Book Tour: Murder at Midnight by Faith Martin

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Author photo

Prolific author Faith Martin is out with another cozy mystery published through Joffe Books. Thanks to Jill Burkinshaw for the ARC.

Murder at Midnight is available on Amazon.

This is the latest in a string of cozy mystery’s featuring DI Hillary Greene, who’s turning 50 and is skilled at solving the cold cases that have others stumped. Felix Olliphant is found dead at a New Year’s Eve party and Hillary takes up the case.

The dialogue flowed well and the characters were quite fun. The story was very easy to get into and had a very fashionable style about it as in this interchange between Hillary and Querida Phelps, a woman who had invited Felix to the party where he had his demise:

Excerpt

‘Did Felix ever say that he was getting threatening phone calls?’ Hillary
continued rapidly.

‘Ah now.’ Querida Phelps waved a finger at Hillary, on which a gigantic

Ceylon sapphire sparkled. ‘Funny you should say that. I did notice once or

twice that he would get phone calls and seem unhappy. He’d take his mobile
into the conservatory and . . . oh, you should see the conservatory and what
he did with it! Hanging wicker basket seats and these huge majolica
jardinieres and seats that . . . Oh, thanks.’ Querida took the refilled glass
from Jake and winked at him. ‘You really are gorgeous, aren’t you?’

‘Yes, I am.’ Jake winked back. ‘Now be a pet and concentrate. These
phone calls. Did you hear the name of whoever it was that made Felix
unhappy?’

Hillary, somewhat taken aback at the hijacking of her interview,
nevertheless had to admire the smoothness of the man. No two ways about
it, the Boy Wonder was proving useful.

‘No, sorry. Like I said, when he got this funny look on his face, and I knew it was one of those phone calls, he always took the phone into the conservatory where I couldn’t hear. And afterwards he’d be sort of quiet for a while. Maybe even angry. But he never said what it was about,’ she added, waving another finger at him, ‘so don’t ask me. I wish I knew. You think whoever it was killed him?’ She sounded genuinely distressed now. ‘That’s what’s always been so hard to deal with, you see. I must have invited
whoever it was that killed him.’

And two tears ran down her cheeks. Hillary couldn’t help but compare
this woman’s genuine if slightly drunken grief with Rebecca Morton’s more
self-centred tears.

‘I’m really sorry, Mrs . . . Querida. You were obviously very fond of him.’
‘I was. I never had kids. Four husbands, but none of them . . . Or maybe

it was me. I dunno.’ She’d made good inroads into the new brandy now, and
her upper-crust voice was beginning to slur. ‘But if I’d had a son . . . Oh
well. I suppose that’s why I never sold up this place and left. It still has
echoes of him. Besides, I do love it so. And apart from all that, I mean,
where else would I go? My immediate family are all dead. Oh hell, now I’m
getting maudlin.’

End of Excerpt

I liked the way the tone is naturally comedic, in a very organic way; it has a stylish, classic feel that comes to mind as the characters go about their lives. I strongly recommend it. 5 Stars!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Faith Martin has been writing for over 25 years, in four genres and under four different pen names. She was born in Oxford and sets most of her crime novels within sight of the city of dreaming spires. A real nature lover and afficionado of the countryside, descriptions of wildlife and native flora often find their way into her manuscripts. Right now, JOFFE BOOKS are re-issuing the DI Hillary Greene novels in new updated editions! The first 15 books in the series are available now.

Her romance novels, written under the name of Maxine Barry, are now available from Corazon Books. IMPOSTERS In PARADISE, and HEART OF FIRE are both out, and others will very quickly become available in the future.

Her first foray into writing ‘spooky’ crime, (and written under the pen name of Jessie Daniels) comes out in November 2017. THE LAVENDER LADY CASEFILE is published by Robert Hale, an imprint of Crowood Press.

As Joyce Cato, she writes more classically-inspired ‘proper’ whodunits. So, if you like an amateur sleuth, plenty of clues and red herrings, plus a baffling murder mystery to solve, these are the books for you.

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Author Spotlight: Stewart Giles, Thriller Suspense

I’ve been discovering British dramas recently thanks to Netflix and PBS and now a best-selling author who is new to me and Lon.

