Favorite Quotes on Books and Reading

"A book is a gift you can open again and again." Garrison Keillor

Literature is a textually transmitted disease, normally contracted in childhood.” Jane Yolen

"It is what you read when you don't have to that determines what you will be when you can't help it." Oscar Wilde

"Books have furnished, burnished, and enabled my life." Julia Keller

Friday, March 22, 2019

Guest Post: Frankie Y Bailey - A DEAD MAN'S HONOR

Hello, book people. I'm excited to introduce you to today's special guest, a criminal justice professor and the author of the Hannah McCabe and Lizzie Stuart mystery series, including A Dead Man's Honor, Frankie Y. Bailey. Ms. Bailey will be introducing us to Lizzie Stuart and discussing the idea of the past intruding on our present. Thank you, Ms. Bailey, for taking time of your busy school and writing schedule to visit with us today.

Out of the Past
By Frankie Y. Bailey

I love film noir. Out of the Past, starring Robert Mitchum, is one of my favorite noir films. I watch it every time it comes up in the TCM cycle. The movie is about a former private investigator who got into trouble and has settled in a small town and opened a gas station under an assumed identity. But he has not escaped his past. He is summoned to a meeting with the crooked businessman who once hired him to locate a woman and his stolen money. The woman, with whom the PI had a dangerous affair, is back with his former client. Mitchum may hope to do what the businessman has demanded and go back to his new life, but Jane Greer, the femme fatale, has other ideas.  As you might expect of film noir, even the love of a good (small town) woman can't save Mitchum. 

I don't write noir fiction. My character, Lizzie Stuart, is a crime historian and the five books in which she has appeared so far are both academic mysteries and traditional classic detective fiction. But, like Robert Mitchum's character, Lizzie has not been able to escape her past. The fact that she is not sure of who her father was – or is, he might still be alive – means that she must decide later in the series whether she will look for him. There's also the matter of Becca, her missing mother – who puts in her appearance in Book 4 and can hold her own with any noir femme fatale. 

As the series are being reissued, I'm looking back at how it evolved. Book 2, A Dead Man's Honor, was initially going to be the readers' introduction to Lizzie Stuart. Instead, it followed a book set in Cornwall, during which Lizzie's best friend, Tess Alvarez, a travel writer, and John Quinn, a Philadelphia homicide detective were introduced. Lizzie's vacation in Cornwall, England, followed the death of the grandmother who raised her. It's Lizzie's dead grandmother, Hester Rose, who is front and center in A Dead Man's Honor.

Hester Rose was close-mouthed about a lot of things – including her childhood in Gallagher, Virginia before she climbed into a boxcar and left the town under cover of darkness. In A Dead Man's Honor, Lizzie has applied for and received an appointment as a visiting professor at Piedmont State University in Gallagher. She has joined the faculty in the School of Criminal Justice. As is the custom for visiting faculty, she has teaching responsibilities. She also has the research agenda that she described in her application. She wants to investigate a lynching in Gallagher. As a young girl, Hester Rose was witness to a lynching involving a black man accused of murder. She was there in the house with the accused man and the young deaf woman who loved him. As the police and angry white citizens gathered outside the house, Hester Rose was put out of a window. 

It is usually Lizzie's voice that we hear in the series. She is the first-person narrator. But she sometimes flashes back to a conversation with one of her grandparents. Only a fleeting thought here and there. A Dead Man's Honor, the only way to describe the lynching was from Hester Rose's point of view. From the point of view of a frightened child as she hides in the bushes, watching. As Mose Davenport runs out of the house and is shot by someone in the crowd. As, later, she climbs into the boxcar and leaves Gallagher.  

Hester Rose tries to flee her past. Lizzie goes back to Gallagher to dig it up because she wants to know more about her grandmother and herself. 

