Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Blurb Blitz & Giveaway: SWAT for Dummies (Deputy Gemma Stone, #2) by Gail Koger

SWAT for Dummies
A Deputy Gemma Stone Book
Gail Koger

Action / Adventure / Comedy / Romance
Publication Date: December 17, 2023
Page count: 135 pages



Just call me Calamity Jane, wherever I go, trouble soon follows. Which makes my job as a Maricopa County Sheriff’s Deputy a bit hazardous. From chasing down a bank robber to dealing with a cat burglar, or handling Sun City’s seniors who are crazy as June bugs and horny as hell.

My personal life is complicated. Off-duty I’m a ballroom dancer. Detective Sergeant Dante Delgado is my new dance partner. My relationship with him puts me in the crosshairs of a dirty cop with homicidal tendencies. Can we stop him, or will we become his next victims?

Law enforcement isn’t for the fainthearted. Are you brave enough to enter my world?

Author’s note: I was a 9-1-1 dispatcher for way too many years and this novella contains some of the wilder incidents that occurred. Yes, sex on the sidewalk is based on a true incident.


I frowned. There were two naked people on the sidewalk having sex. The woman’s arms were flailing wildly. “Is he raping her?”

“Shit! I think so. Call it in.” Julie flipped on the overhead lights and made a kamikaze cut across four lanes of traffic. Tires squealed, horns honked, and people made rude hand gestures.

Hanging on for dear life, I keyed my mic. “Charlie-23 we’re out with a possible rape in progress at the corner of 59th Avenue and Myrtle. I need you to notify Glendale Police Department.” 

“Copy, Charlie-23,” the dispatcher replied. 

Julie brought the patrol car to a skidding stop in a dry cleaner’s parking lot. We bailed out and sprinted over to the gyrating couple. 

“Get off her!” I yelled. 

“I’m not done yet,” the man growled and kept thrusting into the woman. 

I Maced him. “Oh, yes, you are.” 

“Fuck,” he bellowed, and frantically rubbed his eyes. 

The woman wrapped her legs around his back and shrieked, “Go away. He’s my best customer.” 

“Customer?” Julie shot me an astonished look. 

I shook my head in disbelief and noticed the lookie-loos filming us. Great, just what we needed. “Mister, unless you want to get Maced again, you will get to your feet and pull your pants up. Now! No one wants to see that thing.” 

Julie grabbed the loudly protesting prostitute under the arms and dragged her away from the john. “It’s against the law to have sex in public.”


I was a 9-1-1 dispatcher for the Glendale Police Department and to keep from going totally bonkers – I mean people have no idea what a real emergency is. Take this for example: I answered, “9-1-1 emergency, what’s your emergency?” And this hysterical woman yelled, “My bird is in a tree.” Sometimes I really couldn’t help myself, so I said, “Birds have a tendency to do that, ma’am.” The woman screeched, “No! You don’t understand. My pet parakeet is in the tree. I’ve just got to get him down.” Like I said, not a clue. “I’m sorry ma’am but we don’t get birds out of trees.” The woman then cried, “But… What about my husband? He’s up there, too.” See what I had to deal with? To keep from hitting myself repeatedly in the head with my phone I took up writing. 


Gail Koger will award a randomly drawn winner a $20 Amazon/BN gift card.

Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Virtual Book Tour & Giveaway: Old Bones and New Ghosts (Marti Mickkleson Mysteries, #2) by Kay Charles


Old Bones and New Ghosts
The Marti Mickkleson Mysteries
Kay Charles

Cozy Mystery
2nd in Series
Publisher: One Ghost Another Ghost
Publication Date: January 25, 2024
Print length: 252 pages
Digital ASIN: B0CPCF4S3Z



Marti Mickkleson and her ghostly Grandma Bertie are back!

With only one month to go until Marti meets the conditions of her late father’s will and gains control of her trust fund, she’s determined to be on her best behavior. No admitting that she can see ghosts and certainly no talking to the dead.

But her mother’s roped her into a new family project, her new office has a mysterious haunt, Grandma Bertie’s digging up mysteries from the past, her friend Dmitri’s barely speaking to her, and her sister’s life is falling apart. It’s enough to make a girl miss her days of flipping sort-of-beef patties on a Burger Buster grill.

Then things get really bad.

With both a cold case and a new murder on her hands, her “best behavior” won’t cut it. Protecting her family may cost her more than a trust fund. It may cost Marti her life—or the life of someone she loves.

Join Marti and Grandma Bertie in the follow-up to Ghosts in Glass Houses!




5 stars!

Marti and Grandma Bertie return in this fantastic series follow-up cozy paranormal mystery.


Old Bones and New Ghosts is the second book in author Kay Charles’s wonderful cozy paranormal mystery series, the Marti Mickkleson Mysteries, and what a fantastic follow-up to the series debut it is! All the characters that made the first book so much fun return, but this time, they are faced with solving both a decades-old cold case and the murder of someone close to the Mickkleson family. 

Both Marti and Grandma Bertie are back and are in the middle of looking into a cold case for the spectral Mrs. Heeley when a new murder involving a member of the family occurs. Marti was reluctant to get involved in either case since she was trying to stay as far away from possible trouble as possible. While Grandma’s ghost has been a part of Marti’s life all along, their relationship keeps getting better. They have connected over their successful sleuthing and have common goals, and Marti, despite herself and her tragic earlier circumstances, is showing some healthy growth in character. She still has the same smart mouth, though, and she comes by it naturally if Grandma Bertie is anyone to go by. Their exchanges and the dialogue throughout the book, as a whole, sparkles. 

In addition, I love how other relationships in the story are changing: Marti and RachelAnne, Marti and Dmitri, and Marti’s mother with her grandchildren. It is a delight watching her mom transform into Nana. 

The plot is fast-paced and full of surprise twists. The story fairly flew by; I was so absorbed in it. Readers new to the series will have no trouble slipping into the story; the book stands well on its own. However, book one, Ghosts in Glass Houses, is on my list of ones not to miss. 

I recommend OLD BONES AND NEW GHOSTS to cozy mystery readers who enjoy their stories with a paranormal twist.


