Monday, November 30, 2015

Frankie Bow's The Case of the Defunct Adjunct Blog Tour with a Spotlight


I am so excited to have Frankie Bow here at Mystery Thrillers and Romantic Suspense Reviews with a Spotlight and Giveaway.

Thanks and Frankie and Great Escapes Virtual Book for allowing me to join The Case of the Defunct Adjunct Blog Tour!

Please take it away, Frankie!

The Case of the Defunct Adjunct
by Frankie Bow

The Case of the Defunct Adjunct: A Molly Barda Mystery
File Size: 504 KB
Print Length: 244 pages
Publisher: Hawaiian Heritage Press (December 1, 2015)
Publication Date: December 1, 2015


Special preorder price 0.99. Returns to 3.99 at release.

A forbidden kiss. A death in plain sight. And the faculty meeting’s just begun.

Forced to attend the Student Retention Office’s summer retreat, Professor Molly Barda brings her game of buzzword bingo to fend off boredom. But when the lecherous Kent Lovely, Mahina State’s one-man hostile work environment, collapses face-first into his haupia cheesecake, the afternoon goes from dull to disastrous. Now Molly has to fight to keep an innocent out of prison — and herself off the unemployment line.

The Case of the Defunct Adjunct is the spoiler-free prequel to the Molly Barda mysteries, a cozy mystery series set in remote Mahina, Hawaii. If you like Dorothy Parker, Sarah Caudwell, P.G. Wodehouse, or E.F. Benson’s Mapp and Lucia stories, you’ll enjoy this tale of passion, pilferage, and petty politics.

About The Author

Like Molly Barda, Frankie Bow teaches at a public university. Unlike her protagonist, she is blessed with delightful students, sane colleagues, a loving family, and a perfectly nice office chair. She believes if life isn’t fair, at least it can be entertaining.

In addition to writing murder mysteries, she publishes in scholarly journals under her real name. Her experience with academic publishing has taught her to take nothing personally.

Author Links

Follow me on Twitter:

Purchase Link



Weekly Cozy, Mystery Thriller and Romantic Suspense Reads (Nov 30)

 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.  The End Game - Catherine Coulter 
2.  Devoted in Death - J.D. Robb

Weekly Read:

1.  Pretty Girls - Karin Slaughter
2.  Obsession Falls - Christina Dodd

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Library Haul 2015 (Nov 29 - Dec 5)

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


1.  Pretty Girls - Karin Slaughter

Waverly Curtis's The Silence of the Chihuahuas Blog Tour with a Spotlight and Giveaway

I am so excited to have Waverly Curtis here at Mystery Thrillers and Romantic Suspense Reviews with a Spotlight and Giveaway.

Thanks and Waverly and Great Escapes Virtual Book for allowing me to join The Silence of the Chihuahuas Blog Tour!

Please take it away, Waverly!

The Silence of the Chihuahuas 
by Waverly Curtis

The Silence of the Chihuahuas
(A Barking Detective Mystery)

Cozy Mystery
5th in Series
Mass Market Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Kensington (October 27, 2015)
ISBN-13: 978-1617730641
ASIN: B00P53E06M



“Savvy sleuths come in small packages”

Pepe, aspiring P.I. Geri Sullivan’s muy clever Chihuahua, has stopped talking. But why now, with Geri’s best friend Brad missing and her ditzy sister in grave danger? Geri’s lost without Pepe’s dogged detective work, especially when a client of Brad’s expires under very murky circumstances.

Luckily, Pepe turns out to be an excelente blogger, and his nose for clues soon has the detective duo chasing down leads. But they’ll have to put a bite on crime quickly, because danger’s afoot – and it’s making tracks in their direction

About The Authors

Waverly Curtis is the joint pseudonym for mystery writing team Wavery Fitzgerald and Curtis Colbert.

Curt Colbert is the author of the Jake Rossiter and Miss Jenkins mysteries, a series of hardboiled, private detective novels set in 1940’s Seattle. The first book, Rat City, was nominated for a Shamus Award in 2001. A Seattle native, Curt is also a poet and an avid history buff. He is the editor of Seattle Noir, a collection of crime stories published in 2009. He was a judge for the Edgars in 2008 and is a member of the Mystery Writers of America. Curt and his wife, Stephanie, live in a Seattle suburb under the thrall of their cat, Esmeralda.

Waverly Fitzgerald is the author of three historical romances set in Victorian London under the name of Nancy Fitzgerald. Ever since her first novel was published in 1981, she has been teaching writing classes for adults at various venues including the UCLA Writers Program, the University of Washington Extension, and regional conferences. She currently teaches at and works for Richard Hugo House, the literary arts center in Seattle. Waverly also writes non-fiction, and has published a book called Slow Time: Recovering the Natural Rhythms of Life. She lives in an apartment in the heart of Seattle with her daughter, Shaw, and Shaw’s Chihuahua, Pepe.

