Posted in Monday, mystery on October 29, 2012

This week I bring you a different type of mystery.  Ok a mystery is a mystery, but this mystery by Jasper Fforde features many nursery rhyme characters, in fact one of the detectives is Jack Spratt.  In this installment (the first in the series), Humpty Dumpty has been murdered.

From the dust jacket:

In The Big Over Easy, Fforde takes a break from classic literature and tumbles into the seedy underbelly of nursery crime.

Meet Detective Inspector Jack Spratt, family man and head of the Nursery Crime Division, long suffering under the shadow of the flashy Detective Friedland Chymes with his astonishing number of published cases in Amazing Crime Stories.  Spratt is fresh from a spectacular failure to see convicted three wily pigs for the murder of a certain wolf.  The media and tide of public opinion are set squarely against him.  Now, new trouble is brewing.

It’s Easter in Reading – a bad time for eggs – and no one can remember the last sunny day.  Ovoid D-class nursery celebrity Humpty Dumpty, minor baronet, lover of women, ex-convict, and former millionaire philanthropist, is found shattered to death beneath a wall in a shabby area of town. Yes, the big egg is down.  All those brittle pieces sitting in the morgue point to foul play.  Spratt and his new partner, Sergeant Mary Mary, search through Humpty’s sordid and secretive past in  hopes of finding the key to his death.  Immersed in a case that reaches into the highest echelons of Reading society and business, Spratt is walking the tightrope of his career.  Before long Jack and Mary find themselves grappling with a sinister plot involving cross-border money laundering, bullion smuggling, problems with beanstalks, Titans seeking asylum, and the cut-and-thrust world of international chiropody.  And on top of all that, the Jellyman is coming to town….

I had to share this image as well, it is from the back cover of the dust jacket

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Posted in Blog tour, excerpt, Political thriller on October 25, 2012

An Excerpt from Chapter 1 of Extraordinary Rendition by Paul Batista

When the guard left, the iron door resonated briefly as the magnetic lock engaged itself. Byron sat in a steel folding chair. Directly in front of him was a narrow ledge under a multi-layered, almost opaque plastic window, in the middle of which was a metal circle.

Ali Hussein seemed to just materialize in the small space behind the partition. Dressed in a yellow jumpsuit printed with the initials “FDC” for “Federal Detention Center,” Hussein, who had been described to Byron as an accountant trained at Seton Hall, in Newark, was a slender man who appeared far more mild-mannered than Byron expected. He wore cloth slippers with no shoelaces. The waistband of his jump suit was elasticized—not even a cloth belt. He had as little access to hard objects as possible.

He waited for Byron to speak first. Leaning toward the metal speaker in the partition and raising his voice, Byron said, “You are Mr. Hussein, aren’t you?”

The lawyers at the Civil Liberties Union who had first contacted Byron told him that, in their limited experience with accused terrorists, it sometimes wasn’t clear what their real names were. There were often no fingerprints or DNA samples that could confirm their identities. The name Ali Hussein was as common as a coin. It was as though genetic markers and their histories began only at the moment of their arrest.

“I am.” He spoke perfect, unaccented English. “I don’t know what your name is.”

The circular speaker in the window, although it created a tinny sound, worked well. Byron lowered his voice. “I’m Byron Johnson. I’m a lawyer from New York. I met your brother. Did he tell you to expect me?”

“I haven’t heard from my brother in years. He has no idea how to reach me, I can’t reach him.”

“Has anyone told you why you’re here?”

“Someone on the airplane—I don’t know who he was, I was blind-folded—said I was being brought here because I’d been charged with a crime. He said I could have a lawyer. Are you that lawyer?”

“I am. If you want me, and if I want to do this.”

All that Ali’s more abrasive, more aggressive brother had told Byron was that Ali was born in Syria, moved as a child with his family to Lebanon during the civil war in the 1980s, and then came to the United States. Ali never became a United States citizen. Five months after the invasion of Iraq, he traveled to Germany to do freelance accounting work for an American corporation for what was scheduled to be a ten-day visit. While Ali was in Germany, his brother said, he had simply disappeared, as if waved out of existence. His family had written repeatedly to the State Department, the CIA, and the local congressman. They were letters sent into a vacuum. Nobody ever answered.

