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Month: January 2017

MTW: Amateur Sleuth Mysteries and Thrillers Theme

MTW: Amateur Sleuth Mysteries and Thrillers Theme

Welcome to the fourth themed post about Mystery Thriller Week, an annual event celebrating the Mystery and Thriller genres!

Over two-hundred authors are participating in this global event. To help readers and authors better connect, a variety of themed lists – sub-categories of both genres – have been created.

Today I’m thrilled to share with you eight books from the Amateur Sleuth Mysteries and Thrillers Theme. Authors Ritter Ames, Mary Angela, Colin Garrow, Kaye George, Tomasz Chrusciel, Joynell Schultz, Judy Penz Sheluk, and Catherine Dilts have kindly provided a description of their amateur sleuth and novel. I’ve also included information about my own amateur sleuth mystery. Click on the book cover to link to Amazon where you can read an excerpt and learn more about the author.

According to Goodreads, “an amateur sleuth mystery features a protagonist who, having no direct ties to the police or other investigative agency, stumbles upon and sets out to solve or help solve various crimes, most notably murder. They do not receive monetary compensation for their investigation.”

This description perfectly sums up the novels listed in Mystery Thriller Week’s Amateur Sleuth Mysteries and Thrillers Theme. Fancy yourself an armchair sleuth? Then cozy up with one of these great titles and get cracking!

These are but a few of the 40+ books currently listed in the Amateur Sleuth Mysteries and Thrillers category. You can see the complete list here.

Be sure to sign up as a reviewer or Super Fan on the MysteryThrillerWeek website to be kept up-to-date of all the fun games, prizes and giveaways taking place during the event, February 12 – 22, 2017.

I look forward to seeing you there!

But first, let’s take a closer look at some of the wonderful books in this category…

 

Counterfeit Conspiracies by Ritter Ames

Laurel Beacham was raised understanding that art must be available to everyone, and she’s more than resourceful when rescuing masterpieces. When the need arises, she can operate like a savvy hostage negotiator, a brilliant museum curator or even a canny cat burglar, all to regain brilliant works that would otherwise disappear from the public realm. She was born to a life a privilege, until her father squandered the family fortune, and she still trades on the family name when opportunities allow—but has no qualms about utilizing the resources built from an association of snitches, thieves or grifters when needs require unconventional means. Saving art is always her objective.

Counterfeit Conspiracies opens with Laurel re-appropriating a work of art with an unconventional method, then moves on to what should have been a simple pickup during a fundraising event which doesn’t come off as planned. Things go from bad to critical when in London she discovers she’s picked up a shadow who may be more dangerous than she first believes. From Italy to England to France, she must use every trick in her Prada bag to keep herself out of trouble and move closer to the historic art objective she’s been commissioned to retrieve. All while realizing this item could be the beginning of a dangerous art heist payday for a criminal organization.

 

 An Act of Murder by Mary Angela

Ask any devoted mystery reader about a favorite series, and he or she will tell you: amateur sleuths are addictive. But why? Is it their fearlessness, their recklessness, their super-sleuthing strength? Or none of those. Maybe it’s their plain old ordinariness that makes them so compelling.

I don’t read a lot of mysteries with protagonists who work for the FBI, CIA, or insert-another-acronym because let’s face it: they’re supposed to find the bad guys. It’s their job. They’ve been trained and paid to catch criminals. But what about that local storeowner with the knitting shop who finds a body dumped on her doorstep? What skills could she possibly have to solve a murder? It turns out, a lot more than we realize.

Here enters the amateur sleuth, and she looks a lot like us. She uses the knowledge she acquires from everyday life to solve a mystery. To me, that’s what makes her so interesting. I know I will never be in Special Ops., but a bookstore owner? Maybe. It puts me in the center of the action.

My protagonist, Emmeline Prather, is an English professor whose special skills include reading and research. Since grad school, her mentors have encouraged her to delve deeper, so when one of her students dies on campus, she uses her investigative skills for a new purpose: to uncover the truth about his death.  Possibilities abound. Actors, fraternity brothers, and even faculty members will come under Em’s scrutiny while she canvases the campus. And while her actions won’t endure her to college administrators, they certainly will to her fellow professor and cohort, Lenny Jenkins, who finds himself charmed by her sense of poetic justice. Will their relationship become more than collegial? Readers will have to wait to find out.

Whatever happens, though, my amateur sleuth will be ready. She will struggle to balance family, friends, and the ever-looming prospect of tenure. No doubt she will make mistakes in life and love. But I think readers will forgive her because she, like all of us, is only human. And that’s what we love about amateur sleuths.

 

Death on a Dirty Afternoon by Colin Garrow

Death on a Dirty Afternoon is set in a mostly-fictitious version of a northeast seaside town in England, where I lived for a while after finishing university. The story was inspired by my own experiences as a taxi-driver in the early Nineties (in a different seaside town), though the novel is set in the present. Creating my protagonist, I never liked the idea of trying to represent police officers in a realistic way, so I made my hero an ordinary guy with ordinary problems and tried to think how ‘normal’ people might deal with discovering a dead body in their house:

When he learns of the death of taxi-driver pal Frank, ex-cabbie Terry Bell assumes it’s natural causes, but when he finds a note pinned to his front door and a corpse on the living room floor, things start to look suspicious – and not just because the murder weapon has Terry’s prints all over it. As if that wasn’t enough, old school friend Charis is in charge of the police investigation, and her elfin-like smile may not be enough to keep Terry off the list of suspects.

Launching his own investigation, the canny cabbie sets out to retrace Frank’s movements, tracking down anyone who might be able to shed light on the driver’s final hours. A taxi job leads to Swedish building contractor Elise Andersson, who could well be involved, but the tight-lipped lady poses more questions than answers.

Teaming up with Carol from the taxi firm, Terry meets a bald-headed man who knows a little too much about Terry’s recent activities. Then, finding himself unwittingly recruited into what could well be a Geordie crime family, it looks like the part-time sleuth is caught between one bunch of villains and another. In any case, when a third body turns up, Terry and Carol realise they need to stay out of sight. Only trouble is, their choice of hideout is a little too susceptible to arson…

Don’t forget to check back here on February 1st to read about Colin’s Literary Heroes and Amateur Sleuths.

 

Eine Kleine Murder by Kaye George

Cressa Carraway is on her way to being a professional classical musician. She’s the musician I imagine to myself that I might have been, had I gone into it professionally. She plays keyboard and I play violin, but we both like to compose and conduct. The difference is, Cressa actually GETS to conduct eventually.

As the story opens, Cressa has gotten into a bad situation with a professor at De Paul in Chicago, where she’s studying. To escape his obsessive attentions, she decides to visit her Gram at the rural Illinois lake resort Gram has moved to. Is Len following her as she drives through the endless flat cornfields? How could he? He doesn’t know where she is…does he? It’s getting dark and she can’t tell if that car behind her is his. What makes her even more nervous is that her Gram is not there when she arrives at her cabin. A neighbor suggests she probably went for a late night swim, which is her habit. Cressa suits up and heads to the small sand beach. No, she’s not there. However, when Cressa swims across the lake and lowers her legs to touch bottom before swimming back, she makes an awful discovery.

This is the first Cressa Carraway Musical Mystery. The second, Requiem in Red, came out in February of 2016.

Don’t forget to check back here on February 14th to read my review of Kaye George’s novel Choke.

 

Fast Track to Glory by Tomasz Chrusciel

Nina Monte has worked hard to achieve her dreams. At thirty-six she’s one of Italy’s youngest professors, and renowned for her knowledge of the ancient world. Old religious texts might make for lonely companions at night, but that’s nothing a bottle of fine wine can’t fix.

When a mysterious summons presents a career-making opportunity, Nina can’t resist. A relic has been found in a 15th Century galley and it’s the kind of discovery encountered once in a lifetime. But floating atop the depths of Lake Garda at the recovery site, Nina senses something is amiss. With local hotelier, Alessandro Pini at her side, she begins to unravel the truth surrounding the relic. She soon realizes that questions of the past pale in comparison to the dangers looming in the present.

The mystical object in Nina’s hands is no trinket; it has the power to change humanity’s perception of existence. And many believe a gift like that is worthy dying—or killing—for.

Don’t forget to check back here on February 21st to read my review of Fast Track to Glory.

 

The Lover’s Portrait: An Art Mystery by Jennifer S. Alderson

Zelda Richardson, an American art history student at the University of Amsterdam, is the Amateur Sleuth in The Lover’s Portrait: An Art Mystery. During an internship at the prestigious Amsterdam Museum, Zelda works on an exhibition of artwork, paintings and sculptures once stolen by Nazis, still unclaimed by their rightful owners seventy years later.

When two women claim the same portrait of a young girl entitled Irises, Zelda is tasked with investigating the painting’s history and soon finds evidence that one of the two women must be lying about her past. Before she can figure out which one it is and why, Zelda learns about a collection of masterpieces hidden somewhere in Amsterdam, secreted away in 1942 by a homosexual art dealer who’d rather die than turn his collection over to his Nazi blackmailer. And that Irises is the key to finding it all.

Zelda finds herself thrown into the role of amateur sleuth when the woman she believes to be a liar, convinces the museum her paperwork is authentic. Her investigation into past and present events attracts the attention of someone willing to steal – and even kill – to find the lost paintings and reclaim what they see as their own. When her apartment is ransacked and her life threatened, Zelda realizes she has to track down the lost collection and unmask a killer if she wants to survive.

 

Love, Lies & Clones by Joynell Schultz

In “Love, Lies & Clones,” the protagonist, June, is a clone of her mother. She’s just a “regular person” with a ton of flaws that gets sucked into trying to find her father. She struggles with an ethical dilemma of keeping her father’s secret or going to the police with it for help. Because of having to keep the secret of being a clone her whole life, she has trouble trusting people.

June never asked to be cloned from her mother’s DNA. She also didn’t ask for her faulty heart or the necessity of keeping her origins a secret. Now, her father’s missing and her only help may be an AWOL military man who won’t leave her alone. He keeps insisting June’s father and his missing brother are connected. Can June trust someone with her secret… and her heart?

 

Skeletons in the Attic by Judy Penz Sheluk

Skeletons in the Attic is set in the fictional town of Marketville, which is located about an hour north of Toronto, Canada. My protagonist, Calamity (Callie) Barnstable, a single city girl forced to move to Marketville, describes it as a commuter town where folks with two kids, a cat, and a collie moved to looking for a bigger house, a better school, and soccer fields. It is loosely based (and very much fictionalized) version of Newmarket, Ontario, Canada, where I lived for several years.

Callie Barnstable inherits a house in Marketville – a house she knew nothing about — from her father, who died in an “unfortunate” occupational accident. The catch: she must move into the house and find out who murdered her mother thirty years before. A mother Callie believed had left “for the milkman or some other male equivalent” when she was just six-years-old.

Don’t forget to check back here on February 20th to review my review of Skeletons in the Attic and an interview with Judy Sheluk.

 

Stone Cold Blooded by Catherine Dilts

Life hasn’t gone the way Morgan Iverson expected. A widow too young, her children have flown the nest, leaving her feeling irrelevant and alone. When her brother asks her to manage the family rock shop for two weeks, she believes the temporary change of scene will do her good.

On day one, she learns her brother is not returning. On day two, while chasing the shop’s escape-artist donkeys, she finds a body on a trail. The killer thinks she witnessed the murder. If Morgan doesn’t solve the crime, she’ll become as extinct as the fossils lining the rock shop’s dusty shelves.

Distracted by life or death adventure in the Colorado mountains, Morgan makes new friends and begins healing. She starts walking charity 5Ks, is adopted by the local church ladies, and takes a chance on middle-aged romance.

Solving a murder, mostly by accident, gives Morgan a reputation. In book two, she is recruited to solve a fifteen-year-old cold case for a recovering alcoholic who needs closure in her daughter’s disappearance. While investigating, Morgan discovers a rare gemstone that sparks a dangerous treasure hunt.

