Unlikely Spy Catchers, by Carla Kelly

The Unlikely Spy Catchers (230 pp, ISBN: 978-1603811088, $15.95), by award-winning romance novelist Carla Kelly, is a novel about friendship and love, an unusual school for workhouse boys training for the Royal Navy, and the ever-present danger of life in a seafaring town at a time of grave national emergency, as Napoleon considers taking his war to England itself. Book 2 in the St. Brendan Series.

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Murder in Plane Sight, by Julie Holmes

Murder in Plane Sight (240 pp, ISBN: 978-1603817547, $15.95) is the first book in the Sierra Bauer Mystery Series.

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As an aircraft mechanic, Sierra Bauer is a woman in a man’s world. There are few things more satisfying to her than the challenge of working on multimillion-dollar turboprops at the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport, especially now that her life has returned to normal after losing her brother in a plane crash, and almost losing her career in the FAA investigation that followed.

Normal is pitched into a tailspin when she finds a frozen body in a plane she is inspecting.

Detective Quinn Moore is certain Sierra’s discovery is happenstance until he learns the victim, Tori Hjelle, is the woman Sierra blames for her brother’s death. Despite his attraction to her, he must consider Sierra a prime suspect.

Efforts to prove her own innocence are jeopardized when Rune, her ex-boyfriend, returns after a five-year stint in state prison for stalking and attempting to kill Sierra. Things get complicated when Quinn finds evidence linking Rune and Sierra to Tori’s murder, not to mention the counterfeit aircraft part discovered in her possession. He starts to doubt his belief that Sierra is innocent.

When Sierra figures out Tori discovered the key to unraveling a tangled web of conspiracy that threatens the aviation world, she’s forced to change everything she thought she knew about her brother’s death. That knowledge comes with a price. She and Quinn must expose a network of money, deceit, and murder before Sierra becomes the next casualty.

A fiction writer since elementary school and NaNoWriMo annual participant for over a decade, Julie Holmes been published in small press magazines such as “Fighting Chance” and “The Galactic Citizen”. She writes adult mystery with a dash of suspense and a touch of romance, mystery with extrasensory elements, and some flavor of fantasy when she wants to write something a little different. She is represented by the fabulous Cynthia Zigmund of Second City Publishing Services.

Julie works full-time as a technical writer and lives in south-central Minnesota on a small hobby farm with her husband, their two college-aged children, one cat (what writer doesn’t have cats??), two dogs, three chickens, and an abundance of chipmunks, squirrels, and rabbits. When she isn’t writing, she likes to read, go for walks, or tend her vegetable garden. She is working on the next Sierra Bauer mystery.

Primary Source, by Sharon St. George

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Primary Source ($15.95, 320 pages, 8×5 Trade Paperback, ISBN: 9781603815482) is Sharon St. George’s fifth novel in the Aimee Machado Mystery series. The series follows Aimee Machado, Timbergate Medical Center’s forensic librarian, who discovers an outrageous black-market scheme involving organ donation and risks her life to save innocent patients.

Aimee Machado is a health sciences librarian and facilitator for Timbergate Medical Center’s Ethics Committee, a board who is responsible for monitoring organ transplant protocols and procedures, as well as keeping strict records of every donated organ that is harvested from a TMC patient. However, ethics seems to take a turn when Aimee finds the new chairman of the committee, Dr. Heath MacAllister, brain dead from a fall in a hospital stairwell. Mysterious circumstances surround his death, making Aimee believe that this was no accident and as she investigates MacAllister’s death, an incredible plot involving organ donations becomes unveiled with her life at risk.

Sharon St. George’s writing credits include three plays, several years writing advertising copy, a book on NASA’s space food project, and feature stories too numerous to count. She holds dual degrees in English and Theatre Arts, and occasionally acts in, or directs, one of her local community theater productions. Sharon is a member of Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America, and she serves as program director for Writers Forum, a nonprofit organization for writers in northern California. For more information, go to sharonstgeorge.com.