Waverly and Curt met in a writing class in the late 1980s and have been working together ever since. Curt took Waverly’s novel writing class while he was writing his first novel. Waverly was his writing coach while he wrote his trio of historical mysteries set in Seattle. For about a year, they worked on twin novels in which Waverly’s protagonist, a female P.I. appeared as a sidekick in Curt’s novel about a hard-boiled Vietnam vet and vice versa. When Curt came up with the idea of a mystery featuring a talking Chihuahua named Pepe, Waverly asked if she could help and the collaboration began.

Pepe is an eight-year old Chihuahua, adopted by Waverly’s daughter Shaw, when he was a puppy. He likes stuffed toys, especially if they squeak. He hates the rain, which is unfortunate since he lives in Seattle. Like his namesake character, he hates being dressed up and thinks he is much bigger than he is. Unlike his namesake, he has a sweet disposition and doesn’t talk much, but he does have his own Facebook page.

Curt loves to start chapters; Waverly finishes them. Curt loves to elaborate and Waverly likes to edit. Curt’s humor is broader while Waverly’s humor is more situational. Together they are an unstoppable mystery novel writing team. Visit them on Facebook on at

Purchase Links

B and N

Please follow the rest of the tour here, thanks:


Saturday, November 28, 2015

Cozy, Mystery Thriller and Romantic Suspense Mail (Nov 28)

Cozy, Mystery Thriller and Romantic Suspense Mail is hosted every Saturday at Mystery Thrillers and Romantic Suspense Reviews.

I received this in the mail this week.

A rollicking start to a new cozy series from USA Today bestselling author Diana Orgain, featuring a loveable heroine and a colorful band of dog lovers who gather regularly with their pets at their local watering hole.

With side-splitting humor, an irresistible cast of characters - both human and canine - and an intimate small town setting, Yappy Hour is sure to delight fans of Rita Mae Brown and Diane Kelly. Every Friday night in the idyllic seaside town of Pacific Cove, CA, the Roundup Crew, a group of dog-loving friends, meet at a neighborhood wine bar for Yappy Hour. When Rachel, the owner, mysteriously leaves town and asks her sister, Maggie (who is neither pet friendly nor business savvy), to run the bar in her absence, things get complicated fast. Maggie arrives to open up and finds a body sprawled on the floor, and even worse, an incriminating letter with Rachel's name on it nearby. On impulse, she hides the letter from the hunky detective, Officer Brad Brooks, who's dispatched to the scene.

When Rachel is declared the top suspect by the police, Maggie decides to investigate on her own. She reopens the bar and gets to know the members of the Roundup Crew, including chief organizer Yolanda, who never goes anywhere without her signature strappy stilettos or her Yorkie Beepo. Maggie juggles searching for clues, trying to locate Rachel, and serving up Doggie Daiquiris, Muttguaritas and homemade Arf D'Oeuvres - until another body turns up. The Roundup Crew must step in and save the bar, and it seems the only way to do that will be to solve the mystery and turn Maggie into a dog-lover in this charming, light-hearted cozy.

Bennie Rosato the founder of the Rosato & DiNunzio law firm hides her big heart beneath her tough-as-nails exterior and she doesn't like to fail. Now, a case from her past shows her how differently things might have turned out. Thirteen years ago, Bennie Rosato took on Jason Lefkavick, a twelve-year-old boy who was sent to a juvenile detention center after fighting a class bully. Bennie couldn't free Jason, and to this day it's the case that haunts her. Jason has grown up in and out of juvenile prison, and his adulthood hasn't been any easier. Bennie no longer represents those accused of murder, but when Jason is indicted for killing the same bully he fought with as a kid, she sees no choice but to represent him. She doesn't know whether or not to believe his claims of innocence, but she knows she owes him for past failures - of the law, of the juvenile justice system, and of herself.

Forced to relive the darkest period of her life, Bennie will do everything in her power to get the truth, and justice.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The End Game: Brit in the FBI Novel (A Brit in the FBI)


I've finished "The End Game" the 3rd book in her Brit in the FBI series by Catherine Coulter.

Product Description

From #1 New York Times–bestselling author Catherine Coulter, the explosive new addition to the remarkable thriller series featuring Nicholas Drummond and Mike Caine.

