Tag Archives: murder

Bells, Tails & Murder by Kathy Manos Penn – a Review

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I’m a big fan of cozy mysteries, especially those set in Britain. I’m also a huge animal lover so this one intrigued me from the cover and title. It was a bit of a slow start and I almost stopped reading it because nothing much was happening in the first chapters. The writing style wasn’t really up my alley either, but that’s a personal preference. Others may love it, so I’m not downgrading my review due to that.

I persevered and the story got better. One thing that bothered me was I couldn’t tell how old the heroine was. She seemed young and stylish, and men kept asking her out- ones that seemed young and also ones that seemed older- (which could really mean she’s any age—but, it was a bit confusing not to be able to picture her properly) but she kept calling herself an old lady and she took a ton of naps. Every day, she got so tired she had to nap. Her age may not matter in the grand scheme of the plot, but it stayed in the back of my mind as I read. I confess, it was distracting as she’d seem young one moment and older the next.

The Cotswold village was well-described and had all the elements one would expect, from the pub to the tea room, to the bookstore and inn. The village was peopled with an interesting cast of characters as well. The premise surrounding the murder and the author of the Peter Pan books, J.M. Barrie was clever and well done.

While I did figure out who was the red herring and who was the culprit pretty early on, I enjoyed the story as it unfolded. The added fun of the cat, Christie, and the dog, Dickens, who the heroine could understand as if they spoke English rather than barking and meowing, was a neat take on the cozy mystery genre. I liked that some of the characters had names with ties to the Peter Pan tales and the pets were named after writers.

There was lots of wine and lots of Greek salad in the book which made me hungry and I was glad the author included her father’s recipe for the salad and dressing. That was a nice surprise at the end of the book.

I’m giving it three stars for the slow start, but I recommend the reader keep going if discouraged by the lack of action at the beginning. It gets better.

The Gilded Shroud by Elizabeth Bailey

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This story set in the 1790s was intriguing and a solid read. The heroine (a widow) becomes a companion to a dowager marchioness when her nephews she was helping raise left for school. Her brother wanted her to stay on with him and his wife but the heroine wanted an adventure and the job was temporary as the dowager marchioness’ regular companion was recovering from a broken leg.

Our heroine definitely got her adventure. Pretty soon after she arrived at the home of the dowager, the current marchioness was found dead in her bed—strangled. And the kicker? The lady had been heard to be arguing loudly, in the middle of the night, with her husband, the marquis. The marquis ordered his carriage and horses shortly after the argument was heard and that morning when the body is discovered, he’s nowhere to be found. Maybe he absconded to France where he has a second home? Or did he run elsewhere after killing his wife?

The heroine, a sharp lady with a keen mind, sets herself the task of finding the murderer—she doesn’t know the marquis but with the family in disarray over their fears for his life if he’s found and convicted of his wife’s death—to say nothing of the scandal—she feels she needs to pitch in and assist the marquis’s younger brother in the task of clearing the marquis’s name.

The dowager is a plucky lady too and won’t tolerate anyone treating her as if she’s elderly and incapable of being in on the unmasking of the villain. She plays a big role in the book and I liked that she wasn’t shunted aside.

As the investigation ensues, the reader is caught up in the clues with the three main characters. I confess, I figured out who did it early on, but still enjoyed the story and how the author tied up all the parts and loose ends. A bit of romance thrown in as well made this an enjoyable read.

Overkill- New Release Out in the World

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My great grandmother, Mallie Phillips Fowler wasn’t your typical sweet little old lady. She was a ball of fire and very sassy. I like to think I inherited some of her moxie. I was in my 20s when she died and she was in her 90s. One of the last times I saw her, she was in her yard with her cane in one hand and a rake in the other and my grandfather, her son, was begging her to go inside and let him do the raking. No way. She was adamant she could do it. He threatened her with the nursing home, but she just laughed and kept on working. She lived a number of months after that. Sadly, I lived over 360 miles away so I didn’t see her as often as I’d have liked.

Two things stand out in my memory of my whole life visiting her. She always, always, always—even those last visits—had a coconut cake on her dining room table. It was the best cake ever. She used fresh coconut and shredded it herself and used the coconut milk in the batter. None of us in the family have ever been able to duplicate it. One of a kind—like her. She also had one of those glass chicken candy dishes and it always had those hard candy mixes in it —you know, the kind you get at Christmas and they get all stuck together? My sister and I spent many hours tugging that junk apart. We each have a candy dish like that in our homes now. Mine holds loose change, though. Lol.

