Blogroll: CRIMINALELEMENT.COM – Fresh Meat: Board Stiff by Kendel Lynn

Board Stiff by Kendel Lynn is the first book in the Elliott Lisbon humorous mystery series (available April 30, 2013).

BOARD STIFFAs director of the prestigious Ballantyne Foundation, Elliott Lisbon has her hands full. Not only is it her job to plan fundraisers and vet grant applicants, but the Ballantynes also expect her to fill their shoes as hosts whenever they’re away—a task that is often much trickier than it sounds:

Tod was helping me man the Bash in the absence of the Ballantynes, who were on safari in India. Or maybe it was mountain climbing in Pakistan. They entrusted me with their life’s work while away doing more life’s work. Tonight that included acting as one part host and one part referee.“So what’s up? Is Mr. Abercorn dancing naked on the tables again?”

“Not quite,” Tod said. “You have three fires to put out, though Jane is more of a firestorm of seething lava and flaming fireballs.”

“Don’t be so melodramatic.” I glanced at my watch. It was already past eleven, dreadfully late for a party that started at five. How did I miss seeing Nick Ransom for the last six hours? My lips tingled at the thought of him being so close. Traitors.

Tod snapped his fingers. “Hello, Elliott?”

“Right, melodramatic. Things can’t be that terrible, can they?”

“Jane is beheading board members, Mr. Colbert is serving guests from the canapés stuffed in his pockets, and Mrs. Kramer is singing with the band.”

“That doesn’t sound so bad.”

“They’re in the men’s room.”

Elliott’s also assigned with helping board members solve certain kinds of problems—ones police or press involvement would only serve to complicate. This part of the job is usually a piece of cake for Elliott; she does have a Bachelor’s in Criminal Justice, after all, and is in the process of becoming a licensed PI, to boot. But Sam Spade, she’s not (at least not yet), so when the Ballantynes task her with solving the murder of eccentric board member Leo Hirschorn and exonerating prime suspect (and board chairwoman) Jane Hatting, she understandably balks at the request:

“About Jane,” Mr. Ballantyne continued. “I’m going to need your help sorting things out with the police.”“How can you possibly know about Jane? I heard not ten minutes ago.”

“The chief phoned me this morning, and I’ve just hung up with Jane. She assures me she has nothing to do with Leo’s murder, nothing at all, Elli, and I believe her. I need you on this one; I’m counting on your expertise. You’ve helped many a donor out of a pickle before, you can do it again!”

“But Mr. Ballantyne, this is a murder. I’m afraid I don’t have much expertise with those.” As I protested, my mind raced. I grabbed my notebook and started listing questions from yesterday’s excursion to Leo’s house: Why the mess? Where was Bebe?

“You can do it, my girl! Clear your plate. This is your top priority, your top priority, Elli. We owe Leo and we owe our Jane. I know you won’t disappoint me!”

I scribbled as we spoke: Police suspect Jane. Why? “I suppose I could poke around a bit. I don’t have any other inquiries at the moment.” How much harder could this be? A stolen golf cart, a missing brooch, a man shoved into a clock…My heart sank a bit as I thought of Leo. He definitely deserved better.

The Ballantynes have every faith Elliott can accomplish the task at hand, but Elliott suspects Leo’s murder will be more difficult to solve than the other cases she’s tackled. And as it turns out, she’s right. Her “client” is less than cooperative:

“Hi, Jane, it’s Elliott. Do you have a minute?”“No, Elliott, I don’t.”

“Great. I spent the afternoon with Leo’s neighbors. It seems you neglected to mention you were at Leo’s house the night of the murder.”

“Are you still pretending to be an investigator? I’m going to talk to Edward. You have too much time on your hands.”

“You didn’t answer my question.”

“You didn’t ask one, Nancy Drew. Care to try again? I should warn you, I may hang up at any time.”

I spoke slowly. “Jane. Why didn’t you tell me. You were at Leo’s. On Saturday. After the party?”

“Because I wasn’t there. If you’ll excuse me—”

“No, I won’t excuse you. Leo’s neighbor saw you, Jane. Saw. You. Black Sebring, scarf in your hair, speeding away from the murder scene. A witness.”

“That’s ridiculous. That police detective tried to pull this same stunt at the station. The neighbor is obviously lying. I wasn’t there. Period.”

“Then where were you?”

“Look, Elliott, I’m not interested in playing this game with you.”

“It’s not a game. I’m trying to help you. I’m the only person trying to help you.”

“You’ll have to try harder than this,” she said and hung up on me.

