Saturday, January 14, 2023

Copper Waters by Marlene M. Bell

Blog Tour Copper Waters by Marlene M. Bell This is my post during the blog tour for Copper Waters by Marlene M. Bell. In Copper Waters a rural New Zealand vacation turns poisonous. This blog tour is organized by Lola's Blog Tours and the tour runs from 2 till 15 January. You can see the tour schedule here: http://www.lolasblogtours.net/blog-tour-copper-waters-by- marlene-m-bell Copper Waters ( Annalisse Series # 4) By Marlene M. Bell Genre: Mystery / Suspense Age category: Adult Release Date: 5 December 2022 Blurb: A rural New Zealand vacation turns poisonous. Antiquities expert Annalisse Drury and tycoon Alec Zavos are at an impasse in their relationship when Alec refuses to clear up a paternity issue with an ex-lover. Frustrated with his avoidance when their future is at stake, Annalisse accepts an invitation from an acquaintance to fly to New Zealand—hoping to escape the recent turbulence in her life. But even Annalisse’s cottage idyll on the family sheep farm isn’t immune to intrigue. Alec sends a mutual friend and detective, Bill Drake, to follow her, and a local resident who accompanies them from the Christchurch airport dies mysteriously soon after. A second violent death finds Annalisse and Bill at odds with the official investigations. The local police want to close both cases as quickly as possible—without unearthing the town’s dirty secrets. As she and Bill pursue their own leads at serious cost, the dual mysteries force Annalisse to question everything she thought she knew about family ties, politics, and the art of small-town betrayal. Links: - Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/62970088-copper-waters - Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/books/copper-waters-a-new-zealand-cottage-mystery- annalisse-series-book-4-by-marlene-m-bell - Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Copper-Waters-Zealand-Cottage-Annalisse-ebook/dp/ B0BL42NBFY/ - B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/copper-waters-marlene-m-bell/1142492768 Earlier books in the series: - Stolen Obsession (Annalisse Series #1): https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0794B81QG/ - Spent Identity (Annalisse Series #2): https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07YXCLZXH/​ - Scattered Legacy (Annalisse Series #3): https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B09HRCTBXJ/ My Take: This is the fourth book in this series and it is just as exciting as the first two. I would suggest reading the first two because you will want to read them. This book can be read as a standalone though. Annaliesse and her fiancee are at an impasse in their relationship and she takes up her friend on going to New Zealand for awhile. When she gets there two deaths occur and the local authorities want Annaliesse to leave beacuse they don't want her to expose the towns dirty little secrets. I received a review copy of this book from Lola's Book Tours and was dnot required to leave a positive review.

Friday, January 13, 2023

Update #2

I have read Four more books since my last update post. Audio Books are
From Goodreads: We think we understand the laws of physics. We think reality is an immutable monolith, consistent from one end of the universe to the next. We think the square/cube law has actual relevance. We think a lot of things. It was perhaps inevitable that some of them would turn out to be wrong. When the great incursion occurred, no one was prepared. How could they have been? Of all the things physicists had predicted, “the fabric of reality might rip open and giant monsters could come pouring through” had not made the list. But somehow, on a fine morning in May, that was precisely what happened. For sisters Susan and Katharine Black, the day of the incursion was the day they lost everything. Their home, their parents, their sense of normalcy…and each other, because when the rift opened, Susan was on one side and Katharine was on the other, and each sister was stranded in a separate form of reality. For Susan, it was science and study and the struggle to solve the mystery of the altered physics inside the zones transformed by the incursion. For Katharine, it was monsters and mayhem and the fight to stay alive in a world unlike the world of her birth. The world has changed. The laws of physics have changed. The girls have changed. And the one universal truth of all states of changed matter is that nothing can be completely restored to what it was originally, no matter how much you might wish it could be. Nothing goes back.
From Goodreads: Living in the country comes with rampant gossip, a stubborn next-door neighbor, and another murder… Cassie Alberta is settling into her new life in Little Leaf Creek. She is slowly starting to put the unexpected death of her husband and the life she had in the city behind her. She is enjoying the quaint town and her beautiful natural surroundings. Her next-door neighbor’s lovable dog has stolen her heart. And although she never expected to live next to two goats she is liking them more every day. But her contentment turns to shock when a dead body is found in the woods near her home. When the death is originally called an accident, Cassie partners with her reclusive ex-cop neighbor to help prove that it was murder and find the killer. Her plan to keep things simple and enjoy single life seems to be becoming impossible when two handsome locals are vying for her affections. Cassie traverses a mountain of clues and suspects and heads straight toward danger. Will the culprit be caught before Cassie becomes the next victim? Recipe included: Baked Strawberry Cheesecake Peril in Little Leaf Creek is the fast-paced second book in the Little Leaf Creek Cozy Mystery Series. If you like unexpected twists and turns, lively personalities, lovable animals and a never-ending list of suspicious characters, then you’ll love Cindy Bell’s heartwarming whodunnit. Buy Peril in Little Leaf Creek to start solving the murder today!
From GoodReads: Living in the country comes with temperamental goats, an ornery next-door neighbor, and a mysterious murder… Cassie Alberta is loving her new life in Little Leaf Creek. She is getting over the sudden death of her husband, appreciating what small town life has to offer and is enjoying getting to know the locals and their secrets. She is slowly learning how to live next to two cheeky goats and has fallen in love with her neighbor’s endearing dog. But life becomes a whole lot more complicated when she finds the dead body of an orchard owner. Cassie partners with her antisocial ex-cop neighbor to help solve the murder. Her hands are full, as Thanksgiving is right around the corner and she is determined to try and bring her friends together for a feast, but they would prefer to remain alone. Not to mention the fact that two hunky locals have caught her attention. Cassie peels back layers of clues and suspects to try and get to the core of the murder and uncover the murderer. Will the murderer be caught in time so that Cassie can have the Thanksgiving she longs for? Recipe included: Lattice Apple Pie Conflict in Little Leaf Creek is the fast-paced third book in the Little Leaf Creek Cozy Mystery Series. If you like unexpected twists and turns, lively personalities, lovable animals and a never-ending list of suspicious characters, then you’ll love Cindy Bell’s heartwarming whodunnit. Buy Conflict in Little Leaf Creek to start solving the murder today! Physical Book
From Goodreads: The Sugar Maple Inn in Wagtail, Virginia, is the country's premiere vacation hot spot for pet owners who can’t bear to leave their furry friends behind. But this tourist town smells trouble when a killer goes on the prowl.... Holly Miller's life has gone to the dogs. She has no job, her boyfriend's former flame is sniffing around, and a scruffy but loveable Jack Russell Terrier is scattering crumbs all over her borrowed car. Just when she thought things couldn't get worse, a troubling phone call about her grandmother sends her rushing home to the family inn on Wagtail Mountain. The staff—and a frisky Calico kitten named Twinkletoes—adopts Holly and her new dog on arrival. But someone in this friendly town is bad to the bone. One of the employees at the inn has been killed in a hit-and-run accident—which is looking anything but accidental. Now Holly and her furry companions will have to nose out the murderer before someone else gets muzzled.

