Wednesday, August 23, 2017

This Doesn't Bode Well

from Janet Marsh of the Highland Bookshop Mysteries by Molly MacRae

Have you ever had an image in your mind of what someone you admire is like, and then met that person and realized . . . ? Here’s what happened when I took fresh scones to our visiting author to welcome her to Inversgail.

I turned the corner, and there, halfway along the street, standing in the middle of it, was a woman dressed for some form of martial arts, waving what appeared to be a sword.

I studied the situation and started forward again. The “sword” was no doubt wooden, as it didn’t glint in the sun. And the woman’s movements with it were more deliberate than random waving. They looked like a choreographed routine. And, of course, the woman was our peculiar visiting author, Daphne Wood.

“Glorious morning,” Daphne called upon seeing me. A night’s rest had apparently done its best for Daphne. That would be a relief for Gillian.

“Enjoying the fresh air?” I asked.

Daphne did several deep lunges, thrusting with the sword each time. “This isn’t fresh air.” She slashed the sword from right to left and then from left to right. “You haven’t breathed fresh air until you’ve filled your lungs with the crystalline purity that is the atmosphere of the Canadian woods.”

“You could be right.” I held up the bag. “Have you had breakfast? Perhaps you should move out of the street. There’s a car coming.”

Daphne brought the sword upright and touched it to her nose. Without a look at the approaching car, she strode to her front gate, where I saw her dog waiting. Daphne gave a hand signal to the dog, and then opened the gate, went through, and closed it, leaving me on the other side. I decided I didn’t mind.

“Have you discovered the back garden?” I asked. “You might find your, er, swordplay more enjoyable there.”

“Forza,” Daphne said.


“What I’m doing is Forza, an exercise routine based on samurai sword work. And no, the back garden is out. The trees won’t give me enough room to swing properly and I never like to hurt trees.”

“I suppose the front garden’s too small? I’m just thinking about your workout being interrupted by traffic. And safety.”

“I’ll tell you something about myself, Janet. You are Janet, aren’t you?

“You have a good memory.”

“An excellent memory, which is a feature people notice about me immediately. But I find that people notice very little else about me. In fact, I often feel invisible. Compound that with my theory that most people, these days, are more interested in divining the truth on their screens, and I suspect that no residents on this street even noticed me this morning. Other than the fellow in the car, and he’s probably already forgot that he saw me.”

I was pretty sure Daphne was wrong about at least some of the residents. I’d noticed a curtain twitch in one window and an elderly man had come out of his house and must have swept his stoop to a nub by now. On the other hand, judging by the number of public service announcements Police Scotland broadcast about distracted driving, Daphne might be right about the man in the car. Rather than argue either point, I held up the bag again.

“I brought fresh scones as a welcome-to-Inversgail present.”

Daphne reached over the gate and took the bag. She opened it, sniffed, and appeared to consider what she’d smelled. Then she took out a scone and offered it to the dog. The dog ignored it.

“This doesn’t bode well,” Daphne said.

There you have it. Daphne is definitely not what any of us expected here in Inversgail. I hope her words weren’t in any way prophetic.

Coming in January 2018, Scones and Scoundrels, the new mystery in the Highland Bookshop series, bringing together a body outside  a pub, a visiting author determined to find the killer, and a murderously good batch of scones . . .

Molly MacRae is the author of the award-winning, national bestselling Haunted Yarn Shop Mysteries and the Highland Bookshop Mysteries. Visit Molly on Facebook and Pinterest, connect with her on Twitter @mysteryMacRae, or find her the first Monday of each month at Amy Alessio’s Vintage Cookbooks and Crafts

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

August Bank Holiday - a fun time for Brits...or not?

Mavis MacDonald here, one of the women who run the WISE Enquiries Agency. I’ve just got back to our office in the heart of Wales after a long weekend in my old home town of Dumfries in Scotland. I took the chance to spend the August Bank Holiday with my boys, and their families. 

Barry Island beach, Stop Fortnight, 1930s
In Scotland we have our Bank Holiday on the first Monday in August , you see. Here in Wales – and in England and Northern Ireland too – they have theirs on the last Monday in August. All a bit odd, I know, but no one ever said Britain is a place with traditions you can guess, or logically predict. 

Maybe you’re not familiar with the idea of a Bank Holiday? I know some people aren’t. Back in 1871 the Banking and Financial Dealings Act decreed all banks would close on certain days of the year. 

Typical caravan park
Back then, all four of the Home Nations had their August Bank Holiday on the same day – the first Monday in August. Then, in the 1960s, they started to fiddle about with it. Typical. A bit of a nightmare if you had kids in school, I should think. I hadn’t had my boys by then. Finally, they settled on the new dates back in 1971. In Scotland we stuck with the first Monday in August, and the rest of them shifted to the last Monday. Mebbe because it gets colder in Scotland earlier in the year than it does here, down south? I don’t really know.