A Sneeze to Die For, by Teresa Trent

A Sneeze to Die For ($15.95, 218 pages, 8×5 Trade Paperback, ISBN: 9781603812726), is the second book in Teresa Trent’s Piney Woods Cozy Mystery Series, which began with Murder of a Good Man. With an inheritance sunk into her new hotel, a cat lovers’ convention as her first major booking, and a pushy reported found dead in her elevator, Nora Alexander has to deal with more than the problems just posed by her feline guests.

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“Small town Texas charm and a fabulous eye for detail.” — Joanna Campbell Slan, author of the Kiki Lowenstein Mystery Series

Nora Alexander has sunk her inheritance into the Tunie Hotel, in Piney Woods, Texas. Now there is a chance that her first major booking, a national cat lovers’ conference called Meow Meet-Up, will help her bottom line. It also presents increasing risk for its financial demise.

Pushy reporter Alan Shaw shows up the day before the event, making trouble for Nora and the conference. When Shaw is later found dead in the bottom of the hotel’s faulty elevator shaft, Nora depends upon boyfriend and police officer, Tuck Watson, to investigate and save the Tunie Hotel’s reputation. Nora also has to deal with a surprise health inspection and a conference organizer bent on getting steep discounts for conference attendees.

Things spin further out of Nora’s control when she discovers she has a cat dander allergy setting off unpredictable sneezing episodes at inopportune times. The featured feline guest, grand champion show cat, Catpurnicas, escapes and disappears, leading to a town-wide search.

Surrounded by members of the Meow Meet-Up convention, Nora must sort through a list of suspects that include a beloved cozy mystery writer.

Teresa Trent lives in Houston, Texas, where she writes lighthearted cozy mysteries filled with small-town wisdom and plenty of quirky characters. She has won awards for her short stories with several Texas writers groups and is always in search of that next unusual character or plot. When not writing, she enjoys spending time with her family, singing, doing crafts, shopping with her daughter, and watching old mystery movies on television. For more information, go to teresatrent.com.

 

 

Death of a Debtor, Jenna Harte

Death of the Debtor ($15.95, 256 pages, 8×5 Trade Paperback, ISBN: 9781603817561) is the first novel in Jenna Harte’s Sophie Parker Coupon Mystery series. Riches to rags Sophie Parker doesn’t think her life could get much worse until a joy ride in an airplane leads to her being picked up for murder.

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“Jenna Harte pulls you in and holds you captive with a cast of quirky personalities in a fast-paced story.  You’ll worry, laugh and cheer with your favorite murder suspect, the wacky, irresistibly funny Sophie Parker as she tries to untangle a plot that put a target on her back. A fun and exciting read that will warm the cockles of your heart.” –Diane Fanning, Edgar-nominated Crime Writer

“Watch out, Stephanie Plum. Sophie Parker has arrived! And she’s a force of nature. Watching Sophie get herself in and out of trouble is a roller coaster ride with a most satisfactory ending.” –Betsy Ashton, Author of the Max Max Mysteries

“Look out, there’s a new amateur sleuth to love! Sophie Parker is sharp, witty, and trouble seems to find her. Death of a Debtor is a funny, fast paced mystery. Jenna Harte has given us another sleuth to love!” –Mollie Cox Bryan, Agatha Nominated Author of the Cora Crafts Series

Forced to move back home to the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia after her father and brother end up in jail for running a Ponzi scheme, Sophie Parker does the best she can. While living with her curmudgeonly aunt, she works as a wench waitress at a pirate-themed restaurant and learns the ins and outs of discount shopping through a coupon group.  Life goes from bad to worse when an innocent airplane ride with her former teenage crush, AJ, leads to her being picked up by the police. The  plane’s indebted owner has been murdered, and he’s the man who helped put her father in jail. What started as a curiosity has now turned into a quest to make sure she isn’t arrested. Armed with gossip from the women in her coupon group, and her cantankerous aunt, Sophie sets out to find out who killed the ruthless businessman minutes after she flew off with AJ. The first in the Sophie Parker Coupon Mystery series.

Jenna Harte loves to write about crime and passion. She is the author of the Valentine Mysteries, the first of which, Deadly Valentine, reached the quarter-finals in Amazon’s Breakthrough Novel Award in 2013. She also has a three-book romance series, Southern Heat, is currently working on a traditional cozy mystery featuring a fairy tale loving, coupon clipping sleuth. When she’s not telling stories, she works by day as a freelance writer, blogger and online entrepreneur.

