The K-Frost Caper by James Blakley

About the Book

A cold case heats up when Kelvin Frost, believed to have drowned in Alabama, returns from the dead to apply for more life insurance. Or has he? When a body-a dead body-identified as Kelvin Frost, turns up in Miami, murder complicates matters. Enter Luna Nightcrow, the insurance fraud investigator whose "smartphone never sleeps." After recovering a valuable Cherokee relic, Nightcrow accepts Charmed Life Mutual Insurance's offer of $50,000 to sniff out and close down the K-Frost Caper. But it won't be easy with so few leads or clues. Paired with cosmopolitan cop Tiago Toussaint, the two match wits and wiles, in attempt to find out when is the last time anyone saw Frost ... in Miami?

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Southern Comfort Flight 213 landed smoothly at Miami International Airport around 6 pm. Luna left the plane and walked to the baggage area. While she waited for her luggage to arrive, her first thought was to call Hector Luz’s cell. But, if he was corrupt, Luna’s call—even if she tried to hide her number with a star 67 code—might tip him off that Charmed Life increased its search for him. So she didn’t call.

When Luna’s luggage finally arrived, it wasn’t hard to find. Nor, it appeared, was she.

A dark-skinned man in a tan cotton suit and black tie spotted her. He folded the newspaper he’d watch Luna from behind and rubbed his goatee thoughtfully. Then he began to move.

Luna gathered her laptop, slung her purse, and extended the handle of her rolling duffel bag. Just as she was about to start up, the man with the goatee slowed her down.

Luna Nightcrow?” the man asked.

Yes,” she answered.

About the Author

James Blakley was educated at Missouri Western State College and Washburn University. While at MWSC, he was a local and national award-winning columnist and section editor of "The Griffon-News." Blakley worked 10 1/2 years as a page and as an Assistant Librarian for the River Bluffs Regional Libraries of St. Joseph, MO. He currently lives in Topeka, KS where he worked for The Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library and several years in clerical and customer support capacities for international computer companies, such as EDS and HP. Additionally, Blakley has worked in information gathering and analysis for various government agencies and programs.

A Very Private High School by Mar Preston

About the Book

Santa Monica, California, is home to the homeless, a city of haves and have nots, ripe for dirty politicians, psychopathic homeowners, car thieves, and celebrity troublemakers.

A vicious carjacking maims a firefighter that Homicide Detective Dave Mason of the Santa Monica Police Department used to tomcat around with.

Carjackers up the stakes when a hit-and-run linked to them leads Mason to an elite private high school where a boiling controversy is already erupting over financial shenanigans. A hit-and-run fatality of the school’s administrator leads Mason to take a very close look at student activities and fundraising practices at the very private school.

What he finds ties together some seeming coincidences that make this story much bigger than the puzzling violent deaths.

The investigation suggests the school's director likes bad boys and dark, hidden places. On sketchy evidence, Mason needs to convince the brass that funds from the embezzlement are filtering into an international theft operation.

Everything changes when Ginger, the love of Mason’s life--and the school’s fundraiser-- disappears.

Fourth in the Detective Dave Mason of the Santa Monica Police Department series.

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About the Author

First of all, thank you to my readers. I write to enjoy living the life of characters I’d like to know. Or characters I’d like to be. Wouldn’t I like to be 29, 5 ft 10, and hot, hot, hot. Wouldn’t I like to chase bad guys down dark alleys and mouth off to a cop. Wouldn’t I like to be a homicide detective in a glitzy tourist city like Santa Monica. You betcha I would.

I write to tell stories I hope will entertain you. Some are gritty, but they are all leavened by a touch of snarky humor.

I’ve learned a thing or two after writing four unpublishable novels and then seven modestly successful crime fiction novels, plus the recent one, Nothing Ever Happens Here.

I wrote hundreds of thousands of words to teach myself how to write something people would want to read. It takes practice and learning the craft.

Then I put everything I’d heard, and learned through hard experience, into seven short eBooks on the craft of writing mysteries.

The companion volumes on the elements of crime fiction are available on Amazon and they’re cheap.

Writing Your First Mystery is a free download on my website.

The kindest thing you can do for any author is to leave a review.


To my dismay, I've become quite old, having lived hard 30 years in Los Angeles, another 20 in a village in the surrounding California mountains. A few years ago, I came home to Canada. specifically Ottawa, Ontario. It's been quite a jaunt - so far. I can just about stand the Canadian winters.

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The Murderous Type by Sue Minix

About the Book

I wrote murder mysteries. I didn’t investigate them. Until now…

Crime writer turned amateur sleuth, Jen, has taken over the running of the local bookstore in her hometown of Riddleton.

But balancing the books at Ravenous Readers is nothing compared to meeting the deadline for her new novel.

Dodging phone calls from her editor takes a back seat, however, when the local police chief is poisoned. To solve the murder, Jen must dust off her detective hat once more.

With everyone in town seemingly a suspect, and evidence planted to incriminate local police officer and close friend Eric, Jen is working against the clock. Can she find the killer and beat her own writer’s block before it’s too late?

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By the last Saturday in June, outdoor activities in Riddleton, South Carolina, were like a bad marriage. You could survive more or less unscathed if you got out early enough. Wait too long, though, and it turned to hell in a hurry. With that in mind, today’s Riddleton 10k began at six in the morning. Two cups of coffee short of complete brain function, my caffeine-deprived body was camped out on the sidewalk in front of the town hall, at the finish line.

Throngs gathered along the race route to cheer on the runners, and my ears vibrated with the echoes of a hundred conversations, which played snare drum in my head. Mostly arguments about who would win the competition. Although, a young couple behind me argued over whether to spend money they didn’t have on a new fifty-inch flat-screen on clearance at Walmart. No surprise, he was the yes, she the no.

Once a stagecoach rest stop halfway between Blackburn and Sutton, Riddleton had grown when engineers built the dam to create Lake Dester. It remained a small town, though, rife with the typical small-town mentality. Everyone knew everything about everyone else, and help during troubled times was never more than an arm’s length away. It suffocated me as a kid growing up here, and I couldn’t wait to escape to college in Blackburn. When I moved back to town last year, however, I learned how reassuring having people around who cared about me could be.

However, surrounded by densely packed humanity, I shifted my feet and struggled with what to do with my hands. No room in the pockets of my getting-tighter-everyday jeans, so I lowered them to my sides. Unfortunately, my puppy Savannah’s leash occupied one of them.

