Justice Betrayed – A review

I’m afraid I’ve been quiet online for much of the summer. I have been enjoying cultivating my vegetable garden, well, four gardens plus a pumpkin patch to be exact. And I’ve been having tons of fun experimenting with new recipes, including making sourdough for the first time and fermenting some of this year’s bounty from the garden! 

But in between reading “how to” articles and watching videos to hone these new skills, I have managed to do some reading. One of the books I most anticipated delving into was the next instalment in my friend Patricia Bradley’s Memphis Cold Case series. Although if you haven’t read the first books in this series, it does read well as a standalone. And . . . if you’re a longtime Elvis fan, you’re especially in for a treat! 

 

Here’s the book blurb:

It’s Elvis Week in Memphis, and homicide Detective Rachel Sloan isn’t sure her day could get any stranger when aging Elvis impersonator Vic Vegas asks to see her. But when he produces a photo of her murdered mother with four Elvis impersonators–one of whom had also been murdered soon after the photo was taken–she’s forced to reevaluate. Is there some connection between the two unsolved cases? And could the recent break-in at Vic’s home be tied to his obsession with finding his friend’s killer?

When yet another person in the photo is murdered, Rachel suddenly has her hands full investigating three cases. Lieutenant Boone Callahan offers his help, but their checkered romantic past threatens to get in the way. Can they solve the cases before the murderer makes Rachel victim number four?

My Review: 

Justice Betrayed is a keep-you-guessing romantic suspense that is light on the romance. Now, I have to say that I prefer it when authors keep the “bad guy” a mystery, even in a suspense, so I was a little disappointed to “meet” the bad guy in the prologue. Until . . .

I discovered I didn’t have a clue who the person actually was in the present!

I love being kept guessing and Pat provided enough possibilities to keep me on my toes. She also had some great secondary characters, including the heroine’s polar opposite grandmothers, as well as, a sweet, mentally challenged young woman whose adoration of Elvis inadvertently entangles her in the mystery, which takes place during Elvis week in Memphis and begins with the death of a tribute artist. 

I really enjoyed this book. Ask for it at your favourite bookstore or find it all the major online retailers.

And . . . if you’re looking for Ebooks to stock your kindle, iPad, tablet or phone these last few weeks of summer…

 

A Fool and His Monet and Another Day Another Dali are both only $1.99 each through to the end of the month. You can find them on google play for your android devices, iTunes for your Apple devices, Nook, Kobo, and Amazon for kindle.

On Pens and Needles

My third cozy mystery with Annie’s Fiction shipped this month to subscribers of the Secrets of the Castleton Manor Library series. I love this series set at a luxurious mansion on Cape Cod that serves as a place for book lovers and writers retreats. 

On Pens and Needles is the thirteenth book in the multi-author series, set in October, so I had fun playing off various superstitions.

I love the title the publisher chose. It’s reminiscent of all those fun Serena Jones Mysteries titles. 🙂

Sadly for those hoping to pick up my book without subscribing to the whole series, it isn’t available through regular retail outlets. However, sometimes you can find used copies for sale online or at flea markets or donated to your local library. 

For those in Niagara, Ontario, I plan to donate a copy of this and my other Annie’s Fiction titles to my local library, which once it’s catalogued means it will be available throughout Niagara via interlibrary loan. I’ll keep you posted. 

Here’s the back cover blurb:

The spine-tingling scene is set at Castleton Manor in Lighthouse Bay, Massachusetts, when the grand mansion plays host to a retreat for horror writers and fans. Librarian Faith Newberry feels unusually ill at ease about the event celebrating frightening stories, and all the talk of superstitions and bad omens makes her apprehensive. Her sense of foreboding only grows when the retreat organizer devises a series of hair-raising stunts to keep the guests constantly on edge.

But then something happens that no one could have predicted. One of the stunts turns deadly.

As Faith and her friends in the Candle House Book Club investigate the suspicious death, another mystery develops. Horror novelist Pierce Baltimore becomes the victim of pranks inspired by his latest book. The writer made many enemies during his climb to the top of the best-seller list, so is someone seeking revenge? Or are the pranks just part of the retreat’s entertainment?

Join Faith and her friends—including her dedicated cat, Watson—as they roll the dice on these two mysteries. Will they be able to solve them both before Pierce’s luck runs out?

If you get a chance to read this book, I hope you enjoy it. I had a lot of fun with these characters. 