Meet the author

Frankie Y. Bailey is a professor in the School of Criminal Justice at the University at Albany (SUNY). Her areas of research are crime history, and crime and mass media/popular culture and material culture. She is the author of a number of non-fiction books, including local histories and books about crime fiction. Her mystery novels feature Southern-born crime historian, Lizzie Stuart, in five books, beginning with Death's Favorite Child and A Dead Man's Honor. The books are being reissued by Speaking Volumes. Frankie's two near-future police procedurals feature Albany police detective, Hannah McCabe in The Red Queen Dies and What the Fly Saw (Minotaur Books). Frankie has also has written several short stories, including "In Her Fashion" (EQMM, July 2014), "The Singapore Sling Affair" (EQMM, Nov/Dec 2017), and "The Birth of the Bronze Buckaroo" (The Adventures of the Bronze Buckaroo, 2018). She is currently working on a nonfiction book about dress and appearance in American crime and justice, a historical thriller set in 1939, and the plots of the next Stuart and McCabe books. Frankie is a past executive vice president of Mystery Writers of America and a past president of Sisters in Crime. 

Connect with the author at her website or Twitter

A Dead Man's Honor A Lizzie Stuart Mystery #2 by Frankie Y. Bailey
ISBN: 9781628158731 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781628158724 (ebook)
ASIN: B07FTYK444 (Kindle edition)
Publication date: June 5, 2018 (originally published on January 1, 2001)
Publisher: Speaking Volumes, LLC.

Crime historian Lizzie Stuart goes to Gallagher, Virginia for a year as a visiting professor at Piedmont State University. She is there to do research for a book about the 1921 lynching that her grandmother Hester Rose witnessed when she was a 12-year-old child.
Lizzie's research is complicated by her own unresolved feelings about her secretive grandmother and by the disturbing presence of John Quinn, the police officer she met while on vacation in England. Add to that the murder of an arrogant and brilliant faculty member on Halloween night and Lizzie has about all she can handle.

This guest post brought to you by BreakThrough Promotions

Monday, March 18, 2019

Guest Post: Darcia Helle - OUT OF THE DARKNESS

Good day, book people. I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend. I'm happy to welcome today's guest, Darcia Helle, author of the Michael Sykora and Joe Cavalli Paranormal PI series, including the latest addition to the Joe Cavalli series, Out of the Darkness. If you're like me, you often wonder just where an author comes up with these amazing and sometimes twisted stories? What inspires them? Why did they write the story the way they wrote the story? Thankfully, Ms. Helle is taking a few minutes out of her busy schedule to share with us what inspires her. I hope you'll be inspired after reading this and grab a copy of her latest book, Out of the Darkness

The Inspiration Behind the Stories

I'm often asked about the inspiration behind a novel. Why did I write that specific story? The answer I'm quick to give is: I write the story that speaks to me the loudest. But that doesn't really answer the question. With twelve novels published, you'd think this would be an easy one for me. In seeking the answer, I reflected on all those books I've written. The pattern I found there surprised me.

In the writing world, I'm what's known as a pantser, meaning I fly by the seat of my pants. I don't outline the plot and I don't write character profiles. When I start writing, I don't know what's going to happen or who these people in my head are. I don't create the characters or their stories; they pop into my head with something to say. The time plotter authors spend writing story outlines and character profiles is the time I spend in silence, letting my mind roam, and following where the thoughts take me. 

The sum of all that, I realized, is that I don't write with deliberate intention. I write from a place of curiosity and emotion. 

Still, none of that explains why specific characters and their stories come to me when they do, demanding theirs is the story I tell. I always assumed it was random. And then, as I examined the trajectory of my writing, I realized it's not.

The explanation as to why I write what I do at any given time is this: I write the story I need to feel, explore, and experience both psychologically and emotionally at that time. 

Oddly, I had no idea this was happening. Perhaps even stranger, I don't know how it happens.

For instance, my Michael Sykora series is dark suspense/thriller, and consequently, the writing experience is intense. The content is difficult to examine, and I'm hyper-focused. Through these stories, I explore the psychopathic mind, which fascinates me from an intellectual standpoint but also requires me to step inside that mind and feel what it's like to be a twisted killer. This series forces me to confront the dichotomy between my natural peacenik "live and let live" personality, and the darker part of me that believes some humans lost their humanity and can't be trusted to exist among us. While I truly love spending time with these characters, it's an emotionally draining experience.

