Blogroll: Kings River Life Magazine

Three Fun Mystery Novels From Henery Press: Review/Giveaway

This week we are featuring three mystery novels from Henery Press, a small press KRL recently discovered. Check out these reviews & maybe you will discover some great new mysteries to enjoy just like we did. Details on how to win a copy of all 3 books at the end of this post. Reviews are of Last Diner Standing: A Rose Strickland Mystery by Terri L. Austin, Still Life in Brunswick Stew: A Cherry Tucker Mystery By Larissa Reinhart, and Double Whammy: A Davis Way Mystery By Gretchen Archer.

Last Diner Standing: A Rose Strickland Mystery By Terri L. Austin

Roselyn “Rose” Strickland knows that no phone call at 3a.m. ever brings good news. However, even she was not prepared for the news that her study partner, Janelle Johnson, was in jail for attempting to kill her ex-husband and was calling to ask Rose to get a good lawyer–and cigarettes to trade with Janelle’s jail mates!

While Rosé is a former rich girl turned diner waitress and long-term college student, her previous experiences with the law put her in contact with her former schoolmate and current high-price attorney, Dane Harker. However, his high fees and firm’s pressure to make a deal force Rose to investigate on her own if she wants to free Janelle in time for her to spend Christmas with her two children, one of whom is a biter.

Luckily, Rose has the help of her best friend and fellow waitress Roxy Block, an anime fan with a hankering for Janelle’s brother and Axton Fuller Graystone, college IT specialist and roomie of a house of potheads. Rose soon learns that Janelle’s ex, AKA “Asshat,” was involved in off-the- books auto mechanic work, chop shops, and strippers–lots of strippers. So there’s no lack of suspects who include jealous dancers, enraged husbands, and IOU’d acquaintances.

As Rose attempts to fit in her investigation with her morning shifts at Ma’s Diner new breakfast service, competition from Rudy’s Roundup Restaurant threatens whatever sanity remains, as Ma Ferguson insists on adding a chicken lunch service that will either bankrupt them or drive them into the grave from exhaustion. The additional discovery of evidence that a hit was placed on Thomas Maxwell Sullivan, the sexy but extremely dangerous crime lord, tests Rose’s loyalties and her priorities.

What elevates this mystery from being just a comical caper novel is that the author creates well-rounded characters with backgrounds which explain their eccentricities, and prevents them from becoming over-the-top comic relief caricatures. Rose is still suffering from the trauma of having killed someone who was a psychotic stalker, and also must contend with her mother’s disapproval and continual disappointment in her daughter’s failure to live up to her potential.

At times it seems that Rose’s friends place an unfair amount of pressure upon her to investigate, yet Rose has made her friends her family and never asks for help for herself. Her stubborn independence, as she attempts to assume control over everything only makes her surprisingly vulnerable as she eventually finds a point where her facade must crack.

While this is an undeniably hilarious and entertaining novel, it always retains at its core an affection for its characters and a sentimental tone. Well-written with a complicated plot and very engaging characters, this second Rose Strickland proves to be entertaining and moving without ever becoming an absurd parody. [Read more...]

Blogroll: Cozy Mystery Book Reviews

Review: Still Life in Brunswick Stew

 

Title: Still Life in Brunswick StewSTILL LIFE IN BRUNSWICK STEW
Author: Larissa Reinhart
Series: Book 2 of the Cherry Tucker Mysteries
Publisher: Henery Press
ISBN: 978-1938383403
Reviewed by: Tess Tipton
Purchase from Amazon

This book finds Cherry Tucker in the middle of an investigation into the death of her best friend Eloise. It seems that Eloise has ingested way too many cups of famous Brunswick Stew at the local arts and crafts festival. Cherry, who is a struggling painter and Eloise ,who makes Raku pottery are sharing a booth, much as they have shared their lives since elementary school.