We are pleased to welcome Stewart Giles whStewart Giles Author Photoo takes us to the U.K. His new detective story is set on the Cornish coast. Where the pretty villages and towns hold some very dark secrets.

Before we delve into the book, let’s learn about Stewart (oh, another link to his website, Facebook page, and Twitter are at the end):

After reading English & Drama at three different English Universities and graduating from none of them, I set off travelling and finally ended up in South Africa, where I still live. I enjoy the serene life running a boat shop on the banks of the Vaal Dam. I came up with the DS Jason Smith idea after my wife dropped a rather large speaker on my head. Whether it was intentional still remains a mystery. Smith, the first in the series was finished in September 2013 and was closely followed by Boomerang and Ladybird. Occam’s Razor, Harlequin and Phobia (a series of short stories detailing Smith’s early life) were all completed in one hazy 365 days and Selene was done and dusted a few months later.

And now … The Backpacker (DC Harriet Taylor #3) by Stewart Giles

The Backpacker cover idea 3

WHAT IS THE SECRET AT LANDELL’S FARM?

A girl’s body is found hidden in a remote spot of a Cornish Farm. The same farm that a young girl ran towards to escape her pursuer many years before.

Detective Harriet Taylor has to abandon her day out to investigate.

As Littlemore and the forensics team get to work they uncover another mystery hidden among the rocks.

Who would kill a young backpacker who hurt nobody?  Is there a link between this and a mystery from many years ago?

As Harriet and the team get to work they find more questions than answers.  What secrets is the sleepy Cornish village hiding?

This is a fast-paced page-turner that has so many twists and turns it keeps the reader guessing right up to the shocking end.

 If you like Police Procedurals, then this is a series you won’t want to miss.

THE SETTING

Trotterdown and the surrounding villages is a fictional village in Cornwall.  It is typical of Cornish villages with remote farms and sleepy Cornish stone cottages.  However, the area is steeped in history and the residents of the quaint cottages have their share of myths and secrets making it the ideal setting for this series.

THE DETECTIVE

DC Harriet Taylor had only been married for 2 years when her philandering husband was killed in a car crash.  It is common knowledge around the station that the woman who died next to him was his latest lover.  Harriet transferred to Trotterdown to escape the gossip and sympathetic looks.  She is now finding her way around Cornwall and getting to know the other members of the team.

DC HARRIET TAYLOR SERIES

Book 1 The Beekeeper
Book 2 The Perfect Murder
Book 3 The Backpacker

DS JASON SMITH SERIES

Book 0.5 Phobia
Book 1 Smith
Book 2 Boomerang
Book 3 Ladybird
Book 4 Occam’s Razor
Book 5 Harlequin
Book 6 Selene
Book 7 Horsemen
Book 8 Unworthy

1996

She ran. She ran like her life depended on it.
It probably did.

She could hear his breathing behind her – steady breaths that sounded in time with his footsteps. He was getting closer, and she pushed herself some more. She could see the smoke coming out of the chimney in the old farmhouse far in the distance. The smoke was going straight up – there wasn’t a breath of wind in the air. She thought she could feel his breath on her neck. The farmhouse didn’t seem to be getting any closer.
I’m not going to make it. This is what it feels like to know you’re about to die.
He was getting closer, and the farmhouse was too far away. The fields were empty. She felt a hand on her back, he screamed something in a language she didn’t understand and then she was free. She carried on running. The footsteps behind her were gone. She glanced back as she ran. He’d tripped and fallen and was picking himself up off the ground.
She reached the farmhouse and banged on the door. As she waited for it to open she scanned the field. Her pursuer was gone.

