cover Image to Order Online **

** Or Buy it in Kindle, Nook, or Other eBook Formats on Smashwords **

Carla Kelly is the recipient of two RITA Awards from Romance Writers of America for Best Regency of the Year; two Spur Awards from Western Writers of America; two Whitney Awards, 2011 and 2012; and a Lifetime Achievement Award from Romantic Times. Kelly’s Mrs. Drew Plays Her Hand reprint was selected by Publishers Weekly as one of the top 5 romances in 2012.

Other Camel Press reprints of Carla Kelly regencies include Miss Whittier Makes a List, Miss Chartley’s Guided Tour, Miss Billings Treads the Boards, Miss Milton Speaks Her Mind, Mrs. McVinnie’s London Season, and With This Ring. Camel has also published Books 1 and 2 of Carla’s all-new Spanish Brand series, The Double Cross and Marco and the Devil’s Bargain. These stories feature life, love, and danger on America’s southwest border in the 1780s. Book 3 will appear in the fall of 2015.

Carla Kelly is particularly celebrated for her regency romances. The Romance Reader has called her “the Grandmistress of the [Regency] genre.” According to Romantic Times, “Carla Kelly’s Regency Romances are always superb and a timeless delight.” Library Journal wrote, “one of the most respected Regency writers.”

“Let Nothing You Dismay”: In 1810 England, Cecilia Ambrose is an oddity at the Bath academy for young ladies where she teaches. Although gently raised, she is half-Egyptian, and at age twenty-eight believes she will never marry. With Christmas only days away, Cecilia has agreed to escort twelve-year-old Lucinda back to Chase Hall in York. The girl’s parents have been delayed, and in their place is Lucinda’s uncle, Lord Trevor Chase, who has been charged to chaperone Lucinda and her siblings. The bachelor black sheep of the family, Trevor scandalized his own class by becoming a barrister in London and championing the poor. Cecilia’s plan to return to Bath is thwarted when fire breaks out in the mansion, and she reluctantly agrees to stay a while longer. Will her delay prove to be Trevor Chase’s salvation? First published in 2003.

“No Room at the Inn”: With Christmas, 1815, around the corner, Lady Mary is told that she is not the daughter of an earl, but simply Mary McIntyre, the base-born orphan Lord and Lady Davy reared as their own. After her true parentage is revealed, Mary must leave Coventry for Yorkshire and the farm of her new-found grandmother. Her travel companions are the snobbish son of Lord Davy’s estate steward, Thomas Shepard, and his family. Heavy snowfall soon blocks the roads, and there is no room at the inn, so the little group is forced to seek shelter in the home of Joseph Shepard, Thomas’ estranged brother, a handsome man Mary remembers fondly from childhood. In this “vulgar” mansion belonging to a common businessman, Mary will discover that happiness has little to do with titles or income, and that Christmas works its own magic. First published in 2002.

Says Kelly, “As a novelist, I understand the value of writing an occasional novella. Those 15,000 to 25,000-word short stories remind us how to make every word count. Novellas are an education. Coupled with a Christmas theme, I’m in heaven.”

A well-known veteran of the romance writing field, Carla Kelly is the author of thirty-one novels and four non-fiction works, as well as numerous short stories and articles for various publications. Carla’s interest in historical fiction is a byproduct of her lifelong study of history. She has a BA in Latin American History from Brigham Young University and an MA in Indian Wars History from University of Louisiana-Monroe. Click here to find Carla online.

Keep reading for an excerpt from “No Room at the Inn”:

She started up the walk after the others, when Joe came toward her. He had deposited the children inside, and he hurried down the steps to assist her. She did not think she had seen him in at least eight years, when she was fifteen or so, but she would have recognized him anywhere. He bore a great resemblance to his brother; both were taller than average, but not towering, with dark hair and light eyes. There was one thing about him that she remembered quite well. She peered closer, hoping she was not being too obvious, to see if that great quality remained. To her delight, it did, and she smiled at him and spoke without thinking. “I was hoping you had not lost that trick of smiling with your eyes,” she said, and held out her hand.

“It’s no trick, Lady Mary,” he replied, and he shook her hand. “It just happens miraculously, especially when I see a lovely lady. Welcome to my house.”

He ushered her in and took her cloak. She looked around in appreciation, and not a little curiosity. He must have noticed the look, because he glanced at Thomas and his family toward the other end of the spacious hallway. “Did Thomas tell you I was living in a vulgar barn I bought for ten pence to the pound from a bankrupt mill owner?”

She nodded, shy then.

“All true,” he told her. “I wonder why it is he seems faintly disappointed that the scandalous statues and the red wallpaper are gone?” He touched her arm. “Perhaps he will be less disappointed if I tell him that the restoration is only half complete, and he will be quite inconvenienced in the unfinished bedchambers. Do you think he will prefer the jade green wallpaper, or the room where Joshua and I have already stripped the paper?”

She laughed, in spite of herself. “Joshua?” she asked.

“My son. I believe he is belowstairs helping our scullery maid, Abby, cook the sausages.” Joe looked at his brother. “Thomas, I trust you have not eaten yet?”

“And where would that have happened?” Thomas asked in irritation. “Even the most miserable inn from Leeds on is full of travelers! Surely you have something less plebian than sausages, brother,” Tom continued.

“We were going to cook eggs, too,” Joe offered, with no evident apology.

“And toast,” Thomas said with sarcasm. Her face red, Agatha tugged at his arm.

“Certainly. What else?”

“Brother, did you dismiss your staff?”

“I did, for a fact,” Joe stated. “My housekeeper has a sister in Waverly, and she enjoys her company around the holiday. Ditto for my cook, of course. The two maids—they are sisters—informed me that their older brother is home from the war. I couldn’t turn them down.”

“I call it amazingly thoughtless of you!”

The Siegel Dispositions, by David E. Grogan: An ex-Navy JAG Oversees a Deadly Legacy

siegel_dispositionsAn heiress gets richer as others die, but who’s behind the killings? Ex-Navy JAG Steve Stilwell has to find out quickly, or he’s next.

The Siegel Dispositions ($15.95, 298 pages, ISBN: 978-1-60381-981-7), by debut author David E. Grogan, is book one of a new detective series featuring retired Navy-JAG officer and Williamsburg, VA, attorney Steve Stilwell. In The Siegel Dispositions, Steve draws up a last will and testament for a client, little knowing it will be linked to several murders and perhaps even his own demise.

“Well-researched and fast-moving, The Siegel Dispositions tackles hate crimes, history, legacy and the ever-mysterious bonds of family. Steve Stilwell, lawyer/detective, is a straight-shooter with years of military experience, raw intelligence and a knack for attracting clients with a story. Watch out CSI!”
—Kathleen Jabs, author of Black Wings

** Click the cover image to order online **

** Or order it in Kindle, Nook, or other eBook formats on Smashwords **

“A fast-paced thriller with lots of twists and a refreshing moral center. Our hero Steve Stilwell is excellent company.”
—Vaughn Sherman, author of Sasha Plotkin’s Deceit

“It’s rare that a first novel will be compelling enough to immediately draw in a reader and refuse to let go…. In The Siegel Dispositions, David Grogan has produced a stem-winding, magnetic barnburner in his very first novel out of the chute…. A masterful work for anyone who loves a great legal mystery.” —Don Brown, bestselling author of The Navy Justice Series, The Pacific Rim Series, and the Navy JAG Series

On September 30, 1997, in Düsseldorf, Germany, an old Jewish man named Emil Weisentrope is shot dead. That same day in Williamsburg, Virginia, Steve Stilwell hangs out his shingle after serving 22 years as a Navy “JAG.” Steve’s first assignment as a civilian attorney is to update the will of a 70-year-old Auschwitz survivor, Professor Felix Siegel. Accompanying the professor is his beautiful but surly adopted daughter, Michelle. Michelle will inherit, but there’s a catch. The first $1.5 million of Siegel’s fortune goes to three wartime friends … if they survive him. If they don’t, their shares belong to Michelle.