This is my 16th published novel. Check out the complete list here: http://sandraorchard.com/my-books/ 

 

Revisiting an Old Friend

This week, I had the pleasure of speaking at a Women’s Spring Event–meeting new people and catching up with old friends. I had so much fun, I started thinking we should revisit some of my old characters here and find out what they’re up to these days.  

Since my recent visit to an art auction aboard a cruise ship had me reminiscing about the art crime in Perilous Waters, released four years ago this month,

it seems appropriate to start with FBI agent, Sam Steele.

(BTW, Serena Jones fans . . . Sam knows her and has an inside scoop)

He’s the star of this Love Inspired Suspense: 

Cover of Perilous Waters

Not to be confused with the 1948 movie of the same name: 

And as an added bonus, for those who haven’t read the book, it’s only 99cents on both Amazon.com and Amazon.ca  at the moment.

Would you believe that even though I dreamed up every one of my characters and they spent months and months traipsing around my head as I wrote their stories, I often forget more about them than I remember? 

So . . . before we get into the “what are you up to now” questions, we’ll have a few get to know you questions, for those who’ve never met Sam and for the rest of us who have probably long since forgotten him. 

Sandra: Tell us a little about yourself, Sam, and how you came to be in the midst of a thief hunt on an Alaskan cruise.

Sam: I’m an FBI agent, with our art crime team. Art crime is overlooked by a lot of police departments. Yet, it’s a seventy-billion-dollar-a-year crime with criminals using paintings as collateral to finance everything from arms, drugs and money-laundering deals. So when we got a tip that a stolen Native American painting was being sold out of Skagway, Alaska, to the Robbins’ Gallery, I did some digging.

When I learned Jennifer and Cassandra Robbins, who are the heiresses to the gallery, currently being managed by their guardian, booked a cruise to Alaska, I knew I didn’t have time to set up a sting by my usual methods. So I decided to book my parents, widowed brother, my nephew and myself on the same cruise, under the pretense of celebrating our parents’ 40th wedding anniversary.

Sandra: Ooh, sounds as if it could be risky, exposing family to criminal types. What did you hope to actually accomplish? 

Sam: Not to put my family at risk, for sure! In fact, they had no idea of my true motives and I’d hoped to keep it that way. My goal was merely to befriend the women in order to gather the evidence against them that I needed.

Sandra: That doesn’t sound like something a nice guy would do. And I can’t believe I’d make the hero of one of my stories not be a nice guy!

Sam: It’s the job. Sometimes I’ve even had to pose as a criminal to recover stolen art and bring bad guys to justice. More than once I’ve posed as an unscrupulous private collector willing to overlook a masterpiece’s provenance for the opportunity to own it. 

 

Sandra: I guess sometimes the ends justify the means. But there must be some things you’d never do. 

Sam: Yeah, I’d never again lie to the woman I love. 

Sandra: Ooh, I think that’s a bit of a spoiler for those who haven’t read you’re story. Why don’t you tell us about the women you are investigating. What was your first impression? When did you know you had feelings for Jennifer?

Jennifer Robbins and her twin sister Cassandra were raised in a small rural Washington State community, where their mother taught art and her father managed a store. After her mother’s art was “discovered,”  the family moved to Seattle where they opened what quickly became a lucrative art gallery.

Sadly at seventeen, the girls lost their parents and became wards of the gallery’s curator. Cassandra now works at the gallery and seems to love the glamorous parties and publicity that goes along with it, while Jennifer works for a charitable foundation and seems to embrace a quiet and humble lifestyle. Of course, as an agent, I can’t take anything at face value. I’ve been duped before by a beautiful woman that almost cost me a case. But from the first time I met Jennifer, I felt an undeniable attraction to her beauty inside and out. My family adored her, too, especially my nephew who she helped win a game of dominoes against our family aboard ship. Spending time with her and my family felt like the idyllic life I’d once dreamed about having.

Sandra: Is there anything that scares you?

Sure, the thought of making a wrong call, a mistake that could cost someone his or her life.

 

Sandra: What do you hope people will learn from your story?

Sam: Love is worth the risk. 

 

Sandra: So true. Now it’s been four years since your story took place. What have you been up to since? 

Sam: Well, those who’ve read my brother Jake’s story in Identity Withheld and my cousin’s story Emergency Reunion know that I left the FBI to become a sheriff deputy and married Jennifer. And I’m thrilled to say we’re expecting our first child.

Sandra: Congratulations! I imagine your parents are thrilled.

Sam: Over the moon, but you know all about the joy of grand parenting I hear.  😉   

Sandra: Oh, yes, I’m eagerly anticipating the arrival of grandchild #6.  😀 One last question from our Serena Jones fans who are eager to know what she’s up to these days. You both worked on the FBI art crime team. Have you heard from Serena recently? 