FBI agent Nicholas Drummond and his partner, Mike Caine, are deep into an investigation of COE — Celebrants of the Earth — a violent group known for widespread bombings of power grids and oil refineries across the country. While investigating a tip from a civilian who’s overheard about a possible bombing plot, the Bayway Refinery in New Jersey explodes. Nicholas and Mike race to the scene and barely escape being killed by a secondary device.

Returning to the civilian’s home to continue their interrogation, they discover the tipster — and the FBI team left to guard him — dead. While Nicholas calls in the assassinations, COE strikes again, this time launching a cyber-attack on several major oil companies and draining their financial and intellectual assets.

But COE has been infiltrated by a deep-cover counterterrorism agent named Vanessa Grace. A bomb-making expert, Vanessa must leave COE and join forces with Nicholas and Mike to stop the organization’s devious plan to assassinate the President. But there’s an assassin on the loose who could tip the scales in COE’s favor, and no one knows his ultimate target, or who has contracted his services.

Working with the CIA, the Secret Service, Mossad, MI-5, and even Savich and Sherlock, Nicholas and his team put their lives on the line to prevent another conflagration — and save the President.

About the Author

Catherine Coulter is the author of the New York Times–bestselling FBI thrillers The Cove, The Maze, The Target, The Edge, Riptide, Hemlock Bay, Eleventh Hour, Blindside, Blowout, Point Blank, Double Take, TailSpin, KnockOut, Whiplash, Split Second, Backfire, Bombshell, and Power Play. She is also the author, with J. T. Ellison, of the New York Times–bestselling The Final Cut and The Lost Key, international thrillers featuring Nicholas Drummond. Coulter lives in Sausalito, California.

J. T. Ellison is the bestselling author of twelve critically acclaimed novels, including What Lies Behind and When Shadows Fall, and her work has been published in more than twenty countries. Her novel The Cold Room won the ITW Thriller Award for Best Paperback Original and Where All the Dead Lie was a RITA® Nominee for Best Romantic Suspense. She is also the coauthor of the New York Times bestsellers The Final Cut and The Lost Key. Ellison lives in Nashville with her husband.

Product Details
Series: A Brit in the FBI (Book 3)
Hardcover: 464 pages
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons; First Edition first Printing edition (September 15, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0399173803
ISBN-13: 978-0399173806

My Review:


Cozy, Mystery Thrillers and Romantic Suspense Books Wish List

Please list the books from your wishlist that you are hoping to add to your shelves in a comment, thanks.

Cozy, Mystery Thrillers and Romantic Suspense Books, I'm Waiting For:

Reporter turned Tex-Mex waitress Josie Callahan is about to go from serving queso to solving cases.

After losing her newspaper job in Austin and having her former fiancé unfriend her on Facebook, Josie Callahan scoops up her Chihuahua, Lenny, and slinks back to Broken Boot, Texas. Maybe working as head waitress at Milagro — her aunt and uncle’s Tex-Mex restaurant — isn’t exactly living the dream, but it is a fresh start.

And business is booming as tourists pour into Broken Boot for its famous Wild West Festival. But when a local jewelry designer is found strangled outside Milagro after a tamale-making party, Josie’s reporter instincts kick in. As suspects pile up and alibis crack faster than taco shells, Josie needs to wrap up this case tighter than her tía’s tortillas — before another victim calls for the check.


In Anne Canadeo's cozy eighth Black Sheep Knitting Mystery, a cold-hearted murder in Plum Harbor leads the knitters to investigate a new psychic who may be far more dangerous than she seems.

When Jimmy Hubbard, the manager of the local cinema, is murdered in a robbery gone wrong, the residents of Plum Harbor are mystified. Everyone liked Jimmy, and the struggling theater seems an unlikely target for burglars.

The Black Sheep Knitters are surprised and saddened by the crime, but are more suspicious of psychic-medium Isabel Waters, who has recently set up shop in town. Isabel has hoodwinked one of their friends into shelling out big money every week to keep the memory of a lost loved one alive. Determined to reveal Isabel as a fraud, the knitters are pulled in the web of Isabel’s world and find themselves in a tangle of secrets and lies. They must solve two murders before the truth about all of Isabel’s clients — past and present — are revealed.

An all-new mystery series set in a Pittsburgh craft brew pub, featuring a brewmaster with a head for sleuthing.

The Allegheny Brew House is a dream come true for Maxine “Max” O’Hara, who went all the way to Germany for her brewmaster certification, and is now preparing to open her own craft brew pub in a newly revitalized section of Pittsburgh. But before she can start pouring stouts and lagers to thirsty throngs, there’s trouble on tap. Suspicious acts of sabotage culminate in Max finding her assistant brewmaster and chef Kurt Schmidt strangled in one of the vats.

