Someone Missing from Malapais Mountain by Kris Bock

About the Book

Former international war correspondent Kate Tessler had to trade her illustrious journalism career for her childhood bedroom after a brush with death almost took her leg. But when the editor of a local newspaper asks for her help, Kate is drawn back into her old world. A journalist covering a sprawling story of political corruption may have uncovered explosive new evidence, but she was run off the road in a hit-and-run accident. Gabriella, Kate’s mentee, has been injured and can only communicate by blinking yes or no to questions. Meanwhile, another reporter is missing.

The editor is short-staffed, with no one experienced enough to handle something this dangerous. Kate can never give up on the search for truth, so with her trusty senior sidekicks and new PI partner—her sister, Jen—Kate takes the case. Can a fifty-year-old journalist still recovering from a war injury survive the dangers of the Arizona desert long enough to catch a killer?

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The doorbell rang.

I stroked Harlequin, my parents’ black and white cat, who liked to snuggle me whenever I had the heating pad on my leg. “Sorry, can’t disturb the cat.”

Jen heaved a theatrical sigh and headed for the door. We weren’t expecting anyone, so it was probably a delivery—or else Clarence, with a report on some odd crime he thought we should investigate to keep him entertained. Since I’d been home, I’d helped get three murderers arrested. Bored retired men remained the biggest danger in my life, followed by my restless sister.

I heard a woman’s voice from outside. “Kate Tessler?”

Jen stepped back and gestured toward me.

A petite woman, probably my age give or take a few years, stepped into the foyer. Her gaze landed on me and she marched forward. “April Tran, editor-in-chief of the Sun.” Her chin length black hair swung forward as she leaned over to hold out her hand.

I shook the offered hand. “Pleased to meet you. What can I do for you?” I tried to keep my demeanor professional. It would be the only professional thing about me. I wore baggy shorts and an ancient Def Leppard T-shirt with a coffee stain down the front, and my short, silver hair stuck up all over. I hadn’t bothered to shower that morning, since I wasn’t expecting to see anyone important.

April Tran couldn’t have weighed more than a hundred pounds, but she dropped down on the other end of the sofa hard enough to bounce the cushions and make Harlequin grumble.

“I need your help.” She frowned at the cat and the heating pad. “I hope you can help me.”

“If you explain what you need, I’ll let you know,” I said.

Jen quietly took her seat across the coffee table and picked up the notebook and pen she kept within reach.

“Gabriella told me about you,” April said.

Gabriella Dempsey was a reporter with the Sun. I’d done her a favor a few weeks before by giving her info about cyberbullying at a local high school. Well, technically I’d distracted her from the bigger scandal involving Todd’s political opponent and a shady developer who’d committed murder. But the cyberbullying story tied into that, and since the bigger story broke, Gabriella had been covering it as well.

“I’ve been following her reports,” I said. “She’s doing well.”

“She’ll have my job one day,” April said without heat. “At least, if she lives long enough.”

I stared. “Is that a general comment, or are you worried about her safety?”

“She was in a car accident last night,” April said. “Gabriella is in the hospital.”

“Oh no. Is she—” I wouldn’t ask if Gabriella was all right, given what April had already said. “What are her injuries?”

“Broken arm, cracked ribs, burns. She’s conscious, but between the breathing tube and the burns on her hands, she can’t really communicate.” April gulped a couple of times. “She can’t talk or write.”

I felt lightheaded. My damaged leg was bad enough. Losing the ability to speak and write was devastating, especially for a reporter.

I made myself breathe. “Do they think she’ll get better?”

April gave a shrug and half shake of her head that suggested uncertainty.

“Is that what you meant by if she lives long enough?” I asked.

“Not exactly.” April’s hands made fists on her thighs. “The accident wasn’t an accident. Someone ran her car off the road.”


About the Author

Kris Bock writes novels of romance, mystery, and suspense. In the Accidental Detective series, a witty journalist solves mysteries in Arizona. Desert Gold starts the Treasure Hunting Romantic Suspense series and follows the hunt for a long-lost treasure in the New Mexico desert. The Furrever Friends Sweet Romance series features the employees and customers at a cat café. Get free mystery stories, a cat café novella, and more when you sign up for the Kris Bock newsletter at

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The Ghost in the County Courthouse by Barry Forbes

About the Book

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

So, uh, okay. Wait! I mean… a ghost? No way. They don’t exist, right?

Right. In that case, who’s ripping off precious relics from the Yavapai Courthouse Museum? How does this—this, well, whatever it is—how does it bypass the museum’s security system?

And while we’re at it, how does the “specter” walk through locked doors and windows? As in seriously locked, and always in the middle of the night in a spooky, century-old building. It’s enough to freak you right out!

If the “ghost” strikes again, the museum’s very future is in doubt. A mystifying game of cat and mouse ensues as the mystery searchers play detective. . . good, old-fashioned sleuthing is paired with a range of high-tech devices to beat the strange intruder at its—his?—own game. It’s a thrilling ride but time is running out!

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.

Amazon ~~ Bakkenbooks


“But that’s impossible, sir!” Tom blurted.

Sixteen-year-old twins Tom and Suzanne Jackson and their best friends, Pete and Kathy Brunelli, glanced at one another, baffled. They were sitting across a desk from Dr. William Wasson, the dean of Aztec College and the curator of the Yavapai Court house Museum. The dean had called them to an emergency Friday morning meeting at the museum, one hour before its opening to the public.

It was a fine day in early July. The Jacksons and Brunellis were fresh off their adventures on Apache Canyon Drive, a rural area just north of their mountain city home of Prescott, Arizona—“Every bodys hometown. Their success in foiling a cruel migrant-laborer smuggling and counterfeiting ring—and restoring a lost little girl from Mexico to her mother—was not only front-page news in The Daily Pilot, Prescott’s hometown newspaper. The story had gone national. “Four young mystery searchers had solved the cases,” it read. Local ones too.