My Joe Cavelli, Paranormal PI series is lighter in content and allows me to step outside real-world boundaries. I knew that writing these books offered me a fun diversion from a sometimes-bleak world. What I didn't consider is that this series also provides me with a way to gain insight into the meaning of our lives, and to examine, without conscious intent, the ways in which our connections matter. 

Each of my novels is sprinkled with bits of me, whether it's an issue I needed to work through, a concept I wanted to understand, or just a feeling demanding exploration. 

To further complicate my writing life, the story I think I'm writing is not always the story with which I end up. For example, when Gus from Out of the Darkness popped into my head, I thought I understood who he was. Based on that assumption, I also thought I knew where the story would go. Then, as I wrote, I realized Gus was someone different than I'd assumed him to be. As with real people, the image I saw was only a projection based on my expectation and biases. During the process of getting to know Gus, I felt and understood his complexities. Consequently, the story went in an entirely different direction. 

All this took place at a level deeper than my conscious awareness. I didn't plan for Gus to be or do anything in particular. I listened, felt, and followed where he led. When we reached the end of his journey, I looked back and realized Gus had served as a reminder for me to focus on what's important in life, as well as to look beyond the surface.

So, if you want to know what inspired me to write Out of the Darkness, I can only say that my subconscious had something to tell me.

Darcia Helle

Author Bio:

Darcia Helle is a Massachusetts native, who escaped the New England winters to write in the Florida sunshine. She lives with her husband in a home full of spoiled rescue animals and an occasional stray lizard. She writes because the characters trespassing through her mind leave her no alternative.

Catch Up With Ms. Helle On:

darciahelle.com, Goodreads, Twitter, & Facebook!

Out of the Darkness

by Darcia Helle

on Tour March 1-31, 2019


Out of the Darkness by Darcia Helle

Gus wakes up in a dark void with no memory and no body. Screaming and cursing does him no good. He's trapped, until he learns about one man who can help.
Joe Cavelli is a PI who hears ghosts, solves their murders, and sometimes fixes their personal problems. Now he finds himself pestered by an invisible, impatient, and brash amnesiac.
Solving cases for ghosts comes with a unique set of circumstances. This time, Joe can't even claim to be investigating a murder, since Gus's body is nowhere to be found. Together, Joe and Gus delve into Gus's past, uncovering clues that lead to a startling conclusion.

Book Details:

Genre: Paranormal Suspense
Published by: Indie
Publication Date: February 12, 2019
Number of Pages: 300
Series: Joe Cavelli, Paranormal PI Book 2
Purchase Links: Amazon |Goodreads

Tour Participants:

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Enter To Win!:

This is a Rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Darcia Helle. There will be 1 winner of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card. The giveaway begins on March 1, 2019, and runs through April 1, 2019. Void where prohibited.

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Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Book Spotlight: BROKEN BONE CHINA by Laura Childs

Broken Bone China

(A Tea Shop Mystery) by Laura Childs

About the Book

Broken Bone China (A Tea Shop Mystery)

Cozy Mystery
20th in Series
Berkley (March 5, 2019)
Hardcover: 336 pages
ISBN-10: 0451489632
ISBN-13: 978-0451489630

Theodosia Browning serves tea and solves crimes in Charleston, a city steeped in tradition and treachery in the latest Tea Shop Mystery from New York Times bestselling author Laura Childs.
It is Sunday afternoon, and Theodosia and Drayton are catering a formal tea at a hot-air balloon rally. The view aloft is not only stunning, they are also surrounded by a dozen other colorful hot-air balloons. But as the sky turns gray and the clouds start to boil up, a strange object zooms out of nowhere. It is a drone, and it appears to be buzzing around the balloons, checking them out.
As Theodosia and Drayton watch, the drone, hovering like some angry, mechanized insect, deliberately crashes into the balloon next to them. An enormous, fiery explosion erupts, and everyone watches in horror as the balloon plummets to the earth, killing all three of its passengers.
Sirens scream, first responders arrive, and Theodosia is interviewed by the police. During the interview, she learns that one of the downed occupants was Don Kingsley, the CEO of a local software company, SyncSoft. Not only do the police suspect Kingsley as the primary target, they learn that he possessed a rare Revolutionary War Union Jack flag that several people were rabidly bidding on.
Intrigued, Theodosia begins her own investigation. Was it the CEO's soon-to-be ex-wife, who is restoring an enormous mansion at no expense? The CEO's personal assistant, who also functioned as curator of his prized collection of Americana? Two rival antiques' dealers known for dirty dealing? Or was the killer the fiancĂ©e of one of Theodosia's dear friends, who turns out to be an employee—and whistle-blower—at SyncSoft?

