In the Spotlight: Author AJ Waines

We’re hot on the trail of great reads this week, and today is launch day for a new psychological thriller from AJ Waines. I’m a big fan of her work, and this latest in the Samantha Willerby Mystery Series promises to be just as terrific as her other books.

AJ’s fiction is a logical extension of her 15-year career as a psychotherapist. Her professional expertise brings a rich authenticity to her writing, and the result is mesmerizing. Today, AJ gives us a glimpse into her world. Read on!

Tell us about your latest book:

Perfect Bones is a murder mystery and psychological thriller, all in one! It’s about psychologist and ‘amateur sleuth’, Samantha, who is given seven days by the police to coax information about a killer from the sole witness – a young student who saw the attack, but who’s been traumatised by it all and can’t say a word. When he finally makes a sketch, it’s not what anyone expects – but by then another murder has been committed…

What’s different about your novels?

I’ve published eight to date and as a former psychotherapist, I like to combine a murder mystery on the surface with darker, psychological tension underneath. My books contain very little violence, blood and gore, but plenty about the internal workings of the mind: revenge, secrets, lies, hidden motives. Readers also say there’s a poignant feel of humanity in my stories (my killers are never ‘monsters’) and there’s always a big twist at the end!

What’s your biggest claim to fame?

The title of one of my books got mixed up with a more famous one that was written a few years later: ‘Girl on a Train’ – sound familiar? That was my title (the one by Paula Hawkins is ‘The Girl on the Train’). The mix-up meant tons of readers bought my book by accident and while a few felt they’d made a terrible mistake (!) – others loved my version, too! As a result, I went to Number 1 in the full Amazon chart in UK several times, and also Australia.

 What does “home” look like for you? 

Home for me is five minutes from the water Hamble, Hampshire (UK) with the river on one side and part of the English Channel on the other. I love the house, because it’s so quiet.

Home includes a beautiful garden where we’ve just installed an arbour for reading and a fountain for lazy Sunday afternoons just sitting, watching the birds.

What are you reading now?

At the moment, it’s probably Belinda Bauer. Her writing is quirky, poignant and macabre with a brilliant injection of humour. How can anyone combine those elements in crime fiction and make it work? Belinda cracks it every time. I’ve just started reading Snap!, but Rubbernecker is my favourite so far. There are many threads to this story that interweave in a complex, refreshing and fascinating way, taking psychological thrillers to a new level. The author also manages to address issues such as communication, isolation, the assumptions we make about coma victims and empathy in a chilling page-turner. An absolute must-read!

***

About the author:

AJ Waines is a #1 bestselling author, topping the entire UK and Australian Kindle Charts in two consecutive years, with Girl on a Train. Following fifteen years as a psychotherapist, the author has sold nearly half-a-million copies of her books, with publishing deals in UK, France, Germany, Norway, Hungary and Canada.

Her fourth psychological thriller, No Longer Safe, sold over 30,000 copies in the first month in thirteen countries. AJ Waines has been featured in The Wall Street Journal and The Times.

Note: I received a complimentary advance copy of the book. I like it so much that I immediately pre-ordered a copy. You can order your own copy here. I don’t know how long the super-low price will last, so jump in now to get this terrific book!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this Q&A with AJ Waines. You can keep up with the latest news about this terrific writer via Facebook, Twitter, or her own website.

Book Blast Tuesday!

Moon Games

by Shelly Frome

Synopsis:

The Secluded Village Murders by Shelly Frome

At the outset, Miranda Davis has nothing much going for her. The tourists are long gone by October in the quaint Carolina town of Black Mountain, her realty business is at a standstill, and her weekend stint managing the local tavern offers little to pull her out of the doldrums. When prominent church lady Cloris Raintree offers a stipend to look into the whereabouts of a missing girl hiker on the Q.T, Miranda, along with her partner Harry (an unemployed features writer) agree.

But then it all backfires. A burly figure shambles down a mountain slope with a semi-conscious girl draped over his shoulder. Miranda’s attempts to uncover Cloris Raintree’s true motives become near impossible as she puts up one smokescreen after another, including a slip of the tongue regarding an incident in Havana. The local police keep stonewalling and Harry is of little help.