Byron asked, “Do you know where you’ve come from?”

“How do I know who you are?”

Byron began to reach for his wallet, where he stored his business cards. He caught himself because of the absurdity of that: he could have any number of fake business cards. Engraved with gold lettering, his real business card had his name and the name of his law firm, one of the oldest and largest in the country. Ali Hussein was obviously too intelligent, too alert, and too suspicious to be convinced by a name on a business card or a license or a credit card.

“I don’t have any way of proving who I am. I can just tell you that I’m Byron Johnson, I’ve been a lawyer for years, I live in New York, and I was asked by your brother and others to represent you.”

Almost unblinking, Ali just stared at Byron, who tried to hold his gaze, but failed.

At last Ali asked, “And you want to know what’s happened to me?”

“We can start there. I’m only allowed thirty minutes to visit you this week. Tell me what you feel you want to tell me, or can tell me. And then we’ll see where we go. You don’t have to tell me everything about who you are, what you did before you were arrested, who you know in the outside world. Or you don’t have to tell me anything. I want nothing from you other than to help you.”

Ali leaned close to the metallic hole in the smoky window. The skin around his eyes was far darker than the rest of his face, almost as if he wore a Zorro-style mask. Byron took no notes, because to do so might make Ali Hussein even more mistrustful.

“Today don’t ask me any questions. People have asked me lots of questions over the years. I’m sick of questions.” It was like listening to a voice from a world other than the one in which Byron lived. There was nothing angry or abusive in his tone: just a matter-of-fact directness, as though he was describing to Byron a computation he had made on one of Byron’s tax returns. “One morning five Americans in suits stopped me at a red light. I was in Bonn. I drove a rented Toyota. I had a briefcase. They got out of their cars. They had earpieces. Guns, too. They told me to get out of the car. I did. They told me to show them my hands. I did. They lifted me into an SUV, tied my hands, and put a blindfold on me. I asked who they were and what was happening.”

He paused. Byron, who had been in the business of asking questions since he graduated from law school at Harvard, couldn’t resist the embedded instinct to ask, “What did they say?”

“They said shut up.”

“Has anyone given you any papers since you’ve come here?”

“I haven’t had anything in my hands to read in years. Not a newspaper, not a magazine, not a book. Not even the Koran.”

“Has anyone told you what crimes you’re charged with?”

“Don’t you know?”

“No. All that I’ve been told is that you were moved to Miami from a foreign jail so that you could be indicted and tried in an American court.”

There was another pause. “How exactly did you come to me?” Even though he kept returning to the same subject—who exactly was Byron Johnson?—there was still no hostility or anger in Ali Hussein’s tone. “Why are you here?”

In the stifling room, Byron began to sweat almost as profusely as he had on the walk from the security gate to the prison entrance. He recognized that he was very tense. And he was certain that the thirty-minute rule would be enforced, that time was running out. He didn’t want to lose his chance to gain the confidence of this ghostly man who had just emerged into a semblance of life after years in solitary limbo. “A lawyer for a civil rights group called me. I had let people know that I wanted to represent a person arrested for terrorism. I was told that you were one of four prisoners being transferred out of some detention center, maybe at Guantanamo, to a mainland prison, and that you’d be charged by an American grand jury rather than held overseas indefinitely. When I got the call I said I would help, but only if you and I met, and only if you wanted me to help, and only if I thought I could do that.”

“How do I know any of this is true?”

Byron Johnson prided himself on being a realist. Wealthy clients sought him out not to tell them what they wanted to hear but for advice about the facts, the law and the likely real-world outcomes of whatever problems they faced. But it hadn’t occurred to him that this man, imprisoned for years, would doubt him and would be direct enough to tell him that. Byron had become accustomed to deference, not to challenge. And this frail man was suggesting that Byron might be a stalking horse, a plant, a shill, a human recording device.

“I met your brother Khalid.”

“Where?”

“At a diner in Union City.”

“What diner?”

“He said it was his favorite, and that you used to eat there with him: the Plaza Diner on Kennedy Boulevard.”

Byron, who for years had practiced law in areas where a detailed memory was essential, was relieved that he remembered the name and location of the diner just across the Hudson River in New Jersey. He couldn’t assess whether the man behind the thick, scratched glass was now more persuaded to believe him. Byron asked, “How have you been treated?”