Purchase Links

Amazon   B&N  Kobo   Google Play

About the Author

Laura Childs is the New York Times bestselling author of the Tea Shop Mysteries, Scrapbook Mysteries, and Cackleberry Club Mysteries. In her previous life she was CEO/Creative Director of her own marketing firm and authored several screenplays. She is married to a professor of Chinese art history, loves to travel, rides horses, enjoys fundraising for various non-profits, and has two Chinese Shar-Pei dogs.

Laura specializes in cozy mysteries that have the pace of a thriller (a thrillzy!) Her three series are:

The Tea Shop Mysteries – set in the historic district of Charleston and featuring Theodosia Browning, owner of the Indigo Tea Shop. Theodosia is a savvy entrepreneur, and pet mom to service dog Earl Grey. She's also an intelligent, focused amateur sleuth who doesn't rely on coincidences or inept police work to solve crimes. This charming series is highly atmospheric and rife with the history and mystery that is Charleston.

The Scrapbooking Mysteries – a slightly edgier series that take place in New Orleans. The main character, Carmela, owns Memory Mine scrapbooking shop in the French Quarter and is forever getting into trouble with her friend, Ava, who owns the Juju Voodoo shop. New Orleans' spooky above-ground cemeteries, jazz clubs, bayous, and Mardi Gras madness make their presence known here!

The Cackleberry Club Mysteries – set in Kindred, a fictional town in the Midwest. In a rehabbed Spur station, Suzanne, Toni, and Petra, three semi-desperate, forty-plus women have launched the Cackleberry Club. Eggs are the morning specialty here and this cozy cafe even offers a book nook and yarn shop. Business is good but murder could lead to the cafe's undoing! This series offers recipes, knitting, cake decorating, and a dash of spirituality.

Laura's Links:

Website – http://www.laurachilds.com/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/laura.childs.31


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Monday, March 11, 2019

2019 Book 68: BEFORE SHE KNEW HIM by Peter Swanson

Before She Knew Him by Peter Swanson
ISBN: 9780062838155 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9780062838179 (ebook)
ISBN: 9780062838186 (audiobook)
ASIN: B07BK1HP2L (Kindle edition)
Publisher: William Morrow 
Publication Date: March 5, 2019

Catching a killer is dangerous—especially if he lives next door
From the hugely talented author of The Kind Worth Killing comes an exquisitely chilling tale of a young suburban wife with a history of psychological instability whose fears about her new neighbor could lead them both to murder. . .
Hen and her husband Lloyd have settled into a quiet life in a new house outside of Boston, Massachusetts. Hen (short for Henrietta) is an illustrator and works out of a studio nearby, and has found the right meds to control her bipolar disorder. Finally, she's found some stability and peace.
But when they meet the neighbors next door, that calm begins to erode as she spots a familiar object displayed on the husband's office shelf. The sports trophy looks exactly like one that went missing from the home of a young man who was killed two years ago. Hen knows because she's long had a fascination with this unsolved murder—an obsession she doesn't talk about anymore, but can't fully shake either.
Could her neighbor, Matthew, be a killer? Or is this the beginning of another psychotic episode like the one she suffered back in college, when she became so consumed with proving a fellow student guilty that she ended up hurting a classmate?
The more Hen observes Matthew, the more she suspects he's planning something truly terrifying. Yet no one will believe her. Then one night, when she comes face to face with Matthew in a dark parking lot, she realizes that he knows she's been watching him, that she's really on to him. And that this is the beginning of a horrifying nightmare she may not live to escape. . .