Between rescuing a stray gray tabby she names Hops and considering a handsome ex-hockey player as her new chef, Max doesn’t have a lot of time to solve a murder. But with a homicide detective for a dad, she comes to criminal investigation naturally. And if someone is desperate enough to kill to stop her from opening, Max needs to act fast — before her brand-new brew biz totally tanks.


Murder heats up Seattle’s Pike Place Market in the next Spice Shop mystery from the national bestselling author of Assault and Pepper.

Springtime in Seattle’s Pike Place Market means tasty foods and wide-eyed tourists, and Pepper’s Spice Shop is ready for the crowds. With flavorful combinations and a fresh approach, she’s sure to win over the public. Even better, she’s working with several local restaurants as their chief herb and spice supplier. Business is cooking, until one of Pepper’s potential clients, a young chef named Tamara Langston, is found dead, her life extinguished by the dangerously hot ghost chili — a spice Pepper carries in her shop.

Now stuck in the middle of a heated police investigation, Pepper must use all her senses to find out who wanted to keep Tamara’s new café from opening — before someone else gets burned.


The national bestselling author of Fry Another Day serves up a third helping in the Biscuit Bowl Food Truck Mystery series.

It’s Mardi Gras in Mobile, Alabama, and food truck chef Zoe Chase is driven to distraction attending high-society soirees, feeding the partying masses, and getting the skinny on a Fat Tuesday murder.

Two weeks of carnival celebrations has got Zoe running ragged. By day, she charms hungry tourists with authentic Southern cuisine. At night, she accompanies her father to one masquerade ball after another, hobnobbing with the high rollers of the secret cabal known as the Mistics of Time.

But the fun turns frightening when Zoe stumbles across “Death’s” dead body. Journalist Jordan Phillips attended the Mistics’ latest bash in a traditional Death costume, and received a fatal bullet wound for the privilege. With more than three hundred masked suspects determined to remain anonymous, and the police covering up the facts behind the murder of the investigative reporter, Zoe realizes the Mistics have some serious secrets to hide.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

New Release 2015 (Nov 24)

The toughest cases are the ones that hit close to home.

When his cousin is accused of a heinous crime, Alex Cross returns to his North Carolina hometown for the first time in over three decades. As he tries to prove his cousin's innocence in a town where everyone seems to be on the take, Cross unearths a family secret that forces him to question everything he's ever known.

Chasing a ghost he believed was long dead, Cross gets pulled into a case that has local cops scratching their heads and needing his help: a grisly string of socialite murders. Now he's hot on the trail of both a brutal killer, and the truth about his own past -- and the answers he finds might be fatal.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Weekly Cozy, Mystery Thriller and Romantic Suspense Reads (Nov 23)

 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.  A Judgment of Whispers - Sallie Bissell

Weekly Read:

1.  The End Game - Catherine Coulter 
2.  Devoted in Death - J.D. Robb

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Library Haul 2015 (Nov 22 - 28)

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


1.  Devoted in Death - J.D. Robb

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Cozy, Mystery Thriller and Romantic Suspense Mail (Nov 21)

Cozy, Mystery Thriller and Romantic Suspense Mail is hosted every Saturday at Mystery Thrillers and Romantic Suspense Reviews.

I received this in the mail this week.


He promised to kill her. One night four years ago, Leah Carson’s husband almost succeeded. Philip stabbed her twenty-three times before fleeing. The police are sure he’s dead. But fear won’t let Leah believe it.


It starts with little things. Missing keys. A flat tire. Mysterious flowers. All easily explained away if the pattern wasn’t so terrifyingly familiar. Leah has a new veterinary practice and a new life with no ties to her nightmare. But Tennessee Bureau of Investigation agent Alex Morgan suspects something.

And when another woman’s body is found, stabbed twenty-three times, Leah knows her past has found her.


As Leah and Alex untangle the horrifying truth, he watches her, ready for the perfect moment. Until death — that was the vow they made. And a killer always keeps his word.

Friday, November 20, 2015

L.D. Beyer’s In Sheep’s Clothing Blog Tour with a Spotlight


I am so excited to have L.D. Beyer here at Mystery Thrillers and Romantic Suspense Reviews with a Spotlight.

Thanks L.D. and Pump Up Your Book Promotions for allowing me to join your In Sheep's Clothing Blog Tour!

Please take it away, L.D!

Title: In Sheep’s Clothing
Author: L.D. Beyer
Release Date: August 2, 2015
Publisher: Old Stone Mill Publishing
Genre: Political Thriller
Format: Ebook/Paperback

One man holds the reins of power.
One man vows to protect him.
One man vows to destroy him.

