Spotlight & Excerpt: Let Sleeping Murder Lie + Giveaway

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Let Sleeping Murder Lie
by Carmen Radtke
Genre: Cozy Mystery

 

 

A wildly entertaining read for lovers of cosy mystery and romance alike’  Fiona Leitch, author of ‘The Nosey Parker mysteries’

 

Love can be the death of you …

 

American Eve Holdsworth is living her quintessential English dream in a picturesque village in the countryside. Meeting an attractive stranger adds to the appeal.

 

But Ben Dryden is a pariah in Eve’s new neighbourhood, since his wife was murdered five years ago, and he was the only suspect. Eve, who is absolutely sure someone as charming as Ben could never be a killer, is determined to solve the case and clear Ben’s name, even if it’s against his will.

 

Soon enough Eve finds herself in deep waters, and with her life at stake, she can only pray that her romantic notions won’t be the end of her

 

 

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letsleepingmurderlie - excerpt

“That cabin is private property.” Ben took the hook off the rod, a wriggling worm still attached to it. A bucket at the side contained water and three fish trying to swim in the confined space.

“The fish are not dead.” Eve instantly chided herself for her trite remark.

“I’m not killing them. They’ll go into another pond.”
“Couldn’t you use a net, so they don’t get hurt? Anyway, the cabin. I’m not going to trespass, I promise.”

“Because you want to see the owl.”

She nodded.

“The place has a bad reputation,” Ben said.

“Why?”

“The owner’s notorious. If you stay in the area, you’ll find out soon enough.”
Eve felt the blood drain from her face. “Is it drugs?” The last thing she wanted was to stumble unwittingly upon a crime lord and his henchmen. She’d taken a few self-defence classes ages ago, and she tended to have a key clenched between her fingers when she walked home alone at night, but she’d be no match for well-trained career gangsters.

“Heavens, no,” he said, regarding her with faint amusement. “You must have lived in pretty rough places.”

“Life on the mean streets.” She imitated a heavy drawl, to lighten the situation.

To be fair, she had witnessed a mugging during her childhood in Portland, Oregon, and another one in Bristol.

 
 

 

 

Carmen has spent most of her life with ink on her fingers and a dangerously high pile of books and newspapers by her side.

 

She has worked as a newspaper reporter on two continents and always dreamt of becoming a novelist and screenwriter.

 

When she found herself crouched under her dining table, typing away on a novel between two earthquakes in Christchurch, New Zealand, she realised she was hooked for life.

 

The shaken but stirring novel made it to the longlist of the Mslexia competition, and her next book and first mystery, The Case Of The Missing Bride, was a finalist in the Malice Domestic competition in a year without a winner.

 

Carmen was born in Hamburg, Germany, but had planned on emigrating since she was five years old. She first moved to New Zealand and now lives in York, UK, with her daughter, cat, and sometimes her seafaring husband comes home.

 

 

 

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Audio Spotlight: Broomsticks and Board Games + Character Profiles

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Title: Broomsticks and Board Games

Author: Amy McNulty

Narrator: Danielle Daly

Length: 7 hours 4 minutes

Series: A Spooky Games Club Mystery, Book 1

Publisher: Crimson Fox Publishing

Released: Jan. 5, 2021

Genre: Cozy Mystery

 

Dahlia Poplar is a genuine witch, an unofficial gofer, and Luna Lane’s only cursed resident.

With a werewolf best friend, a vampire ex-boyfriend, and a ghost for a hanger-on, Dahlia is far from the most unusual dweller of her sleepy small town, but she’s the only one unable to leave. Dahlia has to perform at least one good deed per day – or she’s one step closer to turning to stone.

Fortunately, the residents of Luna Lane have plenty of tasks for Dahlia to complete to avert the curse until Cable Woodward, fetching professor and nephew of her elderly neighbor, stops by for the semester on sabbatical. Attempting to help Cable’s uncle work through the trauma of losing his wife, Dahlia uncovers the man’s collection of board games, which leads to him reminiscing about the long-forgotten Luna Lane Games Club.