“I’ve been treated like an animal.”

“In what ways?”

As if briskly covering the topics on an agenda, Ali Hussein said, “Months in one room, no contact with other people. Shifted from place to place, never knowing what country or city I was in, never knowing what month of the year, day of the week. Punched. Kicked.”

“Do you have any marks on your body?”

“I’m not sure yet what your name really is, or who you really are, but you seem naive. Marks? Are you asking me if they’ve left bruises or scars on my body?”

Byron felt the rebuke. Over the years he’d learned that there was often value in saying nothing. Silence sometimes changed the direction of a conversation and revealed more. He waited.

Hussein asked, “How much more time do we have?”

“Only a few minutes.”

“A few minutes? I’ve been locked away for years, never in touch for a second with anyone who meant to do kind things to me, and now I have a total of thirty minutes with you. Mr. Bush created a beautiful world.”

“There’s another president.” Byron paused, and, with the silly thought of giving this man some hope, he said, “His name is Barack Hussein Obama.”

Ali Hussein almost smiled. “And I’m still here? How did that happen?”

Byron didn’t answer, feeling foolish that he’d thought the news that an American president’s middle name was Hussein would somehow brighten this man’s mind. Byron had pandered to him, and he hated pandering.

Ali Hussein then asked, “My wife and children?”

No one—not the ACLU lawyer, not the CIA agent with whom Byron had briefly talked to arrange this visit, not even Hussein’s heavy-faced, brooding brother—had said a single thing about Hussein other than that he had been brought into the United States after years away and that he was an accountant. Nothing about a wife and children.

“I don’t know. I didn’t know you had a wife and children. Nobody said anything about them. I should have asked.”

It was unsettling even to Byron, who had dealt under tense circumstances with thousands of people in courtrooms, that this man could stare at him for so long with no change of expression. Hussein finally asked, “Are you going to come back?”

“If you want me to.”

“I was an accountant, you know. I always liked numbers, and I believed in the American system that money moves everything, that he who pays the piper gets to call the tune. Who’s paying you?”

“No one, Mr. Hussein. Anything I do for you will be free. I won’t get paid by anybody.”

“Now I really wonder who you are.” There was just a trace of humor in his voice and his expression.

As swiftly as Ali Hussein had appeared in the interview room, he disappeared when two guards in Army uniforms reached in from the rear door and literally yanked him from his chair. It was like watching a magician make a man disappear.

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Posted in Blog tour, Political thriller on October 25, 2012

Today I am helping spread the word about a political thrilled by author Paul Batista.

Paul Batista, novelist and television personality, is one of the most widely known trial lawyers in the country. As a trial attorney, he specializes in federal criminal litigation. As a media figure, he is known for his regular appearances as guest legal commentator on a variety of television shows including, Court TV, CNN, HLN and WNBC. He’s also appeared in the HBO movie, You Don’t Know Jack, starring Al Pacino.

A prolific writer, Batista authored the leading treatise on the primary federal anti-racketeering statute, Civil RICO Practice Manual, which is now in its third edition (Wiley & Sons, 1987; Wolters Kluwer, 2008). He has written articles for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The National Law Journal.

Batista’s debut novel, Death’s Witness, was awarded a Silver Medal by the Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA). And his new novel, Extraordinary Rendition, is now being published—along with a special reissue of Death’s Witness—by Astor + Blue Editions.

Batista is a graduate of Bowdoin College, where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, and Cornell Law School. He’s proud to have served in the United States Army. Paul Batista lives in New York City and Sag Harbor, New York.

Synopsis:
 
When Ali Hussein—suspected terrorist and alleged banker for Al Qaeda—is finally transported from Gitmo to the US mainland to stand trial, many are stunned when Byron Carlos Johnson, pre-eminent lawyer and the son of a high-profile diplomat, volunteers as counsel.  On principle, Johnson thought he was merely defending a man unjustly captured through Rendition and water-boarded illegally. But Johnson soon learns that there is much more at stake than one man’s civil rights.

Hussein’s intimate knowledge of key financial transactions could lead to the capture of—or the unabated funding of—the world’s most dangerous terror cells. This makes Hussein the target of corrupt US intelligence forces on one side, and ruthless international terrorists on the other.  And, it puts Byron Carlos Johnson squarely in the crosshairs of both.

