A Scaly Tail of Murder by Jacqueline Vick

A new fiancé, an old boyfriend, and a murder that will change everything. 

Frankie Chandler is finally at peace with her life. She’s engaged to Detective Martin Bowers, her pet psychic business is booming, and she’s overcome the emotional residue of a past relationship that destroyed her self-respect.

Just when everything’s going swell, trouble strolls through her front door. Jeffrey Ross, the ex-boyfriend who betrayed her, needs Frankie’s help. To get rid of him, she agrees to retrieve the keys he left with yet another hostile ex-girlfriend, a masseuse. Unfortunately, when Frankie shows up early at Friendly Fingers Spa, Jeff’s latest fling is face down in the new Jacuzzi. Murdered right in front of her Fiji Crested iguana.

The reptile refuses to tell what he knows, and when Frankie’s involuntary entanglement in the investigation threatens to ruin Bowers’ chances for promotion, she takes steps. After calling an uneasy truce with Jeff, the two form a crime-solving team that will either solve the mystery or bring an end to everything she’s worked for.


“Chauncey,” I muttered, pushing his snout away from my face. He made a shushing noise, which was an odd sound to come from a dog. I wrinkled my nose. He had rolled in something musky. Funny, but it was pleasant, unlike the usual smells my dog brought into the house. My brow wrinkled as my logical mind fought through the haze. How did he get outside? Or inside? My ginger mutt no longer lived here. “Chauncey?”

My eyes flew open. Instead of my pup wanting to play, Jeffrey Ross, my ex-boyfriend from Loon Lake, Wisconsin, leaned over me as he unbuttoned my blouse.

Shocked into motion, I slapped at his hands.

Unfazed, he tugged at the third button from the top. “You need air.”

“Stop it!” I shrieked.

In response, Jeff flew up and backwards, a look of surprise on his handsome features. Mid-air, his body twisted and slammed to the floor, face down. Bowers pressed one knee into my ex’s back as he reached for his cuffs. I scrambled off the couch and stared in disbelief as a tsunami of anger slammed into me.

My worst nightmare had just walked into my home. I felt violated. This was the scumbag who had cheated on me. This was the oaf who had forced me to flee Loon Lake after he’d shared my secrets with a buxom reporter, telling her how I’d faked my psychic appointments. Back then I’d had to fake them because I hadn’t yet discovered my ability. The scandal made the front page.

I blame what happened next on shock.

With Bowers balanced on one knee, I easily shoved him aside with a two-handed body slam, toppling him.


Before he could recover, I straddled Jeff’s back and pummeled his solid shoulders with my fists. “How dare you?” I shrieked. “How dare you come into my home? How dare you show yourself to me?”

My verbal assault lacked creativity, but I continued in that vein.

“How dare you, you rotten son-of-a—”

Two muscular arms clamped around me and lifted me to my feet.

“No fair hitting the cuffed man.”

 Keeping my arms pinned to my sides, Bowers carried me to the couch and dumped me there. He pointed a finger at me.


He returned to Jeff and yanked him to his feet. My ex winced.

Spotting a stray catnip mouse under the coffee table, I picked it up and winged it at Jeff’s head, earning me a stern glance from my fiancé.

When Bowers leaned in to take a closer look at my ex, Jeff raised his chin and held a pose. I’d call it Honest Man Faced with Adversity. He looked the same. Square jaw. Roman nose. A few more lines around his eyes, the light creases contrasting with his tanned skin. Plenty of muscles without reaching football player status.

Bowers sent his gaze back to me. “You know this man?”

Years of good-girl training kicked in, and as I stood, my tone morphed into polite sweetness. “Martin Bowers, this is Jeffrey Ross. Jeffrey, this is Martin, my fiancé.”

Bowers raised one brow. “This is Jeff?”

The accused grinned at him. “You’ve heard of me?”

My fiancé, the detective, shook his head in wonder. “Do you want to press charges?”

Jeff snorted. “For what? You dropped like a rock. I made you comfortable and was giving you some air.” He looked to Bowers for approval. “That’s what you do, right?”

“It is.” Bowers crossed over to me and angled my body. He now had both of us in view. Resting his hands on my shoulders, he peered into my eyes with concern. “Are you alright?”

Still panting, I wiped my hand over my face because I was pretty sure there was spittle around my mouth. “Fine. I was just…surprised.”

Bowers jerked his head toward the grinning man in my living room. “Because he showed up, I assume.”

I blew out a breath, willing myself not to hyperventilate. “Yep.”



