Sunday, October 19, 2014

Library Haul 2014 (Oct 19 - 25)

Here's the list of books I picked up from the library this week:


1.  Delicious - Ruth Reichl
2.  Night Diver - Elizabeth Lowell

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Deadly Dozen Blog Tour with Spotlight

Thanks Pump Up Your Book Promotions for allowing me to join Deadly Dozen Blog Tour!

About the Book:

The DEADLY DOZEN Book Bundle contains 12 complete mystery/thriller novels by award-winning and international bestselling authors: Cheryl Kaye Tardif, Catherine Astolfo, Alison Bruce, Melodie Campbell/Cynthia St-Pierre, Gloria Ferris, Donna Galanti, Kat Flannery, Jesse Giles Christiansen, Rosemary McCracken, Susan J. McLeod, C. S. Lakin and Linda Merlino.

THE BRIDGEMAN by Catherine Astolfo
DEADLY LEGACY by Alison Bruce
A PURSE TO DIE FOR by Melodie Campbell & Cynthia St-Pierre
CHEAT THE HANGMAN by Gloria Ferris
A HUMAN ELEMENT by Donna Galanti
LAKOTA HONOR by Kat Flannery
PELICAN BAY by Jesse Giles Christiansen
SAFE HARBOR by Rosemary McCracken
SOUL AND SHADOW by Susan J. McLeod
ROOM OF TEARS by Linda Merlino

With an individual list price total of more than $45.00 and over 640 reviews collectively on, the DEADLY DOZEN Book Bundle is a value-packed, rollercoaster thrill ride that takes you from amateur sleuth to detective to paranormal to ancient mysteries set in intriguing worlds and so much more.
For More Information
Deadly Dozen is available at Amazon.
Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.

PUYB Meet the Author

Catherine AstolfoCatherine Astolfo retired in 2002 after a very successful 34 years in education. Catherine received the Elementary Dufferin-Peel OECTA Award for Outstanding Service in 1998. She was also awarded Dufferin-Peel Catholic Elementary Principal of the Year in 2002 by the Catholic Principals Council of Ontario.
Catherine is a past President of Crime Writers of Canada and a Derrick Murdoch Award winner (2012). She was a Zonta Club 2012 Nominee for Women of Achievement.
Writing is Catherine’s passion. She can recall inventing fantasy stories for her classmates in Grade Three. Her short stories and poems have been published in a number of literary Canadian presses. In 2005, she won a Brampton Arts Award. Her short stories won the Bloody Words Short Story Award (second and first) in 2009 and 2010. She won the prestigious Arthur Ellis Best Short Crime Story Award in 2012.
Catherine’s novel series, The Emily Taylor Mysteries, are published by Imajin Books and are optioned for film by Sisbro & Co. Inc.

Visit Catherine at:

Alison BruceAlison Bruce has an honours degree in history and philosophy, which has nothing to do with any regular job she’s held since. A liberal arts education did prepare her to be a writer, however. She penned her first novel during lectures while pretending to take notes.
Alison writes mysteries, romance, westerns and fantasy. Her novels include Under a Texas Star, a western romantic suspense, and Deadly Legacy, a suspense thriller. Her protagonists are marked by their strength of character, the ability to adapt (sooner or later) to new situations and to learn from adversity.
Copywriter and editor since 1992, Alison has also been a comic book store manager, small press publisher and web designer in the past. She currently manages publications for Crime Writers Canada and is a volunteer with Action Read Family Literacy Center. A single mother, she lives in Guelph, Ontario with her two children, Kate and Sam.

Melodie CampbellBilled as Canada’s “Queen of Comedy” by the Toronto Sun (Jan. 5, 2014), Melodie Campbell achieved a personal best when Library Digest compared her to Janet Evanovich.
Melodie got her start writing comedy. In 1999, she opened the Canadian Humor Conference. She has over 200 publications, including 100 comedy credits, 40 short stories and 6 novels. She has won 9 awards for fiction, including the 2014 Derringer Award.
In addition to writing, Melodie has been a bank manager, hospital director, college instructor, association executive, and possibly the worst runway model ever. She lives in Oakville Ontario, where she is lamentably addicted to fast cars.
Melodie is the Executive Director of Crime Writers of Canada.

Cynthia St-PierreMelodie’s co-writer, Cynthia St-Pierre wrote promotional, packaging and communications materials; penned articles for business periodicals; and a chapter of How to Successfully Do Business in Canada. Currently a member of Crime Writers of Canada, she has one award for fiction and has been a writing contest judge. Best of all for a mystery writer, Cynthia has received a York Regional Police Citizens Awareness Program certificate, presented and signed by Julian Fantino, former Commissioner of the Ontario Provincial Police.
In addition, Cynthia grows vegetables in her backyard, makes recipes with tofu, and speaks English-accented French with husband Yves.

Visit Cynthia’s blog (in the voice of character Becki Green) at

Gloria FerrisGloria Ferris began her writing career by authoring and editing operating procedures for a nuclear power development. It was an exciting job, but opportunities for plot and character development were limited, so she turned to crime fiction and found it to be a lot more fun. Cheat the Hangman was shortlisted for the 2009 Crime Writers of Canada Unhanged Arthur contest.
Gloria recently moved back to her native Guelph, Ontario, after spending 20 plus years in several small towns by Lake Huron, which inspired her mysteries. The stories are written in a humorous style, but the crimes are deadly serious. A sequel to Cheat the Hangman is in the works.