The drama captured Dean Wasson from word one: “Mystery searchers.” He repeated it later to his staff, “Just what we need.”

The dean was a tall man in his sixties, distinguished-looking, with short gray hair and steel-rim glasses; he wore a white shirt and tie. Worry had etched his face. “Yes, you’re right: it is impossible —or ought to be. Yet someone or something emerges at will and we’re powerless to stop it.” He shrugged his shoulders. “It’s grotesque for sure. The museum staff calls it a ghost but we don’t really believe that, of course. Then again, tell me what else walks through walls and bypasses the security system as if it doesn’t exist!”

Kathy, official notetaker and the youngest member of the team, scribbled away at high speed, her eyes darting around the room.

“Is there a pattern to the ghost’s appearances?” Pete asked. He was the impetuous one who always went straight to the point. “Like a particular day of the week?”

“Yes, and it’s a strange one,” the dean replied, peering at them over his glasses. “The ghost arrives to the minute —at two-oh-four a.m.—each time, but the nights are random. We haven’t a clue if he’ll show up tonight, sometime next week, or ever again, for that matter.”

He paused, deep in thought. Seconds from a circular wall clock pierced the silence with a deadened sound.

“Hopefully, he—or she, or it—won’t ever return, but we have our doubts. Our budget is tight—we’re still in a fund-raising mode for all the renovations. No way can we afford to pay for a security guard here overnight, every night.”

“Has anyone actually seen this ghost?” Suzanne asked, trying to wrap her mind around it.

“Oh, for certain!” Dean Wasson exclaimed. “The first time the mysterious thing appeared, it triggered the motion detectors. Strange, because there was no sign of a break-in. How would our system detect an immaterial entity? I’ve always wondered what the —well, whatever it is—was trying to tell us, because the alarm never activated again. We can’t figure out why.”

“When did this occur?” Tom asked. He was the quiet, thoughtful one. Every word counted.

“It was May twenty-second,” the dean replied. “Roger Holloway, our custodian, received an emergency call from the security company. It was after two a.m. That call should have gone to our director, Gloria Waldner, but she was out on vacation. Roger lives just a few blocks away. He rushed over, arriving ahead of the police, and looked through the windows. A ghostly figure was moving through the displays. Shimmering white from head to toe. Scared poor Roger witless.”

“Oh, wow, what happened next?” Kathy paused in her note taking. She shuddered. Could there be a ghost, after all? Was it even possible? 


About the Author

Barry Forbes began his writing career in 1980, writing and producing literally hundreds of film and video corporate presentations, winning a handful of industry awards along the way. He also served as an editorial writer for Tribune Newspapers and wrote a couple of non-fiction books. Later in life. . .

"When I started the Mystery Searchers 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."

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Born to Bead Wild by Janice Peacock

About the Book

Something is strange at Full Moon Farms—and it isn’t just Val’s Eggplant Surprise for dinner.

Jax, Tessa, and the rest of the arts and crafts retreat attendees are shocked when they find charred bones in a glass kiln. Are the remains human or animal?

The camp owners insist the bones in the coffin-sized kiln are from a deer, but Jax finds a clue that leads her to believe the owners are lying. After Tessa’s least favorite person turns up dead, there is no doubt that a killer lurks somewhere in the deep forest of the Olympic Peninsula. As clues lead Jax and Tessa down mysterious paths, they hope they live long enough to find the culprit and make it out alive.

~~ Amazon ~~

About the Author

Janice Peacock is a cozy mystery author who specializes in craft and hobby mysteries. She loves to write about artists who find new ways to live their lives and perhaps catch a criminal or two in the process. While working in a glass studio with several colorful and quirky artists, she was inspired to write the Glass Bead Mystery Series. The Ruby Shaw Mysteries, which are set in a small hillside mining town, were inspired by her trips to Jerome, Arizona, and Jacksonville, Oregon.

When Janice isn’t writing about amateur detectives, she wields a 2,500-degree torch to melt glass and create one-of-kind beads and jewelry. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband, an enormous white dog, and an undisclosed number of cats. Visit Janice online at

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Cowboys and Chaos by Elizabeth Pantley

Cowboys and Chaos by Elizabeth Pantley Banner

Cowboys and Chaos

Magical Mystery Book Club #3

by Elizabeth Pantley


Cowboys and Chaos by Elizabeth Pantley

This is no ordinary book club! When the group chooses a book, they are whisked away from reality to find themselves totally immersed in the story. The characters, the setting, and the murder all come to life. In order to exit the book, they’ll need to solve the mystery and reach The End.

This time, the club chooses a mystery that takes place in a quaint western town – in the old Wild West. That sounds like great fun, until they arrive in the dusty old town in the Arizona desert, among cowboys and saloons. They discover that the outhouse isn’t the worse thing about this trip.

The good news is that Paige, Glo, Zell, Frank, and the other members of the club discover plenty of surprises here, and they have a great time visiting a piece of history. They’ll get to live through many exciting moments as they unravel this cozy mystery story.

Book Details:

Genre: Paranormal Cozy Mystery
Published by: Better Beginnings, Inc.
Publication Date: November 2022
Number of Pages: 250
Series: Magical Mystery Book Club #3
Book Links: Amazon | Goodreads

Read an excerpt from Chapter 2 of Cowboys and Chaos:

“Hey,” said Forrest. “Who’s that guy in the backyard?”

Everyone shuffled over to the window. A man was roaming around the property with what appeared to be a metal detector in his hands.

He removed his brown fedora, and his wild brown hair joined his golden scarf to blow wildly in the wind. He methodically ran the device back and forth over the lawn. Every few minutes he would stop and kneel on the grass, leaving wet spots on the knees of his khaki cargo pants. He’d put his ear to the ground, then pop up with a gleeful look on his face and continue scanning the lawn. He reached into one of the pockets of his brown safari jacket and pulled out a pair of binoculars. He aimed them around the yard and then up into the sky.

I opened the back door and stepped outside.

“Hello? Excuse me?” I called. “Can I help you?”