Bowers turned to him. We might have rehearsed it as we said in unison, “What do you want?”

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About the Author

Jacqueline Vick spent her childhood plotting ways to murder her Barbie doll. Writing provided a more productive outlet. She is the author of over twenty humorous novels and short stories. Her mystery series characters include Frankie Chandler, Pet Psychic and the Harlow Brothers. Her books are known for satirical humor and engaging characters who are desperate to keep their secrets. She currently resides in Southern California with her husband.

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Protective Instinct by Tricia Lynne

If NFL player Brody Shaw wants to retire from his hometown team, the Dallas Bulldogs, he needs to keep his head down and his nose clean. When the stray dog he rescued bites the pet sitter, it sets off an avalanche of bad publicity, and it’s time to bring in a professional.

Dog-trainer Lily Costello has no intention of training Brody’s dog, CC—football players are bad news, and Brody Shaw is a player if she’s ever met one. Then she sees the brand on CC’s stomach. She came from a puppy mill—the very one Lily is trying to find and shut down.

Brody is all in to help the curvy trainer, and with his clout and connections, Lily finally has a lead. But it’s not long before they attract the wrong kind of attention. When someone makes it clear that they’ll stop at nothing to halt the search, it’ll take everything Brody and Lily have to escape with their lives…

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Pre-Order Book 2, Model Behavior!

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About the Author

Tricia Lynne is fluent in both sarcasm and cuss words and has little filter between her brain and mouth––a combination that tends to embarrass her husband at corporate functions. A tomboy at heart, she loves hard rock, Irish whiskey, and her Midwestern roots. She’s drawn to strong, flawed heroines, and believes writing isn’t a decision one makes, but a calling one can’t resist.

Tricia lives in Dallas with her husband and dogs, and is a co-founder of the All The Kissing blog as well as a contributor to The Curvy Fashionista blog. Be on the look out for her newest, Unruly Behavior, Book one of The Unlovabulls series in December, 2020. Her debut, Moonlight & Whiskey, is available now.

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Boardwalk by Dianna Wilkes


Providence Island Book 5

Mystery Romance

Date Published: 02 November 2021

Publisher: RedBird Books


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A man denies his emotions to save the lives of other. A woman closes her heart to hide the pain. A child yearns for someone to trust.

 Former hitman Ben Hampshire gave up everything to keep his honorary mother Dana Canfield safe. Settled into a peaceful life on Providence Island, he’s found the woman of his dreams but can't make himself say "I love you".

 Stacy Andrews shunned long-term relationships until she met a man with a brain as sexy as his body. She's head over stiletto heels in love with him, but those words aren't in her vocabulary either. The secret she’s hiding might make Ben change his mind about their life together. If that’s not enough, her troubled eight-year old nephew coming to live with them could be the tipping point.

 Ben finds himself in the spotlight after two murders occur. The first to find both bodies, he’s holding back evidence that points toward Dana’s husband as the perpetrator. If he can't stop the killer, Ben's future may turn into a happy never after.


Car keys jingling in his hand, Ben stopped in the doorway to the dining room. His landlady, Maisie Porter, sat at the table, waiting for him to drive her to her friend Yolanda’s house. The early evening sunlight cast the elderly woman in a golden glow. With her white hair and cornflower-blue eyes, she looked like a modern-day Mrs. Claus.

Chauffeur duties weren’t the usual arrangement for a tenant, but the two of them had moved into a more personal relationship during the year he’d lived at Porter’s bed-and-breakfast. The privacy of the third-floor suite and the incredible meals Maisie cooked were two of the reasons he’d remained in residence.

Maisie had opened both her home and her heart to him. She was the grandmother he’d never had and his strongest supporter when suspicion fell on him for the murders that had occurred on Providence Island last year.

He was guilty of shooting those four individuals, but in his defense, each one of them deserved it. Law enforcement would disagree, but Ben’s oath to protect Dana Canfield and her family took higher priority.

He tapped on the doorframe. “Ready for your girls’ night, Maisie?”

The Fab Five—Maisie and four other women from her church—planned an overnight baking and crafting party. Based on the two bottles of wine protruding from the tote bag next to her chair, the meeting appeared to be leaning more toward the party side.

Maisie gestured toward the chair next to her. “We need to talk.”

Her smile lacked its usual warmth, and the sparkle in her blue eyes was missing. A quiver ran through his stomach.

“What’s wrong? Are you sick?”

Maisie lowered her brows. “Ben Hampshire, do I look like I’m sick?”

That flash of spirit spurred Ben to sit down. “No, ma’am.”