In book three of the Rock Shop Mystery series, Morgan’s reclusive neighbor is blown to bits. The police believe he stumbled into his own trap, but his granddaughter claims he was murdered. She asks Morgan and newspaperman Kurt Willard to find his killer.

Morgan’s budding romance with Kurt is threatened by the unexpected appearance of his Hollywood ex-wife. She worries that pregnant donkey Adelaide will never drop her foal. When alien hunters invade the rock shop, Morgan is happy to escape to a mineral and fossil show in Denver. Until her hopes for success there turn to disaster.

A feud between Morgan’s uncle and her dead neighbor could provide clues to his demise, but memories of the events decades ago don’t add up. In book three of the Rock Shop Mystery series, a Triceratops brow horn may hold the key to solving a prospector’s Stone Cold Blooded death.

Don’t forget to check back here on February 6th to read Catherine’s fascinating article entitled ‘The Tale of the Dinosaur Tail’.

 

If you enjoyed this post, consider signing up to receive the latest posts from my blog by entering your email address into the form on the right-hand sidebar. Until February 22, this site will be inundated with Mystery Thriller Week guest posts, articles, features, interviews, giveaways and much more. I look forward to seeing you there!

‘Name the Character’ Mega Giveaway!

‘Name the Character’ Mega Giveaway!

January 24, 2017 – February 21, 2017

Win the Grand Prize Swag Bag or 1 of 20 eBooks!

Okay creative types, now is your chance to name a character in my upcoming art mystery, The Anthropologist (working title), and see your own name immortalized in the book’s acknowledgements!

The entrant with the ‘best’ name wins an extremely cool Grand Prize swag bag:

  1. Signed paperback copies of The Lover’s Portrait and Down and Out in Kathmandu (the first two books in the Adventures of Zelda Richardson series),
  2. Sunflowers mug from the Van Gogh Museum gift shop,
  3. Bicycle-shaped bookmarks,
  4. Treasure Map of Amsterdam and
  5. Prayer Flags made in Nepal!
  6. In addition, you will receive TWO autographed paperback copies of The Anthropologist, as soon as it is published (expected release date November 2017)!

 

Name the Character: Who is She?

In The Lover’s Portrait: An Art Mystery, Zelda’s best friend Friedrich, a Swiss psychology student, had no luck with women. In The Anthropologist, he’s met the love of his life: a beautiful, caring and smart fellow psychology student. Only problem is, she hates Frederick’s female friends, including Zelda.

What is her first and last name?

Enter your answer as a comment to this post here on my blog, on my Facebook Author Page or Goodreads blog.

Only one entry per person, so make it a good one!

 

Even if you don’t win the ‘Name the Character’ contest, I’ve still got you covered. I’ll also randomly select TWENTY entrants to win ONE eBook copy of either The Lover’s Portrait or Down and Out in Kathmandu (winner’s choice), to be gifted to you from Amazon or Smashwords!

For those who want to win a book but don’t want to think up a character’s name, tell me the name of a country you’d like to visit and I’ll enter you in the eBook contest.

 

Synopsis of The Anthropologist (Adventures of Zelda Richardson, Book Three):  

Zelda Richardson’s back and embroiled in another exciting art mystery! This time she’s working at the Tropenmuseum on an exhibition of bis poles from the Asmat region of Papua New Guinea, the same area where a famous American anthropologist disappeared in 1965. When his journals are found inside one of the bis poles, Zelda’s tasked with finding out more about the man’s last days and his connection to these ritual objects.

Zelda finds herself pulled into a world of shady anthropologists, missionaries, art collectors, gallery owners and smugglers, where the only thing that is certain, is that the sins of the past are never fully erased.

Join Zelda on her next quest as she grapples with the anthropologist’s mysterious disappearance fifty years earlier, and a present-day murderer who will do everything to prevent her from discovering the truth. Art, religion and anthropology collide in my upcoming art mystery thriller, book three of the Adventures of Zelda Richardson series! Expected release date November 2017.

 

Thanks for playing and have fun!

 

Please like my Facebook page, follow me on Twitter or sign up to receive notifications of new blog posts here on my website (the sign up form is in the right-hand sidebar). That way, you’ll know immediately if you won a prize! This is not required, but greatly appreciated.

Jennifer S. Alderson blog mega giveaway

 

Rules to keep it fun (by entering this contest you agree to the following):

  1. Only one entry per person. Enter by commenting on the ‘Mega Giveaway post’ on my Facebook Author’s Page, Goodreads blog or website’s blog.
  2. Contest closes at on February 21, 2017 at midnight EST.
  3. You must be 18 years or older to participate.
  4. Anyone in the world is welcome to play (no country restrictions).
  5. Once I’ve assigned your entry a number, your response cannot be changed.
  6. No obscene, erotic or hateful names. Any inappropriate entries will be deleted and the entrant banned from re-entering.
  7. Prizes cannot be exchanged for money or any other form of compensation.
  8. I have the right to use the chosen character name freely. The winner does not retain any rights of any kind, in association with the use of the character’s name, physical description or nationality. The winner will not be compensated for its use in any way, other than the aforementioned Grand Prize. This is for fun, not profit!
  9. I will personally choose the winner of the Grand Prize, based on the character name I think is best.
  10. The Grand Prize winner agrees to allow me use their full name in the Acknowledgements of The Anthropologist (working title) and their first name in promotional social media posts.
  11. In order to select the 20 winners of a single eBook, I will assign each entry a unique number during the contest. The day after the contest closes, I will use a random number generator to choose the 20 winners.
  12. Winners of all prizes will be contacted via the email address or Facebook username they used to enter.
  13. The Grand Prize winner’s Swag Bag will be mailed via standard delivery from Amsterdam, the Netherlands to the winner within three days of confirming his or her postal address.
  14. The 20 eBook winners will be asked to choose ONE eBook (either The Lover’s Portrait or Down and Out in Kathmandu) to be gifted to them via Amazon or Smashwords (compatible with Kobo, Apple, Nook, Android, Sony and Kindle readers).
  15. Prizes not claimed by April 4, 2017 will no longer be awarded. Be sure to check your email and FB messenger accounts on February 22th to see if you’ve won!

 

Synopsis of The Lover’s Portrait (Adventures of Zelda Richardson, Book Two):

When a homosexual Dutch art dealer hides the stock from his gallery – rather than turn it over to his Nazi blackmailer – he pays with his life, leaving a treasure trove of modern masterpieces buried somewhere in Amsterdam, presumably lost forever. That is, until American art history student Zelda Richardson sticks her nose in. Read an excerpt now on Amazon.

Synopsis of Down and Out in Kathmandu (Adventures of Zelda Richardson, Book One):

An idealistic backpacker volunteering as an English teacher in Nepal finds herself entangled with an international gang of smugglers whose Thai leader believes she’s stolen their diamonds. Read an excerpt now on Amazon.

 

MTW: Sailing the Atlantic for Research by Marie Silk

MTW: Sailing the Atlantic for Research by Marie Silk

Today I’m honored to have MysteryThrillerWeek author Marie Silk as a guest on my blog.

I’m an advocate of conducting extensive historical research before writing about events of the past and I know Marie Silk is, too! To write the fourth book in her Davenport House series, Heiress Interrupted, she sailed across the Atlantic Ocean in the name of research.

Many chapters of Heiress Interrupted take place aboard the RMS Lusitania during its last voyage across the Atlantic Ocean. Marie shares with us many fascinating details about this tragic journey and those on board, as well as how she managed to capture ‘the wonder, excitement, motion sickness, terror, and profound bonds of friendship that could have happened aboard the RMS Lusitania in the year 1915.’

 

Sailing the Atlantic for Research

By Marie Silk

I am grateful to author Jennifer S. Alderson for this chance to share a little about the inspiration behind the fourth book in my historical fiction series.

RMS Lusitania coming into port, possibly in New York, 1907.

Many chapters of Heiress Interrupted take place aboard the RMS Lusitania on its last fateful voyage across the Atlantic Ocean. The Lusitania left the pier in New York on May 1, 1915 bound for Liverpool, England. Many “important” people at the time were warned about sailing on the ship, for it was destined to have a part in The Great War being waged in Europe. The tragic loss of 1,195 lives was the result of sailing despite the many warning signs.

In the second book of my series, a wealthy socialite named Nellie Whitmore seeks a traveling companion for this very voyage. Even though the second and third books move past this particular event, Heiress Interrupted finally tells Nellie’s side of the story aboard the ship!

I recently embarked on a Norwegian cruise that sailed from the United States to Europe. My husband and I had been on cruises before, but this was the first one that would cross the Atlantic. I wrote the first segment of Heiress Interrupted while on this voyage, but superstition prevented me from writing the portion about the actual sinking of the Lusitania! I planned to wait until we were safely home :).

Warning from German Embassy.

I was fortunate enough to meet a passenger who had immigrated to the United States aboard a ship in the 1950’s. I wanted to hear everything about his experience crossing the ocean so many years ago, especially about what it was like in third class. He told me that they were not allowed to interact with the first class passengers or wander into the first class sections. He also said that he shared a room with his family of twelve. I enjoyed hearing about the experience and thought about how I could later adapt the feelings shared to the story I was writing.

I studied the layout of the Lusitania so that descriptions within the ship would be historically accurate in my book. I originally intended to paint a dismal picture of the third class accommodations, but further research revealed that the Lusitania was regarded as one of the best ships for third class passengers. This meant that one of the subplots I was going to use about the “deplorable conditions in third class” would not work. A story idea can change very quickly for the historical fiction author who wishes to keep things as accurate as possible, and this is one example of modifying the story in my imagination to be compatible with real history. I carefully consider details even down to the placement of the fireplace and elevators in the ship in order to keep the story real.

I watched several documentaries about the sinking of the Lusitania and read as many survivor stories as I could find. It was important to me to capture the feelings that real people aboard the ship experienced during the sailing and sinking.

Here I was embarking on a transatlantic voyage 100 years later. I imagined that the excitement I felt while entering the ship and seeing the beautiful interior was similar to how the Lusitania passengers felt when they first stepped on board. I thought about how I felt during the emergency drill and how scary it would be to actually abandon ship in the icy Atlantic waters. I thought about how much can happen in a short span of time on a cruise, how many people we meet, how many friends we quickly make because we are literally all in the same boat.

Some days, our ship rocked so badly that the captain had to assure us that it was “normal” for the North Atlantic. A few times from the dining room, we could see the crests of the swells through the window which seemed alarmingly high, and we watched our ship rise and crash down with them. I wondered if it was really as normal as the captain said! I went through nearly a full box of Dramamine. I thought about how much more challenging it must have been to sail 100 years ago. The fourteen day voyage was one of the most incredible experiences of my life that I will never forget.

As a historical fiction author, I hope that I did justice in capturing the wonder, excitement, motion sickness, terror, and profound bonds of friendship that could have happened aboard the RMS Lusitania in the year 1915.

Thank you for reading about my adventure.

 

Did you enjoy reading about her research trip? Now is your chance to read her series at a discounted price! Today only, several books in the Davenport Series, including Heiress Interrupted, will be on sale, discounted from 2.99 to 99 cents on Amazon.com and 99p on Amazon UK.

 

Davenport House 4: Heiress Interrupted

More to the story is revealed in this fourth book to Davenport House.

Nellie Whitmore is accustomed to life as a carefree heiress, but her claim to the family fortune is at risk because of a new heir. Nellie is sent to Britain to be married before word spreads of her changing circumstances.

What begins as a luxurious voyage becomes a fight for survival when the ship is caught in the midst of the War, forever changing the people who live to tell about it.

Friendship is kept afloat by telegrams between London and Davenport House. Mary Davenport announces exciting news, and the servants prepare for more changes downstairs. Ethan is anxious to move to Philadelphia, but becomes overworked while the estate is in search of a new groundskeeper.

Relationships become strained when the unthinkable shakes the foundation of the house, and the ladies are left to evaluate the risks of keeping secrets.