The local police force—of which her ex-boyfriend is a member—seems determined to freeze Elliott out:

“Now, if you’ve finished mocking me, I’d like to get back to work.”He slowly picked up his jacket. “I’m not mocking you, Elliott. I’m serious. This investigation doesn’t concern you.”

“Have you not been listening? Of course it concerns me. You are questioning one board member about the murder of another. This isn’t a job, Ransom, it’s my life. The Ballantynes treat me like a daughter; they’re my only family. They were there for me when my parents died. You left. They were all I had. I won’t let you shred their reputation while you witch hunt my board. Besides, your chief called my chief last night.” I stabbed his chest with my finger. Twice. “I’m in this.”

Ransom stepped forward, his jaw tight. “What did you say?”

“Mr. Ballantyne asked me to find out who killed Leo Hirschorn and I’m going to.” So maybe not exactly what Mr. Ballantyne asked, I thought, but close enough. The extra investigation hours could go toward my PI license, and that also helped the Ballantynes. “I don’t answer to you. We’ve always had the cooperation of the Sea Pine Police, and based on my phone call, this won’t be any different.”

“It will be on my terms,” he said, an edge in his voice.

“If you’d like to think that, have at it. Now, when I said afternoons spent by the pool, I didn’t mean me. I have a job.” I walked along the path by the garden toward the front. “I really liked Lieutenant Sully,” I muttered.

“Maybe you’ll like me, too,” he said over my shoulder. “Just stay out of my way and we’ll be fine.”

“You do the same, Lieutenant.”

Her love life is in shambles (which proves more than a little distracting):

I placed my palm on his chest to push him back. I met a warm brick wall covered in silk. “Stop. We’re not doing this here.”“Doing what?” Matty asked, walking up to us. I dropped my hand, startled. “Hey Matty.”

Ransom remained two inches from me, but stretched out his hand to Matty. “Lieutenant Nick Ransom, Island Police Department, former Special Agent FBI. Ex-boyfriend and new neighbor of Red’s.”

“Mattias Gannon, Headmaster of Seabrook Prep,” Matty said. “And a very close friend of Elli’s.”

They shook hands. They held on too long. The men were nearly the same height and their eyes locked together tighter than their hands. Seconds ticked by, then they finally released.

“Well, I’m glad we cleared that up,” I said.

It was kind of interesting, actually. To see men stripped down to their natural competitive instincts. Both vying for the top prize. Which I think was me in this bizarre scenario, considering neither man actually wanted me. Matty and I weren’t even dating and Ransom had a girlfriend.

I put my hand on Matty’s arm. “We should be getting back.” I wanted to get out of there before the tension swallowed me whole.

Ransom tipped his head. “Of course. Have a good night.”

I felt his eyes searing into my backside as I steered Matty through the lobby and over to our table. The waiter had delivered fresh pots of coffee and slices of pineapple upside-down cake while we were gone. A perfectly centered pineapple ring and cherry topped each one. Pete and Kyra had already finished; only crumbs remained on their pale blue saucers.

“You failed to mention your new neighbor is your ex-boyfriend,” Matty said. He chopped off a slice of his cake, but didn’t eat it.

“He’s not my ex-boyfriend, Matty. We spent one night together. Maybe five. Well, not like the whole night, every night. We kissed, made out, rounded a few bases.” Jesus, Elliott, what are you saying? I stuffed a piece of cake in my mouth.

Matty wouldn’t even look at me. I felt my cheeks pink up.

Which made me think of Ransom, which made them pink up another shade. Five more minutes and my head would explode.

“What did you mean by ‘we’re not doing this here’?”

“I didn’t mean anything, Matty. He’s probably on a date for Pete’s sake.”

“You’re on a date for Pete’s sake.”

A date? The stomach slivers returned. How did I miss that signal?

And then there are the other assorted and sundry hiccups she encounters over the course of her inquest:

I went to grab my handbag from the dining room and noticed it sat on a massive glob of puff paint. The entire back side was soaked in blue and stuck to the table. Like dried macaroni on a pencil cup. With a solid yank, the purse came loose but my elbow cracked into the Cookie Corral. It toppled to the floor, hitting the wall on its way down.Holy shit and OH MY GOD.

Dust floated everywhere and covered everything. The carpet, the drapes, the table, the wall. I started to choke. Air and sound battled for release. Breathe or scream? Breathe or scream? Panic crept from my toes to my fingertips. I stared at a large broken shard covered in Leo dust.

My fingers shook. I couldn’t think and I couldn’t look away.