“I’ve put off having this talk with you, and it’s long past due.” She pushed a rectangular piece of paper in front of him.

His confusion cleared when he realized it was his payment for next month’s rent. No reason for Maisie to be nervous about asking for an increase. “I’m fine with whatever you charge. Give me the amount, and I’ll write a new check.”

She placed her palm over his hand. “Ben, it’s time for you to move out.”

For one of the few times in his life, Ben was speechless. When she pulled her hand away, she took a piece of his security with her.

Maisie’s gaze traveled to a point somewhere over his shoulder, and she sighed. “I’d planned on shutting this place down last year. Then you came.” Her gaze shifted back to him. “With all the murders occurring, I felt safer with you living here.”

He edged the check back in front of her. “If it’s money—”

She shook her head. “When Clyde and I moved into this house, we added a back porch with a swing. We wanted a place where our children could play. After they’d grown and gone their ways, we’d sit there and watch the sun rise in the morning and set in the evening. But we never had children, and Clyde passed away a few days before our thirtieth anniversary. I’ve lived alone all these years since, except for guests who came and went. I never thought you’d stay as long as you have, but I’m happy you did.”

His throat swelled with the unexpected U-turn in the conversation. He didn’t do emotions, and Maisie was bringing out feelings he’d locked away ages ago. He managed a small nod.

She tore the check in quarters. “I’m not going to let you waste your life like I’ve done with mine.”

His mind reeled as he recalled Maisie had never denied being sick. If that was the reason for this change, he'd make sure she had the best doctors and care available. “You have a great life. Friends, church, your garden—"

“And I have you, a blessing I never expected.” Her thumb toyed with a scrap of the torn check. “Before you came here, each one of my days was the same as the next, and the weeks rolled by faster every year. As much as I love this old house and my garden, I need excitement and purpose in my life. The girls and I talked, and we decided to shake things up.”

Half of him wanted to laugh at the idea of the Fab Five going rogue; the other half cringed at the thought. “Change up how?”

“Travel. Road trips. Cruises. Maybe start a business on Main Street.” A hint of pink bloomed in her cheeks, and the sparkle reignited in her eyes.

Ben mulled over those options. They sounded good on the surface, but plenty of room existed for trouble.

Before he could inject a dose of logic, Maisie raced ahead with her explanation. “I’ve decided to list the house for sale with Elliott Realty. Yolanda has a ranch house on Cypress. Sandra Lynn and I are going to move in with her. Tina’s selling her house and moving in with Deloris. After we get the traveling bug out of our system, we’ll decide what to do next.”

“Selling the house is a drastic move. Why not wait to see if these living arrangements work out?”

“We discussed it from one end to the other, then went with our gut. This isn’t some snap decision.” She fixed a stern look on him. “Before you suggest buying this house, I’m telling you it’s a flat no. You need to take the next step with the young woman you’ve been seeing.”

Ben’s head spun from the deft switch in topics. It was one thing for Maisie to redesign her life. He could manage his own just fine. “We’re not—”

“No excuses. You spend more nights away than you do here.” An affectionate smile touched the corners of her lips. “I’ve seen how your face lights up when she calls or messages you. That smile you get doesn’t lie. You’re in love with Stacy Andrews.”

A line of sweat broke out across his brow. “I’m not—”

“You’re in love whether you want to admit it or not. I have no doubt she’s in love with you. You both need to move ahead while you have the chance. Life takes things away when we least expect it.”

Something he knew too well. The last time he’d said “I love you” was to his fiancée before she died in his arms. Maisie had had thirty years with Clyde. He’d promised Betsy twice that many.

“A woman has her pride to consider.” Maisie winked. “I can’t go on forever being your culinary side-piece.”

Ben jerked, knocking his keys from the table to the floor. “Jeez, Maisie!”

“Would you carry my bag to the car? Don’t forget I’m getting a ride with one of the girls tomorrow morning.” She patted his shoulder as she passed. “I’ll bring brownies home for you.”

Ben stood in stunned silence as Maisie headed toward the front door. In a matter of minutes, he’d lost his home, been ordered to move in with Stacy, and watched his kindly landlady morph into a wanna-be Golden Girl.

While ninety-five percent of him agreed with her plan, the other five percent sulked over having his comfortable life disrupted. He eyed the vacant doorway and chuckled.

Culinary side-piece. Good one, Maisie.

He grabbed his keys and her tote. As he walked to the car, he practiced what to say to Stacy.

And what to do if she told him no.


About the Author

Dianna Wilkes is an award winning contemporary romance author.