After Professor Siegel’s untimely and violent death, Steve begins his search for the beneficiaries, only to learn that two—including Emil Weisentrope—have already died under suspicious circumstances. Although the German police investigating the Weisentrope case are convinced Michelle is behind the killings, Steve needs to be sure. Determined to find the connection between the Siegel dispositions and the murders, he begins a frantic search for answers. His own life and that of the final beneficiary hang in the balance as he struggles to stay ahead of a cold-blooded and elusive killer.

Says Grogan, “I took a class in human rights at The George Washington University Law School, taught by Professor Thomas Buergenthal, a world-renowned expert on human rights. One night, while surfing the Internet at home to learn more about my mentor and his field, I stumbled across a website that gave me the idea for The Siegel Dispositions. I love writing, but I want my writing not only to entertain but also to make a difference by promoting awareness of the importance of protecting human rights worldwide.”

David E. Grogan was born in Rome, New York, and raised in Cleveland, Ohio. A certified public accountant and an attorney with a master’s degree in International Law, Grogan served on active duty in the U.S. Navy for over 26 years as a Navy Judge Advocate. His experiences abroad and during the course of his career influence every aspect of his writing. Grogan currently resides with his wife in Virginia. They have three children. Click here to find Grogan online.

Keep reading for an excerpt:

“I take it you’d like to have your new will done before you leave?”

“I’d like to sign it Friday, at the latest. You can never tell about Israel. I want to make sure my affairs are in order before I go.” Then he laughed and added, “Signing it will be my best insurance against anything happening. Now, if I don’t sign, something will happen for sure.”

“Friday it is then. How about 2:30?” Steve had no idea how he would get the will finished by then. There was no way he was going to do a multi-million dollar estate without his boss’ supervision. There was also no way he was going to let his first client slip away without helping him. He would just have to find a way.

“That’ll work just fine,” the professor said. “Now, what about the money? I suppose this isn’t free.”

“I always save the bad news for last.” Steve shuffled some papers on his desk, looking for the fee agreement Marjorie gave him. As he picked it up and prepared to hand it to Professor Siegel, Michelle opened the office door.

“Will you be much longer, Father?” Michelle glared at Steve as she spoke. Steve glared back and went on the offensive by addressing her question.

“We’re just about finished here. I’d guess no more than five minutes.”

Michelle didn’t retreat into the lobby; instead, she stood by the door, holding it open with her arm.

“Mr. Stilwell, I have no objection to my daughter joining us now.”

“That’s fine,” Steve said, breaking off his staring contest with Michelle. “Please, Michelle, come over and sit down with us.” Michelle did just that and immediately resumed her gaze out the window. After the eavesdropping incident on the intercom, though, Steve knew her disinterest was only a ruse. He wondered how a woman that beautiful could be so socially bankrupt, but managed to return his focus to his discussion with Professor Siegel before his opinion of Michelle became too much of a distraction.

“I’m sorry, Professor, we were going over my fees, weren’t we? Normally my fee for preparing your will would be based in part on the amount your estate. Given the nature of your will, though, I’ll limit it to $1,000. If I serve as executor, I’ll charge your estate a full three percent. That, of course, isn’t payable now, but I want to make sure you understand that if I’m the executor, your estate will be billed for my services.” When Steve mentioned that he might serve as executor, he saw Michelle briefly shift her eyes toward her father. She said nothing, though, and soon returned to gazing out the window.

“I understand,” Professor Siegel acknowledged. “It sounds reasonable.”

Michelle broke her silence. “It sounds outrageous.”

Last Words, by Rich Zahradnik: New York City on the Brink in 1975

last_wordsLast Words ($13.95, 248 pages, ISBN: 978-1-60381-207-8), by debut author Rich Zahradnik, is book one of a new hardboiled detective series featuring newsman Coleridge Taylor. In Last Words Taylor struggles to keep his job and repair his tarnished reputation as he pursues a story about a dead teenager. The series is set on the mean streets of Manhattan and the surrounding boroughs in 1975.

** Click the cover image to order online **

** Order it in Kindle, Nook or other eBook formats on Smashwords **

“A fast-paced, deeply entertaining and engrossing novel. Last Words is the first book in a mystery series featuring the intrepid investigative reporter. Readers will be glad these aren’t the last words from this talented author.”

Robin Farrell Edmunds, ForeWord Magazine, Winter 2014

“Set in the 1970s, it is a fun return to the past and good crime fiction, you’ll enjoy Last Words. RECOMMENDED.”  Read more ….

—Vikki Walton, I love a Mystery

“Zahradnik develops characters of all types and sizes in this novel. He gives readers a real sense of New York in the 70s via his cast, and the way that they view things. Top this off with an amazingly well developed and very interesting main character and you have a winner. Zahradnik’s knowledge of the life of a reporter really shines through here, bringing the story to life.” Read more ….

—Pure Jonel, Confessions of a Bibliophile

“I didn’t realize how much I missed seedy gritty corrupt crime-ridden New York City of the 1970s till I read Zahradnik’s debut thriller. Last Words captures the palms-out politicians, the bully cops, the not-so-hapless homeless, the back-stabbing reporters of a city on the brink. The pace speeds up; the whispers and clues and leads all come together for a big empty-the-revolver and fling-the-vodka bottle finale. Well worth the trip back in time.”

—Richard Zacks, author of Island of Vice and Pirate Hunter

Last Words sizzles like the fuse on a powder keg. Hero reporter Coleridge Taylor is gritty and unstoppable as he plumbs the mean streets of New York City during its darkest days.”

—Paul D’Ambrosio, author of Easy Squeezy, winner of the Selden Ring investigation prize and a Pulitzer Prize gold medal finalist.

“Rich Zahradnik is a superb craftsman. Like a painter, he adds layers of detail to a canvas he loves until he has created a picture that enthralls. Last Words has both beguiling landscape and revealing portraits and is a picture worth all its thousands of words: Rich in intrigue.”

—Jeff Clark-Meads, author of The Plowman and Tungol.

“In 1975, as New York City collapses into a financial and violent sinkhole, journalist Coleridge Taylor dodges bullets and bounds from borough to borough to find the killer of a seemingly homeless boy, a crime that the NYPD can’t or won’t solve. The Bronx is Burning meets The Poet in Rich Zahradnik’s Last Words, a taut debut novel that keeps you guessing until the very end.”

—Vito J. Racanelli, author and journalist

“Like any great crime thriller, Last Words keeps the pace frenetic, dangerous, and surprising at every turn. Zahradnik delivers an intelligent, flawed hero in Coleridge Taylor while showcasing the darkness of New York in the ’70s that devoured the weak and unsuspecting. A visual, visceral debut from both the author and his lead crime reporter. I’m looking forward to more pulpy chapters.”

—Diane Becker, Producer, FishBowl Films

Last Words is as hard to put down as a grisly tabloid murder story. And indeed that’s what the story is about. Despite his literary name, Coleridge Taylor is the ‘Columbo’ of beat reporters, suffering no fools and pursuing the facts at all costs. Set in 1975, the discovery of a deceased kid, presumed homeless, sets in motion Taylor’s chilling odyssey.”

—Claire Atkinson, senior media reporter, the New York Post

In March of 1975, as New York City hurtles toward bankruptcy and the Bronx burns, newsman Coleridge Taylor roams police precincts and ERs. He is looking for the story that will deliver him from obits, his place of exile at the Messenger-Telegram. Ever since he was demoted from the police beat for inventing sources, the 34-year-old has been a lost soul.