Donna GalantiDonna Galanti writes murder and mystery with a dash of steam as well as middle grade adventure fiction. She is an International Thriller Writers Debut Author of the paranormal suspense novel A Human Element, the short story collection The Dark Inside, and Joshua and The Lightning Road.
She’s lived from England as a child, to Hawaii as a U.S. Navy photographer. Donna dreamed of being a writer when she fell in love with the worlds of Narnia and Roald Dahl while attending school in a magical English castle where her dark imagination ran wild in an itchy uniform (bowler hat and tie included).
She now lives in Pennsylvania with her family in an old farmhouse. It has lots of writing nooks, fireplaces, and stink bugs, but she’s still wishing for a castle again—preferably with ghosts.


Kat FlanneryKat Flannery has loved writing ever since she was a girl. She is often seen jotting her ideas down in a little black book. When not writing or researching, Kat enjoys snuggling on her couch with a hot chocolate and a great book.
Her first novel, CHASING CLOVERS became an Amazon’s bestseller in Historical and Western romance. LAKOTA HONOR, Kat’s second book and book 1 in the Branded Trilogy became an instant success in Paranormal Historical Mystery/Romance. This was followed by book 2, BLOOD CURSE, which will be released October 1, 2014. Kat is now working on the final book in the trilogy.
When not focusing on her creative passions, Kat is busy with her three boys and doting husband. 

Jesse Giles ChristiansenJesse Giles Christiansen is an American author who writes compelling literary fiction that weaves the real with the surreal. He attended Florida State University where he began writing short stories and exposing himself to the great literary classics, his greatest influences at the time consisting of London, Hemingway, and Wilde. He received his B.A. in English literature in 1993.
He wrote his first novel, About: Journey into the Mystic, after spending a summer in Alaska working on fishing boats. His second novel, Pelican Bay, part of a trilogy, focuses on a mysterious old fisherman and the unforgettable lessons he imparts on an eccentric, nosy, sea-battered beach town. The second book in The Captain Shelby Trilogy, Captain Shelby, was recently released and explores the old fisherman’s past.

Web Site:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABorn and raised in Montreal, Rosemary McCracken has worked on newspapers across Canada as a reporter, arts writer and reviewer, editorial writer and editor. She is now a freelance journalist, specializing in personal finance and the financial services industry. She advocates greater protection for investors.
Rosemary’s short fiction has been published by Room of One’s Own Press, Kaleidoscope Books and Sisters in Crime Canada. Safe Harbor, her first suspense thriller, was shortlisted for Britain’s Debut Dagger award in 2010, and released by Imajin Books in 2012. Black Water is the second book in the Pat Tierney series.
Rosemary lives with her husband in Toronto, and does much of her fiction writing at her stone cottage in Ontario’s Haliburton Highlands.

Susan Jane McLeodSusan Jane McLeod has been writing since she was seven years old. At age eleven, she won a countywide essay contest, and her professional career was launched. By the time she was nineteen, her poetry had appeared in several magazines, including American Girl and Seventeen.
She also won an honorable mention in The Writer.
Susan grew up in Rochester, New York, with her three sisters and one brother. In her early thirties, she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and given a 50/50 chance to live. She survived only to have the cancer recur, necessitating more surgery and an aggressive course of chemotherapy. Today she is cancer free.
The best job she’s ever had was managing a bookstore, surrounded by her passion: literature.
Susan has published several short stories and two novels. The first, Soul and Shadow, is an award-winning paranormal historical romance. The second, Fire and Shadow, is classified as paranormal suspense. Both have garnered impressive reviews.
Susan believes strongly in several causes and has raised money for the American Cancer Society, Foodlink, and the House of Mercy homeless shelter.
She still resides in Rochester and will always call it home.

She can be contacted at and

C. S. LakinC. S. Lakin writes novels in numerous genres, focusing mostly on contemporary psychological mysteries and allegorical fantasy. Her novel Someone to Blame (contemporary fiction) won the 2009 Zondervan First Novel competition 2009 (published October 2010). Lakin’s Gates of Heaven fantasy series for adults (AMG-Living Ink Publishers) features original full-length fairy tales in traditional style. Already in print are the first books in the series, The Wolf of Tebron. The Map across Time, The Land of Darkness, and The Unraveling of Wentwater, with two more to follow.
In addition to her mysteries and fantasy series, she has written the first book in a young adult sci-fi adventure series: Time Sniffers. Her contemporary mystery Innocent Little Crimes made the top one hundred finalists in the 2009 Amazon Breakout Novel Award contest, earning her a Publisher’s Weekly review, which stated her book was “a page-turning thrill-ride that will have readers holding their breaths the whole way through.”
She recently completed Intended for Harm, an epic family sage that is a contemporary take-off on the biblical story of Jacob and Joseph and is developing a swashbuckling dog memoir in the style of Moby Dick entitled A Dog after God’s Own Heart. She lives in Santa Cruz, CA, with her husband Lee, a gigantic lab named Coaltrane, and three persnickety cats. You can connect with her on twitter: @cslakin and @livewritethrive. Or visit her author page on Facebook:

Linda MerlinoLinda Merlino is the author of Hudson Catalina and Room of Tears. She began writing fiction as a young mother on the sidelines of endless soccer practices. Linda wrote anytime any place. A manuscript filled a carton in the back seat of her car. Many years have passed since those early beginnings, but her work continues to be inspired by her children.
The author has a fascination with heroes and writes her fiction to honor ordinary men and women who react unselfishly in extraordinary circumstances. She extends her gratitude to all who keep us safe and free.
Her hometown is outside of Boston. She lived for many years in New York City and more recently calls Connecticut her home.

