Posted in 5 paws, mystery, suspense on January 7, 2014


Title: Champagne Lies
Genre: Mystery
Author: Wendy VanHatten
Publisher: DocuMeant Publishing
Pages: 246
Language: English


She should have been on her 30th wedding anniversary trip. Instead, Stacie stumbles upon a body where it should not be…an upscale beach on the Mexican Rivera. She also should have been celebrating with the man she has been married to for those 30 years. Instead, she finds out she may not have really known what he did or who he was.

Things happen to her she can’t explain. Who is the mysterious Maria in Italy, why did her husband need secret, hidden rooms, who do the guns belong to, and who was the man she married? Nothing is as it appears…and Stacie keeps finding more surprises the more pieces she uncovers.

From dead bodies to stolen jewels…it just keeps getting worse.


What the hell? I know I’m not the most graceful person in the world, but I usually don’t trip over grains of sand on a well manicured beach. Unless, of course, that sand is piled two feet high smack dab in the middle of that beach. Right where everyone, including me, walks.

Excuse me…but what is this doing here?

Can’t I enjoy just being out here, watching the sky change colors as the sun sets, and listening to the waves? Why would I look down at my feet? Plus, I walk here all the time at twilight and there’s never been anything but an immaculately groomed, sandy beach.

Bending over and looking closer, I discover it really is a heap of who knows what. It’s not very neat either. There’s sand scattered all over the top of it. Actually, the sand appears to be spread on top of the pile, deliberately trying to cover it. Plus, it’s almost in the shadows cast from the sun as it dips behind the condos and resort buildings. No wonder I didn’t see it and tripped.

But, who in the world would leave that size of a pile of stuff out here on such a nice expanse of beach? Did someone forget their things? Is it garbage? No, I think it’s larger than a bag of garbage. There’s no bag that I can see. And, it doesn’t smell at all that I can tell. Maybe someone forgot their towels. No, it’s much bigger than that. Whatever it is, it shouldn’t be here. I just don’t get it.

This whole complex with its upscale resort and permanent condos are as good as you’ll find along the Mexican Rivera. I’m talking five stars. Their white sand beaches are pristine…even at night. I’ve seen the beach crew raking, cleaning, and smoothing out every little wrinkle of sand. This pile won’t make them happy.  And, if it is garbage…they’ll be really mad, more like pissed off.

Looking around, I see some couples walking hand in hand along the water in the distance. Maybe I should move it away from right here in the middle of the beach so no one else trips. Then, the beach crew can deal with it in the morning. It really is right in the path where everyone walks. And, the sky is getting darker. Pretty soon it will be impossible to see this heap.

I’ll just shove it out of the way. Umph…that doesn’t work. Wait…there appears to be a piece of material or something sticking out of the sand. Maybe I can grab that and drag the whole pile out of the way. Bending my legs, I grab it and tug. Huh…that doesn’t work either. I work out but I’m not into heavy duty lifting so I know I won’t be able to pick this up.

With the roar of the surf, it probably wouldn’t do any good to call for help, either. No would hear me anyway. I’ll have to try something else.

One more time I dig my bare feet into the sand and tug harder on the material.

But, as I try to move it even a couple of inches, I discover it’s more than heavy. It’s quite unmanageable. Looking closer, I don’t think sand is just on top of it; I think it’s partly buried in the sand. That could be why it doesn’t budge. I wonder if the material belongs to someone’s shirt. Probably some tourist who had too much to drink, stumbled out here, and fell into a heap.  That still won’t set well with the beach crew.

Clearing some of the sand away from one edge, I grab what appears to be an arm. Maybe this will make whoever it is wake up. Wait…it’s stiff. Stiff and kind of cold. I wonder how long they’ve been out here. Days have been hot; well into the 90s. But, nights can get quite cool. This person, if it is a person, must really be out of it.

I tug some more and then all of a sudden it hits me. This motionless pile isn’t going anywhere. Dropping what I assume is an arm; I quickly step back and kneel down onto the beach to stare at it. It’s not moving at all. What’s wrong here? The more I look at it, the more I’m positive it’s a person. But, it’s definitely not moving. Looking closer, I’m not even sure it’s breathing. Could I have just stumbled over a dead body? Yikes…a DEAD body?

Somebody help me. Looking in all directions for help, I want to scream but nothing seems to come out of my mouth. What is going on? Why would a dead body be right here? Grabbing my cell phone from my pocket, I call the front office. They can call the police or whoever…

I was having such an enjoyable night, too…before all of this.

All previous, pleasant images from my walk on the beach that were in my brain have vanished…the sand so soft and cool it could be sugar; the light as it now drifts down from a full moon, enough to illuminate most of the beach and a few wandering couples; the misty spray from gently crashing waves that moisten my face; the ever-present warm wind…more like a strong breeze at night.

As I stare at the pile, waiting to talk to the office, I’m numb. Nothing else registers in my brain.

Did I really just trip over a dead body?


I found this book very entertaining and a quick read.  While a lot of it was predictable, there were some twists that I didn’t expect.  The book is written in a “hurried” style, or at least that is how I felt reading the book.  By “hurried” I mean that the character, Stacie, is in such a whirlwind when her husband is found dead, the funeral is planned by someone else and she is going about in something of a fog until reality starts unfolding. And by reality, I mean her husband Jon, yes the one that was killed for no reason, or so it would appear.  Stacie will soon find out that there was a LOT more to his life than she ever expected.  It definitely wasn’t what she was expecting after 30 years of marriage, that’s for sure.  There are so many interesting scenes that it is hard to pick any one, plus I don’t want to give away too much of the book.  There are lots of characters to love and hate.

The chapters are short which I really liked because when I had to put the book down, it was easy to get to a stopping place.

We loved this book and give it 5 paws up!



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About the Author

VanHattenWendy-108-199x300Wendy VanHatten is a published author, Editor of Prime Time Living Magazine, professional editor for authors, and contributing writer in additional magazines. Her children’s books, the Max and Myron series, teach children to read as they learn how to become good citizens with positive character traits. She has taught writing at the college level and travel writing for continuing education workshops.

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