Friday, January 6, 2023

I have read 3 books already this year

So I have read 3 books so far this year. Last year I read 100 books, 80 were audio, 4 were ebooks and 16 were physical books. This year My goal is 53 books. I have read two audio books and one physical book. My Audio books were
From Goodreads : Her new home in the country comes with an antiquated historical society, a sour-faced next-door neighbor, and a murder victim on her front lawn… Cassie Alberta needs a fresh start. Leaving the big city to put her husband’s death behind her, she’s immediately charmed by the quaint little town of Little Leaf Creek, even though her first encounter with her neighbor’s dog and goats shows her that she has a lot to learn about country life. But her delight quickly turns to alarm when one of her first visitors is a dead body. Shocked when she’s accused of the crime, Cassie partners with her reclusive ex-cop neighbor to find the real killer. And when two handsome locals grab her attention, she finds the simple life she had hoped for in the small town has just become a whole lot more complicated. As the suspect list grows and the attempts on her life increase, simply surviving may be an impossible feat. Can Cassie catch the true culprit before her final address is jail? Recipe included: Vanilla Cake Chaos in Little Leaf Creek is the fast-paced first book in the Little Leaf Creek Cozy Mystery Series. If you like unexpected twists and turns, lively personalities, lovable animals and a never-ending list of suspicious characters, then you’ll love Cindy Bell’s heartwarming whodunnit. and
The Physical Book I have finished is
From Good Reads: Defeated, crushed, and driven almost to extinction, the remnants of the human race are trapped on a planet that is constantly attacked by mysterious alien starfighters. Spensa, a teenage girl living among them, longs to be a pilot. When she discovers the wreckage of an ancient ship, she realizes this dream might be possible—assuming she can repair the ship, navigate flight school, and (perhaps most importantly) persuade the strange machine to help her. Because this ship, uniquely, appears to have a soul.

Tuesday, December 27, 2022

The Siren's Scream by Thomas White

About THE SIREN'S SCREAM: An old mansion sits atop of a cliff, overlooking the ocean, in Santa Cruz, CA. A young realtor, Darcy Wainwright, manages to sell the dilapidated old house to Henry Childs, an obese nebbish who is obsessed with the property. In the backyard is a pool. Not an ordinary pool but a giant tide pool. In the tide pool is a siren with an evil agenda for revenge. Book Information Release Date: October 5, 2022 Publisher: Savvy Books Soft Cover: ISBN: 978-1088067819; 480 pages; $21.14 Amazon: https://amzn.to/3TEz7kx Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-sirens-scream-thomas-white/1142494493?ean=9781088067819 Purchase your copy at the author’s website: https://thomas-white-author.com/ My Take: This book is creepy so make sure you read with the lights on and your doors losked. This book draws you in quickly and doesn't let go easily. If you like mystery and a little bit of horror then this is the book for you. Just be careful that you don't become obsessed with the house or the tide pool. I received a review copy of this book from Pump Up Your Book Tours ans was not required to write a positve review.

Unforeseen by Deven Greene

Title: Unforeseen Author: Deven Greene Publisher: Black Rose Writing Pages: 332 Genre: Medical Thriller Blurb: Pediatrician Erica Rosen is stymied when two of her patients don’t respond to medicine as expected. When other patients later develop strange, unexpected illnesses, she is determined to get to the bottom of it. Meanwhile, the department’s newest pediatrician, Dr. Nilsen, appears to be trying to steal her patients. Erica suspects he is after her job as the clinic director. She also discovers Dr. Nilsen has become romantically involved with her trusted assistant, Martha. One evening, while looking for patient information on Martha’s desk, Erica comes across a list with the names of some of her patients. A boy who recently became ill with a mysterious malady is on the list and has an asterisk by his name. What does that mean? Erica is convinced something nefarious is underfoot, and Dr. Nilsen, rather than simply being after her job, is engaged in a dangerous scheme involving her patients. Unable to recruit the help of law enforcement in a timely manner, she realizes she must take matters into her own hands. As she proceeds with her investigation, she is unaware of the dangers she is about to encounter. Book Information Release Date: August 18, 2022 Publisher: Black Rose Writing Soft Cover: 329 pages; $21.95; eBook $6.99; FREE on Kindle Unlimited Amazon: https://amzn.to/3Tp8u3J Black Rose Writing: https://www.blackrosewriting.com/thrillers/unforeseen?rq=deven%20greene My take: This was the first book I have read by Deven Greene and it won't be the last since this is the thrid book in this series and I want to go back as read the first two. YOu don't need to read the first two books in the series to enjoy this book but let me tell you , you will want to read the first two books. Some of Eric Rosen's patients are coming down with mysterious illnesses so she must find out what is going on and why and who is couding it. I recommend this book and be aware that the Eric Rosen is a pediatrician so her patients are children. I received a review copy of this book from Pump Up Your Book Tours and was not required to write a positive review.

Thursday, December 22, 2022

Her Sister's Death by K.L. Murphy

Her Sister’s Death by K. L. Murphy Banner

Her Sister's Death

by K. L. Murphy

November 28 - December 23, 2022 Virtual Book Tour

Synopsis:

Her Sister's Death by K. L. Murphy

She wanted the truth. She should have known better.

When her sister is found dead in a Baltimore hotel room, reporter Val Ritter’s world is turned upside down. An empty pill bottle at the scene leads the police to believe the cause of death is suicide. With little more than her own conviction, Val teams up with Terry Martin, a retired detective who has his own personal interest in the case, to prove that something more sinister is possible.

In 1921, Bridget Wallace, a guest on the brink of womanhood, is getting ready to marry an eligible older man. But what seems like a comfortable match soon takes a dark turn. Does the illustrious history of the stately Franklin hotel hide another, lesser known history of death?

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery
Published by: CamCat Books
Publication Date: December 2022
Number of Pages: 352
ISBN: 9780744307399 (ISBN10: 0744307392)
Book Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads | CamCat Books

Read an excerpt:

PRESENT DAY

CHAPTER 1

VAL
Monday, 9:17 a.m.

Once, when I was nine or maybe ten, I spent weeks researching a three-paragraph paper on polar bears. I don’t remember much about the report or polar bears, but that assignment marked the beginning of my lifelong love affair with research. As I got older, I came to believe that if I did the research, I could solve any problem. It didn’t matter what it was. School. Work. Relationships. In college, when I suspected a boyfriend was about to give me the brush-off, I researched what to say before he could break up with me. Surprisingly, there are dozens of pages about this stuff. Even more surprising, some of it actually works. We stayed together another couple of months, until I realized I was better off without him. He never saw it coming.

When I got married, I researched everything from whether or not we were compatible (we were) to our average life expectancy based on our medical histories (only two years different). Some couples swear they’re soul mates or some other crap, but I considered myself a little more practical than that. I wanted the facts before I walked down the aisle. The thing is, research doesn’t tell you that your perfect-on-paper husband is going to

prefer the ditzy receptionist on the third floor before you’ve hit your five-year anniversary. It also doesn’t tell you that your initial anger will turn into something close to relief, or that all that perfection was too much work and maybe the whole soul-mate thing isn’t as crazy as it sounds. If you doubt me, look it up.