Termination Dust, by Sue Henry

Termination Dust ($16.95, 320 pages, 8.5×5.5 Trade Paperback, ISBN: N/A) is the XXX in Sue Henry’s Alex Jensen Mystery series. The story follows Alex in another murder when he suspects the police’s main suspect is not guilty.

Absorbing…spectacular…compelling.. A marvelous and fascinating experience.  – The Mystery Review

Alaska is a great place to visit… and a bad place to die It is said that when the first snow of early winter—the “termination dust”—starts to fall, it’s time for visitors to leave Alaska’s wonders behind. For some, it’s already too late. Jim Hampton’s Yukon vacation takes a turn for the worse when he discovers a prospector’s diary from the 1800s. And it dies when the rugged outdoorsman is arrested for the gruesome slaying of a controversial ex-Senator. But Alex Jensen isn’t convinced of Hampton’s guilt. And the dedicated state trooper is ready to track the bitter truth through the treacherous snows of the Yukon wilderness—and in the pages of a mysterious, hundred-year-old journal, which describes crimes remarkably similar… and deadly.

Sue Henry, whose award-winning Alaska mysteries have received the highest praise from readers and critics alike, has liven in Alaska for almost a Quarter of a century, and brings history, Alaskan lore, and the majestic beauty of the vast landscape to her mysteries.

 

House of Rose, by T.K. Thorne: When a Rookie Officer Meets her Magical Ancestry

House of Rose ($16.95, 244 pages, 6×9 Trade Paperback, ISBN: 978-1-60381-767-7), is the first book in a paranormal crime / urban fantasy series by T.K. Thorne. A strange vision and a shot suspect puts more than rookie patrol officer Rose Brighton’s job at risk—the added discovery of her witch ancestry means Rose is in even greater danger than she thought.

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“T.K. Thorne is an authentic new voice in the world of fantasy and mystery. House of Roseblends the realistic details of police work with magic. The result is an explosive story that will keep you on the edge of your seat as Rose learns of her true heritage… and the dangerous powers that are her birthright. Pick up this story–you’ll thank yourself over and over again.”
–Carolyn Haines, USA Today bestselling author of the Sarah Booth Delaney, Pluto’s Snitch, and Trouble the black cat detective mystery series

“Thorne delivers a spellbinding thriller, an enthralling blend of real-world policing and other-world magic. It’s a wild ride of high stakes that pits the warm humanity of Rose and her friends against chilling powers of darkness in a battle that is both ages old and totally of today.”
–Barbara Kyle, author of The Traitor’s Daughter

“Rookie cop Rose Brighton never imagined that a simple suspect chase into an alley would lead her into dark passages where she would question her definition of reality, her own identity, and whether she was pawn or prey. House of Rose is a gem.”
–DP Lyle, award-winning author of the Jake Longly thriller series

Rookie patrol officer Rose Brighton chases a suspect down an alley. Without warning, her vision wavers, and the lone suspect appears to divide into two men—the real suspect, frozen in time, and a shadow version with a gun. Confused by what she’s just seen, but with no time to second guess it’s meaning, Rose shoots the real suspect in the back.

Forced to lie to detectives, she risks her job and her life to discover the shocking truth of who she really is—a witch of an ancient House, the prey of one powerful enemy, and the pawn of another.

House of Rose, set in the Deep South city of Birmingham, Alabama, is the first book of the Magic City Stories.

T.K. Thorne retired as a captain of the Birmingham Police Department and as executive director of a downtown business improvement district in Birmingham Alabama. Both careers and a Masters of Social Work from the University of Alabama provide fodder for her writing. For more information, look here.

Keep reading for an excerpt:

My throat feels like I just swallowed sand; my ears ring and the sulfur stench of gunpowder fills my nose. As a topper, my head is pounding with the worst headache I’ve ever had in my life. Air goes in and out of my lungs, but someone else is breathing, not me. Blue lights stutter across the cheek of a dead man. A man who lies sprawled on the asphalt, two bullet holes in his back staring up at me like accusing eyes.

