Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Currently Reading...

I'm currently reading Cat About Town by Cate Conte. This book is the first in the Cat Cafe Mystery series and will be released August 1st.

Maddie James has left her juice bar in San Francisco in the capable hands of her business partner as she returns to Daybreak Island in New England to be there when her grandmother dies. After the funeral Maddie is concerned about her grandfather, especially when she discovers he's not doing well financially and the chamber of commerce leader is trying to coerce him into selling the family home. Maddie's not about to let anyone threaten her family and warns the man off, publicly. It's only a few hours later, as she chases after her new cat friend that they come across his body, murdered in a tent on the Food Stroll. Maddie realizes she could be the number one suspect, but could her grandfather, the former Chief of Police, really be suspect number 2?

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Last Breath - Spotlight

Last Breath

by Karin Slaughter

on Tour July 24 - August 4, 2017


Protecting someone always comes at a cost.

At the age of thirteen, Charlie Quinn's childhood came to an abrupt and devastating end. Two men, with a grudge against her lawyer father, broke into her home—and after that shocking night, Charlie's world was never the same.
Now a lawyer herself, Charlie has made it her mission to defend those with no one else to turn to. So when Flora Faulkner, a motherless teen, begs for help, Charlie is reminded of her own past, and is powerless to say no.
But honor-student Flora is in far deeper trouble than Charlie could ever have anticipated. Soon she must ask herself: How far should she go to protect her client? And can she truly believe everything she is being told?
Razor-sharp and lightning-fast, this electrifying story from the #1 international bestselling author will leave you breathless. And be sure to read Karin Slaughter's extraordinary new novel The Good Daughter—available August 8, 2017.

Book Details:

Genre: Thriller, Suspense
Published by: William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins
Publication Date: July 11th 2017
Number of Pages: 48
ISBN: 0062742159 (ISBN13: 9780062742155)
Series: Good Daughter 0.5
Purchase Links: Amazon  | Barnes & Noble  | Goodreads 

Read an excerpt:

Chapter One
“Come on now, Miss Charlie.” Dexter Black’s voice was scratchy over the jailhouse payphone. He was fifteen years her senior, but the “miss” was meant to convey respect for their respective positions. “I told you I’m’a take care of your bill soon as you get me outta this mess.”
Charlie Quinn rolled her eyes up so far in her head that she felt dizzy. She was standing outside a packed room of Girl Scouts at the YWCA. She should not have taken the call, but there were few worse things than being surrounded by a gaggle of teenage girls. “Dexter, you said the exact same thing the last time I got you out of trouble, and the minute you walked out of rehab, you spent all of your money on lottery tickets.”
“I could’a won, and then I would’a paid you out half. Not just what I owe you, Miss Charlie. Half.”
“That’s very generous, but half of nothing is nothing.” She waited for him to come up with another excuse, but all she heard was the distinct murmur of the North Georgia Men’s Detention Center. Bars being rattled. Expletives being shouted. Grown men crying. Guards telling them all to shut the hell up.
She said, “I’m not wasting my anytime cell-phone minutes on your silence.”
“I got something,” Dexter said. “Something gonna get me paid.”
“I hope it’s not anything you wouldn’t want the police to find out about on a recorded phone conversation from jail.” Charlie wiped sweat from her forehead. The hallway was like an oven. “Dexter, you owe me almost two thousand dollars. I can’t be your lawyer for free. I’ve got a mortgage and school loans and I’d like to be able to eat at a nice restaurant occasionally without worrying my credit card will be declined.”
“Miss Charlie,” Dexter repeated. “I see what you were doing there, reminding me about the phone being recorded, but what I’m saying is that I got something might be worth some money to the police.”
“You should get a good lawyer to represent you in the negotiations, because it’s not going to be me.”
“Wait, wait, don’t hang up,” Dexter pleaded. “I’m just remembering what you told me all them years ago when we first started. You remember that?”
Charlie’s eye roll was not as pronounced this time. Dexter had been her first client when she’d set up shop straight out of law school.
He said, “You told me that you passed up them big jobs in the city ’cause you wanted to help people.” He paused for effect. “Don’t you still wanna help people, Miss Charlie?”
She mumbled a few curses that the phone monitors at the jail would appreciate. “Carter Grail,” she said, offering him the name of another lawyer.
“That old drunk?” Dexter sounded picky for a man wearing an orange prison jumpsuit. “Miss Charlie, please can you—”
“Don’t sign anything that you don’t understand.” Charlie flipped her phone closed and dropped it into her purse. A group of women in bike shorts walked past. The YWCA mid-morning crowd consisted of retirees and young mothers. She could hear a distant thump-thump-thump of heavy bass from an exercise class. The air smelled of chlorine from the indoor pool. Thunks from the tennis courts penetrated the double-paned windows.
Charlie leaned back against the wall. She replayed Dexter’s call in her head. He was in jail again. For meth again. He was probably thinking he could snitch on a fellow meth head, or a dealer, and make the charges go away. If he didn’t have a lawyer looking over the deal from the district attorney’s office, he would be better off holding his nuts and buying more lottery tickets.
She felt bad about his situation, but not as bad as she felt about the prospect of being late on her car payment.
The door to the rec room opened. Belinda Foster looked panicked. She was twenty-eight, the same age as Charlie, but with a toddler at home, a baby on the way and a husband she talked about as if he was another burdensome child. Taking over Girl Scout career day had not been Belinda’s stupidest mistake this summer, but it was in the top three.
“Charlie!” Belinda tugged at the trefoil scarf around her neck. “If you don’t get back in here, I’m gonna throw myself off the roof.”
“You’d only break your neck.”
Belinda pulled open the door and waited.
Charlie nudged around her friend’s very pregnant belly. Nothing had changed in the rec room since her ringing cell phone had given her respite from the crowd. All of the oxygen was being sucked up by twenty fresh-faced, giggling Girl Scouts ranging from the ages of fifteen to eighteen. Charlie tried not to shudder at the sight of them. She had a tiny smidge over a decade on most of the girls, but there was something familiar about each and every one of them.
The math nerds. The future English majors. The cheerleaders. The Plastics. The goths. The dorks. The freaks. The geeks. They all flashed the same smiles at each other, the kind that edged up at the corners of their mouths because, at any time, one of them could pull a proverbial knife: a haircut might look stupid, the wrong color nail polish could be on fingernails, the wrong shoes, the wrong tights, the wrong word and suddenly you were on the outside looking in.
Charlie could still recall what it felt like to be stuck in the purgatory of the outside. There was nothing more torturous, more lonely, than being iced out by a gaggle of teenage girls.
“Cake?” Belinda offered her a paper-thin slice of sheet cake.
“Hm,” was all Charlie could say. Her stomach felt queasy. She couldn’t stop her gaze from traveling around the sparsely furnished rec room. The girls were all young, thin and beautiful in a way that Charlie did not appreciate when she was among them. Short miniskirts. Tight T-shirts and blouses opened one button too many. They seemed so frighteningly confident. They flicked back their long, fake blonde hair as they laughed. They narrowed expertly made-up eyes as they listened to stories. Sashes were askew. Vests were unbuttoned. Some of these girls were in serious violation of the Girl Scout dress code.