Henrietta "Hen" Mazur is an artist. She's also bipolar and has a history of obsessions going back to college. In college, she just "knew" her dorm mate had attempted to kill her roommate by giving her the flu. She then "knew" the dorm mate was out to kill her simply because she knew the truth. That whole situation ended with Hen being hospitalized and diagnosed as bipolar, a restraining order being placed against her, her withdrawal from that college and transferring to a different college. After her marriage to Lloyd and whilst living in Cambridge, MA, Hen became obsessed with the death of an area resident. Now that they have moved to a suburb outside of Boston, Hen is convinced her next door neighbor is the murderer. She attempts to convince the Cambridge detectives of what she knows, but that doesn't go very well. She then decides to keep an eye on her neighbor, witnesses him stalking then murdering a local man, and subsequently identifies her neighbor as the killer to the police. Hen is suspicious of Matthew, who in turn is suspicious of her suspicions. Will anyone ever take her reports seriously given her past behaviors or will her neighbor literally be able to get away with murder?

I've read several books by Peter Swanson in the past and found them all to be well-written, twisted, and filled with surprises throughout and Before She Knew Him is an excellent example of his work. There are a lot of nuances to this book including the fact that a person with a known mental health problem isn't often taken seriously by law enforcement despite the fact that they may be able to provide crucial evidence. Hen's situation is an excellent example of this predicament and seems to exemplify the old adage that just because a person is paranoid doesn't mean there isn't someone after them. Hen knows what she knows and no one believes her or so she thinks initially. She quickly comes to realize that Matthew definitely knows what is going on and is willing to use her past against her. When Matthew and Mira get a restraining order against Hen, it seems as if the story might have nowhere to go but then several twists and surprises arise. No, I'm not going to reveal what they are...read the book! Mr. Swanson fills Before She Knew Him with psychological suspense and enough plot twists and turns to give the reader motion sickness (trust me, this is a good thing). It was impossible to determine what was going to happen next and I love that in a story. I empathized with Hen and even Mira and felt Matthew deserved whatever might happen to him. I wish I could say more about Lloyd, Hen's husband, but let's just say that even he isn't as nice a guy as he initially appears. I'm wholeheartedly recommending Before She Knew Him to all of you lovers of the mystery-suspense genre as well as those of you looking for something a little different to read. Come on, read outside of your comfort zone this year by grabbing a copy of Before She Knew Him to read. You may be surprised by just how much you like it. 

Disclaimer:  I received a free digital copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss+ for review purposes. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Read a sample of Before She Knew Him here.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Character Guest Post: AS DIRECTED by Kathleen Valenti

Good morning and my apologies for the tardiness (migraine, vertigo, and family issues). I'm extremely excited to welcome today's guest, Maggie O'Malley, as she takes a few minutes and steps off the pages of the Maggie O'Malley Mystery series, including As Directed by Kathleen Valenti, to discuss new beginnings. I'm hoping I could start this day over just so I could give Ms. O'Malley the timely welcome she deserves. I hope you'll make her feel welcome.

I've never been big on new beginnings.

If you knew my past, you wouldn't blame me.

Day one of my first real job, I began to receive calendar alerts informing me that I had meetings I never scheduled with people I didn't know—people who later met with death.

The early days of my next job didn't go much better. I lost my temper and my job, then found myself in the middle of a murder investigation. It seemed that no matter how I hard I tried, doing the right thing was the wrong thing.

I have a good feeling about this new start, though. I've traded the shelter of my lab as a medical researcher for the human interaction of the corner drugstore. I'm a pharmacy tech, working at Petrosian's Pillbox. It's the perfect job for me. Not too easy. Not too stressful. A chance to stretch my wings and test my mettle.

Mr. Petrosian, the store's owner, has left to run errands, leaving me in charge. I take phone calls. I talk to insurance companies. I corral pills and nudge elixirs.