Caught in a game of chess he didn’t know he was playing until it was too late, the President makes the only move he can, plunging Washington and the nation into chaos. Stunned and reeling, Vice President David Kendall takes the oath of office and tries to heal a nation in mourning. But what the new president doesn’t realize is that things in the White House aren’t always what they appear to be, and sometimes what looks like the best option may turn out to be the worst. When one fatal decision triggers consequences he never envisioned, President Kendall finds himself caught up in the same game that cost his predecessor his life.

Although there was nothing he could have done, Secret Service Agent Matthew Richter is haunted by the death of the man he had vowed to protect. When his girlfriend dumps him and his boss tells him that his job is on the line, he thinks his life cannot get any worse. He soon realizes how wrong he is when he finds himself fighting to save another president from the deadly forces that he has unwittingly unleashed.

This new release by L.D. Beyer is a fast-paced, action-packed political thriller that will leave you on the edge of your seat.


About the Author

L.D. Beyer spent over twenty-five years in the corporate world, climbing the proverbial corporate ladder. This meant a lot of time away from his family, extensive travel, a half dozen relocations, and the opportunity to live and work in Mexico for several years. In 2011 he decided it was time for a change—he was tired of moving every few years, he wanted to spend more time with his family and he wanted to chase his dream of being a writer.

LD Beyer is an avid reader and although he primarily reads Thrillers, his reading list is somewhat eclectic. He believes a few hours with a good book beats a few hours in front of the TV any day. LD Beyer lives in Michigan with his wife, three children and a dog named Tope (pronounced Toe-Pay), which he adopted in Mexico. He enjoys cooking, hiking, biking, working out and fixing just about anything that breaks in the house. With 3 kids, a dog and an aging house, he always seems to be fixing something!

For More Information

Visit L.D.s website.
Connect with L.D. on Twitter and Facebook 

Thursday, November 19, 2015

A Judgment of Whispers (A Mary Crow Novel)


I've finished "A Judgment of Whispers" the 7th book in her Mary Crow series by Sallie Bissell.

Product Description

Whispers abound at the ancient Spanish Oak. To those who know how to listen, it tells secrets of vanquished conquistadors, Cherokee witches, and the long-unsolved murder of ten-year-old Teresa Ewing. Whispers also thrive in the town of Hartsville — rumors that Teresa’s killer still walks free.

While running for District Attorney, Mary Crow finds the whispers starting to swirl around her. Did one of her friends cover up that twenty-year-old murder? Does her campaign have blood on its hands? As new evidence is discovered, Mary realizes that the only way to save her reputation is to find the true killer and silence the vicious gossip that has trapped so many people in lies.

About the Author

Though I'm a flat-land Southerner (Nashville, Tennessee), I've been fascinated by the Appalachian Mountains since vacationing there in my childhood. Twenty years ago, I had an opportunity to move to Western North Carolina, so I packed my Tennessee bags and basically, never looked back. I soaked up the mountain culture, the Cherokee Indians, and the haunting beauty of the mountains. Ultimately, all these things wound up in a book called "In The Forest Of Harm" which introduced my protagonist, half-Cherokee Mary Crow. Six (soon to be seven) books later, neither the mountains nor Mary have lost their fascination for me. It's been a privilege to write about her, and about this amazing area of the country. When I'm not writing, I enjoy tennis, hiking, Big Foot sightings and a good cup of coffee. Love to hear from my readers, so drop me a line on my website,!

Product Details
Series: A Mary Crow Novel (Book 7)

Paperback: 360 pages
Publisher: Midnight Ink (September 8, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0738743615
ISBN-13: 978-0738743615

My Review:


Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Cozy, Mystery Thrillers and Romantic Suspense Books Wish List

Please list the books from your wishlist that you are hoping to add to your shelves in a comment, thanks.

Cozy, Mystery Thrillers and Romantic Suspense Books, I'm Waiting For:

The toughest cases are the ones that hit close to home.

When his cousin is accused of a heinous crime, Alex Cross returns to his North Carolina hometown for the first time in over three decades. As he tries to prove his cousin's innocence in a town where everyone seems to be on the take, Cross unearths a family secret that forces him to question everything he's ever known.

Chasing a ghost he believed was long dead, Cross gets pulled into a case that has local cops scratching their heads and needing his help: a grisly string of socialite murders. Now he's hot on the trail of both a brutal killer, and the truth about his own past -- and the answers he finds might be fatal.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Cate Holahan's Dark Turns Blog Tour with a Spotlight and Excerpt

I am so excited to have Cate Holahan here at Mystery Thrillers and Romantic Suspense Reviews with a Spotlight, Excerpt and Review.

Thanks Cate and Meryl L. Moss Media Relations Ltd. for allowing me to join your Dark Turns Blog Tour!