A break comes at Bellevue, where Taylor views the body of a homeless teen picked up in the Meatpacking District. Taylor smells a rat: the dead boy looks too clean, and he’s wearing a distinctive Army field jacket. A little digging reveals that the jacket belonged to a hobo named Mark Voichek and that the teen was a spoiled society kid up to no good, the son of a city official.

Taylor’s efforts to protect Voichek put him on the hit list of three goons who are willing to kill any number of street people to cover tracks that just might lead to City Hall. Taylor has only one ally in the newsroom, young and lovely reporter Laura Wheeler. Time is not on his side. If he doesn’t wrap this story up soon, he’ll be back on the obits page—as a headline, not a byline.

Says Zahradnik, “The year 1975 and the city of New York intrigued me because of the very striking parallels to America today. Then as now, an unpopular war was finally coming to its sad end. A major institution, the city itself, tumbled toward bankruptcy, threatening a cataclysm on the entire financial system. This as banks and ratings agencies ignored the warning signs or willfully misled the public. I chose this time period for the differences as well as the similarities. Solving a mystery in 1975 required good old fashioned legwork and serious brainwork, rather than science fiction-like instant DNA typing and surveillance video available from any and every angle. Taylor has to find a pay phone when he needs to call someone. There’s something satisfying in that for me.”

Rich Zahradnik has been a journalist for 30-plus years, working as a reporter and editor in all major news media, including online, newspaper, broadcast, magazine, and wire services. He lives with his wife, Sheri, and son, Patrick, in Pelham, New York, where he teaches elementary school kids how to publish online and print newspapers. For more information, click here.

Keep reading for an excerpt:

“You’re the best goddamned reporter in the place.”

The passion in her voice forced Taylor to raise his eyes from his plate. Laura’s porcelain white skin reddened delightfully at any sort of emotion—anger, embarrassment, happiness.

He didn’t have a good answer. “I don’t need your pity.”

“No, you don’t. You’re wallowing in it fine all on your own. I stopped by again this morning. How can an obit writer be out of the office so much?”

“I was over in the South Bronx.”

“South Bronx?”

“I’ve got a lead on a good story, believe it or not.” He couldn’t help it. He needed to talk to someone. He told her about the search for Joshua Harper and Mark Voichek, all to ID a dead kid at Bellevue. He threw in the Street Sweepers for good measure.

“Man, Taylor, I’d hate to see what you’d do if they put you on the society desk.”

In spite of himself, Taylor chuckled and shook his head. “What do you want from me, Laura?”

“I’m worried about you. You’re one of the smart ones in that place.”

“That’s not saying much.”

“And to be honest,” she sipped her coffee, “I need your help.”

“Help?” It surprised him. He was having a hard enough time helping himself.

“They’re sticking me with all the nickel-and-dime stories. Two alarms, B&Es. Half don’t even make the Metro Briefs. Worse, they’ve got me doing research for other reporters. You know why? Because I’m a woman. Merton is covering a multiple on the Upper West Side. He just got out of grad school. Even I’ve been there longer.”

“He doesn’t know what he’s doing.”

“He’s a man. That’s all he needs. I talked with Kathy Loring on the political desk. Unless I want to work the society beat, girls end up doing research at the mighty MT, beacon of reform and liberality.”

Grandpop set Laura’s plate and coffee down. She took a bite and smiled. “Mmm, that’s so good, Stamitos. Your food is amazing.” Her cheeks tinged pink. “My plan is to uncover my own leads. I want your help.”

“Welcome to the find-your-own-story club.”

Grandpop topped off their coffee cups. He was visiting the table at least twice as often as necessary. He squeezed Taylor’s shoulder as he went back to the counter.

“I like your grandfather.”

“Such an old dear.”

“I don’t mean it that way. He cares about you. It’s obvious.”

“He’s the best my family has. Left, that is.”

“Your family did pretty well by you.”

He stabbed a couple of fries and a piece of his omelet. He so missed talking to Laura. Was she interested in him or his story ideas? He had never been sure. Christ, trying to figure out what a woman wanted turned him into a complete idiot. Everyone seemed to be playing by a different rulebook. The younger women, certainly. The sexual revolution and all that. The ones in their thirties, like him? They’d settled down long ago with other men after adding up the hours and pay of a newspaperman.

 

Marco and the Devil’s Bargain, Book 2 of The Spanish Brand, a new Historical Romance Series by Award-Winning Author Carla Kelly

marcoMarco and the Devil’s Bargain ($14.95, 256 pp., ISBN: 978-1-60381-229-0) is a new historical romance by Carla Kelly that takes place at the end of the 18th Century, during the decline of the Spanish Empire in the New World. A brand inspector and his wife fight the scourge of smallpox by bravely venturing onto the Staked Plains, stronghold of the Comanche. As part of a devil’s bargain, they must put themselves at the mercy of these dangerous enemies and try to inoculate them, also a risky proposition. Marco and The Devil’s Bargain follows The Double Cross as the second book of Kelly’s all-new Spanish Brand Series.

** Click the Cover Image to order online **

** Or order it in Kindle, Nook, or other eBook formats on Smashwords **

The trade paperback of Marco and the Devil’s Bargain is distributed by Epicenter Press/Aftershocks Media.

Kelly is the recipient of two RITA Awards from Romance Writers of America for Best Regency of the Year; two Spur Awards from Western Writers of America; a Whitney Award for Best Romance Fiction, 2011; another Whitney for Best Historical Fiction, 2012; and a Lifetime Achievement Award from Romantic Times.

“Marco Mondragón, a lawman on the New Mexican frontier in 1782, fears that his young wife, Paloma, will be stricken by the smallpox epidemic. When their Comanche friend, Toshua, rescues Anthony Gill, a white physician, from the desert, they strike the titular bargain: Anthony will inoculate Paloma and their neighbors, and Marco and Toshua will escort Anthony to a Comanche hideaway that he suspects harbors his kidnapped daughter. Kelly brings historical verisimilitude to the setting, and her story brims with compassion for the human condition…. [There are] powerful themes of disease, infertility, strength in the face of loss, and kindness between individuals whose cultures are at war. Though la viruela is, in some ways, the story’s main character, the love between Marco and Paloma, equal parts strong attachment and mutual high regard, takes emotional center stage, a satisfying oasis of beauty in the midst of stark harshness.”

—Publishers Weekly, 9/2014

Grade A: “To begin with, Marco and Paloma are a wonderful couple. They know each other very well, and in spite of not reading the first book, in which their characters were initially developed, I came to know them well too. Paloma is a strong, sweet woman, perfectly suited to her honorable, Spanish husband. They are both at their best when they’re together—not because they get outrageously maudlin when apart, but rather because they work as a team when they’re together, supporting each other as all good couples do. However, if Marco and Paloma were the only two characters I loved, this book would only make it to B+ territory for me. What made Marco and the Devil’s Bargain a DIK for me was the cast of secondary characters. Every single one of them, from Anthony Gill down to the Comanches Marco and Paloma met, was amazingly complex and realistic. I cannot think of the last time secondary characters seemed so vivid to me. There are some series which need to be read in order if they are to be understood. Carla Kelly’s Spanish Brand series is not one of these. Although I didn’t read The Double Cross first, as I should have, I still managed to fall head over heels for Marco and Paloma. To me, that is a good testament to Ms. Kelly’s amazing writing. I can’t wait to get my hands on another one of her books.” Read more ….

—Alexandra Anderson, All About Romance

“I found this book a pleasure to read, the characters well-formed and credible. Her knowledge and understanding of the era are excellent. I look forward to her next in the series. Highly recommended.”  Read more ….

—Historical Novel Society

“Kelly’s ability to transport the reader into the unsettled Spanish territory of New Mexico is remarkable. From the daily life on the ranch to the travels into the wild, every word and action is well researched and natural…. With historical events such as smallpox and Native American threats and alliances driving the plot, Marco and the Devil’s Bargain is a well-rounded story that is sure to please.”  Read more….