Pulled irresistibly by forces he can and cannot see, Johnson enters a lethal maze of espionage, manipulation, legal traps and murder. And when his life, his love, and his acclaimed principles are on the line, Johnson may have one gambit left that can save them all; a play that even his confidants could not have anticipated. He must become the hunter among hunters in the deadliest game.

Written by no-holds-barred-attorney Paul Batista, Extraordinary Rendition excels not only as an action thriller, but as a sophisticated legal procedural as well; tearing the curtains away from the nation’s most controversial issues.

Provocative. Smart. Heart-pounding. A legal thriller of the highest order.

 
You can purchase the book directly from Amazon or Barnes & Noble 

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Posted in Cozy, Monday, mystery on October 22, 2012

This week’s mystery is 50% off Murder by author Josie Belle aka Jenn McKinlay.  It is the first in the Good Buy Girls series and book 2, A Deal to Die For, is due out December 31, 2012.

 

50offmurder

Synopsis:

Maggie Gerber-one of the founding members of the Good Buy Birls- loves her quiet life in St. Stanley, Virginia. But all that changes when Sam Collins, her old flame, moves back to town as the new sheriff. On top of that, Claire Freemont, a librarian and the newest member of the Good Buy Girls, starts acting utterly strange.

When Maggie goes to visit her the next day at the library, she finds the body of a very dead man. Turns out the man is someone from Claire’s past. As the handsome new sheriff zeroes in on Claire, it’s up to Maggie and the rest of the Good Buy Girls to use their bargain-hunting skills to hunt a killer-while making sure they don’t pay too much in the process…

Read an excerpt from the author’s website here

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Posted in Cozy, Monday, mystery on October 15, 2012

I’m so happy to report that the Passport to Peril mystery series is back!  It was dropped by Maddy Hunter’s original publisher in 2007 but was wisely picked back up by Midnight Ink.  The seventh in the series is Dutch Me Deadly and yes they are in Holland!  The eighth book is due to be released in February 2013 and the gang will be going to Scotland.

Synopsis:

A Tourist (Death) Trap

As a travel escort for seniors, Emily Andrew-Miceli has led her feisty Iowa clan all over the world.  This time, they’re off to see historic windmills, classic Rembrandts, and picturesque canals in Holland – if they can ever unplug from their smartphones, that is.  Joining them is the high school class from Bangor, Maine, whose 50th reunion celebration goes south faster than a fallen Brussel sprout souffle as old rivalries start heating up.  Worse, Emily’s hopes for a 100% survival rate on this trip are dashed when an important member of the tour suffers a tragic (and highly suspicious) accident.  Then the saucy seniors’ wild night of drug-laced desserts and risque shows in Amersterdam’s infamous Red Light District gets even more mysterious when one unpopular reunioner goes missing….

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Posted in contest, Giveaway, Political thriller, suspense on October 14, 2012

I will admit, I had never heard of this author until a marketing company contacted me and asked if I would like a copy of the book to review and giveaway.  I read the synopsis and it seemed like the book was right up my alley so I said sure.  I don’t mind being introduced to new authors…I may love it and I may hate it, you just never know!

Eric Van Lustbader is probably known for continuing Robert Ludlum’s Bourne series.  That isn’t all he has written though, he has quite a few credits to his name.  This series features Jack McClure and Alli Carson.  Father Night is the fourth book in the series.

Synopsis:

“An eye for an eye will make the world go blind.”—Gandhi

A tidal wave of reform is sweeping across the Middle East. Many lurk in the shadows, eager to seize power–giants of a vast criminal underworld, fueled by revenge and vengeance. Their wars know no end.  Their power knows no bounds.

At the center of it all are two men who are inches away from holding the world in their hands: one is known as Dyadya Gourdjiev and the other is known only as the Syrian.

Department of Defense special agent Jack McClure has followed this trail of shadows and lies right into the arms of Gourdjiev’s alluring, powerful granddaughter, Annika Dementiev. The lovers are in Moscow when news of Dyadya’s failing health draws a slew of vultures–circling, anxious to seize the empire of secrets he spent a lifetime building. Jack and Annika find themselves locked in battle to ensure his safety…but when it comes to Dyadya, nothing is as it seems.