Please take it away, Cate!

By Cate Holahan

Nia Washington fought her way up from the streets and was nearing the pinnacle of her profession when an injury and a broken heart derailed her career. Taking a temporary job as a dance instructor at an elite boarding school was supposed to give her time to nurse both body and soul. It was supposed to be a safe place to launch a triumphant comeback. It is anything but.

Not long after she arrives at the beautiful lakeside campus, she discovers the body of a murdered student, and her life takes a truly dark turn. Suddenly, she is drawn into a dangerous game of cat-and-mouse with a ruthless killer. And Nia isn't the only target. She must use all of her street smarts to protect her dancers, save a wrongfully accused student, and rescue the man she loves.

A stunning and suspenseful tale of passion and betrayal, Cate Holahan's Dark Turns will take readers deep into the mind of a murderer and the woman who must put an end to the killing.

CATE HOLAHAN is an award-winning journalist and former television producer. Holahan’s articles have appeared in BusinessWeek, The Boston Globe, The Record and on web sites for CBS, MSN Money,,, and CNBC. Her short fiction won first place in the 19th annual Calliope competition, a magazine published by the writer's group of American Mensa.

By Cate Holahan
Crooked Lane Books; November 10, 2015
336 pages; $24.99


Fondu [fawn-DEW]

Sinking down. A term used to describe a lowering of the body made by bending the knee of the support- ing leg.

The lawn glittered in the late summer sun, a shining emerald slate as uniform as Astroturf. The grass smelled real, though. Realer than real. Each inhale filled Nia’s

nose with a spritz of green, more pungent than mall perfume and far sweeter than the oniony weeds back home. The lawn smelled like money.

Nia stared at the clock on the tower at the far end of the courtyard. Its short hand pointed to the Roman numeral seven. The long hand crept toward the X. He would arrive soon.

A cramp pulled at the meat between her metatarsals. She steadied herself on her good leg and folded in half to grab the throbbing joint that had spurred the contraction. Her thumbs slid beneath the clinging hem of her spandex capris. She pressed into her heel until it grew hot. The pain’s drumming slowed. Only a doctor could silence it. Until she got some real medical attention, she’d keep having bearable days and bad ones.

Today was a bad day. She blamed herself. The tendonitis always flared when she didn’t stretch. She should have risen earlier to warm up. What if the director asked to see pointe work? Could he rescind the offer if he didn’t like her performance?

An iron bench sat just to the right of the registration building. She limped to it. The metal was cool on her palms. She placed her feet in a line, heels together, toes pointed in opposite directions. She dipped into a demi-plié. Tightness trickled from her thighs. The familiarity of the move did as much good as the stretch. It was her morning coffee, a ritual that woke her body and prepared her for the day.

A breeze stirred the lawn, reassuring visitors that a school of Wallace Academy’s caliber would not accept anything as gauche as faux grass. Nia didn’t see any visitors to impress. School offices were closed. The academic buildings that flanked the courtyard remained locked. Classes didn’t start until tomorrow.

The students had arrived, though. Parents had flooded onto campus over the weekend, pouring from imported SUVs with trunks and suitcases, filling the dorms with preppy debris while their teenagers flowed between buildings in search of lost friends. She’d watched the move-in from the bay window of her new studio, which overlooked the entire courtyard. Such views were rare, reserved for so-called resident advisors, a college title intended to trick high school students into befriending the teaching assistant down the hall. But she was more of a spy than a schoolmate. The dean had been clear: she existed to keep boys out and report anyone attempting to sneak in the opposite sex during the week. She was also expected to sniff around for pot and cigarettes.

She didn’t know why the dean worried. So far, the dorm had gone quiet by eleven o’clock each night. These students weren’t nymphos or druggies. How could they be and sneak past the admissions officer? Wallace prided itself on an acceptance rate that rivaled the Ivy League schools to which it funneled graduates.

Birds trilled somewhere above her. Nia listened to their music and dropped into a grand plié, thighs and calves apart, spine straight. Her back released more tension. The throbbing in her heel subsided. She arched her arms over her head. Endorphins chased the nerves from her system. She felt loose. Confident. She rose to her toes.

Pain crackled through her leg like a string of firecrackers. Her ankle wobbled with each small explosion. Her heel crashed to the floor. A smile parted her lips. Dancers didn’t show discomfort. Fifteen years of training let her beam through cramps like the Virgin Mary in labor.

She shook her right leg. Stretching alone couldn’t soothe this pain. She needed the shot. Once the health insurance took effect, she would head straight to the orthopedist.

Footsteps tapped somewhere to her right. A svelte man, clad in black, glided toward her. The bright morning high- lighted a shock of silver in his black hair. The streak was Ted Battle’s trademark and the single sign of his forty years.