Reading has always been an important part of her life. "I learned to read when I was four years old. Writing my own stories seemed a natural progression."

Dianna holds a B.A.in Visual Communication and a M.Ed.in Instructional Technology. She worked as an Education Consultant for a medical technology company before leaving the corporate world. Despite all that nerdy stuff, she loves creating stories of romance and mystery with touches of humor.

When she isn’t writing, Dianna is deep in researching various branches and twigs on her family tree or fulfilling entries on her travel bucket list.

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Dead in a Dumpster by B. L. Blair

When Leah Norwood finds the body of Isabel Meeks in the dumpster behind her store, she can’t believe the police consider her a suspect. Sure, she didn’t like Isabel, but then again, neither did anyone else. Isabel had a condescending attitude and a bad reputation. As manager of the antique store, Patina, she had made a lot of enemies.

There is Patina’s assistant manager, the handsome and charming Trent. Isabel was blackmailing him. There is Patina’s owner, the aloof and influential Anthony Thorpe. Isabel was smuggling drugs through his store. And there is the entire drug dealing Cantono family. Isabel had lost a box containing heroin from one of their shipments. That is just to name a few and didn’t even include the stranger who was seen arguing with Isabel just hours before her death.

The police have too many suspects and too many soft alibis. Leah needs to prove to the sexy new chief of police that she had nothing to do with Isabel’s death.

Leah loves a good mystery. Can she find the killer before the police arrest her for murder or will she spend Christmas in jail?


“So you found the victim about seven fifty?” asked the baby-faced young cop about twenty minutes later.

Why was everyone so young? The name on his badge read Keith Cisneros. I have always been a little nervous around police officers. I’m not sure why. Other than the occasional speeding ticket, I don’t break any laws. Maybe it’s the uniform or just the authority figure mystique. However, I couldn’t be nervous around Keith. First, he was just too young. Second, I didn’t have any nerves left. I was too wet, too cold, and too miserable. And third, I knew Keith. Not well, but well enough to not find him intimidating.

We were standing by the dumpster and trying not to look at Isabel. I don’t think Keith had ever seen a dead body either because the look on his face made me think he wanted to follow in my footsteps – scream, run into the nearest building, and lose his lunch. But the kid was made of sterner stuff. My estimation of him rose as he held his ground and questioned me.

“What were you doing out here?” he asked. Okay, so my estimation of him fell a little. I glanced at the trash bags sitting at our feet and tried to keep my voice even as I answered.

“I was taking out the trash.”

“So did you…”

“Cisneros.” A deep, smoky voice cut through the night. Both of us jumped and turned toward the voice. Keith’s car was parked nearby, and his front lights were illuminating the vicinity around the dumpster. With the lights from the nearby stores, it was a well-lit area. From the shadows, a figure emerged. If I had any nerves left, I might have been a little anxious. The man walking toward us moved like a stalking panther. Smooth, long strides that ate up the space.

He was breathtaking. Not gorgeous or handsome but there was a power about him that drew the eye. He wasn’t exceptionally tall, standing about five eleven, but his shoulders were broad and his hips narrow. There wasn’t an ounce of fat on his lean, hard body. Dark hair cut short in a military style covered his head. His face was attractive in a timeless way. Chiseled and clean-shaven but with just a hint of a five o’clock shadow. He had intense green eyes that swept over me briefly before settling on Keith. He was dressed casually in blue jeans, a dark t-shirt, and a navy sports coat. He had to be freezing, but it certainly didn’t show.

He looked familiar, but I knew we had never met. I would have remembered him. He wasn’t the type of man you would ever forget. I searched my brain for a name to go with the face but came up empty. He stopped between us and turned to Keith. “What have we got?”

The kid stood straighter. I guess the man was his supervisor. Although he didn’t look much older than I did, his physical presence alone commanded authority. Keith answered quickly while consulting his notes. “Victim identified as Isabel Meeks. Gunshot wound to the chest, close range.”

The man looked at Isabel still sitting where I found her. He leaned closer. “Looks like a Glock 9mm.”

I was impressed. He was able to identify the type of gun by looking at the body. I owned a Glock and also knew what type of bullet hole it made, but I would have never been able to tell by looking at Isabel. Keith nodded and then looked back at his notes. “She was found about seven fifty p.m. by Ms. Norwood.”

Keith pointed to me, and the man turned his eyes to mine. His gaze swept down my body and back up. He then dismissed me without a second glance before turning back to the rookie. “Has the ME been called?”