My love of research isn’t as odd as one might think. My father is a retired history professor, and my mother is a bibliophile. It doesn’t matter the genre. She usually has three or more books going at once. She also gets two major newspapers every day and a half dozen magazines each month. Some people collect cute little china creatures or rare coins or something. My mother collects words. When I decided to become a journalist, both my parents were overjoyed.

“It’s perfect,” my father said. “We need more people to record what’s going on in the world. How can we expect to learn if we don’t recognize that everything that happens impacts our future?” I fought the urge to roll my eyes. I knew what was coming, but how many times can a person hear about the rise and fall of Caesar? The man was stabbed to death, and it isn’t as though anyone learned their lesson. Ask Napoleon. Or Hitler. My dad was right about one thing though. History can’t help but repeat itself.

“Honey,” my mother interrupted. “Val will only write about important topics. You know very well she is a young lady of principle.” Again, I wanted to roll my eyes.

Of course, for all their worldliness, neither of my parents understands how the world of journalism works. You don’t walk into a newsroom as an inexperienced reporter and declare you will be writing about the environment, or the European financial market, or the latest domestic policy. The newspaper business is not so different from any other—even right down to the way technology is forcing it to go digital. Either way, the newbies are given the jobs no one else wants.

Naturally, I was assigned to obituaries.

After a year, I got moved to covering the local city council meetings, but the truth was, I missed the death notices. I couldn’t stop myself from wondering how each of the people died. Some were obvious. When the obituary asks you to donate to the cancer society or the heart association, you don’t have to think too hard to figure it out. Also, people like to add that the deceased “fought a brave battle with (fill in the blank).” I’ve no doubt those people were brave, but they weren’t the ones that interested me. It was the ones that seemed to die unexpectedly and under unusual circumstances. I started looking them up for more information. The murder victims held particular fascination for me. From there, it was only a short hop to my true interest: crime reporting.

The job isn’t for everyone. Crime scenes are not pretty. Have you ever rushed out at three in the morning to a nightclub shooting? Or sat through a murder trial, forced to view photo after photo of a brutally beaten young mother plastered across a giant screen?

My sister once told me I must have a twisted soul to do what I do. Maybe. I find myself wondering about the killer, curious about what makes them do it. That sniper—the one that picked off the poor folks as they came out of the state fair—that was my story. Even now, I still can’t get my head around that guy’s motives.

So, I research and research, trying to get things right as well as find some measure of understanding. It doesn’t always work, but knowing as much as I can is its own kind of answer.

Asking questions has always worked for me. It’s the way I do my job. It’s the way I’ve solved every problem in my life. Until now. Not that I’m not trying. I’m at the library. I’m in my favorite corner in the cushy chair with the view of the pond. I don’t know how long I’ve been here.

How many hours.

My laptop is on, the screen filled with text and pictures. Flicking through the tabs, I swallow the bile that reminds me I have no answer. I’ve asked the question in every way I can think of, but for the first time in my life, Google is no help.

Why did my sister—my gorgeous sister with her two beautiful children and everything to live for—kill herself? Why?

***

Sylvia has been dead for four days now. Actually, I don’t know how long she’s been dead. I’ve been told there’s a backlog at the ME’s office. Apparently, suicides are not high priority when you live in a city with one of the country’s highest murder rates. I don’t care what the cause of death is. I want the truth. While we wait for the official autopsy, I find myself reevaluating what I do know.

Her body was discovered on Thursday at the Franklin, a Do not Disturb sign hanging from the door of her room. The hotel claims my sister called the front desk after only one day and asked not to be disturbed unless the sign was removed. This little detail could not have been more surprising. My sister doesn’t have trouble sleeping. Sylvia went to bed at ten every night and was up like clockwork by six sharp. I have hundreds of texts to prove it. Even when her children were babies with sleep schedules that would kill most people, she somehow managed to stick to her routine. Vacations with her were pure torture.

“Val, get up. The sun is shining. Let’s go for a walk on the beach.”

I’d open one eye to find her standing in the doorway. She’d be dressed in black nylon shorts and neon sneakers, bouncing up and down on her toes.

“We can walk. I promise I won’t run.”

Tossing my pillow at her, I’d groan and pull the covers over my head. “You can’t sleep the day away, Val.”

She’d cross the room in two strides and rip back the sheets. “Get up.”

In spite of my night-owl tendencies, I’d crawl out of bed. Sylvia had a way of making me feel like if I didn’t join her, I’d be missing out on something extraordinary. The thing is, she was usually right. Sure, a sunrise is a sunrise, but a sunrise with Sylvia was color and laughter and tenderness and love. She had that way about her. She loved mornings.

I tried to explain Sylvia to the police officer, to tell him that hanging a sleeping sign past six in the morning, much less all day, was not only odd behavior but also downright suspicious. He did his best not to dismiss me outright, but I knew he didn’t get it.

“Sleeping too much can be a sign of depression,” he said. “She wasn’t depressed.”

“She hung a sign, ma’am. It’s been verified by the manager.” He stopped short of telling me that putting out that stupid sign wasn’t atypical of someone planning to do what she did.

Whatever that’s supposed to mean.

The screen in front of me blurs, and I rub my burning eyes. There are suicide statistics for women of a certain age, women with children, women in general. My fingers slap the keys. I change the question, desperate for an answer, any answer.

A shadow falls across the screen when a man takes the chair across from me, a newspaper under his arm. My throat tightens, and I press my lips together. He settles in, stretching his legs. The paper crackles as he opens it and snaps when he straightens the pages.

“Do you mind?”

He lowers the paper, his brows drawn together. “Mind what?” “This is a library. It’s supposed to be quiet in here.”

He angles his head. “Are you always this touchy or is it just me?”

“It’s you.” I don’t know why I say that. I don’t even know why I’m acting like a brat, but I can’t help myself.

Silence fills the space between us as he appears to digest what I’ve said. “Perhaps you’d like me to leave?”

“That would be nice.”

He blinks, the paper falling from his hand. I’m not sure which of us is more surprised by my answer. I seem to have no control over my thoughts or my mouth. The man has done nothing but crinkle a newspaper, but I have an overwhelming need to lash out. He looks around, and for a moment, I feel bad.

The man gets to his feet, the paper jammed under his arm. “Look, lady, I’ll move to another spot, but that’s because I don’t want to sit here and have my morning ruined by some kook who thinks the public library is her own personal living room.” He points a finger at me. “You’ve got a problem.”

I feel the sting, the well of tears before he’s even turned his back. They flood my eyes and pour down over my cheeks. Worse, my mouth opens, and I sob, great, loud, obnoxious sobs.

I cover my face with my hands and sink lower into the chair, my body folding in on itself.

My laptop slips to the floor, and I somehow cry harder. “Is she all right?” a woman asks, her voice high and tight. The annoying man answers. “She’ll be fine in a minute.”

“Are you sure?” Her gaze darts between us, and her hands flutter over me like wings, nearing but never touching. I recognize her from the reference desk. “People are staring. This is a library, you know.”