 

As of January 21, 2017, Heiress Interrupted is a Best Seller on Amazon! Congratulations, Marie Silk!

About the Author

Marie Silk enjoys writing stories and plays in many genres. She lives with her family in the United States and travels to new countries each year.

She loves to visit castles, ruins, and other historical sites as often as possible. Marie is a collector of LEGO and random cool things.

Her favorite books to read are supernatural, history, and psychology. She is the author of the Davenport House family saga.

 

Do you love to read mysteries and thrillers set in bygone eras? Davenport House 4: Heiress Interrupted is one of 20+ novels in MysteryThrillerWeek’s Historical Mysteries and Thrillers Theme. Click here to see the entire list of exiting MTW titles.

Don’t forget to check back here on January 30th for the fourth theme post about Amateur Sleuth Mysteries and Thrillers by MTW authors.

 

What reviews teach me about my novels

What reviews teach me about my novels

As Mystery Thriller Week fast approaches, I and many other MTW authors are preparing to see a slew of new reviews of our precious novels. It’s an exhilarating and somewhat nerve-wracking time. What will the reviewers say about our books? Did they enjoy the story, characters and setting? Could they relate to the protagonist and their journey?

As the author, deep down you hope every reviewer thinks it is a 5 star ‘must read’. That’s only natural. But that rarely happens. Yes, even the Harry Potter series has received its fair share of 1 star reviews.

It’s no wonder we worry; a great review can help interest another reader in our books, which can lead to a sale. They really do matter.

Yet I love to read reviews for another reason. Every time a new review is posted, I learn new something about my books. How is that possible, you may ask? I did write the story and know the plot, characters and setting intimately. What could I possibly learn from readers?

Quite a bit, in fact!

Reviews teach me how others see my stories and characters. I’m often surprised by the details readers choose to mention in their reviews. Sometimes it’s a chapter or subplot I wasn’t certain belonged, debated about removing, yet ultimately left in because I liked it too much. It’s gratifying to see those bits getting picked out and celebrated. Conversely, it’s strange to see that the chapters or characters I spent the most time working on getting right, or thought were controversial in some way, are never mentioned.

It’s even more interesting to see how others read and interpret my stories as a whole. For example, I’m fascinated to see several readers found my debut novel Down and Out in Kathmandu an edge-of-your-seat-thriller they had trouble putting down, while another reviewer enjoyed the story but found that it moved a bit too slow for her tastes.

They are talking about the same novel. In this case, a book I wrote as a semi-cynical take on the backpacker culture in Asia, not intentionally as a travel thriller. Yet, no reviewer has seen it in that light.

Does that bother me? Not in the slightest! I know when I read a book, my knowledge, interests and experiences color how I read the story and relate to the characters. After I write my review, I often read those left by others and see that many have interpreted it differently than I did.

That is all part of the reading experience!

I’m so grateful to everyone who takes the time to share via a review their perspectives and interpretations of my stories. I learn a tremendous amount from each and every one, whether they are 5 stars or not.  I can’t wait to see what the upcoming Mystery Thriller Week reviews will teach me.

Happy reading and enjoy Mystery Thriller Week (February 12-22) everyone!

 

If you haven’t already, sign up now as a Super Reader to be the first to know about all the special giveaways, prizes and free books being offered during Mystery Thriller Week!

 

 

 

MTW: Historical Mysteries and Thrillers Theme

MTW: Historical Mysteries and Thrillers Theme

Welcome to the third of four themed posts about MysteryThrillerWeek, an annual event celebrating the Mystery and Thriller genres!

Over two-hundred authors are participating in this global event. To help readers and authors better connect, a variety of themed lists – sub-categories of both genres – have been created.

Today I’m thrilled to share with you eight books from the Historical Mysteries and Thrillers Theme, books which transport you back to Amsterdam during World War Two, Victorian England, the American Revolution, a slave ship sailing round the Horn of South Africa, the Roman Empire, the Middle East during the 1st century C.E., America in the early 1900s, and the Wild West.

Authors Michael Smorenburg, Edwin Herbert, J.B. Richards, Khristina Atkinson, Marie Silk, Maggi Andersen, and Jane Jordan have kindly provided a description of their historical setting and story. I’ve also included information about my own historical fiction novel. Click on the book cover to link to Amazon where you can read an excerpt and learn more about the author.

These are but a few of the 20+ books currently listed in the Historical Mysteries and Thrillers category.

Be sure to sign up as a Super Fan on the MysteryThrillerWeek website to be kept up-to-date of all the fun games, prizes and giveaways taking place during the event, February 12 – 22, 2017.

I look forward to seeing you there!

But first, let’s take a closer look at some of the wonderful books in this category…

 

The Praying Nun: A True Story by Michael Smorenburg

At the southern tip of Africa lies a ship graveyard.

The reason is obvious: Before Suez, much of the world’s trade had to round the perilous waters where Africa interferes with ill-tempered southern ocean. Here you will find Cape Town, one of the world’s most majestic cities built around Table Bay, a bay that forms a funnel with its mouth yawning wide open to swallow the winter onslaughts. The result of wind-driven ships and treacherous weather is predictable; the highest density of shipwrecks anywhere on the planet.

Indeed, Cape Town’s city center is built on a mile of reclaimed land pushed out over what used to be the ancient anchorage a century and more ago. So that, when today’s civil engineers build our skyscrapers and burrow down to the bedrock of that foreshore to sink their anchorage, they find the sites of tragedy and shipwrecks in their foundations.

Let’s give this some context: Take a globe of the world and check out the distance Spain, Greece and Southern California are from the Equator – now look at the tip of Africa… we are the same distance south of the Equator as those great regions are north of it.

Around a headland from the city is another smaller bay, just a mile wide. That headland soars to 3,000-feet in towering height; it is the fabled Table Mountain. At three-times the age of the Himalaya it is one of the world’s oldest mountains and a World Heritage Site.

This smaller bay is called Clifton, and it surely is the most comely and magnificent setting for a suburb on this planet. Fingers of reef stretch from the beach seaward, lying eternally in wait to snag the keel of any unsuspecting ship’s captain. And, in 1794, one of these reefs got lucky, tearing the hull out of a slaver with 400 unfortunates chained in her holds.

The bones of that tragedy lay undetected until a friend and I found them nearly thirty years ago; in 2015 the Smithsonian identified them as the wreck of the São José Paquete Africa.

Don’t forget to check back here on February 4th when Michael will share more about his exciting find in the post, A Graveyard for Ships.

 

Mythos Christos by Edwin Herbert

The year 391: Roman Emperor Theodosius issues a decree that only one religion would hence be recognized—Christianity. Pagan worship will no longer be tolerated. Even to move one’s lips to a false idol is deemed a criminal offense. At the behest of Alexandria’s archbishop, the Christian mob swarms the city, gleefully destroying all things pagan.

When the Neoplatonist philosopher and teacher Hypatia of Alexandria witnesses the razing of the Serapeum, a seven-century-old temple to the Greco-Egyptian god Serapis, along with its annex library, she wonders if the Great Library of Alexandria will suffer a similar fate.

Hypatia takes measures to preserve selected scrolls and codices from any subsequent purges, especially what the Church considered forbidden knowledge—certain telling documents concerning the hidden origins of Christianity. In order to prevent the uninitiated from discovering her trove of manuscripts, she sets up a series of burials governed by actual linguistic and geometrical riddles which must be solved to gain access. Only a philaletheion, a truth-seeker steeped in Platonist mysticism and Pythagorean mathematics, could hope to solve her sequence of puzzles.

21st century: A young American Rhodes Scholar and student of paleography, Lex Thomasson, is asked to join a team of Vatican archivists to help them advance through what they came to realize was Hypatia’s long dormant treasure hunt. Utilizing a cipher known as gematria, Lex demonstrates his unique talents by unlocking the secrets along the trail. Soon, however, Lex becomes suspicious of the group’s motives and flees, only to find them and a hired cabal of assassins converging on the final cache. The archaeological adventure continues from Alexandria to Eleusis, Delphi, and finally Heliopolis.

Mythos Christos is really two tales in one, and the scene alternates between the timelines. The reader will be intrigued to learn some curious mathematical relationships that exist in the very names of the Greek gods and, weirdly, even within some of the Gospel narratives themselves.

Those who choose to read Mythos Christos may wish to first visit my website at www.MythosChristos.com and download the printable gematria key to help you understand the solutions to the riddles.

 

Miriamne the Magdala by J.B. Richards

For over 20 years, I’ve researched the lives of Jesus and Mary Magdalene—as well as the religious, political, and cultural climate of the Middle East during the 1st century C.E. My perception of Jesus, The Christ—called “Yeshua” in his native Aramaic tongue, and Mary Magdalene (aka Miriamne), as well as my insight into their times, inspired me to write about them not in a religious context, but in the sphere of their everyday familial lives, putting the focus on young Yeshua’s Destiny and the impact of his earthly Mission on his beloved Miriamne, his family, and friends.

What happened to Yeshua during that 20-year period familiarly called the “Missing Years” is one of History’s greatest mysteries! What we do know about Yeshua’s era is that any young Jew growing up in Roman occupied Galilee would have had the ideals of freedom, liberty, and justice foremost on their mind. Both Yeshua and Miriamne would have grown up quite aware of the absolute tyranny of Roman rule. With the Pax Romana—the Roman Peace—of paramount importance to the Empire, anyone threatening to disrupt that all-important peace would have been dealt with swiftly and ruthlessly. Prior generations of Jews—Yeshua and Miriamne’s parents and grandparents—would have been outraged by the ineptitude of the Jewish authorities to protect their own people from the horrors exacted by their foreign overlords. And with over 2,000 crucifixions having recently taken place in Galilee, a strong sense of national pride and cultural identity would have been instilled in each subsequent generation of God’s Chosen People. All awaited the arrival of the Messiah. He would exact justice and restore the Jewish homeland!

The tale of Christ’s “missing years”, and the story of the girl, who would become his closest confidante, most important apostle, and one true love, has never before been told in such an intimate and compelling manner. One thing is for certain; Once you read “Miriamne the Magdala”—and the subsequent chapters in The Yeshua and Miri Novel Series—you will never see Jesus and the Magdala the same way again!

 

The Lover’s Portrait: An Art Mystery by Jennifer S. Alderson

Amsterdam in the 1940s, during the height of the city’s occupation by Hitler’s troops, forms the historical setting for The Lover’s Portrait: An Art Mystery. Extensive research into the plight of homosexuals and Jewish artists in Europe during World War Two, as well as the complexities inherent to the restitution of artwork stolen by the Nazis, was crucial to writing this book – and quite interesting!

I was inspired to write it while studying art history in the Netherlands and used my adopted hometown of Amsterdam as the setting. This was a period of time which I knew shockingly little about before I moved to the Netherlands. Amsterdam is dotted with plaques and memorials to this turbulent period and writing this novel was a way for me to process all that I’d learned about the history of the country I now call home.

The narrative switches between present day and wartime Amsterdam, enabling the reader to learn more about past events and predicaments as seen through the eyes of my characters. This allowed me to fully explain and explore the emotional and psychological impact the Nazis’ atrocious policies and actions had on individual Dutch citizens. The story will appeal to those interested in learning about aspects of World War Two history not often discussed in textbooks or history books.

I hope you enjoy following along on Zelda’s journey and helping her solve this art mystery!

Set in the Netherlands, The Lover’s Portrait is the contemporary story of American art history student Zelda Richardson, who finds clues to the whereabouts of a collection of masterpieces hidden somewhere in Amsterdam, secreted away in 1942 by a homosexual art dealer who’d rather die than turn his collection over to his Nazi blackmailer. Her discoveries make her a target of someone willing to steal – and even kill – to find the lost paintings. As the list of suspects grows, Zelda realizes she has to track down the lost collection and unmask a killer if she wants to survive.

