Death by Pins and Needles by Susie Black

About the Book

Set in the heart of the competitive Los Angeles Apparel Industry, Death by Pins and Needles is the story of one ruthless woman who didn’t care who she had to step on to get to the top. 

Lissa Charney is the showroom manager of a ladies’ swimwear line in the California Apparel Mart. Since Lissa didn’t think any of the rules applied to her, she had no problem breaking them all. From job stealing to dumping a boyfriend when he needed her the most, selfish and self-centered Lissa’s list of enemies rivaled those of Al Capone. So, when Lissa is murdered, no one on the swimwear aisle was particularly surprised…the only surprise was what had taken so long.

Who wanted Lissa Charney dead? The list was as long as your arm….but which one actually killed her? The last thing Mermaid Swimwear sales exec Holly Schlivnik expected to find when she opened the closet door was nasty competitor Lissa Charney’s battered corpse nailed to the wall. When Holly’s colleague is wrongly arrested for Lissa’s murder, the wise-cracking, irreverent amateur sleuth sticks her nose everywhere it doesn’t belong to sniff out the real killer.

Amazon ~~ Barnes & Noble ~~ Apple Books ~~ Kobo ~~ Google Play



I came to with a splitting headache, trussed up the same as a rodeo calf, and tied to one of the cutting tables with a gag in my mouth. Was I out long? Maybe a few minutes; but long enough for Roddy to wrap me tight as a mummy. Remarkably, I appeared still alone, but not for long. Curious to be lashed to a cutting table and not in his truck on my way to certain death by now? Maybe he stopped to get a sample crate to stuff my body into? That must be the reason. I inhaled a deep breath through my nose and a piercing pain encircled my ribcage as the oxygen filled my lungs. My head pounded with the strength of a jackhammer while I tried to wriggle out of my bonds. The wounded shoulder ballooned to the size of a small boulder and stars flashed in front of my eyes from the pain. Roddy wrapped me from my shoulders to my shins and used strips of swimwear fabric to lash me to the cutting table. But swimwear fabric is made of spandex and nylon. It stretches if it's pulled and easily manipulated. All I needed were two free hands.

A pair of cutting shears lay tantalizingly close, but out of reach. An experienced boater same as me, Roddy used a reliable bowline knot to lash me to the cutting table. Fortunately, I honed the skills of a master knotter. To live on a houseboat safely and securely, it was a necessity. Roddy’s bowline knot was virtually impossible for an amateur to undo, but an easy one to untie, even one-handed if you knew the trick. Unfortunately, a complication arose that the nautical knotting instruction book failed to cover. The blood oozing from my wound traveled the length of my arm to my hand. My blood-sticky fingers slicked slippery as an oil patch, preventing a good enough grip on the shiny fabric to work the knot out. I stretched my fingers as far as they’d go and wiped them dry on my jeans, and worked fast before more blood leaked onto my hand. 

My head hurt too much to lift high enough to see my progress as I worked the knots. I depended on a sense of touch and memorization of the way the knots formed to untie them. I twisted my wrists inward as far as they turned and worked the knots with my index fingers and thumbs to loosen them from the centers outward. The left hand popped free in thirty seconds. I untied the right hand with my left. I sat up and ignored the pain and the stars flashing behind my eyes. I used the cutting shears to slit the ties binding my torso.

I craned my neck in an arc to get an updated lie of the land. Loud voices came from the direction of Annette’s office. Roddy and Annette. Arguing. Preoccupied and not concerned with me. Good news, but for how long? With some luck, a few minutes tops.

I pulled the gag out of my mouth, and as I slid off the cutting table, I nicked my wound on the sharp corner. The stars flashed again behind my eyes. Drenched in the red stuff and in agony from the pain, the throbbing wound oozed, making me woozy from the loss of blood. I shuddered, remembering Snip’s lecture on the impact on the body if it loses too much blood. I needed to staunch the bleeding and fast. I cut three-wide pieces of fabric and wrapped them tightly for maximum pressure and stretched them around the wound. I used the strips Roddy bound me to the table with to secure the bandages. Not exactly the primo first aid, but it would do for the time being. After a few minutes, the throbbing subsided noticeably. I moved without seeing stars, but taking a deep breath? Still out of the question.

Anyone with a brain runs out of the building and ditches this deadly popsicle stand. But a Mensa, I’m not. I grabbed one of the anvils by the handle off the cutting table and crept across the room. I hid behind a metal set of shelves filled with sewing supplies outside of Annette’s office. I leaned around the shelves and peered into her open door.