Kay Charles is the much nicer, mystery-writing alter ego of dark fiction writer Patricia Lillie (author of The Cuckoo Girls, a 2020 Bram Stoker Award® finalist.) Like her evil twin, Kay grew up in a haunted house in a small town in Northeast Ohio, earned her MFA from Seton Hill University’s Writing Popular Fiction program, teaches in Southern New Hampshire University’s MFA in Creative Writing program, and is addicted to coffee, chocolate, and cake. She also knits and sometimes purls. Both their lives would be much easier if one of them enjoyed housework.


January 23 – Mystery, Thrillers, and Suspense – AUTHOR GUEST POST
January 23 – Brooke Blogs – SPOTLIGHT
January 24 – Literary Gold – SPOTLIGHT WITH EXCERPT
January 25 – Sarah Can't Stop ReadingREVIEW
January 25 – Reading Is My SuperPower – SPOTLIGHT
January 26 – The Mystery of Writing – CHARACTER GUEST POST
January 26 – CelticLady Reviews – SPOTLIGHT WITH EXCERPT
January 27 – MJB Reviewers- SPOTLIGHT
January 28 – Maureen's Musings – SPOTLIGHT
January 29 – #BRVL Book Review Virginia Lee – SPOTLIGHT
January 30 – Christy's Cozy Corners – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
January 30 – Guatemala Paula Loves to Read – REVIEW*
February 1 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
February 1 – Cassidy's Bookshelves – SPOTLIGHT



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Monday, January 29, 2024

Cover Reveal: Threads of a Needle by DG Zitting


Threads of a Needle
DG Zitting

A Mind-Bending Sci-Fi Journey through Dimensional Probabilities


Fiction / Sci-Fi /Adventure / Futuristic / Thriller
Publisher: Elite Online Publishing
Date Published: January 30, 2024
Page count: 271 pages


Immerse yourself in a near-future world on the brink of transformation in Threads of a Needle. Follow Hope Valencia, a skilled PT-SOF agent for the League of Consciousness, as she embarks on a daring mission transcending the boundaries of time and space.
Advanced neurological technologies, now under the control of a dominant media conglomerate, manipulate humanity's belief systems, deviating from their original intent to advance human progress. At the heart of this narrative are Hope's parents, Dr. Gabriel Valencia, neurotechnologist, and Ella Valencia, whose monumental discovery of Trans-Dimensional Probability Threads unites consciousness with the physical realm, revealing a vast expanse of probable realities. This groundbreaking revelation paves the way for the Quantum Thought Dynamics-AI Protocol (QTD-AI), a technology that enables the digitization and manipulation of human thought processes.

Embark on a journey with Hope that challenges traditional understanding, unravels the very fabric of reality, and unveils hidden truths. "Threads of a Needle" not only narrates an enthralling tale but also invites you to reflect on the malleability of reality and the influential power of your beliefs, thoughts, and emotions in shaping the world around you. 

Click HERE to purchase! 

About the Author

DG Zitting is a seasoned entrepreneur with a career spanning over three decades in real estate finance and financial technology. He has successfully led national business firms to significant achievements.

Beyond his thriving professional journey, Zitting's insatiable curiosity spans various domains, including science, technology, philosophy, psychology, and non-denominational spirituality. This lifelong quest for knowledge has unveiled profound insights into the greater reality of the world and universe.

What sets Zitting apart is his ability to translate this wisdom into both his personal life and business ventures, yielding resounding success. As a co-founder and leader of firms employing over two thousand individuals and achieving billions in sales volume objectives, Zitting attributes his accomplishments to transformative insights gained along his remarkable journey.

By infusing his knowledge into every facet of life, including business, family, friendships, hobbies, and passions, Zitting has created a distinct advantage in navigating life's intricate game. He has also established the BE+T=R Life Strategy (BETR), recognizing the pivotal role of beliefsconscious and subconsciousin shaping reality. This philosophy is elegantly summarized in his symbolic equation, BE+T=R, where Beliefs, Emotions, and Thoughts align to shape the probable thread of Reality, empowering others to choose the reality they wish to experience.


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Saturday, January 27, 2024

Virtual Book Tour & Giveaway: Cold Threat (Ryland & St. Clair, #2) by Nancy Mehl

Cold Threat

by Nancy Mehl

January 22 - February 2, 2024 Virtual Book Tour


Cold Threat by Nancy Mehl

Twenty years ago, several people were murdered in Des Moines, and the only evidence left behind was a snowman ornament hanging ominously on a tree in the victims' front lawns. With a suspect behind bars, the killings have come to an end--or so everyone thought. But now crimes with a similar MO are happening in a small Iowa town, and a local detective believes the killer is back and ready to strike again.

With little time left on the clock before they have another murder on their hands, private investigators River Ryland and Tony St. Clair must work alongside Tony's detective father to find evidence that will uncover an evil that has survived far too long. As the danger mounts and the suspect closes in, it will take all they have to catch a killer--before he catches one of them.

Book Details:

Genre: Suspense
Published by: Bethany House Publishers
Publication Date: January 2024
Number of Pages: 336
ISBN: 978-0764240461 (ISBN10: 0764240463)
Series: Ryland & St. Clair, 2
Book Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | | Goodreads | Baker Book House

Read an excerpt:



I watched as fire devoured the house as if it were a living, breathing monster, ravenous for death and destruction. It took effort not to smile as I observed the fire department desperately trying to quench the ferocious flames, the firefighters slipping and sliding on the snow and ice. But winter is no match for me. They would lose this fight. The nightmare has just begun. Inside they will find my Christmas offering. Those whom I’d judged and executed. The beast was at my command and would destroy any evidence that could lead to me.

“It’s perfect,” she whispered. “I love it.”

I smiled at her. “It was a long time coming.”

“But you did it. I’m so proud of you.”

I had to blink away the sudden tears that filled my eyes.

“Shouldn’t we leave?”

I nodded. She was right. At some point, the police would arrive and would most certainly look through the people gathered across the street since many times those who set fires like to watch their creations dance and light up the night. They might even take pictures. This was the only time I felt comfortable hanging around for a few minutes—­before anyone had time to scan the crowd. This was important. The first. My debut performance.