I want to laugh, but it gets caught in my throat, and comes out like a bark. Her little kitten heels skitter back. I don’t blame her.

Who wouldn’t want to get away from the woman making strange animal noises?

“Do you have a private conference room?” the man asks. The woman points the way, and large hands lift me to my feet. “Can you get her laptop and her bag, please?”

The hands turn into an arm around my shoulders. He steers me toward a small room at the rear of the library. My sobs morph into hiccups.

The woman places my bag and computer on a small round table. “I’ll make sure no one bothers you here.” She slinks out, pulling the door shut.

The man sets his paper down and pulls out a chair for me. I don’t know how many minutes pass before I’m able to stop crying, before I’m able to speak.

“Are you okay now?” I can’t look at him. His voice is kind, far kinder than I deserve. He pushes something across the table. “Here’s my handkerchief.” He gets to his feet. “I’m going to see if I can find you some water.”

The door clicks behind him, and I’m alone. My sister, my best friend, is gone, and I’m alone.

***

“Do you want to talk about it?” the man asks, setting a bottle of water and a package of crackers on the table.

Sniffling, I twist the damp, wadded up handkerchief into a ball. I want to tell him that no, I don’t want to talk about it, that I don’t even know him, but the words slip out anyway. “My sister died,” I say.

“Oh.” He folds his hands together. “I’m sorry. Recently?” “Four days.”

He pushes the crackers he’s brought across the table. “You should try to eat something.”

I try to remember when I last ate. Yesterday? The day before? One of my neighbors did bring me a casserole with some kind of brown meat and orangey red sauce. It may have had noodles, but I can’t be sure. I do remember watching the glob of whatever it was slide out of the aluminum pan and down the disposal. I think I ate half a bagel at some point. My stomach churns, then rumbles. The man doesn’t wait for me to decide. He opens the packet and pushes it closer. For some reason I can’t explain, I want to prove I’m more polite that I seemed earlier. I take the crackers and eat.

He gestures at the bottle. “Drink.”

I do. The truth is, I’m too numb to do anything else. It’s been four days since my parents phoned me. Up to now, I’ve taken the news like any other story I’ve been assigned. I’ve filed it away, stored it at the back of my mind as something I need to analyze and figure out before it can be processed. I’ve buried myself in articles and anecdotes and medical pages, reading anything and everything to try and understand. On some level, I recognize my behavior isn’t entirely normal. My parents broke down, huddled together on the sofa, as though conjoined in their grief. I couldn’t have slipped between them even if I wanted to. Sylvia’s husband—I guess that’s what we’re still calling him—appeared equally stricken. Not even the sight of her children, their faces pale and blank, cracked the shell I erected, the wall I built to deny the reality of her death.

“Aunt Val,” Merry asked. “Mommy’s coming back, right? She’s just passed, right? That’s what Daddy said.” She paused, a single tear trailing over her pink cheek. “What’s ‘passed’?”

Merry is the youngest, only five. Miles is ten—going on twenty if you ask me—which turned out to be a good thing in that moment. Miles took his sister by the hand. “Come on, Merry. Dad wants us in the back.” I let out a breath. Crisis averted.

My sister has been gone four days, and I haven’t shed a tear. Until today. The man across the table clears his throat. “Are you feeling any better?” “No, I’m not feeling better. My sister is still dead.” God, I’m a bitch. I expect him to stand up and leave or at least point out what an ass I’m being when he’s gone out of his way to be nice, but he does neither. “Yes, I suppose she is. Death is kind of permanent.”

I jerk back in my chair. “Is that supposed to be funny?”

Unlike me, he does apologize. “I’m sorry. That didn’t come out right. I never did have the best bedside manner for the job.”

I take a closer look at the man. “Are you a doctor?”

He half laughs. “Hardly. Detective. Former, I mean. I never quite got the hang of talking to the victims’ families without putting my foot in my mouth. Seems I’ve done it again.”

My curiosity gets the best of me. He’s not much older than I am. Mid-forties. Maybe younger. Definitely too young for retirement. “Former detective? What do you do now?”

“I run a security firm.” He lifts his shoulders. “It’s different, has its advantages.”

The way he says it, I know he misses the job. I understand. “I write for the Baltimorean. Mostly homicides,” I say. “That’s a good paper. I’ve probably read your work then.”

Crumpling the empty cracker wrapper, I say, “I’m sorry I dumped on you out there.”

He shrugs again. “It’s okay. You had a good reason.” I can’t think of anything to say to that.

“How did she die, if you don’t mind my asking?”

The question hits me hard. What I mind is that my sister is gone. My hands ball into fists. The heater in the room hums, but otherwise, it’s quiet. “They say she died by suicide.”

The man doesn’t miss a beat. “But you don’t believe it.” He watches me, his body still.

My heart pounds in my chest and I reach into my mind, searching for any information I’ve found that contradicts what I’ve been told. I’ve learned that almost fifty thousand people a year die by suicide in the United States. Strangely, a number of those people choose to do it in hotels. Maybe it’s the anonymity. Maybe it’s to spare the families. There are plenty of theories, but unfortunately, one can’t really ask the departed about that. Still, the reasoning is sound enough. For four days, I’ve read until I can’t see, and my head has dropped from exhaustion. I know that suicide can be triggered by traumatic events or chronic depression. It can be triggered by life upheaval or can be drug induced, or it can happen for any number of reasons that even close family and friends don’t know about until after—if ever. I know all this, and yet, I can’t accept it.

Sylvia was found in a hotel room she had no reason to be in. An empty pill bottle was found on the nightstand next to her. She checked in alone. Nothing in the room had been disturbed. Nothing appeared to have been taken. For all these reasons, the police made a preliminary determination that the cause of death was suicide, the final ruling to be made after the ME’s report. I know all this. My parents and Sylvia’s husband took every word of this at face value. But I can’t. Sylvia is not a statistic, and I know something they don’t.

“No. I don’t believe it.” I say, meeting his steady gaze with my own.

He doesn’t react. He doesn’t tell me I’m crazy. He doesn’t say “I’m sorry” again. Nothing. I’m disappointed, though I can’t imagine why. He’s a stranger to me. Still, I press my shoulder blades against the back of the chair, waiting. I figure it out then. Former detective. I’ve been around enough cops to know how it works. It’s like a tribe with them. You don’t criticize another officer. You don’t question anyone’s toughness or loyalty to the job. You don’t question a ruling that a case doesn’t warrant an investigation, much less that it isn’t even a case. So, I sit and wait. I will not be the first to argue. It doesn’t matter that he’s retired and left the job. He’s still one of them. In fact, the more I think about it, I can’t understand why he’s still sitting there. I’ve been rude to the man. I’ve completely broken down in front of him like some helpless idiot. And now, I’ve suggested the cause of death that everyone—and I mean everyone—says is true is not the truth at all.

He gets up, shoves his hands in his pockets.

This is it. He’s done with me now. In less than one minute he’ll be gone and, suddenly, I don’t want him to leave. I break the silence.

“I’m Val Ritter.” “Terry Martin.”