“Ouch!” A tiny drop of blood welled on my index finger. I stuck the offended digit in my mouth and glanced down. My German shepherd puppy fixed her warm brown eyes on me, ears back, tail wagging. I squatted to her level. “Now see here, Savannah, just because you own a maw full of razor blades doesn’t mean you’re allowed to slice me to ribbons every time you want a little attention.”

She licked my cheek, her silver muzzle prickly against my skin. So much for scolding.

Brittany Dunlop, her flyaway blond hair taking off in the breeze, squeezed in beside us. “A kiss counts as an apology, wouldn’t you say, Jen?”

Brittany had adopted me in kindergarten, and we’d remained best friends ever since. Although she topped the tape measure at a whopping five foot two, she was a formidable presence in my life, and I don’t know how I would’ve survived my childhood without her. The voice of sanity whispering in my ear when my stepfather Gary was having one of his out-of-control days, and home became crazy town.

Savannah leaped towards her in greeting, and her tongue flared like a lizard snapping breakfast off a branch. Brittany yanked her hands out of the danger zone and clasped them behind her back, having already experienced her share of rapier-like love nips.

“Close to one as I’m going to get, I’m sure.” I told the pup to sit, then pushed gently on her hindquarters until she complied and leaned on my leg, tongue dripping saliva on my brand-new Nike cross-trainer. The exercise was a trial for us both, given the distraction of the masses around us. “She needs to potty, but escaping the crowd will be an adventure.”

“Want me to run interference for you? I’m a librarian, remember? People have to listen to me, or I’ll shush them.” Brittany knelt to scratch Savannah’s chest, an offer of some much-needed attention to the self-proclaimed neglected puppy.

“No, you hold our place. I want to see Eric win.” Eric O’Malley—the tall, lanky, red-headed leader of the Riddleton Runners, a group I’d reluctantly joined last year—also represented the police department as a patrol officer. No question about which role meant more to him today, though. He chased the finish line like it was an armed robbery suspect trying to get away.

Brittany pursed her thin lips and inched her oversized, tiger-striped glasses back up to the bridge of her nose. “You think he’s fast enough?”

“Hard to say, but a win would mean a lot to him. Besides, I’ve learned to appreciate his friendship, so I should root for him, don’t you think?”

She raised her so-pale-they-could-barely-be-seen-in-the-sunlight eyebrows. “Yeah, like that’s the only reason.”

About the Author

Sue is a member of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and the Crime Writer's Association. When she isn't writing, you can find her reading, watching old movies, or hiking the New Mexico desert with her furry best friend.

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The Hemingway Deception by Tj O'Connor

The Hemingway Deception by Tj O’Connor Banner

About the Book

The Hemingway Deception by Tj O'Connor

Ana Karras is running from her past.
Catalina Reyes is running toward hers.
Two deadly women—one treacherous mission.
A Cuba-America war is at stake.
Why does everyone want them both dead?
The answer is simple . . . Hemingway.

Ana Karras is hiding among the millions in Manhattan, recovering from near-death at the hands of Cuban Intelligence. When she begins an ill-fated quest to find her missionary parents lost somewhere in Latin America, she’s haunted by her past and coerced into a new mission—to capture Catalina “Cat” Reyes, a rogue Cuban assassin bound for Washington. Cat’s mission could well start another Caribbean crisis. To avert a Cuban-American war, Ana must do the unthinkable—she must once again become Ana Montilla, the notorious FARC guerrilla. As Ana struggles to keep from devolving permanently into Ana Montilla, Cat must overcome past failures and reclaim her skills as Cuba’s top assassin—or die. Ana and Cat are on a collision course. Their paths are not separate, but one. Their pasts inexplicably linked. Their futures reliant on each other. Still, it’s the secrets kept from them that will be the end game. Two deadly women. One treacherous mission. What is Operation Perro? Why does everyone want Ana Karras and Cat Reyes dead?

The answer is Hemingway.

Praise for The Hemingway Deception:

"A riveting 'ripped from the headlines' international thriller: Two women fighting for what they believe; a horrifying assassination plot; deadly enemies, including some in our own government; and a mysterious operative named Hemingway who must be found. O'Connor, a real life anti-terrorism expert, takes us on a roller coaster ride of action, intrigue, betrayal and stunning twists. Read it!"
~ R.G. Belsky, Award-Winning Author of the Clare Carlson Series

"Great characters, non-stop action, a twisted plot, and exotic locations-The Hemingway Deception is exactly what an international thriller should be. Couldn't put it down."
~ DP Lyle, Award-Winning Author of the Jake Longly and Cain/Harper Thriller Series

"A rollercoaster ride of international intrigue, governmental deception and the meaning of family. Tj O'Connor's real-life knowledge of geopolitical affairs shines through on every quick-turning page. Bravo!"
~ Matt Coyle, Author of the Bestselling Rick Cahill Crime Series

"There are no wimps in this fast-paced thriller, male or female. The relentless action will have you flying through the pages, eager to know what happens next."
~ Terry Shames, Author of the Award-Winning Samuel Craddock Series

"Tj O'Connor does it again in The Hemingway Deception. His action-packed writing is founded in real-world experience with anti-terrorism and threat analysis consulting. This time, he adds kick-ass women to the mix, building in multiple layers of complexity often overlooked in thrillers."
~ Dawn Brotherton, Author of the Jackie Austin Mysteries and Eastover Treasures

Book Details:

Genre: Thriller
Published by: Suspense Books
Publication Date: March 2023
Number of Pages: 370
ISBN: 9798218103323
Book Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

Two Months Earlier
April 4, Late Afternoon—Cabrera Village, Antioquia Department, Northeastern Colombia Near the Panama Border

Ana stood in the swirling dust among dozens of other Cabrera villagers gathered in the square. They had been herded like cattle by soldiers in black uniforms. All around them, military trucks rolled through the streets. Masked soldiers searched homes and shops. They gathered up occupants and added them to the pack. No one dared challenge the men—no one Ana heard, at least.

She dared not. If these men discovered her secret—her true identity—two things were certain: She would never find her parents, and she would never leave Colombia again. Both outcomes would be because she was dead.

Though Ana Karras was not known in Colombia, Ana Montilla was—notoriously. Ana Karras and Ana Montilla were two sides to the same coin. She was born in Colombia and raised in jungle guerrilla camps—a beautiful, intelligent girl honed by tough comrades and dangerous surroundings. Raised as one of them, Ana Montilla was a jungle fighter. A strong, daring woman whose fearlessness had often invited more danger than necessary. She was often impulsive, reckless, and tenacious. Traits feared in the camp’s men. Traits unexpected in her.

