Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Dumpster Diva

by Brenda Jones
from the Greek to Me Mysteries by Susannah Hardy

Hi. Brenda here, or as I like to think of myself, the Dumpster Diva. 

When you live in a seasonal resort town this far north, you have to get creative about making a living. Bonaparte Bay, New York, doesn’t have a lot of industry. Okay, no industry. The town shuts down in the winter when the St. Lawrence River partly freezes over. If I wanted to (which I don’t), there are spots where I could walk to Canada across the ice. But that’s dumb when you have a car and can just use the bridge.

I have my own business. I patrol the streets twice a day collecting returnable cans and bottles that the tourists leave all over town. At a nickel a pop, they add up to a decent chunk of change by the end of the week, and an even bigger chunk by the end of the summer. Last year I bought a boat. Which was kind of brilliant. Because now I can make my rounds of the islands in the river. And let me tell you, the people in those big houses go through a lot of drinks. With my collection bins stationed by their docks, all they have to do is fill them up. And all I have to do is empty them. I’ve more than doubled my income, so I started an IRA.

Some people think I’m homeless. Not true. Sure, I get a little grubby when I’m working, but I’ve got an apartment over one of the businesses downtown. It’s clean, it’s cheap, and it’s mine. You should come over some time, when I’m not on duty, of course. I’ve always got wine coolers and Hot Pockets. But when I’ve saved enough money—in about five years, I figure—I’m hitting the road. 

Maybe I’ll ask the guy who washes dishes at the Bonaparte House restaurant to come with me. If he cleans up his act.

And someday, if you see an RV with Dumpster Diva painted on the side driving across America, wave as I go by!

Susannah Hardy’s first book, FetaAttraction, is the first in the Greek to Me Mysteries series. Look for Olive and Let Die in November. You can visit Susannah at www.susannahhardy.com, connect on Twitter @susannahhardy1, and Like her on Facebook.

Monday, March 30, 2015

That Job is Mine! Mine!

By Louise Jane McKaughnan

From the Lighthouse Library mysteries by Eva Gates

Okay, so I`ve had a temporary set back. Nothing I can`t resolve.

I could see that they were getting awful busy lately at the Bodie Island Lighthouse Library. I knew they’d have to hire someone, and soon, to help out. Particularly now that the place is proving so popular what with the Jane Austen collection and everything.

I just didn’t think they’d go ahead and hire a qualified librarian. Not when they could have me! After all who knows more about the history and legends of the Outer Banks in general and this lighthouse in particular?

And what I don’t know my grandmother knows.

But Bertie James, the library director did it. She went and, over the objections of Jonathan Uppiton the chair of the library board, hired Lucy Richardson. Oh, yes, Lucy might be a qualified librarian with a fancy university degree and everything, but she is no Outer Banks girl.  Her mother might have been born in Nags Head, but she up and left the minute she could, didn’t she, to marry some rich guy from Boston? To my mind spending summers here doesn’t quality Lucy for being anything more than a particularly pesky tourist.

When someone bumped off Jonathan and began stealing the Jane Austen first editions, I hoped it would turn out to be Lucy.  That would certainly get her out of my hair. But so far, I see no sign of arrest. Heavens, Butch Greenblatt wouldn’t arrest Lucy if he came across her bending over the body with a knife in her hand. 

Not only has Lucy taken the job (my job!) but she’s moved into the little apartment on the fourth floor. Now that I might be able to use to my advantage. I suspect Lucy’s led a rather sheltered life. The lighthouse is awful old, and there are a lot of stories about it: Confined brides, civil war soldiers, workers trapped under falling stone, sailors lost at sea.

Oh, yes, lots of stories. About things that move in the night and pass through walls. That don’t have the best interest of the shall-we-say living inhabitants at heart.

If Lucy won’t quit the job voluntarily, I might just have to give her a little nudge.

Eva Gates’s first book, By Book or by Crook, is the first in the Lighthouse Library series. Look for Booked for Trouble in September and Reading Up A Storm next March. Visit Eva at www.lighthouselibraries.com, and Like her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/evagatesauthor 

Eva, also known as best-selling Canadian author Vicki Delany, is the newest blogger at Killer Characters. To celebrate her joining the group, Eva is offering a signed copy of By Book or By Crook to one reader. Please leave a comment and your email address to enter the draw. Contest closes April 1st.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Live in a cold part of the country? Visit Hawaii with us.

In honor of the this month's release of the paperback version of Aloha Betrayed, here is a little preview to tempt you to take an armchair trip to Maui.

Jessica Fletcher is on the Maui College campus to conduct a class on community involvement in criminal investigations to a group of police recruits. Her co-teacher is former detective and Hawaiian police legend Mike Kane. When the body of a young botany instructor is found at the bottom of a cliff, Jessica and Mike join forces to look into whether her terrible death was an accident—or murder. But someone doesn't want her to find out the truth. 