 

Hopelessly, Completely, MADLY in Love by Khristina Atkinson

Jesse Dalton is a young and green deputy when Lexi Weston rushes into the Sheriff’s Office one afternoon and announces her husband has been shot.  Sheriff Vaughn isn’t around, so he eagerly questions the couple.  His goal in life is to be the sheriff one day.  He learns that two men aren’t very happy about Luke Weston marrying Lexi and questions both suspects.  He has a hard time keeping his eyes off of the auburn haired beauty with emerald eyes and understands their attraction to her.

Lexi runs away from Silas Reilly and Cooper Grayson when she can’t choose between the two men to visit her grandmother, Maggie Weston in Louisville.  Her step-grandson, Luke, is Lexi’s constant companion while she’s staying at their home.  They frequent the Ohio River to watch the steamboats.  After a tornado hits Louisville, the new stadium is quickly repaired and the two of them are able to take in an opening season baseball game for the Grays.  The second Kentucky Derby is exciting for them to watch.

Jesse comes back into Lexi’s life in an official capacity as the sheriff when Lexi wakes up and finds a painting of herself hanging on her bedroom wall.  She’d posed for an artist, Jasper Marx, in Charleston, South Carolina after she was determined to see the Atlantic Ocean.  He spots her frolicking in the waves and must have her model for his next masterpiece.  After her portrait was finished, she lost a chunk of time after drinking a cup of tea he prepared for her.  She fears Jasper took advantage of her.  He claims he’s only in town to visit with his old and dear friend.

 

Davenport House 4: Heiress Interrupted by Marie Silk

More to the story is revealed in this fourth book to Davenport House. Nellie Whitmore is accustomed to life as a carefree heiress, but her claim to the family fortune is at risk because of a new heir. Nellie is sent to Britain to be married before word spreads of her changing circumstances. What begins as a luxurious voyage becomes a fight for survival when the ship is caught in the midst of the War, forever changing the people who live to tell about it.

Friendship is kept afloat by telegrams between London and Davenport House. Mary Davenport announces exciting news, and the servants prepare for more changes downstairs. Ethan is anxious to move to Philadelphia, but becomes overworked while the estate is in search of a new groundskeeper. Relationships become strained when the unthinkable shakes the foundation of the house, and the ladies are left to evaluate the risks of keeping secrets.

Don’t forget to check back here on January 23rd when Marie will share more about her fascinating research trip sailing the Atlantic.

 

A Dangerous Deception by Maggi Andersen

I love the Regency for its history, the ton, the balls, the fashions, the furniture, art, architecture, and the larger than life characters which inhabited it. It was noted for its elegance, refinement, and cultural achievements which shaped British society, but there was a darker side filled with political upheaval, bloodshed and warfare.

Squalor existed beneath the glamour and gloss. Particularly after the Napoleonic War ended, when the English economy suffered and many were poor and desperate. Unhappy with Liverpool’s government, conspirators met in quiet corners and plotted, and many feared a revolution like the one in France. In the rookeries and dingier, less affluent areas of London, thievery was rife and drinking and gambling flourished. London was a dangerous place.

My spies inhabit the darker side as well as the glamorous balls and soirees. I considered the years after the Napoleonic wars had ended to be the perfect period in which to set my spy series: The Spies of Mayfair. In the first in the series, A DANGEROUS DECEPTION, Guy, Baron Fortescue has come to England to claim his title and estates. After killing a man in a duel, Guy’s father fled England before Guy was born. A relative has taken care of Rosecroft Hall during the long years while the family was away.

Once on English soil, attempts are made on Guy’s life. Might it be his relative, Eustace Fennimore behind it, who has become very comfortable leading a baron’s lifestyle? Guy is drawn into a web of deceit, and finds himself working for the Crown, while falling in love with the feisty, aspiring poet, Horatia Cavendish.

Horatia is determined to keep alive her handsome fiancé, who has proven more than willing to play the part of her lover even as he resists her attempts to save him.

 

The Beekeeper’s Daughter by Jane Jordan

The Beekeeper’s Daughter is a historical thriller that begins in the year 1698, although, the majority of the book is set during the Victorian Period.  The location for this book is on Exmoor in the South West of England.

Exmoor is an inspirational place for writers.  The landscape is dramatic with great cliffs that plummet into the sea, deep wooded verdant valleys and large expanses of purple clad moorland.  A place where thick creeping mists can quickly roll in from the sea, and turn the beautiful countryside into a hauntingly eerie landscape.  Add to this an ancient castle, a preserved medieval village and a myriad of folklore and legends that intrigue locals and tourists alike.

The first time I visited Exmoor I fell in love with the romance of the place.  As a writer, I have attempted to capture the emotional experiences of living and working there. In parts, it still is an untamed place that still retains an air of a much slower and bygone era.

I also write about the city of Bath, famous for its Georgian architecture at a time when it was fashionable to take the waters at the highly-regarded Pump room, or to be driven in horse drawn carriage to an elaborate ball.

Annabel Taylor is the beekeeper’s daughter, and this is a story of her unwavering love for Jevan, the Blacksmith’s son. Her connection to Jevan is sensual and dangerous, but her ability to charm bees is the dark undercurrent that weaves throughout this thriller.

After Jevan shatters her world by leaving Exmoor, Annabel forms a friendship Alex, the heir to the foreboding Gothelstone mansion.  She is oddly drawn to Alex despite their social divide, she knows his attention is merely a distraction from her true love.  Alex has other ideas.

When Jevan returns, a destructive love triangle follows. Annabel is ensnared into the dark legacy of the Saltonstall family, and when the lives of those she loves most are threatened, she must use her inherent power and destroy a powerful witch.

 

If you enjoyed this post, consider signing up to receive the latest posts from my blog by entering your email address into the form on the right-hand sidebar. From now until February 22, this site will be inundated with MysteryThrillerWeek guest posts, articles, features, interviews, giveaways and much more. I look forward to seeing you there!

 

MTW: Looting of Saddam Hussein’s palaces in Iraq by Paul Russell Parker III

MTW: Looting of Saddam Hussein’s palaces in Iraq by Paul Russell Parker III

I’m thrilled to share an article by Paul Russell Parker III, MysteryThrillerWeek author of All In: The Globe Trot Shuffle, about his tour of duty in Iraq and the devastating looting he witnessed of museums, government buildings and Saddam Hussein’s palaces.

As Paul writes, ‘One of the greatest losses a society can face is the loss of it’s past… Ancient ruins belong to all of humanity, and are visual testimony to the world that we come from somewhere and are continuing that long and storied journey.’

Looting of Saddam Hussein’s palaces in Iraq

By Paul Russell Parker III

Iraq is a beautiful and memorizing place.  It is rich in culture and history.  It’s Mesopotamia, the birth place of civilization. So, it’s heart wrenching to see all the conflict that’s been happening there since man decided to stop gathering and started to till the land.  The city-state kingdoms that have called the fertile crescent area of Iraq home; since time immemorable, have been conquered over and over.  One of the greatest tragedies inflicted on civilization was the sacking of Baghdad by the Mongols.  The rivers coursing through Baghdad ran black with ink from all the books thrown into it. The treasure that was the House of Wisdom in Baghdad was lost to us, and countless important works disappeared forever.

One of the greatest losses a society can face is the loss of it’s past. Its relics and artifacts tell the story of a people long gone.  Ancient ruins belong to all of humanity, and are visual testimony to the world that we come from somewhere and are continuing that long and storied journey.

I have witnessed the tragic beauty of Iraq in person.  A place so historic is also a place of untold suffering.  The people are under siege and their history is being wiped off the map.  World history is at risk.  I’ve stood on the banks of an oasis on Al Asad Air Base in Anbar Province.  A stone marker in English and Arabic commemorated the spot called Abraham’s Well.  It was there, Abraham from the bible stopped to refresh himself on his travel to Canaan.  That was in early 2008 while I was a civilian working on a contract for the Department of Defense.  With the current state of affairs happening now and the attack on ancient monuments, I wonder if that stone marker still stands.  Will anyone know that Abraham ever stopped there?

I was in Iraq even earlier than 2008.  The first time I stepped foot in the country was on March 21, 2003.  I was a Lance Corporal in the United States Marine Corps, part of the 1st Marine Division. I was unprepared for what happened next.  We, the 1st Marine Division Forward, fought our way up to Baghdad, but didn’t stop there.  We made it all the way up to Tikrit, which was Saddam’s hometown.  Along the way, we fought the enemy, but also had to deal with the humanity aspect of modern combat.  Basic services stopped, and the local populace was suffering.  We had to alleviate the suffering while trying to topple the regime.

Once we got to Baghdad, we ran into a problem we weren’t trained for.  Looting was occurring on a massive scale.  People carried, dragged, or carted away anything that they could get their hands on.  Stores, houses, government buildings, banks, and all manner of buildings were being emptied.  What were we to do?  Old women were carrying items from government warehouses, items that were withheld from them by the regime.  Were we to confiscate anything?  When we asked our superiors, we were told that the people were just getting their sh*t back that the government stole from them in the first place.  So, we stood to the side while on patrols and watched.

We were told that museums were being looted and it was a punch in the gut for us.  We didn’t know that caretakers were hiding items at that time.  All I could think of was the items that were going to be lost to the public forever.  Assyrian, Chaldean, Babylonian…  What evidence of our past was being erased?

Looting took another twist.  When my unit reformed into a new unit called Task Force Tripoli, we fought our way north to Tikrit and we were in for a surprise.  We took over Saddam’s new palace complex in his home town.  Palaces, mansions, and villas were filled with extravagant works of art.  Many of the places were looted by the local populace or emptied by the fleeing regime family members before we got there.  The art and decorations that were left astounded us.  To see so much opulence in that palace complex in a country where so many people are oppressed bothered us.  Saddam stole the countries past, and tried to make it his own.  The evidence was everywhere.  One of the grandest murals I’ve ever seen was a scene depicting Nebuchadnezzar and his forces transitioning to Saddam and his forces.  Hammurabi, he was not.

With so much personal time and experience in Iraq, I decided to incorporate what I’ve seen into my books.  My characters in All In:  The Globe Trot Shuffle, experience my trials and my tribulations as US Marines during the 2003 Invasion of Iraq.  They witness the looting of Baghdad that I saw firsthand while partaking in their own kind of trophy hunting for military gear on military bases that I did. They experience the same anger at viewing the extravagant palace complex in Tikrit. Everything that I went through, my characters went through. From driving around highways in Kuwait with fully loaded weapons in 2003, to being contractors on military forward operating bases in 2008. My protagonist sees the same city lights from the rooftops of combat outposts that I saw when I worked there as a contractor.  They interact with hotel workers in Kuwait like I did. By utilizing my experiences, readers will enjoy the most realistic depiction of our military in Iraq that they ever will read in a fiction.

All In: The Globe Trot Shuffle

All In: The Globe Trot Shuffle, takes place all over the world. It’s set in several countries, and even on the high seas. The first half of the story takes place all over Iraq, from Diwaniyah to Tikrit.

You see the characters in the military or as civilian contractor’s years later. They’re on FOB’s or sleeping in holes. Then it moves to Kuwait. You get to see a border crossing station, and a swanky 5-star hotel. The characters then move onto a container ship that’s traveling from Kuwait to South America. You get to see how life on a ship transiting pirate infested waters around the Horn of Africa, is.

The characters make landfall in Guyana, and explore hotels and bars. From the port in South America, they travel the Caribbean on a private yacht to Roseau and Portsmouth, Dominica.

The story is about four US Marines who make an amazing discovery in a mansion during the 2003 Invasion of Iraq. This discovery will force them to cross a line that there’s no turning back from. The line between good guys and bad guys are now blurred.

The group soon finds that making their dreams come true isn’t as easy as flying home and making a deposit. They need to safeguard their discovery during a shooting war, and keep it hidden from locals as well as their fellow Marines. They decide to stash it for the lack of a better idea.

Years later, the group of Marines are now civilians working in Iraq on a contract to the military. They must find their way past Iraqi Police checkpoints as well as insurgents to secure their discovery. After that, they must get home to make good on it. The only way to do that while carrying something highly illegal is to travel as low key as possible. They embark on a dangerous journey with Bedouins, on a shipping container ship, and on private boats to see their plan to the very end.