Tarot cards left on Cloris’ doorstep and arcane prompts on her e-mail only exacerbate the situation. Growing more desperate over the captive girl’s fate, Miranda comes across a link to a cold case of arson and murder. With the advent of the dark of the moon, she is summoned to “Tower Time” as this twisty tale continues to run its course.

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery, Amateur Detective
Published by: Milford House
Publication Date: August 2018
Number of Pages: 264
ISBN: 1620061848
Purchase Links: Amazon | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

The wind picked up yet again, joined by spatters of cold rain and the rustle of leaves from the encircling shrub.

All at once, the lantern flicked off, a scream cut through the wind and spatters. The cries became muffled, replaced by the grunts of a hulking figure clambering up the knoll, coming directly toward him with something writhing and flailing over its back.

For one interminable moment, he caught sight of her eyes, frozen, terrified, beseeching him.

Reflexively, despite every decent intention deep in his bones, Harry dropped the Maglite, turned and ran down the slope, tripping and stumbling, falling to his knees, righting himself, smacking into a brush that scraped his cheek. Rushing headlong now, smacking into more brush and banging his elbow, he kept it up, twisted his ankle but hobbled forward fast as he could until he reached his station wagon. Squirming behind the wheel, he fumbled for his keys, dropped them on the mat, groped around, snatched them up, grinded the ignition, set both front and back wipers going and shot forward hitting the trunk of a tree. He backed up into the hedgerow, turned sharply, not daring to flip on the headlights, scraped another tree and slid onto the narrow lane.

He switched on the low beams so he could see where he was going in the drizzle and fog and began making his way down. Dull headlight beams flashed behind his rear window and faded.

With his mind racing and the wipers thwacking away as the rain lashed across the windshield, he careened down the zig-zagging lane and thought of the car that was wedged under the branches parked on a downward angle and the hulking figure carrying his prey over his shoulder shambling toward it. And her eyes, those beseeching eyes.

He might have a few seconds lead before the girl was tossed in the trunk . . . or deposited in the cottage while the driver lying in wait exchanged signals and went after him. So many what-ifs? while some cowardly part of him only wanted a place to hide.

Then the dull, low beams flicked on again, glinting on his rearview mirror.

Straining to see through the wipers and beads of rain, he turned off down Sunset, then onto a flat, darkened stretch, then gunned it through an amber light over the tracks across brightly lit Route 70.

He drove away from the tracks where the girl doubtless had been tailed, came upon a T and swerved left onto a sign that said Old Route 70. In no time, he spotted a Grove Stone Quarry, but the gates were closed and he could swear the low beams tailing him flicked on again. If only he could stop veering all over the place, if he could get behind those humongous mounds of sand and stone.

Ignoring the traffic light, he cut to his right and swerved up a road bordered by a high wire fence demarcating a prison facility, sped past until he was hemmed in by walls of white pine. The walls of pine were intersected by for-sale arrows and a bright red banner. He killed his headlights altogether, swerved again into a cluster of model homes that formed a cul-de-sac, and coasted to a stop as the car stalled.

He got out and followed an exposed drain pipe that angled down until it cut off at a rain-slick paved drive onto a neighborhood of two-story houses, porch lights and street lamps.

His ankle gave way again as he became fixated on circling back to that massive, enclosed hiding place where he could try to get his bearings.

The cold rain beat down harder. Though the Blue Ridge range hovered in the near distance, it was shrouded in mist and offered no comfort.

***

Excerpt from Moon Games by Shelly Frome. Copyright © 2018 by Shelly Frome. Reproduced with permission from Shelly Frome. All rights reserved.

 

Author Bio:

Shelly Frome is a member of Mystery Writers of America, a professor of dramatic arts emeritus at the University of Connecticut, a former professional actor, a writer of crime novels and books on theater and film. He is also a features writer for Gannett Media. His fiction includes Sun Dance for Andy Horn, Lilac Moon, Twilight of the Drifter, Tinseltown Riff, and Murder Run. Among his works of non-fiction are The Actors Studio and texts on the art and craft of screenwriting and writing for the stage. Moon Games is his latest foray into the world of crime and the amateur sleuth. He lives in Black Mountain, North Carolina.