About the Author

Named Best US Author of the Year by N. N. Lights Book Heaven, award-winning cozy mystery author Susie Black was born in the Big Apple but now calls sunny Southern California home. Like the protagonist in her Holly Swimsuit Mystery Series, Susie is a successful apparel sales executive. Susie began telling stories as soon as she learned to talk. Now she’s telling all the stories from her garment industry experiences in humorous mysteries.

She reads, writes, and speaks Spanish, albeit with an accent that sounds like Mildred from Michigan went on a Mexican vacation and is trying to fit in with the locals. Since life without pizza and ice cream as her core food groups wouldn’t be worth living, she’s a dedicated walker to keep her girlish figure. A voracious reader, she’s also an avid stamp collector. Susie lives with a highly intelligent man and has one incredibly brainy but smart-aleck adult son who inexplicably blames his sarcasm on an inherited genetic defect.

Website ~~ Facebook ~~ Instagram ~~ Twitter ~~ Goodreads ~~ BookBub ~~ LinkedIn


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He’ll Be Waiting by Liz Alterman

About the Book

What would you do to remember? What would you give to forget?

When Tess Porter agrees to pick up her boyfriend's college pal at the airport on a snowy December night, she has no idea she's about to embark on the most dangerous ride of her life. Two days later, the 17-year-old wakes up in a hospital with broken bones, unable to remember how she got there. Her parents are acting strange, and neither James, her boyfriend, nor her best friend, Izzy, has visited. As she struggles to physically recover, Tess wrestles with haunting questions: What happened? Will her memory ever return? And what if she's better off not recalling any of it?

Amazon ~~ Barnes & Noble ~~ Audible



Saturday, December 16, mid-afternoon

“The forecast is ominous,” Mom says, slipping her arms inside the sleeves of the coat Dad holds out for her. “Promise me you won’t go anywhere. The roads will be treacherous.”

“What if I run out of beer or biscotti?” I ask without turning around to see her reaction.

I’m watching The Great British Baking Show and wishing they’d leave already. My heart beats so hard and fast with anticipation, I’m surprised they can’t hear it above the television and the snowplows, which seem to scrape the street every thirty seconds making that irritating krrrrrrr, krrrrrr, krrrrrrr sound. But nothing can bother me today—and I need those roads clear, or at least passable.

James should be here by seven—eight o’clock at the latest. I have a ton to do between now and then. It’s already 3 p.m. the clock on the mantel tells me. I’ve waited for this day for months, each minute stretching out like a decade. But now that it’s here, everything seems sped up, and I want more time to get ready.

“I’m serious, Tess. If your father hadn’t bought these tickets for I-don’t-want-to-know-how-much money, I’d be right there curled up on the couch with you,” she says, knotting the belt of her coat.

No doubt with a glass of wine in your hand, I want to say, but I’ve been snarky enough lately, so I keep this one to myself.

“Tess, listen to your mother,” Dad adds, like the puppet he’s become over the last few months. He’ll say and do anything in an attempt to raise her spirits, make her normal again—if such a state still exists for her. “We’re taking the train in and leaving the car at the station.”

“We’re having an early dinner somewhere on the Upper West Side,” Mom says as if I haven’t heard this information ten times already this week.

“It’s a surprise!” Dad raises his eyebrows and puts on his coat with an exaggerated flourish like he’s a master magician and not a middle-aged man with a dinner reservation and hopefully-not-fake Hamilton tickets.

“Our cell phones will be on the whole time, or at least until the show starts at eight,” Mom says. “Then we’ll be at the hotel after that if you need us. Call us—Tess, are you listening? Call us if you need anything.”

“She’ll be fine, Carolyn.”

Dad lifts their overnight bags. I know without turning around that Mom’s is twice the size of his.

Since Mr. Miller’s accident back in September, Dad will do anything—including buying overpriced seats to a Broadway musical on some third-party vendor site—to make Mom smile. He’s trying so hard. If there were an Olympic event dedicated to willing someone else to be happy, he’d medal in it. I don’t have the heart to tell him it’s a lost cause.

“What time is Izzy coming over?” Mom asks. “I hate to think of you sitting here all alone."

“I think she said around four o’clock,” I lie. Izzy isn’t coming. She’s been my best friend since fourth grade, but we’ve barely spoken this week. It’s Izzy’s birthday. Not that Mom, in her distracted state, will remember.