The man walked briskly over to us. He thrust out his hand toward me. “Dr. Atticus Papadopoulos. A pleasure.”

“Paige Erickson. Nice to meet you.” Even in shock, my manners prevailed.

The group had followed me outside and were standing in a circle gawking at him. The man put down his device and efficiently went from person to person. He reached out and shook each person’s hand. He looked each one in the eye and listened intently to their name as if he were memorizing it. He even reached down and shook Frank’s paw.

Frank looked him up and down and examined his archaeological professor-like outfit. “Hello Dr. Jones. Welcome to the Snapdragon Inn.”

“Ah! Wonderful, wonderful. The cat speaks! Marvelous!” He clapped his hands. “Actually, it’s Dr. Papadopoulos, but you can call me Atticus,” he said, totally missing Frank’s reference to Dr. Indiana Jones from Raiders of the Lost Ark. “Your ability to communicate is one more sign that the crossover exists at this point! Brilliant, absolutely brilliant!”

When he completed the circle, he verified my suspicion that he’d been memorizing our names by pointing at each person in turn. “Paige. Glo. Zell, Sebastian, Vee, Moonbeam, Forrest. And of course, the fascinating, remarkable Frank.”

The cat stood taller, and I could just about see his head growing in size. Exactly what we needed, a person to boost Frank’s already bursting ego.

“Sooo, Atticus. What are you doing here?” Glo asked as she came to stand beside me, hands on her hips, looking the stranger in the eye.

“Yeah,” said Zell, charging to the front of the group and standing nearly toe to toe with him. She looked up into his face, her eyes narrowed in suspicion. With her diminutive size and cotton ball-like hair she looked anything but intimidating. “And what’s with the metal detector? Looking for buried treasure?”

“Ah, good question, Zell. This is not a meager metal detector. It alerts me to points of extraterrestrial energy.”

“Are you a kook, then?”

Atticus threw back his head and laughed, his wild hair flopping back and forth with the movement. “No, madam, not a kook. I am a doctor of astrobiology; my major area of interest is extraterrestrial technology and travel.”

“What the heck is astrobiology?” Zell squinted her eyes at him.

“A woman with a curious mind. I like it.” He nodded in approval.

I glanced at Glo and rolled my eyes. Great. Now another ego being stroked. Zell and Frank were already impossible to live with, this would boost their annoy-ability level.

“Astrobiology is the academic field that studies the origins of life on our Earth and the existence of life elsewhere in our universe. The study of extraterrestrial visits is my main area of interest. Your inn happens to be at a key crossover point for a confluence of energy.” He put his hands in his pockets and leaned back on his heels looking pleased with his discovery.

Zell had an abnormally studious look on her face. “What do you mean by a confluence of energy, Doctor?”

Glo and I chuckled, since Zell’s normal response to him would have been, “Huh? Whatcha talking about?”

“Excellent question, again.” He pointed at Zell with a snappy movement. “Energy encircles our planet both horizontally and vertically.” His arms flailed about as he demonstrated the circles, then he crossed his arms, one atop the other. “At certain points the lines join and there is a high level of intra-space energy. These locations are an ideal landing spot for extraterrestrials, or for the creation of a time/space portal. This inn sits directly atop a high energy confluence crossover point.”

“Well, that’s not a surprise,” said Zell. “We do have an enchanted library with magical books that take us inside them for adventures.”

“Zell!” We all yelled as one.

“Yes! I knew it!” Atticus pumped his arm. “I want in. Can you take me on one of your adventures?”


Excerpt from Cowboys and Chaos by Elizabeth Pantley. Copyright 2022 by Elizabeth Pantley. Reproduced with permission from Elizabeth Pantley. All rights reserved.


Author Bio:

Elizabeth Pantley

Elizabeth Pantley says that writing her Mystery and Magic book series is the most fun she's ever had at work. Fans of the series say her joy is evident through the engaging stories she tells. Elizabeth is also the international bestselling author of The No-Cry Sleep Solution and twelve other books for parents. Her books have been published in over twenty languages. She lives in the Pacific Northwest, a beautiful inspiration for her enchanted worlds.

Catch Up With Elizabeth Pantley:
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Instagram - @destinyfallsmystery
Facebook - @DestinyFallsMysteryandMagic



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The Push: A Rockfish Island Mystery II by J.C. Fuller

About the Book

Once again, death has found its way to Rockfish Island’s National Park, this time in the form of a terrible climbing accident. When Sheriff Lane discovers the victim has ties to an accidental drowning the summer before, she becomes suspicious the two deaths are linked and not accidents at all. Recruiting Park Ranger Phillip Russell into her investigation, the two begin looking into the past. Lane, digging into the life of the latest victim with her new deputy, Caleb Pickens, and Philip, befriending those who were involved in the prior death the summer before. It's not long before Philip becomes convinced Sheriff Lane is looking for murder and mayhem where there is none. But Lane, trusting her instincts and intuition, refuses to let the investigation fizzle out. Will the two deaths end up being a coincidence after all or will a murderer be unmasked?

~~ Amazon ~~



Birds exploded from the trees below, their wings furiously flapping against the damp air. Her feet stuttered to a stop, and she watched as they scattered, startled by the loud noise as much as she. Was someone behind her? Another hiker, perhaps? She heard, more than saw, the swaying of motion further down trail. A heavy movement against the bushes.

There again. Closer. Another crack, a snapping of branches underfoot. She sharply turned her body towards the sound.

“Hello?” she called out, a friendly lilt to her voice.

Adjusting the strap around her neck, she waited for a reply. There was nothing...only the sound of pattering raindrops bouncing off the plastic protecting her camera. She adjusted the strap again and took a halting step forward, straining to see through the shroud of morning mist. Was something there? It was hard to tell.

Fidgeting with her ponytail, she unconsciously leaned forward, her eyes raking across the scenery below. The trees and bushes, as if sensing her full attention upon them, sat motionless in the settled silence. An eerie silence she suddenly thought and then scolded herself for being so dramatic. She was alone.