Now, I know that I am not the most attractive person in the world. I am what most people would call average. Average height, average weight, average looks, but being dismissed so completely really pissed me off. I was cold, wet, tired, and quite frankly, still a little queasy. And it had been a really bad day. The two men were in deep conversation about the medical examiner when I interrupted.

“Can I leave now?”

Both of them turned toward me. Keith seemed a little surprised that I was still there. I guess he had forgotten about me. The other man just seemed irritated that I had interrupted him.

“You found the body?” he asked and then continued when I nodded, “We’ll need to ask you some questions.”

Keith had been asking me questions. My nerves were shot, my temper short, and I had had enough of standing out in the freezing rain. I probably shouldn’t have mouthed off to a police officer, but I figured my day couldn’t get any worse. I summoned up my inner diva, gave him my most haughty look, and asked in a snooty tone. “And you are?”

He stared at me a minute, his eyes hard and unyielding. He raised his eyebrows just a notch, pulled out a badge, and held it toward me. “Chief of Police Alexander Griggs.”

Well, damn, my day just got worse.

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About the Author

B. L. Blair writes mystery/romance stories. Like most authors, she has been writing most of her life and has dozens of books started. She just needs the time to finish them.

She is the author of the Leah Norwood Mysteries and the Lost and Found Pets Mystery Novellas. She loves reading books, writing books, and traveling wherever and as often as time and money allows. She is currently working on her latest book set in Texas, where she lives with her family.

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Cracker Town by W.F. Ranew

In 1955, Cleet Wrightman is found guilty of murdering a woman and sent to the Georgia State Mental Hospital to serve out his time until 1973. In spring of that year, young agent Red Farlow investigates the slayings of three members of the Goings family in Valdosta, but he was never able to apprehend the murderer.

Fifty years later, the surviving son hires Red to revisit the crime and track down the killer. As he begins his cold-case probe, uncanny coincidences emerge from a key witness and old interview files. He follows a lead to Cleet’s hometown of Damville and its polluted Cracker Town area and discovers two brothers prone to violence are the ones speaking up the loudest against Cleet. But where is he? Cleet hasn't been seen since his 1973 release. Red believes the man is still alive and knows who the real killer is but finding both proves challenging.

Red's going to need more than old investigation files and DR. Goings's clinical notes if he's going to solve this cold case.


Five days before, Cleet tried hitching a ride after walking three miles down the road from the state mental hospital.

Nobody slowed for him. Nobody stopped.

In fact, most drivers sped up to get past the newly released inmate. Not that they knew he was one. They didn’t. They just assumed anyone thumbing a ride so near the Milledgeville state mental hospital might not be a suitable driving companion.

Cleet knew this. He’d escaped three times, and no drivers stopped for him on those occasions either. Except this day was different as he had a legal release. Still, no one even braked, let alone give him a ride to south Georgia and a visit he needed to pay before heading on down the road.

The memories haunted Cleet. Arrested for killing a woman…the lunacy board…the mental hospital. All the time, he kept mum.

After all those years, a superior court judge ruled in Cleet’s favor and set him free. Seems another man bragged to a Georgia prison cellmate he’d killed young women in South Georgia around the same time Cleet was accused.

Cleet knew the man had lied, at least where Mitsy’s killing was concerned. He didn’t know why Mitsy died, but if he had stabbed her to death—which he didn’t—it was because she wouldn’t pay him for the Bible. Not that the debt in itself was a reason to kill anyone. Cleet told his Aunt Gladys, who visited just after the hospital admitted him. Years later, Gladys hired a lawyer. Eventually, Cleet got cut loose.

Now, he was a free man.

Cleet’s release befuddled him more than anyone else.

Still, he said nothing. To nobody. No way.

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About the Author

W.F. Ranew writes the Red Farlow Mysteries series from Tirgearr Publishing, the latest of which is book five, Cracker Town.

Ranew is a former newspaper reporter, editor, and communication executive. He started his journalism career covering sports, police, and city council meetings at his hometown newspaper, The Quitman Free Press. He also worked as a reporter and editor for several regional dailies: The Augusta (Ga.) Chronicle, The Florida Times-Union, and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

He lives with his wife in Atlanta and St. Simons Island, Ga.

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Dangerous Charade by Suzanne Baginskie

When an undercover sting in Nevada at a Las Vegas Casino goes wrong, FBI Agent Noelle Farrell’s cover is blown, and someone wants revenge. Noelle is sent to Florida under the Witness Protection Program where she runs into her old partner, FBI Agent Kyle Rivers, a man she worked closely with and admired. Kyle’s mourning his father. He failed to keep him safe from a deadly stalker. Deep in hiding as a witness for the IRS, someone targets Noelle. She fears for herself and her four-year-old daughter’s safety. Noelle struggles to keep her independence. Kyle vows to protect Noelle, unaware she has a secret—one her assailants already know.


