Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Lauren Carr Gives Fan A Fun Read--A Bit Gothic, Lots of Murders, And a Haunted Castle! My Kind of Story!

Rafaela regretted her decision the first time she walked into Astaire Castle. At first, she dismissed her cleaning supplies moving from where she had left them as forgetfulness. Then there was the time she kept hearing someone whispering her name. She had looked around, but had never seen anyone. Similarly– with doors closing or opening, or footsteps coming up behind her, and the old-time music and party noises in empty rooms when no one was there— she tried to tell herself that it was all her imagination. 
None of that was anything compared to the Wolf Man she had seen in the dining room mirror while she was cleaning it. She had heard all about the Wolf Man who lived in the woods surrounding Astaire Castle. The woman with two teenagers who lived in the apartment next to hers was quick to tell her about him. Rafaela had dismissed it all as ghost stories made up by her neighbor’s kids to scare her— until she had seen him with her own two eyes. That day she ran out of the castle. She returned only after Genevieve, Damian Wagner’s daughter, had promised that her father would finish his book and be moving out of the castle by the end of the year— at which time he would pay her a handsome bonus that would give her enough money to visit her family in Brazil for Christmas. 
Rafaela caught her breath when her Plymouth entered through the gate at the end of the road to pull into the front courtyard and fountain. The fountain was off. Damian Wagner had never bothered to turn it on. He wouldn’t notice if it was. He spent his time banging away on his computer in the study on the top floor. He wouldn’t eat if it weren’t for his daughter bringing food to him. Then there was the editor— Mr. Jansen. He reminded Rafaela of a bird with his bony frame, high cheekbones over a pointy chin, and thick eyeglasses with his blinking eyes magnified behind them. He even sounded like a squawking bird with his high-pitched voice, no matter what his mood or what he was saying. Ready to pounce in anticipation of any need from Damian Wagner, he was always lurking nearby. 
Damian’s daughter, Genevieve, was as charming as she was beautiful. She often asked Rafaela about her family in Brazil and about her life in Deep Creek Lake. For the new immigrant to America, Rafaela felt as if she was making a friend who would give her good references for more housekeeping jobs in the resort town of Spencer— more millionaire estates to clean— estates that weren’t haunted. 
Rafaela pulled her car around the circular drive and parked at the bottom of the steep steps that led to the front door. When she got out of her car, the wind howled and whipped her long dark hair around her head. The wind actually seemed to want to rip her thin coat off her body.
Grabbing her box of cleaning supplies, she squared her shoulders, and sucked up her nerve to go inside. Need to make this quick. They don’t have enough money to make me stay here during this storm. The wind yanked the heavy wooden door from her grasp to slam it against the side of the house. “Stupid door!” 
Rafaela set the box inside the foyer and went outside to grab the door and pull it shut. “Mr. Wagner! Mr. Jansen! Genevieve! It’s me, Rafaela! Hope I’m not disturbing you.” She picked up the box and made her way through the foyer.
“Raf-aela …” She stopped. With wide eyes, she peered up the staircase to the second floor balcony. “Is that you, Mr. Wagner?” She paused to listen. “Genevieve?”
 “Get out. Now.”

The Murders at Astaire Castle:
A Mac Faraday Mystery

By Lauren Carr

I admit it--as soon as I hear the words castle and mystery, I think Gothic Suspense, one of my early reading loves. And, even though the entire novel wasn't Gothic, there were enough parts that kept me enthralled--like mysterious murders, following mysterious whispers and music, or finding secret passages--with another body to be found! Chills, tingles...is the castle really haunted?!

While Carr sent this to her fans for Halloween, I'm always behind reading but I was still just as fascinated when Mac Faraday discovered there was a part of his property that everybody, including his half-brother, had kept a secret! Then he learned there was a castle on that property! Well, he did exactly what you or I would--he immediately wanted to see it...