Relaxing her stance, she took a deep breath, slowly exhaling. It must have been nothing. The wind tossing and creaking the branches of a tree. A chipmunk or squirrel jumping from one limb to another. Nature simply being nature.

Even so, her sense of unease still lingered. Keeping her eyes down trail, she anxiously fumbled her cargo shorts. Feeling a familiar lump, she pulled a can of bear spray from her pocket and curled her thumb over the safety clip.

Rumor was, there had been a bear attack earlier in the year, around springtime. She hadn’t seen any bear tracks in the mud. However, this didn’t mean they weren’t around. Not to mention, there were cougars to be concerned about as well. Yet, here she was, up there all alone with just a can of bear spray. Or was she?

Curtly dismissing the thought, she suddenly felt silly. She was being paranoid and wasting time. Standing there, peering at nothing, while clutching a can of bear spray, wasn’t going to get her to where she needed to go.

Shoving the can roughly into her pocket, she gave the slate gray sky an appraising look before tugging her windbreaker hood further over her forehead and trudging ahead. There was still half a mountain to climb and not a lot of time to do it in.

So far, the morning mist layering the rugged terrain had made it hard to see her footing, and the steady drizzle of rain was making it hard to keep it. Both did little to hamper the young woman’s mood. The fact that this was her third morning climbing up The Mole Hill, a local nickname for the 5,372-foot mountain, with no sign of a mountain goat to be had…However, did dampen her mood quite a bit. Especially, since this was to be her last day before heading back home to the grind of the Emerald City.

Instructed to visit Rockfish Island by a local Seattle activist magazine, she had gone in hopes of attaining a few picturesque photos of the goats atop their craggy rock perches. The idea had seemed simple enough. Scramble up the rocky terrain. Find a few large, white-haired, black horned herbivores. Snap a few pictures and then down the mountain, she’d go. But the large goats weren’t as plentiful or as easy to spot as she had imagined they’d be. This was in part, she was finding out the hard way because the goats hadn’t taken to the island. At least, not as well as they had in more conducive areas.

According to her research, the mountain goat population had been introduced to the Rockfish National Park back in the 1920s. Around the same time as their introduction to the massive Olympic National Park where they flourished. So much so, several decades later, the Olympic National Park was wanting to re-home the goats to their natural habitat in the Cascade Mountains.

The magazine, which had contracted her agent for the photographs, wanted to stop the relocation. With their strongest weapon of opposition being the public, the magazine strategized the need to pull on people’s heartstrings. A good picture could do just that.

About the Author

J.C. Fuller is the author of The Rockfish Island Mystery series. A lover of all things mystery, especially thrillers and whodunits, she is excited to share her imagination with her readers and is currently working on expanding the series. She lives in Washington state and is a nature lover, enjoying the outdoors with her family whenever possible, and lives at home with her two faithful companion dogs, who also keep her feet warm when she's writing. Please enjoy Black Bear Alibi (Book 1), The Push (Book 2), and False Findings (Book 3).

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Someone Cruel in Coyote Creek: The Accidental Detective Book 3 by Kris Bock

About the Book

Turning fifty in her childhood bedroom wasn’t on her bucket list…

Kate Tessler is convinced her sister is trying to kill her. In fact, she might prefer death to Jen’s “50 for 50 Challenge,” where Kate will try fifty new things throughout the year she turns fifty. Still adjusting to her new underemployed life back in her childhood home in Phoenix, the last thing Kate wants is to prepare for paddle boarding, especially when she receives an anonymous message claiming that Mayor Todd Paradise is taking bribes. The author claims to have proof, including photos, and challenges Kate to publish the story.

Could good guy Todd, Kate’s almost boyfriend, really be corrupt or is someone trying to set him up? Kate sets out to discover the truth, with help from her multi-generational, unconventional, and often unhelpful crew. She thrived reporting from war zones as an international war correspondent, but can she survive a deadly fundraising party, a close encounter with a taser, a turn at an open mic night, and a hundred-pound dog named Whiskers?

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“You’re trying to kill me,” I said.

After a lifetime of desert living, I had not expected a watery death. I’d grown up in Arizona, spent much of my adult life as a war correspondent in the Middle East, and had returned to Arizona a few months earlier after a bomb tore up my leg. Now my sister had determined that I should do a “fifty at fifty” challenge, where I tried fifty new things the year I turned fifty.

“Don’t be a baby,” Jen said. “Lots of people do paddleboarding. Children do it.”

“Uh, you do realize it’s called stand-up paddleboarding? Have you seen me stand lately?”

Jen gave a dramatic sigh. “You’re fine. You’re getting too dependent on the cane anyway.”

Easy for her to say. She wasn’t the one who had to use it. To be honest, my leg had gotten stronger over the last few months. I still limped and bumped into walls when I first got up after sleeping or sitting for a while, but once I’d taken twenty steps or so, I could usually walk straight.

The instructor got each of us set up with a life vest and a safety whistle. The whistle was required by law, in theory to warn boaters, but I figured it would also let me call for help if I got in trouble. An ankle leash would keep the board close, and the board could also be used as a flotation device. The paddle would help us move out into the lake and back again. Then we had hats, sunglasses, and long-sleeved shirts for sun protection. I’d gone into war zones with less equipment.

While the guide, Misty, helped the other people in the group, I quickly checked my email on my phone. I was hoping for a response from my boss at the Associated Press on my latest submission.

No response from her. I did see an email marked Urgent: Private, which was intriguing enough for a quick look.

Mayor Todd Paradise is taking bribes. Do you have the courage to publish the story?

I went cold, and not from the cool breeze off the lake. Todd Paradise had been a year behind me in high school. He’d gone from junior class president thirty years ago to mayor of our local town within the greater Phoenix area. I’d been spending time with him since I got home, and he seemed as nice and honest as ever.