Carol – she’s the one of the four of us who’s Welsh – was telling me that the first Monday in August worked quite well here in Wales, because all the coal mines would shut down for two weeks, those being the last week in July and the first in August. Apparently it was the only way for the mine owners, then managers, to grapple with the whole concept of holidays; you can’t be down on numbers of workers for weeks and weeks on end, you see, when you run a mine. So they’d just shut down the entire operation for two weeks and you had to take your time off then, like it or not…whatever the weather! They called it “Stop Fortnight”, and she was telling me that many other businesses started doing the same thing, because so many families were connected with mining in some way. Then the whole extended family would go off on day trips, or - if they could afford it - they might go to a caravan camp for one of the two weeks, or even to somewhere like Butlins'.

Apparently those two weeks were pretty chaotic in Wales, as they were in many other parts of the UK, with the beaches inundated by folks who hardly saw daylight, let alone sunshine, from one August Bank Holiday to the next. And, whether it was Stop Fortnight, or just a Bank Holiday, everyone wanted to get to where they wanted to be as fast as possible...not wanting to waste a minute of their leisure time. 

It was an extremely popular time to get married, too, with the chance of a long “honeymoon”, which usually just meant time off work, rather than the sort of exotic jaunt most people seem to expect these days. My late husband and I married over the August Bank Holiday, like many others, just because we could save a day’s holiday time because of the long weekend. He managed to get leave from the army so we could do it then. How I miss him. Ah well...

Carol was saying that her mother and father – even though they grew up in a rural area – still won’t venture off their farm on an August Bank Holiday weekend, because they still have nightmares about how horrifically busy it used to be everywhere. I’ve seen some photos of Wales during Stop Fortnight, and I can see what they mean. Nowadays the roads around here are jam-packed with caravans coming and going for all of August. It's nice to be back in the peace and quite of the Dower House, with Althea, I must say. 

Bank Holiday nightmares...or just a typical August weekend!
Och, sure enough it was busy when I was back home just now, but the odd thing is the banks don’t close in my neck of the woods for our Bank Holiday – no, they close on the last Monday of the month, even though most other businesses in Scotland have the first Monday off. Now work that one out if you can! One of the things I love about we Brits is that our entire way of life is full of such eccentric things. And we don’t usually even notice most of them. It’s not until we have to explain things we see as perfectly normal to those who are unfamiliar with them that it dawns on us just how odd our normality must seem to others.

Like this croquet tournament they’ve got coming up at Chellingworth Hall later this month. Now that’s an oddity, if you like. Not that I’ve ever had any time for croquet myself, but it’s a big deal around here. A team of people who work at the Hall, called The Chellingworth Champs, will play against a team from the village, called The Anwen Allcomers. Sounds like a bit of a grudge match, if you ask me. Here’s hoping nothing untoward happens to spoil the whole affair. 

Cathy Ace is the Bony Blithe Award-winning author of The Cait Morgan Mysteries and The WISE Enquiries Agency Mysteries (#4, The Case of the Unsuitable Suitor will be released in hardcover in the UK in September 2017 and in the USA & Canada on January 1st 2018).  You can find out more about Cathy, her work and her characters at her website, where you can also sign up for her newsletter with news, updates and special offers:


Monday, August 21, 2017

Total Eclipse of the Heart

By: Becca Leighton (16 years old)
From: Leave It to Cleaver
Pub. Date: June 23rd, 2017
Series: Vintage Kitchen Mysteries
Author: Victoria Hamilton
Website: Victoria Hamilton Mysteries

So on Wednesday, May 30th of this year (1984) we had a cool spectacle in the US... a solar eclipse! The last total solar eclipse was in 1979, and I remember it really well (it was just 5 years ago, when I was 11!). We went out then and watched the eclipse through photo negatives. (By the way, that is apparently NOT safe at all!!) It was very cool.

The eclipse this year was what is called an 'annular' eclipse. According to my science teacher 'annular' means ring shaped, from the Latin 'annulus', meaning ring. It is an annular eclipse if the 'ring of fire' - a ring of the sun still visible when the moon is blotting out the center of the sun - is seen in even one location for even just one second.

Most of us saw what looked like a partial solar eclipse. I will say, in Michigan we had a pretty good view of it, as we're close to the exact path.

The next total solar eclipse in the United States happens Monday, August 21st, 2017.

Total Eclipse of the Heart

That's a lifetime away. I wonder where I'll be?

Anyway, one of my favorite songs from last year was Bonnie Tyler's Total Eclipse of the Heart. It totally ROCKS!

Think I'll play my tape of it again. I just made a mixed tape with that on it, as well as Flashdance by Irene Cara, All Night Long, by Lionel Ritchie, as well as songs from this year, Missing You, by John Waite, Drive by The Cars, and others as well as my fave from last summer, True, by Spandau Ballet.