I’d just turned to leave when a couple of police cars pulled up, lights flashing, their blue-and-red beams cutting through the night and the falling snow. I walked down the street, hidden behind a curtain of white. I stopped to watch as they exited their vehicles. The sight only added to my excitement. Two officers approached the fire department chief. As they talked, another officer stood on the sidewalk, staring at the structure that was being consumed. Suddenly, he shouted and pointed up toward the second floor. I had to walk back to see why. I stood behind a tree, trying not to look suspicious. That was when I saw it. A face peering through one of the windows.

“Oh no,” she said, her voice breaking. “How did you miss her?”

The officer who’d spotted the unthinkable began to run toward the front door, but two firefighters grabbed him and held him back while another one grabbed a ladder and put it up against the house. It was clearly a child staring at them, her eyes wide with fear. They tried to climb toward her, but it was impossible. The flames from the first floor blocked their way. I felt a wave of anger. She had defiled my righteous mission. I fought to push back my rage. I had no desire to hurt a child. She shouldn’t have hidden from me. I would have kept her safe. I sighed in frustration. This was her fault. Now all of us would have to watch as she died. There wasn’t anything I could do. I felt the urge to leave, but the police were concentrating on her. No one was focused on the crowd, so I risked staying a minute or two longer.

Suddenly I heard a shout and saw the police officer who’d tried to enter earlier suddenly run toward the compromised house and through the front door before anyone could stop him. What a fool. The monster I’d created was too strong. Now there would be two additional lives sacrificed. This wasn’t my mission. Only the guilty were supposed to die. I consoled myself with the knowledge that the blame was theirs. Not mine.

“Maybe he’ll get her out,” she said quietly.

I didn’t respond. I knew she was upset. I couldn’t find the words to tell her that it was too late for both of them.

Part of the house collapsed on the other side, away from the window where the child still stood. Everyone watched in horror. Two firefighters started to follow the officer into the house, but their chief called them back. It was clear they were frustrated, yet the chief obviously thought it was too dangerous for them to enter. He’d probably already written off the officer and the child.

“It’s not your fault.”

“I know,” I said.

I waited for the rest of the structure to fall, but as we all watched, the unbelievable happened. The police officer ran out of the house, something in his arms wrapped up in a blanket. A firefighter ran over to take the bundle from him as the rest of the building collapsed. The officer fell to the ground. I could see his burns from here. It looked as if the cloth from his shirt had melted to his skin and part of his dark hair had burned away. Now he would always remember this night. I felt no anger toward him. Truthfully, I was relieved that the child had a chance. I’d still accomplished my mission. This was a lesson learned. I had checked out the couple carefully, and I’d watched the house. Hadn’t seen any evidence of a child. Still, I’d missed something important. I would never make this mistake again.

She sighed with relief. “I’m so glad she’s okay.”

A thought suddenly struck me. I hadn’t seen the child, but had she seen me? Was she now a liability to my mission? As soon as the thought came, I dismissed it. She’d been hiding. Trying to make sure I couldn’t find her. She would have been too afraid to look at me knowing I might see her too. Besides, she was so young no one would take her seriously anyway. Even if she had caught a glimpse of me, soon I would look very different. I breathed a deep sigh of relief. I was safe.

The firefighters began treating the girl and the officer until an ambulance roared up. It was time to leave. I pulled my jacket tighter and let the darkness and the dancing flakes shroud me as I slipped away, but not before I glanced at the snowman ornament hanging on the tree planted near the sidewalk.

As I walked away, I couldn’t help but sing softly, “Frosty the snowman . . .”



River Ryland stared at her phone, willing it to ring. Unfortunately, it seemed it didn’t respond well to mental telepathy. The pastor at the church she’d started attending with Tony had taught on faith yesterday. He’d brought up Mark 11:24 and Philippians 4:6. From what she could understand, faith was something you needed before your prayers were answered. As a child, she’d listened to her father preach, but he’d never mentioned anything like that. His sermons had been about sin and judgment. How to stay pure. Which was laughable since he ran off with the church’s secretary and left his daughter, son, and wife behind, humiliated and without any way to survive financially.

As she continued to eye her phone, she wondered if she should start believing that God would bring more clients to Watson Investigations. Was it okay to have faith for something like that? It was clear that faith was important to God, but she didn’t want to treat Him like some kind of genie in a lamp who would bring her whatever she asked for. What was His will, and what was selfishness? She sighed quietly. Life with God was proving to be interesting.

She glanced over at her partner, Tony St. Clair, and asked herself the question she’d posed so many times. What was he doing here? She’d had to leave the FBI. Severe PTSD had made it impossible for her to continue working as a behavioral analyst. Tony had been shot by the Salt River Strangler, the serial killer who’d tried to kill her, and was still dealing with some of the aftereffects. Even so, he could have gone back to work. Instead, he talked her into starting this detective agency. They’d only had two cases so far. The results had been positive. One case had to do with teachers at a local high school selling drugs—­something they stumbled across. The teachers were arrested, and the drug trade shut down. No paying client with that one. The other case had been pro bono. They’d solved that too. Thankfully, someone connected with the case—­not their client—­had given them a generous stipend. But how long would that last without some new cases? Was asking herself that question a lack of faith? She really didn’t know the answer.

Tony’s long legs were crossed, his feet up on his desk. He was leaning back in his chair, writing in a notebook. He reminded her of Benedict Cumberbatch. His curly dark hair was longer than most FBI agents had worn their hair. His long eyelashes sheltered eyes that sometimes looked blue and other times appeared to be gray. Tony was an enigma. A handsome man who never dated. He used to. Before the shooting. There were definitely some women at church who had him in their sights, but he clearly wasn’t interested. Of course, she wasn’t dating either. Didn’t want to. Right now, she just wanted to figure out who God wanted her to be. It was hard to believe He needed a private investigator. She didn’t see that among the gifts listed in the Bible.

“Okay, God,” River whispered. “I’m asking You to make this agency successful. I thank You for hearing me. And . . .” She gulped. “And I thank You for our new cases.” There. She shook her head. Weird, but Pastor Mason would be proud of her. She jumped when Tony’s phone rang.

River listened closely. If this was a case . . . Well, Pastor Mason also said something about patience. Surely answers to prayer didn’t happen this quickly. If so, she should have started praying this way a long time ago.

“Slow down, Dad,” Tony said. “I’m not sure I understand.”