The note wasn’t signed, and the email address didn’t provide any clues to the identity of the sender. It would be easy to dismiss the accusation, but that wouldn’t do Todd any favors. I could see three possibilities. Todd was taking bribes, in which case the story should be told, regardless of my personal feelings. Todd had done something that led someone to incorrectly believe he was taking bribes, in which case it was better to find out what was going on now, before the accusations became public. Or someone was targeting Todd with lies, in which case he needed to know that.

I emailed back: I’ll need proof and I need to know who you are.

“Time to put your phones away,” Misty said. Many people had been taking pictures of themselves or each other as they geared up. Now Misty collected the phones to stow them in the van. None of us could guarantee we wouldn’t take a spill into the water, and I could pretty much guarantee I would. The company had waterproof cameras for sale for those who wanted to record their adventures. Jen had one, of course.

We practiced getting onto the board and standing up several times on land before wading into the water. “I’m going to get you for this,” I whispered to Jen. “Be honest. Your real business plan is to make money off of humiliating pictures of me, isn’t it? You realize I don’t have any money to pay blackmail.”

“That’s fine,” she said. “The real money is in ads on YouTube videos. I’ll need you to go viral though, so make it good.” 

About the Author

Kris Bock writes novels of romance, mystery, and suspense. In the Accidental Detective series, a witty journalist solves mysteries in Arizona. Desert Gold starts the Treasure Hunting Romantic Suspense series and follows the hunt for a long-lost treasure in the New Mexico desert. The Furrever Friends Sweet Romance series features the employees and customers at a cat café. Get free mystery stories, a cat café novella, and more when you sign up for the Kris Bock newsletter at

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Wined and Died in New Orleans (A Vintage Cookbook) by Ellen Byron

About the Book

The second in a fantastic new cozy mystery series with a vintage flair from USA Today bestselling and Agatha Award–winning author Ellen Byron.

It’s hurricane season in New Orleans and vintage cookbook fan Ricki James-Diaz is trying to shelve her weather-related fears and focus on her business, Miss Vee’s Vintage Cookbook and Kitchenware Shop, housed in the magnificent Bon Vee Culinary House Museum.

Repairs on the property unearth crates of very old, very valuable French wine, buried by the home’s builder, Jean-Louis Charbonnet. Ricki, who’s been struggling to attract more customers to Miss Vee’s, is thrilled when her post about the discovery of this long-buried treasure goes viral. She’s less thrilled when the post brings distant Charbonnet family members out of the woodwork, all clamoring for a cut of the wine’s sale.

When a dead body turns up in Bon Vee’s cheery fall decorations, the NOPD zeroes in on Eugenia Charbonnet Felice as the prime suspect, figuring that as head of the Charbonnet family, she has the most to gain. Ricki is determined to uncover the real culprit, but she can’t help noticing that Eugenia is acting strangely. Ricki wonders what kind of secret her mentor has bottled up, and fears what might happen if she uncorks it.

In the second Vintage Cookbook Mystery, Ricki has to help solve a murder, untangle family secrets, and grow her business, all while living under the threat of a hurricane that could wipe out everything from her home to Bon Vee.

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About the Author

Ellen’s Cajun Country Mysteries have won the Agatha Award for Best Contemporary Novel and multiple Lefty Awards for Best Humorous Mystery. Bayou Book Thief will be the first book in her new Vintage Cookbook Mysteries. She also writes the Catering Hall Mystery series under the name Maria DiRico.

Ellen is an award-winning playwright, and non-award-winning TV writer of comedies like Wings, Just Shoot Me, and Fairly Odd Parents. She has written over two hundred articles for national magazines but considers her most impressive credit working as a cater-waiter for Martha Stewart. An alum of New Orleans’ Tulane University, she blogs with Chicks on the Case, is a lifetime member of the Writers Guild of America and will be the 2023 Left Coast Crime Toastmaster. Please visit her at

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February 8 – Cinnamon, Sugar, and a Little Bit of Murder – REVIEW (RECIPE)
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February 8 – Maureen's Musings – SPOTLIGHT
February 9 – Christy's Cozy Corners – REVIEW
February 9 – The Mystery of Writing – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
February 10 – View from the Birdhouse – REVIEW
February 10 – Lady Hawkeye – SPOTLIGHT
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February 21 – My Journey Back – CHARACTER GUEST POST 

The Perfect Neighborhood by Liz Alterman

About the Book

Think you know your neighbors? Think again.

When Allison Langley leaves her former rockstar husband in the middle of the night, her sudden departure becomes the talk of Oak Hill. But the gossip comes to an abrupt halt when five-year-old Billy Barnes disappears on his walk home from kindergarten. Is there a predator lurking within the idyllic community? Or, does the child's abduction have something to do with a longtime rift between his mother and half-brother? Weeks later, three-year-old Amy-Pat Davies vanishes from her backyard. In addition to sharing a zip code, the missing children have another thing in common—their babysitter, Cassidy McLean, who has a secret of her own.

Told from multiple points of view, THE PERFECT NEIGHBORHOOD is a twisty tale of domestic suspense, which explores the damage caused by infertility and infidelity as well as the intense pressure that stems from wanting the perfect family.

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For the past two months, we spoke of little other than the Langleys.

“Did you hear? She’s gone!”

“No! It can’t be true.”

“If they can’t make it work, none of us stands a chance!”

“Allison and Christopher Langley? Oh, it’s over. Totally. Someone saw him jogging with the dog. Just the two of them. That’s a first.”

“How long do you figure he’ll be alone?”

“Less than a minute. Look at him! I bet he won’t even have to set up an online dating profile.”

“How fast do you think he’ll decide to move back to the city? That house has to have, what, four bedrooms at least? And so close to the elementary school! Let me know the second he decides to sell! I know a couple who’d kill for that location.”

On and on it went for weeks as May slipped into June. Nearly everyone within a three-block radius of the Langleys’ well-maintained Colonial whispered about them over hedges, in the parks and playgrounds, while walking their dogs and toddlers around the pond in the heart of our otherwise sleepy town.

Some refused to believe it.

“The Langleys? No way!”

