A Good Man?

Cleveland homicide detective Jesus De La Cruz is spending his day off with his fiancée at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. It’s the break from the day-in, day-out they both need.

Until the gun shot.

Now maintenance manager Warren Taylor is dead. Was he the good man his assistant claims, a man pushing the all to be the best they could be. Or was he a stubborn, rigid boss who got what was coming? Listen to Mysteries to Die For and see if you can beat Cruz to the killer.

FADING SHADOW is a story from the De La Cruz casefile. It is set a two months after RAZING STAKES and a month before PLAYING DEAD, the fourth novel in the series, coming in a year or so.

M2D4 Fading Shadow

M2D4 Toe Tag: The Perfect Brother by Chris Patchell

Listen to the first chapter here: https://podcasts.captivate.fm/media/b5f1c273-7d6e-4459-9b0f-d7fcb51b1b4a/TT7-20Perfect-20Brother.mp3

This story is made up of two parts. The first part is suspense; the second part is amateur sleuth. This one is hard to summarize without giving too much away.

Suspense: In a university area of Vancouver, a college co-ed Katie Lord disappeared during a run. Flyers are up everywhere and the cops like her fiancé for it. Mallory Riggins isn’t thinking about Katie when she discovers her driver’s side window shattered. She’s not thinking about anything except how to pay for the repair. Which is too bad. She really should.

Mystery: Amar Saraf is the college professor his students call Dr. Hottie. His is admired by his students and is the apple of his parents’ eye. Indira is his brilliant, younger sister who bucks tradition and her parents at every turn. But even she admits, Amar is the perfect brother. Which is why, when Amar is arrested for the murder of his lover, Indira puts her software engineering skills to work to catch a killer.

Bottom line: The Perfect Brother is for you if you like suspense, dynamic amateur sleuths, and technology as an integral part of detecting.

M2D4 Featured on Writers Who Kill

Mysteries to Die For was featured on that fantastic mystery and thriller blog Writers Who Kill. One of the writers who routinely kills is KM Rockwood, who contributed Best Friend to Season 4: A WORD BEFORE DYING. The featured post talks about how our podcast grew from an idea to a media forum tailor made for those who can’t resist a good mystery.

https://writerswhokill.blogspot.com/2022/09/welcome-to-mysteries-to-die-for-by-km.html

Ghostly Deeds

When crossing the Atlantic, few things are worse than have a ghost among the crew. The one above the Paul Henry is looking for men to join its ranks. So far, he’s acquired two souls. Dock in New York, Captain Saverfeld seeks out a pair who solved a deadly mystery on another ship, years before. Mr. Edmund Jessop and Mr. Linus Gordon have turned their time and skills to booking cargo. But they can’t resist a good mystery anymore than we can.

Listen to Mysteries to Die For and solve the mystery of The Ghost of the Paul Henry by Michael Penncavage.

The Ghost of the Paul Henry

Best Friend or Best Fiend?

KM Rockwood’s contribution to Mysteries to Die For, Season 4 A Word Before Dying poses just this question. Darlene, a developmentally delayed young woman is hit by a truck driven by her foster father. It’s chalked up to another bad thing happening in a bad neighborhood. Darlene’s last words “best friend” are heard by her older brother and the volunteer social worker who had been supposed to meet Darlene that day. The pair investigate and what they find shocks the community.

Listen here and see what you think. Also available wherever you get your podcasts.

A Word Before Dying: The Book

Mystery lovers, have I got a treat for you.

The nine stories of this season’s Mysteries To Die For podcast are coming to a book distributor near you. What makes this anthology so much fun for us mystery lovers is that, like the podcast, there is a pause before the big reveal to give you a chance to solve the murder. I’ve included the list of suspects and summarized the clues in a page called “Deliberation.” Whet your detective skills on these made to order mysteries.

Nuts! by Judi Lynn. Laurel and Nick’s first anniversary Airbnb getaway is hi-jacked by a woman dying on the kitchen floor. “Nuts!” she tells Laurel before losing consciousness.

Finding Hiawatha by Frank Zafiro. Jameson Burrish’s health had been failing but death came for him sooner than expected. With his daughter and nephew at his bedside, he gasps out his final word “Hiawatha.” Is it the rambling of a sick man or a decree to rewrite his will? The answer falls to private investigator Stefan Kopriva.

