Cozy Mystery: CAT ABOUT TOWN by Cate Conte

511DkQBNEqLCAT ABOUT TOWN by Cate Conte / Cozy Mystery / Minotaur Books / Released Aug 1, 2017

The first novel in a frisky new mystery series follows an unlikely citizen who is called in to solve the purrfect crime.  This cozy is perfect for fans of Miranda James, Clea Simon, and Rita Mae Brown.

Maddie James has arrived in Daybreak Island, just off the coast of Massachusetts, easy to settle down and start her own business – and maybe even fall in love.  When a stray orange tabby pounces into her life, she’s inspired to open a cat cafe.  But little does Maddie know that she’s in for something a lot more catastrophes when her new furry companion finds the dead body of the town bully.

Now all eyes are on Maddie:  Who is this crazy cat-whisperer lady who’s come to town?  If pet-hair-maintenance and crime-fighting weren’t keeping her busy enough, Maddie now has not one but two eligible bachelors who think she’s the cat’s pajamas … and will do anything to win her heart.  But how can she even think about happily-ever-after while a killer remains on the loose – and on her path?

CATE CONTE serves on the Sister in Crime New England board and is a member of Sisters in Crime National, Mystery Writers of American, and the Cat Writer’s Association.  She currently lives in Connecticut with her cats and dog.

Book Excerpt: RIVER CITY DEAD by Nancy G. West

River City Dead cover front. Final. Hi resRIVER CITY DEAD by Nancy G. West / Traditional / Cozy Mystery / Released 2017 by Henery Press

 Excerpt from Chapter One

            Not every city has a river running through it. And not many women plan a rendezvous at a San Antonio River Walk hotel during Fiesta Week after years of self-imposed celibacy. I was about to make history.

            Sam and I were meeting at Casa Prima Hotel. Hopefully our first days and nights together in River City would be more fiesta than fiasco. And we could avoid dealing with crime.

            To calm the jumping beans in my stomach, I decided to make a quick detour to Barnes and Noble and headed toward Loop 410. If SAPD called Sam away, I’d need something to read. He assured me they wouldn’t contact him, but sometimes they had to rely on an experienced homicide detective for a difficult case.

            Barnes and Noble was packed. After a lengthy search through half the store, I found aisles brimming with romance novels. I didn’t relish being caught scouring this area. In my Flash-News column, “Stay Young with Aggie,” I answered readers’ questions about everything from fitness to relationships. As an “expert,” I wasn’t supposed to need help.

            It wasn’t as though I was innocent. I became painfully experienced after Lester the Louse seduced me when I was barely eighteen, impregnated me and vanished like mist. But stories of other people’s romances might be enlightening.

            Slipping down an unoccupied aisle, I reached for a title that caught my eye, A Well-Spent Night. A bare-chested, muscled Scottish hunk wearing a plaid kilt bulged from the cover. I squinted at the title, which upon closer inspection actually read, A Well-Spent Knight. Worked either way. I flipped pages to the middle, found what I was looking for and started reading. There was a lot of heavy breathing and rippling biceps, but it never said why the guy wore a kilt or how he got it off. I’d wondered about that. Historical romance might not be the thing.

            Another cover caught my eye with the title The Long Hard Ride. A shirtless muscle-bound cowboy stood spread-legged front and center while a steer romped around behind him. I snatched the book off the shelf.

            From the corner of my eye, I saw a young sales girl eyeing me. Was my face flushing?

            “Can I help you?” About twenty-five with swinging hair and a pouty mouth, she looked sexy, bored, and all-knowing.

            I whipped the novel under the arm laden with my shoulder purse. “Imagine that. You even have westerns. So many choices.” I doused her with my superior bank-teller expression. “I doubt if any of these books are really that good.”           

            She smirked.

            Some urge compelled me to jabber. “I don’t think he could ride a steer dressed like that.”