I finish up behind the counter then grab a bin of bottles, intent on restocking shelves before Mr. Petrosian's return. I bypass the analgesics, skirt the skin soothers and park myself in front of the digestive aids.

As I place the bottles on the shelves, turning out labels, I think about past beginnings. Sudden ends. Bodies discovered and peace shattered.

My heart double-times with the memories, beating a Morse code of fear and dread. I square my shoulders and push back the disquiet, the sense that something new and dangerous lies in wait in the next aisle.

I push face out the label on the Pepto bottle and head for the end of the aisle, readying to round the corner where fear feels tangible. Palpable.

Don't be silly, I tell myself. There's nothing to fear. A new job doesn't mean new danger, new disasters, new risk.

This time, I tell myself, will be different. After all, what could possibly go wrong?

As Directed

(A Maggie O'Malley Mystery)
by Kathleen Valenti

About the Book

As Directed (A Maggie O'Malley Mystery)
3rd in Series
Henery Press (March 12, 2019)
Hardcover: 286 pages
ISBN-10: 1635114705
ISBN-13: 978-1635114706
Digital ASIN: B07LB6N22B

In the shadow of a past fraught with danger and tainted by loss, former pharmaceutical researcher Maggie O'Malley is rebuilding her life, trading test tubes for pill bottles as she embarks on a new career at the corner drugstore.

But as she spreads her wings, things begin to go terribly wrong. A customer falls ill in the store. Followed by another. And then more.

The specter of poisoning arises, conjuring old grudges, past sins, buried secrets and new suspicions from which no one is immune.

As Maggie and her best friend Constantine begin to investigate, they discover that some of the deadliest doses come from the most unexpected places.

Purchase Links

Amazon Barnes & Noble  iTunes  Kobo

About the Author

Kathleen Valenti is the author of the Maggie O'Malley Mystery Series, which includes her Agatha- and Lefty-nominated debut novel, Protocol. When Kathleen isn't writing page-turning mysteries that combine humor and suspense, she works as a nationally award-winning advertising copywriter. She lives in Oregon with her family where she pretends to enjoy running. Learn more at www.kathleenvalenti.com.

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Friday, March 8, 2019

Spotlight Post: THE HUNDRED WELLS OF SALAGA by Ayesha Harruna Attah

The Hundred Wells of Salaga by Ayesha Harruna Attah
ISBN: 9781590519950 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781590519967 (ebook)
ISBN: 9781978649132 (audiobook)
ASIN: B07CWGHDNS (Kindle edition)
Publisher: Other Press
Release Date: February 5, 2019

Based on true events, a story of courage, forgiveness, love, and freedom in precolonial Ghana, told through the eyes of two women born to vastly different fates. 

Aminah lives an idyllic life until she is brutally separated from her home and forced on a journey that transforms her from a daydreamer into a resilient woman. Wurche, the willful daughter of a chief, is desperate to play an important role in her father's court. These two women's lives converge as infighting among Wurche's people threatens the region, during the height of the slave trade at the end of the nineteenth century.

Through the experiences of Aminah and Wurche, The Hundred Wells of Salaga offers a remarkable view of slavery and how the scramble for Africa affected the lives of everyday people.

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Read an excerpt from The Hundred Wells of Salaga here.

Praise for The Hundred Wells of Salaga

"A skillful portrayal of life in pre-colonial Ghana emphasizes distinctions of religion, language, and status…[Attah] has a careful eye for domestic and historical detail." —The Guardian

"Compelling…rich and nuanced…Attah is adept at leading readers across the varied terrain of 19th-century Ghana and handles heavy subjects with aplomb. Two memorable women anchor this pleasingly complicated take on slavery, power, and freedom." —Kirkus Reviews

"An alluring story…a novel with the power to open eyes and hearts while filling minds with plenty of food for thought." —Shelf Awareness

"Analogous to Tsitsi Dangarembga's Commonwealth Writers' Prize-winning Nervous Conditions, this spacious work will appeal to readers of African and historical fiction." —Library Journal