Catch Up With Our Author On:
Website, Goodreads, & Twitter!

Tour Participants:

Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways!
Bound 2 Escape
Brooke Blogs
Caroles Book Corner
Celticladys Reviews
CMash Reads
Eclectic Moods
Jersey Girl Book Reviews
Lauras Interests
Mystery Suspense Reviews
Mythical Books
Nesies Place
Our-Wolves-Den
Read and Review
Stacking My Book Shelves!
Tfaulcbookreviews
The Book Divas Reads
The Bookworm Lodge
The Reading Frenzy

Giveaway!

Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Shelly Frome. There will be 1 winner of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card. The giveaway begins on November 6, 2018 and runs through November 14, 2018. Void where prohibited.

 

Get More Great Reads at Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours

Recommended Reads

A few weeks ago, I received a note from a reader who loves my book (thank you!) and was in search of the next in my series. Since life events have pushed back my publication date for Dangerous Deeds I shared a few of my own favorite writers with her. I also turned to social media to solicit more recommendations from readers and authors alike.

Long-time readers of this site will recognize some of these authors from earlier posts. Most (but not all) of the following suggestions fall in the “cozy” side of mystery fiction. I’ve included links so you can check these out for yourself!

Laurien Berenson Melanie Travis Canine Mysteries

Laura Childs Tea Shop Mysteries, Scrapbook Mysteries, and Cackleberry Club Mysteries

Susan Conant Dog Lover’s Mysteries

Judith Cranswick Fiona Mason Mysteries

Diane Mott Davidson Goldy Shulz Mysteries

Leighann Dobbs Mystic Notch Mysteries and other series

Carola Dunn Daisy Dalrymple Mysteries

Doranna Durgin Dale Kinsall Mysteries and other series

Frances Evesham  Exham on Sea Mysteries

Charlaine Harris Aurora Teagarden Mysteries and other series

Miranda James Cat in the Stacks Mysteries

Susan J. Kroupa Doodlebugged Mysteries

Patti Larsen  Fiona Fleming Mysteries and other series

Jerry Last Roger and Suzanne Mystery Series

Graeme Simsion Don Tillman Books (romantic comedies)

If your reading preferences stretch beyond the books mentioned here, be sure to visit Susan Toy’s blog Reading Recommendations. Susan’s own work, by the way, has also been featured here on my site.

You can ask your local bookseller to order any of these authors for you. Find a list of independent local bookstores here.

You’re welcome to leave a comment and add your own suggestions. If you’re an author, please recommend the work of another writer in addition to your own books.

Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tour

The Body in the Casket

by Katherine Hall Page

on Tour December 4, 2017 – January 12, 2018

 Synopsis:

The inimitable Faith Fairchild returns in a chilling New England whodunit, inspired by the best Agatha Christie mysteries and with hints of the timeless board game Clue.

For most of her adult life, resourceful caterer Faith Fairchild has called the sleepy Massachusetts village of Aleford home. While the native New Yorker has come to know the region well, she isn’t familiar with Havencrest, a privileged enclave, until the owner of Rowan House, a secluded sprawling Arts and Crafts mansion, calls her about catering a weekend house party.

Producer/director of a string of hit musicals, Max Dane—a Broadway legend—is throwing a lavish party to celebrate his seventieth birthday. At the house as they discuss the event, Faith’s client makes a startling confession. “I didn’t hire you for your cooking skills, fine as they may be, but for your sleuthing ability. You see, one of the guests wants to kill me.”

Faith’s only clue is an ominous birthday gift the man received the week before—an empty casket sent anonymously containing a twenty-year-old Playbill from Max’s last, and only failed, production—Heaven or Hell. Consequently, Max has drawn his guest list for the party from the cast and crew. As the guests begin to arrive one by one, and an ice storm brews overhead, Faith must keep one eye on the menu and the other on her host to prevent his birthday bash from becoming his final curtain call.

Full of delectable recipes, brooding atmosphere, and Faith’s signature biting wit, The Body in the Casket is a delightful thriller that echoes the beloved mysteries of Agatha Christie and classic films such as Murder by Death and Deathtrap.