Ana Montilla was the woman Ana Karras loathed to become again. She had left that life—and her alter ego—behind eight years ago. Recently, Ana Karras had returned to South America to find her parents, and wherever she went, Ana Montilla followed.

That was the one fact about her former life that gave Ana the most angst—that Ana Montilla constantly simmered just below her skin, waiting for the right time, the right situation to take control of her life once again. The opportunity to pull her back into a life of chaos and violence. For years, she’d kept that Ana locked and hidden away—a demon remanded to the underworld, tethered to the past.

Looking around Cabrera now, she feared those bonds might be broken and the demon would be released.

Beside her, seven-year-old Sarah—an orphaned child found wandering alone and afraid—clutched her leg with one hand and held tightly to a scruffy dog’s leash with the other. The dog stood rock-still in front of them both, teeth bared, growling a warning.

“No, Lobo,” Ana whispered. “Easy, boy.”

Sarah threw her arms around his neck. “Lobo, stay with me. Miss Ana will protect us.”

“Sarah,” Ana whispered, “it will be all right.”

“Yes, Miss Ana.” Sarah wiped tears away, nearly dropping Lobo’s leash. “Me and Lobo aren’t afraid.”

“Good.” Ana pulled the child tighter against her. “Stay close.”

A short, lumpy, unshaven man turned from a group of soldiers standing near one of the trucks. He adjusted the gun belt riding low on his hip like a television gunslinger and smoothed his black combat uniform. With a casual, almost Hollywood-like gesture, he adjusted his dark sunglasses and strode toward her. He stopped an arm’s length away and took his time looking her over—slow and probing—leaving her feeling dirty and violated.

Lobo strained against his leash and snapped at him, but the man kicked a boot of sand at him. The dog growled again, and the man took a cautious step back.

“I am Major Alberto Gonzales Nicasio,” he said in Spanish. “Who are you and why are you in my town?”

Do not make things worse, Ana. Keep to your cover story.

“Major Nicasio, I am Ana Karras.” She dropped her eyes and played innocent. “I am here to—”

“Wait.” Major Nicasio snapped a finger at one of his men. “Tomãs, could she be the one?”

“Un minuto, Major.” Tomãs, a large, bulky soldier hiding behind sunglasses, pulled out a cell phone from his uniform pocket. He tapped on the screen, pincered his fingers, and brought up a photograph. He handed the phone to the major. “She resembles her, yes. But I am unsure.”

Ana glanced at Tomãs. His Spanish was different than the others. Different than Major Nicasio’s. She knew the varied Colombian accents and dialects. Tomãs’s was not Colombian; it was…Cubano. As she listened to the other soldiers speaking nearby, it struck her they were Cuban, too.

What were Cuban soldiers doing in Colombia?

Major Nicasio studied her, then the photo on the cell phone, and studied her again. He made the comparison several times before shaking his head.

“No, Tomãs, she is not the one.” He turned the phone toward Ana. “Have you seen this woman, señorita?”

The picture was of a young, pretty Latina in a military uniform—a Cuban military uniform. The woman bore some resemblance to her—pretty, dark haired, with a slender face. She appeared a little older than Ana, but shared the dark, Cuban accents in her eyes.

“No,” she said. “I have not.”

“Pity.” Major Nicasio turned to Tomãs. “Search her.”

Tomãs stepped forward and gestured for her to raise her hands. The moment he reached for her, Lobo lunged at him and sent him back-stepping to the merriment of the other soldiers looking on. He instantly pulled a long-bladed knife from his gun belt.

Sarah cried, “Stop it. Leave my dog alone.”

“Forgive me, Major,” Ana said, pulling Lobo back, closer to Sarah. “The little dog is afraid. We are all afraid.”

Major Nicasio waved to one of his men who snatched the leash and dragged Lobo aside.

“No, he’s my dog,” Sarah cried. “Give him back.”

Ana touched her shoulder. “It is all right, Sarah. They will not hurt him.”

“As long as he minds himself.” Tomãs sheathed his knife and stepped close again, nudging Ana’s arms into the air. When she slowly complied, he grinned. His hands moved from her shoulders, down each arm in a slithering trail. At her wrists, they ventured to her hips and began a slower, deeper probe of her body. They moved around her back to her buttocks and returned to her round, full bosom where he kneaded and grabbed, all the while mumbling his admiration.

The other soldiers murmured and cajoled one another.

Ana was thankful she couldn’t see Tomãs’s eyes behind his dark sunglasses. She knew he was staring and lusting as he groped her. She knew if she saw those eyes, her control might wane, and Ana Montilla might strike out.

“I have no weapons.” Ana stepped back. “Por favor, the child. This is not necessary.”

“Don’t move.” Tomãs grabbed her arms and pulled her back into position. He continued his probing down each leg and up her thighs, rubbing her in a violation that made her ill. When he was through, he dug his hands into her jeans pockets and probed further, closing on something there.

“Please, no.”

He withdrew an old, faded photograph from her front pocket, unfolded it, and handed it to the major. “She has this, Major.”

Major Nicasio glanced at the picture; his eyes snapped up and locked on hers. “You seek this man?”

Ana nodded. “Yes. I…”

“I see.” Major Nicasio’s mouth transformed into a snide grin. “How curious.”

“I don’t understand.”

“Oh, I think you do.” He stepped forward and grabbed her arm, lifting her up onto her tiptoes and against him. “You come to my town to find el doctor? Something you wish to tell me, señorita?”


Excerpt from The Hemingway Deception by Tj O'Connor. Copyright 2023 by Tj O'Connor. Reproduced with permission from Tj O'Connor. All rights reserved.



Author Bio:

Tj O'Connor

Tj O’Connor is the author of The Hemingway Deception, Dying with a Secret, (pending publication), The Consultant and four paranormal murder mysteries.
Tj is an international security consultant specializing in anti-terrorism, investigations, and threat analysis—life experiences that drive his novels. With his former life as a government agent and years as a consultant, he has lived and worked around the world in places like Greece, Turkey, Italy, Germany, the United Kingdom, and throughout the Americas—among others. Tj is a Harley Davidson pilot, a man-about-dogs, and a lover of adventure, cooking, and good spirits (both kinds). He was raised in New York’s Hudson Valley and lives with his wife and Labrador companions in Virginia where they raised five children who are supply a growing tribe of grands!