            The new-fangled phone jangled in my purse. Digging to retrieve it, I dropped the books. The sales girl swiveled over and scooped them up. “I’ll keep these at the counter while you search for more.” She cocked a corner of her sulky mouth and walked away. I fumbled to flip open my Motorola StarTrac.

            “Where are you?” It was Sam, using his professional detective voice.

            “I just needed a few things. Have you seen the…our room?”

            “You need to get down here, Aggie. We have problems. I’ll meet you in the lobby.” He hung up.

Interview: Cozy mystery author Nancy G. West

Nancy G WestWhen Nancy was seven, she and her mother wrote poems to each other. The poetry was awful, but Nancy learned if you wrote something, people stopped to read it.
     In high school, Library Journal’s Pegasus published her poem. At eighteen–since journalists were underpaid and English grads sold lingerie–she slogged through General Business at UT-Austin, earning a BBA. Fortunately, one elective was Creative Writing.
     After graduation, Nancy read books on writing, wrote articles, poetry, the biography of artist Jose Vives-Atsara, and founded Book Publishers of Texas. 
     Returning to college to study English literature, she wrote Nine Days to Evil, a novel of psychological suspense, and the Book Shelf column for San Antonio Woman Magazine. NPR broadcast her poem, “Time to Lie”.
     Aggie Mundeen, a character from Nine Days to Evil, captivated Nancy and led her to create award-winning Aggie Mundeen mysteries. She is working on Aggie’s next escapade, convinced that writing is a lot more fun accounting.

River City Dead cover front. Final. Hi resTell us about your new release.  My heroine, Aggie Mundeen, a single columnist, moves from Chicago to Texas to shape up and start life over and falls in love with San Antonio Detective, Sam Vanderhoven. Eagerness and curiosity propel her to help with his investigations, creating humorous and dangerous results. In River City Dead, they plan a weekend getaway at a San Antonio hotel on the River Walk during Fiesta week—an escape from crime and reset for their dicey relationship. But murder has a way of interfering with the best laid plans. Sam and Aggie must improvise before she ends up dead in the river.

What led you to write this book?  By the end of Book 3, Smart, But Dead, Aggie and Sam reached a new level of understanding. Having survived volatile encounters with crime and a few self-evaluations, they need a calm, secure place to start over, an idyllic setting not too far from Sam’s work. It’s time for a rendezvous. What better setting than the beautiful San Antonio River Walk?

Did you have an interesting experience in the research of this book?  I live in San Antonio, have spent many happy hours on the River Walk and attended many Fiesta Events. But I learned so much about my own city: why San Antonio is called Military City, how the city honors the military, their ranks, heroes’ resting places; how city groups convene for Fiesta and what it all means; how the city water system and river authority interconnect with the San Antonio River, and the fascinating story of the creation of the River Walk.

How important is setting to your story?  Aggie and Sam’s story takes precedent over everything, but the River Walk and hotel are integral to the plot and crucial to telling their story. One reviewer writes, “River City Dead is like taking a vacation while reading a mystery.” Another says, “I have visited the River Walk. I wish I had read this book first. Lots of interesting information along with the mystery.”

Which is more important characters or setting?  In my Aggie Mundeen mysteries, characters are always most important. The setting exists to highlight their personalities and foibles when they confront crime in a distinctive place.

Are any of your characters loosely based on people you know in real life?  Author Carolyn Hart writes, “Aggie’s pluck, humor, intelligence and loving heart will keep her young and make readers smile.” Author James W. Ziskin calls Aggie an “irrepressible heroine.” I plead guilty to having Aggie’s overwhelming curiosity, but I wish I had half her energy and bravery. The other traits, spread among many friends, coalesce in Aggie. I love Sam’s good judgment and reliability (probably based on my husband and father.) One reader wrote, “I identify with Aggie… the characters live and breathe….Shoot, if I was single and Aggie wasn’t in the picture, I’d go after Sam myself!”

Do you people watch for character inspiration?  All the time. Their body language and dialogue reveals so much about them. One could write a whole character sketch after listening to someone talk into their phone on a long-winded call.