Dahlia reestablishes the Games Club, only to find evidence of a number of horrible demises connected to the original group. While trying to uncover the truth about the deaths, Dahlia has to fight off her curse, protect her elderly neighbor from becoming the next victim, and most vexing of all, keep Cable from figuring out Luna Lane’s supernatural secrets.

Only, with eerie board games like these, there may not be a loser – or even a winner – who survives.

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Dahlia (sometimes “Lia”) Poplar: age 30, 5’8”, long, wavy red hair, sharp eyebrows, hazel-green eyes. Witch partnered with Broomhilde (“Broomie”), an enchanted broomstick that acts like cat. Suffers from a curse inflicted at birth. Every day, while the sun is up, she must complete a good deed without relying on magic. If she fails, she grows a stone scale on her skin. Her left arm is covered in scales, though she usually manages to do her good deed in time—unless she’s distracted. Her mom passed away ten years before; she lives alone.

Cable Woodward: age 32, glasses, dark, wavy short hair, 6’4”, muscular, brown eyes. On sabbatical from teaching American literature in Scotland. Cable spent his childhood traveling the world with his single mother, Ingrid, who had him later in life. Ingrid grew up in Luna Lane and suggests Cable visit her brother during his time off from work. She just doesn’t appear to have clued Cable in to the fact that the supernatural exists—and paranormal creatures call Luna Lane home.

Milton Woodward: age 85, spotted skin, thin, white hair. Milton has dementia, which has worsened since the passing of his wife, Leana, a few months before the story begins. He used to run the general store, Vogel’s, which he sold twenty years before to the Mahajans. Dahlia’s next-door neighbor and Cable’s uncle, though he didn’t see him in person much during Cable’s youth.

Goldie and Arjun Mahajan: age mid-50s, plump, on the shorter side, black and grey hair, Goldie a beauty. They run Vogel’s, the town’s general store, and love to stay busy. Goldie is especially protective of Dahlia and loves to play with Broomie. Both are amateur matchmakers. Their sons, Hitesh and Zashil, Dahlia’s childhood friends, moved to other cities for college and stayed there after finding their spouses.

Draven: age unknown (at least 500), deathly pale complexion, tall and trim but with defined muscles, long, blond hair like a rock star’s. Likes to wear dark leather. Runs the local pub First Taste and lives in an elegant Victorian with Ravana, his sire, and Qarinah, a newer vampire. Dated Dahlia for several years after she turned 21. They had a hot and passionate romance, but his ego and inability to apologize led her to break up with him a few years before the story begins.

Faine Vadas: age 30, wild, brown hair, 5’3”; curvy. Loves to dress in vintage styles, like a pin-up model. Dahlia’s best friend since childhood. Her husband, Grady, is 35, tall and thin. They run the local café, Hungry Like a Pup, which is connected to First Taste. Their kids are Flora (girl, 7, tall), Fauna (girl, 5, short, puffy pigtails), and Falcon (boy, 3, troublemaker). All five of them are werewolves, though they only turn during the full moon.

Virginia Kincaid: died in 1911 at age 20. Ghastly white, often transluscent, dressed like an early 20th-century Southern Belle. She’s a ghost who’s very social and talkative. Easily offended, a gossipmonger, and a flirt, Virginia has a complex about cheaters and will get very angry if she thinks anyone is cheating in even the most harmless of ways.

Sherriff Roan Birch: age late 50s, bald, handsome, wrinkled, with a gut. Dahlia considers Roan like a father since he was always helping her mom out when Dahlia was growing up. Everyone knew Roan harbored an unrequited love for Dahlia’s mother, but he never let that get in the way of an earnest friendship. Since no crime happens in Luna Lane, Roan has a pretty easy job—until Dahlia uncover clues that indicate there’s been a murder.

