Tuesday, December 27, 2022
Unforeseen by Deven Greene
Thursday, December 22, 2022
Her Sister's Death by K.L. Murphy
Her Sister's Death
by K. L. Murphy
November 28 - December 23, 2022 Virtual Book Tour
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?
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:
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.”
I’m headed out the door, my hand on the knob, when he breaks protocol.
“What did you mean by ‘the other suicide’?”
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?”
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.
“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.”
“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.
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:
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
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.
By Adele Darcy
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Age category: Adult
Release Date: May 2022
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?
You can listen to the playlist for Solitude Lake here on Spotify.
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
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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Friday, December 9, 2022
Scattered Legacy by Marlene M. Bell
By Marlene M. Bell
Genre: Mystery / Suspense
Age category: Adult
Release Date: 4 November 2021
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.
You can watch the book trailer here on Youtube
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.
Friday, December 2, 2022
Lily Makes a Way by Susan Count
By Susan Count
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Age category: Middle Grade
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?
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
Thursday, November 24, 2022
Concrete Evidence by DiAnn Mills
by DiAnn Mills
October 31 - November 25, 2022 Virtual Book Tour
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:
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:
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, jalapeño-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.
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:
BookBub - @DiAnnMills
Instagram - @diannmillsauthor
Twitter - @DiAnnMills
Facebook - @DiAnnMills
YouTube - @DiAnnMills
Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaway entries!
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.
Tuesday, November 22, 2022
Between Before and After by Jessica Stilling
Description Between Before and After by Jessica StillingIndie movie director Sebastian Foster has found his niche making movies based on the award-winning novels written by his estranged mother. However, his latest film, based loosely on the tragic death of his sister as a child, opens up old wounds best left under bandages. Told in two concurrent timelines, now and when Sebastian was a teen, some twenty years ago in the mid-1990s, this story of learning unknown truths unwinds in the streets of Paris, where Sebastian lived as a teen and where he has returned to make his picture.
Praise For Jessica StillingBronx Council of the Arts Chapter One Award for The Beekeeper’s Daughter "Stilling’s take on this familiar tale is provocative and poignant, rich with emotion and powerfully described, laced with profound contemplation about dying too soon and growing up too quickly."- Publisher's Weekly review of Betwixt and Between "At turns happy and unbearably sad, Betwixt and Between is a beautifully realized re-imagining of a classic story that will enchant readers as the original did."- Booklist starred review of Betwixt and Between "A suspenseful read. Jessica Stilling sets the story among a backdrop of stunning scenes of Greece described as being almost visceral with a unique compilation of romance, mystery, and self-inspection. A compelling story that comes to life off the page."-San Francisco Book Review of the Weary God of Ancient Travelers
About Jessica StillingJessica Stilling has written three works of literary fiction, Betwixt and Between, The Beekeeper's Daughter, and The Weary God of Ancient Travelers. She also wrote poetry and short fiction for various literary journals. Her articles have appeared in Ms. Magazine, Bust Magazine and she writes extensively for The Writer Magazine. She has taught Creative Writing in both high school and university. She also publishes young adult fantasy under the pen name JM Stephen. Jessica loves Virginia Woolf, very long walks, and currently lives in southern Vermont where she writes for the very local newspaper, The Deerfield Valley News. Website: https://www.jessicastilling.com/ Twitter: https://twitter.com/JessicaStilling Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jessica.sticklor
Preorder Between Before and After by Jessica StillingAmazon Barnes&Noble DX Varos Publishing
Giveaway Between Before and After by Jessica StillingThis giveaway is for 3 print or ebook copies. Print is open to the U.S. only and ebook is open worldwide. This giveaway ends on November 24, 2022 midnight, pacific time. Entries accepted via Rafflecopter only. a Rafflecopter giveaway
Follow Between Before and After by Jessica StillingTeddy Rose Book Reviews Plus Nov 1 Kickoff & Interview Bookgirl Amazon & Goodreads Nov 2 Review Lu Ann Rockin Book Reviews Nov 4 Review & Excerpt Sal Bound 4 Escape Nov 8 Guest Review Gracie Goodreads Nov 9 Review Suzie My Tangled Skeins Book Reviews Nov 10 Review Nora StoreyBook Reviews Nov 14 Guest Review & Excerpt Denise Amazon & Goodreads Nov 16 Review Mark Teddy Rose Book Reviews Plus Nov 17 Guest Review Laura Lee Celticlady’s Reviews Nov 21 Guest Review & Excerpt Mindy Room Without Books is Empty Nov 22 Review Bee Book Pleasures Nov 23 Review & Interview My Take: This book is told in two timelines. Sebastian is a bit estranged from his mother but as a film director has choosen to base his films on her books. His latest project is based on her book on a fire that killed her daughter, Sebastian's sister. Sebastian buys the old apartment where his family lived and has filled it with replicas of the furniture. Along the way Sebastian meets back up with friends and acquaintances that we learn most are not very nice people and they haven't changed much over the years. This story keeps you guessing as Sebastian tries to find out the truth. There is a surprise ending that will have you glad you read till the end. I received a review copy of this book from Virtual Book Tours and was not required to write a positive review.