In Vino Veritas by Jack Wolff. The rag tag team of treasure hunters is within a day of finding the mythical Domas Dei temple when their guide, Den Deadson, meets a messy end. With his last breath he tells Detective-turned-bodyguard James Delviro “in vino veritas.” Now what the heck could that mean?

The Legend of El Melena by Mark Edward Langley. People are turning up dead around a small, burned down church outside Las Palmas, NM. Paranormal journalist Eddie Manning investigates to determine if the hand behind “El Melena” are human or something other.

No Luck like Bad Luck by TG Wolff. Richard Wedgeworth died in the middle of a party, his final words to his wife were “bad luck.” He ate the same food and drank the same drinks as everyone, yet he was poisoned. Solving the mystery is Diamond’s problem. Too bad she’s not for hire.

Sue Her by Kyra Jacobs. Marissa Steele is implicated in murder when the soon-to-be dead man points to her and says “Jimmy will sue her.” A former cop, Charlie Mullins pulls out all the stops to protect his best friend’s sister and the one woman he can never have.

Best Friend by KM Rockwood. A developmentally delayed young woman is hit by a truck and killed, the case closed as a tragic accident. But her last words “best friend” mean Darlene’s older brother and a volunteer social worker aren’t so quick to close the book.

The Ghost of the Paul Henry by Michael Penncavage. Men are dying aboard the Paul Henry. The only clue to their demise is the last word uttered by one of the damned. “Ghost.” Captain Saverfeld turns to Mr. Edmund Jessop and Mr. Linus Gordon to answer the question of if there is a ghostly hand behind it all.

Fading Shadow by TG Wolff. A day of the zoo becomes work for Detective Jesus De La Cruz when the maintenance manager Warren Taylor is shot. His dying word “shadow” leaves Cruz looking hard at those closest to the man.

Available from the e-retailers below. Available August 31 with pre-order available now. Amazon | Apple Books | Barnes & Noble |

Toe Tag: In Danger of Judgment

This is thriller. Set in 1987, the thug life in Chicago kept Detectives William “Bernie” Bernardelli and Marcelle DeSantis up to their elbows in blood and guts. That life was about to get disrupted. The heroin market, cornered by two rival Mexican cartels, is being violently squeezed by the newest game in town, the Asian powered Quon. And what makes Quon powerful is an American-born mercenary turned enforcer named Robert Thornton, aka The Professor.

Bottom line: IN DANGER OF JUDGEMENT is for you if you like domestic intrigue, military operations, and stories where the definition of justice is fluid. Listen to an opening chapter here and everywhere you get your podcasts.

Let’s compare IN DANGER OF JUDGEMENT to the “perfect thriller”

Strengths of the story. The storyline, when you look from back to front, is simple. It certainly doesn’t look that way front to back, which is what kept my mind engaged, trying to unravel the story as fast as Bernie and Marcelle. But the simpleness of the underlying story is its power and why it stands up so well. Frequently when I get to the end of a thriller, I look back and all kinds of “that doesn’t make sense” and “why would he do that.” That did not happen here at all.

The story is rooted in the Vietnam War. The prologue does what it should do, setting the stage without revealing too much of what is to come. Fight scenes display a strong sense of military tactical engagement performed at a high level. (I leave it to others to validate the reality as that is not my area of expertise. I’ll just say it worked for me.)

The characters—good, bad, and ugly—are well crafted. With the possible exception of Thornton, we get glimpses of both the human side and the darker side. A large part of the appeal of this book is knowing that one of the characters are much more than they represent, but not knowing which.

The story is cleanly written with no typos or other distractions.

Where the story fell short of ideal: There were not many places this one fell short. The storyline with Quon moving into Chicago is not fully resolved at the time the book ends, but the book is not the lesser for it.

The Transformation of Buzzcut Billy: A Review

Continuing our dive into Colin Conway’s Backroads Bobby and his Friends, Susan Wingate brings us the story of an ass kicking lady and a tough guy wannabe in The Transformation of Buzzcut Billy. Zaine Walker knows exactly who her daddy is, and her greatest wish is to be the reason for his exodus from this world. On her way to see Handbrake Hardy Frye, she stops for a burger and that’s where things go awry.

This short story is an entertaining diversion from your day. It doesn’t have the tension of some of the other stories but that doesn’t detract from the power of Zaine Walker’s character. She is a determined woman with a ton of self-confidence that we learn is well earned.