I could listen to True all day. Always slipping from my hands/ Time's a sand of its own...

So anyway... it's a new school year, 1984/85, and things are touchy at home (Mom had a new baby, Jaymie, and I love my little sister to death, but man, does she whine a lot! And poopy diapers... yuck!) and my friends are acting kinda weird, and one of them Dolores, who I hung out with all summer is now dating (Eeuw!) Brock Nibley, Valetta's older brother and... things are just really, really weird. Maybe by 2017 we'll all have our acts together.

So... Total Eclipse of the Heart... coolest song of all time or what?



So everyone... please be careful viewing the total eclipse of the sun today. Enter my draw instead!

You will LOVE this prize package including a copy of Leave It to Cleaver, a Cozy up to a Great Mystery! mug, pen, and the neatest skull teaspoon.

Follow these guidelines:
1 - Canadian and US entries only, please!
2 - Enter by Midnight, August 23rd: don't worry if your comment doesn't show up immediately. After midnight on the 21st it will go into a queue to be moderated and I'll approve the next day.
3 - Leave an email address (yourname (at) yourserver (dot) com) and a first name.

Good Luck!!

Sunday, August 20, 2017

#ClockWinding in Orchard

by Nadia Wint from the Clock Shop Mystery series by Julianne Holmes

The folks in Orchard, Massachusetts aren't hard to impress regarding social media. Ruth Clagan--she's the owner of the Cog & Sprocket--is only a few years older than I am, but she's hopeless on social media. Correct that--she's hopeless doing it. As a subject, she's a natural. She has such passion for her clocks it is infectious. Her years of working with students makes her a natural at explaining what she is doing so that anyone can understand it. To top it all off, she looks good on camera.
It took a while to convince her to let me follow her around with a camera, but it's paid off. The countdown to the new clock tower being wound and working is on, and folks are excited! She's got a following. Not to pat myself on the back too much, but it doesn't help that I've been up nights editing footage. I may even use some of it for a class documentary next semester.
You know, when I first came to Orchard, it was because I was taking classes at Harris University, and I needed a job. I was purposely unengaged with my life, and determined not to care too much. This gig was just a job to help make ends meet. But then the Cog and Sprocket got under my skin, and I couldn't resist. I started to care. To care about the Reeds, to care about Ruth, to care whether she and Ben make a go of their relationship, to care about Jack Clark and his parents. Bezel and I bonded, and it was all over. I love my adopted town, and don't mind using my mad social media skills to let the world know.
The only person I can't stand is the town manager, Kim Gray. Unfortunately for her, I'm not the only one...

Julianne Holmes writes the Clock Shop Mysteries for Berkley Prime Crime. The first in the series, the Agatha nominated Just Killing Time, debuted in October 2015. Clock and Dagger was released in August 2016, and Chime and Punishment was released earlier this month. As J.A. Hennrikus, her Theater Cop series will debut in the fall of 2017 with A Christmas Peril. She has short stories in three Level Best anthologies, Thin Ice, Dead Calm and Blood Moon. She is on the board of Sisters in Crime, and is a member of MWA and Sisters in Crime New England. She blogs with the Wicked Cozy Authors and Killer Characters. T:@JHAuthors I: @jahenn


Friends, Ruth Clagan is a clockmaker, and the Clock Shop Mystery series is about timepieces. Do you have a clock in your life that means something? Let me know in the comments. On Tuesday, August 22 I will pick a name from the comments, and send them a copy of Chime and Punishment!

Saturday, August 19, 2017

School Days Already! And a Giveaway!

By Sassy Cabot from the Read ’Em and Eat Mysteries by TerrieFarley Moran

It is hard to believe but in Fort Myers Beach the new school year has already begun and the crowd of family vacationers has thinned out considerably. Here in the Read ’Em and Eat café and bookstore, Bridgy and I are busy getting ready for the Autumn vacationers (the beach in late September through November is a glorious place to be) by refurbishing the kitchen and restocking the bookshelves. Miguel is trying out some new recipes, while Bridgy and I squabble over who get to be the #1 taste tester.

I was re-organizing the book shelves when I remembered that Pastor John had brought in a couple of ARCs (Advanced Reader Copies- uncorrected proofs bound in book form without the pretty cover) of some adventure books that a snowbird parishioner had given him at the end of season. Pastor thought I might want to read them. I looked in my book cabinet and there was the plastic Walgreen’s bag holding a memoir about canoeing, a how-to on water skiing and a pictorial of famous kayaking waterways. I thought the books would be great for browsing as I sat on the patio in the evening, so I took them out to my jeep and tossed them on the passenger seat.