Cherry takes us thru small town after small town in search of the REAL answer to the death of her dear friend. We find Cherry investigating not only the poisoining, but also a fight between land owners who also happen to be related to one an other. We encounters a stubborn teen-ager, a feisty senior citizen who is Cherry’s granddad’s latest flame, a hunky cop, (aren’t they all), and a business man who may or may not be all he seems to be.

Larissa writes with a fast paced style that caught my attention quickly. Her 3rd book in the series, Hijack in Abstract comes out in November, make sure it’s in your stack of TBR, I know it will be in mine!

 

Blogroll: dru’s book musings

A Day in the Life of Elliott Lisbon by Kendel Lynn

BOARD STIFFThe patio of the Ballantyne Foundation manse overlooks seventy-five acres of lush Sea Pine Island landscape. Majestic oaks draped in Spanish moss mingled with sweet blooming magnolias, winding amongst tennis courts, croquet lawns, formal gardens, and a sparkling pool not ten feet from my chair.

I took a slow drink of lemonade, trying to make my five minute break feel like ten. It had already been a hectic day, though as director of the Ballantyne Foundation, I’d yet to encounter a day that wasn’t.

“Oh, Elli, what am I to do?” Zibby Archibald, the Ballantyne Foundation’s oldest board member, and truly the most interesting, teetered across the patio and plopped into the chair across from me. “Someone stole my piñata. Right from my house!”

I tried to hide my dismay, lest I start a piñata panic. A missing paper party accessory isn’t usually cause for panic, but our Cinco de Mayo celebration was in five hours, and Zibby’s piñata was the showpiece.

“Start at the beginning,” I said as I passed her an icy glass of fresh lemonade.

“I went inside to get my good tweezers. There was a sticky sliver of wood on my sledgehammer and it kept poking my palm. Thought I better pluck it out before I finished beating the hook for the pig’s hat.” [Read more...]

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:

Buy at Powell’s   Buy at IndieBound!   Buy at Amazon

 

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Blogroll: S. M. Nystoriak’s Writer’s Block

Dead Guys, Sassy Sleuths, and Southern Charm

on April 17, 2013

Larissa Reinhart is with me today discussing her writing life, her muse, and her book PORTRAIT OF A DEAD GUY.

I recently finished reading this little gem, and what a gem it was!

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Please see my review of it here:

PORTRAIT OF A DEAD GUY was such a good read! And for me,   it was all about character. Larissa Reinhart has created some unbelievably   vivid characters…and they come to life in every quirky scene. The main   character, Cherry Tucker, is back in her small town of Halo, Georgia after   attending art school in sophisticated Savannah. And as she competes for the   commission of painting a portrait of a dead guy, the reader gets to know   Cherry and the other townsfolk. In Halo, it seems that everyone has a   skeleton in their closet, Cherry included. A cross between an episode of In   The Heat of The Night and My Cousin Vinny, I found the descriptions of the   town as well as the kin folk who reside there to be endearing if not absurd   at times. So many priceless metaphors in the dialog and descriptors make this   an absolutely fun read from beginning to end. And there is a mystery, to   boot!

This book comes with some book club questions at the end, which might be fun   to talk about as a group too. I enjoyed this read a lot, and look forward to   the next installment in the Cherry Tucker Mysteries. [Read more...]

Blogroll: Literary, Etc.

Spotlight: Board Stiff

Posted on  

BOARD STIFFTitle: Board Stiff
Author: Kendel Lynn
Genre: Mystery
Publication Date: April 30, 2013
Publisher: Henery Press

Synopsis:
As director of the Ballantyne Foundation on Sea Pine Island, SC, Elliott Lisbon scratches her detective itch by performing discreet inquiries for Foundation donors. Usually nothing more serious than retrieving a pilfered Pomeranian. Until Jane Hatting, Ballantyne board chair, is accused of murder. The Ballantyne’s reputation tanks, Jane’s headed to a jail cell, and Elliott’s sexy ex is the new lieutenant in town.