—Tara Creel, The Deseret News

“Marco and the Devil’s Bargain is Book Two of the “Spanish Brand” series, but it stands alone well. The time period is 1782 on the Spanish frontier of New Mexico, and Marco Mondragon has settled in on his land grant with his new wife Paloma Vega. All seems well, until the Dark Wind, smallpox, comes barreling down on them from the Comancheria. The Indians got it from the white man, who is busy sorting out the results of the American Revolution. A fascinating and different premise, with an arrogant English physician as the antagonist, and Comanches as surprising allies—a romance in the middle of a really good Western novel.”
Roundup Magazine

The year is 1782. Marco Mondragón, brand inspector in Spanish New Mexico, and his wife Paloma Vega have settled happily into married life on the Double Cross. And yet Paloma is convinced their joy will not be complete until she has a child. She longs to give her husband a baby to soothe his grief over the death from cholera of his first wife and twin sons.

Marco’s land grant stands at the edge of the most dangerous region in the Southwest: Comanchería. Both Paloma and Marco have suffered at the hands of the fierce Comanche, losing beloved family members in raids.

Despite their fear and mistrust of the Comanche, one lives among them. Paloma rescued Toshua from slavery and near death. As much as she respects the man now, Paloma wishes he would return to the Staked Plains, Comanche stronghold to the east in Texas. No one knows why Toshua remains at the Double Cross. Is it because his own tribe shunned him, or is he genuinely attached to its owners?

Now a new enemy threatens the Mondragóns’ domestic bliss: the Dark Wind—la viruela, smallpox—barreling down on the defenseless royal colony from Comanchería. A mysterious and arrogant English physician named Anthony Gill offers their one hope at salvation … but only if Marco agrees to his Devil’s Bargain.

Says Kelly, “There is something so fun about revisiting characters from an earlier book. I’ve come to know Marco, Paloma and Toshua well, and want to know more about them. The only way that happens is if I keep writing about them! I also understand why readers like series.”

A well-known veteran of the romance writing field, Carla Kelly is the author of thirty-one novels and four non-fiction works, as well as numerous short stories and articles for various publications. Carla’s interest in historical fiction is a byproduct of her lifelong study of history. She has a BA in Latin American History from Brigham Young University and an MA in Indian Wars History from University of Louisiana-Monroe. Click here to find Carla online.

Keep reading for an excerpt:

He must have noticed her hesitation, because he calmed himself, even as she watched. He took her hand and it trembled in hers.

“What, my love? Surely there is nothing worse that Señor Gil could have told you than what we already know is coming our way.”

Alert now, wary even, she watched his expression change into precisely that look of false good will that she had been thinking of practicing on him. This would never do. She grasped his hand and tugged him down the hall into Luisa Gutierrez’s sala, which she knew was empty now, all the knitters gone. He did not resist as she towed him along, a little woman dragging a tall man who put up no resistance. Good thing the governor could not see his juez de campo now.

She closed the door behind them and sat down on the earthen bench that was part of the inner adobe wall. She patted the spot beside her. When he sat down, she took his hand and clutched it to her breast. “What is it, Marco?”

He tried to smile, then obviously gave it up as a bad business. She could almost see him thinking something through; she knew him that well.

“I have very good news, my love. That man”—he nearly spit out the word, then collected himself with great effort—“that man is a physician. He has the capacity to inoculate you, and he will.”

Paloma closed her eyes and felt herself melt like butter, so great was her relief. “Gracias a Dios,” she murmured, and touched her forehead to his shoulder. She opened her eyes and looked at him again, mystified by the expression of vast disquietude. Surely he should be happy at this news. True, inoculations themselves could be dangerous, but that was a chance everyone took. There must be more.

“What else?” she asked.

“Nothing else,” he said too quickly. “We’ll take him with us and see how many of our people, Toshua included, will agree to inoculation. We’ll probably have to wait here a day while he inoculates my nephews, but then—”

She put her fingers to his lips, stopping the flow of words. “What else?” she asked again.

“Nothing else.”

“Don’t you dare lie to me!” She hadn’t meant her words to come out with such force. He winced, and Paloma knew he had never heard that tone of voice from her before. Well, too bad. He was not telling her what was written so clearly in his eyes and in the way his hands still trembled. “Not to me, Marco. Not ever to me.”

He leaned back against the wall, something he seldom did, this man who sat so straight, as though he were always in the saddle. He banged his head gently against the wall with increasing force until, horrified, she put her hand behind his head to cushion the blows. He stopped.

“What is he making you do?” she asked.

Deadly Shuffle, by Norma Lehr: Sudden Death at a Card Game

deadly_shuffleA Palm Springs poisoning stirs up the past.

Deadly Shuffle ($13.95, 218 pages, ISBN: 978-1-60381-979-4) is the second mystery by Norma Lehr featuring retired show dancer and Sacramento dance business owner, Abby Rollins. This adventure takes Abby to Palm Springs, where instead of enjoying a much-deserved weekend off, she must delve into her reckless mother’s past to find out why she has disappeared.

** Click the cover image to order online **

** Or order it in Kindle, Nook, or other eBook formats on Smashwords **

I RECOMMEND this fun, energetic, chick-lit mystery that keeps you enthralled and guessing. It features a seventy-ish show-biz mother and several of her past beaux, any one of whom might be fifty-ish daughter Abby’s father, and Abby’s new boyfriend, private eye Blade Garret, whose mother was a figure skater — hence the unusual first name. There is romance, murder, several family secrets, mob connections and a possible half-brother of Abby’s. You know, the usual family drama.”  Read more …

—Barbara B. Oliver, I Love a Mystery

Trish Malone is a member of the Malone Sisters’ singing trio, which rose to fame in the ’60s. She is also the mother of Abby Rollins, a retired dancer and owner of Starduds, a flourishing dance supply business. When Trish’s sister Ginny drops out of the Palm Springs Follies because of hip surgery, Trish wants to take her place, but first she must learn some basic dance moves. Abby gives her a few lessons, and her mother is hired.

Abby’s new beau, private eye Blade Garret, wants to whisk her away for a romantic weekend. What better destination than Palm Springs, where Abby can also visit her aunt Ginny and see her mother perform? Upon their arrival, things get complicated. First an old flame of her mother’s keels over dead during a poker game attended by several other men from Trish’s past. Then Trish vanishes, leaving an unlocked car and a briefcase full of papers from her real estate business. Dr. Thomas Levine, a plastic surgeon, was poisoned. Did Trish kill him? Is she hiding from the killer? Or is she dead, too—silenced to prevent her from revealing a terrible truth in her memoirs? Abby is determined to find out.

Trish Malone spent much of Abby’s childhood on the road, leaving many questions unanswered. Now Abby must fill in the blanks in time to save her mother’s life without losing her own.

A former nurse and health food store owner from the Bay Area, Norma Lehr has four children and five grandchildren. She lives in Auburn, California, in the beautiful Sierra foothills with her husband. Norma is a multi-genre author of short stories, a middle-grade ghost series, and an adult supernatural suspense novel, Dark Maiden (Juno Books, 2007). For more information, go to www.normalehr.com.

Says Lehr, “I’m an old movie buff. Whenever I visit Palm Springs, which isn’t often enough, my imagination reels back to the desert playground of the glamorous stars of the past. I find myself floating in a pool where Elvis once swam, then having a drink at a bar where Marilyn once sat. And then there’s The Fabulous Follies at the Historic Plaza Theatre. I’ve loved every sellout performance I’ve attended and I’m more than saddened that their final performance will be May 2014.”

Keep reading for an excerpt:

“Dawson’s still out by your mom’s car taking notes. We should probably join him.”