By Jessica Fletcher

I was pleased that I’d decided to make the trip up the volcano Haleakala, and to bicycle down instead of being driven. The experience was exhilarating, and it had displaced what had become nonstop fixation on Mala Kapule’s death. Not that those thoughts hadn’t intruded from time to time, but they weren’t all-consuming as they had been. On a relatively level stretch of road I glanced back to see that the man who’d left the base camp with me had now closed the gap and was only fifteen feet behind. The straight-and-level portion was quickly replaced by another switchback that curled around the mountain and skirted a steep drop-off. The man with the shaved head was suddenly abreast of me. Hadn’t he heard the admonition that we were to ride in single file only? I shook my head. He didn’t get the message. “Get behind me or pass,” I shouted. He responded by moving close; he was now pressing against me, causing me to have to turn, which pointed me at the drop-off.

“Stop it!” I yelled as I fought to avoid going over the edge. 

I squeezed hard to apply both sets of brakes. The front brakes did nothing. The rear ones caught, the unequal torque sending my bike into a sideways skid. He gave me one final push with his hand and sped ahead, as I sped ahead, too—straight for a thousand foot drop into oblivion.

Jessica Fletcher is an experienced bicyclist, so she expected her ride to be a breeze. 
Have you ever dared to try something new when you were on vacation?
How did it work out?

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Sheila Rogers: Million Year List

By Sheila Rogers
The Cumberland Creek Mystery Series
Book 4: A Crafty Christmas
By Mollie Cox Bryan
I never participate in any of those other lists games on an social media sites. A bucket list? Who has time when you have four kids, a house to clean, scrapbooks to make, and business ti run? Sometimes I want to run screaming from all of the list makers and senders out there—and, oh, those gamie invitations on Facebook!  But I saw that Annie Chamovitz came up with a "Million Years List"  a few months back and I thought it would be fun to do one of my own. Here’s my contribution to the popular “Million Years List” that some bloggers are doing. 

Never in a million years did I think I would: 
1.     Win a national design contest and get to go on a scrapbooking cruise for free.
2.     Trip over a dead body during my morning run.
3.     Get hired by a design company in New York city.
4.     Help to track down a killer.
5.  Tell my husband to put away his gun.

If that doesn't ignite your curiosity about my life, I don't know what will. Wink. 

What might be on your list?

Check out Mollie Cox Bryan online:
Twitter: @MollieCoxBryan
Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/molliecoxbryan/boards/

Friday, March 27, 2015

Just a pinch of murder! ASSAULT AND PEPPER #bookgiveaway

By Sam, known to his sisters as Win and to his mama as Winfield Robinson III, from the Spice Shop Mysteries by Leslie Budewitz


This dog and me, we been together a good while now. Not exactly sure what he is—some folks say Airedale terrier, but that don’t mean much to me. I just call him a mutt. He looks like that dog in the Little Orphan Annie comic strip. You remember that? Nah, you’re too young. These days, you’re all too young.

That’s one reason why I like dogs. They don’t care if you remember summit or not, if you talk proper, if you’re following the rules. They just want eat, drink, poop, and be petted. Can’t beat that, now, can you?

I like living in the Market. Best part of Seattle, you ask me—not that anyone does. I hear the Spice Shop’s got a new owner. Hope she don’t try to run me off. I never pester nobody. The dog and me, we just like to hang out, and if folks want to give us something, we don’t say no. I like that corner, there where Pine Street runs down the hill into Pike Place. Nice view, nicest people. Officially, they say no dogs in the Market, but I ‘spect they’re just coverin’ their backsides in case of trouble happening. Nobody ever looked this dog in the eye and say nothing but how do there, that be a fine-lookin’ dog, he one of them Airedale terriers, what’s his name?

His name’s Arf. That be the name of the pup my daddy brought home for my sisters and me some sixty years ago, and I been wantin’ another dog a that name ever since. And now I got me one.

Life is good.

Do you have a favorite breed of dog? Or is a mutt the king of terriers in your book? 

Leave a comment and your email address by midnight Saturday, March 28 to be entered for a chance to win a signed copy of ASSAULT AND PEPPER!

 #bookgiveaway #mystery #cozy mystery 

Leslie Budewitz is the national best-selling author of DEATH AL DENTE, first in the Food Lovers' Village Mysteries set in northwest Montana, and winner of the 2013 Agatha Award for Best First Novel, and the sequel, CRIME RIB (2014), from Berkley Prime Crime. ASSAULT & PEPPER, first in her Seattle Spice Shop Mysteries will debut in March 2015.