Saturday, October 29, 2022
It's News to Me by R.G. Belsky
It's News to Me
by R.G. Belsky
October 3-31, 2022 Virtual Book Tour
Dashed dreams: she wanted to run for president one day, now she's dead at 20
When Riley Hunt—a beautiful, smart, popular student at Easton College in Manhattan—is brutally murdered, it becomes a big story for TV newswoman Clare Carlson.
After days of intense media coverage, a suspect is caught: a troubled Afghanistan war veteran with a history of violent and unstable behavior. The suspect's mother, however, comes to Clare with new evidence that might prove her son's innocence.
As Clare digs deeper into the puzzling case, she learns new information: Riley had complained about being stalked in the days before her murder, she was romantically involved with two different men—the son of a top police official and the son of a prominent underworld boss—and she had posted her picture on an escort service's website offering paid dates with wealthy men.
Soon, Clare becomes convinced that Riley Hunt's death is more than just a simple murder case—and that more lives, including her own, are now in danger until she uncovers the true story.
Praise for It's News to Me:
"[It's News to Me is] witty, clever and engaging. Clare Carlson’s irreverent comments and dogged reporter’s instincts make for a propulsive ride as she races from the chaos of a newsroom’s inner sanctum to the dangers of a murder victim’s deepest secrets. Once you start, you won’t put it down."
Lisa Gardner, #1 New York Times best-selling author
Published by: Oceanview Publishing
Publication Date: October 4th 2022
Number of Pages: 352
ISBN: 1608094561 (ISBN13: 9781608094561)
Series: Clare Carlson #5 (each is a stand alone work)
Book Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads
Read an excerpt:
I met Brendan Kaiser, the owner of my TV station Channel 10 and about a zillion other properties, for lunch on a sunny spring day at a restaurant called Tri-Bar in lower Manhattan.
Tri-Bar is what’s known in New York as a celebrity restaurant. In other words, whenever you read the gossip columns, there’ll be an item about how “so and so said such and such over dinner last night at Tri-Bar . . .”
Robert DeNiro sometimes ate there. So did Jimmy Fallon and Alec Baldwin and Julia Roberts when she was in town.
I’d been to trendy hotspots like this a few times to see if I could spot someone famous. Mostly all I ever saw were a lot of other people like me hoping to see if they could recognize anyone. The closest I ever came to a celebrity was when I ran into Sally Struthers once in the ladies’ room of a restaurant on the Upper East Side. It had been a long time since Sally was a big star on All in the Family. My last memory of her had been doing those late-night infomercials about world hunger, and she sure didn’t look much like Gloria Bunker anymore. I decided not to ask for her autograph.
There was some kind of a maître d’ standing at the entrance to Tri-Bar. He wore a black tuxedo like outfit, highly shined shoes, and white gloves. I had on a pair of tan Calvin Klein jeans, a chocolate-colored silk blouse, and beige sandals. I thought my outfit was pretty swell, but he looked me over coolly.
“Is there something I can do for you, ma’am?”
“I’m looking for Brendan Kaiser. My name is Clare Carlson.”