Alli Carson, the child of a dead US president, has become Jack’s surrogate daughter. While Jack is in Russia, Alli is targeted by a cyber-stalker who knows more about her than anyone should. With no one to trust but her friend, Vera Bard, Alli is determined to discover the truth, but her path forces her to come face-to-face with the nightmarish terror of her past.

As these two stories play out, Secretary of Defense Dennis Paull, with the help of detectives Nona Hendryx and Alan Frain, follows a trail of lies, corruption, and secret pacts that begins with Washington D.C.’s Head of Detectives.

All paths collide at the feet of one man, an old legend adapting to an ever-changing landscape… a man history might have forsaken, but whose heinous evil is still very much alive: Father Night.

Review:

As I mentioned before, I had not read any of the previous books in this series.  I think in this case that might have been a detriment because there were references to things that happened in the past that didn’t make a whole lot of sense.  And since I was not familiar with the author, the style of writing threw me.  It did take me about 50 – 75 pages to understand the author’s writing style which included switching between the story lines quite often.

That all said, once I did get into the book I was fascinated with the characters.  How their lives intertwined (remember, I hadn’t read any of the previous books!) and how the three or four different stories would all be woven together as the story progressed.

We give this book 3 1/2 paws.

 

The Giveaway:

I am giving away 2 copies of this book, my copy that was sent to me and one from the publisher/publicist.  This contest is open to all US & Canadian residents.  The contest will close on October 22nd.

 

Posted in Cozy, Monday, mystery on October 8, 2012

Today I bring you book four of the Vintage Magic Mystery series by author Annette Blair.  The title is Skirting the Grave.  If you like vintage clothing you will probably like this series!  I like how the main character, Maddie, will use sewing terms as expletives…like Scrap or Tuck, it adds a unique touch to the book and is very appropriate considering the clothing aspect.  If you have not read any of the books in the series, the first three books are: A Veiled Deception, Larceny and Lace, and Death by Diamonds.

On the authors site you can also find vintage handbags that she has found throughout the years.

Synopsis:

Even though Maddie is swamped running Vintage Magic and dealing with the consequences of the visions she gets from certain of her fashion treasures, she’s agreed to plan her sister Sherri’s baby shower and mentor a design intern.  But when Maddie goes to the Mystic train station to pick up her new student, she finds a murder scene instead.  The victim: intern Isobel York.  Cause of death: suspicious circumstances.

Later that evening, a woman claiming to be Isobel appears on her doorstep, and Maddie knows it’s not just a case of “whodunit” but “who-is-it”.  Luckily a gift of lusciously luxe vintage clothes offers clues, and though the ’50s wardrobe and accessories are to die for, Maddie is determined to iron out the wrinkles before the murderer can return to put an end to a promising fashion career.

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Posted in contest, Giveaway, Winners on October 1, 2012

Sheri from Texas won a copy of Spare Change by Bette Lee Crosby

 

Linda from CA won a copy of Last to Die by Tess Gerritsen

Look for these books in your mailbox over the next week!

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Posted in baking, Cozy, Monday, mystery on October 1, 2012

Red Velvet Revenge is the 4th in the Cucpake Bakery Mystery series by author Jenn McKinlay.  This is such a fun series and I love all the cupcake flavors that they create.  I haven’t tried any of the recipes yet but they sure sound yummy!

 

Synopsis:

It may be summertime, but sales at Fairy Tale Cupcakes are below zero – and owners Melanie Cooper and Angie DeLaura are willing to try anything to heat things up.  So when local legend Slim Hazard offers them the chance to sell cupcakes at the annual Juniper Pass Rodeo, they’re determined to rope in a pretty payday!

But not everyone at Juniper Pass is as sweet for Fairy Tale Cupcakes as Slim – including star bull-rider Ty Stokes.  Mel and Angie try to steer clear of the cowboy’s short fuse, but when his dead body is found facedown in the hay, it’s a whole different rodeo.

With a vengeful murderer on the loose, the ladies are quickly realizing that while they came to save their business, they may have to save themselves – and that’s no bull.

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Posted in Uncategorized on September 27, 2012

just a few days left to sign up for the Spare Change giveaway and the Last to Die giveaway.

Open to US residents (but I have one coming that will be open to residents of Canada)