River was almost relieved that it was Tony’s father. If it actually had been a new case . . . well, it would have freaked her out a little. She began to straighten her desk again, only slightly listening to Tony’s conversation. It seemed to be a little one-­sided.

Finally, Tony said, “I’ve got to call you back, Dad. Let me talk to River and see what she thinks. You know her mother is ill.” Pause. “All in all, doing pretty good. She has full-­time help now.” Another pause. “Okay. I’ll phone you in a bit.”

After he hung up, he pulled his feet off his desk and sat up straight in his chair. His blue sweater was the same color as his eyes . . . when they were blue. Why was she paying attention to his eyes? She gave herself a virtual kick in the pants and realized that Tony looked upset.

“Everything okay?” she asked.

“No, not really.”

“Is your dad all right? Your mom?”

“No,” he said, cutting her off. “They’re fine. And before you ask, my sister’s good too.” He looked away and cleared his throat. Something he did when he was troubled or thinking. Finally, his eyes met hers. “I told you that when my dad was a rookie police officer, before he was promoted to detective, he was badly burned in a fire?”

She nodded. She remembered the story. It was hard to forget. “He saved a little girl’s life.”

“Yes. Well, they found two bodies in the house after the fire was put out. The little girl was the granddaughter of the couple. Thank God, Dad got her out in time.”

“Yeah. Your father’s a hero.”

Tony smiled. “Don’t say that to him. He won’t put up with it. I also told you that they never found the person responsible?”

She nodded again, then waited for him to finish. It was obvious what was coming next. She swallowed. Was this just coincidence? Of course, this was Tony’s dad. They couldn’t charge him anything for their services. River should have mentioned in her prayer that they needed a paying case. She didn’t realize God was so literal.

Trust Me.

Although she hadn’t heard an audible voice, it was so clear it made her jump.

Trust Me.

She swallowed hard. “Uh, he wants us to help him solve a twenty-­year-­old crime?” she said. Why was her voice squeaky? “Why now? I mean, I assume he tried to close this case himself. From what you told me, he’s an excellent detective.”

“He is, but he’s retiring.”

“And he wants this solved before he leaves?”

Tony nodded. “In a way. You see, there were two other similar murders with the same MOs in Des Moines not long after that one. The police arrested someone. Charged him with all three. Dad was never sure they got the right person.”

“You never told me that.”

“I never went into details because I thought it was a closed case.”

“So, your father wants to make certain the case is truly closed before he leaves? It’s still a really cold case. You know how tough they are to solve after so long.”

“Well, except he says it’s happened again.”

“In Des Moines?”

Tony shook his head. “No, up in Burlington, Iowa, where they are now. They moved there years ago because Dad felt it was a better place to live. He was convinced that Des Moines was getting too big. Too dangerous. He wanted a slower-­paced life. A safer place for Mom. Truthfully, I think he had a tough time working in Des Moines. He couldn’t get anyone he worked with to believe they’d arrested the wrong person for those murders.”

“Wait a minute. So, your dad thinks the killer followed him?”

He shrugged. “He doesn’t know, although I agree that it seems strange. Look, I know you have questions. I do too. Can you come to Burlington with me so we can write a profile? He wants to see if we can add something to what he has so far.”

River hesitated a moment.

“I know you’re thinking about your mom. Sorry. Maybe I shouldn’t have asked. I can go alone. I shouldn’t have put you on the spot.”

River shook her head. “You’re not. Now that we have Mrs. Weyland, I may be able to come with you.”

Hannah, the young woman who had come in to help River’s mother during the day, had quit after finding out she was pregnant. She’d recommended her aunt, who had recently lost her husband. Agatha Weyland was sixty-­three years old and had nursed her husband through Alzheimer’s. When Hannah told her she was pregnant and had to leave her job, Mrs. Weyland had begged her to set up an interview with River. At first, she wasn’t sure if it would work since Mrs. Weyland wanted to move in.

“I just can’t stay in my house anymore,” she’d told River when they talked. “Too many ghosts. Hannah and her husband love the house and they’ve offered to buy it. I was goin’ to move into an apartment, but if you have a spare room . . .” Her hazel eyes had filled with tears, and River had been touched by her. But would she change her mind and quit once she was stronger? She didn’t want Rose to get used to someone and then have her leave. River’s mother was still dealing with Hannah’s quitting. She had loved and trusted the young woman.

“I’m not lookin’ for anything temporary,” Mrs. Weyland had said as if reading River’s mind. “I intend to take care of your mother until . . . well, until she no longer needs me.”

This time it was River’s turn for tears.

“Oh, honey,” the older woman had said, taking River’s hand. “I know what Alzheimer’s is like. I know how to take care of your precious mama. My Harold was a happy man until the day he died. I learned how to go with him wherever he was . . . and how to be whoever he needed me to be. We were happy, and your mother will be happy too. You have my word.”

River had really wanted to hire Mrs. Weyland, but she was certain Rose wouldn’t give up another one of her rooms. She’d gotten upset when River and Tony had moved her original sewing space to another room even though they set it up exactly the same. They’d moved things around so River could be closer to her mother in case she needed help during the night. Now she’d have to give up her sewing room completely, even though she never used it. River was prepared for a meltdown. But after spending a couple of hours getting to know Mrs. Weyland, Rose had said, “Can’t we just move the things in the sewing room down to the basement, River? Either Agatha could move in there, or you could move into that room, and Agatha could be right next to me.”

Although she was more than surprised by her mother’s request, she quickly agreed. River moved into the old sewing room, and Mrs. Weyland set herself up next to Rose.

“Let me talk to Mrs. Weyland,” she told Tony. “She’s barely had time to get to know my mother. She might feel uncomfortable with me leaving town so soon. How long do you think we’ll be gone?”

“Why don’t we say the rest of the week?” he said. “I think that’s enough time to create a profile. My father’s already put together a murder book, although I’m not sure how much information he’s been able to get his hands on. Hopefully, we’ll at least have some pictures and reports.”

“Okay, but if Mrs. Weyland or my mother is uncomfortable . . .”

“I’ll go alone and bring everything back with me.” He frowned. “I’d really like you to talk to my dad. See if he can convince you the cases are related. I know that’s not what we do when we write a profile, so we’ll be using our ace deductive skills as well.”