About the Author

Paul Russell Parker III is married, and is a father. He was born in southern California, and now lives on the North Carolina Crystal Coast. He enjoys spending time outdoors with his family, especially during the summer when they can go to the beaches of the Southern Outer Banks. He is a Veteran of the United States Marine Corps, and Operation Iraqi Freedom 1.

After the military, he earned his Associate’s degree from Coastal Carolina Community College, and his Bachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina Wilmington. Since then he’s traveled all over the world, and has had a wide variety of jobs. Including working as a commercial and military satellite technician on defense industry contracts to the Department of Defense in Qatar, Oman, and Iraq. To learn more about Paul and his books, visit his website.

 

Do you love to read art-related mysteries and thrillers? All In: The Globe Trot Shuffle is one of 20+ novels in MysteryThrillerWeek’s Art-Related Mysteries and Thrillers Theme. Click here to see more of these exiting MTW titles.

Don’t forget to check back here on January 19th for the third MysteryThrillerWeek Theme post, this time about Historical Mysteries and Thrillers by MTW authors.

 

MTW: Art-related Mysteries and Thrillers Theme

MTW: Art-related Mysteries and Thrillers Theme

Welcome to the second of four themed posts about MysteryThrillerWeek, an annual event celebrating the Mystery and Thriller genres!

Over two-hundred authors are participating in this global event. To help readers and authors better connect, a variety of themed lists – sub-categories of both genres – have been created.

Today I’m thrilled to share with you nine books from the Art-related Mysteries and Thrillers Theme, also known as the Artwork, Relics, Gems and Precious Minerals Theme.

Though this category initially contained books whose stories revolve around a painting or sculpture, it’s grown to include mysteries and thrillers in which a relic, piece of art, precious gem or other priceless object plays a central role.

Several authors have provided a description of their stories, adventurous tales revolving around treasures looted from Saddam’s palaces, missing gold coins, a Triceratops brow, a fifteenth-century relic, forged paintings, an international art heist, a collection of Dutch masterpieces, and a sack full of diamonds.

My thanks to Phil Philips, cj petterson, Paul Russell Parker III, Rosa Fedele, Catherine Dilts, Tomasz Chrusciel, Khristina Atkinson, and Ritter Ames for providing information about their books. I’ve also included information about my own art-related novels. Click on the book cover to link to Amazon where you can read an excerpt and learn more about the author.

These are but a few of the 20+ books currently listed in the Art-related Mysteries and Thrillers category.

Be sure to sign up as a Super Fan on the MysteryThrillerWeek website to be kept up-to-date of all the fun games, prizes and giveaways taking place during the event, February 12 – 22, 2017.

I look forward to seeing you there!

But first, let’s take a closer look at some of the brilliant books in this category…

 

Mona Lisa’s Secret by Phil Philips

Joey is the great-grandson of Vincenzo Peruggia, the man who stole the original Mona Lisa in 1911. Along with his girlfriend, Marie, an art connoisseur, he stumbles across his father’s secret room, and finds himself staring at what he thinks is a replica of da Vinci’s most famous masterpiece.

BUT IT IS NO FAKE

The Louvre has kept this secret for over one hundred years, waiting for the original to come to light, and now they want it back at any cost.

With Marie held hostage and the Louvre curator and his men hot on his trail, Joey is left to run for his life in an unfamiliar city, with the priceless Mona Lisa his only bargaining chip. While formulating a plan to get Marie back with the help from an unexpected quarter, Joey discovers hidden secrets within the painting, secrets which, if made public, could change the world forever.

 

The Posse: Bad Day at Round Rock by cj petterson

Bad Day at Round Rock is a short story set in the real West Texas cow town of Round Rock, Texas, in 1878. It is one of six stories included in ‘THE POSSE’ a Western anthology of human interest short stories scheduled to launch on February 15, 2017.

The idea for this story came from author cj petterson’s family legend about her great-grandfather who immigrated from Sweden to Georgetown, Texas, in 1877. The story goes that great-grandpa was in town on the day that Texas Rangers shot down the outlaw Sam Bass in the streets of Round Rock.

There are four protagonist sketches in Bad Day at Round Rock, all are linked to a hidden cache of $30,000 in uncirculated twenty-dollar gold coins that Sam Bass stole from the Union Pacific railroad.

Prospector Talley Munroe dreams of finding his fortune, only to have the gold, his horse, and his life taken from him. Indentured Lilly Malmstrom dreams of finding a man who excites her while spurning Anders Olsson, until he’s accused of murder. When she commits to saving his life, she discovers it is Anders who makes her heart race. Anders Olsson dreams of clearing his name, but escapes his jail cell to exact justice for Lilly who has been beaten and threatened by a couple of waddies who want her to tell them where Anders has hidden the gold they think he has.A mysterious rider gifts widow Jessemae Hartley with stolen horses and stolen money to tend to the grave of Sam Bass.

Everything about Sam Bass in the story is as true as newspaper reports and lore have made it. The myth about Sam Bass’s buried gold lives on. In 2015, a group organized a “scavenger hunt” to look for the gold they believed is buried somewhere around Denton, Texas.

 

All In: The Globe Trot Shuffle by Paul Russell Parker III

The story is about four US Marines who make an amazing discovery in a mansion during the 2003 Invasion of Iraq.  This discovery will force them to cross a line that there’s no turning back from.  The line between good guys and bad guys are now blurred.  The group soon finds that making their dreams come true isn’t as easy as flying home and making a deposit.  They need to safeguard their discovery during a shooting war, and keep it hidden from locals as well as their fellow Marines.  They decide to stash it for the lack of a better idea.

Years later, the group of Marines are now civilians working in Iraq on a contract to the military.  They must find their way past Iraqi Police checkpoints as well as insurgents to secure their discovery.  After that, they must get home to make good on it.  The only way to do that while carrying something highly illegal is to travel as low key as possible.  They embark on a dangerous journey with Bedouins, on a shipping container ship, and on private boats to see their plan to the very end.

All In: The Globe Trot Shuffle, takes place all over the world.  It’s set in several countries, and even on the high seas. The first half of the story takes place all over Iraq, from Diwaniyah to Tikrit.  You see the characters in the military or as civilian contractor’s years later.  They’re on FOB’s or sleeping in holes.   Then it moves to Kuwait.  You get to see a border crossing station, and a swanky 5-star hotel.  The characters then move onto a container ship that’s traveling from Kuwait to South America.  You get to see how life on a ship transiting pirate infested waters around the Horn of Africa, is.  The characters make landfall in Guyana, and explore hotels and bars.  From the port in South America, they travel the Caribbean on a private yacht to Roseau and Portsmouth, Dominica.

Don’t forget to check back here on January 16th when Paul will share more about the looting of Saddam’s palaces he witnessed while on a tour of duty in Iraq.

 

The Red Door by Rosa Fedele

My inspiration for this story began when I was strolling through one of the oldest suburbs in Sydney, admiring the timeworn mansions, and I happened upon one house in particular. But it was more than a house; the magnificent old building riveted and mesmerised me and in the following weeks I was drawn back to the site. The mansion is fronted by a brightly painted door, a glossy facade, and I imagined what the door might mask and what it could have concealed over the last 150 years: nasty, shameful secrets, possibly a poor family’s misfortune and tragedy, rotten crimes and heaven knows what other unholy messes.

As the tale unfolds, you’ll find paintings and drawings I’ve created to illustrate exactly how our main protagonist appears in my mind, to show what the chair in Beadles’ shop window looks like or the iconic Balmain Garage, before developers tore it down.

It is 1983 and the grand old Victorian mansion ‘Rosalind’, nestled in the inner city village of Glebe, Sydney, has been refurbished and converted by the new owner into four apartments, and a coach house in which she lives. Between her obligations as landlady to her odd assortment of tenants, and employment as fashion illustrator for the exclusive magazine Marie Claire, she yearns for a peaceful existence, intent on burying memories from her devastating past.

However, her peace of mind slowly erodes as she begins to believe that the mysterious tenant in Number Three, a reclusive man who happens to share his surname with two teenage sisters, victims of a sinister and brutal double murder, is watching her. Her unwelcome enquiries yield far more questions than answers: What is Mr Ahsan hiding in Number Three? Who was the young man sighted with the beautiful Zahra underneath the Tanglewood Trees? What hold does the vile Monique have over her dear friend Annie and why does this objectionable woman’s name keep cropping up in her investigation?

And do the residents of Cambridge Terrace even realise they are being watched?

 

Stone Cold Blooded by Catherine Dilts

Life hasn’t gone the way Morgan Iverson expected. A widow too young, her children have flown the nest, leaving her feeling irrelevant and alone. When her brother asks her to manage the family rock shop for two weeks, she believes the temporary change of scene will do her good.

On day one, she learns her brother is not returning. On day two, while chasing the shop’s escape-artist donkeys, she finds a body on a trail. The killer thinks she witnessed the murder. If Morgan doesn’t solve the crime, she’ll become as extinct as the fossils lining the rock shop’s dusty shelves.

Distracted by life or death adventure in the Colorado mountains, Morgan makes new friends and begins healing. She starts walking charity 5Ks, is adopted by the local church ladies, and takes a chance on middle-aged romance.

Solving a murder, mostly by accident, gives Morgan a reputation. In book two, she is recruited to solve a fifteen-year-old cold case for a recovering alcoholic who needs closure in her daughter’s disappearance. While investigating, Morgan discovers a rare gemstone that sparks a dangerous treasure hunt.

In book three of the Rock Shop Mystery series, Morgan’s reclusive neighbor is blown to bits. The police believe he stumbled into his own trap, but his granddaughter claims he was murdered. She asks Morgan and newspaperman Kurt Willard to find his killer.

Morgan’s budding romance with Kurt is threatened by the unexpected appearance of his Hollywood ex-wife. She worries that pregnant donkey Adelaide will never drop her foal. When alien hunters invade the rock shop, Morgan is happy to escape to a mineral and fossil show in Denver. Until her hopes for success there turn to disaster.

A feud between Morgan’s uncle and her dead neighbor could provide clues to his demise, but memories of the events decades ago don’t add up. In book three of the Rock Shop Mystery series, a Triceratops brow horn may hold the key to solving a prospector’s Stone Cold Blooded death.

Don’t forget to check back here on February 1st to read Catherine’s fascinating article entitled ‘The Tale of the Dinosaur Tail’.

 

Fast Track to Glory by Tomasz Chrusciel

Nina Monte has worked hard to achieve her dreams. At thirty-six she’s one of Italy’s youngest professors, and renowned for her knowledge of the ancient world. Old religious texts might make for lonely companions at night, but that’s nothing a bottle of fine wine can’t fix.

When a mysterious summons presents a career-making opportunity, Nina can’t resist. A relic has been found in a 15th Century galley and it’s the kind of discovery encountered once in a lifetime. But floating atop the depths of Lake Garda at the recovery site, Nina senses something is amiss. With local hotelier, Alessandro Pini at her side, she begins to unravel the truth surrounding the relic. She soon realizes that questions of the past pale in comparison to the dangers looming in the present.

The mystical object in Nina’s hands is no trinket; it has the power to change humanity’s perception of existence. And many believe a gift like that is worthy dying—or killing—for.

Don’t forget to check back here on February 21st to read my review of Fast Track to Glory.

 

Hopelessly, Completely, MADLY in Love by Khristina Atkinson

Jesse Dalton is a young and green deputy when Lexi Weston rushes into the Sheriff’s Office one afternoon and announces her husband has been shot.  Sheriff Vaughn isn’t around, so he eagerly questions the couple.  His goal in life is to be the sheriff one day.  He learns that two men aren’t very happy about Luke Weston marrying Lexi and questions both suspects.  He has a hard time keeping his eyes off of the auburn haired beauty with emerald eyes and understands their attraction to her.