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Death by Surfboard by Susie Black

About the Book

Set in the competitive Los Angeles apparel industry, Death by Surfboard is the story of how one man’s life of lies, delivered by smoke and mirrors, cost him everything. No one is more stunned than Mermaid Swimwear sales exec Holly Schlivnik when a fisherman hooks her unscrupulous colleague’s battered corpse attached to a surfboard and hauls it onto the Washington Street Pier. The ME ruled Jack Tyne drowned, but “had help dying”, and Holly’s boss is wrongly arrested for the crime. To save the big cheese from a life behind bars, the wise-cracking, irreverent amateur detective dons her sleuthing hat to find Jack’s real killer. But the trail has more twists and turns than a pretzel, and nothing turns out the way Holly thinks it will as she tangles with a clever killer hellbent for revenge.

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As the old man cranked the spinner and slowly hauled the catch in, short, chubby, alabaster-skinned Andy sauntered across the pier. Andy stood next to Pop and mumbled good morning. Andy leaned over the railing to check the catching progress and yelled. “Holy mackerel! Old man, you’ve hooked you a surfer!”

Pop and I gave Andy a pitying you must be crazy or something glance. Pop summoned a burst of energy, hauled the rod over his left shoulder, and gave an enormous tug on the line. My eyes bugged as the battered, wet-suited body of Jack Tyne, still attached by his surf leash to his surfboard, flopped unceremoniously onto the pier. Pop, Andy, and I stared at one another. As long-time pier locals, we’d seen a lot of crazy things, but nothing compared to this. We inched closer to the crumpled body hopelessly entangled in the fishing line for any sign of life. Andy cautiously toed his faded deck shoe against the left leg of the prone body. “Is the guy dead?” 

Nearsighted, the old man squinted into the sun and shrugged. Pop bent closer for a better look. Siggie rested his head on Pop’s arm as the old man studied Jack’s pummeled face. “He reminds me a bit of the guy who surfs every morning. Gets to the beach at the same time as me.”

Andy blinked his confusion. “Which guy?”

Pop said, “The middle-aged guy and the hot blond stacked chick usually wrapped around him on the beach. You’ve seen them around. They’re the ones making out like a couple of horny teenagers or taking photos of one another on their phones. Sometimes she stands next to me and takes pictures of the idiot daredevil surfers coming in through the pier pilings.” Pop jerked his chin at Jack. “Another one of those hotshot morons.”

Andy glanced at Jack’s ravaged face. “No way to tell now. Besides, I never got close enough to see the guy. What about you?”

Pop said, “I mighta, but Mebbe not.” Pop took his cap off and scratched the crown of his head. “Hard to remember the brand of cereal I ate for breakfast most days, let alone some surfer and his groupie chick.”

I pointed at Jack. “This guy works at the same company I do.” Pop and Andy looked at me surprised, as though they’d forgotten me standing right next to them. “And the woman you’re describing is someone who works with us too. Did either of you guys see them this morning?”

Pop shook his head no.

Andy’s double-chin quivered with the gyrations of a bowl of Jell-o as he jerked it towards the end of the pier. “Not him, but on my way to the pier, I passed a woman walking east on Washington who might be the chick Pop described.”

Since Jack hadn’t so much as twitched, Pop angled his leathery face closer to Jack’s pasty grayish kisser to see if he was as dead as he looked. Pop leaned in and passed a hand over Jack’s mouth. Pop took a breath, and Siggie barked when the old man jumped back as though he’d been burned by a cattle prod. The sickening stench wafting out from Jack Tyne’s wetsuit could easily fell an entire herd. The old man gagged as his eyes followed a wavy line of caked yellowy vomit haloed around Jack’s blue lips, chin, and the stub of a beard. Pop dragged his eyes past Jack’s ravaged face to the watery streams of greenish-brown crap leaking out of the sleeves and legs of the torn wetsuit. Pop jumped a helluva lot faster than you’d expect a guy his age ought to as the liquidy turds slowly coursed onto the deck of the pier.

Andy playfully poked his elbow in the old man’s ribs and joked. “Whatssamatta? The guy’s breath that bad?”

The old man pointed a crooked index finger at Jack’s pummeled body. “Poor bastard doesn’t have any breath at all. He’s dead as a doornail.” 

Naturally, I burst out laughing.   

About the Author

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

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

Looking for more? Contact Susie at:

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Saturday Quote

This week's Saturday quote is from Death by Surfboard by Susie Black available on Amazon.

Why 319? by Mark Love

About the Book

A serial killer is on the loose in metro Detroit. Three female victims have been discovered in motel rooms in different suburban cities surrounding Motown. The only connection is that each body is found in Room 319 and the killer leaves the taunting message “Why 319?” on the bathroom mirror, written with the victim’s lipstick. Detective Jefferson Chene heads up an elite squad of detectives assigned to the case. With no home life, he devotes every waking moment to catching killers. But this one is more elusive than most. With no clues and no apparent link between the victims, Chene is at a dead end. But a startling revelation busts the case wide open. He’s closing in on the murderer, but will it be before another young woman loses her life?

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Cantrell rolled an unlit cigarette across his knuckles. “We need to do this fast. Like the poet once said, timing ain’t waitin’ for no one.”

“We need to determine the common denominator,” Megan said. “There’s got to be something that all three of our victims shared.”

Barksdale made a derisive snorting noise beside her. “Just how do we do that, McDonald? Call the psychic hotline? Break out the Ouija board?”

“We look at the evidence,” she said with a sneer.

“We look at the evidence,” Barksdale mimicked, waving his hands like a cheap carnival magician.

“Knock it off,” I said. “Megan’s right. We go through every bit of information we can find on the victims. That means reviewing the files, repeating every interview. We take the investigation a step further.”

Barksdale turned his scowl to me. “So how are we going to do that before this pervert strikes again? We got other cases going.”

“Not no more, ya don’t,” Cantrell said. “As of right now, this un is your one and only. Y’all need to break it down and find the pattern.”

If Cantrell expected any grumbling from the squad, he would be disappointed.

“So how you figure we’re going to do this, Pappy? That’s a lot of territory to cover, no matter how you cut it,” Barksdale asked.

Cantrell shifted his gaze to me. “Whatcha think, Chene?”

“We could break it into sections. Laura could delve into their background. Barksdale could handle the autopsies.”

“Y’all need to move faster.”

Laura spoke up for the first time. “So how should we handle it, Pappy?”

“Y’all break into teams. Boy and girl on each. We got three homicides that we know of, so each team takes one. Y’all start from the ground up.”

Megan pointed out the obvious. “You realize we’re a girl short.”

Cantrell checked his watch. “Bloomfield’s offered up one of their detectives to work the investigation. She be here shortly.”

This was highly unusual. Cantrell was adamant about keeping our investigations within the house. Once we took over a case, he didn’t give it back until it was closed.