Cheryl Kaye TardifCheryl Kaye Tardif is an award-winning, international bestselling Canadian suspense author. Her novels include Divine Sanctuary, Submerged, Divine Justice, Children of the Fog, The River, Divine Intervention, and Whale Song, which New York Times bestselling author Luanne Rice calls “a compelling story of love and family and the mysteries of the human heart…a beautiful, haunting novel.”
She is now working on her next thriller.
Cheryl also enjoys writing short stories inspired mainly by her author idol Stephen King, and this has resulted in Dream House (short story), Skeletons in the Closet & Other Creepy Stories (collection of shorts) and Remote Control (novelette eBook). In 2010 Cheryl detoured into the romance genre with her contemporary romantic suspense debut, Lancelot’s Lady, written under the pen name of Cherish D’Angelo. And she even has a children’s picture book published, The Elfling Princess.
Booklist raves, “Tardif, already a big hit in Canada…a name to reckon with south of the border.”

Cheryl’s website:
Official blog:

You can also find Cheryl Kaye Tardif on Goodreads, Shelfari and LibraryThing, plus other social networks.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Private Down Under (Paperback)

I've finished "Private Down Under" by James Patterson.

The world's most exclusive detective agency opens a new office - in Australia!

With the best detectives in the business, cutting edge technology and offices around the globe, there is no investigation company quite like Private. Now, at a glittering launch party overlooking the iconic Opera House, Private Sydney throws open its doors.

Craig Gisto and his newly formed team have barely raised their glasses, however, when a young Asian man, blood-soaked and bullet-ridden, staggers into the party, and what looks like a botched kidnapping turns out to be a whole lot more.

Within days the agency's caseload is full. But it is a horrific murder in the wealthy Eastern Suburbs and the desperate search for a motive that stretches the team to the limit. Stacy Friel, friend of the Deputy Commissioner of NSW Police, isn't the killer's first victim - and as the bodies mount up she's clearly not the last.

Product Details
Series: Private
Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing (August 26, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1455529788
ISBN-13: 978-1455529780

My Review:


Monday, October 13, 2014

Weekly Cozy, Mystery Thriller and Romantic Suspense Reads

 Weekly Cozy, Mystery Thriller and Romantic Suspense Reads

Weekly Cozy, Mystery Thriller and Romantic Suspense Reads is a weekly Monday Meme that is hosted by Mystery Thrillers and Romantic Suspense Reviews:

Post the books you read last week and books being read this week.

Read Last Week:

1.  Burn - James Patterson
2.  To Die Fur - Dixie Lyle  

Weekly Read:

1.  Private Down Under - James Patterson

Saturday, October 11, 2014

To Die Fur (A Whiskey Tango Foxtrot Mystery) Mass Market Paperback

I've read "To Die Fur" the 2nd book in her A Whiskey Tango Foxtrot Mystery series by Dixie Lyle.

Deirdre "Foxtrot" Lancaster is back. With trusted companions Whiskey and Tango, she’s on the prowl for a brand-new predator.

Deirdre has her hands full, as usual. Working as a Jill-of-all-trades for a zany billionaire like Zelda Zoransky means the daily grind is closer to a juggling act, and this week is no exception — especially when her side job is directing spiritual traffic in Zelda’s pet cemetery. With ZZ hosting a party for some of the world’s wealthiest animal collectors and a rare albino liger named Augustus in residence at the private zoo, Foxtrot is ready for trouble to take a big bite out of her schedule.


She doesn’t have to wait long. The half-ton big cat is dead, and there’s a houseful of colorful suspects, each one wackier than the next. But if they were all bidding to buy him, who would want Augustus dead? With the help of Tango’s feline telepathy and Whiskey the canine shapeshifter, Foxtrot learns that there’s much more to Augustus than meets the eye. Now they just have to sniff out a killer before any more fur flies.

Product Details
Series: A Whiskey Tango Foxtrot Mystery (Book 2)Mass Market Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: St. Martin's Paperbacks (August 26, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1250031087
ISBN-13: 978-1250031082

My Review:


Thursday, October 9, 2014

Lauren Carr's A Wedding and a Killing Blog Tour with Spotlight

I am so excited to have Lauren Carr here Mystery Thrillers and Romantic Suspense Reviews with an Excerpt and Spotlight.

Thanks Lauren and Pump Up Your Book Promotions for allowing me to join your A Wedding and a Killing Blog Tour!

Please take it away, Lauren!

About the Author

Lauren Carr is the best-selling author of the Mac Faraday Mysteries, which takes place in Deep Creek Lake, Maryland. A Wedding and a Killing is the eighth installment in the Mac Faraday Mystery series.

In addition to her series set on Deep Creek Lake, Lauren Carr has also written the Lovers in Crime Mysteries, which features prosecutor Joshua Thornton with homicide detective Cameron Gates, who were introduced in Shades of Murder, the third book in the Mac Faraday Mysteries. They also make an appearance in The Lady Who Cried Murder. Dead on Ice (A Lovers in Crime Mystery) was released September 2012. The second installment, Real Murder was released to rave reviews in June 2014.