Sam: It’s interesting you should ask, because yes, she reached out to me when a situation arose on her honeymoon on one of the Greek Isles. But that’s a whole other story.  😆 

 

Your Turn: Any questions for Sam?

 

P.S. Serena Jones fans please refrain from posting spoilers in your comments here. We can continue the discussion of Sam’s conversation with Serena over on the private Facebook group open to anyone who has finished reading Over Maya Dead Body (and can prove it by answering the admission questions) at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1680399125601702/ 

Digging Up Secrets

“Where do you get your story ideas?” is the most common question I get asked.

For Digging Up Secrets, my upcoming cozy mystery from Annie’s Attic, the answer is . . . my life!

I was staying at the hospital with my grandson Jed when I was invited to write this story for a new multi-author Victorian Mansion Flower Shop cozy mystery series, but I knew instantly that I’d have no trouble finding fodder for it.

First of all, the heroine, Kaylee Bleu, has just taken over her grandmother’s flower shop housed in an old Victorian Mansion and I live in a similar old house—very old. In fact, two days before the editor contacted me I’d been home for the weekend and our well’s foot pump went kaput, so we had to dig down to the well head. Trouble was . . . we didn’t know where it was!

We had a general idea, based on where the pipes entered the basement, and began digging. But by the time we unearthed the well head, we had a grave-size hole, five feet deep beside our house. So . . .

Of course, I knew the same trouble needed to befall Kaylee. And although being without water for several days is troublesome enough for a flower shop with countless thirsty flowers inside, how much better to find unknown human remains in the hole?

Thankfully, that part came from my imagination, not personal experience!

Then again . . . when my kids were younger, they did set up an “archaeological dig” next to our house and came across some bones.

But I’m pretty sure they were old beef bones a dog had buried.

I hope.

But I digress.

As if we didn’t have enough crazy things to deal with that summer, once we had the new pump installed, the awesome improved water pressure blew our hot water tank and flooded the basement. So . . .

Guess what other trouble Kaylee will face, besides trying to figure out who’s buried in her backyard? 🙂  To make matters worse, the police are slow to release the crime scene and allow the plumber to get her well back in operation, which not only puts her plants’ health in jeopardy, but her entire business.

It also helps that I have tons of “plant research” under my belt from my Port Aster Secrets series. 

Translation: I know lots of plants that can kill hurt people, as well as many ways forensic botanists can glean clues from crime scenes.  😉 

myrtle spurge

Did I mention Kaylee has a PhD in plant taxonomy, and had been a university professor who also did forensic botany consulting for law enforcement, before her position was suddenly eliminated?

Kaylee also tends to refer to plants by their taxonomical name, rather than their common name, a phenomenon I also have ample experience with, since my eldest daughter studied horticulture for three years.

Sadly, I didn’t actually get to visit the story’s locale, the picturesque Orcas Island of the San Juan archipelago off the west coast of Washington State, but I did a lot of “island life” research for Over Maya Dead Body, which helped.

So aside from interviewing a few florists for anecdotal details and reading up on Orcas Island, this was one book I could dive right into writing. Or should I say dig?

 

About Digging Up Secrets:

Nothing is coming up roses for Kaylee Bleu. Not only are all of the plants in her flower shop going thirsty because of a busted well pump, but a competing florist on Orcas Island is stealing customers from The Flower Patch. As if that wasn’t enough to turn her into Florist Grump, a new client who could be Kaylee’s golden ticket to the lucrative country club set is also her most persnickety yet—and continuously threatens to take her business elsewhere.

But all of that seems like no big deal when Kaylee’s plumber discovers a fractured skull in her shop’s yard. The remains belong to Danny Lane, a troubled teen accused of killing a high school girl in a boating accident thirty-five years ago. The consensus around Turtle Cove was that the boy fled town shortly after the accident, but Kaylee thinks the holes in that story are as big as the grave-size pit dug up around her well head.

Unfortunately, somebody on Orcas Island wants Kaylee to leave the past buried.

 

Image courtesy of stockdevil at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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A New Giveaway and the Story Behind it

This week I’d like to give you a glimpse into a new historical fiction novel in a bit different way. Author Amanda Cabot and her publisher are hosting a three-prize package giveaway to celebrate the release of A Borrowed Dream, the second novel in her current trilogy.