“When?” The anger in my voice surprised me. It was obvious to the rest of the squad that I didn’t like this sudden change.

“Maybe twenty minutes.”

Koz caught my eye. Without missing a beat, he pushed back from the table. “Guess I’ll grab a coffee while we wait.”

I waited until everyone else filed out of the room. Cantrell let his eyes close as if he were meditating. With the smoke curling up around his head, he looked like something out of a Tennessee monastery. The Art of Zen, courtesy of Jack Daniels.

“Well?” he muttered.

“When were you going to clue me in on this plan?”

“Y’all weren’t ready.”

“Bull!. I’ve been the lead on ninety percent of the investigations we’ve handled for the last three years. You know it. I know it. The whole freaking squad knows it.”

He took a long drag and pulled the cigarette from his lips. “But not everybody likes it.”

“You mean Barksdale. The guy’s a dinosaur.”

“Would that be a triceratops?”

I was surprised he was able to name one, but then, Cantrell could be full of surprises. Like this new plan. “So how do you see this?”

“We split into three teams, like Ah said. We put Koz with Laura. Give them the oldest case, the Wayne County. You and Megan take the Macomb. Bloomfield will want their girlie working their crime. We stick her with Barksdale.”

“So why didn’t you tell me before?”

“You all right, Chene, but you ain’t no actor. Ah wanted everyone to know this was a surprise, even you. It made your reaction real. You gettin’ pissy ’cause Ah didn’t tell you about it first.”

I considered it for a moment. The old bastard had it down cold. Since the orders were coming down from Cantrell, there was no way he’d argue it. Especially when it appeared that Cantrell did not trust me to make the call. It was a stroke of genius, pure logistical genius. I told him as much.

“’Tweren’t nothin. You might have figured it out in a couple of days.”

“Don’t be so modest, Pappy. You know how to manipulate him.”

“Uh huh.”

It took me a moment to admit the rest. “And me too.”

He nodded slowly. “Hell, Chene, if Ah can’t ever manipulate ya, y’all ain’t no good to me.”

About the Author

Mark Love lived for many years in the metropolitan Detroit area, where crime and corruption are always prevalent. A former freelance reporter, Love honed his writing skills covering features and hard news. He is the author of the Jamie Richmond romance mysteries, Devious, Vanishing Act and Fleeing Beauty, and the novella Stealing Haven. His short story, Don’t Mess with the Gods, was written with Elle Nina Castle and included in the Magic & Mischief anthology. Love also writes the Jefferson Chene mystery series, WHY 319? and Your Turn to Die and The Wayward Path. Love resides in west Michigan with his wife, Kim. He enjoys a wide variety of music, books, travel, cooking and the great outdoors.

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The Crimson Party by Ranjana Joshi

About the Book

A gripping thriller murder mystery!

A murder. An invisible killer. A burnt out detective.

It’s a game of brain and brawn, and the killer has made the first move.

Her nemesis will go to any lengths to hide the truth. Will Aarya be ready to pay the price for it?

Will she be able to outwit and overpower her enemies and rip apart the intricately crafted mesh of deceit and treachery?

Read The Crimson Party to find out what happens when you don’t give up on your friends even when everyone else around you does.

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Aarya had barely reached halfway to the door when she heard a loud and clear BANG! Undoubtedly a gunshot.

Aarya ran forward, taking advantage of the shock that had momentarily crippled the guests, and pushed her way through. From the corner of her eyes, she could see Sid and Roshni rushing toward the door too.

“Move,” she shouted to the people standing by the exit. Confusion and fear were evident in the whispers that had now begun permeating the room.

A small corridor extended in front of her with two rooms on either side. She noticed the entrance to the last room was the only one that was open. She sprinted ahead and flew inside the room.

It was empty. It looked like a study room, probably used as a home office. She heard a slight movement from the adjoining room and ran to it.

She pushed open the door and was greeted by the sight of Rohan’s fallen body in the centre of the room. Blood flowed profusely from his chest, painting his white shirt a deep crimson. He seemed to have been walking to the safe to the right side of the room when he was shot. She heard someone running up a staircase. There was a door to her left, which was slightly ajar, and she could see stairs behind it. She bolted to the door just as Sid and Roshni entered the room, followed by a group of people.

“Rohan,” shrieked Roshni running to the body on the floor.

“Oh my God,” Sid exclaimed, his eyes widening in shock.

“Handle it,” Aarya told Sid before going through the door and up the stairs. She knew Sid hated the sight of blood, but there was no option. She glanced up and saw a silhouette disappearing into one of the rooms on the first floor. Climbing two stairs at a time, she followed the silhouette into the room.

There was no sign of anybody using the room – no clothes, no glasses, and nothing on the side tables by the bed. Even the windows were shut.

The crunch of dry leaves caught her attention. She ran to the window and pushed it open. A rope was dangling from the adjoining window, probably the bathroom window. Then she saw him ­– a masked man running across the backyard toward the garden wall. Without a moment’s hesitation, Aarya jumped out of the window onto the ground. Her lithe body landed lightly on the grass below, and she raced after the man.

He had already reached the boundary wall and was trying to climb over it. Just as he put his right foot on the top of the wall, Aarya leapt at him like a tigress pouncing on its prey. Before he could pull himself up, she caught hold of his left foot. She crashed on the ground, still clinging to the man’s foot, pulling down his body hard, and making him slide down the wall.

The man kicked hard, hitting Aarya in the chest. The pain made her loosen her grip. The man was up on his feet again, but Aarya crouched down before pushing with her feet for maximum momentum and flung herself up in the air. With a loud cry, she kicked him under the chin and punched him hard.

Holding him by his neck, she pushed him against the wall. The man flailed around vigorously, trying to free himself from her torturous grip, which only tightened further the more he struggled. Finally, realising that struggle was futile, his limbs let go of the fight like a wilted leaf. “I’m sorry. I didn’t do anything. Let me go,” he cried.

Aarya pulled down his mask; his nose was bleeding, and he was gasping for breath.

“Are you serious? A man was shot dead. I saw you run away from the crime scene. How do you expect me to believe you are innocent?” she huffed, staring at him right in the eyes.

Tears streamed down the man’s dirt-covered bloody face, and he joined his hands and gaped at Aarya with pleading eyes.

“Who are you? Tell me the truth. Lie to me, and you’ll be sorry you ever met me.” Aarya brought her face within an inch of the man. She could almost smell the fear, the sweat, and the tears sapping away all remnants of his desire to resist.