River laughed. “I’ll call Mom now, but you might as well plan on going alone. My mother will probably have a conniption fit.”

“A conniption fit? Where do you get these expressions? I truly think an old lady lives somewhere down deep inside you.”

River picked up her phone, stuck her tongue out at Tony, and dialed Mrs. Weyland.


Excerpt from Cold Threat by Nancy Mehl. Copyright 2024 by Nancy Mehl. Reproduced with permission from Bethany House Publishers. All rights reserved.




5 stars!

Excellent follow-up that really keeps the suspense and storyline going! 

Cold Threat is the second book in author Nancy Mehl’s excellent, suspense-filled Ryland & St. Clair series, but it can easily be read and enjoyed independently. (But don’t miss out on the first book if you can help it. Read my 5-star review of Cold Pursuit here.) This time, the partners in Watson Investigations head to Iowa to help Tony St. Clair’s police detective father investigate a 24-year-old cold case of murder and arson. 

River Ryland and Tony St. Clair are an intriguing and inspired pair. Both are damaged individuals due to the after-effects of trauma from their final case with the FBI as profilers. However, even after what they experienced, they continue to complement each other synergistically and to their mutual benefit. They work so well together, yet have different strengths, like the two sides of the same coin. They are dedicated and focused on the case at hand, although they know they are being stalked themselves by an evil killer. 

While primarily a tense tale of suspense, I liked how this author incorporates her characters’ spiritual natures into the story. She’s got a knack for making their thoughts and struggles understanding how their beliefs mesh with life natural and organic. It feels authentic and genuine, never artificially introduced. 

The plot features a cold case new to the overall series, but elements from book one also carry over. However, the author reveals enough backstory to allow readers new to the series get up to speed and still have an unspoiled story to enjoy if they decide to pick up the previous novel in the future. 

There is a brooding sense of evil from the start as the perpetrator of crimes in the cold case gives his narrative and later as the stalker weighs in on their plans. The growing tension was enough to give me prickles on the back of my neck at times! The story is quite robust, with solid character development and a plot that evolves with plenty of action and surprise twists to keep readers off-balance and glued to the pages. I was so absorbed in this story that time flew by, and I was still compelled to stay up late to reach the final conclusion. I am so looking forward to the next book, which is scheduled to come out later this summer. 

With its great characters and well-paced, suspenseful plot, I recommend COLD THREAT to readers of suspense, especially those who enjoy Christian fiction and fans of the previous book in the series. 

Author Bio:

Nancy Mehl

Nancy Mehl is the author of more than fifty books, a Parable and ECPA bestseller, and the winner of an ACFW Book of the Year Award, a Carol Award, and the Daphne du Maurier Award. She has also been a finalist for the Christy Award. Nancy writes from her home in Missouri, where she lives with her husband, Norman, and their puggle, Watson.

Catch Up With Nancy Mehl:
BookBub - @NancyMehl
Twitter/X - @NancyMehl1
Facebook - @nancy.mehl



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Friday, January 26, 2024

Virtual Book Tour & Giveaway: Murder at a Scottish Castle (Scottish Shire Mystery, #5) by Traci Hall


Murder at a Scottish Castle
A Scottish Shire Mystery
Traci Hall

Cozy Mystery
5th in Series
Setting - Nairn, Scotland
Publisher: Kensington Cozies
Publication Date: January 23, 2024)
Paperback: 304 pages
ISBN-10:  1496744373 / ISBN-13: 978-1496744371



USA Today bestselling author returns with the latest novel in a Scottish seaside cozy knitting mystery series featuring busy single mom Paislee Shaw, owner of a specialty sweater shop, knitting enthusiast, and reluctant sleuth who must untangle another murderous yarn! 

With the summer days getting shorter in the seaside village of Nairn, the annual bagpiping competition at Ramsey Castle promises to be quite the end-of-season blowout. Paisley has snagged a special invitation from the Dowager Countess, who wants to showcase her cashmere goods in the castle gift shop, and she’s brought her son Brody, Grandpa, and their black Scottish terrier Wallace. There’s a fierce rivalry between Robert Grant, the Earl of Lyon, and last year’s winner Jory Baxter, with Grant loudly vowing to show up the blowhard Baxter and claim clan bragging rights. But the reigning champion has barely put the reed to his lips when he turns red and collapses, soon to take his dying breath. DI Zeffer confirms foul play, suspecting the reed may have been poisoned. With a murderer in their midst, the rest of Nairn won’t breathe easy until Paisley applies her sleuthing skills to make sure justice is served and the killer pays the piper . . .




From cozy mysteries to seaside romance, USA Today bestselling author Traci Hall writes stories that captivate her readers. As a hybrid author with over sixty published works, Ms. Hall has a favorite tale for everyone.

Mystery lovers, check out her Scottish Shire series, set in the seaside town of Nairn, or the Salem B&B Mystery series, co-written as Traci Wilton. Her latest project is an Irish Castle cozy as Ellie Brannigan. Whether it's her ever-popular By the Sea romances, an Appletree Cove sweet romance, or a fun who-done-it, Traci finds her inspiration in sunny South Florida, living right near the ocean.

Traci wants to hear from you!


January 23 – The Mystery of Writing – CHARACTER GUEST POST WITH EXCERPT
January 24 – Mystery, Thrillers, and Suspense – SPOTLIGHT
January 24 – #BRVL Book Review Virginia Lee – SPOTLIGHT
January 24 – Christy's Cozy Corners - CHARACTER GUEST POST - WITH EXCERPTJanuary 25 – Baroness Book Trove – SPOTLIGHT
January 25 – Sapphyria's Book Reviews - SPOTLIGHT
January 26 – Literary Gold – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
January 26 – Guatemala Paula Loves to Read – SPOTLIGHT
January 26 – fundinmental – SPOTLIGHT
January 27 – Maureen's Musings – SPOTLIGHT
January 27 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – CHARACTER GUEST POST - WITH EXCERPT
January 28 – Reading Is My SuperPower – AUTHOR GUEST POST WITH EXCERPT
January 29 – Hearts & Scribbles – SPOTLIGHT 
January 29 – Melina's Book Blog - REVIEW


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Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Virtual Book Tour & Giveaway: The January Corpse (Dave Garrett Mystery, #1) by Neil Albert

The January Corpse by Neil Albert Banner

The January Corpse

by Neil Albert

January 15-26, 2024 Virtual Book Tour


The January Corpse by Neil Albert

Dave Garrett is a disbarred lawyer eking out a living in Philadelphia as a private eye. At noon on Friday, a law school classmate offers him what looks like a hopeless investigation. Seven years before, a man named Daniel Wilson disappeared. His car was found abandoned with bullet holes and blood, but no body. A hearing is scheduled for Monday on whether Wilson should be declared legally dead. The police have been stumped for seven years. Organized crime warned off the first investigator to look into the case. Over the course of the weekend, the case takes Dave from center city to the coal regions and back, where the story comes to what the critics called "a startling and satisfying conclusion."