The dust on the floor wasn’t dust. It was Leo. Literally Leo.

Ten seconds slid by, then twenty. I stared in horror, torn between doing the right thing and the wrong thing. Only I had no idea which was the right thing and which was the wrong. Other than Bebe simply could not find out about this. Nor could Mr. Ballantyne. Or any person I ever met, saw, or even thought about.

When it comes right down to it, though, the Ballantynes were right to put their faith in Elliott. Elliott’s not just a charity director or a social host or a disastrous dater or a fledgling private eye—she’s all of these things. Elliott Lisbon is a Renaissance woman, dammit, and that makes her uniquely suited for the task at hand. Renaissance women know how to throw good parties, but as it turns out, they’re also perfectly capable of catching cold-blooded killers; it simply takes determination and a little chutzpah—two things the Ballantyne Foundation’s director has in spades.

For more information, or to buy a copy, visit:

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Blogroll: Romance & Beyond

Lifetime of Little Things

Posted by Sherry Isaac on Mar 22, 2013 in Friends on Friday

Alan-Cupp-HS-199x300Alan Cupp loves to create and entertain, always anticipating his next creative endeavor. In addition to writing fiction, Alan enjoys acting, music, travel, and playing sports. His life’s motto is, “It’s better to wear out than rust out.” He values time spent with his beautiful wife and their two sons. Keep up with Alan on Facebook, and follow him on Twitter. Information on Alan’s new release, Malicious Masquerade, can be found at Henery Press. [Read more...]

Blogroll: Literary, etc.

Book Review: Alan Cupp’s Malicious Masquerade

 

MALICIOUS MASQUERADE giveawayTitle: Malicious Masquerade
Author: Alan Cupp
Genre: Mystery
Rating: 4 out of 5
My Copy: Advance Reader Copy via NetGalley courtesy of Henery Press

Where is Tyler Moore? That’s the question Alan Cupp has us asking in Malicious Masquerade. When Jasper Bedford’s daughter, Cindy, is jilted at the altar, Jasper begins to wonder if something may have happened to Tyler. Jasper quickly assembles a search team and the results surprise him, yet yield little information as to Tyler’s whereabouts. Unbeknownst to Jasper, Cindy hires a private investigator to find Tyler because she believes something must have happened to him. Jasper tries to convince Cindy of the truth: Tyler used her for monetary gain; despite showing her evidence of his guilt, she doesn’t believe it. When she meets with Carter Mays, the Chicago PI she hires, she’s convinced he can find Tyler within days and Carter is unsure if he wants to take this case. He has a reason to be suspicious: the authorities haven’t been alerted to Tyler’s disappearance. The deeper Carter digs, the more he uncovers and soon he’s questioning who he can trust. [Read more...]

Blogroll: LA Times | Books

Why is Amazon deleting writers’ reviews of other authors’ books? by By Carolyn Kellogg

If emails from Amazon’s customer service team are a fair indicator, it appears the online retailer considers authors to be direct competitors of other authors. And email chains are all we have to go on, as Amazon did not respond to our request for comment.

On Wednesday, Steve Weddle, an author of crime fiction, blogged about how he had tried repeatedly to leave a nice review for “Karma Backlash,” a pulpy e-book by his friend Chad Rohrbacher, on its sales page on Amazon. Weddle’s review was received but never posted.

When he asked Amazon what was happening, Weddle got this an email reply that explained, “We have removed your review from Karma Backlash. We do not allow reviews on behalf of a person or company with a financial interest in the product or a directly competing product. This includes authors, artists, publishers, manufacturers, or third-party merchants selling the product. As a result, we’ve removed your reviews for this title.”

It is certainly possible that some authors consider other writers rivals. In September, prize-winning English crime writer R.J. Ellory admitted to having written negative reviews of other writers’ books under a pseudonym. The furor that erupted over his “sock puppet” reviews, however, was just as heated around the positive pseudonymous reviews Ellory had written,. which were for his own books. Ellory, who has since apologized, called one of his own books “a modern masterpiece.”

This is the conundrum of reviews on Amazon: For the most part, they’re not actually reviews. In terms of books, they’re often reactions, thoughts, comments, recommendations — but not book reviews in the classic sense. Book reviewers are supposed to steer clear of work by friends and enemies. That kind of thing has never been the rule at Amazon.

Is it the rule now?

That’s what Weddle wanted to know. He followed up, stating that he had no financial interest in the book. The response reiterated what Amazon had already stated, using the same language as before. “We do not allow reviews on behalf of a person or company with a financial interest in the product or a directly competing product. This includes authors, artists, publishers, manufacturers, or third-party merchants selling the product,” Amazon repeated. The company added a new closing: “We have removed your reviews as they are in violation of our guidelines. We will not be able to go into further detail about our research.”