The owner of Acorn Book Services, Lauren is also a publishing manager, consultant, editor, cover and layout designer, and marketing agent for independent authors. This year, several books, over a variety of genre, written by independent authors will be released through the management of Acorn Book Services, which is currently accepting submissions. Visit Acorn Book Services website for more information.

Lauren is a popular speaker who has made appearances at schools, youth groups, and on author panels at conventions. She also passes on what she has learned in her years of writing and publishing by conducting workshops and teaching in community education classes.

She lives with her husband, son, and three dogs on a mountain in Harpers Ferry, WV.
For More Information
Visit Lauren Carr’s website.
Connect with Holly on Facebook and Twitter.
Visit Lauren’s blog.
Is your group looking for a speaker for your next event? Click here.
Contact Lauren

About the Book:

When Mac Faraday decides to do something, there’s no stopping him even murder!

Not wanting to wait until their big day to start their life of wedded bliss, Mac Faraday and his lady love, Archie Monday, decide to elope to the little church where his ancestors had all married—along the tranquil shore of Deep Creek Lake. However, before they can say, “I do,” the sanctuary erupts into chaos when Gnarly finds a dead body in the church office.

As they dive into the investigation, Mac and his team discover more questions than answers. What kind of person walks into a church and shoots a man for no apparent reason? How do you solve the murder of a man who has no enemies in the world? Which of the seemingly kind-hearted church members is really a cold-blooded killer?

Then, there is the all-important question, how long do Mac Faraday and his lady love have to wait to get married?
For More Information
A Wedding and a Killing is available at Amazon.
Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.

Title: A Wedding and a Killing
Author: Lauren Carr
Publisher: Acorn Book Services
Genre: Mystery
Format: Kindle

Purchase at AMAZON

When Mac Faraday decides to do something, there’s no stopping him even murder!

Not wanting to wait until their big day to start their life of wedded bliss, Mac Faraday and his lady love, Archie Monday, decide to elope to the little church where his ancestors had all married — along the tranquil shore of Deep Creek Lake. However, before they can say, “I do,” the sanctuary erupts into chaos when Gnarly finds a dead body in the church office.

As they dive into the investigation, Mac and his team discover more questions than answers. What kind of person walks into a church and shoots a man for no apparent reason? How do you solve the murder of a man who has no enemies in the world? Which of the seemingly kind-hearted church members is really a cold-blooded killer?

Then, there is the all-important question, how long do Mac Faraday and his lady love have to wait to get married?

Book Excerpt:

“I get why we invited David and Chelsea,” Mac Faraday told Archie while staring up into his Audi SUV’s rear view mirror. “They’re our witnesses. Molly is coming because she’s Chelsea’s service dog, so she has to be here. What I’m having trouble understanding is why we invited him.” long whine came from the back seat of Mac’s black SUV.

Archie Monday, the love of Mac’s life, turned around in her seat to look back at Gnarly. His tall ears rested back flat against his head. The German shepherd focused his attention on the church building belonging to the parking lot where they were waiting. “Mac, Gnarly’s a member of the family and I want him to be here. This is the most important day in our lives and we can’t not include him. It’d be like leaving our son at home while we were joined in holy matrimony.”

“I did not sire him,” Mac said. “I inherited him from my birth mother, who had adopted him. So, if anything, he’s my brother.”

“Well, if you’re going to look at it that way,” Archie said, “if your half-brother David can be at our wedding, then your adopted brother should be allowed.”

Once again, Gnarly uttered a low whine that grew in volume until it crescendoed into a loud bark. Turning away from the window, Gnarly climbed across the center console to get up into the front seats.

“Oh, yeah, this is going to be a nice little ceremony,” Mac muttered while pushing against the hundred pounds of fur and claws depositing hair and drool on his new shirt and khaki slacks.

“Gnarly, what’s wrong with you?” Archie grabbed Gnarly’s collar to pull him back, but he was too strong. “You’re getting dog hair all over my dress.” Desperately, she tried to brush Gnarly’s black and tan fur off her white outfit. Dark strands clung to the lacy overlay.

Refusing to back down, Gnarly wedged his body in between the steering wheel and Mac.

“Gnarly, I’m going to kill you!” To save the seat upholstery from Gnarly’s sharp claws, Mac threw open the door. The German shepherd was in such a hurry to get out that he didn’t give his master a chance to escape before plowing over Mac to send him out the door and flat on his back on the pavement. Landing on all fours at a full sprint, the dog charged across the parking lot.

“Oh, dear Lord!” Archie threw open her door and ran to the driver’s side where Mac was sprawled spread-eagle on the ground.

Turning his police chief cruiser into the parking lot, David O’Callaghan slammed on the brakes to keep from hitting Gnarly as the dog darted up to the church’s main entrance.

He was still catching his breath when Chelsea pointed to where Archie, clad in a white summer dress, was kneeling next to Mac. “Did he have a heart attack?” Without waiting for him to park, she unclipped her seatbelt and jumped out of the cruiser to run over to Archie and Mac. Molly leapt out after her.

Gnarly was running back and forth in front of the church.

“Mac, are you okay?” Archie begged while clutching his hand.

Concerned for the fallen man, Molly was sniffing Mac all over in search of some way she could offer her service.

Chelsea knelt next to him as well. “What happened?”

“Gnarly,” Archie answered her before turning back to Mac, who was trying to sit up onto his elbows.

“What’s going on?” David demanded of them. “Do I need to call for an ambulance?”