Nominated as a Best First Novel by the Private Eye Writers of America when it first appeared in 1990 and the first of a series of twelve.

Praise for The January Corpse:

"Worthy of a Scott Turow . . . This exceptional first mystery is driven by a baffling plot and comes to a surprise ending that passes the Holmesian test."
~ Publishers Weekly

"Tantalizing twisted"
~ The New York Times Book Review

"A first rate first novel."
~ The Boston Globe

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery, Private Eye
Published by: Onyx
Publication Date: First published January 1990
Number of Pages: 207
ISBN: 9798663201599
Series: Dave Garrett Mystery, #1
Book Links: Amazon | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:


FRIDAY, 11:00 A.M.

I couldn’t stand the sight of him but I took his case anyway.

I'd been sitting in the spectator's section of a courtroom in the basement of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County. At night the room was used for criminal arraignments, and it showed. Everything in the room was dirty, even the air. I breathed in a mixture of grit, poverty and despair. The bare wooden benches were carved in complex, overlapping swirls of graffiti, initials, gang emblems, and phone numbers. Some people called it street art. I didn't.

To my left, fifteen feet off the ground, a clock was built into the wall. It was missing its hands and most of the brass numerals, and the few that were left were muddy brown. Not that I cared what time it was; as long as I sat there, waiting to testify, my meter was running.

Today the room was being used by the Family Court for a custody case. This was the second day of trial, and the wife's attorney was hoping to get me on the stand today. There's no such thing as a custody case with class. The couple were both doctors, both well respected. Married ten years, two children, both girls, ages four and seven. They had separated two years ago. Each had a condo; his was just south of Society Hill in a newly gentrified neighborhood; hers was on Rittenhouse Square. They both had memberships at the usual country clubs, plus time-shares in Aspen and Jamaica. She drove a BMW and he drove a Benz. It had been amicable at first. Neither one was leaving for someone else; they just didn't like being married to each other anymore. There was no one stirring it up. Most spouses need encouragement from a third party to get really nasty--a new girlfriend, a mother, a friend, or a lawyer. In the absence of someone to stir the pot, it was very civilized. For a while. Then, while working out a property settlement, her lawyer found that her husband had forgotten to disclose his half-interest in a fast-food franchise--a small matter of half a million dollars. In response, she dropped the blockbuster; she moved to terminate his visitation rights because she claimed he was sexually abusing the seven-year-old. He denied it and countered with a suit for attorney's fees and punitive damages. The case had started yesterday, was being tried again today, and would probably go on for a good chunk of the next two weeks.

I had very little to say, but the wife's lawyer wanted me to testify anyway. In a close case, almost anything might make a difference. I'd followed the husband for a week, and the most interesting thing I'd found was that he read Penthouse. Plus, as I was sure his lawyer would point out on cross, Time, Sports Illustrated, Business Week, and The New England Journal of Medicine.

The wife's attorney, sitting at counsel table, turned to me, pointed to his watch, and shook his head. The cross examination of the wife's child psychologist was hopelessly bogged down on the question of her credentials, and they weren't going to reach me that day. The case wasn't on again until the following Wednesday; I was free till then. I nodded, pointed to my own watch to indicate that my meter was off and headed for the door. My overcoat was already over my arm; no one familiar with the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County leaves their property unattended. There used to be a sign outside the Public Defender's office: Watch your hat, ass, and overcoat, till somebody stole it.

The corridor was as filthy as the courtroom, but at least there was light. And people--lots of them. The young and shabbily dressed ones were there for misdemeanor criminal or for family law cases. The felony defendants were usually older and better dressed; they'd learned the hard way that making a good impression just might help. The best dressed of all--except for the big-time drug defendants, who put everyone to shame--were the civil trial attorneys. There was big money in personal injury work and large commercial claims, and a lot of it was worn on their backs. My own suit, when it was new, had looked like theirs; now it was dated and worn, and my tie had a small stain. I was dressed well enough for what I did now.

I was nearly to the exit, feeling blasts of cold air as people went in and out, when I heard him call my name. The voice was raspy and nasal. I turned; it was Mark Louchs, a classmate from law school. He practiced with a small firm out in the suburbs. His hairline had receded since I'd last seen him, and he was wearing new, thicker glasses. His skin was red, probably from a recent Caribbean vacation. He smiled, shook my hand, and said he was so glad to see me. It was all too fast and too hearty, and I wondered what he wanted from me.

“Hello, Mark. Going well for you?"

“God, hearings coming out my ears. Clients calling all hours. Can't get away from it. My accountant--I'm busy as hell--" He stopped himself. “Yeah. Fine. Look, you know how bad I feel about what happened to you. " His voice trailed off. He'd been a jerk when I needed his help and we both knew it. I said nothing, letting the awkward silence go on. Making him uncomfortable was petty, but that didn't stop me from enjoying it. When he was nervous, I noticed, his smile was a little lopsided.

When he was certain that I was going to leave him hanging, he went on. "Look, I hear you're doing investigations now."

“It's the closest thing I can do to keep my hand in. And I sure wasn’t going to hang around as somebody’s research assistant.”

"I tried to reach you first thing this morning. They said you were out. " I hadn’t had time to check my messages, but I just stayed quiet. I liked leaving him under the impression that I was in no hurry to talk to him. Partly because it might give me an advantage in whatever he wanted with me, and partly because it was true.