Why am I yakking about this lady? Well, my new book that’s out tomorrow and up for preorder now has a character who has some of my great grandmother’s characteristics. Miss Hattie in my story is one of the minor characters who plays a role in assisting the detectives in solving the murder at the heart of the story. She happens to be pretty sassy and makes a divine coconut cake (I almost said a to-die-for cake, but thought better of it 🙂 )

Overkill is available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Black Opal Books, among other retailers. As an ebook or paperback.

Amazon link

Barnes and Noble link

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Blurb for Overkill- My August 4, 2018 Release

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Overkill, my new book, published by Black Opal Books, out on August 4th tells the tale of the murder investigation of Drusilla Isaacs. She was really disliked as the blurb will tell you!  🙂

Blurb:

No one liked Drusilla Isaacs. She spent a lifetime alienating people, as if making the most enemies was a personal goal. Now she’s dead. Shot, stabbed, and her neck broken…and that’s what the coroner can tell from a first look. It’s up to Maggie Blaine—former friend and one-time victim of the odious Drusilla—and Maggie’s partner, Jacob Brown, to figure out who, out of a seemingly endless list of suspects, would carry out such heinous acts. Their choices are varied. From Drusilla’s husbands—the former and the current—to the women in her life—her secretary, the mother of her husband’s son, or the new wife of her ex-husband. There’s also another option. A serial killer who randomly appears to insert himself into the mix. A tale of murder, gems, drugs, illicit sex, and a cast of villains who all have one thing in common—their hatred of Drusilla Isaacs.

It’s Release Day!

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This story is set in my hometown, Pensacola, and features many local landmarks as well as restaurants I love to visit- all local owned and operated, some by more than one generation!  It’s a tour of my town as well as a bit of a thriller with some romance woven in. Buy link

front cover (2)

Cover Reveal for September, 2016 Release

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Check out the cover for my book to be released by Black Opal Books in September, 2016. This one takes place in my hometown and has lots of locations that I frequent. It was great fun to write and include restaurants I love as well as other familiar locales.

The cover is perfect for the story.

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Cover Reveal

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I have a new book coming out July 8, 2016. It’s called Rex, the Ex and the Hex from CHBB Publishing and it is such a fun story, I can’t wait for it to be available. There’s voodoo, witch doctors, a tarot card reader and even a haruspex.  There’s a murder trial and even a laundromat. When did you last read a book with a scene in a muggy, steamy laundromat?

The story takes place in parts of south Alabama, Pensacola and even New Orleans. Here’s the awesome cover made by Rue Volley.Vector illustration of girl walking through a mysterious dark forest

It’s Release Day! Senior Assassin

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It’s here!  YAY- I’m excited to say that Senior Assassin is out in the world. I checked on my publisher’s website for the link but the site appears to be down for maintenance. I found the link on Amazon for the paperback but not kindle. I found the e-version on Kobo and both at Barnes and Noble.

Here are two editorial reviews:

http://www.blackopalbooks.com – Taylor Jones
The story is reminiscent of an Agatha Christie mystery, a cross between Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple. The storyline is intriguing, the characters charming, and the romance sweet. Chancellor gives an authentic view of what life was like for a “middle class” librarian, trying to mingle with “upper class” aristocrats on a luxury train. If you’re looking for something an old-fashioned mystery/romance, it would be hard to go wrong with Senior Assassin.

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http://www.blackopalbooks.com – Regan Murphy
I thoroughly enjoyed Senior Assassin. Since I’m a big Agatha Christie fan, this book was right up my alley. It’s a refreshing change from all the blood and gore so prevalent in mysteries today. That’s not to say there’s no blood in the book, but Chancellor does keep it to a minimum. The plot is strong, the characters charming and well-developed, and romance sweet and heartwarming. This is the kind of book you’ll want to keep on your shelf to read over and over again.

Train Photo

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This is a photo of an old train engine no longer in operation. It’s on display in the median in my hometown. Every time I drive by it, I’m reminded of my murder mystery with romantic elements- Senior Assassin– that is now due to be released at the end of September, 2014.  I love old trains. So romantic (although I’m sure they weren’t when coal smoke was coming out of the smokestack and the windows were open. I bet a lot of folks inhaled some nasty black stuff there. Haha.

train.