“I don’t know. He’s not saying anything.” Chelsea urged Molly to stop sniffing and lie down. “Mac, did you hit your head? Why don’t you say something?”

“Because,” Mac shot Archie a glare, “the only thing I can think to say right now, I can’t say in front of ladies and on church property.” He accepted David’s offer of his hand and rose to his feet.

“Maybe Gnarly’s nervous because he thought you brought him here for an exorcism,” David joked.

“Protestants don’t do exorcisms,” Chelsea responded.

“Actually, some do,” a feminine voice countered from behind them. “The Church of England does as a matter of fact.”

Archie rushed over to hug the woman parking her bicycle in the bike rack. During the melee, they had not noticed her enter the parking lot via the bike path along the lake. “So Archie Monday is finally getting married,” she said. “I guess since I’m the one doing the ceremony, you should introduce me to the lucky guy.”

“Of course.” Beaming, Archie led her over to where Mac was waiting with David and Chelsea. “Mac, I’d like you to meet Reverend Deborah Hess. She’s the pastor here at Spencer Church.”

A few years older than Archie, Deborah Hess did not look like a church pastor. Having grown up a Catholic, Mac had expected a Protestant version of a nun — an older woman who avoided cosmetics or anything that would be considered glamourous. In comparison to the Catholic nuns he had known as a child, Deborah was slender with silky chestnut colored hair that fell to her shoulders and was dressed in a vibrant turquoise pantsuit.

The reverend took Mac’s hand into a firm grip and smiled at him. “Mac Faraday. Your mother was a dear friend of mine. It is a pleasure to meet you.” She studied his face. “You have her smile.”

“My mother came to church?” Mac asked her before jokingly adding, “I didn’t know you let murder mystery writers in.”

“I’ve read all of your mother’s books,” the pastor said. “Robin Spencer brought Archie here after hiring her as her research assistant and editor. The Spencer family has a long history with us. Your ancestors built our original chapel and started this church well over a hundred years ago. Your grandparents and most of your ancestors on the Spencer side were married here. They have always been big supporters.”

“That’s why I insisted on us getting married here,” Archie said. “It’s what Robin Spencer would have wanted.” She turned to the pastor. “Since Mac only inherited his birth mother’s estate a few years ago, he’s still learning about his family history.”

“I don’t know if you heard about Robin’s story,” Mac said. “She had me out of wedlock when she was an unwed teenager. My adoptive parents had told me that I was adopted, but I didn’t know who my birth parents were until after Robin Spencer’s death and she had left her estate to me.”

“I can imagine what an adjustment a lifestyle change like that can be for a homicide detective,” Deborah said, “to suddenly come into an unbelievable fortune from a world famous murder mystery writer.”

“At least he now knows where his talent for solving mysteries come from,” Archie said.

“What about your birth father?” Deborah asked. “Do you know about him?”

Mac and David exchanged a long glance. Their identical blue eyes, inherited from their father, met. If Deborah looked closely at them, she would have noticed that the two men had the same tall slender build and attractive features. Years older, Mac had dark hair, inherited from his birth mother, while David’s hair matched that of his birth mother, the late Patrick O’Callaghan’s wife.

“He passed away before I could meet him,” Mac said.

“I’m so sorry,” the pastor said.

“So am I.”

“Well,” Deborah said, “I knew your mother quite well, and I can tell you that she was a woman of strong faith. She always strove to be more committed to this church, and we could always count on her support when we needed it.”

Archie went on to introduce Chelsea and David, who reminded Deborah that they had met a few times before at various community events.

“Let’s go inside and I’ll show you around,” Deborah said. “Then we’ll do the ceremony. I don’t know if Archie told you, Mac, but it’s my policy not to marry couples unless they have three counseling sessions with me beforehand. However, since you are Robin’s son, and Archie assures me that you will have the formal ceremony in December, then I’ve agreed to do this on the condition that you have your three sessions before the big wedding.”

Mac fired off a glare in Archie’s direction. “No, she neglected to tell me that.”

Taking a set of keys out of her pocket, Deborah turned around and then paused when she noticed a green sedan parked under a tree in the corner of the parking lot. “Eugene’s here—” She gasped. “Oh, that’s right. He told me.”

“Someone’s inside?” Mac asked. “I would have thought with all the barking that he would have come out to see what the ruckus was.”

“Eugene is the head of our trustees,” Deborah explained while leading them to the front door. “He’s here to count the offering. Since this past Sunday was Memorial Day weekend, no one wanted to stick around and the banks were closed yesterday. Eugene told me that he was coming in today to get the bank deposit ready.”

When she stuck the key in the lock, Gnarly tore around the corner of the building. As soon as she had opened the door a crack, he charged inside before anyone could step in. Barking and crying, he raced down the hallway of the office wing.

“What’s gotten into him?” David asked.

“He must think Eugene is a burglar,” Archie said.

“More likely Gnarly is wanting to steal the cash to buy a new bone for himself,” Mac said.

“Molly isn’t acting bonkers,” David said.

“Rub it in,” Mac muttered to him.

“Just saying,” David replied. “If that trustee is counting money, that racket is surely going to throw his calculations off.”

Gnarly was up on his hind legs digging at an office door.

“Get off the door!” Mac shouted at him while storming down the hallway to grasp Gnarly by the collar.

“Oh, that’s not going to throw off his count,” David said with sarcasm. “The guy’s probably afraid to come out because he thinks Gnarly is going to eat his face.”