“I’m the news editor of Channel 10 News.”
He still didn’t seem too impressed.
Maybe he didn't like my color coordination.
“And what might your business be with Mr. Kaiser?”
“Well, I might be here to pick up his dry cleaning, but I’m not. How about I discuss my business with him?”
He scowled and picked up a phone to check with someone inside.
The truth was I wasn’t sure why Brendan Kaiser wanted to meet me here. I’d had a few dealings with him in the past on big stories in my job as the news director for Channel 10—but he’d never invited me to lunch. Maybe he was going to give me a raise. Maybe he was going to tell me I’d been named Employee of the Month. All I knew is that when the big boss asks you to go to lunch with him, you go to lunch.
The maître d’ still looked unhappy when he got off the phone, but he eventually directed me to a table inside. Brendan Kaiser was already there. Kaiser was in his 50s, with thick gray hair. Not a bad-looking guy, but he did have a bit of a paunch. I noticed it when he stood up to greet me. Probably from eating too many lunches at a place like Tri-Bar.
“Thank you for coming on such short notice, Clare,” he said. His office had just arranged the meeting with me a few hours earlier. “I hope I didn’t interfere with any other lunch plans you had for today.”
“Well, until I got your call, my lunch plan had been to go for a Big Mac at McDonald’s. That special sauce they put on it is to die for.”
We made small talk for a few minutes, and then a waiter came over and took our orders. Kaiser was having some kind of duck dish with orange sauce and shoestring potatoes. I went for the tortellini with a salad. According to the menu I’d scanned, this meal was going to cost a lot of money. What the hell—he was paying, not me. Whatever happened next, maybe I’d at least get a good meal out of it.
“So do you want to tell me what this whole lunch deal between me and you is all about?” I said after a bit more conversation.
“You do get to the point, don’t you?”
“I’m a journalist. I used to be a newspaper reporter. I like to get to the lead of the story as quickly as I can.”
“The reason I asked to see you like this was to discuss a situation we need to deal with, Clare.”
“What kind of situation?”
“A situation involving Channel 10 News.”
“I didn’t know we had a situation.”
I took a drink of some iced tea I’d ordered with my meal. I wished now it was something stronger.
“Look, I think that everyone at Channel 10 news is doing a really terrific job,” Kaiser said.
“Glad to hear it.”
“Especially you as news director.”
“Glad to hear that too.”
“And you’re a star, besides being the news director. You’ve broken some big stories for us, gotten a lot of publicity and notice in the media world. The Charles Hollister murder case. The serial killer you helped catch. I appreciate that from you, Clare. I appreciate all of your success and all your hard work. I really do.”
“There is a ‘but’ coming here, right?”
“Yes, there is,” Kaiser sighed. “Despite all your hard work, the ratings—and, as a result, the advertising revenue—isn’t quite at the level we need at Kaiser Media to run a profitable news operation. I want to do better. I think we can do better.”
The waiter brought our food. We both ate in silence for a few minutes. I waited to see what Brendan Kaiser would say next. I didn’t really have anything to say. So I stuck my fork into the tortellini and bit into a piece. Pretty tasty. Good cream sauce too. Almost as good as the sauce on a Big Mac.
“I’ve decided to make some changes at Channel 10 News,” Kaiser said finally, nibbling on a shoestring potato.
“What kind of changes?”
“Changes at the top.”
“Wait a minute—are you firing me?”
“No, of course not.”
“Demoting me? Is that the reason for this lunch?”
“You’re still going to be the news editor.”
“But you said you were making changes at the top so . . .”
That’s when it hit me.
“Jack Faron?” I asked.
Jack Faron was the executive producer at Channel 10 News. My boss.
“I’m replacing Faron. Jack’s done a good job, but he’s more old school than we need right now. I’d like to put someone in the job with more drive, more energy, more new ideas. So I’ve hired a new executive producer. Jack will still be with us at Channel 10 News. But moving forward, he’s going to be in a more . . . uh, advisory role.”
“Does Jack know about this?”
“Not yet. I know you’re close to him, so I wanted to make sure you were the first to hear about this.”