Abby grabbed his hand. “No, you don’t. You said this might be info about Trish. Stay here until you finish telling what happened.”

Blade nodded. “Okay, okay. But I’ll hurry. One drink led to two more before he admitted driving to the Palms to meet the client’s wife and escort her to the ball.

“The guy shrugged and said, ‘That’s as far as it goes, man. She’s staying with friends until she drives back home. Her old man wouldn’t take her to the ball.’ He snorted. ‘So what did he expect? You tell him if he’s got a beef, I’ll be waiting for him.’ ”

Abby waited. “So now what? How does this tie in? Is your job here finished?”

“Not quite. It all sounded innocent enough. If the guy was on the level, he’d let his client’s wife sort it out. So I decided to call the husband, send photos, and return my party suit. But not before I got paid. The Philly guy hung around. Figured he must like me or else he was drunk.”

Blade leaned across the table. “Now listen up. This is the important part. Before another round was ordered, he started grumbling about a poker game he’d attended the night before where one of the players keeled over. Dead!”

Trish’s game?

I put down my beer, ordered black coffee, sobered up and listened to the guy’s story. Crazy coincidence? You bet. And you’ll find this hard to swallow. He’s your mother’s literary agent.” Blade squinted. “You do know she’s writing her memoir?”

Abby nodded slowly. “She mentioned it. I didn’t take much notice at the time.”

“Well, she is. Seems back in the day she was involved with some big shot in the mob. Her agent says that if she includes that part of her life in the book, some mobsters aren’t going to be too happy.”

Abby closed her eyes. Mobsters. Good grief. No. Bad grief! Her mother was more trouble than her teenage twins ever were. What was it brought her to Palm Springs in the first place? Not specifically to see her mother on stage. Or to visit with family. She came here to get away from the stress and responsibility of her store for a couple of days. Maybe, just maybe enjoy a little romance with Blade at the Caliente. Now all of this was blowing up in her face.

Go Go Gato, by Max Everhart: A Ballplayer Vanishes

go_go_gatoGo Go Gato ($14.95, 278 pages, ISBN: 978-1-60381-911-4), by Max Everhart, is the first book in a new mystery/suspense series set in Asheville, North Carolina, and featuring Eli Sharpe, a former baseball player turned detective.

Go Go Gato is the debut entry in a promising new series by Max Everhart, and it’s a fast-paced, entertaining tale. Eli Sharpe is a very appealing character who combines just the right amounts of wit, humor, intelligence and courage, and it will be fun to watch him in action as the series continues to grow and develop.”

—James L. Thane, author of Until Death and No Place to Die

** Click the cover image to order online **

** Or order it in Kindle, Nook, or other eBook formats on Smashwords **

“An excellent debut. Eli is a memorable character…. I enjoyed the realistic description of pro baseball and the challenges of youthful highly paid athletes. I look forward to reading more Eli Sharpe mysteries.”  Read more ….

–Bill Selnes, Mysteries and More

“Everhart has crafted a first-rate private eye yarn in Go Go Gato. From the blonde who walks into his office to the cat in the rusted out car, he understands the genre, folding all the elements hard-boiled fans love into a modern tale about a young Cuban baseball player, greed and betrayal…. Baseball fans of the young star at the center of the mystery have nicknamed him “Go Go” Gato.  Fans of P.I. novels who read this are sure to say, “Go, go, Max Everhart!”  Read more ….

–M. Ruth Myers, Gal Gumshoe

5 Stars: “This excellent neo-noir mystery expertly blends baseball and detective work. How have we not seen this before? There is a patience and quiet observation to both that make the pairing particularly effective. Throw in some fascinating characters and ingenious twists and you’ve got Go Go Gato. This is an entertaining read, one that will make you want to know more about Eli Sharpe and his world of booze, baseball, and bad guys.”

—Elizabeth Dutton, author of Driftwood and 1,033 Reasons to Smile

“Pitch perfect dime store PI …. I’m looking forward to reading more of Sharpe and his future investigations.”

—Just a Guy Who Likes To Read blog

“The author really created a world that has so many interesting characters that he will have no problem with future books in the series. The ex-fiances were my favorite characters and the fact that Eli still talks to them really says a lot about his character. The Private Eye Genre is getting smaller and I am glad that there are authors out there still writing about them.” Read more….

—Deal Sharing Aunt

The author really created a world that has so many interesting characters that he will have no problem with future books in the series. The ex-fiances were my favorite characters and the fact that Eli still talks to them really says a lot about his character. The Private Eye Genre is getting smaller and I am glad that there are authors out there still writing about them. I – See more at: http://dealsharingaunt.blogspot.com/2014/10/go-go-gato-by-max-everhart-review.html#sthash.MPh4rAGA.dpuf
The author really created a world that has so many interesting characters that he will have no problem with future books in the series. The ex-fiances were my favorite characters and the fact that Eli still talks to them really says a lot about his character. The Private Eye Genre is getting smaller and I am glad that there are authors out there still writing about them. I – See more at: http://dealsharingaunt.blogspot.com/2014/10/go-go-gato-by-max-everhart-review.html#sthash.MPh4rAGA.dpuf
The author really created a world that has so many interesting characters that he will have no problem with future books in the series. The ex-fiances were my favorite characters and the fact that Eli still talks to them really says a lot about his character. The Private Eye Genre is getting smaller and I am glad that there are authors out there still writing about them. I – See more at: http://dealsharingaunt.blogspot.com/2014/10/go-go-gato-by-max-everhart-review.html#sthash.MPh4rAGA.dpuf

“From its hero to its milieu to its eccentric, three-dimensional characters, Max Everhart’s Go Go Gato is a terrific read. The North Carolina minor-league baseball scene feels authentic and beloved, and I was always rooting for protagonist Eli Sharpe. The best news is that this excellent mystery is first in a series. Fans of Harlan Coben will want to check out Max Everhart, a major new talent!”

—Steve Ulfelder, Edgar finalist author of Wolverine Bros. Freight & Storage

“Max Everhart scores a homerun with this first novel in his new Eli Sharpe mystery series. Eli finds much more than he bargained for in his search for a missing baseball player in this fast read, best enjoyed with a glass of George Dickel in hand since that’s Eli’s favorite ‘poison.’ Like a good curveball you won’t see the twist ending coming at you.”

—Paul D. Marks, author of the Shamus Award-Winning novel, White Heat

“A missing persons case turns deadly. In Go Go Gato, Everhart executes the classic mystery with ease and more than a few twists. All the modular scenes are there—the sleuth’s office, first encounter with the femme fatale, the victim’s lair, digging up the past, witness interviews, suspect interviews, and that essential—the corpse. But we’re not in LA or Boston. We’re not in SF or NYC. Everhart sets this fine novel in Asheville, NC, and he breathes new life into an old form with a convoluted plot, detailed characters, and a very flawed detective. Chandler would be proud.”

—Jack Remick, poet, essayist and author of several novels, including Montaigne Medal and ForeWord BOTY Finalist Gabriela and The Widow

When Almario “Go Go” Gato, a handsome young Cuban baseball player, goes missing mid-season, his agent Veronica Craven hires a private investigator to track down her best client. No police. No press. Enter Eli Sharpe, an Asheville, North Carolina-based ex-ballplayer turned private detective who specializes in investigating professional athletes.

Eli begins by questioning Maria Gato, Almario’s roommate and fraternal twin. Maria watched while both her parents drowned on the boat ride from Cuba to America, so she is naturally desperate to get her only brother back. She tells Eli a secret: Almario may have a problem with drugs and alcohol.