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery
Published by: William Morrow
Publication Date: December 5th 2017
Number of Pages: 238
ISBN: 0062439561 (ISBN13: 9780062439567)
Series: Faith Fairchild, 24
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

Chapter One

“Have Faith in Your Kitchen,” Faith Fairchild said, answering the phone at her catering firm. She’d been busy piping choux pastry for éclairs onto a baking sheet.

“Mrs. Fairchild?”

“Yes? This is Faith Fairchild. How may I help you?”

“Please hold for Max Dane.” The voice had a plummy, slightly British tone, reminiscent of Jeeves, or Downton Abbey’s Carson. The only Max Dane Faith had heard of had been a famous Broadway musical producer, but she was pretty sure he’d died years ago. This must be another Max Dane.

She was put through quickly and a new voice said, “Hi. I know this is short notice, but I am very much hoping you are available to handle a house party I’m throwing for about a dozen guests at the end of the month. A Friday to Sunday. Not just dinner, but all the meals.”

Faith had never catered anything like this. A Friday to Sunday sounded like something out of a British pre-World War II country house novel—kippers for breakfast, Fortnum & Mason type hampers for the shoot, tea and scones, drinks and nibbles, then saddle of lamb or some other large haunch of meat for dinner with vintage clarets followed by port and Stilton—for the men only. She was intrigued.

“The first thing I need to know is where you live, Mr. Dane. Also, is this a firm date? We’ve had a mild winter so far, but January may still deliver a wallop like last year.”

A Manhattan native, Faith’s marriage more than 20 years ago to the Reverend Thomas Fairchild meant a radical change of address— from the Big Apple to the orchards of Aleford, a small suburb west of Boston. Faith had never become used to boiled dinners, First Parish’s rock hard pews and most of all, New England weather. By the end of the previous February there had been 75 inches of snow on the ground and you couldn’t see through the historic parsonage’s ground floor windows or open the front door. Teenage son Ben struggled valiantly to keep the back door clear, daily hewing a path to the garage. The resulting tunnel resembled a clip from Nanook of the North.

“I’m afraid the date is firm. The thirtieth is my birthday. A milestone one, my seventieth.” Unlike his butler or whoever had called Faith to the phone, Max Dane’s voice indicated he’d started life in one of the five boroughs. Faith was guessing the Bronx. He sounded a bit sheepish when he said “ my birthday,” as if throwing a party for himself was out of character. “And I live in Havencrest. It’s not far from Aleford, but I’d want you to be available at the house the whole time. Live in.”

Leaving her family for three days was not something Faith did often, especially since Sunday was a workday for Tom and all too occasionally Saturday was as he “polished” his sermon. (His term, which she had noticed over the years, could mean writing the whole thing.)

Ben and Amy, two years younger, seemed old enough to be on their own, but Faith had found that contrary to expectations, kids needed parents around more in adolescence than when they were toddlers. Every day brought the equivalent of scraped knees and they weren’t the kind of hurts that could be soothed by Pat The Bunny and a chocolate chip cookie. She needed more time to think about taking the job. “I’m not sure I can leave my family…” was interrupted. “I quite understand that this would be difficult,” Dane said and then he named a figure so far above anything she had ever been offered that she actually covered her mouth to keep from gasping out loud.

“Look,” he continued. “Why don’t you come by and we’ll talk in person? You can see the place and decide then.  I don’t use it myself, but the kitchen is well equipped—the rest of the house too. I’ll email directions and you can shoot me some times that work. This week if possible. I want to send out the invites right away.”

Well, it wouldn’t hurt to talk, Faith thought. And she did like seeing other people’s houses. She agreed, but before she hung up curiosity won out and she asked, “Are you related to the Max Dane who produced all those wonderful Broadway musicals?”

“Very closely. As in one and the same. See you soon.”

Faith put the phone down and turned to Pix Miller, her closest friend and part-time Have Faith employee.

“That was someone wanting Have Faith to cater a weekend long birthday celebration—for an astonishing amount of money.” She named the figure in a breathless whisper. “His name is Max Dane. Have you ever heard of him?”