“I’m sure she’s just off filming another commercial. Probably somewhere fabulous. I wonder what she’s pushing this time? Toothpaste? Rental cars? What a life!”

That might have seemed plausible if Mary Alice Foster’s son, Phil, hadn’t seen Allison hurry into an Uber at four o’clock in the morning without a suitcase.

“Can we trust Phil? No disrespect, I’m just saying, he hasn’t seemed quite right since he got back.”

“Yeah, no offense, but Phil’s not exactly credible. And why is he watching their house? That’s creepy.”

Others insisted they’d seen it coming.

“I saw Allison looking teary at the drugstore a few weeks back, but I chalked it up to allergies. Trees budding and all. Show me a person whose eyes aren’t watering, right? Anyway, I said hello, and she sort of waved back. It wasn’t like we had a conversation. We didn’t really know each other. Did anyone really know the Langleys?”

“I bet she met someone else, maybe a hedge fund guy with a fat bank account.”

“Chris’s got money, doesn’t he? Royalties from that song? Wasn’t it in the background of those beer commercials? Plus, she’s probably made a bundle from those acting gigs.”

“I’m talking about private jet money. She’s what? Thirty-two? Thirty-four? Her window to bag a billionaire’s closing, and she knows it. Probably got tired of life in the ’burbs. Can you blame her?”

Finally, we were able to purge every ill-formed, mean-spirited thought we’d ever harbored about them. Neighborhood-scale vomiting. Sickening. And delicious. I was part of it too. The gossip. It was wrong yet impossible to resist. Some of us were almost rooting against them from the start. You couldn’t help it. So much to envy. Even their names—Allison and Christopher Langley—sounded clean, rich, regal.

With her thick dark hair, perfect smile, and bone structure that implied she’d still be gorgeous at eighty, everyone in the neighborhood treated her like royalty. Our very own Kate Middleton.

And him? His rock-star status, though faded, had even the most aloof mothers in Oak Hill swooning as they dropped off their budding musicians for the piano, guitar, and voice lessons he gave in the afternoons. Nannies, too, left minivans idling at the curb to walk their charges to the door for a chance to see him up close, maybe even talk to him, drink in a few sips of his voice, which carried the faintest hint of a Southern drawl, a souvenir from the years he lived in New Orleans.


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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Dead in a Pickup by B. L. Blair

About the Book

When Leah Norwood finds the body of Brandy Perez in a pickup parked outside a house for sale, she is once again drawn into the hunt for a killer. Brandy was a party girl with a questionable reputation. She dated a lot of different men including local bad-boy Marcus Cantono. At the time of her death, Brandy claimed to be in a relationship with a wealthy businessman, and there are only a few men in Reed Hill who fit that description.

Marcus is already dealing with vandals trying to close down his restaurant, his mother’s sixty-fifth birthday party, and family members restarting their drug dealing operation. He doesn’t need lead murder suspect added to the list. The evidence against him is strong, and Leah’s snooping soon makes her a target. She’s determined to help Marcus while trying to keep her relationship with the sexy chief of police intact.

Leah loves a good mystery. Can she find the killer before the killer finds her?

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Glancing at the pickup again, I wondered if the woman would know anything. If she was waiting for someone who lived in the area, she might be familiar with the residents. She still hadn’t moved, and I was getting a little worried. It was a warm spring day, and I was surprised she was sitting in the cab with the windows up and the engine turned off.

Before I could decide whether to approach her, my phone rang. Thinking it was Tracy, I answered without checking. I was surprised to hear Griggs on the line.

“Good morning,” he said when I answered.

“Hi,” I replied with a smile. “Please don’t tell me you can’t make lunch.”

“Are you kidding me?” he said, humor lining his voice. “I think I’d get run out of town if I canceled on you again.”

“Oh, I doubt that.”

“You weren’t at the council meeting or at the gym.”

“What do you mean?”

“Gabe made a very pointed comment at the city council meeting the other night about not showing for our double date.”

As one of the leading employers in town, Gabe sat on the city council. He had been instrumental in hiring Griggs as our police chief, and he and Griggs had become friends. Gabe, Olivia, Griggs, and I had planned to meet at the movies on Saturday. It was one of the times Griggs had to cancel. Gabe understood this. He was simply giving Griggs a hard time.

“He had to know you couldn’t help it,” I said.

“Sure. As a council member and city leader, he understands and supports my dedication to the job. But as your friend, he’s not happy.”

I could still hear the humor in Griggs’s voice so I didn’t apologize for Gabe’s behavior. My friends could be protective.

“Of course, Cantono wasn’t as understanding.”


“Yes. Marcus. When I saw him at the gym this morning, he asked how our date went. He wasn’t pleased when I told him I had to cancel. I think he might’ve threatened my life.”

I laughed. Marcus and Griggs had gotten off on the wrong foot. Griggs being law enforcement and Marcus being part of a law-breaking family hadn’t helped. They now seemed to have reached an understanding. Not exactly friends, but no longer enemies.

“I’m sure he didn’t mean it,” I said. “You must’ve gotten to the gym early.”

“Yeah. I got a decent night’s sleep as it was quiet at the station. No domestic calls, no accidents, and especially no murders. I had to sleep on the couch in my office, but I wasn’t disturbed. I think that may be what angered Cantono. He didn’t look like he had slept at all.”

“That’s odd. I saw him at the store yesterday. He didn’t mention any late plans. Just going to Bella’s to help out. Maybe he didn’t sleep well and went to the gym early to wear himself out so he could sleep tonight.”

“Maybe. He certainly looked tired, but enough about him. What are you doing?”

“I’m sitting on the porch of a house waiting for my real estate agent to arrive so she can show it to me. Do you know anything about an accident on the freeway?”

There was a short pause. “We heard about it, but it’s being handled by the state troopers. They didn’t ask for any assistance so it can’t be that bad.”

“Probably a fender-bender that backed up traffic. Tracy said she was almost to the exit. Hopefully, she’ll be here soon.”