Lexi runs away from Silas Reilly and Cooper Grayson when she can’t choose between the two men to visit her grandmother, Maggie Weston in Louisville.  Her step-grandson, Luke, is Lexi’s constant companion while she’s staying at their home.  They frequent the Ohio River to watch the steamboats.  After a tornado hits Louisville, the new stadium is quickly repaired and the two of them are able to take in an opening season baseball game for the Grays.  The second Kentucky Derby is exciting for them to watch.

Jesse comes back into Lexi’s life in an official capacity as the sheriff when Lexi wakes up and finds a painting of herself hanging on her bedroom wall.  She’d posed for an artist, Jasper Marx, in Charleston, South Carolina after she was determined to see the Atlantic Ocean.  He spots her frolicking in the waves and must have her model for his next masterpiece. After her portrait was finished, she lost a chunk of time after drinking a cup of tea he prepared for her. She fears Jasper took advantage of her.  He claims he’s only in town to visit with his old and dear friend.

 

Abstract Aliases by Ritter Ames

Fighting for art, and the right for it to always be available to the public, is part of Laurel Beacham’s DNA. Her grandfather was a brilliant businessman who channeled funds into the foundation bearing his name—whose sole purpose revolved around doing whatever was necessary to increase art awareness and accessibility. But when her father inherited the family fortune and blew it all on gambling and gold-diggers, Laurel realized her cunning and courage are her most important resources when rescuing works of art. While the police are out to catch their man, her focus stays firmly on the masterpiece. Saving art is always her objective.

Abstract Aliases opens with the two main characters blindsided when someone they’ve been trying to locate for months finds them at London’s New Year’s fireworks spectacular. As the bad guy disappears once again, Laurel and Jack find danger at every turn. From London to Rome to Cologne, their passports are stamped trouble. Odds aren’t in their favor when they hit the casino in Baden-Baden, but long odds have never stopped Laurel before, and when a longtime enemy turns into an unexpected ally, she learns no one is truly the person they seem. As the clock ticks down, the bodies add up, and to stop the heist of the century Laurel has to make sure her next passport stamp isn’t the morgue.

 

Marked Masters by Ritter Ames

Laurel Beacham never forgets her grandfather’s code that art belongs to everyone and should be available to all. But as an art recovery expert, she realizes keeping art in the public realm often requires resources and a skillset far beyond the art history degree she gained in college. She may have been born with a silver spoon in her mouth, but her father yanked it away when he squandered the family fortune, and she’s learned to use wits, wiles and wild maneuvers the same way her grandfather used his wealth. Having the trust of thieves and grifters—and the information they possess—can often be as important as knowing the best negotiation method when trying to get an art connoisseur to part with a masterpiece that should be in a museum. Saving art is always her objective.

Marked Masters takes Laurel and the reader on a nonstop thrill ride across two continents, several countries and to settings that include art-deco-rich Miami, Florida and the breathtaking renaissance works in Florence, Italy. She’s must work—grudgingly—with a partner this time, but eluding him is almost as important to her as staying ahead of the thieves. And the noises of the heist that began in the first book in the series get louder with every step they take. They discover forgers can set up shop in the most unlikely places, and they find art used to fund and hide items motivated to incite rather than inspire. She also finds amazing art that disappeared without a trace can reappear like magic—yet risks another vanishing act if she doesn’t move quickly.

 

The Lover’s Portrait: An Art Mystery by Jennifer S. Alderson

A small portrait of a young woman entitled Irises is at the center of the art mystery, The Lover’s Portrait. Who owns this painting once stolen by the Nazis, which lay unclaimed in a Dutch depot for the last seventy years? The granddaughter of the art dealer who had it in his possession at the time of his death? Or the family of the young woman portrayed in the painting? The portrait’s mysteriously incomplete provenance allowed me to explore questions around the provenance of looted art, the ways Nazis legitimatized their confiscation of others’ cultural treasures, the shifting policies regarding the restitution of artwork after the war, and the intrinsic worth of artwork.

The storyline is inspired by my experiences gained while studying art history in the Netherlands and working for several Dutch museums. Restitution of art was a topic already very familiar to me, one I’d learned much about during art history and museum studies lectures at the University of Amsterdam. However the details surrounding important events in Dutch history, and the attitudes held in Europe during that period, were not. Extensive research into the plight of Jewish artists in Europe during World War II, as well as the pressure Hitler’s troops exerted on art dealers and gallery owners whose stock they ‘admired’ and tactics used to acquire it, was crucial to writing this book – and quite interesting!

Synopsis: Set in the Netherlands, The Lover’s Portrait is the contemporary story of American art history student Zelda Richardson, who finds clues to the whereabouts of a collection of masterpieces hidden somewhere in Amsterdam, secreted away in 1942 by a homosexual art dealer who’d rather die than turn his collection over to his Nazi blackmailer. Her discoveries make her a target of someone willing to steal – and even kill – to find the lost paintings. As the list of suspects grows, Zelda realizes she has to track down the lost collection and unmask a killer if she wants to survive.

 

Down and Out in Kathmandu: Adventures in Backpacking by Jennifer S. Alderson

Down and Out in Kathmandu: Adventures in Backpacking follows the adventures of Zelda Richardson, a computer programmer teetering on the edge of burnout who quits her job to try and ‘find herself’. Volunteering as an English teacher in Nepal proves more difficult than she’d expected it to be, especially when a gang of Thai smugglers suspect she’s stolen their diamonds. Can Zelda find a way to get the smugglers off her back and her Nepalese students to respect her, before her time in Kathmandu is over?

Loosely based on my travels through Southeast Asia, Down and Out in Kathmandu offers a peek into the backpacker culture of Nepal and Thailand, and insight into what life can be like for a Westerner volunteering in a developing country. I hope you enjoy traveling through Nepal and Thailand with Zelda!

If you enjoyed this post, consider signing up to receive the latest posts from my blog by entering your email address into the form on the right-hand sidebar. From now until February 22, this site will be inundated with MysteryThrillerWeek guest posts, articles, features, interviews, giveaways and much more. I look forward to seeing you there!

MTW: Setting as a Viewfinder for African Thrillers by Sarah Key

MTW: Setting as a Viewfinder for African Thrillers by Sarah Key

Welcome to the second of two guest posts about South Africa as setting for a novel, by MysteryThrillerWeek authors Sarah Key and Zaheera Walker.

Today Sarah Key provides us with an electrifying glimpse into this fascinating land, a continent that, in her words is ‘both breathtakingly beautiful and profoundly disturbing’.

Setting as a Viewfinder for African Thrillers

By Sarah Key

Southern Africa is an intriguing place. The iconic bushveld is home to species such as zebra, giraffe and elephant and the silhouettes of these animals can be seen breaking the skyline above the treetops below a seemingly never-ending expanse of sky. At dusk and dawn bird calls herald pastel hues before fiery oranges and reds add another dimension to the magical picture. This is the wilderness, one that attracts visitors from all corners of the world.

The setting of a story does much to pique a reader’s interest and add a mixture of curiosity and wanderlust. Settings create moods for a writer, provide the physical environment for action and influence characters’ choices and experiences. They are the canvas upon which the tale is painted. Amazing Africa is a continent that is both breathtakingly beautiful and profoundly disturbing, so, as a South African writer, I have the advantage of drawing upon extraordinary locales in which to set my psychological thrillers.

A smattering of dramatic natural beauty on offer within this geographical photo-frame include Cape Town’s Table Mountain and its rugged coastlines, Zimbabwe’s Victoria Falls and fertile farmlands, and Zambia’s floodplains and national parks.

It is the gritty past and the evolution of the cities and towns in the southern-most part of the continent, however, that provide complex and fascinating socio-cultural aspects to draw from.  The unique history of the southern African countries shaped their development.  Skillfully using tension and discordance that arise from the particular historical footprint of a place can heighten dramatic action and add enthralling depth.

The scars of the legacy of Apartheid – a system of racial segregation enforced in South Africa through legislation from 1948-1994 – remain clearly visible as blights on urban regions. Townships, demarcated for Black people, are still shameful dirty, dusty shanty towns with poor sanitation, no electricity and insufficient water supplies.

The city centre and surrounds of Johannesburg – the biggest city in South Africa and its economic heartbeat – resemble urban slums. Hillbrow, a once trendy and Bohemian flatland, is a dangerous and filthy No-Go Zone in which drugs and sex are pedaled. Tourists are warned to avoid the area.

Land reclamation in Zimbabwe was intended to alter the ethnic balance of land ownership and targeted white Zimbabweans of European descent. Many productive sugarcane, coffee, cotton and tobacco fields now lie barren and neglected as farmers were driven from their beloved land, often killed, by so-called ‘war-veterans’ ridding the country of  colonial oppressors.

South Africa is often described as ‘the Rainbow Nation’ when varied ethnic groups were encouraged to unite once a democratic system came into existence in 1994. As a former academic, I taught at a university for a decade and travelled the country working in the devastating arena of HIV and AIDS training. On my journeys I gathered narratives on a range of sensitive issues such as male circumcision and sexual abuse.

In my novels, I provide insights into a range of social issues across cultures in the rich context of African life. A partly ethnographic approach aims to break down taboos and get readers to think about matters by wrapping them in the guise of fiction. I hope that, by considering events through the specific perspectives of characters, readers will become more inclusive and tolerant of traditional cultures and ethnic practices different from their own.

Brief Overview of My Books

My debut novel, Tangled Weeds, is set between Zimbabwe, the fertile farmlands of the then Northern Province of South African known for its cultivation of fruit such as mangoes and litchis, and Hillbrow, an urban slum.

My second book, The Dandelion Clock, the first in a trilogy, uses Cape Town as the set for the production. From dodgy docks, to pristine beaches, to the rugged footpaths of Table Mountain with its tablecloth of clouds and a strong South Easter blowing, this city delivers mood, magic and madness. On the charred slopes of Devil’s Peak on Spring Equinox, the final act plays out.

The Butterfly Wind is a mover. From Cape Town to Harare, Zimbabwe to Lusaka, the capital city of Zambia, adventures abound. Ride the rapids of the Zambezi River, hear the roar of the Victoria Falls and bungie jump with Derrick off the railway bridge into the majestic Batoka Gorge.  Feel Joanie’s anxiety when she returns to Chistlehurst Manor outside Lusaka and the house, like an indefatigable archivist, digs out and presents disturbing memories from its annals.

In my novels, I attempt to present Southern Africa with its blends of old and new, mystical and modern, city and country. I work hard to write in a gripping graphic fashion so that readers feel they are breathing in the dust of the country and experiencing the scorching heat of the African sun. To me there is no better setting than this extraordinary, brutal, unique land.

About the Author

Once an English teacher, Sarah Key moved into Adult Education. She travelled South Africa leading a programme aimed at reducing the ravages of HIV and AIDS. Sarah has always been fascinated by the aberrant human mind. She reads thrillers and watches crime channel television in between writing. She is married and has two young daughters.

 

Do you love to read books that transport you to other cities and countries? Sarah Key is one of 20+ authors with novels in MysteryThrillerWeek’s Mystery and Thriller Passport Theme. Click here to learn about more of MTW’s international mysteries and thrillers.

Don’t forget to check back here on January 12th for the second theme post about Art-Related Mysteries and Thrillers by MTW authors.

 

MTW: Durban, South Africa as setting for DEADLINE by Zaheera Walker

MTW: Durban, South Africa as setting for DEADLINE by Zaheera Walker

Welcome to the first of two guest posts about South Africa as setting for a novel, by MysteryThrillerWeek authors Zaheera Walker and Sarah Key.

I know South Africa is high up on my ‘bucket list’. Today Zaheera Walker gives us a special glimpse into this fascinating land. And contrary to popular belief, lions and cheetahs do not roam freely on the streets!

Durban, South Africa as setting for DEADLINE

By Zaheera Walker

Deadline Zaheera WalkerDEADLINE is a romantic suspense novel for adults. It is set in Phoenix, Durban and surrounding areas in the province of KwaZulu Natal.