Meet the author

Ayesha Harruna Attah grew up in Accra, Ghana and was educated at Mount Holyoke College, Columbia University, and New York University. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, Asymptote Magazine, and the 2010 Caine Prize Writers’ Anthology. Attah is an Instituto Sacatar Fellow and was awarded the 2016 Miles Morland Foundation Scholarship for nonfiction. She lives in Senegal.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Guest Post: SC Perkins - MURDER ONCE REMOVED

Good day, my bookish peeps. I'm pleased to host a visit from S.C. Perkins, author of the debut cozy, Murder Once Removed, an Ancestor Detective Mystery. Sit back, relax, and get ready for a little visual road trip, because Ms. Perkins is going to take us all on our whirlwind tour of Austin, Texas. After this quick trip, you'll probably be ready for some Tex-Mex cuisine and I can suggest the perfect book to read while you're eating...Murder Once Removed. Okay, you can read the book before, during, and/or after eating.

Deep in the Heart of (Austin) Texas

Hi! I'm S.C. Perkins and I'm thrilled to be on The Book Diva's Reads for a guest post! Today, I thought I'd show y'all a little bit of Austin, Texas, which is the setting of my debut cozy mystery, Murder Once Removed.

So, why did I put my main character, genealogist Lucy Lancaster, in Austin? Well, it's a unique and cool city with a singularly small-town vibe. There's very little of Austin that feels "big city," even though its population is edging toward a million people. It's all at once a storied college town, a hotbed of music and musicians, a family-friendly place to raise children, and the center of Texas politics. 

Oh, and if you want great food of all kinds, Austin has it. Especially in the tacos department, which is a huge plus for Lucy, who is a bit of an addict. Okay, a lot of an addict… Anyway, she also loves Austin for its abundance of genealogical and history-related resources. When it comes to Texas settings, there's no place more perfect for Lucy, or more fun for me to set her adventures. 

And now, I'm happy to present visuals of some of the places Lucy goes in Murder Once Removed, both on her regular days as a professional genealogist and where her first investigation takes her.

1. The Lorenzo De Zavala State Archives and Library Building. The Archives, as it is most often called, is a National Literary Landmark and is home to, amongst other resources, extensive genealogy and family history assets. Lucy frequents the Archives, especially when there's records she can only view on microfilm.

2. The Capitol. Austin is the capital city of Texas, and the capitol building is located right in downtown. The Italian Renaissance Revival-style building was completed in 1888 and is made of the same Sunset Red granite as the next-door Archives building. A statue of the Goddess of Liberty stands watch at the top. It's also home to the Legislative Reference Library, where Lucy goes to do research on her client's politically-minded ancestors.

The Legislative Reference Library – Copyright, the Texas State Preservation Board

3. The Capitol Rotunda:  the floor. One of many mosaic floors in the building, the Rotunda's floor showcases the seals of the six flags that have flown over Texas:  Spain, France, Mexico, the Republic of Texas, the Confederate States of America, and the United States of America. 

The Capitol Rotunda  – Copyright, The Bullock Texas State History Museum

4. The Capitol Rotunda: the ceiling. The star in the middle represents the lone star of Texas against a blue sky. In the valley between each point is a letter, spelling TEXAS. Though the rotunda ceiling makes an appearance in Lucy's adventure, I'm really just showing it to you because I think it's so pretty.

5. The University of Texas at Austin campus. Though I myself went to Texas A&M University, the longtime rival of UT, many members of my family have gone here. So, I made Lucy a graduate of both great universities.
In Murder Once Removed, I've imagined a building for historical research called the Hamilton American History Center. It's loosely based on UT's Dolph Briscoe Center for American History. I also have Lucy visiting Waggener Hall, which is a real Liberal Arts building on campus. Both my imagined Hamilton Center and the real Waggener Hall are on the southeast side of campus, to the left side of the famous UT tower in this photo.