This can’t be real. But it is real. It is the words that just came out of my sergeant’s mouth that aren’t: “You’re a hero; you saved your partner’s life.”

A hero? Is this how heroes are supposed to feel? I’m in denial—I did not fire my gun for the first time at a person instead of a cardboard target. I did not kill a human being.

But I am here, and I have shot someone, because that person’s body is now lying a few feet away, the centerpiece in a rectangle of bright-yellow police tape. Just beyond the tape, the staccato flicker of blue from several patrol cars illuminate the close-set houses, the man’s lifeless back, and Sarge’s beefy face.

His breath onions and cigar, Sarge grabs my shoulder with his burly hand, turning me away from the body. “Rose? You gonna be okay?”

Okay? What an idiotic thing to ask.

“I’m okay, Sarge,” I hear myself say in a thin, shaky voice.

“You did what you had to do. You made a tough call in a bad situation.” He squeezes my shoulder.

Did I? How would I know? I don’t think there is precedent for killing a person because you saw him shoot your partner in a vision, and it begins to happen in real time.

Am I losing my mind?

A few feet away, a guy in plainclothes is talking to Paul. My partner’s right elbow rests on his gun butt. To an outsider, he looks relaxed, but I recognize the tension in his stance. Still, seeing him nearby helps.

Paul shakes his head, pulls his gun, and hands it to the guy in plainclothes, but I can’t hear the exchange. Damn it. What are they saying?

“Who is that guy Paul is talking to?” I ask Sarge.

“IAD.”

IAD—even a rookie dreads those initials and knows they stand for Internal Affairs Division, the detectives who handle internal police investigations and determine if a shooting is in-policy or not. This guy holds my career in his hands, maybe the rest of my life, if it goes badly.

Sarge keeps his hand on my shoulder, an anchor to reality in a world gone bizarre.

“What happens next?” I ask.

“IAD will take your weapon.”

Rookie that I am, even I know that’s standard operating procedure—SOP—for any police shooting.

“It’s SOP,” Sarge says, like some kind of echo of what’s playing in my head.

“Great.”

Am I going to prison?

Sarge moves off to brief the chief, who has just arrived at the scene. If this were a ball game and I weren’t a woman, he’d probably give my butt a pat of encouragement. But it’s not a game. When a cop shoots a man in the back, plenty of questions will be asked … and I’m not going to be able to answer them.

A Very Merry Murder, by Mary Angela: All She Wants for Christmas is to Solve this Murder

All Emmeline wants for Christmas is to solve a murder…

A Very Merry Murder ($15.95, 258 pages, 5×8 Trade Paperback, ISBN: 978-1-60381-655-7), by Mary Angela, is the third book in the Professor Prather Mystery Series. Professor Emmeline Prather’s lectures on Agatha Christie become all too relevant when a murder takes place at the local inn and suspicion lands on her.

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“This book overflows with the sounds and smells and music of the winter holiday season.
I was carried away to Copper Bluff, South Dakota.” Read More…
—Laura’s Interests

“This was a tightly woven whodunit that captured my attention as I had to know what happened next. The pacing was on par with how the story was being told keeping me riveted to the pages as one by one, the suspect pool dwindles and Em is closer to the revealing the killer’s identity.” Read More…
—Drus Book Musing

It’s December in Copper Bluff, and from hillside to hallowed hall, everyone is merry–or will be as soon as semester break arrives. Students are studying, professors are grading, and Emmeline Prather is anticipating the university-sponsored holiday concert. Friend and colleague Lenny Jenkins will be accompanying the visiting quartet, Jazz Underground, and Em can’t think of a better way to kick-start the holiday season.

But before she can say “Jingle Bell Rock,” trouble arrives at Candlelight Inn, the bed and breakfast where the quartet is staying. One of the band members dies unexpectedly, and suspicion falls on Em, whose altercation with the man ends with him on the floor. He never recovers, and now she’s worried her reputation might not either.

When Emmeline starts to see parallels between an Agatha Christie novel she’s teaching and the victim, Lenny claims she’s read one too many mysteries. But as the clues unravel, so does the murderer’s patience. Em is close to finding the truth, but will the truth–or the murderer–push her over the edge?