Las Vegas – Midnight, 1999

Stay calm. Deny everything.

FBI Agent Noelle Farrell, alias Tina Ryan, longed to be miles away from the glitzy neon lights of Las Vegas. Instead, she rode the express elevator of the Galaxy Hotel & Casino with its President, her fiancé, Nick Marino. While the car lowered, she reassured herself tomorrow night she’d be at home with Lauren, her four-year-old daughter, if she’d survive the next few hours.

“You were the last one to handle the flash drive. How could it just disappear?” Nick frowned in her direction, leaned back, and crossed his forearms over his broad chest. Anger sparked in his dark brown eyes.

“Nick, I’ve already told you. I locked it in the safe, as usual.” Noelle braced herself, the charade must go on. Her fingers fiddled with the two carat diamond engagement ring weighing down her left hand. The expensive piece of jewelry was as alien as their relationship but acting her part to perfection had made her privy to Nick’s illegal betting accounts. Mission accomplished. Almost.

The elevator halted. Soft bells chimed before the doors hissed opened. Nick stormed out swearing. He paused, whirled around, and faced her with his right hand curved into a fist.

“You need to understand how important this is. The casino’s private accounting backup drive is missing. As the hotel’s CEO, I’m responsible. That USB drive holds confidential information. If it gets into the wrong hands…” Nick’s long fingers raked through his short, spiked black hair. His lips tightened.

Noelle’s heart pounded against her ribs. His accusing tone almost forced her to press the up button. She stood strong. She hadn’t come this far to fail. “Dear God, Please watch over me, for Lauren’s sake.” Head angled high, she ventured over the threshold and into the private lobby. Darkness spilled in through the massive plate-glass windows filtering out the flashing neon city displays. Not a soul stirred.

Gaining access to the flash drive had taken months longer than she originally planned. When she’d signed the FBI waver, she knew the assignment would be a dangerous one. Up close and personal, her supervisor had joked. Now with the drive missing, Nick had been placed into a very uncomfortable situation. The data storage device held all the offline illegal bookie accounts and betting clientele the IRS needed to seize the Lucky Galaxy Hotel & Casino for fraud and back tax evasion.

Nick glanced at the Coach purse slung over her right shoulder. Fear gnawed at her throat. Did he think she’d hidden it inside? Noelle wasn’t careless and knew better than to take that risk. Earlier, she’d mailed the evidence in a padded manila envelope at the Las Vegas Post Office addressed to a fictitious company’s P.O. Box in Virginia.

She sauntered toward Nick, smiled, and patted his arm. “Darling, I’m sure it’s just an oversight. Maybe your brother Carl borrowed it to find a client’s address or phone number. Why don’t you call him? It’s not too late.” Noelle studied his face, their eyes locked. He dug into his pocket for his cell phone.

A gunshot exploded, deafening Noelle’s ears. Her high-pitched scream echoed against the vibrant hotel walls. Nick slumped forward, garbled a strangled gasp, and collapsed in her arms. Together, they tumbled to the floor. She struggled beneath him to free herself and then rolled him aside.

She eyed the shooter. With nowhere to hide goose bumps rose on her skin. Was she next?

“I told you I’d get you, Nick Marino,” the tall, lanky shooter yelled out and waved his weapon. His facial features were shadowed by his hoodie. She’d never forget the deep bass tone of his voice. Dressed in all black, he paused in the L-shaped hallway near the restricted lobby entrance for staff and corporate members, his gun aimed in her direction.

She flattened against the ceramic tiled floor and shut her eyes. Is this how she would die? “Please God…no.”

The pistol fired.

A bullet struck her forearm. She winced, crouching as low as she could.

Guitars, drums, and cymbals boomed through the hotel speaker system. The heavy metal rock music signaled the nightclub had opened. Her assailant swiftly darted into the corridor, his rubber-soled sneakers barely audible.

Noelle’s limbs filled with energy. Instinct told her to follow. She stood tall, jogged a few steps forward and froze. If she searched and subdued him, it would be out of character. She paused and examined her arm, the bullet had only grazed its surface.