The University of Texas at Austin Campus – Copyright, The University of Texas

6. The Frost Bank Tower. One of the most iconic buildings in downtown Austin. In Murder Once Removed, Lucy goes to the Frost Bank Tower to attempt to interview someone with a direct connection to both the past and the present murders.
When seen from one side, the building is said to look like an owl. Do you see it? Seen from another angle, one cheeky reporter also claimed it looks like a large set of nose-hair clippers. Both descriptions make me laugh!

Photo courtesy of Pinterest. No copyright found; no infringement intended.

7. Lucy's Office Building. Though I've created a historic building called The Old Printing Office, in which Lucy and her two other self-employed best friends, Serena and Josephine, work, I based the idea on this lovely building I've seen many times. It's located exactly where I have The Old Printing Office located, on Congress Avenue, just a block away from the entrance to the capitol grounds.
This building was built in 1874, as you can see at the top arch, and has a little balcony that is almost hidden by trees. In my mind, Lucy, Josephine, and Serena occasionally have cocktails out on their similar balcony (sans trees) and watch the bustle of downtown Austin go by.

8. Congress Avenue Bridge, and its bats. Over one 1.5 million Mexican Free-Tailed Bats roost under Austin's Congress Avenue Bridge during the warm months of the year, which, in Austin, can go into early November. Each night at sunset, the bats fly out from under the bridge in a spectacle every bit as cool as Austin itself. Lucy drives over this bridge every day to and from work. 

Congress Avenue Bridge. No copyright found; no infringement intended.

9. Big Flaco's Tacos. Lucy's favorite taqueria is another creation of my imagination, which is unfortunate because I love tacos just as much as Lucy. 
If you took this 1950s-style diner interior and put it through a hail storm, that's about what I imagine Flaco's taqueria looks like. Flaco's place had been vandalized before he purchased it, but he liked the beat-up look so much that he kept it. No doubt Flaco's tacos would be every bit as scrumptious looking as the photo below.

Image found on internet. No copyright found; no infringement intended.

Image found on Pinterest. No copyright found; no infringement intended.

Thank you so much for joining me on a little tour of Lucy's world in Austin!

Murder Once Removed (An Ancestor Detective Mystery)

Cozy Mystery
1st in Series
Minotaur Books (March 19, 2019)
Hardcover: 336 pages
ISBN-10: 1250189039
ISBN-13: 978-1250189035
Digital ASIN: B07D2BJ2JT

S.C. Perkins' Murder Once Removed is the captivating first mystery in the Ancestry Detective series, in which Texas genealogist Lucy Lancaster uses her skills to solve murders in both the past and present.
Except for a good taco, genealogist Lucy Lancaster loves nothing more than tracking down her clients' long-dead ancestors, and her job has never been so exciting as when she discovers a daguerreotype photograph and a journal proving Austin, Texas, billionaire Gus Halloran's great-great-grandfather was murdered back in 1849. What's more, Lucy is able to tell Gus who was responsible for his ancestor's death.
Partly, at least. Using clues from the journal, Lucy narrows the suspects down to two nineteenth-century Texans, one of whom is the ancestor of present-day U.S. senator Daniel Applewhite. But when Gus publicly outs the senator as the descendant of a murderer—with the accidental help of Lucy herself—and her former co-worker is murdered protecting the daguerreotype, Lucy will find that shaking the branches of some family trees proves them to be more twisted and dangerous than she ever thought possible.

Purchase links

IndieBound      Amazon     Barnes & Noble    Books-a-Million

About the Author

S.C. Perkins is a fifth-generation Texan who grew up hearing fascinating stories of her ancestry and eating lots of great Tex-Mex, both of which inspired the plot of her debut mystery novel. Murder Once Removed was the winner of the 2017 Malice Domestic Best First Traditional Mystery competition. She resides in Houston and, when she's not writing or working at her day job, she's likely outside in the sun, on the beach, or riding horses.

Author Links

o   www.scperkins.com

o   www.twitter.com/scperkinswriter

o   www.instagram.com/scperkinswriter

o   www.facebook.com/scperkinswriter

o   www.pinterest.com/scperkinswriter

o   www.goodreads.com/scperkinswriter


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