I turn the name over in my brain. It’s familiar in a vague way. “Terry the former detective.”

“Uh-huh.” He shifts his weight from one foot to the other. “Look, I’m sorry about your sister. You’ve lost someone you love, and the idea that she might have taken her own life is doubly distressing.”

“I’m way past distressed. I’m angry.”

“Is it possible that you’re directing that anger toward the ones that ruled her death a suicide instead of at your . . .” His words fall away.

“My sister?” “Yes.”

“I might be if I thought she did this.” I cross my arms over my chest. “But I don’t. This idea, this thing they’re saying makes no sense at all.”

Terry the former detective’s voice is low, soothing. “Why?”

My arms drop again. I’m tempted to tell him everything I know, which admittedly isn’t much, but I hold back. This man is a stranger. Sure, he’s been nice, and every time I’ve expected him to walk out the door, he’s done the opposite. But that doesn’t mean I can trust him.

“I’m sorry if my question seems insensitive,” he says. His voice is soft, comforting in a neutral way, and I can picture him in an interrogation. He would be the good cop. “No matter how shocking the, uh, idea might be, I have a feeling you have your reasons. You were close—you and your sister?” “We were.” I sit there, twisting the handkerchief in my fingers. The heat-

er makes a revving noise, drops back to a steady hum. “We talked all the time, and I can tell you she wasn’t depressed. That’s what they kept saying. ‘She must have been depressed.’ I know people hide things, but she was never good at hiding her emotions from me. If anything, she’d been happier than ever.” I give a slow shake of my head. “They tried to tell me about the other suicide and about the pills and the sign on the door and—” I stop. I hear myself rambling and force myself to take a breath. “If something had been wrong, I would have known.”

Terry the former detective doesn’t react, doesn’t move. He keeps his mouth shut, but I know. He doesn’t believe me, same as all the others. I can tell. There is no head bob or leading question. He thinks I’m in denial and that I will eventually accept the truth. He doesn’t know me at all.

The minutes pass, and I drink the water. I realize I feel better. It’s time to leave. “I should be going.” I hold up the crumpled rag in my hand. “Sorry I did such a number on your handkerchief. I can clean it, send it to you later.”

He waves off the suggestion. “Keep it.”

I gather my items and apologize again. “Sorry you had to witness my meltdown out there.”

“It happens.”

I’m headed out the door, my hand on the knob, when he breaks protocol.

“What did you mean by ‘the other suicide’?”

CHAPTER 2

TERRY
Monday, 10:02 a.m.

The woman—Val, I remind myself—hesitates. I can see she’s wary, worried I don’t believe her. I don’t know that I do, but I am curious. “What

did you mean? There was another suicide?”

“A month ago, maybe a little longer, a woman killed herself in the same hotel. She jumped off the roof, which apparently was no easy task since there were all kinds of doors to go through to get up there. Of course, what happened to her was horrible, but it has nothing to do with my sister. I don’t know why they’re acting like it does.”

My jaw tightens. “Which hotel?”

“The Franklin.”

I look past her and think maybe I should be surprised, but nothing about that hotel surprises me. “The Franklin,” I say, echoing her words.

The Franklin is one of Baltimore’s oldest hotels. Built in 1918, it’s fifteen stories high with marble columns and archways at the entrance. Along with the Belvedere, before it became condos, and the Lord Baltimore, the Franklin is a destination, a swanky place that’s attracted film stars and

politicians for decades. Somewhere along the line, it fell into disrepair and the famous guests went elsewhere. For a brief time, the management offered rooms for short-term rentals, desperate to keep the hotel from plunging further into the red. Twenty years ago, the hotel was sold to an investment group. They declared the hotel historic, sunk tens of millions of dollars into it, and reopened it in grand style. The governor and the mayor cut the big red ribbon. Baseball stars from the Orioles and a well-known director were photographed at the official gala. It was a big to-do for the city at the time. Since then, it’s remained popular—one of the five-star hotels downtown, which, of course, means that a night there doesn’t come cheap. That’s the press release version.

But there’s another one. Lesser known.

Val is calm now, watching me, and I catch a glimpse of the reporter. “Do you know it?” she asks.

“Yeah, I know it.” Stories have circulated about the hotel through the years. Some are decades old while others have been encouraged by the hotel itself. Ghost tours are popular these days, and the Franklin tour is no exception. “It has a history. For a while, it was called the Mad Motel.”

She flinches. “What?”

“According to my grandfather, people seemed to die there. Most deaths occurred right after the Depression, victims of the stock market crash, but not all. There was one guy that killed his whole family right before he killed himself. They said he lost his mind. That was the first time it was called the Mad Motel, though there were other stories.”

“What are you saying?”

I see the flush on her cheeks and know my words have upset her in a way I didn’t intend. I do my best to smooth it over. “Nothing. I didn’t mean anything. I’ve never been a fan of the name myself, but there were some guys around the department that used it.”

The anger that colored her cheeks a moment earlier fades, eclipsed by something else I recognize. Curiosity. “Why would they use such a terrible name?”

It’s a valid question, and I give the only explanation I can. “The first time I heard it on the job was about fifteen years ago. An assault at the Franklin. I didn’t catch the case, but I remember a man almost beat his wife to death. He would have, if someone in the next room hadn’t called the police.”

She doesn’t blink, doesn’t raise a hand to her mouth. Just waits. “Before that day, the guy was a typical accountant. Kind of nerdy.

Mild-mannered. Went to work. Went home to his family. Nothing out of the ordinary. Then they fly into Baltimore for their nephew’s wedding, stay at the Franklin. As they were dressing, he loses it. He hits her with the lamp, punches her, throws her up against the wall. When the police arrived, they had to pry him off of her. They rushed her to the hospital. She ended up with broken ribs, a concussion, a whole bunch of other stuff.”

“And the husband?”

“That’s what was so strange. According to the officers on the scene, as soon as they pulled him off, he stopped all of it. He cried, begged to be allowed to go with her to the hospital. When they took him downtown, he swore he didn’t know what had come over him. That he’d never hit anyone in his life, and he couldn’t even recall being angry with her. They kept him in jail until she woke up. Oddly, she corroborated his story. She said he didn’t have a violent bone in his body before that day.”

Val’s forehead wrinkles. “I don’t remember ever reading about that case.

What happened?”

“He was charged in spite of his wife’s insistence that she didn’t want that. When he went to trial, his lawyer put him on the stand. That’s when I heard his story.” I pause and run my hand over my face, scratching at my chin. “He told the jury that while he was putting on his tux jacket, a cold breeze blew in. He said he checked the room, but the windows were closed, and it was winter, so the heat was on. Then according to him, this cold air got into his body, in his hands and his feet and then his mind. He said when his wife came out of the bathroom, he didn’t recognize her, that she was someone else, something else.”

“Something else? What does that mean?”