Eli tracks down Almario’s supposed girlfriend, a rich sorority girl, but is soon led to another woman in his life, Sheri Stuckey, his cocaine supplier and fiancée who works in tandem with a gay bartender named Dantonio Rushing. Stuckey, a drug abuser and single mother, claims Almario split because she wanted the two of them to check into rehab. But Rushing, dazzled by Almario’s boyish good looks, tells a different tale: Almario has taken out a $500,000 life insurance policy on himself and named Stuckey as the primary beneficiary.

With the help of his a mentor—a former homicide detective—and five ex fiancées who still care about him, Eli follows Go Go’s trail, determined to locate the elusive ballplayer before one of the nasty people in his life—or his own bad habits—do him in.

Says Everhart, “Eli Sharpe is an amalgamation, a Frankenstein I cobbled together out of spare parts just lying around the junkyard in my brain. From television, I constructed my detective from Atlanta Braves games circa mid-1980s, reruns of The Rockford Files, the first season of The Wire, andthe Fletch movies. From hard-boiled PI books, I borrowed elements from Lew Archer, Philip Marlowe, C.W. Sughrue, Archy McNally, and dozens of other fictional detectives. From my own life, I drew on half-remembered conversations between my father and me, fragmented images from my time in Asheville, and god-only-knows what else. But in the end, Go Go Gato is the kind of story I like to read, and Eli Sharpe is the type of detective that I, as a reader, would become obsessed with. Hopefully, other readers will share my obsession.”

Max Everhart has a master’s degree in creative writing from the University of Alabama, Birmingham. His short stories have been published in CutBank, Elysian Fields Quarterly, Slow Trains Journal, and juked. His short story, “The Man Who Wore No Pants,” was selected by Michael Knight for Best of the Net 2010 and was nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Dzanc Books’ Best of the Web Anthology. Currently, he teaches English and Creative Writing at Northeastern Technical College and Coker College. Go Go Gato is his first novel.  Click here to find Max on the Web.

Keep reading for an excerpt:

Veronica pushed her sunglasses atop her head and produced a key. She unlocked a little red box above the other elevator buttons and pressed the only button inside. “The penthouse,” she said. “Top floor.”

“So you’ve already seen her today?”

“Yes, I drove from the airport to DMSI Investigations and then straight here.”

“So you lied to me.” Eli stood on his tiptoes and looked down. “You’re taller than six feet.”

The elevator opened directly into the fifth floor penthouse.

“This way,” Veronica said, and Eli followed.

The apartment was open concept with more white marble floors and walls. The main living area had twenty-foot ceilings and a large glass window overlooking the downtown cityscape and the Blue Ridge Mountains beyond. There was a 50-inch plasma screen TV mounted on the wall, and a red velvet loveseat and matching armchair arranged around an ultra-modern coffee table made of dark wood with a white lacquered surface. Marquez’s novel Love in the Time of Cholera lay dog-eared on the coffee table along with a Statistics textbook. Eli shuddered at the memory of taking STATS 215—all those nights spent guzzling instant coffee and staring at a blank sheet of graphing paper. Something spicy was cooking somewhere, and his stomach groaned.

“Wait here,” Veronica said and clicked her heels into the kitchen, which was separated from the rest of the space by a wall that only reached halfway to the ceiling.

Eli sat down in the velvet armchair and picked up Marquez’s novel. He didn’t read Spanish, but as he stared at the opening paragraph, he remembered the book’s opening, something about death and the smell of almonds. He put the book back where he found it and walked to the large picture window. The traffic inched along Biltmore Avenue below. Sunlight gleamed off the hoods of cars and neighboring buildings. A small band of Phish fans milled around the fountain, strumming guitars for spare change and smoking cloves. Eli walked to a door leading out to the terrace. A selling feature for most, but he didn’t care for heights. Or stainless steel furniture. He returned to the red velvet armchair and waited.

Several minutes later Veronica waved Eli toward the kitchen. She leaned in close, grabbed hold of his jacket lapels, and stared into his eyes. “No bullshit, Almario is all she has.” She bit her lip and let go of his jacket, smoothed out the wrinkles she’d made. “At the moment, he’s all I have.”

Eli got his first look at Maria Gato in the kitchen, which was massive and cold like the rest of the apartment. Raven-haired with a dark brown face sprinkled with pimples, Maria stood over a steaming sauce pan, her marble-black eyes focused on what looked like chicken bubbling in a reddish sauce. Her skin tone was much darker than Almario’s, and standing next to Veronica, Maria appeared dwarfish and plump, bordering on fat. Her clothes weren’t flattering either: a baggy tie-dyed T-shirt splattered with flour and red sauce and Jordache blue jeans that hung loose off her wide hips.

Eli introduced himself, and Maria lowered her eyes as she shook his hand. Firm grip. Strong, callused hands.

Veronica opened a drawer, removed a clean white apron, and slipped it over her pencil skirt, tying it off in the back. She put a hand on Maria’s shoulder. “Eli Sharpe, the quiet one here is Maria Gato, Almario’s twin sister. Maria, Mr. Sharpe is the private investigator I hired to find Almario. He needs to ask you some questions. Don’t worry, he’s here to help.”

Maria nodded a second time and continued stirring her pot with a wooden spoon.

Veronica nodded at Eli.

Eli said, “Veronica tells me you received an email from Almario yesterday. Is that right?”

“No, it isn’t,” Maria snapped. “The email was from Almario’s address, but it wasn’t him.”

“Do you mean someone other than Almario wrote it?”

“Yes, someone else wrote it.”

“How do you know?”

“The grammar. It was full of mistakes.”

Dead in the Water, by Lesley A. Diehl: A Mob Hit in the Swamps of Rural Florida

dead_waterBetween the pressures of her consignment store and her uncle getting whacked, Eve’s feeling a little swamped.

In Dead in the Water ($13.95, 246 pages, ISBN: 978-1-60381-937-4), a new cozy mystery by Lesley A. Diehl, consignment shop owner Eve Appel vows to find the killer of her wise-guy uncle after he is shot in the head on a sightseeing trip.

** Click the cover image to order online **

** Or read it in Kindle, Nook, or other eBook formats on Smashwords **

Dead in the Water is the second Eve Appel Mystery, set in rural Florida. The series began with A Secondhand Murder. Lesley has five other published mysteries: A Deadly Draught, Poisoned Pairings, Dumpster Dying, Angel Sleuth, and Grilled, Chilled, and Killed.

“A well crafted cozy mystery that has action, adventure and detective work involved through a few interesting and fun characters to read about. While reading the book I got intrigued enough by Eve and her list of quirky friends that I’d like to read more books in the series. Especially about Eve’s Indian friend.”  Read more….

—Mystery Sequels

“There is action galore. The plot becomes more convoluted as new developments take place just as answers seem evident. Each twist is followed by a further twist, the action is continuous, and Eve is suitably confused…. RECOMMENDED.”  Read more ….

—Michael F. Hennessey, I Love a Mystery

“How can you not love a cheeky Yankee-chick-consignment-shop-entrepreneur who’s willing to fight alligators, the Russian mob, and treacherous blackmailers to avenge her uncle’s murder? Eve Appel is strong-willed and sassy and will stop at nothing to save her kidnapped friend and learn the truth, even it means putting herself in danger or ruining her Jimmy Choos. Eve does it all with class and a gaggle of smitten lovers and quirky friends. Dead in the Water is a laugh-out-loud cozy with just the right balance of suspense, plot twists, romance, and airboat rides.”

—Sharon Potts, author of South Beach Cinderella

“Lesley Diehl has outdone herself with Dead in the Water. She still has her carefully drawn characters you enjoy knowing and the sense of humor that makes you laugh out loud. But in Dead in the Water, Diehl has developed her most involved plot. With murder, kidnapping, the mob and alligators, you won’t want to put the book down. This second Eve Appel Mystery is a must read.”