“The temperature is supposed to keep dropping, so turn up the heat if you get chilly. And, please, Tess, don’t fool around with the fireplace. You know what happened last time,” Mom says. Her tone has lost all its old playfulness. She’s forty percent stress and sixty percent worry now. Twenty-four-seven.

And, okay, I’ll admit it. There was a small “episode” last month when Izzy and I tried to make s’mores in the fireplace, and I forgot to open the flue. Smoke filled the entire downstairs and scared the crap out of Mom, who came home to the fire alarms shrieking. She’d been out for one of her “walks” again. The smell’s nearly gone, but it’s taken weeks.

“Yeah, yeah, I know. I won’t touch it,” I lie again. I’m totally starting a fire. I sound like a total sap, but, honestly, is there anything more romantic than a roaring fire?

“We love you,” Dad says, kissing the top of my head.

“Can I get a hug?” Mom asks. Her neediness is spectacularly unattractive, but I know she won’t leave until I get up and give her one.


About the Author

Liz Alterman is the author of a domestic suspense novel, The Perfect Neighborhood, a young adult thriller, He’ll Be Waiting, and a memoir, Sad Sacked. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, McSweeney’s, and other outlets. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, three sons, and two cats, and spends most days microwaving the same cup of coffee and looking up synonyms. When she isn’t writing, she’s reading.

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Candy, Cigarettes, and Murder (Chocolate Martini Sisters Mystery) by Brenda Whiteside and Joyce Proell

About the Book

It’s a birthday weekend with the gift of murder.

Recently widowed, Emma Banefield looks forward to a getaway birthday weekend with her free-wheeling sister, Nicole Earp, sipping chocolate martinis at the peaceful, historic Dulce Inn. When a rude stranger, a nasty food critic, and a madhouse of temperamental artists greet them, all hope for a tranquil weekend evaporates faster than dew on a hot desert morning.

Overlooking the riotous atmosphere is doubly hard after Em discovers the body of a hotel guest, and a second murder affects Nic personally. Now, entrenched in a caper that pits them against a surly detective, they cozy up to a hotel staff hiding dangerous secrets to uncover clues to the killer.

Using their smarts and love of all-things mystery, will the Chocolate Martini Sisters solve the crime ahead of the obstinate Chief Detective or find themselves trapped in the middle of a third murder?

Amazon ~~ Goodreads


Sounds like a case for the Chocolate Martini Sisters. The silly moniker lifted the heavy weight on her chest, and she smiled. In spite of it all, life was good. With closed eyes, she breathed deeply what she’d expected to be fresh air. Instead, the stink of cigarette smoke made her noise twitch. What dummy had the gall to clog up paradise? One eye popped open in search of the culprit.

The offender, a woman sporting bleached blonde hair with sprigs of azure and pink, propped against the hotel, one scuffed sneaker planted on the brick façade. A white apron, the sort preferred by cooking staff, wrapped about her slender waist. She sucked another puff. A cross tattoo on her wrist stained the pale skin blue. Acting as though she didn’t see her sitting there, she blew the offending smoke across her shoulder, away from her.

Thanks loads. Lips pursed and her privacy interrupted, she sat upright and faced the hard-edged employee. The aroma of sautéed garlic and onions mingled with the smoke of her cigarette. “You must work in the kitchen,” Emma said by way of making conversation. A series of gold hoops pierced the rounded helix of the woman’s left ear.

“Yup.” She crossed her arm over her waist, propping her elbow on her opposite hand and looked away, blowing more pollution into the air.

“So, you work with the famous Chef Grayson.”

The woman snorted. “Yeah. I guess you could say that.”

Evidently, Miss Rainbow-Colored Hair didn’t think much of him.

“Are you his assistant?”


So this was Charlotte Wilson. The very woman Joe had mentioned to Nic and who coveted Payne’s job.

“Chef Payne has built up quite a prestigious reputation.”

“Oh, yeah,” she snarled. “He’s the best.” Her acid tone dripped with sarcasm.

Emma chose to avoid further comment about their contentious work relationship.

“Are you familiar with the man who died?”

She grunted and picked tobacco from her tongue. “You mean who was murdered?”

“Shocking, isn’t it?” As suspected, word of the death had spread throughout the hotel.

The sous-chef didn’t answer. Instead, she ground the last bit of her cigarette into the paver with her shoe, then flashed the most chilling smile. “Couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy.” Without a parting word, she disappeared through the hotel door.