About the Author

Ranjana Joshi, an avid reader and writer, is the author of the Aarya series, a mystery thriller with a strong female protagonist as a detective. The Spiral of Deception is the first in the series followed by The Crimson Party. The third is expected to be released in May 2023. She has also published two short story collections, The Tales Next Door and HUES: Shades of Love. Her work has been published by the Running Wild Press Anthology, Vol 5 and The Tint Journal.

Born amidst the picturesque Himalayas in the quaint town of Nainital, she spent a blissful childhood among the mountains. The people she has met and the places she has visited find their place in her stories.

She holds a Bachelor of Technology degree in Computer Science and an MBA degree from IIM Indore, one of the prestigious institutions in India. She spent over a decade working in the corporate sector as a finance, strategy and planning professional before deciding to pursue her dream of being an author.

She also frequently shares her parenting experience as a mother of a young boy and as an education sector professional on

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Cause for Elimination by Marla A. White

About the Book

Reclaiming her life after a devastating riding accident, equestrian Emily Conners' world shatters again when she discovers her friend and boss lying in a stall with a smashed skull. Now jobless and with a handsome cop underfoot investigating the case, she's torn between wanting the killer found and keeping her own secrets safe.

Detective Justin Butler always gets his killer, but this victim has a stampede of enemies and few leads to go on. Stonewalled by the tight-knit equestrian world, he looks to Emily for help, but she's strangely reluctant. Is she hiding something, or is she afraid of their growing attraction?

As the search for the murderer heats up, their hearts become entangled and their lives at risk, forcing Emily and Justin to work together to find the killer before they strike again.

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Emily pulled her hand out of his grasp with a weary sigh. She recognized the tall, arrogant type from the moment she saw him. He even draped himself in the same type of designer suit that her ex-husband favored. True, it looked a lot better on the detective than it ever did on Nick, but clearly the two of them were cut from the same literal and figurative cloth.

“You can save your smarmy charms for someone else. I’m not crazy. There’s no way that horse kicked Pamela to death.”

“No one is saying you’re crazy, Ms. Conners,” he explained in a tone which implied exactly the opposite. “I understand how difficult this must be for you, but as you must be aware, horses can be unpredictable. Isn’t it possible your friend–”

“Her name was Pamela Yates. I’m—was, I guess—her assistant.”

“Excuse me, ma’am, of course. Isn’t it possible Miss Yates startled the horse, and the animal kicked out as a natural response, injuring her and causing her death?”

Injured? Pamela’s brains were on the wall. On three of them, as a matter of fact. “Have you actually seen her body, detective?”

“No, ma’am, I thought it would be best if we talked first.”

The man’s soothing voice made her want to scream. Instead, she fought to maintain a reasonable tone in her own. The last thing she needed was to antagonize him, erasing all hope of keeping Feneatha off the endangered species list.

“Why don’t we do this,” she said, keeping the you patronizing, pompous ass comment to herself. “Why don’t we take a look at the… at her…at the stall.” If it doesn’t put too much a dent in your morning, detective, sir.

Emily clenched her fist so hard her fingernails bit into her palm. “If after seeing her you decide it was an accident, I’ll move aside and let animal control do their job.”

“Fair enough,” the detective agreed and followed her down the barn aisle to an open stall.

“I swapped the mare to another stall so she wouldn’t keep stepping in…on…” Her hands fluttered, dreading the scene that awaited them.

Pamela lay sprawled on her back a few feet inside the enclosed space. Afraid to speak for fear the bile rising in her throat would come spewing out, she gestured at the wall. Bits of brain, bone, hair and blood speckled the polished wood planks. Poor Pamela must have been standing almost exactly where Emily stood now when something hit her face so hard it left nothing recognizable behind.

An icy chill that had nothing to do with the weather caused her to tremble. The detective took off his coat and wrapped it around her shoulders. She’d given up her own jacket to cover the pulpy remains of Pamela’s head in a sentimental gesture she’d almost come to regret. Dammit, she really liked that jacket. This time, when the cop gave her shoulder a comforting squeeze, she didn’t pull away.

“Sometimes I didn’t even like her, you know?” she whispered as unwanted tears rolled down her cheeks. “But no one deserves…”

Unable to finish, she huddled tight against the detective’s chest.


About the Author

Marla White started her illustrious career as a storyteller at the age of four by drawing on the TV screen to help Winky Dink get out of mortal danger, earning her a firm spanking. Deterred by the negative feedback, she studied to be a park ranger instead until she realized it was really a TV show about park rangers she liked, not the actual outdoors.

Since then she’s been involved in award-winning television movies for ABC, CBS, USA, and HBO, and was the head of television for Emmy Award winner Peter Tolan. Along with working on her novels, she teaches story analysis and story workshops at UCLA.

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Blooming with Murder (A Sierra Pines B&B Mystery) by Kathryn Long

About the Book

Spring is blooming in Sierra Pines, and everyone’s busy preparing for the annual Spring Fling Festival. Ali Winston takes her B&B guests for a tour, and their first stop is the face painting booth. Local school board president, Melvin Renville, is there to honor a bet he lost to the student body by having his face painted. However, things turn tragic when he has an allergic reaction and ends up dead. No one is more surprised than Ali’s best friend and art teacher, Lyla Lane, when it’s discovered her face paint contains peanut oil, an ingredient Renville was highly allergic to. Lyla insists she’d never use store bought paint, only homemade, because in teaching elementary school, she’s aware many kids have food allergies.

Ali suspects someone wanted Renville dead and cleverly framed Lyla for the crime. The question is who had motive and the opportunity to pull off such a daring deed? Of course, rumors spread and fingers point at Lyla when word gets out that Renville had notified her, merely hours before his death, that the art program and her job would be cut next year. Talk about a motive to kill. With Sheriff Sterling painting Lyla as his prime suspect, Ali is determined to help her friend by discovering the true killer and to keep spring blooming in Sierra Pines.

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Renville hopped off the podium stand and sat down in the chair next to the paint booth while everyone clapped and cheered him on.

How he managed to express such a pleasant disposition in public yet act so vindictive disturbed me. He had most people fooled. Too bad the nice guy had a dark side.

Lyla placed pads on Renville’s eyes then applied a base with a damp sponge. Once done, she dipped a thin brush into a can of purple paint, which was actually lavender. She was the artist and thrived on accuracy. Carefully she outlined the face then switched to a broader brush and began covering his entire face.

“Ursula! Ursula!” Students, mostly from the high school, clapped and chanted as Renville was transformed.

Lyla stood back and smiled. She reached behind her and pulled out a white wig, then handed it to the school board president.