CHAPTER ONE

Carrion. That’s what the jackdaws could pick up in the breeze – the scent of carrion. The rooks had got there first. Scores of them, their wings beating in a frenzy of excitement. This kill was theirs. The crows waited in the sidelines. They were next in line. The jackdaws would have to be content with the scraps. One of the rooks pecked at something hard and recoiled, stunned. Their meal had been partially hidden between a pile of rocks on the far side of Landell’s farm. A heap of dead branches had been placed on top, but the full force of an Atlantic South-Westerly during the night had lifted most of them off. Now, the smell of carrion had drawn scavengers from far and wide.
It was the mob of birds that had caught the eye of Gilly Landell. Gilly was the wife of William Landell Junior, the owner of the farm. By the time she’d spotted the feeding frenzy there were more than fifty birds hanging around the scene. Gilly’s first thought was that a sheep had perished in the night. It was lambing season, and the lambs were especially vulnerable. Foxes were becoming more and more of a nuisance on the farm. She started up the quad bike, and made her way through the field towards the squawking rabble.
The crows and the jackdaws took flight at she approached, as did the majority of the rooks. A few of the bold ones stood their ground – this feast was theirs and they weren’t going to give it up without a fight. Gilly Landell stopped the quad bike and got off. She shooed the remaining birds away and moved in to take a closer look at what had attracted them to the far edge of the farm in the first place.
Gilly could see straight away that it wasn’t a sheep the birds were interested in. The branches that had blown off during the night revealed the body of a young woman. Her blonde hair was matted with blood. Gilly was well accustomed to death – growing up on a farm meant that death was a part of life but the body of the young woman lying among the rocks was something she wouldn’t forget for a very long time. One of her blue eyes was open. The other one was gone – bird food. The blood in the empty socket was black. Gilly Landell turned to one side and vomited on the rocks.

STAY UP-TO-DATE WITH STEWART

Website: www.stewartgiles.com

Twitter: @stewartgiles

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/stewart.giles.33

You can join the Stewart Giles reader club by completing this form  https://goo.gl/forms/gtQ0gsNpzFP8WFHP2

 

gI_71240_press-release-1Stewart’s writing made me think of the Endeavour TV show which airs in the U.S. on PBS. I wrote a post here about the show and episode 2 of Season 5.,

The episode included actress Linette Beaumont along with Phil Daniels guest starring alongside Shaun Evans and Roger Allam.

For more author interviews see:

SN Bronstein

Lon Casler Bixby

Don Simkovich

Colleen Story

Meghan Holloway

 

Author Interview: Meghan Holloway, Romantic Suspense

We welcome author Meghan Holloway to our author interviews on the Tom Stone Detective Stories blog. 
Follow Meghan online and learn more about her exciting projects.

Relationships themselves are quite a mystery and worth exploring in-depth. Read how Meghan achieves that discovery in her work with her answers that follow, written in a wonderfully engaging style.

Links at the end of the interview give you the chance to learn more about her and stay in touch.
How do you define romantic suspense and what draws you to write in the genre?
I have always thought of romantic suspense as the perfect literary cocktail. The romance genre is full of heart and an exploration of what I think is our most basic human need—connection.
The development of relationships can be such a fantastic launchpad for exploring the human psyche in a way that is uplifting and beautiful, but I’ve always been fascinated by chiaroscuro, an art term that refers to the strong contrast between light and shade.
I think that if storytelling is going to be authentic, it has to examine the darker side of humanity with as even a hand as it does the lighter side. The suspense element allows me to interweave these more haunting, gritty threads into the story and bring the tale full circle. Romantic suspense gives me the avenue to write a tale that ultimately ends in hope and the promise of happiness and companionship while still having a driving plot that winds through the labyrinth of the grimmer side of humanity.
For me, romantic suspense is the ideal medium for telling a story that is a balance of light and dark.
What compelled you to write fiction? 
Compelled is the appropriate word here. Writing, telling stories, has always been a compulsion for me. My love of stories began, of course, with reading and with sitting on my grandfather’s knee begging for tales from his boyhood. As soon as my hands learned to fashion letters into words, I’ve written. I don’t know if there was ever a conscious choice to write fiction. Storytelling is simply part of what it has meant to be me. If I had to pinpoint a source, I would say it’s the Celtic blood in me, and I inherited the tendency from my grandfather, who spins tales with as much talent and care as a master weaver.
What contributed to your ability to create characters “that feel more like old friends” in A Thin, Dark Line?
I think Cormac and Eloise appealed to readers because both are wounded but neither is willing to be a victim. There’s a fierceness about each of them, and a solitary aspect as well. But mainly I think it was the fact that I tried to create authentic characters, with weaknesses and fallacies and nuanced personalities. Neither of my main characters are good, and they’re all the more real and approachable for it.
What techniques did you use to craft your novels — outline? Simply forging ahead? Feedback from friends?
I know many writers fall into two classes, the “pantsers” and the “plotters.” I fall somewhere in between. I have a general outline of the overarching narrative and a list of key plot points I know I need to hit to move the story in the right direction. But I find if I outline too much, I feel stymied. I set guidelines and trail markers, but my creativity needs a bit of free rein at the points in between.
Were you pleasantly surprised with how your stories turned out? 
I was. It is such a surreal feeling to reach ‘The End.’ That feeling of creation, of bringing something into being that has not existed in this exact shape before, is awing and indescribable. I recently finished my third novel, and I must say that the feeling does not diminish. It’s not a level of astonishment over how the story unfolds and ends so much as it is that sense of fashioning something from nothing, from a simple germ of an idea that blossomed into a story.
Why do I think that you’re Scottish? Lol! Tell me. I read that you live in the Appalachian foothills? 
I am, and I do. My family came to the states when I was young, and though I’ve made a bit of a circuit around a portion of the US—Mississippi, Maine, New York City, Colorado, Boston—I’ve come back to the hill country where we settled to help take care of my grandparents in their twilight years.
Do you prefer writing in the country versus the city? 
I have never cared much for excessive noise or not being able to see the natural light of the night sky. I live—and write—on the quiet edge of a city, close enough to be able to venture in when desired but far enough out to enjoy the stars over the lake on which I live.
What are your current projects if any?
I recently finished a historical thriller set in the wake of Paris’s liberation in WWII, and I have been working these last months on querying agents and submitting it to publishing houses. I am currently writing a trilogy of romantic thrillers set in the contemporary American West.
Thank you for inviting me to interview. It was an absolute pleasure.
Social media links:

In Crime Fiction, it’s not what you say …

… well, it is what you say … and how you say it … and who says it. Words matter but to what extent? Okay, we got one fan listening.

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On this post, Lon and I show how he’ll put some words under a microscope to carefully arrange them for maximum impact. This post can also be titled “A Letter from Lon.” Sound sweet? Read on.

+++++++++++++

Don holding Tom Stone nitty Gritty XMASDon,

Echoes and use of profanity in our latest chapter.

We have an echo. One line reads “Where the hell is Arturo?” A few lines down we have a very similar line “Arturo, where the hell are you?” Both lines are thoughts from Angel, but when he thinks the second thought he is much more panicked and desperate. So I suggest that we change the second “hell” to “f*ck”. This way he thinks “Arturo, where the f*ck are you?”

Writing and Editing Manual Typewriter

So it works. We keep the first “hell” as “hell” and change the second “hell” to “f*ck”. The only problem is that now it snowballs into another echo of having too many “f*cks, because a few lines after the new “f*ck” that we just put it, we already have an old “f*ck” where Angel says “What the f*ck are you thinking?”

I suggest that we change the second “f*ck” to “hell” so that line will now read “What the hell are you thinking?”

So instead of having an echo with “hell” “hell” “f*ck” we replace the second “hell” with “f*ck” – fixing that echo. That will give us “hell” “f*ck” “f*ck”. But, that’s too much profanity, too close together.

So again, we get rid of the second echo of “f*ck” f*ck” by replacing the second “f*ck” with “hell” and that will finally give us “hell” “f*ck” “hell”.

If we make these changes, it will solve our echo issues and also keep the use of profanity down to a minimal in this chapter.

What the f*ck do you think?

Lon

Lon Casler Bixby

If you dare to read more about me and Lon, you can find an author interview with Lon here and an interview of me chatting up our three books here.

And sign up for our newsletter — you get access to discounts, release previews and more.

Crime fiction overview of the Tom Stone stories

Peek at this overview of the first three Tom Stone stories that Don Simkovich did for CCN Sunrise in LA County’s San Gabriel Valley.  And click our e-newsletter link below the video to get a free preview of Tom Stone: Day of the Dead Chapter One.

The interview is about six minutes and highlights the many different elements that create the storyline, running from Nitty Gritty Christmas and Sweltering Summer Nights to Tom Stone: Day of the Dead.

Taste more of Tom Stone: Day of the Dead by signing up for our e-newsletter and get a free copy of Chapter One.

Click here on Tom Stone Newsletter Sign-Up!