“Eugene doesn’t like dealing with the public.” Deborah giggled. “The last time he answered the door, it was a church member who broke down into hysterics because she wanted a divorce. She got tears and snot all over his shirt. He had to throw it away and swore never again. When he’s here, he doesn’t answer the door or the phone.”

Gnarly yanked and pulled away from Mac until he got out of his collar and went back to the door. Whimpering, he plopped down onto the floor while gazing from the door back to Mac and then back again.

“Maybe we should knock on the door and apologize to him,” Chelsea said.

“Eugene is extremely focused on his tasks,” Deborah said. “Best to leave him alone.” She waved for them to follow her. “Let’s go into the sanctuary. I’ll show you around and we can get started.”

Mac tossed Gnarly’s collar down the hall to where he was lying in front of the door. The dog looked dejected.

“Come on, Gnarly,” Archie called to him. “Don’t you want to see your daddy and me get married?”

“That animal did not come from my loins,” Mac said in a low voice.

Ignoring his comment, Archie took Mac’s hand and led him across the fellowship hall to the double glass doors that opened into a spacious sanctuary with a cedar paneled cathedral ceiling with log beams across the width. The wall behind the pulpit was made of stone at the base of which rested the baptismal pool.

“I always thought this was the prettiest church in Spencer,” Chelsea said while squeezing David’s hand.

“You should see it when the sanctuary is lit and the waterfall flowing down the rocks down to the baptismal pool is turned on,” Archie gushed to Mac. “It’s going to be a lovely wedding.” She told Deborah, “We’re going to have an evening ceremony on New Year’s Eve, and want to say our vows right before midnight.”

Deborah sighed. “It will be lovely, but I’m afraid we won’t be able to use the waterfall.”

Archie’s face fell. “Why not?”

“It’s broken,” the pastor explained. “Two years ago. The plumbing is thirty years old and has to be completely replaced and we don’t have the funds to have it rebuilt.”

“Oh, I really had my heart set on the waterfall and candles,” Archie said.

Molly whimpered.

As if to voice Archie’s disappointment, Gnarly howled from where he was still in the office wing.

Mac cringed.

“Do you want me to put Gnarly in the car?” David asked him in a low voice.

Mac was more concerned with the disappointment on his bride’s face. “How much will it cost to replace the waterfall?” he asked Deborah.

“Several thousand dollars,” she replied. “They’ll have to take out the stone to get back to the pipes and—”

“I’ll pay for it,” Mac interrupted.

Archie’s eyes lit up and she tightened her grip on his hand.

“Willingham says I need more tax deductions,” Mac said with a shrug of his shoulders. “If you want a waterfall at our wedding, then we’re going to have a waterfall. We’re only getting married twice.”

“Oh, we would be most grateful, Mr. Faraday.” The smile on Deborah’s face stretched from ear to ear.

“Call me Mac.”

“Well, Mac,” she said while trying to contain her excitement over the sudden donation, “let’s get you two kids married, and then we can discuss the particulars of your formal wedding ceremony in December.”

Archie turned serious. “Deborah, there is one thing that we need to make clear.”

“What’s that?” Deborah looked from her to Mac and then to David and Chelsea.

“No one is to know about us getting married.” Archie grasped Mac’s hand. “You haven’t met my mother …”

“No, I haven’t.”

“Well,” Archie paused, “if she found out that Mac and I eloped and got married six months before the wedding—without her being there … well, she’d—things could get ugly.”

Deborah’s eyebrows rose. “Ugly?”

“I’m the only girl out of seven kids and the youngest,” Archie said. “I’m their only shot for a big, fancy wedding for their little girl. My mother will feel like I cheated her.”

“Then why are you not waiting?”

“Because we want to get married,” Mac squeezed Archie’s hand. “We’ve been together for three years and we don’t want to wait any longer to be husband and wife.”

Deborah looked Archie up and down. She cocked an eyebrow at her. “Are you pregnant?” she finally asked in a whisper.

“No!” Archie’s nostrils flared.

“Okay,” Deborah said. “I understand. We’ll do the ceremony and mum will be the word.” She whirled around and gestured toward the pulpit. “Let’s get this show on the road.”

Mac and David followed her down the aisle.

When Chelsea stepped forward, Archie stopped her with a hand on her elbow. “Do I look pregnant?” she asked.

“Of course not.” Chelsea grabbed her by the arm and ushered her to the front of the sanctuary.

The reverend was instructing them each where to stand when one of the double doors opened leading into the sanctuary opened. A tall slender woman dressed in faded jeans, sneakers, and an oversized t-shirt stepped inside. “Miss Deborah, there’s a police cruiser out front. Is everything okay?”

“That’s mine,” David said. “It’s okay. We’re here for personal business.”

“I was just wondering,” she went on, “because there’s a big ol’ German shepherd sitting outside Eugene’s office and he doesn’t look happy. I offered him a dog biscuit from Edna’s jar but he’d have none of it.”

“What’s with the jar with dog biscuits?” Mac asked.

“Our office manager has a dog biscuit jar for canine visitors,” Deborah replied before turning her attention to the woman at the back of the sanctuary. “Thank you, Ruth. Everything is okay. I’ll be through here in a little bit and they’ll be taking Gnarly with them when they go.”

“Gnarly turned down food?” Archie covered her mouth with her hand. “That’s not like him at all.” She grasped Mac’s hand. “Something must be wrong.”