Walking back to the café I remembered all the fun that Bridgy and I have had on the water since we moved here from Brooklyn. I slipped a grateful glance at the Gulf of Mexico and got back to work.

As it happens, our author has an ARC of Well Read, Then Dead that she would like to giveaway to some lucky commenter to celebrate the third anniversary of the book’s release.

To enter for a chance to win please comment below and tell us anything at all about ARC books. You love to read them, you’ve never read one, you like to search for the errors that the author and editor weeded out (hopefully) before publication—we want to know. Please include your email in this format: yourname (at) your server(dot) com—so the spambots can’t pick it up.

Comments close at midnight on Monday, August 21st.

Friday, August 18, 2017

The Brother Speaks Again

by Neal Kennersly, brother of Carrie Kennersly, whose adventures are memorialized in the Barkery & Biscuits Mysteries by Linda O. Johnston

Hey.  It's been a long time since I've been here, but my sister Carrie told me it's my turn to blog here again this month.   Like last time, I didn't think I had much of a choice.  I love my sister--and her generosity to me.  We're housemates thanks to her--and her letting me live in her house almost rent-free.

Besides, I won't admit it to her, but I think it's fun to blog here.  I keep track of the posts of others, including Carrie, who talk about our town of Knobcone Heights, what they do here, and how they all somehow get involved in some of the nastiest things that take place in this area.  Including--mostly including--Carrie. 

Somehow, calm and quiet and small Knobcone Heights has become a location where murders have begun to occur.  And somehow my sister has become the person who seems to be solving most of them, outmaneuvering even the local police.

I'm happiest regarding my sister when she engages in what she really knows.  First, she's a veterinary technician.  She also recently became the owner of the human bakery Icing on the Cake, and even more fun she split it in half to create the adjoining Barkery and Biscuits.  There, she bakes and sells some of the healthy dog treats she's created while working for the Knobcone Veterinary Clinic. 

Then, there's her really cute dog, Biscuit, who's part of our family.  I call her Bug, just because.

Anyway, so far Carrie has solved three--yes, count 'em, three--murders around here.  And I won't be surprised if there are more to come.

Of course I'll be supportive of anything she wants to do--and that includes her involvement with one of the veterinarians at the Knobcone Vet Clinic, Dr. Reed Storme.  But I just want my sister to stay happy, healthy and alive.

And me?  Well, I'm still working at the front desk of the Knobcone Heights Resort, where I help check people into the hotel.  And whenever I can, I take people out on hikes, both those sponsored by the Resort and otherwise.  I earn my living that way, and have a lot of fun, especially as a sort of tour guide.  And I most especially enjoy hanging out with Janelle Blaystone, who's a photographer as well as one of Carrie's assistants at her shops... and a murder suspect.

Anyway, I hope you'll think about reading the Barkery & Biscuits Mysteries.  You'll for sure have fun reading about my busy sis.

BAD TO THE BONE, the third Barkery & Biscuits Mystery by Linda O. Johnston, was a May 2017 release.  And yes, there are more to come.

Barkery, Bakery, Biscuits, Midnight Ink, Linda O. Johnston, Barkery & Biscuits, Bite the Biscuit, To Catch A Treat, Bad to the Bone

Thursday, August 17, 2017

What Could Possibly Go Wrong? - And Giveaway!

by Chloe Ellefson, living history museum curator

of the Chloe Ellefson Mysteries

by Kathleen Ernst

I love my guy, but he can be a bit overprotective. That's to be expected, I guess. Roelke McKenna is a cop. It's his job to anticipate trouble.

Me, I prefer to look on the bright side. That's why I'm excited about my new temporary assignment. I'm employed at a large historic site called Old World Wisconsin, but this week I'm on loan to one of the state's smaller historic sites.

Pendarvis is in Mineral Point, in southwestern Wisconsin. The region attracted white lead miners in the 1820s. Most were transient single men but in the 1830s, experienced miners from Cornwall began immigrating to the area. And lots of them brought their families.

Two of the old Cornish homes preserved at Pendarvis.
The presence of women and children transformed a rather wild mining camp into a respectable community.

Pendarvis is a charming historic site, and Mineral Point a lovely town known for its artisans and gorgeous old buildings. I can't wait to start learning as much as I can about those early Cornish settlers.

Roelke has expressed doubts about the trip. And yes, it's true that I've stumbled into more than my share of trouble while exploring historic sites and museums. I've even tripped over a body or two.

But I'm determined to have fun helping the curator at Pendarvis. I remain optimistic. What could possibly go wrong?

* * *
Want to read Mining For Justice? Leave a comment and you'll be entered for a chance to win a copy. Please include an email (ex., joe.smith at The giveaway ends at midnight on Monday, August 21. The winner will be announced on August 22.

Mining For Justice is available for pre-order, and will be released on October 8.

For more information about the Chloe Ellefson mysteries, please visit my website.