“He described a monster with sharp teeth and claws. His attorney even had a drawing done by a sketch artist. She held it up for the jury, but the man wouldn’t look at it. Refused. He claimed he panicked, grabbed the lamp, and swung, but the monster kept coming. He said the monster howled—that was probably his wife screaming—and came at him again. That must have been when the guest in the other room called the police.” I pause again. Even as I say it, I know how it sounds. “So, he tells this story at trial, and everyone looks around at each other thinking this guy is crazy. But his wife is in the audience and nodding like it’s true. The prosecutor goes after him, but he doesn’t back down. He admits he attacked someone, but he swears he didn’t knowingly hurt his wife. He breaks down on the stand, and it’s basically bedlam in the courtroom.”

Memories of that day flood my mind. I sat in the back of the packed courtroom, watching the melee. It was hard to know what to think. Was the man delusional? A sociopath? Or was he telling the truth? Fortunately, Val doesn’t ask my opinion, and I tell her the rest.

“The prosecutor decided to cut his losses,” I say. “He let the man plead to a lesser charge and get some mental help.”

“That’s all?”

“Yep. The man did three months in a mental health facility, then went back to Omaha and his wife. End of story.”

“So that’s why the Franklin is called the Mad Motel?”

“It’s one of the reasons. But like I said, the place has a history.” Newspaper articles and pictures and evidence files flit through my mind. Many of the images are gruesome. Others just sad. Although the library is warm, I’m cold under my jacket. My voice drops to a whisper, the memories too close for comfort. “A history of death.”

***

Excerpt from Her Sister's Death by K. L. Murphy. Copyright 2022 by K. L. Murphy. Reproduced with permission from CamCat Books. All rights reserved.

 

 

Author Bio:

K. L. Murphy

K. L. Murphy is the author of the Detective Cancini Mystery Series: A Guilty Mind, Stay of Execution, and The Last Sin. Her short stories are featured in the anthologies Deadly Southern Charm (“Burn”) and Murder by the Glass (“EverUs”). She is a member of Mystery Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, Sisters in Crime, James River Writers, and Historical Writers of America. K. L. lives in Richmond, VA, with her husband, children, and amazing dogs. When she’s not writing, she loves to read, entertain friends, catch up on everything she ignored, and always—walk the amazing dogs.

Catch Up With K. L. Murphy:
KellieLarsenMurphy.com
Goodreads
BookBub - @KLMurphy
Instagram - @k.l._murphy
Twitter - @klmurphyauthor
Facebook - @klmurphyauthor

 

 

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My Take: Val Ritter's siter dies in a Hotel room in Baltimore, Maryland. Val is an investigative report and feels in her gut that her sister didn't commit suicide even though an empty bottle of pills would seem to point to that as fact. Terry Martin is a retired detective who teams up with Val in trying to prove Sylvia was killed and she didn't commit suicide. Terry doesn't share everything with Val though and this leads to some of the suspense. This story will keep you on your toes and will keep you wondereing what is actually going on at the Franklin Hotel. I received a review copy of this book from Partners in Crime Book Tours and was not required to write a positive review.

Friday, December 16, 2022

Solitude Lake by Adele Darcy

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This is my post during the blog tour for Solitude Lake by Adele Darcy. In Solitude Lake a young widow finds healing and a second chance at love in small town Montana.

This blog tour is organized by Lola's Blog Tours and the tour runs from 28 November till 18 December. You can see the tour schedule here.

Solitude Lake
Solitude Lake (Hidden Creek Romance #1)
By Adele Darcy
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Age category: Adult
Release Date: May 2022

Blurb:
Following the tragic death of her husband, Susan Dixon struggles with the realization that the love they shared was crippled by his legacy of secrets and betrayal. Hoping to rebuild her life, Susan moves back to her hometown of Hidden Creek Montana. Settling into her family's cabin on the peaceful shores of Solitude Lake, Susan searches for healing in the rugged scenery.

Taking a summer job at the neighboring Solitude Lake Lodge, Susan rekindles a romance with her old flame, Jake Arnett. As the couple fall in love under the Montana skies, a past of heartache and missed opportunities haunts them. Susan needs to heal from her husband's betrayal, while Jake is afraid of repeating past mistakes. Can these star-crossed lovers let go of regrets and fall into a happily ever after?


Links:
- Goodreads
- Bookbub
- Amazon

Playlist
You can listen to the playlist for Solitude Lake here on Spotify.

Solitude Lake


Adele Dracy
About the Author:
Adele Darcy is the alter-ego of creative artist and travel blogger Adele Lassiter.

Solitude Lake is inspired by Adele’s time living in western Montana, where she spent countless hours exploring Big Sky’s wide-open spaces from Glacier National Park to Yellowstone Country and beyond.

She currently resides in North Carolina, where she loves to explore the Blue Ridge Parkway and spend days relaxing at the Outer Banks

Author links:
- Facebook
- Twitter
- Instagram
- Goodreads
- Amazon

Giveaway
There is a tour wide giveaway for the blog tour of Solitude Lake. Five winners will each win a paperback copy of Solitude Lake (US Only).

For a chance to win, enter the rafflecopter below:
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My Take: This is a novel of romance and second chances. Susan Dixon has lost her husband and she finds out that he kept secrets from her during their marriage. She thinks that going back to her Hometown of Hidden Creek will help her in the healing process. After she moves there she reconnects with an old boyfriend Jake. Jake is deal with his own issues and afraid of repeating some past mistakes. Susan and Jake learn together to give each other a second chance and themselves as well. The author does an amazing job of describing nature in Montana. This a Christian novel so there is a bit of mention of God. I would recommend this book highly. I received a review copy of this book from Lola Book Tours and was not required to write a positive review.

Friday, December 9, 2022

Scattered Legacy by Marlene M. Bell

Scattered Legacy
Scattered Legacy (Annalisse Series #3)
By Marlene M. Bell
Genre: Mystery / Suspense
Age category: Adult
Release Date: 4 November 2021

Blurb:
To outsiders, the relationship between Manhattan antiquities assessor Annalisse Drury and sports car magnate Alec Zavos must look carefree and glamorous. In reality, it’s a love affair regularly punctuated by treasure hunting, action-packed adventure, and the occasional dead body.

When Alec schedules an overseas trip to show Annalisse his mother's birthplace in Bari, Italy, he squeezes in the high-stakes business of divesting his family’s international corporation. But things go terribly wrong as murder makes its familiar reappearance in their lives – and this time it’s Alec’s disgraced former CFO who’s the main suspect.

Accompanied by friend and detective Bill Drake, Annalisse and Alec find themselves embroiled in a behind-closed-doors conspiracy that threatens the reputation and legacy of Alec’s late father – linking him to embezzlement, extortion, and the dirty business of the Sicilian Mafia. The search for the truth sends the trio straight into riddles, secrets, and an historic set of rosary beads. Annalisse leads Alec toward a discovery that is unthinkable, and events that will change their futures forever.

Scattered Legacy is the third in Marlene M. Bell’s thrilling Annalisse series, which weaves romance, crime, and historical mystery into addictive tales to instantly captivate fans of TV show Bones or Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code.


Links:
- Goodreads
- Bookbub
- Amazon

You can watch the book trailer here on Youtube

Scattered Legacy teaser


Earlier books in the series:
Stolen Obsession (Annalisse Series #1) by Marlene M. BellSpent Identity (Annalisse Series #2) by Marlene M. Bell


Marlene M. Bell
About the Author:
Marlene M. Bell is an eclectic mystery writer, artist, photographer, and she raises sheep in beautiful East Texas with her husband, Gregg, three cats and a flock of horned Dorset sheep.