"Listen, Dave, I'd like you to do me a favor. Are you set up to handle a rush job?"

I do plenty of favors, but not in business. And not for someone who didn't respond to my request for a letter of support when I'd gone before the Disciplinary Board with my license on the line. I kept my voice disinterested and cautious. "How much a favor, and how much a rush?"

“I need you to do an investigation for a case to be heard this coming Monday at one thirty."

I carefully gave a low whistle, watching for his reaction. “That gives me just the rest of today and the weekend. Pretty short notice."

“If you can do it, the fee should be no problem. I'm sure we can agree on an acceptable rate. "

I looked at his suit and at my own. I knew the money would never wind up in a suit. I had too many other bills. But it gave me something to focus on. “Let's go somewhere and hear about it."

We put on our overcoats, cut through the perpetual construction around City Hall and wound up at a small bar near Sansom. He found a quiet corner booth and ordered two coffees. Whatever serious lawyers do after five, they don't drink during the day.

“Ever do a presumption of death hearing!" he asked.

"Fifteen years ago, fresh out of law school, I did a memo for a partner."

“Familiar with the law?"

"Unless it's changed. If all you have is a disappearance, no body or other direct proof of death, the passage of seven years without word gives rise to a presumption of death. If the person were alive, the law assumes that someone would have heard from them."

“I represent the survivors of a man who disappeared under circumstances strongly suggestive of his death. His name is—was--Daniel Wilson. We filed an action to have him declared dead. The hearing is Monday afternoon at one-thirty in Norristown. The insurance company is fighting tooth and nail."

“What carrier? I do some work for USF&G and for Travelers. I'd hate to get on their bad side. "

"Neither of them. Some one-lung life insurance outfit out of Iowa. Reliant Fidelity Mutual, or something like that."

"Let's hear some more. "

“He lived in Philly and had offices in the city and in Norristown. I figured that his office in Norristown gave me enough to get venue in Montgomery County. I don’t come into Philadelphia for trials if I can avoid it. The insurance company won’t offer a nickel, but they don’t care if it’s in Philadelphia or Montgomery County. "

“What kind of office?"

“A law office. Never heard of the guy before this case, though. I made a couple calls to friends from law school, but neither of them knew him. "

“Lawyers aren’t disappearing kinds of people. We’re more like barnacles.”

"Wait till you hear about the disappearance. Just after New Year's, seven years ago. His sister was in town from LA; they planned to get together. They’re in separate cars, out in the country. Powell Township, Berks County. She finds his car off the road full of bullet holes. Plenty of blood, but no body. Police can't turn up shit. He was never heard from again."

It was short notice, but I had no plans for the weekend. It sounded like a break from skip traces and catching thieving employees. And it paid. “The case has been kicking around for months. You didn’t decide to hire an investigator this morning.”

Even in the dimness I could tell he was flustered. “Yeah, you're right; you're getting sloppy seconds. The Shreiner Agency was handling it till yesterday. " I just sat there until he decided to continue. "They were doing all the usual interviews, credit checks, asset checks. They hand-delivered back the file and refunded our retainer. And a letter saying they wouldn't be able to help any further. "

"Someone warned them off. "

“There could be other reasons."

“This thing smells to me like organized crime. That's out of my league. "

“Look, nobody's asking you to find who killed him, even if he’s dead. We just need to say that there's no evidence he's alive. That ought to be easy enough." He didn't say the words ‘even for you’, but I heard them.

“Tell that to the Shreiner Agency. "

He finished his coffee. He was anxious to get help, but I was clearly hitting a nerve. "Yes or no?"

I normally worked for a flat fifty dollars an hour. Right then, considering who I’d be working for and whatever had happened to the Shreiner Agency, I wasn’t so sure if I wanted it. "I charge my attorney's rate--one hundred fifty per hour; two hundred for work outside of business hours, half rate for travel time, plus all expenses."

“Think you can come up with something for that kind of money?”

“Haven't the slightest idea. You know how it is. I work by time, not results."

“That's a lot of money."

“And it's quarter to twelve on Friday."

He gave me the kind of look I didn't normally associate with being hired--it was closer to the expression you get when you steal somebody's parking place. But he grunted something that sounded like "okay" and gave me his business card with his home number on it. And the Shreiner file, too--there was so little of it, he was carrying it in his breast pocket.

"I'll look this over and do what I can this afternoon. When can I talk to the sister?" I asked.

“Give me your card. She’s in the area. I'll have her at your office at nine tomorrow morning. "

“Make it seven; I don't want to lose any time on Saturday. It’s tougher to reach people on Sunday."

"Okay, but keep me posted, will you? Remember that you're working under the supervision of an attorney. "

“Right. " I wanted to tell him that I was working under the supervision of an asshole, but I let it pass.

Philadelphia has mild winters, but early January is no time to linger outside. I needed a quiet place to read. I went to Suburban Station and found an empty bench.

The Shreiner Agency was like the Army: bloated, bureaucratic, and sluggish, and most of its best people moved along after a few years. Yet they were careful and scrupulously honest. That counted for a lot in my business.

The file was only about twenty pages, and most of it was negative information. Daniel Wilson hadn't voted in his home district since the time of his disappearance. Neither had he started any lawsuits, mortgaged any real estate, filed for bankruptcy, used his credit cards, joined the armed forces, opened any bank accounts, or taken out a marriage license. His driver's license had expired a year after he disappeared and had never been renewed. At the time of his disappearance he had no points on his license and no criminal record. Since then, there had been no activity in his checking or savings accounts; the balances in each were a few hundred dollars. No income taxes or property taxes had been paid in seven years. None of this distinguished Daniel Wilson from somewhere between ten and fifteen percent of the population. I would need a lot more than this to convince a judge he was dead.

Toward the bottom of the pile I found an interim report by “JBF," who I knew to be Jonathan Franklin, an investigator I’d worked with before. According to the report, at the time of his disappearance Wilson was thirty years old, short to medium height, wiry build, brown hair and eyes. Paper-clipped to the corner of the first page was a black-and-white wallet-size formal photo of Wilson in a suit and tie. From the date on the back, it was probably his law school graduation portrait. Assuming he graduated at twenty-five, the picture was twelve years old. I had visions of showing it and asking people if they'd ever seen an average-looking guy with glasses and brown hair before. It was a pleasant-looking face; maybe a little bland, but presentable. His cheeks were smooth and pink, and he looked closer to twenty than twenty-five. His glasses weren't the wire-rimmed ones that were fashionable when I was in college, or the high-tech rimless models the yuppies wore now, but good old-fashioned ones, horn rimmed, with a heavy frame. He had the kind of face clients would trust.