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About the Author

Suzanne Baginskie retired from a law firm after twenty-nine years as an office manager/paralegal. Writing for nineteen years, she has sold thirty-four mystery and romance stories, and twenty-one non-fiction stories to Chicken Soup for the Soul, two to Cup of Comfort and Guideposts. Her work also appears in Woman’s World, Plan B Magazine, First Magazine, True Romance, Turbulence and Coffee, Futures and Cat Magazine, etc. She is a member of MWA, FMWA, Sisters-in-Crime and The Short Mystery Fiction Society.

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Murder in the Badlands - Ghost & the Camper Kooky Mystery by Rita Moreau

Rita Moreau's 3rd book in this hilarious series...

More antics as Mabel Gold and her friend — spirit — ghost - whatever you want to call Irma, gets Mabel into yet another mystery. Things can go bad quickly in the Badlands...

Everything about Mabel’s golden years has been a surprise. The divorce, Irma the ghost haunting her vintage camper, dead guys whose murders Mabel must help Irma solve every stop of the way.

Mabel and her ghostly roommate Irma, along with friend Lili and her retired homicide detective husband Bob, have made it to the Badlands. From the get-go, they were smack dab in the middle of another murder.

Ralph, an old Marine buddy asks Bob, to investigate the death of his son Danny. His death has been ruled an accident. Ralph didn’t agree. He’s sure his son was pushed off top of Mount Rushmore. Right near the Hall of Records, or as it’s called in the movies and YouTube, the Secret Chamber. But why?

Did Danny, a skilled rock climber and much sought-after guide, find long-lost gold?

Were Danny’s last words–those of Crazy Horse–Hokahey–it’s a good day to die–leave a clue as to his demise?

Will Irma run out of costumes from her ghostly cyberspace closet before they solve the murder?

Will Irma’s new friend Poker Alice–the wild west’s famous gambler and brothel owner help Mabel and Irma figure out what happened to Danny?

And what about Cindy Lou and her side-kick Top Gun Colonel Clark–did they have a secret that Danny uncovered that fatal night outside the Secret Chamber?

Can Mabel and Irma catch the killer before Mabel joins Irma crashing through the Pearly Gates?

Murder in the Badlands is the high spirited third book in the hilarious Ghost & the Camper Kooky Mystery series. If you like golden girl sleuths, zany characters, and sardonic humor, then you’ll love this kooky mystery. Hoping you like camping!

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About the Author

Rita Moreau is the author of the Mary Catherine Mahoney Mystery series and the Ghost & Camper Kooky Mystery series.

A workaholic by nature, upon retirement, Rita Moreau began work on her bucket list, writing a book. Traveling the national parks with her husband George in a vintage Bluebird motor home, (on George’s list), Rita completed her first novel Bribing Saint Anthony. Back home she completed Nuns! Psychics! & Gypsies! OH! NO, Feisty Nuns and The Russian & Aunt Sophia and The House on Xenia. Last year when we entered the Twilight Zone Rita wrote the first two new novels in the Ghost & the Camper series. Rita and her husband live in a postcard called Florida where he has fun telling everyone he is the author’s husband. When not writing she joins PatZi Gil on the Joy on Paper radio program with Book Buzz Mysteries, or you can find her teaching SilverSneakers fitness classes and doing her best to keep busy. She loves connecting with readers. Visit her at www.RitaMoreau.com or find her on Facebook at facebook.com/RitaMoreauAuthor. She would love to hear from you.

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Find Her by Chris Patchell

Find Her

A Lacey James Mystery Book 1

by Chris Patchell

Genre: Mystery, Thriller 

A simple heist at a hardware store uncovers a brutal crime spree leaving a police officer dead, several innocents murdered, and the small Oregon town of Sweet Home shaken to its core.

Veteran police officer Lacey James answers the call. The robbery suspect has fled, but the items she finds inside the car at the scene raise the hackles on the back of Lacey’s neck: a hammer, a tarp, zip ties, and a stolen gun. This discovery pushes her suspicions to an all-time high and has her questioning what dark and dangerous crimes this man may be involved in?

Eden Mills is smart, kind, and fun-loving. Not the kind to make enemies or run away. But Eden has a stalker, and when Lacey discovers that Eden is missing, possibly kidnapped, there is plenty of reason to fear the worst. As Lacey peels back the layers of the suspect’s crimes, her pursuit of the truth leads to unthinkable tragedy.

A colleague is dead. Her suspect isn’t talking. And time may be running out for Eden.

Can Lacey find her before one man’s obsession destroys more lives?