Your privacy is always respected. Being on a fiction author’s newsletter list should be fun and not a … wait for it … crime.

Crime fiction author interview–Don Simkovich

Today, read part of the backstory to the crime story Book 3 Tom Stone Day of the Dead.

Lon Casler Bixby asks questions of his co-author Don Simkovich about his views on the Tom Stone stories. (Click here to read Lon’s interview).

More author interview links are at the end of this post.

Don Echo Mountain
Don imagining crime story possibilities at Echo Mountain above Pasadena.

When did you decide to become a writer and how did you know that’s what you wanted to do?

Being a crime fiction author never occurred to me. Writing about action did and in grade school, watching news reports on the Vietnam War caught my attention and I’d tune in every night before watching the game show Truth or Consequences. I wanted to be involved in significant events and that planted the desire to be a journalist and report on the events happening around me. I scribbled a few pages of notes about the Watergate trial and called it my own newspaper. But that did it. I wanted to write, interview people and make sense of the world.

My parents wrote short pieces, exploring what they could. My father, a metallurgical engineer, wrote a very good essay on surviving on a bridge (a trestle) as a freight train passed and nearly struck him and his brother.

My mother wrote various short pieces and one was published in a Sunday supplement of the Pittsburgh Press. She also wrote a very good biographical novel on the woman who founded the Daughters of the American Revolution that took her 8 years to research and write. It was her only novel.

Writing may seem to have come naturally to me but it’s been a lifetime of improving. As Hemingway says, The best writing comes from rewriting.

 

What prompted you to write the Tom Stone series – which is based on an original screenplay – Stone Cold?

I had written a few romance stories through a small press and decided I’d take on the challenge of writing a detective story. For the readers, you and I had produced a stage version of a 30-minute comedy script, Apartment Zero. Maybe we should write short story versions of it. And adapting Stone Cold was a chance to work together.

I felt it would let me develop as a writer in a new area.

I want readers to see there is hope—that good can come from the challenges we face and the pain we endure.

What intrigued you about the screenplay?

Don holding Tom Stone nitty Gritty XMAS

The Tom Stone — Anthony Angelino conflict took 3 years to finish.

It was a full-length screenplay that read fast. I liked how the characters took shape and I began seeing their traits and mannerisms. I saw the potential for exploring them in depth, especially the relationship and inherent conflict between Tom Stone and Alisha Davidson.

Were you worried about taking another writer’s vision (or story – whichever sounds better) and turning it into a novel with your own ideas and vision?

My first area of concern was that the script and character seemed “cold” to me or impersonal. I wanted to warm them up. So the challenge was staying true to the original intent of the screenplay and making it so I was personally involved.

I got 13 chapters in to the first draft and I stopped. It was September 2015 and I told Lon—that’s you—that we need a Christmas story, a quick one. You came up with a number of ideas that turned it from my thoughts of a 7,000 word story into a novella.

My need for “warmth” and personal connection shaped Chapter One of Nitty Gritty Christmas. Police give toys to kids at Christmas and I’m a dad who’s adopted his kids from the foster care system. An idea struck.

Jake pulls Tom along to hand out gifts to boys in a group home and Tom sees one boy who’s unruly and doesn’t fit in. That boy, Andrew, gets Tom’s attention. Now I’m personally invested in the story.

Fortunately, Lon, you went along with it.

What have you learned in writing the Tom Stone series?

Handling multiple points of view and sub-stories has been rewarding. We did this in Book 2, Tom Stone Sweltering Summer Nights, and more in Book 3 Tom Stone Day of the Dead. The Tom Stone stories was my first complete trilogy I’ve written—and I—and you—see at least one or two more books in this particular story line.

The other technique I’m improving is the cause and effect that leaves the reader hopefully wanting more. It’s how you lead up to a point in a chapter and end it with the answer to be revealed later.

What is your favorite genre of book to read? To write?

I can read multiple genres if they have strong characters that are “warm” to me—sorry to sound so artistic. I like Lee Child’s Jack Reacher character and I like romance, too. I want to find and experience the tension. Anita Shreve’s The Pilot’s Wife is a very simple story but with tension going throughout. This was what kept me turning the pages in John Grisham’s The Firm more than in his later novels. He did an incredible job creating tension with the details of a law office in Memphis.