Eithne Allaway: age unknown, long, white hair, tall and willowy, dark eyes. The mysterious witch who cursed Dahlia at birth, most likely because she hated Dahlia’s witch mother. She’s been gone from Luna Lane for decades, but when things start going wrong, Dahlia suspects the witch’s involvement.

Amy McNulty is an editor and author of books that run the gamut from YA speculative fiction to contemporary romance. A lifelong fiction fanatic, she fangirls over books, anime, manga, comics, movies, games, and TV shows from her home state of Wisconsin. When not editing her clients’ novels, she’s busy fulfilling her dream by crafting fantastical worlds of her own.

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Narrator Bio

Danielle Daly hails from Long Island, New York but hopes you can’t tell that when she’s reading to you. Grateful for her many years of experience in narrating stories for various short story fiction podcasts, the opportunity to narrate audiobooks for a wider audience is a dream come true.

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Spotlight & Excerpt: Casket Case + Giveaway

casket case
Casket Case
The Cynthia Shade Mysteries Book 1
by Lee James
Genre: Cozy Mystery

 

Cynthia Shade. That’s her name. She has ADHD and cynophobia. That’s just a fancy way of saying she’s terrified of dogs. Not all dogs mind you, just the tiny ones that come at you with their razor-sharp fangs and frenzied eyes. To make it worse, she can’t find a job, rather, she can’t keep a job, and she’s about to be evicted. Just when she gets a glimmer of hope she’s blackmailed into trying to solve a murder.

Wait-what?

Cue the handsome sheriff who awakens real interest in perpetually single Cynthia, and a cast of crazed suspects. One of whom is determined she doesn’t make it out of this adventure alive. 

 

 

casket case

excerpt

Cynthia Shade.

That was her.

Past due.

That was also her.

Cynthia pressed her lips together as she scanned the rest of letter. “Power’s gonna be turned off.” She crushed the warning from P&E Electric into her canvas bag.

“You still want your balance?” The bank teller kept his tone professional but his bland blue eyes didn’t meet hers. If he’d heard her, he gave no sign.

She nodded, remembering where she was. “Yes. Please.”

He slid the printout across the counter and she stared at the circled amount.

“Thirty-seven cents? Is that right?”

He leaned over, just enough to acknowledge the question. “Must be.”

Disdain flickered across his baby smooth face before he turned his back on her to stare out the window.

“Is that your car?” he asked.

She followed his gaze to the Volkswagen parked outside, and saw it with a stranger’s eyes. Rust lined the bottom edge of the little purple Beetle. And where the rust ended, the scratches and dents began. These made it all the way up to the roof, where the chipped paint had long since lost its luster. A spidery crack spiraled out from the bottom half of the windshield. From this vantage point, her faithful ride was a homely representation of personal transportation. Heat flooded her cheeks.

“Yes,” she mumbled.

“It’s not leaking oil, is it?”

Probably. She shrugged. “I dunno.”

“We just got the parking lot resurfaced. Wouldn’t want to junk it up all ready.”

Junk it up? A teller would have no reason to care about something like that. It was just another unnecessary insult. Her lips wobbled as she crumpled the printed bank statement into her canvas bag. It could sit there along with the past-due gas bill and the latest threatening letter from her landlord. If they got lonely, they could commiserate with the termination letter from State Farm telling her she no longer had car insurance.

“If there’s nothing else, I need to be able to help other customers,” Tyler said.

Cynthia glanced around the empty bank lobby. Even the offices of the bank manager and assistant manager were empty. She cocked an eyebrow, but Tyler averted his eyes as he busied himself behind the counter.

Taking the hint, she shuffled across the lobby and pushed the heavy doors open. Hot, liquid sunshine hit her head and melted between her shoulder blades. Heat from the pavement burned through the bottom of her flip flops. If she didn’t keep moving, the thin plastic would start to melt. But that was the least of her problems. She dug out her phone with trembling fingers.