Charlie said, “I can’t remember what we talked about when we were that age.”
“That the Culpepper girls were a bunch of bitches.”
Charlie winced at the name of her torturers. She took the plate from Belinda, but only to keep her hands occupied. “Why aren’t any of them asking me questions?”
“We never asked questions,” Belinda said, and Charlie felt instant regret that she had spurned all the career women who had spoken at her Girl Scout meetings. The speakers had all seemed so old. Charlie was not old. She still had her badge-filled sash in a closet somewhere at home. She was a kick-ass lawyer. She was married to an adorable guy. She was in the best shape of her life. These girls should think she was awesome. They should be inundating her with questions about how she got to be so cool instead of snickering in their little cliques, likely discussing how much pig’s blood to put in a bucket over Charlie’s head.
“I can’t believe their make-up,” Belinda said. “My mother almost scrubbed the eyes off my face when I tried to sneak out with mascara on.”
Charlie’s mother had been killed when she was thirteen, but she could recall many a lecture from Lenore, her father’s secretary, about the dangerous message sent by too-tight Jordache jeans.
Not that Lenore had been able to stop her.
Belinda said, “I’m not going to raise Layla like that.” She meant her three-year-old daughter, who had somehow turned out to be a thoughtful, angelic child despite her mother’s lifelong love of beer pong, tequila shooters, and unemployed guys who rode motorcycles. “These girls, they’re sweet, but they have no sense of shame. They think everything they do is okay. And don’t even get me started on the sex. The things they say in meetings.” She snorted, leaving out the best part. “We were never like that.”
Charlie had seen quite the opposite, especially when a Harley was involved. “I guess the point of feminism is that they have choices, not that they do exactly what we think they should do.”
“Well, maybe, but we’re still right and they’re still wrong.”
“Now you sound like a mother.” Charlie used her fork to cut off a section of chocolate frosting from the cake. It landed like paste on her tongue. She handed the plate back to Belinda. “I was terrified of disappointing my mom.”
Belinda finished the cake. “I was terrified of your mom, period.”
Charlie smiled, then she put her hand to her stomach as the frosting roiled around like driftwood in a tsunami.
“You okay?” Belinda asked.
Charlie held up her hand. The sickness came over her so suddenly that she couldn’t even ask where the bathroom was.
Belinda knew the look. “It’s down the hall on the—”
Charlie bolted out of the room. She kept her hand tight to her mouth as she tried doors. A closet. Another closet.
A fresh-faced Girl Scout was coming out of the last door she tried.
“Oh,” the teenager said, flinging up her hands, backing away.
Charlie ran into the closest stall and sloughed the contents of her stomach into the toilet. The force was so much that tears squeezed out of her eyes. She gripped the side of the bowl with both hands. She made grunting noises that she would be ashamed for any human being to hear.
But someone did hear.
“Ma’am?” the teenager asked, which somehow made everything worse, because Charlie was not old enough to be called ma’am. “Ma’am, are you okay?”
“Yes, thank you.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes, thank you. You can go away.” Charlie bit her lip so that she wouldn’t curse the helpful little creature like a dog. She searched for her purse. It was outside the stall. Her wallet had fallen out, her keys, a pack of gum, loose change. The strap dragged across the greasy-looking tile floor like a tail. She started to reach out for it, but gave up when her stomach clenched. All she could do was sit on the filthy bathroom floor, gather her hair up off her neck, and pray that her troubles would be confined to one end of her body.
“Ma’am?” the girl repeated.
Charlie desperately wanted to tell her to get the hell out, but couldn’t risk opening her mouth. She waited, eyes closed, listening to the silence, begging her ears to pick out the sound of the door closing as the girl left.
Instead, the faucet was turned on. Water ran into the sink. Paper towels were pulled from the dispenser.
Charlie opened her eyes. She flushed the toilet. Why on earth was she so ill?
It couldn’t be the cake. Charlie was lactose intolerant, but Belinda would never make anything from scratch. Canned frosting was 99 percent chemicals, usually not enough to send her over the edge. Was it the happy chicken from General Ho’s she’d had for supper last night? The egg roll she’d sneaked out of the fridge before going to bed? The luncheon meat she’d scarfed down before her morning run? The breakfast burrito fiesta she’d gotten at Taco Bell on the way to the Y?
Jesus, she ate like a sixteen-year-old boy.
The faucet turned off.
Charlie should have at least opened the stall door, but a quick survey of the damage changed her mind. Her navy skirt was hiked up. Pantyhose ripped. There were splatters on her white silk blouse that would likely never come out. Worst of all, she had scuffed the toe of her new shoe, a navy high-heel Lenore had helped her pick out for court.
“Ma’am?” the teen said. She was holding a wet paper towel under the stall door.
“Thank you,” Charlie managed. She pressed the cool towel to the back of her neck and closed her eyes again. Was this a stomach bug?
“Ma’am, I can get you something to drink,” the girl offered.
Charlie almost threw up again at the thought of Belinda’s cough-mediciney punch. If the girl was not going to leave, she might as well be put to use. “There’s some change in my wallet. Do you mind getting a ginger ale from the machine?”