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Sadie Gibbons knew trouble when she saw it, and it was right there in aisle four. Born and bred in Sweet Home, Oregon, she knew all nine thousand eight hundred and fifteen souls in town, and the man standing in front of the hammers wasn’t from around here. She did know that he’d been standing there way too long. Professional carpenters who treated their hammers with the same reverence that her second husband, Jimmy, lavished on his prized jigsaw didn’t take this long to make a decision. There were only four models to choose from for god’s sake.

But that wasn’t all. There was something about the way he acted that made the fine hairs on the back of Sadie’s neck rise. He stood there like a zombie, totally zoned out, as her grandkids would say. It just wasn’t right.

Oh, he was pretty enough. The oversized sweatshirt, ball cap, and sunglasses he wore couldn’t hide the fact that he was a good-looking man. Hell, her first husband had been pretty too, and he was a sneaky sonofabitch, god rest his poor departed soul. Like this guy. He avoided eye contact at all costs. And what was worse, he moved like he knew where the security cameras were placed and avoided them.

This wasn’t one of those fancy Home Depot’s where there were more security cameras than potted plants. That said, they weren’t entirely without eyes. Half a dozen cameras were placed at high traffic points providing a bird’s eye view of the store because in this day and age, you couldn’t trust anyone. Especially strangers. Why just a few months ago they caught a guy stealing a chainsaw. A goddamned chainsaw. Not exactly the kind of thing you could hide under one of them hoodies.

Sadie kept her eyes pinned on the stranger, not wanting to miss a single thing. But then the telephone rang. She heaved a heavy sigh. The phone was on the other side of the counter, and she couldn’t very well answer it and still keep the hammer guy in her sights. Where the hell was Jimmy? Probably out for a smoke or fooling around in the paint aisle. Never in her life had she met a man more obsessed with paint.

A few rings in, it became obvious that Jimmy wasn’t gonna answer. Swearing under her breath, Sadie crossed to the end of the counter and picked it up. Apparently, her old bones didn’t move fast enough. By the time she answered, the caller had hung up. What was wrong with people anyway? Always in a rush. Like she didn’t have better things to do than stand by the phone waiting for a call.

Slamming the phone down, Sadie hurried back to her post, where she’d spent the last fifteen minutes watching the hammer guy, only to find that she was too late. He was gone. Her gaze ricocheted off the mirrors perched in the corners of the store, checking the aisles to see if she could catch sight of him, but as her father would have said, he disappeared like spit in the wind.


Sadie hustled her bulk around the corner of the counter and down the aisle where they kept the carpentry tools. Sure enough, a hammer was missing—one of the twenty-ounce Eastwing rip hammer jobbies with the leather grips. Just yesterday morning, she had refreshed stock in this aisle and knew that since then, not a single one had been sold.


Where in the blazes was that man?

“Hold your horses, woman,” Jimmy groused.

Sadie shook her head impatiently. With a stir stick in one hand and paint swatches in the other, Jimmy emerged from the rows of paint cans.

“Jimmy, the guy in aisle four.”


Jimmy craned his head around toward the front of the store. The white strands in his caterpillar eyebrows caught the light, and Sadie huffed out a breath. He was clueless. The hammer guy was long gone.

Frustration rose from the pit of Sadie’s belly and clawed its way up her throat. She let Jimmy have it.

“He walked right by you. Didn’t you see him?”

Jimmy lifted his ball cap and scratched at the stubborn tufts of white hair that clung to his freckled crown. That man was useless. Worse than useless. If it weren’t for her, she didn’t know what would come of him or the store. Jaw clenched; Sadie marched down the aisle as fast as her arthritic knees would carry her. She grabbed the phone and dialed 911.

“What’s the nature of your emergency?”

“We’ve been robbed.”

Sadie tersely relayed the details to the 911 operator and slammed the phone down, wondering how long it would take the local yokels to arrive. Jimmy wagged his head at her, as if she’d lost her mind.

“Woman, you’ve been watching too many true crime shows. You think everyone is the Son of Sam.”

“That guy didn’t look any more like David Berkowitz than I do, and I sure as hell didn’t need any barking dogs to tell me that he was a thief. Besides, I placed an order for those hammers just last week. There were three of them in Monday’s order and now, there’s only two. I may not have graduated high school, but I sure as hell can count.”

For once, Jimmy didn’t argue.


Chris Patchell is the award-winning, USA Today Bestselling author of five novels. A former tech worker turned author, Chris Patchell pens suspense novels set in the Pacific Northwest.

Her novels have been praised by Kevin O’Brien and Robert Dugoni, and her rich complex plot lines and well-drawn characters will keep you turning pages well into the night. When she’s not writing books or watching football, Chris is hanging out with her husband, kids, and two crazy dogs.

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