The family background was minimal. Wilson's father had died when he was a child; his mother was still living and worked cleaning offices in Center City. She lived in the Overbrook section of west Philadelphia. There was one sibling, a sister, Lisa, two years older; a former nurse who now lived in a small town upstate. She’d been living in LA, if I remembered Louchs correctly. I figured her for a loyal daughter who’d moved back east to be close to their mother after Daniel’s death, or disappearance, or whatever it was. Neither Lisa nor Daniel had any children. Neither had ever been married.

Franklin had come up with some more about Wilson's grade and high school education. Wilson was consistently a superior student; not brilliant, but always near the top of the class. He was seldom absent, hardly ever late with work assignments, and never a discipline problem. Several of his high school classmates had been contacted; they remembered him as serious and hardworking. He played no sports but was active with the school literary magazine and the newspaper: He had a few dates, but no one remembered a steady girlfriend.

Except to tell me that he'd attended Gettysburg College, was secretary of the Photography Club, and obtained a degree in history, the college section was a blank. I wasn't surprised; in high school everybody knows everybody. But people are too busy in college to know more than a couple of people well. Investigating backgrounds at the college level is usually helpful only if the subject was very well known or if the school was very small. I was reading with only half my attention by then; I was trying to imagine what kind of man was behind that picture. And what was the judge going to make of him. I hoped he wouldn't decide that Wilson was the kind of loner who would pull up stakes and disappear without a word to anybody.

The next section was hardly more help. After college, three years at Temple Law School, graduating about one-third of the way from the top. He passed the bar on the first try and set up practice in Center City with a classmate, Leo Strasnick. When Wilson disappeared five years later, the partnership already had three associates, with offices in Philadelphia and Norristown. Nice growth.

I rubbed my eyes and looked at my watch. It was nearly one, and this was the only business day before the day of the hearing. The rest of the file would have to wait.

One of the advantages of Suburban Station was plenty of phone booths. My investigation got off on the right foot. Not only was Leo Strasnick available, he agreed to see me at four that afternoon. His office was only a few blocks from the station.

I tried Shreiner's next.

"Shreiner Security Agency. How may we help you?" She sounded like a recording of herself.

"Mr. Franklin, please."

“And whom may I say is calling?

"She was good. If my gross ever broke into seven figures, I promised myself I would get a receptionist who talked that well. And to take lessons from her.

“Just say I'm calling regarding the Wilson case. " I was curious to see if that would be enough to get me through.

“Yeah, this is Jon Franklin," was all he said, but it was enough. Something was bothering him. His words were unnaturally clipped, and his voice was too loud and too fast.

“Hello, Jon, this is Dave Garrett--"

“You said you were calling about Wilson?”

“Yeah, right," I said as casually as I could “Remember me, Jon? We worked together on those tools disappearing out of Sun Shipbuilding? I was--"

"I remember. " Then his voice got softer. "Dave, what do you have to do with this? We're not in the Wilson case."

"I've just taken it over. " There was silence on the other end. "I've read your report and I assume there's more than you had time to put in writing. " More silence. "Look, Jon, the case is coming up Monday, for Christ's sake. Cut me some slack."

“You want some advice? Don't take the case."

"The lawyer guaranteed payment," I said, being deliberately stupid. I had a lot of practice at that.

"No amount of money is worth it. " I'd been expecting him to say that, but he was at the biggest agency in the state a fifteen-year veteran of the Philadelphia police.

“Can we get together somewhere?”

"I've told you all you need to know already," he said, and hung up."


Excerpt from The January Corpse by Neil Albert. Copyright 1990 by Neil Albert. Reproduced with permission from Neil Albert. All rights reserved.




5 stars!

A fabulous first book in this Philadelphia PI series! 

There is so much to love and appreciate about The January Corpse, the first book in author Neil Albert’s private eye mystery series featuring former attorney-turned-gumshoe Dave Garrett, that it gave me one of the most solidly satisfying reading experiences this year. With marvelous characters, a well-developed 90s Philadelphia setting, an engrossing puzzler of a mystery, and several more books in the series to look forward to, I was one happy reader. 

Dave Garrett is personable and engaging, a regular guy with an unfortunate backstory about how he ended up becoming a private investigator. The story is told from his level-headed perspective, and I loved his voice with its somewhat snarky edge. 

His case is to investigate the disappearance of Dan Wilson, another young attorney seven years earlier, so his remaining family can have him declared dead and collect on his assets and insurance policy. I thoroughly enjoyed Dave’s focused investigation; he’s got a short turnaround of approximately three days for results as their court appearance is the upcoming Monday afternoon. (No fault of Dave’s.) 

There are a number of possible scenarios for why Wilson has gone missing, not the least of which is the bloody scene in the Ford Pinto he was driving when he was last seen. Dave’s process is aggressively organized, and he wastes no time getting into the meat of the cold case, following the most logical explanations. Of course, he attracts the attention of people you don’t want taking an interest in your business, which adds a whole other layer of pressure to the case. 

There are twists and turns as Dave uncovers lies and hidden secrets. Just when I thought I had an idea of what had gone on, new information or suspects would change my mind. For those who like to know, there is some violence, gunplay, and blood along the way, perfectly in keeping with the story. 

I recommend THE JANUARY CORPSE to mystery readers who enjoy private eye procedurals and stories set in and around Philadelphia.

Author Bio:

Neil Albert

Neil Albert is a trial lawyer in Lancaster, Pennsylvania and this book is based on a real presumption of death hearing. He has completed nine of the projected twelve books in the series and hopes to finish with December within the next two years. His interest in writing mysteries was kindled by reading Ross Macdonald and Neil operates a blog with an in-depth analysis of each of Macdonald's books, In his younger years he was an avid fox hunter. His best memory is that he hunted for fifteen years and was the only member not be to seriously injured at least once.

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