“Maybe he doesn’t approve of our getting married.” Mac asked the pastor, “Are you sure you don’t want me to leave him as payment for your services?”

“Stop it, Mac,” Archie admonished him.

Ruth stepped out into the fellowship hall and craned her neck to look out the window. “Edna just pulled in,” she called to them. “She’s great with dogs. She’ll be able to figure out why he’s so upset and make him feel better real fast.” She went off toward the foyer and business wing.

Seconds later, Gnarly’s barks could be heard in the sanctuary.

“Let’s just get this over with,” Mac told Deborah.

“That sounds romantic,” Archie retorted.

“I’m not the one who broke the mood,” Mac argued. “You did by insisting that we bring that beast hog with us to the church to get married.”

“Gnarly is not a beast hog.”

“He’s got a criminal record,” Mac said. “Just ask David. That dog is a canine delinquent.”

“Don’t drag me into your squabble.” David held up both hands in surrender.

Deborah interrupted, “This is why I insist on counseling before the marriage ceremony.”

“Oh, shut up,” Mac blurted out before he realized what he was saying.

There was an audible gasp in the sanctuary.

As if he feared getting caught in a cross-fire, David backed away from Mac. “Now you’ve done it.”

Deborah leveled her eyes on the couple standing before her. “I think we need to reschedule this ceremony. It just doesn’t seem right.” The pastor’s previously congenial tone had shifted to firm and commanding.

“Nothing about this is right,” Mac said. “Nothing has been right since I pulled into your parking lot and that animal trampled me.”

“Are you still mad about that?” Archie said.


“Mac, you really need to learn to let things go.”

Gnarly’s barking had stopped, but Mac and Archie were too involved in their argument to notice.

“I took the afternoon off work to be here,” Chelsea said. “Are you two going to get married or aren’t you?”

“I know that I don’t want to get married to the sound of that in the background.” Mac jerked his head in the direction of the business wing.

Noticing that Gnarly’s barking and howling had stopped, David asked, “Sound of what?”

Abruptly, the double doors flew open and a woman came running in. Her face was stark white and her eyes were filled with shock. Once inside the sanctuary, she stopped. Her mouth hung open while she gazed wide-eyed at each of them.

“Edna?” Deborah asked. “What’s wrong?”

Clutching both hands to her chest, Edna sucked in several deep breaths.

Wondering if the woman was having a heart attack, Mac and David exchanged glances filled with concern.

David took a step forward to suggest the stricken woman sit down. “Maybe—”

Before he could finish, she uttered an ear piercing scream that reached all the way up to the rafters to bounce and echo throughout the church. Unable to form the words to communicate the meaning behind her scream, she pointed toward the office wing.

David and Mac were the first out of the sanctuary. In the fellowship hall, they found Gnarly at the end of the hallway leading back to the offices. Seeing that he now had their full attention, he turned and led them down the hall.

Now, the office door was open.

David ran inside, halted, and held out his arm to stop Mac who was directly behind him.

At first, the office appeared like any other with a desk, computer, phone, and calculator. However, there was a big difference where this one was concerned.

This office had a man lying in a pool of blood behind his desk.

Donald Levin's The Baker's Men Blog Tour with an Excerpt and Spotlight

I am so excited to have Donald Levin here Mystery Thrillers and Romantic Suspense Reviews with an Excerpt and Spotlight.

Thanks David and Pump Up Your Book Promotions for allowing me to join your The Baker's Men Blog Tour!

Please take it away, David!

Title: The Baker's Men
Author: Donald Levin
Publisher: Poison Toe Press
Publication Date: April 20, 2014
Pages: 338
ISBN: 978-0615968568
Genre: Mystery / Crime Fiction / Police Procedural
Format: Paperback, eBook, PDF

Easter, 2009. The nation is still reeling from the previous year’s financial crisis. Ferndale Police detective Martin Preuss is spending a quiet evening with his son when he’s called out to investigate a savage after-hours shooting at a bakery in his suburban Detroit community. Was it a random burglary gone bad? A cold-blooded execution linked to Detroit’s drug trade? Most frightening of all, is there a terrorist connection with the Iraqi War vets who work at the store?

Struggling with these questions, frustrated by the dizzying uncertainties of the case and hindered by the treachery of his own colleagues who scheme against him, Preuss is drawn into a whirlwind of greed, violence, and revenge that spans generations across metropolitan Detroit.

Book Excerpt:

The man hurried along the sidewalk on the other side of the street with both hands clasped on top of his head. He looked like he was trying to keep his scalp from floating away.

“Hold it, baby,” Jared Whalen murmured into his cell phone.

He watched the man lurch past the cooling units of the Foodland, then dodder out of his line of vision. He had parked his scout car in the lot of the Ethiopian restaurant across from the supermarket to make his call.

Burly in his Kevlar and with close-cropped blond hair, Whalen put the cruiser in gear and eased up to the edge of Nine Mile Road. The financial meltdown of the previous year brought a spike in B&Es around Ferndale and neighboring Pleasant Ridge, so they were all warned to be alert for anything unusual.

Case in point: this guy.

As he watched, the man continued down the sidewalk, more or less in a straight line.

Seems harmless, Whalen decided, and settled back. This character might just be a bit tipsy, maybe got over-served at Rosie O’Grady’s down the street and started to walk home. At least he wasn’t lit to the point where he was weaving all over the place so he’d step into traffic and become Whalen’s immediate problem.