Another pause. “You’re looking for a house?”

He sounded surprised. It had been my plan to purchase a house for years. I had been saving for a down payment that would allow me to have a reasonable monthly mortgage. We had paid off all our business loans, and the store was doing well. Buying a house had been such a big part of my life for a while now that I didn’t realize until that moment I had never mentioned it to Griggs. In some ways, it felt like we’d been dating forever, but in reality, we still barely knew each other. I took a few minutes to tell him about my plans.

“I just bought a house myself,” he said. “I thought I could show it to you today.”

“I’d love to see it.”

“Great. I’ll meet you at the store around one.”

I agreed, and we said goodbye. I was starting to get worried about Tracy. The ten minutes had stretched to thirty, and she still wasn’t anywhere in sight. I looked up and down the street. There was no traffic. Cars were parked along the curbs, but nothing was moving. It was a little eerie.

The woman in the pickup still hadn’t moved. I rose from the porch and walked toward her. The pickup was old, but it was in decent shape. It looked like something from the fifties or sixties with a smaller cab and bed. The closer I got, the more concerned I became. She was so still. A knot formed in my stomach as I edged nearer.

The woman appeared to be asleep, head back against the headrest, eyes closed, but I knew she wasn’t asleep. I stared through the windshield and saw the bruising around her neck so very reminiscent of my own. Unfortunately, the tie lying on the seat next to her was familiar too.

Tracy pulled up behind my car as I was calling 911. It was too late for the woman inside, but I knew a crime scene when I saw one. The one thought that kept running through my head was what was Marcus’s tie doing on the seat of a dead woman’s pickup?


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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The Greenleaf Murders by R.J. Koreto

The Greenleaf Murders by R.J. Koreto Banner

The Greenleaf Murders

by R.J. Koreto

January 23 - February 17, 2023 Virtual Book Tour


The Greenleaf Murders by R.J. Koreto

Young architect Wren Fontaine lands her dream job: restoring Greenleaf House, New York's finest Gilded-Age mansion, to its glory days. But old homes have old secrets: Stephen Greenleaf—heir to what’s left of his family’s legacy—refuses to reveal what his plans are once the renovation is completed. And still living in a corner of the home is Stephen's 90-year-old Aunt Agnes who's lost in the past, brooding over a long-forgotten scandal while watching Wren with mistrust.

Wren's job becomes more complex when a shady developer who was trying to acquire Greenleaf House is found murdered. And after breaking into a sealed attic, Wren finds a skeleton stuffed in a trunk. She soon realizes the two deaths, a century apart, are strangely related. Meanwhile, a distraction of a different kind appears in the form of her client's niece, the beautiful and seductive Hadley Vanderwerf. As Wren gingerly approaches a romance, she finds that Hadley has her own secrets.

Then a third murder occurs, and the introverted architect is forced to think about people, and about how ill-fated love affairs and obsessions continue to haunt the Greenleafs. In the end, Wren risks her own life to uncover a pair of murderers, separated by a century but connected by motive. She reveals an odd twist in the family tree that forever changes the lives of the Greenleafs, the people who served them, the mansion they all called home—and even Wren herself.

Praise for The Greenleaf Murders:

"A delightful who-done-it in which the house is as engaging as the wonderful heroine. Readers will want to get lost in these rooms and these pages."

Cate Holahan, USA Today bestselling author of Her Three Lives

"If you love houses and puzzles - which I do - you will be captivated by THE GREENLEAF MURDERS, the first in Richard Koreto's new series. Equally sure-footed in the gilded age of the mansion's heyday and the contemporary world of its decline, Koreto has woven a pretzel of a plot, introduced a charming new heroine, and whetted appetites for more grave deeds and grandeur."

Catriona McPherson, multi-award-winning author of the Dandy Gilver series

"The Greenleaf Murders mixes a modern suspense mystery with the love of old-world mansions and iconic High Society. Buried secrets threaten a family clinging to their former glory as two murders surface, a century apart. Koreto weaves a story that creates the perfect tension between the beauty of the golden era and the fear of a killer in plain sight."

L.A. Chandlar, national best selling author of the Art Deco Mystery Series

"One would think that a murder mystery featuring old homes, architecture, and rich blue bloods would be a dull read, but that’s not the case with R.J. Koreto’s finely-written “The Greenleaf Murders.” Filled with twists and turns and sharply-drawn characters, this well-done novel is very much recommended."

Brendan DuBois, award-wining and New York Times bestselling author

Book Details:

Genre: Cozy Mystery
Published by: Level Best Books
Publication Date: November 2022
Number of Pages: 264
ISBN: 9781685122089
Series: Historic Homes Mysteries, #1
Book Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | | Goodreads | Level Best Books

Read an excerpt:

Last night, Wren had dreamt she went to Manderley again.

When she was fifteen, her mother had given her a copy of Rebecca, saying it was one of her favorites. A voracious reader, Wren finished it in a few days, but her reaction was not what her mother had hoped for.

“Rebecca was horrible, but Maxim was no prize either. And the second Mrs. De Winter—kind of wimpy.”

“You didn’t like anyone in that book?” asked her exasperated mother.

“I liked Mrs. Danvers. I know she was insane, but she really appreciated the house. If people had been nicer to her, maybe she wouldn’t have burned it down. The best part of the book was Manderley. I’d have liked to live there, in splendid isolation, and Mrs. Danvers would take care of things. She was the only one in the book who knew how to do something.”

Her mother just stared. What teenaged girl talked about living by herself in an ivy-covered British mansion? She kissed her daughter on her forehead. “Wren, you really are an old soul.”

But although Manderley was her first love, Wren proved fickle, and also fell in love with Holyrood House, Blenheim Palace, and Versailles.

A succession of guidance counselors worried about Wren, although she gradually learned to make friends, and even go on dates. However, nothing could replace her love for houses, and it was a foregone conclusion by college that she would become an architect like her father and spend as much time as possible working with houses and not people. And not just any houses, but the kind no one had lived in for a long time.