Weddle believes his review may not have posted because he was doing it in conjunction with his Author Central account at Amazon — something that has never been disallowed but which tells Amazon that he is a writer leaving a review.

And it’s not just Weddle; other authors saw reviews that they had previously posted disappear. Amazon booster J.A. Konrath has too, and he says he’s heard from about 20 other authors that their Amazon reviews had been deleted. Konrath writes that many of the reviews he’d written had been deleted: “more than fifty of them had been removed, namely reviews I did of my peers.”

Writing nice things about peers’ work in Amazon’s review system has been something authors do for one another. Part of this is timing: Frequently, peers are among the first to get a chance to read the books. In some cases, the reviews on Amazon function like blurbs; readers may recognize the name of an author they like praising a book, and that can inform them about an author they don’t yet know.

Whatever you think of the practice, which can look a lot like back-scratching, it’s not at all uncommon — and it’s never been discouraged. As Weddle told Amazon, “I do personally know the author of the book, so if that prevents me from reviewing the book, please let me know.” He then added, “I also know other people who write books.”

That is hardly a rarity; most authors know other people who write books. They’re all in the same relatively small business. This may be a problem if Amazon assumes that authors are rivals of one another; if they are all “directly competing,” no writer will be eligible to write reviews of anothers’ works.

Or maybe it’s no problem at all. Writer Sean Creagan, skeptical of the dust-up, notes that author-on-author reviews comprise so little of Amazon’s overall site content as to be nothing more than a “sparrow’s fart.”

Blogroll: theage.com.au

An ebook enigma: here one day, gone the next by Linda Morris

BUYERS of ebooks may have no greater legal rights than ”tenant farmers” it has emerged following the case of a Kindle user whose digital library was wiped by Amazon.

The fine print in online agreements inserted at the behest of publishers to protect authors’ copyright, licences readers to the digital files but does not grant ”tangible” ownership, as with any hard-copy book.

These conditional ebook licences are policed and can be revoked at the discretion of the ebook retailer, as a Norwegian Kindle customer discovered when in October they allegedly violated Amazon’s terms and conditions and had their digital library deleted, then reinstated.

Additionally readers are physically prevented from transferring content to friends and immediate family, or between devices, by encryption software called Digital Rights Management, devised to protect a creator’s copyright from piracy and prevent buyers from on-selling the digital file for profit. [Read more...]

Blogroll: The Verge

Amazon details ebook price-fixing refund policy, will give up to $1.32 per book

Refunds won’t be released until February 2013 at earliest by Aaron Souppouris

Customers that purchased an ebook from Amazon between April 2010 and May 2012 will receive a partial refund soon. The Wall Street Journal says that Amazon has begun to email customers informing them that they’ll receive between $0.30 and $1.32 for each ebook from the publishers named in the lawsuit — namely Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin, Simon & Schuster, and their subsidiaries. The top-tier credits will be reserved for titles that made The New York Times’ bestsellers list at any point between April 2010 and May 2012. Refunds will arrive in the form of an account credit, although you will be able to request a check instead.

The refund is the result of an investigation into price-fixing by Apple and major publishers. The defendants agreed on a settlement with a number of State Attorneys General back in August, but consumers won’t receive a credit until courts approve the agreement at a hearing next February. Barnes & Noble told The Wall Street Journal that it will be sending a similar email to its customers soon, but in the meantime you can check out an official FAQ that explains eligibility and the refund process in detail.

 

Blogroll: paidContent – THE ECONOMICS OF DIGITAL CONTENT

Changes for retailers as retailers as ebook revolution moves abroad by Laura Hazard Owen

As international publishers and booksellers gather at the Frankfurt Book Fair this week, one big question is this – what will transition to digital reading look like outside the United States?

At the Publishers Launch conference here on Monday, retailers discussed what they are seeing so far…

Windows to new markets

Barnes & Noble is quickly expanding its library of global digital content. The company is being “very aggressive” about expanding its offerings and “shaking that content from the trees internationally”, VP of digital content Theresa Horner said.

And she said Barnes & Noble’s partnership with Microsoft, which spins off B&N’s Nook and college businesses into a separate company called Nook Media, gets ebooks to more international readers. “The Windows 8 partnership allows us to be in markets where we can’t get our own device there,” Horner said. “It removes hurdles to us setting up storefronts.” [Read more...]

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