—James R. Callan, author of Cleansed by Fire and A Ton of Gold

“Like the biblical Eve, Eve Appel, the main character in Lesley Diehl’s Dead In The Water, is an impulsive, curious, and determined woman who doesn’t always live by the rules. Those characteristics place her in extremely dangerous situations and add to the intriguing plot in this second book in the series.”

—Patricia Gligor, author of Mixed Messages, Unfinished Business, and Desperate Deeds.

Sabal Bay consignment shop owner Eve Appel is fit to be tied—family tied. Just as she is basking in the warmth of a renewed relationship with her long-lost Uncle Winston, disaster strikes. He and his less welcome companion, Darlene, have come for a visit, and their request to participate in one of rural Florida’s most popular tourist activities, an airboat ride through the swamps, ends with her uncle being shot in the head. The killing looks suspiciously like a mob hit.

Turns out Uncle Winston was “connected.” Was he simply a bag man, or something more? Who is Darlene, really, and how did Winston acquire three Russian stepchildren, one of whom has been kidnapped by yet another mob family—this one Russian? Winston claimed to prize family above all else, but what “family” was he talking about: his niece Eve, his relations by marriage, or his mobster employers?

When Eve’s best friend Madeleine is kidnapped, Eve doesn’t know where to turn. Her mob-boss buddy Nappi Napolitani? Her new Miccosukee Indian friend, the long, lean, and luscious Sammy Egret? Her ex-husband, Jerry, who is in Nappi’s employ? With two mob families on her tail and her boyfriend, PI Alex Montgomery, mostly away on assignment, Eve has to act fast. Before whoever wrecked her car and left her to the mercy of the alligators finishes the job they started.

Says Diehl, “In A Secondhand Murder sassy gal Eve found she a lot to learn from mob boss Nappi Napolitani, and she’s still learning. I had so much fun with Nappi, I knew I’d feature him in Dead in the Water, but add another crime syndicate, the Russian Mob to make things even crazier. Then I introduced Eve to a very different kind of man by tossing her into the swamps with a hunky Miccosukee Indian. Of course, Eve discovers she likes him for more than simply his survival skills. American mob, Russian mob, handsome Indian. Boy, will Alex be mad at this turn of events.”

Lesley A. Diehl retired from her life as a professor of psychology and reclaimed her country roots by moving to a small cottage in the Butternut River Valley in upstate New York. In the winter she migrates to old Florida—cowboys, scrub palmetto, and open fields of grazing cattle, a place where spurs still jingle in the post office. Back north, she devotes her afternoons to writing and, when the sun sets, relaxing on the bank of her trout stream, sipping tea or a local microbrew. Click here to find Lesley online.

Keep reading for an excerpt:

“You need something?”

“A ride on your boat. How much?” Why else would I be here? Not for the polite conversation.

He uncrossed his arms and stepped forward. “It’s kind of late in the day. And it’s cold. You sure you wouldn’t want to come back another time?” He looked me up and down, then settled his gaze on my boots. His surly attitude swept my hesitation to one side. I was determined to have a trip on that boat today.

“I need to go now.”

His sweeping visual assessment of me made me feel as if my clothes hid nothing.

He nodded. “Emu?”

“I’m sorry. I don’t understand the Seminole language.”

“I’m Miccosukee. I wondered if your boots were made of emu.”

“Oh.” I gave a nervous laugh. “Ostrich.”

“Well, we were both wrong then, I guess. That’ll be twenty bucks.” He held out his hand for the money.

I extracted the bill from my jeans pocket. When he took it, he held onto my hand just a moment too long. The touch was electric. When he let go, I felt as if my hand had been branded. The heat of his touch remained. He gestured to follow him to the boat.

I walked behind him, marveling at his height. He had to be at least six feet six. I’d never seen a native this tall. Most were shorter, rounder.

As if he could read my thoughts, he turned and stopped. “My mother was white. Tall like you, but she had more up top.” He then continued down the path.

“Listen, you—”

“What?”

He stopped and walked back toward me.

“You want to go someplace in particular.” It was a statement, not a question.

How did he know that?

If the first airboat was like being on a carnival ride, this smaller boat slipped and slid over the surface of the water like a toboggan on ice. I hung onto the side of the boat as if expecting to be thrown into the water at any moment. Just when I told myself I had adjusted to the swaying motion and could move with it, the boat made a sudden jerk to the left. I gripped the side with both hands. I could almost feel the pilot smirking at my fear.

I had told him where I wanted to go, simply describing the place as the one where the other airboat company visited the resident gator. I didn’t have to provide anything more in the way of directions. My guide nodded. “I know the place. It’s the one where the Hardy boy likes to annoy Mathilda.”

“Mathilda?”

“Mama gator.”

“He told us they were all mamas.”

“Yeah, well, he’s dead wrong or will be when he chooses one of the big ones to hassle during mating season. What that boy knows about gators wouldn’t fill a shot glass.”

City of Tigers, by Leif Chappelle: A Fantasy World Where Machines Prevail Over Magic

city_of_tigersCity of Tigers ($14.95, 280 pp., ISBN: 978-1-60381-973-2) is a work of fantasy by debut novelist Leif Chappelle about a street musician who conjures music out of the air, despite the disapproval of the authorities.

City of Tigers is Book 1 of a new fantasy series: Under the Sunstone.

“Mr. Chappelle has crafted a dark and moody journey through an alternate Earth filled with interesting characters, intriguing magic, and creative alternative technology.”

—John Patrick Lowrie, author of Dancing with Eternity

** Click the Cover Image to Order Online **

** Also available in Kindle, Nook, and other eBook formats on Smashwords **

Raised by his mother in the small town of Havlandsby, young Sigurd watches the projektors make their rounds, keeping the town lit and warm in the dark, cold winters, ensuring that water fills the wells. Their communion with the elements is as old as the world itself, but the projektors are losing their influence, and fewer of them are being born. Their duties are slowly being taken over by inanimate objects—the machinae—and the people they serve are fleeing their homes in droves for the cities.

After Sigurd’s mother dies, he joins the exodus to Tigrebyn, the City of Tigers, where he must fend for himself among the petty thieves and heartless merchants. Finally Sigurd meets Ragna, who has taken it upon herself to track and protect the remaining projektors, now punished for practicing the ancient art of projeksjon and labeled conspirators against the Crown. Sigurd’s particular art is nothing as mundane as bringing forth light, warmth, and water. Sigurd can command the very air to transform the sounds in his head into complex musical compositions, conducting an invisible orchestra of instruments and effects.

The professors at the University, who answer to the Queen, wish to use Sigurd’s gift to invent the greatest machina yet—but first they must bend the young man to their will.

Says the author, “I envisioned a world where magic is practiced that is not a form of sorcery, but a natural part of everyday life—utilitarian. It started with the question: ‘What if we never needed to invent modern technology?’ But then the secondary question arose: ‘What happens when the magic—control of the elements—goes away?’ A lot of current fantasy literature centers around post-apocalyptic worlds where technology goes away. The most human reaction, of course, is to replace what has been lost by any means necessary. Thus, the creation of ‘machina.’ From there, I imagined what sort of conflict would arise if the replacement for magic grew in popularity while some magic users still existed and were trying to earn a living. What social stigmas would be placed upon them? What kind of oppression would they fall victim to? What sort of uprising would take place? These are the questions that set the stage for City of Tigers.”

Leif Chappelle was born and raised in Seattle, WA, and studied music composition at Cornish College of the Arts. He has written accompaniments for a number of collaborations with dance choreographers, music for classroom education software, and a number of video games. Most notably, he has contributed to critically acclaimed PC game Guild Wars 2, writing music and contributing all manner of nefarious plot developments in the game’s ongoing story. His music can be found on his studio’s website, www.woodlandalien.com, as well as Soundcloud and Bandcamp. For more information, go to www.leifchappelle.com.