Do you have a favorite fictional character by another author you’d like to meet  Movies come to mind. I love Goldie Hawn’s character in Private Benjamin and Sandra Bullock’s female FBI agent in Miss Congeniality. They try so hard, they mean well and they keep screwing up.

 SMART BUT DEAD cover frontWhat do you hope readers take away from your work?  A great sense of who Aggie Mundeen and Detective Sam are and a fervent hope for their relationship, fascination with their entertaining friends, genuine entertainment, and more than a few laughs.

What do you do when you are not writing?  Enjoy my family. Read. Daydream. Tile table tops. Sit and watch the river go by.

Which book impacted you as a teenager?  The Secret in the Old Clock. The Hidden Staircase. Nancy Drew, of course. She was curious, smart and independent, and her father had such trust in her.

Do you read the same genre you write?  I read mysteries, thrillers, literary fiction, biographies, political books, and other non-fiction if the topic intrigues me.

What is #1 on your bucket list?  More travel in the United States and enough time to write all the books I want to write.

 Have you ever written a scene that ‘creeped’ you out?  Aggie gets herself in some scary situations, but I’m averse to blood, guts and serial killers.

Do you have a favorite writing place or writing rituals?  I love to sit beside the Guadalupe River, daydream and write.

Do you have a reoccurring theme to your books?  Trust. You can like somebody, even love them, but can you trust them? If you find you can’t, how do you adjust your thinking? After writing a biography, prequel suspense novel and four Aggie Mundeen mysteries, I became aware of this recurring theme.

What are you reading now?  I’m always behind. I just read Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See, Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale, David Baldacci’s The Black Widow. Next up, Nelson DeMille’s The Charm School. I try to read a book on the craft of fiction between novels. I have an occasional rash of realism and read non-fiction.

What social media do you participate in?

Website: http://nancygwest.com

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/pg/authorNancyG.West/posts/?ref=page_internal

Twitter: @NancyGWest_

Pinterest/RIVER CITY DEAD: https://www.pinterest.com/nancyg0257/river-city-dead-aggie-mundeen-mystery-4-by-nancy-g/?lp=true

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/nancy-g-west-69186731/edit/topcard/

What is the one question you wish an interviewer would ask you?

Do you see humor in people and situations like Aggie Mundeen does?

Yes. I can’t help it. I think it’s genetic.

 What’s next for you?  Another book about Aggie Mundeen and Detective Sam. I can’t give them up.

New Release: THE NO. 2 FELINE DETECTIVE AGENCY by Mandy Morton

51pdun5X0JL._SX323_BO1,204,203,200_This looks adorable …

THE NO. 2 FELINE DETECTIVE AGENCY by Mandy Morton / Cozy Mystery / Released March 28, 2017 by Minotaur Books

Mandy Morton introduces us to two best friends, Hettie and Tilly.  They do all the normal things besties do, have dinner, gossip, and fight for those who can’t.  But they are cats.  The first book in the series, The No. 2 Feline Detective Agency is a world full of just cats doing human-like things.

Hettie Bagshot has bitten off more than any cat could chew.  As soon as she launches her No. 2 Feline Detective Agency, she’s bucketed into a case:  Furcross, home for slightly olders cats, has a nasty spate of bodysnatching, and three of the residents have been stolen from their graves.  Hettie and her sidekick, Tilly, set out to reveal the terrible truth.  Is Nurse Mogadon involved in a deadly game?  Has the haberdashery department of Malkin & Sprinkle become a mortuary?  And what flavor will Betty Butter’s pie of the week be?

In a haze of catnip and pastry, Hettie steers the Furcross Case to its conclusion, but will she get there before the body count rises – and the pie sells out?

MANDY MORTON began her professional life as a musician.  More recently, she has worked as a freelance arts journalist for national and local radio.  The No. 2 Feline Detective Agency series was inspired by her own cats, Hettie and Tilly.