An embarrassed flush heated Nia’s neck. The dance director had seen her stumble. Nerves pinched the edges of her false smile. She forced a brighter grin.

“Mr. Battle.”

He nodded in her direction but didn’t pick up pace. She pushed back her shoulders, pulled in her abs, and angled her right foot in front of her left, a relaxed fourth position stance. She hoped her posture obscured her injury.

Battle stood before her and extended his palm, as if ask- ing her to dance. He flashed a smile that illuminated his angular face.

She shook. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Mr. Battle.” “Glad we could talk before classes start.”

His voice sounded higher than she’d imagined. In lieu of a commanding baritone, a musical tenor emerged from the director’s lips. She detected a touch of femininity in the way his pitch climbed at the end of the sentence. Was he gay? About half of the male dancers she knew were homosexual, and Battle wasn’t married.

She admonished herself for the train of thought. Her boss’s sexual preference didn’t matter. As for herself, it had been so long that she might as well have been asexual.

Images from the last time fluttered into her mind. The seam between Dimitri’s pectorals. His shapely mouth, curled in a smile. She blinked to blur the memories. This job came with health care. She couldn’t let heartache distract her.

“I regret that I didn’t interview you personally,” Battle said. “Our last assistant left so abruptly that we had to fill the position while I was still in Queensland.”

Nia regained her focus. “I understand she had a baby.” Battle rolled his eyes. The expression seemed to compare maternity leave to claiming the dog had eaten your homework.

“Yes. Took us all by surprise. She wasn’t married. Hid the pregnancy with baggy clothes and didn’t let anyone know she wouldn’t return until June.”

He patted the breast of his dark T-shirt, an odd gesture, as if he were feeling for glasses in a nonexistent pocket. His eyes rolled over Nia’s body, lingering for a fraction of a second on her flat stomach. The stare tempted her to blurt, Don’t worry about me. I haven’t had sex in a year since my ex and I broke up. She swallowed the overshare, aware it was motivated by awed attraction to her handsome, successful, and likely gay boss.

“I have of course seen your résumé,” Battle said. “I was impressed with your training. The School of American Ballet since age ten. They don’t accept many girls, and, I expect, they take even fewer on financial aid.”

The comment stung. She knew he’d meant it as a compliment — evidence that she possessed a certain skill beyond her peers — but it reminded her of things she would rather forget: used toe shoes, slapping pickles on foot-long sandwiches to afford costumes, the dubious charity from anorexic rivals — “Here’s a leotard. I’m too small for it now.”

Battle’s light-brown eyes flitted from her waist to her face. “They feed many girls to major companies.”

He trailed off, providing an opportunity for Nia to explain herself. Why was a woman her age not with an esteemed company or attending college? If not pregnant, then what, exactly, was her flaw?

Where should she start? She didn’t have a classical dancer’s ectomorph frame. Her hands could not circumvent her thighs. She possessed a stereotypical “black ass” that refused to disappear, even at a scant hundred and ten pounds. Puberty had somehow swelled her chest into a full C cup that appeared silicone enhanced on her petite frame, a problem she hid with sports bras and unnecessary layers.

But her biggest problem of late was literally her Achilles’ heel. Years of pointe work had strained the tendon. Over-the-counter anti-inflammatories no longer relieved the pain. She needed a cortisone shot, a flexible doctor, and rest.

I performed with the Andrea Brooks troupe in Brooklyn for a couple years. They’re more contemporary. I don’t know if you would have heard of them.”

The director smiled. He hadn’t heard of them. A blush threatened to crawl from Nia’s neck to her cheeks.

“And then this past year, I traveled with the Janet Ruban Dance Ensemble. I hope that, after this opportunity, I can audition for a larger company.”

“Why not audition now?”

The director didn’t need to add while you’re young and employable. She couldn’t confess to the injury. He might think it would compromise her teaching ability.

“My mother lives in Queens. My father’s not around and

I needed to stay close.”

Battle’s mouth tightened in apparent sympathy for her family’s hardship. Nia thanked God that her nutmeg coloring masked any guilty blush.

She pumped earnestness into her voice. “I plan to audition next year.”

Battle’s thin smile relaxed. “Well, I hope you do. You’re young. Now is the time. And it is difficult to get a job above assistant teacher, even in a public high school, without a few years of choreography experience and an MFA.” He clasped his hands. “Okay. We’re happy to have you this year. Let me take you on the tour.”

He led the way down a red brick path. She followed a step behind, hiding the limp that would not disappear until she had soaked her leg. They passed a mix of gothic revival and neoclassical buildings, homages to the architecture associated with top universities. Battle pointed out those he found of interest - this is the library, that’s the foreign language department, there’s the English building — all the while dropping names of esteemed graduates.