Renville’s smiled quivered as if he struggled to keep his pleasant expression in place. Hesitating only a few seconds, he removed his ball cap and tugged the wig over his head.

Laughter broke out, along with whistles and cheers, followed by someone shouting words that were difficult to comprehend. Soon, others joined in the chant.

I chuckled as I figured out what they were saying. “Poor Unfortunate Souls. Sing it. Sing it.”

“Do you think he will?” Gladys stepped alongside me.

“Well, he’s gone this far. What’s a line or two of a song going to hurt?” I grinned. “All in the name of school spirit. Isn’t that what he said?”

Renville held up both arms to quiet the crowd. “I’m afraid I don’t know the lyrics. How about our school victory song instead? We can sing it together.” Without waiting for a response, he belted out the first line of the spirit song but almost immediately stopped to clear his throat. “Could someone please get me a cup of water?” By now, he was coughing uncontrollably and his face turned bright red. He stumbled several yards away from the booth before stopping to bend over and clutch his throat.

Lyla quickly pulled a water bottle out of her cooler and popped the lid. She hurried to Renville and handed him the bottle.

I raced to where they stood with Gladys right behind me. “Please stand back, everyone,” I said. “Give the man room to breathe.”

“I’m calling for the EMTs.” Lyla’s hand trembled as she pressed the button on her phone.

“Maybe he’ll be okay. The water seems to help.” I tried to calm her but kept a wary eye on Renville. The coughing had stopped but his breathing became labored as his mouth gaped open to gulp air.

“Yes. Please come to the Sierra Pines festival grounds. A man seems to be in distress. I’m not sure what’s wrong, but please hurry.” She covered the phone and stared at me unblinking. “I don’t understand. He was fine. Laughing, joking. I don’t get it.” She pressed the back of her hand to her lips. “Oh, my gosh.” Her eyes widened as she pointed.

I turned to follow her gaze. Renville lay on the ground, eyes closed. His chest moved up and down in a rapid pace.

“Is he dead?” A young woman cried out.

“No, look. Isn’t he breathing? I mean, sort of.” Someone else said.

A siren screamed in the distance and grew louder. I hugged Lyla. “It’s going to be okay. You’ll see.” I whispered without an ounce of confidence.

By now, Renville’s face looked distorted. Tiny blisters covered his cheeks and his eyes looked puffy. Whatever happened came on fast and with no explanation.

Just then, the EMT van steered onto the lot and came within a few yards of us before stopping. Two men jumped out of the vehicle and carried a gurney across the field until they reached us. One of them knelt down to check Renville’s pulse then signaled to the other. He jabbed a needle into Renville’s thigh and placed an oxygen mask on his face.

“Is he . . . will he be okay? I mean, he was fine a few minutes ago.” Lyla’s voice hitched, and she clutched my arm. “Ali, I have a really bad feeling about this.”

I motioned for Gladys to help me guide Lyla to a chair. I couldn’t find any words to comfort my friend. Instead, I focused my gaze on the EMTs who knelt down next to Renville. The scene played in slow motion, as if each detail divided into tinier details, each step they took lasted infinite seconds long.

Yeah, I had a really bad feeling too and the worry lay heavy on my chest as I struggled to take a deep breath.

“Ali?” Lyla rasped and squeezed my hand.

The EMT who spoke to his partner finally glanced our way. He didn’t need to say anything. I could tell by his grim expression. Without waiting any longer, he turned to help carry the gurney to the van. I heaved my chest and a quivering breath eased out of me. I knew in my gut. Melvin Renville was dead.


About the Author

Kathryn Long is a native Ohioan who spends her days plotting murder and writing mysteries. She's a member of Sisters in Crime as well as of International Thriller Writers. She’s actively involved in the writing and publishing worlds and stays up to date on her social media platforms. Kathryn lives with her husband and furry friend Max in the quiet suburbs of Green, Ohio. The B&B series also includes Boarding with Murder and Snowed Under Murder. Inspiration for the storyline comes from her classic movie obsession, particularly Arsenic and Old Lace, and her love for Cary Grant. Kathryn also writes the PAINT BY MURDER mystery series under the name Bailee Abbott.

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Covert in Cairo by Kelly Oliver

Covert in Cairo by Kelly Oliver Banner

About the Book

Covert in Cairo by Kelly Oliver

1917 Cairo.

Ancient mummies aren’t the only bodies buried in the tombs of Cairo.

The notorious Fredrick Fredricks has lured Fiona to Egypt with a cryptic threat on the Suez Canal.

But when a cheeky French archeologist is murdered, and an undercover British agent goes missing, the threat moves closer to home.

Is the notorious Fredrick Fredricks behind the murders? Or is the plot even more sinister?

Competing excavators, jealous husbands, secret lovers, and belligerent spies are the leading suspects.

As they dig deeper, soon Fiona and Kitty are up to their donkeys in dead bodies.

If they can’t unwind the clues and catch the killer, they might end up sharing a sarcophagus with Nefertiti.

With humor as dry as the Arabian desert, and pacing as fast as a spitting camel, Fiona and Kitty are back in another sparkling adventure, this time in WW1 Egypt.


“Perfect for fans of Downton Abbey and Maisie Dobbs.”

“Tantalizing and riveting with a good dose of humor while keeping the heartbreaking reality of war in the mix.”
The Los Angeles Post

“A clever mix of humor and espionage that will keep you turning the pages and laughing all the way!”
Dianne Freeman, author the Countess of Harleigh mysteries.

“A perfect blend of wit, fun, and intrigue.”
Debra Goldstein, Author of the Sarah Blair Cozy Mysteries

“The perfect wartime spy: Fiona Figg. Smart, sneaky, and full of surprises… A fun whodunit that will keep you turning the pages!”
Cathi Stoler, author of The Murder On The Rocks Mysteries

“Fun, easy-to-read, witty mystery that had me happily turning the pages.”
Melissa’s Bookshelf

“Humor, action, and intrigue. I found myself thoroughly entertained.”
Urban Book Reviews

Covert in Cairo Trailer:

Book Details:

Genre: Cozy Mystery
Published by: Boldwood Books
Publication Date: April 2023
Number of Pages: 300
ISBN: Coming Soon
Series: A Fiona Figg & Kitty Lane Mystery, 2 (These are Stand-Alone Mysteries)
Book Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

This bloody war had taught me nothing was black and white… except perhaps a strong cup of tea with milk, when you could get it.