The girl knelt down on the floor. Charlie saw the familiar khaki-colored sash with badges sewn all over it. Customer Loyalty. Business Planning. Marketing. Financial Literacy. Top Seller. Apparently, she knew how to move some cookies.
Charlie said, “The bills are in the side.”
The girl opened her wallet. Charlie’s driver’s license was in the clear plastic part. “I thought your last name was Quinn?”
“It is. At work. That’s my married name.”
“How long have you been married?”
“Four and a half years.”
“My gran says it takes five years before you hate them.”
Charlie could not imagine ever hating her husband. She also couldn’t imagine keeping up her end of this under-stall conversation. The urge to puke again was tickling at the back of her throat.
“Your dad is Rusty Quinn,” the girl said, which meant that she has been in town for more than ten minutes. Charlie’s father had a reputation in Pikeville because of the clients he defended—convenience store robbers, drug dealers, murderers and assorted felons. How people in town viewed Rusty generally depended on whether or not they or a family member ever needed his services.
The girl said, “I heard he helps people.”
“He does.” Charlie did not like how the words echoed back to Dexter’s reminder that she had turned down hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in the city so that she could work for people who really needed her. If there was one guiding ethos in Charlie’s life, it was that she was not going to be like her father.
“I bet he’s expensive.” The girl asked, “Are you expensive? I mean, when you help people?”
Charlie put her hand to her mouth again. How could she ask this teenager to please get her some ginger ale without screaming at her?
“I enjoyed your speech,” the girl said. “My mom was killed in a car accident when I was little.”
Charlie waited for context, but there was none. The girl slid a dollar bill out of Charlie’s wallet and finally, thankfully, left.
There was nothing to do in the ensuing silence but see if she could stand. Charlie had fortuitously ended up in the handicapped stall. She gripped the metal rails and shakily pulled herself up to standing. She spat into the toilet a few times before flushing it again. When she opened the stall door, the mirror greeted her with a pale, sickly-looking woman in a $120 puke-spotted silk blouse. Her dark hair looked wild. Her lips had a bluish tint.
Charlie lifted her hair, holding it in a ponytail. She turned on the sink and slurped water into her mouth. She caught her reflection again as she leaned down to spit.
Her mother’s eyes looked back at her. Her mother’s arched eyebrow.
What’s going on in that mind of yours, Charlie?
Charlie had heard this question at least three or four times a week back when her mother was alive. She would be sitting in the kitchen doing her homework, or on the floor of her room trying to do some kind of craft project, and her mother would sit opposite her and ask the same question that she always asked.
What is going on in your mind?
It was not contrived to be a conversation starter. Her mother was a scientist and a scholar. She had never been one for idle chitchat. She was genuinely curious about what thoughts filled her thirteen-year-old daughter’s head.
Until Charlie had met her husband, no one else had ever expressed such genuine interest.
The door opened. The girl was back with a ginger ale. She was pretty, though not conventionally so. She did not seem to fit in with her perfectly coifed peers. Her dark hair was long and straight, pinned back with a silver clip on one side. She was young-looking, probably fifteen, but her face was absent of make-up. Her crisp green Girl Scout T-shirt was tucked into her faded jeans, which Charlie felt was unfair because in her day they had been forced to wear scratchy white button-up shirts and khaki skirts with knee socks.
Charlie did not know which felt worse, that she had thrown up or that she had just employed the phrase, “in her day.”
“I’ll put the change in your wallet,” the girl offered.
“Thank you.” Charlie drank some of the ginger ale while the girl neatly repacked the contents of her purse.
The girl said, “Those stains on your blouse will come out with a mixture of a tablespoon of ammonia, a quart of warm water and a half a teaspoon of detergent. You soak it in a bowl.”
“Thank you again.” Charlie wasn’t sure she wanted to soak anything she owned in ammonia, but judging by the badges on the sash, the girl knew what she was talking about. “How long have you been in Girl Scouts?”
“I got my start as a Brownie. My mom signed me up. I thought it was lame, but you learn lots of things, like business skills.”
“My mom signed me up, too.” Charlie had never thought it was lame. She had loved all the projects and the camping trips and especially eating the cookies she had made her parents buy. “What’s your name?”
“Flora Faulkner,” she said. “My mom named me Florabama, because I was born on the state line, but I go by Flora.”
Charlie smiled, but only because she knew that she was going to laugh about this later with her husband. “There are worse things that you could be called.”
Flora looked down at her hands. “A lot of the girls are pretty good at thinking of mean things.”
Clearly, this was some kind of opening, but Charlie was at a loss for words. She combed back through her knowledge of after-school specials. All she could remember was that movie of the week where Ted Danson is married to Glenn Close and she finds out that he’s molesting their teenage daughter but she’s been cold in bed so it’s probably her fault so they all go to therapy and learn to live with it.
“Miss Quinn?” Flora put Charlie’s purse on the counter. “Do you want me to get you some crackers?”
“No, I’m
Excerpt from Last Breath by Karin Slaughter. Copyright © 2017 by Karin Slaughter. Reproduced with permission from HarperCollins. All rights reserved.