Armed with moxie and her Mini Coop, Elliott uncovers a trail of blackmail schemes, gambling debts, illicit affairs, and investment scams. But the deeper she digs to clear Jane’s name, the guiltier Jane looks. The closer she gets to the truth, the more treacherous her investigation becomes: a brutal attack on her own suspect and the murder of a witness. With victims piling up faster than shells at a clambake, Elliott realizes she’s next on the killer’s list.

[Read more...]

Blogroll: Style Weekly

Murder(s) She Wrote

Richmond author LynDee Walker’s humorous thriller turns heads

 arts_culture2-1Who but a journalist could stroll along the leafy streets of the Fan and the lazy banks of the James River and see nothing but high-level crime rings and half a dozen bodies hidden in the shadows?

For LynDee Walker, a Texas-bred reporter turned fiction writer who lives in Richmond with her family, those thoughts are all in a day’s work. Walker’s recently released light thriller, “Front Page Fatality,” portrays Richmond caught in a web of intrigue, which hungry young journalist Nichelle Clarke is eager to untangle before she gets ensnared.

Since its late-January release, “Front Page Fatality” — the first of three books and a novella contracted by Texas publisher Henery Press — has caused a stir, shooting to a peak of No. 1 on Amazon’s new-humor list, fifth on its humor list, and 10th on its mystery list. No one is more shocked than Walker. [Read more...]

Blogroll: Must Read Mysteries

Mrs. MRM reviews Susan Boyer’s “Lowcountry Boil”

LOWCOUNTRY BOILI just finished reading Susan Boyer’s Lowcountry Boil, and I am experiencing a severe case of PBW – Post Book Withdrawal! I haven’t had as much time for reading as I would like recently, but this book made me want to steal every minute possible to read. I was a bit hesitant at first as I am not usually a big fan of paranormal story lines, but the depth of characterization made every character (even the ghost) strong and relatable. Plus, if you’ve ever visited or lived in the Charleston area, you know it is almost impossible to experience the city and its barrier islands without feeling the ghosts of the past looking over your shoulder. Every time I found a minute to read, I found myself slipping into the warm sea air of Stella Maris, and I instantly felt like an island insider. In this fantastic debut, Boyer does a lovely job of maintaining tension while developing sympathetic, identifiable characters. Any small town southerner would be hard-pressed not to see someone they “know” in this book. She kept me guessing right up until the end, but in hindsight all the clues were there. It was smart, funny, and overall a very enjoyable read. I am impatiently waiting her next book and another Liz Talbot adventure!

PIN IT to WIN IT Starts TODAY!

It’s another Pin It to Win It Book Hunt – this time for LAST DINER STANDING! Here’s how it works: Pop over to our Pinterest board , repin the LAST DINER STANDING Pin It to Win It image, then using the list and instructions on the pin, create a board with all your found goodies! After that, just cross your chicken fingers that you’ll win the prizes (good prizes, too).

This contest runs until March 10, and we’ll announce the winner on March 12. Pretty cool, right? If you love Pinterest, or have been itching to try it (beware: it is ADDICTING), now’s your chance to showcase your scavenger hunting talent. And then WIN!

P2W LDS sm

Blogroll: Bookblog of the Bristol Library

Lowcountry Boil by Susan M. Boyer reviewed by Doris

 

MP900362831[1]The Low country of the South has been the setting of choice by a bunch of authors over the last ten years or so. Rich with Southern tradition and legend the area  offers Dorothea Benton Frank, Katherine Wall, Mary Kay Andrews, and Carolyn Hart—among many other authors—a great setting for mystery, romance, and crazy families. Susan M. Boyer’s Lowcountry Boil adds to the genre in a very good way. A first novel, Lowcountry Boil is a lively read with both appealing characters and enough plotting to keep you guessing until the end.  Hopefully Ms. Boyer will use this as a jumping off point for a series of books featuring this crew of characters. [Read more...]

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