The main character FERIYAL ADAM is a young woman who is a determined journalist. This 20-something woman is too much yet never enough. She breaks the rules and goes after a serial killer. Nothing holds her back until she walks into his trap. A deadly one at that.

When I sat down to pen my debut novel I knew the story had to start at home. Those who were going to pick up my book were not going to be mere readers, they were going to be absorbed into the story and become part of the thrill.

You see Durban has a rich tapestry – from the arts to the artists everything here is the perfect picture. There is the comfort of beaches, mountains and rolling greens; the people here are just something else. Only in Durban you are a stranger today and family tomorrow.

The North Coast of KwaZulu Natal is a mix of pristine beaches and five-star holiday accommodation.

From the language to the modes of transport and from the dress codes to the lifestyle, Durban is different yet it is the same.

Did you know this beautiful city is the holiday mecca for tourists? Thousands flock here because of the golden beaches, battlegrounds – remember Shaka Zulu? – he ran the lengths and breadth of Durban during his days – and the blue skies.

Phoenix is a small town north of Durban. This is a developing area that is showing promise in terms of investment opportunities. Did you know that the SatyaGraha (nonviolent resistance) founder Mahatma Gandhi lived there during his formative years in South Africa?

Municipal flats in Phoenix. Photos courtesy of WordPress.

Phoenix started off as a low income area built for Indians. Sugar cane fields are plentiful here even though they are now being cleared away to build homes.  That made the ideal dumping ground for the serial killer! The residents are a mix of professionals, lay people, housewives and the unemployed. Some notorious gangsters (mobsters) came from Phoenix. There are also the happy families and then there are single parent households.

Allow me to reassure you that we do not have wild animals on the streets. I have heard stories from some who believe lions and cheetahs roam freely on the streets. I would just like to point out that this is NOT the case. We do have the Big 5 (cheetah, lion, elephant, rhinoceros and buffalo) but these animals are kept in a zoo or a park specific for them. There is a police station in Phoenix but serious crimes like the serial killing are referred to a higher authority based in Durban.

Further north one will find towns such as Tongaat, Umhlanga and Ballito situated close to the beach. Some of these areas are developed, others are developing and there is the rare case when some buildings are abandoned.

The entrance to the Durban Magistrates Court on Somtseu Road.

The Durban Magistrates Court is on Somtseu Road. This is where the serial killer in the story appeared for his bail application. The protagonist worked at a daily newspaper situated in Greyville and court reporting was her favoured beat.

Do you know the annual July Handicap, a prestigious horse event is held at the Greyville race course?

Everything I needed to map out the story was right on my doorstep – a killer with a motive, a journalist, police, a derelict building, a newsroom and a courthouse. I also believe the setting in a story should be more than just the names of places. For me it had to include what people cooked in their homes, how the majority travelled and soapies they watched.

The Haunted House, a derelict building on Casuarina Beach, Tongaat.

Many people in Phoenix cannot afford private medical care and rely on state hospitals. Through the scenes I aim to give you a glimpse into what goes on at Addington Hospital in Durban – from admission to treatment and care the readers get a feel of reality for some people.

When the protagonist’s mother succumbs to cancer and there is no money for the funeral, the community in Phoenix rally around to give the deceased a proper burial. That is how close knit the community is and how they will always stand together to help one another. The various modes of transport available in these places are the omnibus, cars, minibuses and trains. Sorry we do not have the horse and cart..lol!

Map of Phoenix. Photos courtesy of Tabloid Media.

About the Author

Zaheera Walker was born in Durban, South Africa. She holds a Journalism Diploma and a Communication Science Degree. She started her career at a mainstream daily paper and gained experience on various beats. Today she works in Corporate Communications and lives in Johannesburg. Visit her website to find out more about Zaheera and her writing projects.

DEADLINE by Zaheera Walker

DEADLINE is set in Durban, South Africa. It tells the story of Feriyal Adam, an emerging journalist who has her sights set on the coveted prize, but… the universe has other plans for her – she loses her job, her mother succumbs to cancer and life has no meaning until the desirable Shane Black resurfaces.

Feriyal takes on a dangerous assignment to prove her mettle. Determined, stubborn and foolhardy, she breaks rules to get what she wants until the moment when she stares death in the face. Held against her will by a notorious serial killer, she realises she might be living on borrowed time. He has lured women to their deaths and chances are he is set on doing it again….

MysteryThrillerWeek

Do you love to read books that transport you to other cities and countries? DEADLINE is one of 40+ novels in MysteryThrillerWeek’s Mystery and Thriller Passport Theme. Click here to learn about more of MTW’s international mysteries and thrillers.

Don’t forget to check back here on January 9th for the second guest post about South Africa, an electrifying article by Sarah Key: ‘Setting as Viewfinder for African Thrillers’.

 

MysteryThrillerWeek: Mystery and Thriller Passport Theme

MysteryThrillerWeek: Mystery and Thriller Passport Theme

Welcome to the first of four themed posts about Mystery Thriller Week, an annual event celebrating the Mystery and Thriller genres!

Over two-hundred authors are participating in this global event. To help readers and authors better connect, a variety of themed lists – sub-categories of both genres – have been created.

Today I’m thrilled to share with you fourteen books from the Mystery and Thriller Passport Theme, mysteries and thrillers set outside of the United States. Authors Anne C. Carmichael, Tomasz Chrusciel, Colin Garrow, Jane Jordan, Sarah Key, Paul Russell Parker III, Phil Philips, Nick Rippington, Leta Serafim, Marie Silk, Judy Sheluk, Michael Smorenburg, and Zaheera Walker have kindly provided a description of their setting and story. I’ve also included information about my own travel fiction thrillers. Click on the book cover to link to Amazon, where you can read an excerpt and learn more about the author.

I love to read books that transport me to other cities and countries. If you love to travel by fiction as well, pick up one of these titles today and take a trip to Nepal, Thailand, the Netherlands, England, Italy, Wales, Kuwait, Greece, Canada, South America, Guyana, South Africa, or the Caribbean from the comfort of your armchair.

These are but a few of the 40+ books currently listed in the Mystery and Thriller Passport category. This list will be updated with new titles through January 9th. You can see the complete list here.

Be sure to sign up as a reviewer or Super Fan on the MysteryThrillerWeek website to be kept up-to-date of all the fun games, prizes and giveaways taking place during the event, February 12 – 22, 2017.

I look forward to seeing you there!

But first, let’s take a closer look at some of the exciting reads in this category…

 

Down and Out in Kathmandu: Adventures in Backpacking by Jennifer S. Alderson

Down and Out in Kathmandu : Adventures in BackpackingNepal, Thailand and the Netherlands feature prominently in the first two books of my on-going stand-alone series, the Adventures of Zelda Richardson. To bring these settings to life, I’ve drawn on my own experiences gained while traveling through these countries as a volunteer, backpacker and student. My novels will whisk you off to exotic destinations and let you experience the sights, smells and sounds of some of my favorite places in the world.

Down and Out in Kathmandu: Adventures in Backpacking is a travel thriller set in Nepal and Thailand. In Book One of the series, Zelda goes to Nepal to volunteer as an English teacher where she gets entangled with a gang of Thai smugglers who suspect she’s stolen their diamonds.

Join Zelda and a cast of misfits as they immerse themselves in the hustle and bustle of Kathmandu’s touristy Thamel district, discover the holy temples and stupas of the Kathmandu Valley, trek through the mountains of Eastern Nepal, explore the beaches and caves of Koh Tao, snorkel in the Gulf of Thailand and rock climb in Krabi, to name a few.

The cities, villages, temples, monuments, trekking trails and beaches described in this novel are all real places I visited while volunteering in Kathmandu or during my later travels around Nepal and Thailand. This book offers a peek into the backpacker culture of Southeast Asia, and insight into what life can be like for a Westerner volunteering in a developing country. I hope you enjoy traveling through Nepal and Thailand with Zelda!

 

The Lover’s Portrait: An Art Mystery by Jennifer S. Alderson

The Lover's Portrait : An Art MysterySet in the Netherlands, The Lover’s Portrait is the story of American art history student Zelda Richardson, who finds clues to the whereabouts of a collection of masterpieces hidden somewhere in Amsterdam, secreted away in 1942 by a homosexual art dealer who’d rather die than turn his collection over to his Nazi blackmailer.

I was inspired to write this book while studying art history in the Netherlands and used my adopted hometown of Amsterdam as the setting. Visit world class museums, bike through the narrow bridges and streets of the capitol, meander through the quaint fishing village of Urk, clambor up the IAmsterdam logo on the Museumplein, attempt to break-in to the exclusive Amstel Hotel, and fly remote-controlled airplanes in Vondelpark with Zelda and her friends.

I hope you enjoy your trip to the Netherlands and wish you luck in solving this art mystery!

 

Elderhaus by Anne C. Carmichael

Elderhaus is the story of the Klingenfelters, a Jewish family who originally settled the fictional town of Pitch Pine, PA, having escaped Nazi Germany after WWII. Gertrude Klingenfelter is the daughter of Anyaleise and Helmut, who were brought together by her father in an arranged and loveless marriage.

Helmut gets Anyaleise pregnant when he comes home drunk one night and vows never to touch her again. When Gertie is five years old, he leaves Pitch Pine and never returns. Gertie spends the years after college until middle aged scouring Europe for her father, but her search proves fruitless, so she buys a dilapidated house (Elderhaus) in her hometown and plans to spend her remaining years remodeling it.

Gertie falls for handsome contractor/playboy Trey Haskell, who has an agenda of his own and many skeletons in his family closet. Even Elderhaus has secrets of its own.

 

Fast Track to Glory by Tomasz Chrusciel

Nina Monte has worked hard to achieve her dreams. At thirty-six she’s one of Italy’s youngest professors, and renowned for her knowledge of the ancient world. Old religious texts might make for lonely companions at night, but that’s nothing a bottle of fine wine can’t fix.

When a mysterious summons presents a career-making opportunity, Nina can’t resist. A relic has been found in a 15th Century galley and it’s the kind of discovery encountered once in a lifetime. But floating atop the depths of Lake Garda at the recovery site, Nina senses something is amiss. With local hotelier, Alessandro Pini at her side, she begins to unravel the truth surrounding the relic. She soon realizes that questions of the past pale in comparison to the dangers looming in the present.

The mystical object in Nina’s hands is no trinket; it has the power to change humanity’s perception of existence. And many believe a gift like that is worthy dying—or killing—for.

Don’t forget to check back here on February 21st to read my review of Fast Track to Glory.

 

Death on a Dirty Afternoon by Colin Garrow

Death on a Dirty Afternoon is set in a mostly-fictitious version of a northeast seaside town in England, where I lived for a while after finishing university. The story was inspired by my own experiences as a taxi-driver in the early Nineties (in a different seaside town), though the novel is set in the present. Creating my protagonist, I never liked the idea of trying to represent police officers in a realistic way, so I made my hero an ordinary guy with ordinary problems and tried to think how ‘normal’ people might deal with discovering a dead body in their house:

When he learns of the death of taxi-driver pal Frank, ex-cabbie Terry Bell assumes it’s natural causes, but when he finds a note pinned to his front door and a corpse on the living room floor, things start to look suspicious – and not just because the murder weapon has Terry’s prints all over it. As if that wasn’t enough, old school friend Charis is in charge of the police investigation, and her elfin-like smile may not be enough to keep Terry off the list of suspects.

Launching his own investigation, the canny cabbie sets out to retrace Frank’s movements, tracking down anyone who might be able to shed light on the driver’s final hours. A taxi job leads to Swedish building contractor Elise Andersson, who could well be involved, but the tight-lipped lady poses more questions than answers.

Teaming up with Carol from the taxi firm, Terry meets a bald-headed man who knows a little too much about Terry’s recent activities. Then, finding himself unwittingly recruited into what could well be a Geordie crime family, it looks like the part-time sleuth is caught between one bunch of villains and another. In any case, when a third body turns up, Terry and Carol realise they need to stay out of sight. Only trouble is, their choice of hideout is a little too susceptible to arson…

Don’t forget to check back here on February 1st to read Colin’s interesting take on Amateur Sleuths.