Author Bio:

Karin Slaughter is one of the world’s most popular and acclaimed storytellers. Published in 36 languages, with more than 35 million copies sold across the globe, her sixteen novels include the Grant County and Will Trent books, as well as the Edgar-nominated Cop Town and the instant New York Times bestselling novel Pretty Girls. A native of Georgia, Karin currently lives in Atlanta. Her Will Trent series, Grant County series, and standalone novel Cop Town are all in development for film and television.

Catch Up With Our Author On: Website , Goodreads , Twitter , & Facebook !

Tour Participants:



This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Karin Slaughter and William Morrow. There will be 3 winners of one (1) ebook copy of Last Breath by Karin Slaughter! The giveaway begins on July 24 and runs through August 8, 2017.
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Sunday, July 23, 2017

A Frying Shame - Spotlight

Today I'm shining a spotlight on a book on my TBR pile. I really enjoyed the first book in the series, but have yet to continue it...though I own the other books. Too many books too little time. So I'm shining a spotlight on A FRYING SHAME by Linda Reilly. This book is the third book in the Deep Fried Mystery series and was released April 4, 2017.

From the back cover:

Fry another day.

The town of Wrensdale is abuzz with excitement when Steeltop Foods sponsors a cooking contest to promote its new product, the Flavor Dial. With a $25,000 prize at stake, all the contestants are on edge, including Talia Marby, owner of Fry Me a Sliver. She hopes her mini deep-fried apples will win her the money to pay off the renovations on her restaurant. But when Norma Ferguson wins with her flaky-top chicken stew, the tensions dial up even more.

After Norma is found dead at her cooking station, teh police suspect a losing contestant got a little hot under the collar. Now it's crunch time as Talia works to catch the killer and clear her name before another cook gets burned.

Recipes included.

Friday, July 21, 2017

30 Second Death - Review


30 SECOND DEATH by Laura Bradford
The Second Tobi Tobias Mystery

Business is booming for Tobi Tobias, unfortunately, her personal life isn't faring so well. Andy's ex has come back into his life and in trying to help her good friend, she may just have set Carter up for a murder charge! A diva at Carter's theatre company has made the mellow Carter lose his cool, so in order to save his job, Tobi rescinds the acting offer she gave the Art Director and gives the job to the Diva. A nightmare on the set, Fiona angers everyone, but it's only after Carter works on her hair that she drops dead. Now Carter's the prime suspect, but plenty of people had motive. Will Tobi be able to prove Carter's innocence when even Mary Fran doubts him? Will she work out her relationship with Andy? And just what is Rudder getting up to at night that the police are called for a noise disturbance?

Tobi's junk food diet makes my eating habits look positively healthy and her snorting, along with her reaction to it, gets on my nerves. Despite the fact that I find Tobi annoying at times, her deep rooted kindness makes me appreciate her as a person and as a character.  And although poor decisions abound, if better choices were made there'd be no mystery.
I really enjoyed the mystery in 30 SECOND DEATH. Laura Bradford is quite adept at misdirecting readers, leading us toward what seem like the logical conclusion. When the mystery is solved we're reminded of all those well placed clues we may have glossed over which now make us say, "Well, of course. It all makes sense now!" The romantic anticipations and troubles of both Tobi and Mary Fran add to the angst of the story, heightening the drama.The mood is lightened, however, with plenty of humor, from Tobi's new clients, Dom and Gina Paletti, but especially from Rudder, wise words from teenager, Sam, and those quirky traits of Tobi.

30 SECOND DEATH is a well rounded mystery that provides a pleasurable mixture of laughter and drama while highlighting the importance of love and friendship.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Killer Party - Spotlight & Giveaway

Killer Party by Lynn Cahoon

Cozy Mystery 9th in Series  
Lyrical Underground (July 18, 2017)  
Paperback: 188 pages 


After a few months of living with her boyfriend Greg, Jill is still getting used to sharing such close quarters, but she’s got no hesitation about joining him for a weekend at South Cove’s most luxurious resort. While Greg and his college pals celebrate their buddy’s upcoming wedding, Jill intends to pamper herself in style. But when the groom is found floating facedown in the pool, Jill must find the killer fast, or she might not have a boyfriend to come home to any more . . .


New York Times and USA Today best-selling author, Lynn Cahoon is an Idaho native. If you’d visit the town where she grew up, you’d understand why her mysteries and romance novels focus around the depth and experience of small town life. Currently, she’s living in a small historic town on the banks of the Mississippi river where her imagination tends to wander. She lives with her husband and two fur babies.