Cynthia took a deep breath. She wasn’t going to cry.

Not this time.

“Swan’s Temp Service,” a familiar, husky voice answered on the second ring. Renee’s voice cracked under the weight of a two pack a day habit, punctuated by a cough that could have doubled for a steamboat’s horn.

“Renee?” She swallowed again. “This is Cynthia Shade.” She paused a moment, but the other woman didn’t respond. “I…uh…was just wondering if you had work coming up. Something that I can do.”

“Cynthia? I-No, honey, I don’t have anything for you right now.”

Cynthia wasn’t surprised. Renee hadn’t had anything for her since “the incident.”

Renee sighed. “Cynthia, honey, it’s hard to place you. I mean you’re a good worker but I need someone reliable. I know this is a temp agency, but my clients have a reasonable expectation that the people I send will at least stay through a work day.”

“Please, Renee,” she gripped her bag, the crumpled threats crinkling as she did so. “I need work right now.”

“I don’t have anything for you.” Renee sighed again, then bellowed a cough into the phone. She paused a moment. “Dripping Springs is a small town and you know how people talk. After what happened at the accountant’s office, it’s hard to get clients to take you on. I’m sorry,” she said simply. “I just don’t have anything right now.”

“I understand.” Cynthia wiped away hot tears, now mingled with sweat, trickling down her face. “Thank you.” She hung up the phone and pulled out her car keys.

Gritting her teeth, she stuck her key into the driver-side door of the purple VW Beetle. It didn’t budge.

Gritting her teeth harder, she planted her feet and turned the key again. This time the lock clicked, but she wasn’t fooled. Cynthia jiggled the key a few more times before the lock slide up and she was able to pull the door open.

She ignored angry slash in the seventeen year old leather as she tossed her bag onto the passenger seat and half fell behind the wheel. She sat there, panting in the heat for a moment. The battle was only half won. Since the panel was missing on the driver’s side door, the only thing she had to grip was the window knob and she didn’t want to snap that off as well. Instead, she rolled down the window, and grabbing the door with both hands, slammed it shut. She didn’t bother rolling the window back up. At ten-thirty in the morning, it was already ninety-three degrees and the Beetle didn’t have air conditioning.

Her phone buzzed on the seat and she glanced at it, preparing to ignore whoever it was till she caught sight of the caller id.

Uncle Garrett. Her favorite uncle.

“You ok, Cindy?”

Cynthia glanced around the interior of the car. No sense in complaining. “I’m good, Uncle. What’s going on?”

“Can you come over to the house I got somethin’ to show you.”

“Now?”

“Yeah. It’ll only take a minute.”

She sighed and gripped the wheel.

“You’ll gonna love this. I promise,” he cajoled.

She was hot. She was tired. But this was Uncle Garrett. The bacon to her eggs. The Abbott to her Costello. Cynthia nodded even though he couldn’t see her.

“I’ll be right there.”

Cynthia dropped the phone and hesitated briefly, sending up a silent prayer as she turned the key in the ignition. The engine barked and sputtered, but after a moment it roared to life. Cynthia wiped at the sweat pooling on her brow and sighed in relief. Something was going right!

She caught a glimpse of the gas gauge and the short burst of relief faded. The gauge was very close to the red E. She studied it with a practiced eye. If she didn’t make any unnecessary stops, she could get another ten miles out of it, easy. It was going to be ok. Catching a glimpse of herself in the rearview, her eyes brimmed with tears. She would not cry!

 
 

Lee James writes stories of hope and redemption. Whether it’s fantasy, mystery or historical fiction, her beautifully awkward characters traverse a dark labyrinth on their journey to a hopeful end. She is vehement about the importance of creating and preserving the sanctity of the written word. In that vein, she supports literacy programs and her local libraries. Most importantly, she supports her fellow writers. When not writing, she enjoys photography, watching The Simpsons, and of course, reading.

  

 

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