It will take a Christmas miracle to solve this case, but if there’s one thing in surplus this time of year, it’s faith.

Book Three of the Professor Prather Mystery Series.

Mary Angela, like her protagonist, lives on the Great Plains and teaches college writing and literature. When she’s not grading papers (when is she not grading papers?), she enjoys reading, traveling, and spending time with her family. She and her husband have two amazing daughters, one adorable dog, and a cat who would rather not be limited by an adjective. For more information, go here.

Keep reading for an excerpt:

Around the department were other nods to the holidays, such as a small tree placed on the table outside Barb’s office. Someone had taken the time to wrap the old books in brown paper, tying colorful ribbons around each one. Across from Barb’s office was Lenny’s, and he’d taped a paper menorah to his door. On my door were jingle bells that chimed noisily as I turned the key. The faint smell of pine cleaner greeted me as I entered the tiny room.

Although small, my office contained my most beloved possessions: old books and papers and a black push-button phone dating back to the 1970s. I don’t know when I’d become so nostalgic, before the move to Copper Bluff or after. My degree, French literature, inclined me toward historical texts and papers. Despite my attachment to the past, a new laptop computer sat on my wooden desk, looking silver and futuristic among all the brown and antique. I’d purchased it last spring and loved its mobility and efficiency too. It took up half the space of my old desktop and was small enough to fit into my satchel.

I unwrapped my scarf and hung it on the hook by my door along with my coat. Our faculty meeting wasn’t for twenty minutes, so I had time to check my inbox. The last month of the year brought a digital deluge with it. Students who had been lackadaisical about their grades for fourteen weeks suddenly turned into diligent scholars. They finally cared about points, participation, and all the things I’d tried to hammer into their heads from the first day of fall. Extra credit was their last hope, and they wondered what events they could attend and where. There was no venue or task they wouldn’t consider if it meant ten extra points. I huffed as I scanned twelve new emails. If only they had shown such enthusiasm weeks ago.

“Em, you’re here,” came a voice from the doorway.

I turned to see Claudia Swift, a creative writing professor and very dear friend. She wore a green blouse, gold scarf, and boots with four-inch heels.

“I have something for you.” She pulled out a package from her sheer, billowing sleeves.

“Claudia! It’s so early. I don’t have yours wrapped.” The truth was I didn’t even have it purchased.

She took a seat across from me in the alcove chair. “It’s not early for me. It’s late. I’ve been carrying it since Italy, and I decided the minute December arrived, I would give it to you. Open it.”

Claudia and her husband, Gene, had gone on a couples’ cruise to Italy last spring to rekindle their on-again/off-again relationship while their two children stayed behind with grandparents. A tenured professor, she was able to get away with a semester-long sabbatical, which had been a success on many levels. One, she and her husband renewed their marriage vows in romantic Venice, and two, she had written fifteen poems, some of which were accepted for publication. It would be years before I would feel as secure as she did in her position. Yet during my pre-tenure review in the fall, Giles assured me I was on track for associate professor in three years and accepted my first proposed course, which was heavily enrolled. All around, it had been a good semester.

Murder on Moon Mountain: When Hot Property Meets a Cold Corpse

Murder on Moon Mountain ($15.95, 5×8 Trade Paperback, 260 pages, ISBN: 978-1-60381-649-6), is the second book in A Listed and Lethal Mystery, a cozy mystery series by Jean Harrington. What happens when a hot property meets a cold corpse? Realtor Honey Ingersoll is thrilled to be selling Eureka Falls’ biggest mansion—until her client asks for a special favor that has her stumbling on a murder victim and leads her on a chase for the killer.

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“This mix of murder and romance is sure to appeal to cozy fans.” Read more…
–Publishers Weekly

The first in the series, Murder on Pea Pike, was a hit with reviewers

“Harrington does a splendid job of describing the absurdity of human nature and takes full advantage of her delightful characters in this quirky murder mystery. She uses their unique peculiarities to create a lively and thrilling story that is equal parts amusing, kindhearted, and engaging. [….] Murder on Pea Pike is bursting with southern charm and sultry atmosphere. A splendid series debut that won’t disappoint readers who love old school murder mysteries.” –Michael Thomas Barry for New York Journal of Books

“[An] amusing series debut [with a] lively cast.” –Publishers Weekly

What happens when a hot property meets a cold corpse?