Amazon Author Page    

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Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Currently Reading...

I'm currently reading All Signs Point to Murder by Connie Di Marco. This book is the second in the Zodiac Mystery series and will be released August 8th.

Geneva Leary was there for Julia Bonatti when Julia's world came crashing down upon the death of her fiance. Now Julia is a bridesmaid at Geneva's wedding. The happy day is not quite so happy as the bride's youngest ne'er do well sister, Moira, disappears and misses the ceremony, only to be found passed out later. The wedding consultant collapses during the reception and angry words are spoken by more than one family member. Julia spends the night at the family home only to be woken by shots fired. Rob, Geneva's brother-in-law, has shot who he thought was an intruder, but actually is Moira. Did Moira truly shoot first? Was someone else in the garage? Julia strives to help as the family falls apart. Is the answer in the stars?

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

New Sins for Old Scores - An Interview & Giveaway

I'm happy to welcome Tj O’Connor to the blog today. NEW SINS FOR OLD SCORES is murder with a paranormal twist.

Kathy: Detective Richard Jax is saved by the ghost of a World War II OSS agent. Do you believe in ghosts? Have you ever had an encounter with a spirit?

TO: I get this question a lot! I certainly believe in the possibility and generally, believe that there are spirits both good and evil. I’ve had many unusual encounters with the unexplainable and as an investigator by trade, have always tried to debunk the events. Most often, I can. Too often, I have been unable to and the events remain on my unexplainable list.

As a child in Upstate New York in the Appalachian Mountains, I had several unusual events but as I grew older, attributed them to youth and imagination. Little did I know that I would have several other events in my travels. Things like seeing unusual people where they shouldn’t be and having witnesses tell me that sighting was a historic “ghost.” I’ve also had my Labs react to events in my home with no explanation, and I’ve had my granddaughter seeing and speaking with someone in her room that was well beyond “my invisible friend.” Nothing dangerous, mind you, just bizarre.

I will not say that I’ve encountered ghosts, but I will say that I’ve had encounters that others have dubbed paranormal.

Kathy: In NEW SINS FOR OLD SCORES a string of current murders are similar those of a World War II OSS operation. Are you a WWII history buff?

TO: I am. I love history, in particular US war history. My mentor of 25 years, Wally F. was one of the last Office of Strategic Services—OSS—operatives from World War II who operated in Northern Africa and Italy. He was also a former deputy director of the CIA. My maternal grandfather was a WWII vet with combat in the Pacific. My connection to them and my own military history has given me a learned insight to war history and I use it in a couple of my paranormal mysteries, in particular New Sins for Old Scores. Part of my mysteries is always a historical subplot. In New Sins for Old Scores, it’s Operation Paperclip, a real operation from WWII where the US brought German scientists and industrialists out of war torn Europe to work for our side. For New Sins, I simply asked the question, “What if someone was doing that in the Gulf Wars but for profit and corruption?” So I sewed in the murder of Capt. Trick McCall, WWII OSS operative, and had him connect 75 years later with Detective Richard Jax to find both their assassins (Jax was ambushed in 2011 at the very spot Trick was in 1944). They must also discover why they’re connected so many years apart, and poof, paranormal mystery. Throughout the story, the fact remains true—Murder, like history, does repeat itself.

Kathy: What first drew you to mysteries?

TO: I grew up loving books and using them to hide from a rough childhood. I began devouring books in the Fifth Grade with Mystery of the Witches Bridge by Barbee Oliver Carleton and Mystery of the Haunted Mine by Gordon D. Shirreffs. They led to the Hardy Boys and a host of others. I quickly outgrew them and moved on to adult fiction like Raymond Chandler, Christie, and others. The rest was set. Today, I read (books on tape mostly) whenever time allows but love the mysteries and thrillers. I’m a huge fan of British mystery TV like Midsomer Murders, Poirot, Foyle’s War, Murdoch Mysteries, and the like. For me, joining the genre and contributing some fun reads was a logical progression.

Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?

TO: Yes, I’ve written three thrillers over the years and my first published one, The Consultant: Double Effect, will be out May 2018 from Oceanview Publishing. My professional background in anti-terrorism and counterintelligence drives these novels. Of course, I’ve also been a criminal investigator and those experiences are integral to my mysteries and help with the subplots of the thrillers, too.

Kathy: Tell us about your series.