“What’s the matter, sugar?” the woman on the phone said. “Nothing more to say to me?”

Whalen smiled at the petulance in her voice. He turned his attention from the man on the sidewalk and pictured her pillowy red lips drawn in the pout he loved. He met her last Valentine’s Day when he stopped her for speeding on Woodward, and one thing led to another and now they were dating. They hadn’t spoken all day because her ex never picked up their kids as he promised he would so she was busy with the two girls. But now they were asleep and she could talk freely.

“C’mon, baby,” he said. “There’s lots more where that came from.”

He went on with her for another ten minutes until the Dispatcher’s voice broke in.

“10-56, 7-Eleven at Nine Mile and Pinecrest. Meet the clerk.”

Whalen sighed. 10-56, intoxicated person. The 7-Eleven was four blocks west of where he was parked. Probably the guy he just saw walking down the street. No big deal, but still.

Reluctantly he said goodbye to his sweetheart and told the police radio, “Unit 1267 responding.”

He swung the cruiser onto Nine Mile toward the convenience store.

“Did you see him?” Nadine Kotter asked.


“Guy I called about. He just took off.”

No one was inside or outside the store. Whalen walked around the side of the building and checked behind the dumpster. Nobody there.

Out front again, he said, “I don’t see anybody, Nadine. What’s going on?”

Standing in the doorway, she sucked the last of her cigarette and backhanded it onto the blacktop. She was a tough-looking woman with spiked hair bleached white and tattoos of roses twined among her knuckles on both hands. Whalen liked to stop in to say hello and share a smoke on quiet nights.

“Guy comes into the store and starts mumbling some shit about the bakery.” Her words came out in staccato bursts of smoke. “I go, ‘Dude, what are you talking about,’ and he’s all, ‘The bakery, the bakery.’”

“Sunday night,” Whalen said. “Always brings out the wackjobs, Nadine.”

“I know, and this guy seemed pretty jumpy. But then he goes, ‘Police.’ Then he’s back outside sitting in the corner, and in another minute he’s up again and walking away.”

“Which direction?”

“Up Pinecrest.” She pointed around the corner of the store.

“Thing was,” she said, “his head. It was a bloody mess.”

Whalen stared at her.

“I’m serious. Like he took a shampoo in it or something.”

“We’re talking about a stocky black male, dark sweatshirt and levis? Walking kind of like he’s in a daze?”

“So you did see him.”

“Further up the street I did, yeah. There was blood on his head?”

“Uh, hello?” Nadine gave a loose wheezy laugh, like a bag of gravel shifting in her chest. “The whole right side of his face was covered with it.”

The right side . . . the side away from Whalen.

“I thought he might have fallen, maybe hurt himself. Anyway he didn’t seem right so I called it in.”

“Where was he sitting?”

“Over there.” She pointed toward the metal rack that held propane tanks at the far side of the store.

In the white glare from the overhead lights Whalen saw spots on the ground beside the rack. He swept his flashlight beam over the area. Definitely blood.

A second blue-and-white rolled up and another patrol officer stepped out adjusting the gear on her belt. Gail Crimmonds was a substantial woman with dark hair pinned back and skeptical eyes. Whalen filled her in quickly and asked her to take Nadine’s statement.

He jumped into his scout car and wheeled it around the lot and out to Pinecrest.

Thinking: Bakery, blood, police—this is not good.

He eased the car north, scanning the empty sidewalks and pausing at each corner to shine his spotlight down the side streets. When he reached Blair Park, he figured the guy could be anywhere inside the dark grounds so he made a Y-turn back toward Nine. He called Dispatch and asked for assistance to search the neighborhood.

At the traffic light on Nine he took a left and drove east, picking up speed as his unease grew. The only bakery left in Ferndale was the Cake Walk, near the southeast corner of Nine and Planavon. There used to be two but the other one went bust the summer before. Most Ferndale businesses weathered the financial crash but a few, like the other bakery, couldn’t hold on and now there were empty stores like missing teeth around the downtown.

He skidded to a stop in front of the Cake Walk facing the wrong way on Nine. The street was deserted and dark except for the lights at Rosie’s down toward Woodward.

The front selling area of the store was empty, with bare display counters and shelves. The front door was locked.

He saw a light glowing in the rear so he trotted around to the back of the building. The bakery was the third business off the side street, beside two restaurants closed for the night.

He pulled at the handle of the steel rear entrance to the Cake Walk and the door opened.

He drew his duty weapon and stepped inside. A short corridor from the door to the back room ended at a partition that blocked his view.

He heard no sounds except the pounding of blood in his head and the knocking of his heart.

He stood for a moment, quieting his breathing, getting himself ready for what he might find, and looked into the workroom.

Lit by overhead fluorescents, the scene took his breath away.

He struggled to stay upright against the partition. He stood like that until the room stopped spinning.

Then he pulled himself together to call it in.

It was 9:32 on the evening of April 12, 2009.

Easter Sunday.

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About the Author

An award-winning fiction writer and poet, Donald Levin is the author of The Baker’s Men, the second book in the Martin Preuss mystery series; Crimes of Love, the first Martin Preuss mystery; The House of Grins, a mainstream novel; and two books of poetry, In Praise of Old Photographs and New Year’s Tangerine. Widely published as a poet and with twenty-five years’ experience as a professional writer, he is dean of the faculty and professor of English at Marygrove College in Detroit. He lives in Ferndale, Michigan, the setting for his Martin Preuss mysteries.

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