The Annalisse series has received numerous honors including the Independent Press Award for Best Mystery (Spent Identity,) and FAPA— Florida Author’s President’s Gold Award for two other installments, (Stolen Obsession and Scattered Legacy.) Her mysteries with a touch of romance are found at marlenembell.com. She also offers the first of her children's picture books, Mia and Nattie: One Great Team! Based on true events from the Bell’s ranch. The simple text and illustrations are a touching tribute of compassion and love between a little girl and her lamb.

Author links:
- Website
- Facebook
- Twitter
- Bookbub
- Goodreads
- Amazon
- Instagram

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My Take: This is the third in a series and it should probably be read after the first two. Annalisse and her boyfriend go to Italy to speak to one of Alec's fathers employees and they end up in the middle of a murder mystery. There are plenty of twists and turns and cliff hangers. This is a good installment but I think the first two were a bit better. This is an ok series though and I think you would enjoy it if you like mysteries. I received a review copy of this book from Lola's Book tours and wasn't required to write a positive review.

Friday, December 2, 2022

Lily Makes a Way by Susan Count

Lily Makes a Way book cover
Lily Makes a Way (Dream Pony Riders #2)
By Susan Count
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Age category: Middle Grade
Release Date:

Blurb:
When Lily’s adored pony is injured, it could be the end of their life together.

A young girl’s ability to keep her pony is threatened by financial stress on her family.

The strain intensifies when the pony is injured requiring expensive treatment. Even if Lily could afford it, China might never walk again.

Is mild-mannered Lily strong enough to make the difficult choices? What if that means letting go of her adored pony?


Links:
- Goodreads
- Bookbub
- Amazon

Susan Count author picture
About the Author:
Susan Count writes for the joy and entertainment of young readers. She is a best-selling, award-winning author of the Dream Horse Adventures Series, Dream Pony Riders Series, and Texas Boys Adventures.

She prefers to create stories in a quiet zone. Out her window, her mind wanders through the forest and keeps her in a grateful, contented state of being. She writes at a fabulous antique desk that has secret compartments filled with memories, mysteries, and story ideas. As a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and American Christian Fiction Writers, Susan takes studying the craft of writing seriously.

Susan confesses to being overly fond of brownies and horseback riding on forest trails. She is a lifelong equestrian and is owned by a Rocky Mountain Horse.

You are invited to saddle up and ride along. www.susancount.com

Author links:
- Website
- Facebook
- Twitter
- Pinterest
- Instagram
- Goodreads
- Amazon

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My Take: This is the second book in a middle grade series about girls and their Ponies called Dream Pony Riders. This book has heart and the story is relatable for tween girls who are animal lovers and interested in horses. I can't wait to give these to my granddaughters. They are all animal lovers and I think they would love to read about ponies. There was a nice glossary and diagrams at the end of the book. There was even a recipe to make some treats for horses. I received a review copy of this book from Lola's Book Tours and was not required to write a positive review.

Thursday, November 24, 2022

Concrete Evidence by DiAnn Mills

Concrete Evidence

by DiAnn Mills

October 31 - November 25, 2022 Virtual Book Tour

Synopsis:

Concrete Evidence by DiAnn Mills

On the family’s Brazos River Ranch in Texas, Avery Elliott helps run her grandfather’s commercial construction business. Raised by Senator Elliott, Avery has never doubted her grandfather is the man of integrity and faith she’s always believed him to be . . . until the day she finds him standing with a gun over the body of a dead man. To make matters worse, Avery’s just discovered a billing discrepancy for materials supposedly purchased for construction of the Lago de Cobre Dam.

Desperate for answers, Avery contacts FBI Special Agent Marc Wilkins for help. As Marc works to identify the dead man Avery saw, threats toward Avery create a fresh sense of urgency to pinpoint why someone wants to silence her. With a hurricane approaching the Texas coast and the structural integrity of the Lago de Cobre Dam called into question, time is running out to get to the bottom of a sinister plot that could be endangering the lives of not only Avery and her loved ones but the entire community.

Praise for Concrete Evidence:

"VERDICT Mills ... delivers another action-packed novel that offers intrigue and an adventurous ride. Recommend to fans of Dani Pettrey, Lynette Eason, and Carrie Stuart Parks."

Shondra Brown for Library Journal

"The confident plotting keeps the mysteries coming, and red herrings will have readers guessing the culprit through to the satisfying conclusion. Fans of Colleen Coble and Susan Sleeman will savor this thrilling standalone."

Concrete Evidence Trailer:

Book Details:

Genre: Romantic Suspense
Published by: Tyndale House Publishers
Publication Date: October 2022
Number of Pages: 416
ISBN: 9781496451897 (ISBN10: 1496451899)
Book Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | ChristianBook | Goodreads | Tyndale

Read an excerpt:

Chapter 1

Texas Hill Country

AVERY ELLIOTT SPURRED HER HORSE across one of the thirty-five thousand rolling acres of the Brazos River Ranch in the blazing heat. The sultry August wind blew through her hair, bathing her damp face and shoving aside her pensive mood. Granddad had told her once that if he could lasso the wind, he’d ride that bronc to eternity. She’d framed the saying and placed it in the reception area of their office.

Granddad had left at dawn to ride fence and enjoy some solitude and think time. His work habits overruled his stomach, which meant he wouldn’t stop to eat until he’d inspected a recently repaired stretch. Then the Internet had gone down ending her morning’s work. A good excuse for her to get away from the office and spend special time with him.

She lightly grasped the reins of the most wonderful quarter horse on the planet and the perfect cure-all for the morning’s frustration. Closing her eyes, Avery allowed Darcy’s rhythmic gallop to soothe her.

Avery slowed the mare to a walk and twisted her phone from her jeans pocket. Pressing on Granddad’s name in Favorites, she breathed in the sweltering heat and envisioned him fumbling for his phone.

“Mornin’, sweet girl.”

“Can I treat you to a five-star restaurant for lunch?” He chuckled. “You’ll have to fly in the prime rib.”

“I’ve packed us a picnic, and I’m on my way to meet you. Just say where.”

“Drivin’ or ridin’?”

“You’ve hurt Darcy’s feelings.”

“Give her my apologies. I’m west of the river about a mile from the family cemetery. Should be a nice breeze there this morning. We could talk and have lunch with your grandma.”

“Good. I’d planned to stop at her grave while I was out.” The oaks bordering the family plots would offer relief from the hundred-degree temps. With the abundance of summer rain, the area brimmed with green and vibrant wildflowers. “I’ll make sure she has flowers on her grave.”

“Not a day goes by that I don’t think about her. Guess I’m a sentimental old man who never got over his first love.”

Someday Avery wanted the same kind of love. She remembered the woman with warm brown eyes and a loving touch who fell prey to a stroke nearly fifteen years ago and never recovered. “You’re not a sentimental old man but one who misses his wife and best friend.”