She reclined against the supportive lounge chair, not certain what to make of the woman. Hostile was a certainty, and the cold smile was downright creepy. Could Nic’s proposed theory at breakfast suggesting the sous-chef committed murder to frame Payne for personal advancement be viable? Could a person successfully lead a kitchen crew with so much anger licking at her heels? Was she driven enough to kill?

About the Authors

Joyce Proell is the award-winning author of Amaryllis, Eliza and the Cady Delafield mysteries: A Deadly Truth, A Burning Truth and A Wicked Truth. Along with her husband and little dog, Nellie, she lives in Minnesota in her very own little house on the prairie. She loves to hear from readers.

Website ~~ Facebook ~~ Amazon Author Page ~~ Goodreads Author Page


Brenda Whiteside is the award-winning author of romantic suspense, romance, and cozy mystery. After living in six states and two countries—so far—she and her husband have settled in Central Arizona. They admit to being gypsies at heart and won't discount the possibility of another move. They share their home with a rescue dog named Amigo. While FDW fishes, Brenda writes.

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The Secrets of the Mysterious Mansion by Barry Forbes

About the Book

A wholesome family mystery series for tweens and teens, 10-15 years

“Heidi, are you serious? You want us to visit a hidden mansion—a deserted one, deep in the forest, shrouded by trees—at midnight!”

It is freezing in Arizona’s high country, but something seriously weird is happening. . . something that draws the Jackson twins into a bitter cold night. Wait! Are those lights?” Intruders! Who are they? What do they want? Why are they there?

And most intriguing. . . what happened to the former residents? They walked away decades earlier and left everything behind. It’s a time capsule, lost for decades. And then there’s the garage.

The mystery searchers deploy high-tech solutions in a search for answers, but they’re running up against the clock. Danger alert! What happens if the midnight intruders realize they aren’t alone. . . that someone is spying on them?

Amazon ~~ Bakken Books

Interview with the author

Q - What makes The Mystery Searchers Series so special?

It’s a mix of things, really. When I started the series, I wanted to integrate the things that I liked as a 10-15 year-old—from the 4th or 5th grade, all the way into junior high school. I loved mystery books which lead, often, to mystery solving, crime and detective stories, and action and adventure. So I would devour books like the Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, or Enid Blyton’s The Famous Five series. I quickly realized that clean, wholesome books were important too, and I’ve integrated that concept in every Mystery Searchers installment.

Q - What order should I read the books in?

I’ve written the series so that you can read them in any order. By the time you finish any one of the books, all the threads will come together.

Q – Are there more installments coming in the series?

Yes! Currently I’m releasing three books every year.


It was a frigid winter night in the high country of Prescott, Arizona. A dusting of snow, whipped by howling winds, swirled around the Chevy. The reading on the dashboard thermometer continued to drop. Poor driving conditions became worse as the car—buffeted all the way down Route 69—made slow progress. Its windshield wipers beat a rhythmic tune in a vain struggle at visibility.

Heidi Hoover sat in the backseat, peering into the churning darkness, searching for a hidden turnoff. “There!” she cried out, pointing through the window on the driver’s side. “We almost missed it. There it is.”

Tom Jackson—quiet, thoughtful, and steady as a rock—gripped the steering wheel with both hands and cranked a sudden left. The Chevy bumped and bounced over frozen ruts onto a rough dirt road.

“You’re sure?” Tom’s twin sister, Suzanne, asked. She tightened her front passenger seat belt, staring hard at the bleak scene before her.

Heidi laughed. “Don’t worry, Suzie. I drove out here before. Half a mile of this, and then we’ll go for a nice walk.” The way she said it didn’t sound nice at all.

About the Author

Your mystery writer is a former award-winning industrial film and video writer/producer, and newspaper editorialist. He is the author of a dozen clean, wholesome mystery books for kids, 10-15 years of age. Four high-school students use technology to solve mysteries and fight crime in the mountain city of Prescott, Arizona. The first volume of a second family book series will be released June, 2023.

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Purls Before Swine (Clear Creek Mysteries) by Rebecca McKinnon

About the Book

Autumn has arrived in the Rocky Mountains. The resort that was almost the death of the small town of Clear Creek is trying to mend relations by hosting a local artisan show.

Jemma has been asked to create a display showing beginner projects all the way up to expert. Hoping to knit up attention for the shops in Clear Creek, she agrees. The last thing she expects is to trip over a body in the middle of the exhibits.

Curiosity piqued, she wants to know how someone was killed under the watchful eyes of the resort’s security staff — headed by the man she loves.