The idea of giving away the book and its predecessor, A Stolen Heart, wasn’t surprising, but I was curious about the other prizes being including and I asked Amanda why she chose those things, assuming they must be connected to the story in some way. 

Here’s her response: 

Well, when Revell’s Marketing Director first asked me for gift ideas to go along with the books, I was stumped. I asked her to let me think about it, but the ideas flowed more like the proverbial molasses in January than clear water. It wasn’t writer’s block – after all, how can you have block over an apparently simple question? – but something was keeping me from being creative.

That’s when I realized I needed to ask my characters for their ideas.

On Thursday, March 4, 1881, a late winter ice storm strands two of schoolteacher Catherine Whitfield’s pupils in the small town of Cimarron Creek, Texas. Neither Hannah, the too silent daughter of handsome rancher Austin Goddard, nor Seth Dalton, whose frequent bruises suggest his father is far from the gentle man Austin is, can reach their ranches. So Catherine takes them home with her, never dreaming the simple action will have dramatic consequences.

The next morning, I (Amanda) sat all three of these characters at Catherine’s kitchen table and asked the simple question, “What are your favorite things?”

“Popcorn,” Seth declared.

I stared at him, startled by his response. I would have expected him say pencils and paper since he loved to sketch. “Why popcorn?”

He gave Catherine a shy smile. “Because she let me make it all by myself. She trusted me.” And trust wasn’t something he’d been given before.

I nodded as I turned to Hannah. “What about you?”

Her reply was the one I’d anticipated. “A music box like the one I used to have before …” She stopped abruptly, clapping her hand over her mouth as if she’d said too much.

Knowing I would get no more from her at this point, I posed the same question to Catherine.

“Books. A whole room with floor-to-ceiling shelves filled with books.”

And just that simply, I had my answers for my publisher.

Seth would have popcorn, but not ordinary popcorn. No, indeed. He’d get gourmet Texas popcorn. Hannah’s request was almost as easy to fulfill, with a beautifully carved music box that looks like it could have been made in the nineteenth century. Catherine’s wish posed the biggest challenge. We obviously couldn’t give away a room of books, but we could – and did – find a beautiful jigsaw puzzle of a book-filled room that looked like her dream.

So there you have it – the story behind the three gift packs for A Borrowed Dream. I hope you’ll enter the contest http://bit.ly/2ptas6E and that I’ve intrigued you enough to add A Borrowed Dream to your TBR pile.

Sandra: You’ve certainly hooked me. Readers, be sure to click through to enter the rafflecopter giveaway. If you have a question for Amanda, leave it in the comments below.

 

Here’s a little bit more about A Borrowed Dream:

There is no such thing as an impossible dream . . .

Catherine Whitfield is sure that she will never again be able to trust anyone in the medical profession after the local doctor’s treatments killed her mother. Despite her loneliness and her broken heart, she carries bravely on as Cimarron Creek’s dutiful schoolteacher, resigned to a life where dreams rarely come true.

Austin Goddard is a newcomer to Cimarron Creek. Posing as a rancher, he fled to Texas to protect his daughter from a dangerous criminal. He’s managed to keep his past as a surgeon a secret. But when Catherine Whitfield captures his heart, he wonders how long he will be able to keep up the charade.

With a deft hand, Amanda Cabot teases out the strands of love, deception, and redemption in this charming tale of dreams deferred and hopes becoming reality.

 Amanda Cabot is the bestselling author of more than thirty novels including the Texas Dreams trilogy, the Westward Winds series, the Texas Crossroads trilogy, A Stolen Heart, and Christmas Roses. A former director of Information Technology, she has written everything from technical books and articles for IT professionals to mysteries for teenagers and romances for all ages. Amanda is delighted to now be a fulltime writer of Christian romances, living happily ever after with her husband in Wyoming.

Social Media Links

www.amandacabot.com

https://www.facebook.com/amanda.j.cabot

https://twitter.com/AmandaJoyCabot/

http://amandajoycabot.blogspot.com/

Buying Links

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Christian Book Distributors

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Go Green! Pass it along to your favourite Patty’s Day Pal.  🙂 

 

Click here to: Read an excerpt.

 

Join Me

Today I’m blogging on the International Christian Fiction Writers’ blog, divulging such secrets at what this odd discovery I swam across was and how it might relate to a future book. 

 

 

And no, it isn’t Fred Flinstone’s missing bowling ball or Chuck’s best friend Wilson from the movie Castaway (remember the volleyball?), but those were both wonderfully creative guesses from Facebook readers.  🙂 

Enjoy Humorous Mysteries? Enter to Win!