We stopped before a gothic specimen capped by a massive dome. “This is the music hall. In addition to a recital auditorium, it houses practice spaces that are available to the students around the clock and an extensive music library.”

The structure recalled the U.S. Capitol. It featured the same rows of white columns leading to an ice cream scoop hat. Instead of vanilla, the building’s top shone pistachio.

“The verdigris really connects it to the landscape,” he said. Nia traced Battle’s gaze to confirm he referenced the mottled green dome. She would have to Google verdigris later. “Richard French became Richard French here.”

Nia knew of the famous music professor. Dancers read his critiques to better understand the emotion of a piece. “I studied his writings on Idomeneo.”

“Yes. I assign our students the same critique. Glad you know it, Antonia.”

“My friends call me Nia.”

“Oh, Nia. Well, in front of the students, you will, of course, be Ms. Washington. We don’t want the kids becoming too comfortable, especially given your age.”

The formal title surprised her. Ms. Washington was her mother. It hadn’t occurred to her that the students would address her differently than anyone else.

Battle maintained eye contact. His lips pulled into a line. “You’re just a few years older than our seniors, and in all honesty, you could easily pass for a student. We can’t have them taking you for a peer. It might seem silly, but mistakes happen when distinctions become blurred.”

“Of course,” she blurted. “When I watched the parents moving the kids in, all I could think was that all the students were so young.”

Battle rolled his eyes. “Well, they certainly don’t think so.” He pointed down a gradual hill. A silent expanse of crystal blue stretched beyond it. “The lake is over there and, as you know, the dance facility is just above it.”

She followed Battle down the sloping path to the water. The lake was small, perhaps the size of four football fields. A dense forest surrounded two-thirds of it, obscuring the narrow road that defined the shoreline to her right. The path led to a clearing where the trees had been removed to make room for a boathouse and beach. Long racing shells with the school logo — a monogrammed W — lay stacked upside down in a wooden structure. A couple of rowboats floated atop the water, tethered to posts.

Sunlight painted the lake a pale gold. Nia stepped to the water’s edge, careful to maintain her dancer’s posture despite her sore ankle. She loved the water.

“Beautiful, isn’t it?” Battle said. “The view always gets my creative juices flowing.”

“Yes. It’s so calming.” Healing, almost.

“It started as a small canal. Wallace’s founder, Gregory Andrew Wallace, had the idea to create the reservoir and the little beach you’re standing on.”

Battle continued the history lesson. Nia listened to the inflections in his voice, nodding at what sounded like the appropriate time. She didn’t care who carved the lake. She watched the breeze stir the ripples into meringues. Water lapped at her feet.

A strange darkness blurred the surface just beyond her toes. Brown, seaweed-like strands crawled toward the sand. Did lakes have seaweed? She crouched to get a better look.

It was hair.

Her mouth opened in a silent scream. Instinct pushed her feet backward. She stumbled during the retreat. Her butt hit the beach. Sand scraped against her leggings.

Battle splashed into the shallows and pulled the figure onto the shore. Wet hair clung to the face like a tangled net. He peeled the mop back, exposing the mouth and nose, pre- paring for CPR.

Nia regained her composure. It was a girl, a teenager judging from the lithe figure and curved face. Her white skin had turned sallow and translucent. Blue veins puckered from her arms. A deep purple colored her lips. Battle posi- tioned his head above the girl’s mouth and pinched her nose. Before he exhaled, he released the face and sank back onto his calves. Nia followed his frozen stare to the girl’s neck. A pattern of interlocking purple bruises cut above the body’s clavicle like an ornate choker.

Nia’s hand dove into her sweatshirt pocket for her cell phone. She dialed the police.

“Nine-one-one. What’s your emergency?”

“Hi. I’m . . . I am at Wallace Academy. My boss just pulled a girl from the lake.”

“Is she breathing?” “No.”

“Do you know CPR?”

“There are marks around her neck.” “Do you know CPR?”

“It won’t help.” Nia’s voice trembled. “She’s dead.”

About the Author

Catherine "Cate" Holahan is an award-winning journalist and former television producer.

Her articles have appeared in BusinessWeek, The Boston Globe, The Record and on web sites for CBS, MSN Money, and CNBC. Her short fiction won first place in the 19th annual Calliope competition, a magazine published by the writer's group of American Mensa. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, two daughters, ages 4 and 3, and dog.

Dark Turns is her first book. It will be published by Crooked Lane Books. Her second novel, tentatively titled The Widower's Wife, will be out in 2016.