TO: This series is a traditional murder mystery with a paranormal twist. It follows Detective Richard Jax who is saved by Captain Patrick McCall, the spirit of a murdered OSS Operative from World War II. Jax was killed at the very spot Jax was ambushed but decades prior. Together they chase their assassins and try to solve a 75 year old spy-mystery that cost Trick his life and reputation.

My plans for this series are to continue Jax’s investigations with Trick snooping along with him. Trick is trying to learn what this modern American lifestyle is all about—as a forties man, he’s in the dark about the internet, cell phones, and the casual lifestyles—though, he’s having fun and quick to learn. He constantly reminds Jax about the golden rule of investigations—it’s footwork and people that make investigations, not gadgets and the internet. Each case will continue to have a historical subplot and intertwine real-world events with historical elements.

My first series was with Midnight Ink and was a paranormal series called “The Gumshoe Ghost.” Truth be told, I HATE that moniker but love the stories. The series follows the reverse of Jax and Trick McCall. In my Gumshoe series, the lead character is Oliver Tucker—a detective killed in the opening pages of book I. From there, he makes his way in the land of the living while not really one of them. He works with his wife, Angel, a historian, and his former partner, Bear Braddock, to solve his murder. It takes a couple books before Bear is on-board with Tuck being around, though. This series also includes historical subplots and intertwines a modern murder mystery with a historical mystery that connects through Tuck. Dead or not, he’s the lead character and makes no bones about running the cases!

With luck, my new thriller, The Consultant: Double Effect, will also lead to a series. This series will follow Jonathan Hunter, a rogue ex-CIA consultant who has been overseas most of his adult life in places like Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, and elsewhere. Now, he tracks down bad guys, spies, and terrorists in the US and gets himself in wild adventures that test his character and his skills. He’s accompanied by his long-time CIA mentor, Oscar LaRue, who uses Hunter’s roguish methods to his advantage and works outside the government’s reach. Hunter is a witty adventurer with a fly-by-the-seat-of-his-pants approach. These novels tackle modern day threats and expose some of the underbelly issues that often people just don’t see. In The Consultant: Double Effect, Hunter returns home to witness his brother’s murder. He quickly learns his brother was involved with terrorists. While chasing the killer, he stumbles into a series of terror attacks around the Washington DC Metro area and discovers a grander, devastating attack looming. But as the attacks begin to unfold, innocent refugees and foreigners are caught between the terrorized and the terrorists—they become as much the victim as those killed in the attacks. The crisis explodes and average American’s begin to turn on neighbors because of their heritage—forcing us to ask the question, “Is this who we’ve become?” The story is fast paced and Hunter keeps things a little “fun” whenever he can—it’s his coping mechanism. He views the world a bit different than many and has no tolerance for ignorance or fools.

So as you can see, I have a big dilemma brewing. I cannot write three sequels a year! But, I will endeavor to write them all and not drag any out so long my fans lose interest in any of the series.

Kathy: Do you have a favorite character? If so, who and why?

TO: My favorite character is truly Jonathan Hunter from my new thriller. He’s not unlike Oliver Tucker or Trick McCall in that he is a bit sarcastic and a light-hearted adventurer. I guess that comes from me. But I like Hunter because he has a few quirks that are mine, too, like his love of old movies and trying to find humor wherever possible to quell the fear and angst the danger brings. That’s how I go through my life—and having had a few scary adventures over the years, jokes and keeping things “real” got me through it. I also like Hunter because, unlike many thrillers today, he’s real. He’s not one of the B-heroes—Bourne or Bond—and he’s no Jack Reacher, either. He’s normal. Sure, he’s a former Green Beret so he can get the job done, but he’s not infallible or indestructible. He gets his butt whipped here and there, he can’t shoot a badguy from ten miles away while sipping cocktails, and he doesn’t have very good luck with women. Not that Bourne or Bond or Reacher are bad—I love those stories! Hunter is just … normal. Real. I love his failures coming out at the worst times. I love his clumsiness in personal situations. Moreover, I love his relationship with Oscar LaRue and how LaRue keeps him in line and always off-balance. That relationship comes directly from mine with my former mentor, Wally F. whom I lost two years ago.

Kathy: Did you have a specific inspiration for your series?

TO: Yes. My own experiences over my years running investigations and anti-terrorism operations around the world. Those inspirations and my love of history drive my work. Each of the books, including my new thriller, are molded around events I’ve been involved with or people I’ve known, worked with, or bad guys I’ve perhaps chased or been involved with. I’ve changed details and events to stay out of jail or a courtroom, but inwardly, I know who they are! Most are a Frankenstein of two or three people I knew, so I’m good with it all.