 

The Beekeeper’s Daughter by Jane Jordan

The Beekeeper’s Daughter is a historical thriller set in Exmoor in the South West of England.

Exmoor is an inspirational place for writers.  The landscape is dramatic with great cliffs that plummet into the sea, deep wooded verdant valleys and large expanses of purple clad moorland.  A place where thick creeping mists can quickly roll in from the sea, and turn the beautiful countryside into a hauntingly eerie landscape.  Add to this an ancient castle, a preserved medieval village and a myriad of folklore and legends that intrigue locals and tourists alike.

The first time I visited Exmoor I fell in love with the romance of the place.  As a writer, I have attempted to capture the emotional experiences of living and working there. In parts, it still is an untamed place that still retains an air of a much slower and bygone era.

I also write about the city of Bath, famous for its Georgian architecture at a time when it was fashionable to take the waters at the highly-regarded Pump room, or to be driven in horse drawn carriage to an elaborate ball.

Annabel Taylor is the beekeeper’s daughter, and this is a story of her unwavering love for Jevan, the Blacksmith’s son. Her connection to Jevan is sensual and dangerous, but her ability to charm bees is the dark undercurrent that weaves throughout this thriller.

After Jevan shatters her world by leaving Exmoor, Annabel forms a friendship Alex, the heir to the foreboding Gothelstone mansion.  She is oddly drawn to Alex despite their social divide, she knows his attention is merely a distraction from her true love.  Alex has other ideas.

When Jevan returns, a destructive love triangle follows. Annabel is ensnared into the dark legacy of the Saltonstall family, and when the lives of those she loves most are threatened, she must use her inherent power and destroy a powerful witch.

 

The Dandelion Clock by Sarah Key

Silent Helene Van den Bergh has wandered the city since her release from a psychiatric hospital fifteen years earlier. Horrified when her friend is murdered, she knows the bullet was meant for her ‒ but why?

On Devil’s Peak, on the spring equinox, Helene waits for the gibbous moon to rise, unaware that two killers stalk her. The Dark Man, and Etienne Craig, The Diabolical Creation, a depraved lunatic whose lust for violence has reached its zenith. But something infinitely more evil tracks the hunters on the charred mountainside. Its depravity knows no bounds and its form cannot be predicted. Evil men set on slaughter may themselves become its prey.

Flash Peterson, Honey Esack and Petra Montgomery, the Sisters of Light, unite in a desperate scramble against the clock. Can they conquer the darkness in time to save their friend?

In this gripping psychological thriller, Sarah Key, author of Tangled Weeds, weaves the supernatural with crime to stunning effect.

Don’t forget to check back here on January 9th to read a electrifying article by Sarah Key about the setting in her books, Setting as Viewfinder for African Thrillers.

 

Mona Lisa’s Secret by Phil Philips

Joey is the great-grandson of Vincenzo Peruggia, the man who stole the original Mona Lisa in 1911. Along with his girlfriend, Marie, an art connoisseur, he stumbles across his father’s secret room, and finds himself staring at what he thinks is a replica of da Vinci’s most famous masterpiece.

BUT IT IS NO FAKE

The Louvre has kept this secret for over one hundred years, waiting for the original to come to light, and now they want it back at any cost.

With Marie held hostage and the Louvre curator and his men hot on his trail, Joey is left to run for his life in an unfamiliar city, with the priceless Mona Lisa his only bargaining chip. While formulating a plan to get Marie back with the help from an unexpected quarter, Joey discovers hidden secrets within the painting, secrets which, if made public, could change the world forever.

All In: The Globe Trot Shuffle by Paul Russell Parker III

All In: The Globe Trot Shuffle, takes place all over the world. It’s set in several countries, and even on the high seas. The first half of the story takes place all over Iraq, from Diwaniyah to Tikrit.  You see the characters in the military or as civilian contractor’s years later. They’re on FOB’s or sleeping in holes. Then it moves to Kuwait. You get to see a border crossing station, and a swanky 5-star hotel. The characters then move onto a container ship that’s traveling from Kuwait to South America. You get to see how life on a ship transiting pirate infested waters around the Horn of Africa, is. The characters make landfall in Guyana, and explore hotels and bars. From the port in South America, they travel the Caribbean on a private yacht to Roseau and Portsmouth, Dominica.

The story is about four US Marines who make an amazing discovery in a mansion during the 2003 Invasion of Iraq. This discovery will force them to cross a line that there’s no turning back from. The line between good guys and bad guys are now blurred. The group soon finds that making their dreams come true isn’t as easy as flying home and making a deposit. They need to safeguard their discovery during a shooting war, and keep it hidden from locals as well as their fellow Marines. They decide to stash it for the lack of a better idea. Years later, the group of Marines are now civilians working in Iraq on a contract to the military. They must find their way past Iraqi Police checkpoints as well as insurgents to secure their discovery. After that, they must get home to make good on it. The only way to do that while carrying something highly illegal is to travel as low key as possible. They embark on a dangerous journey with Bedouins, on a shipping container ship, and on private boats to see their plan to the very end.

Don’t forget to check back here on January 16th when Paul will share more about the looting of Saddam’s palaces he witnessed while on a tour of duty in Iraq.

 

Crossing The Whitewash by Nick Rippington

Crossing The Whitewash switches from the inner city bustle of London to the wide open countryside of the Welsh valleys.

It tells the story of Gary Marshall, a talented teenage sportsman, who grows up in a hi-rise tower block on a rundown housing estate where he has to battle adversity both on the streets and closer to home.

In one particular incident he is accosted by a gang when he returns from school, only to be saved by another boy on the estate, the worldly-wise Arnie Dolan. As their relationship develops Gary’s dreams fade and he begins to realise that many of his problems can be traced back to the time when the two boys met.

After a dramatic series of events tear them apart, Gary is forced to give up on his football dream and takes the drastic step of moving away to start a new life in Wales, under a new name. The aim is to put as much distance between himself and Arnie.

In doing so he has to adapt to a completely different pace of life in an environment totally alien to him. He joins a newspaper in the Welsh capital city, Cardiff, and lodges with a work experience lad and his dad in the valleys.

As he acclimatises he begins to realise that there can be more to life than battling every day for survival, embedding himself in the local community and learning about their love of rugby – a sport completely foreign to him.

With one of the world’s greatest sporting events, the Rugby World Cup, about to descend on Wales he adapts to his new role as a sports reporter, little knowing that Arnie has embarked on a mission to track him down.

 

When the Devil’s Idle by Leta Serafim

In the Book of Revelation, written by St. John on the Greek island of Patmos, it was said a pale horse would appear whose rider was death, others would cry out for vengeance, and the stars of heaven would fall to the earth. Death does indeed come to Patmos when a German tourist is found murdered in the garden of one of the island’s fabled estates. Yiannis Patronas, Chief Officer of the Chios police, is called in to investigate. He summons his top detective, Giorgos Tembelos, and his friend and amateur sleuth, Papa Michalis, to assist him.

What the policemen discover will disturb them long after the conclusion of the case. Only six people were at the house at the time of the murder—the gardener and housekeeper, the victim’s son and his wife and their two children, a boy of seven and a teenage girl of sixteen. All appear to be innocent. But access to the isolated estate is severely restricted. Surrounded by high walls, it has only one entrance: a metal gate that was bolted at the time of the crime. Patronas can only conclude that one of the six is a killer. He continues to probe, uncovering the family’s many secrets. Some are very old, others more recent. All are horrifying. But which of these secrets led to murder? Book 2 of the Greek Islands Mystery series, which began with The Devil Takes Half.

Don’t forget to check back here on February 19th to read my review of When the Devil’s Idle and an interview with Leta Serafim.

 

Davenport House 4: Heiress Interrupted by Marie Silk

More to the story is revealed in this fourth book to Davenport House. Nellie Whitmore is accustomed to life as a carefree heiress, but her claim to the family fortune is at risk because of a new heir. Nellie is sent to Britain to be married before word spreads of her changing circumstances. What begins as a luxurious voyage becomes a fight for survival when the ship is caught in the midst of the War, forever changing the people who live to tell about it.

Friendship is kept afloat by telegrams between London and Davenport House. Mary Davenport announces exciting news, and the servants prepare for more changes downstairs. Ethan is anxious to move to Philadelphia, but becomes overworked while the estate is in search of a new groundskeeper. Relationships become strained when the unthinkable shakes the foundation of the house, and the ladies are left to evaluate the risks of keeping secrets.

Don’t forget to check back here on January 23rd when Marie will share more about sailing the Atlantic for research.

 

Skeletons in the Attic by Judy Penz Sheluk

Skeletons in the Attic is set in the fictional town of Marketville, which is located about an hour north of Toronto, Canada. My protagonist, Calamity (Callie) Barnstable, a single city girl forced to move to Marketville, describes it as a commuter town where folks with two kids, a cat, and a collie moved to looking for a bigger house, a better school, and soccer fields.

It is loosely based (and very much fictionalized) version of Newmarket, Ontario, Canada, where I lived for several years.

Callie Barnstable inherits a house in Marketville – a house she knew nothing about — from her father, who died in an “unfortunate” occupational accident. The catch: she must move into the house and find out who murdered her mother thirty years before. A mother Callie believed had left “for the milkman or some other male equivalent” when she was just six-years-old.

Don’t forget to check back here on February 20th to read my review of Skeletons in the Attic and an interview with Judy Penz Sheluk.

 

The Praying Nun: A True Story by Michael Smorenburg

At the southern tip of Africa lies a ship graveyard.

The reason is obvious: Before Suez, much of the world’s trade had to round the perilous waters where Africa interferes with ill-tempered southern ocean. Here you will find Cape Town, one of the world’s most majestic cities built around Table Bay, a bay that forms a funnel with its mouth yawning wide open to swallow the winter onslaughts. The result of wind-driven ships and treacherous weather is predictable; the highest density of shipwrecks anywhere on the planet.

Indeed, Cape Town’s city center is built on a mile of reclaimed land pushed out over what used to be the ancient anchorage a century and more ago. So that, when today’s civil engineers build our skyscrapers and burrow down to the bedrock of that foreshore to sink their anchorage, they find the sites of tragedy and shipwrecks in their foundations.

Let’s give this some context: Take a globe of the world and check out the distance Spain, Greece and Southern California are from the Equator – now look at the tip of Africa… we are the same distance south of the Equator as those great regions are north of it.

Around a headland from the city is another smaller bay, just a mile wide. That headland soars to 3,000-feet in towering height; it is the fabled Table Mountain. At three-times the age of the Himalaya it is one of the world’s oldest mountains and a World Heritage Site.

This smaller bay is called Clifton, and it surely is the most comely and magnificent setting for a suburb on this planet. Fingers of reef stretch from the beach seaward, lying eternally in wait to snag the keel of any unsuspecting ship’s captain. And, in 1794, one of these reefs got lucky, tearing the hull out of a slaver with 400 unfortunates chained in her holds.

The bones of that tragedy lay undetected until a friend and I found them nearly thirty years ago; in 2015 the Smithsonian identified them as the wreck of the São José Paquete Africa.

Don’t forget to check back here on February 4th when Michael will share more about his exciting find in the post, A Graveyard for Ships.

 

DEADLINE by Zaheera Walker

DEADLINE is set in Durban, South Africa. It tells the story of Feriyal Adam, an emerging journalist who has her sights set on the coveted prize, but… the universe has other plans for her – she loses her job, her mother succumbs to cancer and life has no meaning until the desirable Shane Black resurfaces.

Feriyal takes on a dangerous assignment to prove her mettle. Determined, stubborn and foolhardy, she breaks rules to get what she wants until the moment when she stares death in the face.

Held against her will by a notorious serial killer, she realises she might be living on borrowed time. He has lured women to their deaths and chances are he is set on doing it again….

Don’t forget to check back here on January 6th to read a fascinating article by Zaheera about her use of Durban, South Africa as the setting for her debut novel.

 

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