I wasn’t sure what to say. Jack Faron had been my mentor at Channel 10 News. The one who had hired me when the newspaper I worked for went out of business. The one that stood by me when my early on-air appearances as a TV reporter bombed. The one who promoted me to news editor and had backed me on every story and crisis since then.
And now he was not going to be there for me.
At least not in the same way.
I asked Kaiser the obvious question.
“Who’s replacing him as executive producer?”
“Susan Endicott,” he said. “Do you know her?”
“I think you two will get along really well. That’s why I wanted to have this conversation with you. I want you to accept this. I want you to understand the reason for it. I want you to be happy. I want you to help make Susan Endicott feel welcome here. Are you good with all that, Clare?”
“Hey, you know me—I’m a team player.”
“No, you’re not.”
I sighed. “Yeah, you’re right, I’m not.”
“Let’s try to make this work, huh?”
I wasn’t sure what to say next, but it turned out I didn’t have to. I got a break. My phone rang, and—when I looked down at it—saw it was from Maggie Lang, my top editor at Channel 10 News.
“Where are you?” Maggie said.
I hadn’t told anyone who I was having lunch with.
“We’ve got a big story breaking. A murder. Female college student found murdered near Washington Square Park.”
“Who is she?”
“Her name’s Riley Hunt. She came here from Ohio to go to school at Easton College, not far from the park. Family has money, it sounds like. Her father’s a doctor back in Ohio, her mother a lawyer.”
“All hands-on-deck for this one,” I said.
“Already done. We’re gonna lead the newscast with it at 6.”
After I hung up with Maggie, I told Kaiser what was happening. I said I needed to get back to the station right away to direct the news coverage. That wasn’t totally true, Maggie could have handled it on her own. But I wanted to get out of here, and this seemed to be the perfect excuse. I didn’t like what was happening to Jack Faron. I didn’t like the fact I knew about it before him. And I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to like Susan Endicott, even though I’d never met her.
And so I did what I do anytime I can’t deal with problems in my life. I threw myself into a big story. And this murder sounded like a big story.
I said goodbye to Kaiser, walked through Tri-Bar and out the front door to catch a cab back to the Channel 10 newsroom.
The maître d’ didn’t bother to say goodbye.
Excerpt from It's News to Me by R.G. Belsky. Copyright 2022 by R.G. Belsky. Reproduced with permission from R.G. Belsky. All rights reserved.
R.G. Belsky is an award-winning author of crime fiction and a journalist in New York City. His new mystery, It’s News to Me, will be published on October 4 by Oceanview. It is the fifth in a series featuring Clare Carlson, the news director for a New York City TV station. Belsky has published 19 novels—all set in the New York city media world where he has had a long career as a top editor at the New York Post, New York Daily News, Star magazine and NBC News. He also writes thrillers under the name Dana Perry. He lives in New York City and is a contributing writer to The Big Thrill magazine.
Catch Up With R.G. Belsky:
BookBub - @dickb79983
Instagram - @dickbelsky
Twitter - @DickBel
Facebook - @RGBelsky
Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaway entries!
This is a giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Tours for R.G. Belsky. See the widget for entry terms and conditions. Void where prohibited.
Get More Great Reads at Partners In Crime Tours
My Take: This is the fifth book in th Clare Carlson mystery series. Trust me when I say you will want to go back and read the first four, not because you have to but because you will want to get more of Clare Carlson. this time around Clare has to deal with a get the ratings making story anyway you can new boss. And even though the murder of Riley Hunt is declared solved Clare receives new evidence that may prove the suspect innocent. This book has plenty of twists and turns and even though some of it you see coming there is still alot that you don't. I recieved a review copy of this book from Parners in Crime Tours and was not required to write a positive review.
Thursday, October 27, 2022
Invest Yourself: A Guidebook for Spiritual Mentoring by Stephanie Ziebarth
Invest Yourself: A Guidebook for Spiritual Mentoring
by Stephanie Ziebarth
on Tour October 3-28, 2022
- spiritual multiplication
- approaches to spiritual mentorship
- one-on-one meetings
- effectively helping your mentee
- and much more