“I see her in you.” He sighed. “You have a spirit of strength deep in your heart. Others think you’re quiet—until you’re riled. Then you’d give the devil a run for his money.”

“I hope I can always live up to that strength.”

“You already have. One day you’ll make the right man proud.” “Haven’t found him yet.”

“Time’s just not right. So when will you get here?”

Avery studied the familiar landmarks—thoroughbred horses grazing to the south and cattle taking advantage of the Brazos River. Why anyone would choose to live away from nature’s beauty made little sense to her. “About thirty minutes.”

“You didn’t bring tofu and carrot sticks? Mia’s new diet is killing me. The doctor doesn’t need to worry about my cholesterol or weight because she’s starving me.”

Avery laughed. “No. I packed ham and cheese, jalapeƱo-bacon potato salad, fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, and apple pie. You can eat light this evening.”

“I have a political dinner at six o’clock and a deacon meeting at seven thirty. Hey, how did you get the forbidden food past Mia?”

“She was upstairs while I hurried in the kitchen.” Their housekeeper and cook had entered the back side of her sixties and refused to slow down, but Granddad and Avery kept trying. Both knew better than to tell Mia to cut back on her pace unless they were looking to be chased down the road with buckshot in their rears. Granddad had no room to talk. He faced the big seven-oh in October, and he’d made no plans to ease back.

She slipped the phone back into her jeans pocket and hurried Darcy on. Avery wanted to arrive at the picnic site well before Granddad and have lunch set out for him.

Her thoughts crept back to the accounting issue from this morning. A work problem had made another moment at the ranch office torture, and getting away from the computer served as the perfect antidote. In examining Elliott Commercial Construction’s records before the auditors arrived next week, she’d found a discrepancy. A paid bill for materials was much lower than it should have been. Why hadn’t she seen this weeks ago at the completion of the Lago de Cobre Dam? The original bid for the project included the cost to supply additional rock and expand the footprint, footers, and other foundational elements to compensate for the soft ground. Those materials were ordered, canceled, and still the specs showed the work had been completed per the contract.

She’d contacted the material’s supply company, and the accounting manager confirmed they’d invoiced what they supplied. Yet Avery’s files didn’t reflect a different supplier for the required foundation, as though Granddad had substituted inferior materials or hadn’t followed the specs. He’d never sacrifice safety. Even the idea scraped raw against her conscience.

A call had gone to Craig, the foreman, but only voice mail greeted her. The accounting mess would drive her nuts until she resolved it, but she’d have to wait. Granddad would laugh at her fears about the dam’s potentially faulty construction and explain the discrepancy. Accurate details ruled her thoughts, and perfectionism had a way of eating at her logic. A lot of good her Ivy League education accomplished when the numbers didn’t add up.

Granddad said Avery shared his insight and discernment. The ability took practice, prayer, and purpose—his favorite three p’s as though he’d outlined a sermon. But Granddad was wrong. She must have made a mistake, and the error warred within her.

Avery rode the path to the family cemetery. Elliotts had owned this property and been buried there before Texas became a state. Irish, English, and Scottish heritage—hard workers and fighters for faith, family, and freedom. Which had a lot to do with Granddad’s name, Dad’s, and hers—Avery Quinn Elliott, respectively Senior, Junior, and whatever that made her. Fortunately, Granddad went by Quinn or Senator, Dad went by Buddy, and she was simply Avery. Proud family and heritage, although Dad and Mom slipped in applying all three traits of being an Elliott.

Not going there today. After spending time with Granddad and finding out the source of her accounting problem, she—

A shot rang out from the direction of the cemetery.

She dug her heels into Darcy’s side and bolted ahead. Had Granddad met up with a wild pig, a rattler, or even a two-legged varmint? The latter caused her to slow the mare and circle a grove of trees. If she needed her Sig, the firearm rested in a saddlebag beside the packed lunch. Granddad wasn’t in sight. Only his stallion.

She dismounted and grabbed her gun. Tying Darcy to a slender oak, Avery moved closer to the iron gate of the cemetery entrance and prayed he hadn’t been hurt. How had he been a mile west of here when she called him?

Hesitant to call out for him and draw the shooter’s attention to her, she hid behind an oak. A riderless motorcycle—a shiny, blue Yamaha Tracer 9 GT—had parked in the shadow of more trees outside the far edge of the iron fence, a few yards from a worn path leading to the main road.

On the opposite side of the cemetery, Granddad bent over a man, whose blood stained his chest and pooled on the ground. He felt for a pulse and lifted his head to the cloudless sky. In Granddad’s gloved right hand rested a gun. He shoved the weapon into his front belt and lifted his phone to his ear.

“He’s dead. This has to end.” Granddad scanned the area, no doubt searching for someone. “I want Avery kept out of this, but I’m expecting her in the next twenty minutes.” He kicked the dirt with the toe of his boot. “He parked on the road and walked back. She isn’t to know about any of it. I’ll handle the situation on my end. . . . Yes, I’ll be careful and not let the authorities know what happened. Look, I need to move his body out of sight. He was a friend, one of the best. I despise where this has gone.” Granddad waved his hand. “I told you Avery won’t be a problem.”

***

Excerpt from Concrete Evidence by DiAnn Mills. Copyright 2022 by DiAnn Mills. Reproduced with permission from DiAnn Mills. All rights reserved.

 

 

Author Bio:

DiAnn Mills

DiAnn Mills is a bestselling author who believes her readers should expect an adventure. She weaves memorable characters with unpredictable plots to create action-packed, suspense-filled novels. DiAnn believes every breath of life is someone’s story, so why not capture those moments and create a thrilling adventure? Her titles have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists; won two Christy Awards, the Golden Scroll, Inspirational Readers’ Choice, and Carol award contests. DiAnn is a founding board member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, an active member of the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers, Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, Mystery Writers of America, the Jerry Jenkins Writers Guild, Sisters in Crime, and International Thriller Writers. DiAnn continues her passion of helping other writers be successful. She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops around the country. DiAnn has been termed a coffee snob and roasts her own coffee beans. She’s an avid reader, loves to cook, and believes her grandchildren are the smartest kids in the universe. She and her husband live in sunny Houston, Texas.

DiAnn is very active online and would love to connect with readers on:
diannmills.com
Goodreads
BookBub - @DiAnnMills
Instagram - @diannmillsauthor
Twitter - @DiAnnMills
Facebook - @DiAnnMills
YouTube - @DiAnnMills

 

 

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This is a giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Tours for DiAnn Mills. See the widget for entry terms and conditions. Void where prohibited.
My Take: This is a Christian mystery thriller that had me guessing from the first word till the last. This book deals with a Granddaughter and Grandfather who run a ranch and construction company together. Avery's grand dad disappears soon after Avery witnesses him standing over a body who turns up dead. With the story slowly unfolding and the Avery finding herself falling for a FBI agent who's father may or may not have something to do with the mystery before he died of an apparent heart attack. I enjoyed this book although I found it a bit slow going but it was worth the wait. I received a review copy of this book from Partners in Crime tours and was not required to write a psotive review.