Realtor Honey Ingersoll is thrilled to be selling Eureka Falls’ biggest mansion—until her client asks for a special favor. In the estate next door, the Velveteen Vixens, a group of bikini-clad housewives are shooting a pilot film for a red-hot reality show. One more model is needed. Will Honey become a Vixen for a day? She agrees but soon regrets it when she stumbles upon the body of a murdered woman and becomes a person of interest in her death.

Determined not to be viewed either as a Vixen or a victim, Honey sets out to find the killer and prove she can do far more than move real estate—especially now that it seems it’s her life up for sale.

Book 2 in the Listed and Lethal Mystery Series.

Jean Harrington swears she ingested ink as an infant, for words are in her blood. Her first job was writing advertising copy for Reed & Barton, Silversmiths, and she claims she has the spoons to prove it. Then for seventeen years, she taught forms of discourse and English literature at Becker College in Worcester, Massachusetts. For several years, she also directed a peer-taught writing center at the college that was available to any student with writing problems. After Jean and husband John moved to Naples, she began dreaming of murder, and the award-winning, tongue-in-cheek Murders by Design Mystery Series is the result. Murder on Pea Pike is book 1 in the Listed and Lethal series. Jean is up to her knees in dead bodies and loving every minute of it. She is a member of Romance Writers of America, having served two terms as president of her local Southwest Florida chapter; International Thriller Writers; and Mystery Writers of America. For more information, go here.

Keep reading for an excerpt:

The next morning, I drove onto the McHale property fifteen minutes early so I’d have time to return Carmen’s bikini. Yesterday I wore it home with my white shirt buttoned over it and the dratted navy suit folded on the passenger seat. Now washed spanking clean, the bikini sat tucked in a gift bag with a thank you note and a bag of Mami’s Cheese Crisps. Today I wore my red mini, the one I usually saved for weekends. In case I saw Carmen, I had a point to make, didn’t I?

Gift bag in hand, I slipped through the opening in the boxwoods. Gardenia perfume hovered in the air. I inhaled and took a moment to enjoy the scene. The pool, as crazy awesome as I remembered, gleamed in the morning sun, and beyond it, at the foot of the Bluffs, the river sparkled its way to the Gulf. Off in the distance, Moon Mountain, its highest hill swirling with mist, stood guard over us all.

I skirted the pool and strolled across the lawn, thick and soft underfoot. If I left the gift bag on one of the umbrella tables, Carmen would be sure to see it. Caught in the breeze, a piece of red fabric, one of those … pareos … fluttered up from between two of the lounge chairs. I hurried over to grab it before it blew into the trees.

Oh no. Oh God Almighty, no.

Like a rag doll someone had thrown away, Carmen lay crumpled on her side, her knees bent to her waist, her head in a puddle of blood. She was lifeless, I knew she was lifeless. Yet needing to be honest-to-God sure, I knelt down and pressed a finger her cheek. Her skin, a strange gray white, felt cold to the touch. To my horror, ants trailed through the blood seeping from her wound. Then something else caused the breath to catch in my throat. Something that didn’t make any sense. Stretched straight above her head, her arm had frozen in place, a single finger pointing at the concrete, where two words were spelled out in blood—under car.

“Aren’t you at the wrong house?” a deep voice asked. I leaped to my feet and whirled around. The killer?

A rock star look-alike stood smiling at me from across the pool. How could he smile at a time like this? I stared at him open-mouthed, unable to answer.

Murder in the Crooked Eye Brewery, by J.C. Eaton: Jealousy and Greed in a Small Town Microbrewery

Murder in the Crooked Eye Brewery ($16.95, 268 pages, 5×8 Trade Paperback, ISBN: 978-1-60381-739-4) is a cozy mystery novel by J.C. Eaton and the first book in A Marcie Rayner Mystery series. Crime statistician turned investigative assistant, Marcie Rayner investigates the murder of a microbrewery owner in Biscay, Minnesota, and learns the victim may not be the nice guy everyone thought he was.