Leslie is the first author to win Agatha Awards for both fiction and nonfiction. For more tales of life in the wilds of northwest Montana, and bonus recipes, visit her website and subscribe to her newsletter. Find her on Facebook  or on Twitter.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Moe

By Lucille Mazzarella
From Peg Cochran’s Lucille Series

Yo, Lucille Mazzarella here.  I’ve only got a few minutes because I have to make a trip to do some shopping.  First up is the drugstore.  I don’t know about you, but when we was growing up we had three kinds of shampoo—baby shampoo, grown-up shampoo and shampoo for people with dandruff. Easy, right?  Now you go to the store and what do you find—dozens and dozens of different kinds.  Do you have thin hair, thick hair, dry hair, color-treated hair, hair that needs volume, hair that curls or hair that doesn’t.  It’s enough to drive you crazy, know what I mean?  How the heck do I know what kind of hair I have?  I keep meaning to ask Rita—she’s the gal who cuts my hair—but I keep forgetting. So I buy the same kind over and over again.  Flo says I ought to try something new, but why should I? I’ve been using the same stuff for years—a new shampoo ain’t going to make my life better, know what I mean?

It’s the same thing with face cream.  Used to be you had two choices—Ponds or Albolene.  Now you’ve got cream for dry skin, oily skin, dry skin that’s oily in spots, oily skin that’s dry in spots.  Even this stuff that is supposed to make your pores smaller.  You gotta be kidding me!  Who’s got time to worry about their pores?  I got better stuff to worry about—like will my daughter Bernadette ever get a job and move out of the house and what are we going to do with my mother and all that stuff she buys from QVC.  Flo says using a facial mask will make my pores more refined.  Sheesh, aren’t they refined enough already?  I don’t know about you, but it’s easier to just get my jar of Ponds and get the heck out of the drugstore.

How about you?  Do you buy the same thing over and over or are you like Flo, always trying something new?

If you’d like to spend more time with Lucille, my publisher is currently running a promo on the first book in the series—Confession Is Murder.  It’s only $.99 at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other e-book retailers.  Hurry!  I don’t know how much longer the promo will last. 


To win a copy of Confession Is Murder, leave a comment.  Winner to be announced here on March 27 so be sure to check back!  Book is available for Kindle or Nook.


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Learning to Work Together

by FBI Special Agent James Morrison, from Sheila Connolly's Privy to the Dead (Museum Mystery #6). 

I’m going to have to come right out and say it: Nell Pratt and I have purchased a house together, a stately Victorian within easy commuting range of our respective jobs in Philadelphia. Which I supposed makes us officially a couple. As far as I know, there is no official announcement available to make it known that we are sharing a home, and as more than roommates. We haven’t exactly spread the news widely, but we are both satisfied with the arrangement. So far, which is only a few weeks.

One of the more challenging issues that we face as a couple (or should I be saying “partners”?) is where we draw the lines between us professionally. I am an FBI Special Agent. Nell is the president of the Pennsylvania Antiquarian Society. That these roles conflict is not immediately obvious, but Nell has an uncanny knack of becoming involved with murder investigations. This is through no fault of her own. She is not a busybody and does not consort with criminals, but things keep happening around her, and she feels compelled to help.

I often find myself reminding her that murder investigations are handled by local police departments, not the FBI. Philadelphia has a pretty good police department, as Nell and I have reason to know. An FBI agent cannot insert him- or herself into an investigation merely because he is involved with someone who is involved, if you know what I mean. A local police department may choose to invite the FBI’s participation if they feel they need help, but in reality they’d rather handle things themselves, and I can’t say that I blame them.

Nell’s most recent entanglement involves the hit-and-run death of a man on the street alongside the Society building. At first it looked like an ordinary hit-and-run accident, one that the police could handle and that did not require FBI participation in any way. Then it was discovered that the victim had worked on a construction crew at the Society, and had left the building only hours before he was struck and killed. That was only the beginning of the complications—but I repeat, nothing required the FBI’s involvement.

That’s the simple version. The reality is that Nell is an intelligent woman, and she wants very much to talk about the crimes she keeps finding herself involved in. I will admit that I have general expertise in crime-solving that can be of use to her, and here is where the lines between us blur. As a result, we spend a lot of time speaking in hypothetical terms, making up “let’s pretend” scenarios. “Let’s pretend you were going to investigate this—what would you do first? Who would you be looking at as a suspect? What evidence would you need?”

To make matters worse, a fair number of the crimes Nell encounters somehow involve Martha Terwilliger, a Society board member who happens to be a cousin of mine and a friend of Nell's. Once again, where is the line between personal and professional? I’m family to Martha, but that should not make me part of the investigation—no matter what Martha believes.

I think in solving this latest crime Nell and I managed to avoid crossing any of those lines. And since we handed the solution to the crime to the police (it was Nell who handed it to them, I should say; I was merely an observer), they shouldn’t complain.

Being half a couple is complicated. Being involved with Nell Pratt is even more complicated. But I think we’re happy about how it’s working out.

Privy to the Dead will be released on June 2rd. It's available for pre-order at Amazon and Barnes and Noble now.