MOOving and Grooving

I drive a lot. And when I drive, my mind often does a deep dive into the oddities of our world that catch my attention. Most recently, my wandering mind wondered about…

COWS

Cows are beautiful and produce the milk that gives us so much and, yes, they taste good. But why do they exist? They are lumbering creatures that don’t seem to have the speed or dexterity other herbivores are gifted with to outwit or out maneuver predators. So how have they won out in the survival of the fittest?

A 2012 article from University College London concluded that modern cattle are descendants from a small herd of wild oxen, captured and domesticated. The wild ancestors, called aurochs, truly were wild. They were common across Europe and Asia but did not have the calm demeanors we now associate with cows. They were much larger, too. Apparently, cattle farming was never for the feint of heart.

Interesting as that is (and the article is more interesting. Take the time to read it.) My question was more about how the cow evolved structurally and managed to survive. Maybe the answer to the second part is buried in the 2012 article. Once we bred the wild out of the cows, we humans protected them from all predators but ourselves.

Structurally, the back end bothers me. All of that weight being pulled down by gravity, pushing those knees forward. It doesn’t seem like a good design. Yet, the numbers in a 2011 article from The Beef Site pointed in a different direction. Data analysis of over 1.8 million animals that found only about 13% of the animals were treated for health issues and only 16% of those were for lameness. (For math haters, that is 0.16 x 0.13 = 0.02 or 2% of the original group) Of that 2% that were lame, 70% had foot issues. Issues in joint were most commonly associated with the front legs. Huh.

Well, I’m sure that’s farther than you ever wanted to go into cow family and frames. But now, you don’t have to wonder and neither do I.

Image Credit: Florida Center for Instructional Technology. S. G. Goodrich, The Animal Kingdom Illustrated (New York: A. J. Johnson & Co., 1885) 

Dead in the Alley: Chapter 1 and Review

This is a second-time around, romantic suspense story. Bay Bishop has moved back home to small-town Michigan with her husband Derrick to start an upscale restaurant. It is a success in so many ways. But then Derrick is killed in a hit-and-run right outside the restaurant’s back door. The investigation takes an abrupt turn when a connection to drug trafficking is found. Enter Greg Musgrove, narcotics detective and the high school boyfriend who ghosted on her nearly 20 years ago.

Bottom line: Dead in an Alley is for you if you like second chance, redemption romances, culinary morsels, and rich storylines that immerse you in the lives of the main characters.

Strengths of the story. The novel weaves together storylines: investigation into Derrick’s death; Bay’s grief over the loss of her husband and coming to grips with the sham that was her life; Greg juggling work, a new business venture, and the realization he stilled loved Bay; Bay’s conflicted reaction to being in close quarters with Greg again; and Bay’s issues with her parents and siblings. The lines are influenced by each other, which makes for a compelling, over arching story. The main characters, Bay and Greg, are likable and the main supporting characters add texture. Ms. Michalove culinary knowledge shines through and if she cooks as well as she describes in here, I want to go to her house.

Where the story fell short of ideal: The logic, my #1 test, was reasonable but not strong. I walked away with questions about why characters would do certain things – primarily the culprit and side characters, not Bay and Greg. With so many storylines, it isn’t surprising there are a lot of characters and keeping them all straight was a challenge I failed at a few times.

I haven’t decided where I fall on the start of the romance itself. Being romantic suspense, it is obvious where it is going. But Bay loves her husband. She is truly devastated when he is killed. It is hard for me to buy the quick turn to the one that got away. Yet, this is romantic suspense and that spark has to happen quickly, it’s just part of the game. Likely this is one place where readers will fall into different camps: didn’t notice; noticed but no problem with it; noticed and didn’t love it but got over it; and noticed and didn’t get over it. I enjoyed the book and am glad I finished it.   

Listen to the first chapter on my Toe Tag page and everywhere you get your podcasts. Then download Dead in the Alley by Sharon Michalove for the rest of the story. DEAD IN AN ALLEY was released August 10, 2022 from Coffee and Éclair Books and is available from Amazon and other book retailers. From July 18-August 12, 2022 Dead in an Alley is on tour with Partners in Crime. Check out the tour link for more content and information https://www.partnersincrimetours.net/dead-in-the-alley-by-sharon-michalove/