“Any idea where you are now?” He shot Mac a wicked grin. 
Guessing, Mac shot a thumb over his shoulder to indicate the road they had just traveled. “The Spencer Inn is about three miles back that way.” The police chief nodded his head. “The Spencer Inn is on the north side of the mountain top, looking down on the lake and the valley to the north.” 
“But the Spencer Inn owns the whole mountaintop,” Mac said with a question in his voice. 
“And you own the Spencer Inn. Therefore, you own this whole mountaintop.” 
David pressed the button on his Bluetooth to check in with the search party. “Hey, Bogie, we’re up on the southern side of the mountain top. Nothing’s up here. Any luck in your area?” 
“Nothing, Chief,” the deputy chief responded. “We’re going to head back toward the Inn,” David said.
“But we haven’t searched to the end of this road.” Mac pointed further up the trail. “She’s not up there,” David said in a tone so sharp that it startled him. The police chief shifted his ATV into reverse and backed up. Even though David O’Callaghan was the chief of police, Mac Faraday was one of Spencer’s wealthiest residents. Descended from the town’s founders, he was unofficial royalty in the small town of Spencer, located on the shore of Deep Creek Lake. Several years younger, David O’Callaghan had much less law enforcement experience than Mac. Being David’s older half-brother added another level of respect to make the police chief tread softly when issuing orders to the retired homicide detective. With the same tall slender build, their familial relationship was evident to the few who were aware of it. The only notable difference was in Mac’s dark hair with a touch of gray showing at his temples.
“We won’t know unless we look,” Mac argued for going further out the tattered road. “We’ve searched for her in all of the usual areas. You can’t—”
“She’s not there.” David’s hard expression ordered him to drop it.
 “We won’t know unless we look,” Mac said in a steady tone. “Check it out,” 
David said. “Do you see any sign of humans being in this area in recent years? This road is completely overgrown. No sign of hikers. No one comes over to this side of the mountain. We’re talking about an eighty-six year old woman with Alzheimer’s. She’s fragile and on foot. She’d never be able to make it this far.”With a wave of his finger, he ordered Mac to turn around. “We’re going back.” 
The order only served to make Mac more suspicious. “What’s up that road?”
“Then why are you afraid to go up there?” David whipped off his sun glasses as if to show him the glare in his blue eyes, which were identical to his. “Drop it, Mac. Forget about this road. Forget about this side of the mountain. Now turn your vehicle around and go back to the Spencer Inn and forget about coming back here ever again. Got it?” 
Mac met his glare. “And what if I don’t? Like you said, it’s my property. You can’t stop me from going up there to search … or whatever.” 
“Don’t make me shoot you, Mac.” 
“Shoot me?” Laughing, he shook his head. “Are you serious?” 
Any shred of humor that David had when they started talking was now gone. “If you go out that road, there’s nothing I can do to help you. Have I made myself clear?” 
The corner of Mac’s lips curled while he studied the intense nature of David’s order. “Very clear.”

The Legends around Astaire Castle were known widely, by everybody except Mac and his wife, who got really excited about the Castle. But by the time Mac had arranged a tour, everybody talked him out of taking Archie, making her

furious as she tromped back into their home. But by the time they had entered, with even Gnarly growling and immediately showing signs of concern, Mac was glad that he'd not brought her. Soon they found the clear evidence that somebody was living there! Too quickly they found out who!

A Wolf Man...

As soon as it was open enough, Gnarly charged through the opening into the light. “Gnarly! No!” Mac ran after him. Barking his alarm to announce his presence, Gnarly stood in the middle of an abandoned kitchen pantry littered with rusted and rotten cans that had been opened. The room smelled of decayed food and feces. They gingerly watched their steps while Gnarly sniffed the garbage. 
“Looks like raccoons hit the mother load,” Hector said. Finding that it was not good enough even for him, Gnarly followed the scent he had picked up out of the pantry. Mac examined one of the cans.
 “I’ve seen some smart raccoons, but never one intelligent enough operate a can opener.” He picked up an old hand crank can opener. David grabbed the can opener from him. “It’s not animal—” Gnarly’s barks cut him off. His bark was joined by the bark and growl of another. The three men were still piecing the noises together when Gnarly’s snarling bark was cut off by a yelp. 
Mac was the first out the door. In the two years that he had Gnarly, Mac had never seen the dog cry out for help. Later, he would struggle to recall if he had ever heard Gnarly yelp. He was certain of the fact that this was the first time he had seen Gnarly downed by another animal. At first glance, he thought Gnarly was being attacked by a giant white dog that was more than twice his size. The animal had Gnarly pinned down on his back by his throat. Gnarly was yelping in terror while the thing tried to shake him to snap his neck. 
Mac drew his gun, took aim, and was firing a shot when David slapped his arm down to send the bullet into the floor. Before Mac could object or take aim again, David charged forward with his baton and swung it at the thing to make him let go of Gnarly. The beast released Gnarly and fell aside...

Once again, Carr has presented a mystery, within a mystery, within a mystery... Something had happened years ago that started with the first murders. Then there were reports of a wolf man, which David seems to know about. Then finally, in dealing with the notoriety of the Castle being the location where they found the body of a murdered author who had once stayed there, Mac was not only trying to help solve the crimes, but also deal with those who were now intrigued and even wanted to buy the castle! And murder was part of all of that!

So was the castle haunted or was it just the location of many criminal acts? I thought I knew until the book ended with Nigel, a white dog who had once lived at the castle, was seen floating in a mist as it went further into the woods...

And speaking of White Shepherds, this is the book where Gnarly first meets his new lady-love. Enjoy!

Got to say this foray into gothic and touches of ghostly horror was well to my liking! I hope more of this comes along from time to time, with maybe even a touch of the supernatural...Keep spreading and pushing your boundaries Lauren...I'm loving it and I know all of your fans agree!


An Amazon All-Star Author, Lauren Carr writes mysteries that have made Amazon's best-selling ranks internationally. 

The tenth installment of her popular Mac Faraday Mysteries, Open Season for Murder, was released on June 1 to rave reviews and excited fans of Mac and Gnarly. 

Her upcoming new series, The Thorny Rose Mysteries is already being proclaimed a hit by reviewers. The first installment, Kill and Run will be released September 4. the Thorny Rose detectives, Murphy Thornton and Jessica Faraday were introduced to fans in Three Days to Forever, which readers and reviewers have declared to be Carr's "best of the best!"

She lives with her husband, son, and three dogs on a mountain in Harpers Ferry, WV. 

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