“Even I know who Max Dane is. Sam took me to New York the December after we were married and we saw one of his shows. It was magical—the whole weekend was. No kids yet. We were kids ourselves. We skated at Rockefeller Center by the tree and…”

Her friend didn’t go in for sentimental journeys and tempted as she was to note Pix and Sam skated on Aleford Pond then and now, Faith didn’t want to stop the flow of memories. “Where did you stay? A suite at the Plaza?” Sam was a very successful lawyer.

Pix came down to earth. “We barely had money for the show and pre-theater dinner at Twenty-One. That was the big splurge. I honestly can’t remember where we stayed and I should, because that’s where—” She stopped abruptly and blushed, also unusual Pix behavior.

“Say no more. Nine months later along came Mark?”

“Something like that,” Pix mumbled and then in her usual more assertive voice, added “You have to do this. Not because of the money, although the man must be loaded! Think of who might be there. And the house must be amazing. We don’t have anything booked for then and I can keep an eye on the kids.”

The Millers lived next door to the parsonage and their three now grown children had been the Fairchilds’ babysitters. Pix played a more essential role: Faith’s tutor in the unforeseen intricacies of childrearing as well as Aleford’s often arcane mores. Faith’s first social faux pas as a new bride—inviting guests for dinner at eight o’clock— had happily been avoided when her first invite, Pix, gently told Faith the town’s inhabitants would be thinking bed soon at that hour, not a main course.

Faith had started her catering business in the city that never slept before she was married and was busy all year long. Here January was always a slow month for business. The holidays were over and things didn’t start to pick up until Valentine’s Day—and even then scheduling events was risky. It all came down to weather.

Pix was at the computer. Years ago she’d agreed to work at Have Faith keeping the books, the calendar, inventory—anything that did not involve any actual food preparation.

“We have a couple of receptions at the Ganley Museum and the MLK breakfast the standing clergy host.”

The first time Faith heard the term, “standing clergy”, which was the town’s men and women of any cloth, she pictured an upright somberly garbed group in rows like ninepins. And she hadn’t been far off.

“That’s pretty much it,” Pix added,  “except for a few luncheons and Amelia’s baby shower—I think she baby sat for you a couple of times when she was in high school.”

“I remember she was very reliable,” Faith said.

“Hard to believe she’s the same age as Samantha and having her second!” Pix sounded wistful. She was the type of woman born to wear a “I Spoil My Grandchildren” tee shirt. Faith wouldn’t be surprised if there were a drawer somewhere in the Miller’s house filled with tiny sweaters and booties knit by Pix, “just to be ready.” Mark Miller, the oldest, was married, but he and his wife did not seem to be in a rush to start a family.

Samantha, the middle Miller, had a long-term beau, Caleb. They were living together in trendy Park Slope, Brooklyn and Sam, an old-fashioned pater familias, had to be restrained from asking Caleb his intentions each time the young couple came to Aleford. Pix was leaning that way herself, she’d told Faith recently, noting that young couples these days were so intent on careers they didn’t hear the clock ticking.

Faith had forgotten that Amelia—who apparently had paid attention to time— was Samantha’s age and quickly changed the subject to what was uppermost in her mind—the Dane job. “Where is Havencrest?” she asked. “I thought I knew all the neighboring towns.”

“It’s not really a town so much as an enclave between Weston and Dover. I don’t think it even has a zip code. I’ve never been there, but Mother has. You can ask her about it. The houses all date to the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. I believe there’s a gatehouse at the entrance. It’s an early equivalent of the mid century modern planned communities like Moon Hill in Lexington. Havencrest wasn’t a bunch of architects like that one though. Just very rich Boston Brahmin families who wanted privacy and plenty of space. I wonder how Max Dane ended up there? From what Mother has said, the houses don’t change hands, just generations.”

“I think I’ll check my email and see if there’s anything from him yet,” Faith said. “And maybe drop by to see Ursula on my way home.” Stopping to visit with Ursula Lyman Rowe, Pix’s mother, was no chore. The octogenarian was one of Faith’s favorite people. She turned back to the éclairs, which were part of a special order, and added a few more to bring to her friend.