New Release: DYING ON THE VINE by Marla Cooper

51o-mYoqIELReaders fell in love with the “feisty and funny” wedding planner turned sleuth Kelsey McKenna in Cooper’s TERROR IN TAFFETA.  Kelsey is back this time in DYING ON THE VINE by Marla Cooper (Released April 4 by Minotaur).

Wedding planner Kelsey McKenna just signed on to a dream gig.  She’s going to be the “day-of” coordinator at the beautiful Higgins Estate in California wine country.  There’s just one problem:  the wedding was originally planned by Babs Norton, self-proclaimed Queen of Wine Country Weddings, who the father of the bride has fired.

Kelsey decides to clear the air with Babs and make sure there are no hard feelings, but before she can throw herself into executing the perfect wedding, she discovers Babs dead on the floor of her office.  David,  Babs’ assistant, is quick to point the finger very publicly at Kelsey.  Even worse, Kelsey learns that with the big day only week away, the bitter little man has sabotaged her new clients’ wedding by canceling all the vendor contracts.

With the help of her friend Brody and assistant Laurel, Kelsey must scramble to salvage the wedding while dodging gossipy wedding planners, grumpy winemakers, and a cold blooded killer in this smart, funny story.

MARLA COOPER is the pen name of a professional writer who has written everything from advertising copy to travel guidebooks to the occasional haiku.  While ghostwriting a book on destination weddings, she found inspiration for her first novel.  Originally hailing from Texas, Marla now lives in Oakland, California, with her writer husband and hr polydactyl tuxedo cat.

New Release: THE REEK OF RED HERRINGS By Catriona McPherson

51vevih3al-_sx329_bo1204203200_ THE REEK OF RED HERRINGS  (A Dandy Gilver Mystery, Book 5) by Catriona McPherson / Released December 13, 2016 by Minotaur Books

On the rain-drenched, wave-lashed, wind-battered Banffshire coast, tiny fishing villages perch on ledges that would make a seagull think twice, and crumbly mansions cling to crumblier cliff tops while, out in the bay, the herring drifters brave the storms to catch their silver darlings.  It’s nowhere for a child of gentle Northamptonshire to spend Christmas.

But when odd things start to turn up in barrels of fish – with a strong whiff of murder most foul – that’s exactly where Dandy Gilver finds herself.  Enlisted to investigate, she and her trusty cohort, Alec Osborne, are soon swept up in the fisher folks’ wedding season as well as the mystery.  Between age-old traditions and brand-new horrors, Dandy must think the unthinkable to solve her grisliest case yet.

CATRIONA MCPHERSON was born near Edinburgh, where she received her Ph.D.  Dandy Gilver and the Proper Treatment of Bloodstains won the Sue Feder Memorial Award in 2012, and Dandy Gilver and an Unsuitable Day for Murder won an Agatha Award for Best Historical Novel.  Catriona lives in Davis, California, with her husband and two cats.

In addition to writing, Catriona enjoys gardening, cooking, running, swimming, ballroom dancing, antique shopping, and exploring old houses.  Her experience growing up in Edinburgh inspired the Dandy Gilver series.

 

Review: UNLEASHED by Eileen Brady

UnleashedUnleashed BY Eileen Brady

Poisoned Pen Press Mystery (cozy)

An ideal mystery for animal lovers and mystery devotees. Brady does an excellent job of explaining veterinary terminology in a seamless way and taking readers into the field with her protagonist, Dr. Kate Turner. Dr. Kate is a woman on a mission, a woman who is usually immune to gossip, but not other tongue wagging like her patients share. However, once she discovers that the gossip trail is where the information she needs to solve the crime lurks, she deftly inserts herself into situations that yield the leads she needs. When a young man critically injured in an accident, which left him mentally challenged is accused of a murder, Dr. Kate is determined to prove that her young veterinary worker, Eugene, is innocent. First, she has to prove to the local police that the dead woman was not a suicide, but murder. A discreet intermingling of clues takes some serious thought to unveil.

Review provided by Mahala Church for her column Barefoot Book Reviews in the October 2015 issue of The Book Breeze.