For instance, New Sins for Old Scores has pieces of my mentor, Wally’s, from his OSS days and events he witnessed. My love of local Virginia history added the main plot of a detective ambushed at a historic old Civil War Inn. All of this is wrapped around bits and pieces of investigations I’ve run over the years and places I’ve been.

Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?

TO: I’ve wanted to be an author since I was in the fifth grade. Over the years, I wrote four novels but
none were worthy of publication, and frankly, there wasn’t a mechanism to learn or be guided on how to publish like there is today through the internet. In those days, I was travelling a couple weeks a month non-stop and there just wasn’t time in life to try and chase my dreams.

Then, about ten years or so ago, after the company I was an executive with was sold off in pieces, I decided to work for myself as a consultant. With the ability to make my own schedule, I decided to chase my dream with a new book I had just finished. And poof, Dying to Know, my first murder mystery, landed me my brilliant agent, Kimberley Cameron, and my first book contract with Midnight Ink.

Kathy: If you could have a dinner party and invite 4 authors, living or dead, in any genre, who would you invite?

TO: Easy!

Raymond Chandler

Alistair MacLean

Nelson DeMille

Mickey Spillane

Oh, I’d also have to have my long-time hero, James Grady hang around to swap stories with the others.

Kathy: What are you currently reading?

TO: I just finished a couple great audio books while I travel. Sandra Brown’s Mean Streak, Vince Flynn’s The Last Man, and David Baldacci’s Memory Man. Great stories. I buy whatever my local bookstore has on audio in mystery and thriller genres and have them stacked up on my credenza for upcoming trips.

Kathy: Will you share any of your hobbies or interests with us?

TO: Absolutely! I love my Harley Davidson and ride whenever time allows. I also hang with my best friends—Annie Rose and Toby—my Labs. They are at my side (or under my desk) with every book I write.

Kathy: Name 4 items you always have in your fridge or pantry.

TO: 1. Good steaks.

2. Good wine.

3. Good bourbon

4. Good dog treats.

You can see I’m a very basic guy, and I take good care of my pals Annie and Toby.

Kathy: Do you have plans for future books either in your current series or a new series?

TO: Yes, absolutely. See my answer above under “Tell us about your series.” You said just a few sentences. I’m a writer. I cannot say “The End” in a few sentences. Sorry!

Kathy: What's your favorite thing about being an author?

TO: Writing. I love telling stories. I also love talking to folks about writing and my books. Love the travel to events and writer’s panels and all of it.

But there are two things that really make this worthwhile—and no, I’m not making much money!

First, my characters and story plots come from my past. Writing the books allows me to relive my favorite real-life adventures and revisit with friends I’ve lost touch with. In one case, writing about fictional Oscar LaRue is like spending the evening with my mentor, Wally—I miss him every day. Writing for me is reliving life. It allows me to hold onto things I never want to let go.

Also, I’m honored to have had the privilege of living and working with some of the most amazing and talented people in the world in my past—heroes, SEALS, Green Berets, OSI Agents, CIA/FBI, Secret Service, cops, doctors, nurses … grunts, Marines, swabbies, and coasties. I am truly honored and humbled to have known these men and women whom I shared real-life adventures. Being an author allows me to tell stories that surround them. Again, it allows me to relive those great adventures and reconnect with lost friends.

And writers are amazing people, to, but in a different way.

With only a few exceptions I’ve met along my travels, authors are among the most engaging and truly supportive people I’ve ever worked with. They are fun, friendly, and always willing to lend a hand to help one another. Writing books isn’t a team sport, but you always have a team out there. Authors will help, share experience and ideas, even resources if you need them. We encourage one-another, especially those trying to get published. They are truly a part of the family wherever you are. If you’re anywhere and you meet another author, plan on drinks or a meal and emails and friendship. Even the big ones who are way out of my league like James Grady. James inspired me a teenage want-to-be author and over the years I kept his books in mind as I wrote. I’ve mentioned him many times in my writing blogs and talks, and one day he reached out to me—unsolicited—to congratulate me on a book and pass along a few compliments and encouragements. He didn’t have to do that. To this day, I will never forget his kindness—and I continue to do the same for other new authors whenever I can.

See, once again, I cannot write “The End” in less than a few paragraphs!

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