Keep Reading for an excerpt:

It is becoming very warm. Sigurd loosens his collar, unfastening the first button. The motion shakes the droplet free, and it falls, landing directly on the incomplete chord. The ink runs, dragging its tail along the rest of the page. Sigurd swears. It’s enough to let the music leave his ears. Other sounds drift in to replace them. A low bass that is not a bass. A roar that is no instrument.

Sigurd tears the thin door open, eyes flitting across every surface of the burning landscape. He attempts to spring up from his kneeling position, but his foot hooks under the edge of the table, sending him sprawling halfway out of the room. He lands stomach-first on the jagged step up, pressing the air from his lungs. Gasping, he drags himself out of the side room and into the inferno. From all directions, scents of charcoal, oolong, and chai waft over him. He hears every small creak and pop of the wood expanding and bursting while the flame engulfs it in its monstrous roar. His only coherent thought is, Where am I?

Sigurd takes several short breaths, wincing from the pain they cause. Nothing serious. Just winded. Think, Sigurd! Exit. Find the exit. A loud crack like breaking bone rings out from above. Disoriented, Sigurd hears the sound of the beam falling before he sees it. It strikes a table, which collapses under the weight of the flaming mass. It is all he can do to stand his ground.

Thoom. The sound of something large crashes against what he now recognizes as the front door. Thoom. Instinctively, Sigurd dives for cover behind the front counter. With a resounding crash, the door bursts open, revealing a terrifying sight: a creature, pitch black like the stories of The First People, wide eyes reflecting the blaze. Its gaping mouth leads not to a throat, but outward into a tube, twisting around to its hunched back. It stomps into the structure, dominating the doorway, his only way out. Three more follow, their faces as grotesque as the first.

A crazy thought pops into Sigurd’s head as he crouches there, creatures on one side, stairs on the other. He remembers the words of the professor: all you do is based on lies and deception. Not true, he thinks, as he focuses his attention on the sounds around him. When he closes his eyes, rear-eyelid patterns swirl and jolt to every small irregularity in the air. The patterns begin to reform themselves into a landscape of sound. The white noise of the fire is easy to isolate. He fades its oppressive roar to a faint hum, and then it’s gone. A puzzling thought buzzes above all the rest of the chaos in his ears: Where is everyone? It was as if two versions of the teahouse existed: the one he entered, and the one now burning. What has happened?

Dancing with Eternity, the Audiobook, Read by Author John Patrick Lowrie and Ellen McLain

HaettenschweilerOptima2400x2400LrThe audiobook version of John Patrick Lowrie’s amazing sci fi novel about the perils of immortality, Dancing with Eternity ($21.95, ASIN: B00KWGBHUO), is finally available for download on Amazon.com, iTunes, and Audible.com.

**Click the Cover Image to connect to the Amazon Buy Page**

**Watch a video about the making of the audiobook**

Author John Patrick Lowrie provides the narration and male voices and his wife Ellen McLain the female voices. Both are voiceover artists of note. Lawrence Albert, Producer, Jim French Productions DBA Imagination Theatre produced. The unabridged recording is in the style of a radio play, with ambient sounds and sound effects throughout. Because John is also a composer, his piece for orchestra, In a Strange Land, and his piece for chamber orchestra, Conversations With Piltdown Man, were chosen to lead into and out of each chapter, as well as supplying music pads in the scenes that called for music. Illustrator Philip Howe provided the cover art.

John Patrick Lowrie has played Sherlock Holmes for Imagination Theatre’s The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes for the last fourteen years, so it was no surprise when Larry Albert suggested that Imagination Theatre produce the audiobook of Dancing With Eternity. Imagination Theatre has been producing radio plays since the ’70s and possesses an encyclopedic library of sound effects. Ellen McLain, the award-winning voice of GLaDOS in the hugely popular video games, Portal and Portal 2, was brought on board to play Steel and all of the female roles.

The novel, Dancing with Eternity, first published in 2011, earned rave reviews.

Dancing with Eternity (A++, top 10 novel of 2011) is a stellar debut that shows why science fiction is still the most interesting genre of today,” wrote Liviu Suciu of Fantasy Book Critic.

Dancing with Eternity was the inaugural winner in ForeWord Magazine’s ForeWord Firsts contest. J.G. Stinson wrote in the five star review: “Readers of the genre will likely recognize the influences of Olaf Stapledon, Fred Pohl, Cordwainer Smith, and other writers from the early years of American science fiction. Lowrie has taken those influences and kneaded them into his own life experiences to produce a story that is at once fantastic and recognizable, populated by real people with real dilemmas against a backdrop of stellar travel and adventure.”

“In the best tradition of A.E. van Vogt’s Voyage of the Space Beagle ….” wrote Robert Enstrom of New Myths, “the author explores human relations in a future without death–or nearly so. In some ways, perhaps unintentionally, the book conveys an almost religious message: Beliefs and sorrows spring from the past, and hope looks to the future, but only love transcends time.”

What would happen if Odysseus met Captain Ahab in the Fortieth Century? Only Captain Ahab is a beautiful woman named Steel who owns her own starship and Odysseus is an unemployed actor named Mohandas who’s stuck on the backside of a backwater moon because he won’t pay his taxes. Oh, and everybody—well, almost everybody—lives forever, did I mention that? And there’s a telepathic Internet that allows the entire population of the galaxy to communicate at will and even experience the world from another person’s perspective. Dancing with Eternity is a sprawling galactic odyssey that takes Steel, Mo and the crew of the starship Lightdancer on an incredible voyage of adventure, self-discovery, and revelation … And they get to go to a lot of really cool planets, too.

John Patrick Lowrie, voice of The Sniper in Team Fortress 2 and characters in over 25 video games, was born in 1952 in Honolulu, Hawaii and raised in Boulder, Colorado. At 16 he left home to make his way as a singer/guitarist/flautist/trombonist in a rock ‘n’ roll band, sleeping in parks and communes and getting to know several hippies. Surviving the draft, he graduated with highest distinction from the Indiana University School of Music and for a few years managed to make a living as a composer and guitarist in his acoustic fusion duo The Kiethe Lowrie Duet, garnering critical acclaim and opening for people who were much more famous than he was. He then decided to become an actor because the pay was better and the work was steadier. To this day he remains the only person he knows of who has done this. He met Ellen McLain, his wife of twenty-eight years, in Arnhem, Holland on a European tour of a Broadway show and started his acting career in Palermo, Italy, telling jokes to an opera house full of Sicilians who didn’t speak English. John and his wife now reside in Seattle, where they divide their professional time between acting in live theater and voice acting for computer games and radio dramas. You can find him online at lowrie.camelpress.com.

Ellen McLain, the voice of GLaDOS, the passive-aggressive AI in Portal (2007 AIAS Interactive Achievement Award for Outstanding Achievement in Character Performance) and Portal 2, (2011Spike Video Game Award in the category “Best Performance by a Human Female”) is also the voice of Gipsy Danger in Guillermo del Toro’s film, Pacific Rim. Ellen has worked in theater and opera for over thirty years. Her professional career began on Broadway with Rex Harrison in My Fair Lady and with the legendary Peggy Lee in her show, Peg. Ellen’s credits range from Linda Loman in Death of a Salesman to Mimi in La Bohème. McLain provides voices for many characters in several video games from Valve. Among them are the Administrator in Team Fortress 2, and the voice of the Combine Overwatch for the Half-Life 2 series. She also voices Broodmother and Death Prophet for DOTA 2. McLain is the only person to have her voice in all the games in The Orange Box. She sang the ending credits song to Portal, “Still Alive,” and Portal 2, “Want You Gone,” both written by Jonathan Coulton, and Ellen sang all the voices in the Turret Opera “Cara Mia Addio” by Mike Morasky featured at the end of Portal 2.