Do you wish you could discover another laugh-out-loud mystery series like my Serena Jones Mysteries? 

Well . . . you might find a few gems to suit your tastes amongst this collection of “mysteries with humor” [or “humour” as we say it in Canada 😉 ] in the general fiction Booksweeps I’m participating in this week. 

Many of the authors are giving away free novels, novellas or short stories to participants just for entering. Two lucky winners will receive copies of the 30+ mysteries pictured above and the Grand Prize winner will receive an Ereader! 

To learn more and to enter, visit:

 https://booksweeps.com/book-giveaway/mysteries-with-humor-february-2018/

 

Good Luck!!!

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Special Valentine’s Interview & News

Harold has stopped by for an exclusive interview!

For those who haven’t read the Serena Jones Mysteries or if you’ve forgotten the characters, Harold is Serena’s lovable cat adopted along with the apartment from Aunt Martha.

Harold, in your first interview, after the release of A Fool and His Monet, you complained that you never got to see Serena in action. But that all changed in Over Maya Dead Body. Tell us about your trip to Martha’s Vineyard.

It was great. Well, except for those creatures on the beach with those nasty claws. <shivers> But the sweet feline I met made up for that. <purrs>

<gives his paw an absentminded lick>

Oh, and I was instrumental in finding important clues to solving the mystery.

Wow, that’s impressive for your first time in the field.

Purrs.

Now this was the big book a lot of readers were waiting for, because Serena finally falls in love. Were you happy with the man that ended up being?

Hmm, in my last interview I mentioned sneaking on Serena’s computer and voting for a certain someone, since you were letting readers dictate the outcome and all, so my answer could be a spoiler for anyone who hasn’t read Over Maya Dead Body, don’t you think?

Good point. You’re a smart cat.

Purrs.

A number of secrets were revealed in this book. Did you know them already?

<emits an amused snort> As long as I get two square meals a day and a warm bed to sleep in and a decent backrub now and again, I don’t get worked up about much else.

However . . . I will divulge something that isn’t in the book.

Oh, really? What’s that.

I’m going to ask that sweet feline you brought into my life to be my Valentine.  😎 

Ah, I’m sure she’ll be pleased.

Readers, if you’ve read Over Maya Dead Body, (and you’re on Facebook), I have a Valentine’s surprise for you too. Join our private Chat About Serena Jones Facebook group to read an alternate romantic scene between Serena and the man she doesn’t choose in the end.

Click here to read more fun interviews, including Harold’s first one.

Coming Soon:

From Feb 19-26, I’m participating in a BookSweeps event for Mysteries with Humor. Subscribe to this blog to be sure not to miss the entry link, or come back Feb 19th to find it.

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This Picture Book Makes a Wonderful Gift

No, I’m not writing picture books now. But my friend has!

This is my friend whose daughter was the inspiration for the developmentally challenged sister of Ginny, the heroine in my first published book, Deep Cover.  

I was so excited to receive Jesus, Let’s Talk as a gift to share with my grandchildren.

The book was created to help children, early readers, and people with developmental differences enjoy the sweet basics of conversation with Jesus. This natural approach to prayer is truly inspiring.

The colorful photographs of children and young people were specifically chosen to celebrate that the fingerprints of God are on all people, all around the world.

The book also highlights key words using American Sign Language. This allows little ones who are not yet talking, or those who experience hearing impairment to express themselves, as well as those who simply want to have fun learning new ways to communicate.

My grandchildren (ages 0 to 6) are captivated by the photographs of real children and love to learn the “signs” for the words depicted on each page.

Our two-year-old, who usually rapidly turns to the next page before I can finish reading the one we’re on, didn’t do that with this book. He studied each picture, attempted the sign language I taught him from the page and listened to the simple prayers. They are wonderful examples of how to pray and demonstrate how to view ourselves through God’s eyes.

The pictures were also a springboard to interesting discussions with our four- and six-year-olds about the challenges some children and families face.

 

The author is Lisa Jamieson who, alongside her husband, parents a grown daughter with special needs and is a national disability ministry leader. She is also a speaker and the author of Finding Glory in the Thorns and related Bible study materials. Jesus, Let’s Talk is her first children’s book.

The photographer is Ann L. Hinrichs who serves missionaries worldwide, while enjoying the arts as a musician, worship leader, voice teacher, and international photographer.

This book would be a wonderful gift to any parents or grandparents of young children, or children with special needs, or to the children themselves. It would also be an excellent resource for Sunday School classes and in the primary classroom of Christian schools.  

I highly recommend it.

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