As Wren approached 30, her father made her a junior partner and told her if he could close the deal with Stephen Greenleaf, he’d let her take full responsibility for Greenleaf House. Once the proposal they had worked on so hard had been completed, Wren couldn’t think about anything beyond spending her days in that Gilded Age gem, one of the largest private residences ever built in New York City. Over the years, like the second Mrs. De Winter, she dreamed of Manderley, never more than when she was hoping for the Greenleaf job.

She came home late one evening after visiting a job site and found her father in the study of the home they still shared. Living at home had become a temporary convenience while she was at graduate school, which turned into a habit, as they liked each other’s company. Not that either would admit it.

She watched him sketch. Although the firm had an office in midtown Manhattan, her father preferred to work in the study of their Brooklyn townhouse. For normal work, she knew it was safe to interrupt him, but not while he did the sketches—his avocation, his passion, just him and his pencils, creating columns and cornices, chair railings, and gargoyles. The only light poured from the desk lamp, illuminating the fine paper and her father’s high-domed forehead. She wanted to know if he had heard anything—but had to wait patiently.

Eventually, the scratching stopped, and he put his pencil down.

“If you haven’t eaten yet, Ada left her spaghetti and meat sauce in the refrigerator. She’s a fine housekeeper, but that particular dish is a little common.”

“Only you would describe a dish of pasta as ‘common.’”

“You know what I mean. And if you don’t understand the context, you shouldn’t be an architect.”

“Fine. But I think it’s delicious.”

“Yes,” he said, with a touch of impatience. “I didn’t say it wasn’t delicious. I said it was common.” He swiveled in his chair and smiled. “But you’re really here to ask if I’ve heard from Greenleaf? I told him today that we couldn’t put aside our other projects indefinitely. And that Bobby Fiore was the only contractor we could trust, and we couldn’t ask him to postpone other jobs, so with a few arguments about the price, he agreed.”

Wren laughed, did a little dance, and punched the air. Then she ran and hugged her father, which he tolerated. “I knew you’d convince him. You are the most wonderful father.”

“Wren. Take a seat.” He said it in his even, measured tone, the one he used for serious discussions. Wren wiped the smile from her face, pulled up a chair, and tucked a rebellious lock of hair behind her ear. In the half-dark room, he took her hands in his.

“I have no doubt that you have the technical skills for this job. My concern is the personal skills. These are the Greenleafs. They were a force in this city when it was still New Amsterdam. We see their house merely as an architectural jewel. The family sees it as a symbol of how tightly they are tied to the history of this city. They are different from other people.”

“People are people,” she said.

“First of all, no. People are different. And even if you were right, people are not your strong suit.”

“I’ve worked well with our clients,” she said defensively.

“You referred to one of our clients as ‘a pompous bourgeois vulgarian.’”

Wren rolled her eyes. “Let’s not go there again. I didn’t say it to his face, just to you.”

“Do you think you hid your feelings?”

“You’ve said worse,” she countered. Then realized she had lost the argument when his eyes went up to the framed certificate on the wall—the Pritzker Prize, often called the Nobel Prize of architecture. I’ve earned my right to arrogance. You have a long way to go.

“Just remember that these people pay our bills. I know we often work to protect them from their own worse instincts, but let’s try to be a little more politic. Your mother used to say you lived in your own special world. But you have to join the rest of humanity every now and then. And that brings me back to Greenleaf House. This is the very important symbol of what was once one of the most important families in this city. Keep that in mind when dealing with Stephen Greenleaf.”

“We’ve already had several meetings, don’t forget. He didn’t seem that unusual to me—runs his own asset management firm. I’ve dealt with Wall Street types before. It won’t be a problem.”

“Wren.” Again, heavy on her name—all her life, this had been the sign of a serious conversation. “The Greenleafs made their money before there was a Wall Street. People like this are unusually touchy about their families and histories. Now that you’re actually starting, his behavior may change. There could be some emotional repercussions. To make this a success, you will have to watch out for those feelings and manage them.”

“And you’re about to say—again—that I understand houses but not people.”

“Let’s just say it’s more of an effort for you. You can work with people. You just don’t like to. But I made you a partner. So you can’t just do the fun parts of your job. You have to do it all.”

“Yes, father,” she said. He was serious, so there could be no more pushback from her. No verbal fencing. He wanted her to live up to his expectations.

“It isn’t your father who’s asking you, Wren. It’s the senior partner of this firm, Ms. Fontaine.”

She nodded. “I understand, Ezra.”

And then he lightened his face with a smile. “But before we move on to the particulars, there is one more piece of advice, this time from your father. It may be hard to remember in any residence we work on, but especially in one with more than 70 rooms, it is not just a house. It’s someone’s home. It was Mr. Greenleaf’s childhood home, in fact, and his aunt has lived there her entire life. You’re not very sentimental Wren—and that’s fine. Neither am I. But please remember that—it’s not just a building. It’s a home.”


Excerpt from The Greenleaf Murders by R.J. Koreto. Copyright 2022 by R.J. Koreto. Reproduced with permission from R.J. Koreto. All rights reserved.


Author Bio:

R.J. Koreto

R.J. Koreto is the author of the Historic Home mystery series, set in modern New York City; the Lady Frances Ffolkes mystery series, set in Edwardian England; and the Alice Roosevelt mystery series, set in turn-of-the-century New York. His short stories have been published in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine and Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, as well as various anthologies.

In his day job, he works as a business and financial journalist. Over the years, he’s been a magazine writer and editor, website manager, PR consultant, book author, and seaman in the U.S. Merchant Marine. Like his heroine, Lady Frances Ffolkes, he’s a graduate of Vassar College.

With his wife and daughters, he divides his time between Rockland County, N.Y., and Martha’s Vineyard, Mass.

Catch Up With R.J. Koreto:
BookBub - @rkoreto1
Instagram - @rjkoreto
Twitter - @RJKoreto
Facebook - @RJKoreto 


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