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“More satisfying than a stein full of ale on a sweltering summer day, Murder in the Crooked Eye Brewery is an absolutely delectable read. I loved hanging out with neophyte PI Marcie Rayner while she hunted down suspects, sifted out the red herrings, and fended off her interfering mother. With more twists and turns than an upside-down rollercoaster, this deftly-plotted mystery is a welcome addition to the female PI genre!”
—Linda Reilly, author of the Deep Fried Mysteries, and the Cat Lady Mysteries

Still kicking herself in the pants for ever getting married in the first place, twenty-something crime statistician Marcie Rayner does a turnaround. She divorces her philandering husband and trades her desk job in St. Paul, Minnesota, for a temporary role as an investigative assistant in New Ulm.

Never expecting her first case to come from her mother in Florida, Marcie finds herself ensconced in a full-blown murder investigation. The victim, forty-five-year-old microbrewery owner, Billy Hazlitt, is found shot to death on the floor of the Crooked Eye Brewery’s tank room in the nearby hamlet of Biscay.

And while Biscay doesn’t seem like the place where murder motives abound, its quirky residents, including two spinster sisters and the employees of the local diner, offer more obstacles than help. Marcie is convinced one of them is the killer. As she digs deeper into the case, she learns the victim may not be the nice guy everyone thought he was. Worse yet, the killer may be gunning for her as well.

Book One of the Marcie Rayner Mystery Series

J.C. Eaton is the penname for the collaborative writing team of Ann I. Goldfarb and James E. Clapp. While Ann is a seasoned author in her own right, having eight published YA time travel mysteries to her credit, James, a former winery tasting room manager, has focused on non-fiction with informative blurbs on the wine industry. This unlikely author duo found common ground when they moved to Arizona and realized that the community they were living in was the perfect background for murder mysteries. Ann admits that she’s definitely “the detail person” while James is more comfortable with plotline and the big ideas. Running the dialogue is their favorite pastime in this venture. For more information, look here.

Keep reading for an excerpt:

By the time we left New Ulm and got onto the highway, Max and I had already shared all the information we had gleaned. It was pretty much the same stuff my mother had told me and that came from her conversation with Alice Davenport. What Alice didn’t know was that Billy Hazlitt was shot in the temple with a .357 magnum, his body lying all twisted up in front of one of the brite tanks used to chill and carbonate beer after fermentation. The sheriff said it looked as if someone tried to slide the body behind the tank but gave up.

The whole thing made no sense because it wasn’t as if the tank could conceal the body from view. According to Max, those tanks were tall and cylindrical. No way to hide a body. Apparently the sheriff ’s department was baffled, too.

“I can’t add much more to that.” I adjusted the seatbelt so it wouldn’t burn my neck. “Unless Billy’s ability to hurl a spitball somehow plays into all of this. Other than reiterating milestones in his life over the years, Alice Davenport wasn’t much help. She knew he had gone into the service as soon as he got out of high school and that he was married twice with no children. You don’t think it was a jealous ex-wife, do you?”

“Right now the field is wide open for speculation. It could’ve been anything from a robbery gone bad to an unbalanced girlfriend. Or, as you said, ‘a jealous former spouse.’ Not that it’s any of my business, but you’re over your ex, aren’t you?”

“Over and out. I can’t believe I was so naïve not to pick up on the clues sooner. He cheated right under my nose but I didn’t want to admit I saw the signs. Not a great reference for a neophyte investigator, huh?”

“It’s always tougher when it’s firsthand. Our minds are wired to ignore the evidence. Self-preservation and all that crapola. I’m sure there’s a fancy psychology term for it but I’ll be darned if it comes to mind.”

“Denial. I think the word is denial.”

“Well, nothing to deny as far as Billy Hazlitt’s death goes. We don’t have any personal ties that would cloud our thinking. And we’ve got a big advantage as far as sleuthing is concerned. Biscay is a really small town. A hundred people or so and, from what I know about small towns, someone is bound to talk.”