Among my favorite stories remains James Herriot’s books from the late ‘60s and early 70s—a veterinarian from Yorkshire who wrote terrific memoirs and his experiences delivering cattle and horses and treating dogs and cats. He caught the significance of the moment and how each event impacted the people.

Real life, in other words. Oh, and I’m so sorry. I’ve just never gotten into Sci-Fi. Although, in junior high I read a story about a colony on Mars and really liked it. I think it was because the boy in the story got to skate for miles on the canals.

What are 1 or 2 things you’d like the readers to know about the Tom Stone stories?

They are real life, like you mentioned. I want them to sense the subtle humor in each one and get a feel for the characters. I hope that at the end of Book 3 Day of the Dead, the readers feel torn about Anthony Angelino and who he is as a person and what could have been for him.

I want readers to see there is hope—that good can come from the challenges we face and the pain we endure.

Want more author interviews?

Please read S.N. Bronstein with crime fiction set in Miami and wellness writer Colleen M. Story.

 

Crime fiction author interview: Lon Casler Bixby

Hi! Don here. Here’s a crime fiction author interview with my co-author of the Tom Stone stories, Lon Casler Bixby.

The trilogy got its start based on a screenplay that Lon had written; he’s a photographer with a film production background. Of course, the books changed and I never asked Lon his thoughts on moving from screen to publishing. So I grilled him hard!

Lon Sungalsses and Hat

What prompted you to write the screenplay Stone Cold?

I was writing a lot of different screenplays in different genres. Comedy, horror, sci-fi. One night while sleeping I had an idea for a Detective Story. I woke up, sat in front of the computer and Stone Cold appeared–so to speak.

Are detective stories — crime stories something you particularly like or are drawn to?

Yes and no. I wouldn’t just go to the bookstore and buy a book. I do like the mystery and the thriller. Not detective per se. I like the ones that have a twist like a series about a Vampire detective, but, they have to be realistic and have personality and not be stereotypical.

What made you decide to turn the screenplay into a novel?

I had written many different and optioned a couple, so instead of them gathering dust in an agent’s office, I turned them into novels. I figured that was a much easier way to get them seen by an audience. The novel gets the story in front of people. That’s the point. Give people something to read.

Lon Casler Bixby

Were you afraid of losing control in the process?

Not at all. Partnering with you, Don, is easy — you’re somebody I trust. Instincts, judgement, not like giving it some movie studio where they’ll take it and change it. I gained so much more. I’ve let go of some of the story because you have a lot of great ideas that became the story. A lot of gaining instead of loss.

How do you feel about the trilogy being so different than the original screenplay?

I don’t know if it is so different. We took the screenplay and made it so much better. The screenplay was good, but flat and one dimensional, maybe even stereotypical. But we built on that foundation and gave it life.

What are 1 or 2 things you’d like the readers to know about the Tom Stone stories?

I’d like the readers to know it’s not just a typical detective story. We brought life to the characters by making them realistic, and relatable to the reader.

We deal with a lot of subjects including family values, child abuse, spousal abuse, organized crime, and the use of medical marijuana. We bring a lot of reality into the story along with humor — some of it might be subtle but we bring it out.

It’s not the typical straightforward detective story – it’s much fuller.

Try out a free preview Chapter 1 of Tom Stone Day of the Dead– it’s easy.

Email dsimkovich@gmail.com with Ch 1 in the subject line or click this link to sign up for our e-newsletter.

Editor’s note (that’s Don): The 2 stories available are:

Book 1 Tom Stone Nitty Gritty Christmas on Amazon, Kobo, iTunes, Barnes and Noble — get started for the discounted price of only 99 cents on Kindle.

Book 2 Tom Stone Sweltering Summer Nights on Amazon.

Tom Stone 3 Pack

We’ll interview authors on a regular basis including these two previous interviews with S.N. Bronstein whose stories are set in Miami and wellness writer and author Colleen Story.

Stay up-to-date with discounts and bonuses for email subscribers–we want our e-newsletters to be as entertaining as our stories!

FOR NOW– email me, Don Simkovich, at dsimkovich@gmail.com to receive a .pdf version of Chapter 1.