“I know you’ll take the job,” Pix said. “I’m predicting the weekend of a lifetime!”

***

Excerpt from The Body in the Casket by Katherine Hall Page.  Copyright © 2017 by William Morrow. Reproduced with permission from William Morrow. All rights reserved.

Author Bio:

Katherine Hall Page

Katherine Hall Page is the author of twenty-three previous Faith Fairchild mysteries, the first of which received the Agatha Award for best first mystery. The Body in the Snowdrift was honored with the Agatha Award for best novel of 2006. Page also won an Agatha for her short story “The Would-Be Widower.” The recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award at Malice Domestic, she has been nominated for the Edgar Award, the Mary Higgins Clark Award, and the Macavity Award. She lives in Massachusetts, and Maine, with her husband.

Catch Up With Our Author On: Website , Goodreads , & Facebook !

 

Tour Participants:

Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways!

12/11 Showcase @ fundinmental
12/12 Review @ sunny island breezes
12/14 Showcase @ Chill and read
12/15 Guest post @ Books Direct
12/15 Interview/Showcase @ Teresa Trent Author Blog
12/16 Review @ Beths Book-Nook Blog
12/19 Showcase @ Quiet Fury Books
12/20 Review @ Carols Notebook
12/21 Review @ Cheryls Book Nook
12/22 Review @ CMash Reads
12/27 Review @ 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, & Sissy, Too!
12/28 Excerpt @ Suspense Magazine
12/29 Showcase @ The Pulp and Mystery Shelf
12/31 Interview @ Cozy Up With Kathy
01/02 Showcase @ Caroles Book Corner
01/03 Review @ Lauras Interests
01/04 Review @ Bookishly me
01/04 Showcase @ Cassidys Bookshelves
01/05 Showcase @ A Dream Within A Dream
01/06 Interview @ A Blue Million Books
01/07 Review @ Just Reviews
01/08 Review @ Mystery Suspense Reviews
01/09 Showcase @ Brooke Blogs
01/10 Review @ Cozy Up With Kathy
01/10 Review @ The Book Connection
01/11 Review @ Words And Peace
01/12 Review @ View from the Birdhouse

 

Giveaway:

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Katherine Hall Page and Witness Impulse. There will be 3 winners of one (1) physical copy of Katherine Hall Page’s The Body in the Casket. The giveaway begins on December 4, 2017 and runs through January 14, 2018. This giveaway is open to US addressess only. A Rafflecopter giveaway

Get More Great Reads at Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours

Gifts for dog-loving readers

Looking for gifts for the dog lovers on your list? Check out this wonderful selection of books featuring dogs. E-books are easy to give, and you don’t have to worry about shipping. Print editions are easy, too—find links for those on the sale page of the books you want to buy.

Please visit our Books For Dog Lovers page for book descriptions, reviews, and links to purchase. Some books are free or on sale for a limited time. If you would like to learn more about the participating authors in our group, please check out our Meet The Authors page.

In addition to my own book Deadly Ties on sale through December, here are the books by the authors in our group with special pricing in December: 

7 Simple Ways To Keep Your Dog Healthy Sneak Preview

By Rachele Baker, DVM

FREE

Santa Sleuth (Zoe Donovan Mystery Book 18)

By Kathi Daley

ON SALE for $0.99 December 6-12

Candy Cane Caper (Zoe Donovan Mystery Book 22)

By Kathi Daley

ON SALE for $0.99 December 13-19

Killer Music (Cooper Harrington Detective Series Book 1)

By Tammy L. Grace

ON SALE for $0.99 December 15-21

PLUS: here are two pre-order opportunities:

Dead Wrong (Cooper Harrington Detective Series Book 3)

By Tammy L. Grace

PRE-ORDER: ON SALE for $2.99 until DECEMBER 26 RELEASE

Pre-Meditated Murder (A Downward Dog Mystery Book 5)

By Tracy Weber

PRE-ORDER: Release Date 1/8/18

***

I hope to see all of you at our virtual holiday party live on Facebook on Sunday, December 17th.  Join the conversations to be entered in drawings for some very cool prizes!