Even though her past experiences have taught Jemma she doesn’t want to be anywhere near a killer, when Deputy Chase surprises everyone by asking for her help she can’t bring herself to say no. Because if the killer isn’t bound off before the resort guests leave, someone will get away with murder.

Amazon ~~ Goodreads


About the Author

Rebecca McKinnon enjoys playing with her imaginary friends and introducing them to others through her writing. She dreams of living in the middle of nowhere, but has been unable to find an acceptable location that wouldn’t require crossing an ocean.

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On the Sly by Wendy L. Koenig

About the Book

Sylvia Wilson, a bar owner in St. Louis, Missouri, arrives at work to discover the body of an ex-police officer in her locked bar. The police focus on her as their primary suspect, so she decides to launch her own investigation into the dead man and his accomplices. But when the killer sends her clear messages that she and her loved ones are on his radar, she knows it’s just a matter of time before someone ends up dead.

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Reaching the door, I leaned into it, listening. Silent as a ball of cotton. The key slid smoothly into the lock and turned. I eased open the door. Watched and listened for any movement or noise. Nothing. I slipped my arm in and turned on my lights. The alarm was already off.

Mayhem erupted from my backyard as my dogs snarled and threw themselves at the sliding glass door with angsted fervor. I hadn’t let them out there. Maybe Aaron had stopped by. But the dogs were clearly upset, and they wouldn’t be if it had been my brother who’d visited.

Even if there was a noise, I wouldn't hear it over the violent ruckus. I sidled into the room. Nothing but my blue furniture and beige carpet. Through the glass door, I saw Ruffles was foaming and standing stock still. When he moved, it was with the stiff-legged, high-toed, movements of a mechanical being. His upper lip was curled completely over his nose and the resulting sound came through the glass like an outboard motor. I'd never seen him so livid, and I honestly wondered how he could breathe like that.

Satan was throwing herself at the door again and again, as if she were a small missile that would weaken and eventually punch through the glass. I could picture the trauma her body experienced every time she made contact. If I didn’t do something fast, she would be covered in bruises, maybe even broken bones.

Something had upset them so much that even my presence didn’t calm them. Moving quickly through my home, I cleared all the rooms; no one was hidden anywhere. Then, I put the safety back on the gun, set it down, and went to focus on my poor dogs. I pulled out the rod I kept in the track. That's when I noticed the dark brown handprint on the sliding door.

Unless I missed my guess, that was dried blood.

I pulled my cellphone and dialed Eccheli. It took him a long time to answer, and he didn't sound too happy, but his sleep-cracked voice got animated the moment I explained what had happened.

He said, "Don't touch anything. We'll be right there."

"My dogs might be injured. I need to go out there and check them." Satan had calmed a little, but she still paced the window in agitation. Ruffles was standing stock still, growling.

He hesitated. "Do you have kitchen gloves?"

"I have painter's gloves." Actually, I didn't. But I did have some of the gloves the police left behind at the bar. Close enough.

"Perfect. Go out to them, don't let them in. We'll get there right away." He disconnected.

I probably was working my way back up Johnson's 'person of interest' list with this middle of the night phone call. Nothing to be done about it.

When he'd said they'd get there right away, he wasn’t kidding. I'd managed to find my gloves, put them on, and had only been outside a few minutes. I was sitting in the soaked grass, trying to calm a frantic Satan so I could inspect her for injuries when my cellphone vibrated against my thigh.

Eccheli asked, "We good to come in?"

"Yeah, we're out back."

The minute the front door opened, Satan became all claws and teeth and twisted out of my arms. She threw herself at the glass door, ballistic missile at work again. As for Ruffles, I was used to his snarls, but the intensity of the one he gave at that moment scared me.

I watched Eccheli and Johnson as they entered my house. Saw how he noticed my Colt Python on the counter, pointed it out to Johnson, and how she nodded and pocketed it. I certainly hoped she was going to give that back; it had cost me a pretty penny.

As the two detectives cleared the house, again, flashing lights of an arriving squad car ricocheted off the back fence of the yard. I would probably be as popular in my neighborhood as a scorpion. At least there was no siren.

About the Author

Wendy Koenig is a published author living in New Brunswick, Canada. Her first piece to be printed was a short children’s fiction, Jet’s Stormy Adventure, serialized in The Illinois Horse Network. She attended University of Iowa, honing her craft in their famed summer workshops and writing programs. Since that time, she has published and co-authored numerous books and has won several international awards.

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Saturday Quote

This week's Saturday quote is from Murder at the Bookstore by Sue Minix available on Amazon.