My mouth was parched, and my bottom bounced on the hard wooden bench I shared with Captain Clifford Douglas, my glorified chaperone. I glanced over at our carriage companions, Miss Kitty Lane—whom I’d known until a week ago as Eliza Baker—and a stranger who leaned against the wooden armrest, reading.

The Egyptian railway carriages were white wooden trollies. Nothing like the black iron horses back home. Deuced hot, too. The soot flooding in through the window was the same, though. British or Egyptian. It didn’t matter. We all choked on the same smoke.

As the carriage clacked along the tracks through the desert from Alexandria to Cairo, I distracted myself with Annie Pirie’s The Pyramids of Giza. Book in one hand, I held a lavender-scented handkerchief to my nose with the other.

Annie Pirie claimed it was under one of these grand pyramids that she’d met her future husband while they were both laid up with food poisoning. Having nursed soldiers suffering from that very same affliction back at Charing Cross Hospital, I didn’t find anything romantic about the squalls of salmonella.

Still, there was nothing like the vulnerability of the body to move the soul.

Why not fall in love over a bedpan?

After all, I’d met Archie Somersby when he was convalescing with a shot-up arm. He’d asked me to help him write a letter to his mother. So sweet. Writing to his mum.

My cheeks burned. Oh, Archie. Would I ever see him again? Did I want to see him again, now that I knew he was a government-sponsored assassin? When I closed my eyes, I could still smell his citrus cologne mixed with the lingering scent of Kenilworth cigarettes.

I dropped The Pyramids of Giza on the seat next to me and withdrew a fan from my purse. Even with the windows open, it was beastly hot, and the desert seemed to go on forever. Winter in Egypt was a far cry from the chilly dampness of London or the snow in New York.

No. I couldn’t allow myself to think of Archie. Dead or alive.

Instead, I looked out of the window.

Oblivious to the carriage’s shaking and clattering, with her legs stretched across the bench seat, Kitty had her nose buried in the latest issue of Vogue fashion magazine. Wearing dark glasses, a flowing pink chiffon skirt dotted with tiny roses, a white blouse with pearl buttons, and an adorable sailor hat, she looked the part of a fashion model herself.

Poppy, the girl’s Pekingese, had a pink ribbon in her topknot that matched her owner’s outfit perfectly. The furry nuisance sprawled across Clifford’s lap, her outstretched paw touching my knee. Only because the animal had rescued me from imprisonment in a loo on my last mission did I indulge her encroachment on my person.

Clifford was another matter. Indulging him often tried my patience. Captain Clifford Douglas had been sent along by the War Office to chaperone us, despite the fact I’d already completed four missions. And Kitty, well, for all I knew, she was an assassin in petticoats.

While engrossed in his hunting magazine and fantasies of killing, at least Clifford was quiet for a change.

“I say!” Clifford looked up from his magazine.

Blast. I knew it was too good to be true.

“Gezira Sporting Club has fox hunts with English hounds.” Clifford beamed. “Do you ladies fancy a hunt?”

My eyes met Kitty’s and we both laughed.

“We’re not in Arabia for sports.” I scolded him. “Hunting.” I gestured from Clifford to Kitty. “Fashion… You’d think we were on holiday instead of…” I glanced over at the stranger in our compartment. “Instead of on business.”

If it hadn’t been for the stranger sharing our compartment, I would have chastised my companions. While I was busy preparing for our mission by studying guidebooks, they were faffing about with pretty dresses, gruesome blood sports, and fussing over a spoiled little dog.

“You can tell our priorities by our reading material.” I held up my book. “Mine is written by a scholar and a lady explorer.” I nodded for emphasis. “She—”

“If you want to get to know a people,” the stranger interrupted, “study their poetry.”

I sat blinking at him. His English was heavily accented, but I didn’t recognize the accent. And yet there was something familiar about his voice.

“You must read Hafez Ibrahim, poet of the Nile.” The stranger opened both his hands in offering. He clasped his hands together in prayer.

“Do I know you, sir?” Clifford dislodged the pipe from his mouth.

There was something uncanny about the man. I too had the uneasy sense of déjà vu.

“You don’t even know yourself,” the stranger scoffed. “If you English can’t make yourselves welcome with arrogant promises of freedom, you resort to armored tanks and Vickers machine guns.” His mustaches quivered.

“Well, I say,” Clifford huffed. “No need to be rude.” He tugged on the bottom of his jacket. Good old reliable Clifford. Quick to defend king and country… and any women within a twenty-mile radius.

“Those hunting hounds were brought here to fulfill your countrymen’s desire to turn every place into their homeland.” When the stranger waved his arms, the loose sleeve of his jacket danced a frenetic jig. “They died from the heat.” His dark eyes flashed. “Let that be a lesson to you.”

“Look here, whoever you are.” Clifford stood up. “This is no way to talk in front of the ladies.”

Good heavens. I hoped Clifford didn’t do something stupid like challenge this fellow to a duel or punch him in the nose.

The carriage swayed and Clifford fell back onto the seat, nearly landing in my lap.

“Now, now.” I patted Clifford’s arm. “The ladies can defend themselves, thank you.”

The stranger held up his book. “Here, you must learn Arabic if you want to do anything but see yourselves reflected in a mirror of your own hubris.” He stood up. “Since Egypt was occupied by the French before the English, you’ll get by passably well with French.” He opened the door to the compartment. “And now, if you’ll excuse me, I, too, have work in Cairo.”

As he crossed the threshold, a folded paper fell out of his book.

I reached down and picked it up. The paper was heavy and thick.

“You dropped something,” I said to the closed door.

The stranger had vanished.

“What is it?” Kitty said.

“I say.” Clifford snatched it from my hands and snapped it open. “Why, it’s a map!”

“Heavens.” I gazed down at it. “Not just any map.” I grabbed it back.

A map of the Suez Canal. Marked with a big black X. 


Excerpt from Covert in Cairo by Kelly Oliver. Copyright 2023 by Kelly Oliver. Reproduced with permission from Kelly Oliver. All rights reserved.



Author Bio:

Kelly Oliver

Kelly Oliver is the award-winning and bestselling author of three mystery series: the seven-book suspense series, The Jessica James Mysteries; the three-book middle grade kids’ series, Pet Detective Mysteries; and the four-book historical cozy series, The Fiona Figg Mysteries, inspired by those trips to the Green Hills Library.

Currently, Kelly is the Vice President of Sisters in Crime.

When she’s not writing novels, Kelly is a Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at Vanderbilt University.

To learn more about Kelly and her books, go to:
BookBub - @KellyOliverBook
Instagram - @kellyoliverbook
Twitter - @kellyoliverbook
Facebook - @kellyoliverauthor 


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