Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Welcome to Blog Stop for Authors of Murder on the Mullet Express Today!

This book is dedicated to Constance Odessa Chambers (1888-1963) and the other members of the Army Nurse Corps. We are grateful for their service and inspiration.
When traveling with Percival Pettijohn, it was best to bring a sidearm. Cornelia was glad that she'd brought hers.
Here they were, broken down on the Dixie Highway in the no-man's-land between Gainesville and Ocala. All she saw were pines and cabbage palms on either side of the rain-soaked highway. Two vehicles had already splashed past, ignoring their waves and cries for help. If a car stopped, though, would it hold assistance, or thieves who had decided to pluck two old crows and one old coot?
...A young man climbed out of the car, straw hat in hand. He jammed it on his head, obscuring a shock of sandy hair.
"I heard that you were broken down. Has anyone offered to help yet?"
Someone had told him that they were stranded? Cornelia's mouth curled down. "Have you come offering your assistance for money, sir?"
"No, ma'am. I don't own a tow truck. But I thought you could use a ride. It's not very far to Ocala from here." He hesitated. "I'm sorry; I should have told you who I am. Peter Rowley, land agent." He stuck out his hand.
"What a coincidence," Teddy said. "We drove down for the grand opening in New Homosassa."
"I thought that might be the case...
"So, all three of you are coming to the opening?"
Uncle Percival nodded as he adjusted the amplification of his hearing aid. "I've been considering a winder home for a while, one in a milder climate."

Murder on the Mullet Express

By Gwen Mayo, and
Sarah E. Glenn
The band was playing "Nobody's Sweetheart" when they
entered the ballroom...

Prepare to travel back to the 1920s when land was being sold and companies would host a weekend full of entertainment, hoping to sell a plot of land or arrange an investment into the new community that was being built... What fun! And enjoy some of the entertainment presented throughout the weekend!

You will love the main characters--three elderly individuals, two of them related, uncle and niece, Percival and Cornelia Pettijohn, and Theodore Lawless, Cornelia's companion... Who better to solve the murders in this delightful cozy murder mystery!
"You bounder!" a man's voice shouted. "I should have known you would be here?"
Through the viewer, Cornelia now saw two men circling each other near the entrance of the
first passenger car. One, a burly man with a heavy mustache, held his fists in a boxing
stance, while the other had his arms up in a defensive pose.
"Cheat! Thief!" The aggressive one swung, and his opponent jumped back. People began
gathering--to watch, of course, not to stop the fight...
The three had been traveling together in Cornelia's car when it developed a leak and they were stranded. The land agent who was one of the sponsors and host of a weekend event to try to sell land, had gone to help, knowing it was likely they would be one of his guests... A car part had to be ordered, so the trio had to ride the Mullet Express to the actual area where they would be staying... 

And it was during that ride, that they witnessed a fight between two men, one of whom seemed to have gotten the worst beating and had shown physical distress while they were traveling... Both Cornelia and Theodore (Teddy) had been nurses in the war and instinctively started watching his symptoms... Later, they were called in to nurse him...and then to act as witnesses when he died...
"Why don't you go back to reading
Gertrude Stein?" Cornelia grumbled.
Her companion shuddered.
"I've been reading it since we began
the trip. Or, I should say, I've tried
to read it. It gives me a headache.

It is Cornelia who takes the lead as amateur detective, while Teddy, who was more socially inclined, enjoyed the drinking and parties hosted for their enjoyment. 

Uncle Percival, on the other hand, really didn't have too much of an interest of any planned events. Instead, as a retired civil engineering professor, he spent all his time talking to the train engineers or exploring what was happening in the buildings being constructed. He had just purchased the new motion picture camera and had decided to film the entire trip! 

Teddy turned to them. "And who is this dashing gentlemen? She fingered her long strand of beads.
 "I apologize. I didn't ask your name. I am Cornelia, and this is Teddy."
He bowed quickly. "Pleased to meet you both. My proper name is Santiago, but I go by Chago."
The band struck up "Let's All Go to Mary's House," and people began to dance. The talkers moved to the edges of the room. Cornelia moved with them, but Teddy tapped Chago's arm. "Dance with me, won't you? I love dancing, but I can only di it for a little while."
...The first song ended, and "The Charleston" was next. A whoop went out, and the floor filled quickly. Teddy kicked next to Chago, delight on her face. Their young neighbor rushed to join in...

You might begin to think Pettijohn is a bit of the forgetful professor, but he's not...His mind is still strong though his body has aged, and he has a wonderful gift of memory for all things he has seen... Of course, his unquenchable thirst for new paths to learning soon led him to trouble...he had conveniently forgotten about the police mandate for all visitors to stay at the hotel and surroundings while the murder investigation goes on.

Cornelia...decided to try
the machine for herself.
She aimed it...Shouts
broke out behind her...
Cornelia shifted the
camera...Cornelia now
saw two men circling
each other...
Of course, if he had done that, they would not have come to know about the second murder... But only after he was put in jail, mainly to keep track of him, LOL... You see that new Motion Picture Camera, without anybody realizing it, had captured both murders! Cornelia had filmed the first while her uncle had captured the second, even though he hadn't realized it...but could later clearly report everything he had seen as he put his amazing skill to work...

I have to admit that I was having too much fun with the antics of the characters that I wasn't paying too much attention on following clues...However, these two authors had me beat since I wouldn't have even begun to guess at least one of the guilty parties! Kudos to the mystery team!

One interesting characters was a man working as a driver for the event...He hooked himself with our three main characters and drove them every place, including back and forth from jail and getting himself in several tight situations...
"Cripes!" Mitch jerked the wheel hard to the right and they narrowly missed being sideswiped by the mobsters' car. Cornelia saw the reason why the men had doubled back. Traffic was at a standstill on the road to the hotel. Both lanes were filled with lines of cars headed one way..."Valentino movie," Teddy answered from the back. "Double feature."
..."They must not know where they're headed. The road ends at the river."
"Good," Cornelia said. They can't get away."

The book includes mob criminals that were prevalent at that time... And when they get involved; they, meaning more than one group of criminals, create quite a bit of excitement that Cornelia and Teddy seem to always get involved with! Oh, one other unique perspective of the societal censoring happening at that time with regard to women... This was an important addition to the era's story, but done so cleverly low-keyed that many of us would think nothing about it, except if it had been called to the readers' attention... And then, the ending was such a surprise since I had selected one man as the charlatan! So Percival Pettijohn totally quite me off guard for a perfect ending! Cool, right?!

The ladies entered the ballroom to find it blanketed in orange and white banners. Tropical flowers decorated the tables, blazing creations in crimson, gold, tangerine, with touches of blue or purple. The centerpiece of the room was an enormous white cake studded with fresh orange slices. The sweet aroma made Cornelia's mouth water...
"Here they come," Teddy said, breaking her brown study.
After the men walked in, Rowley removed the blindfold. Everyone shouted, "Happy Birthday!"
The professor beamed at the display. "Marvelous! All this for me?"
"We need to outshine Saint Petersburg tonight," the land agent said. He gestured to the gallery, and the musicians broke into "Bugle Call Rag."

It addition to providing readers with a wonderfully entertaining cozy mystery, Authors Mayo and Glenn provide additional historical background, including the drink that Teddy so enjoyed: The Mary Pickford Cocktail... It's made with white rum, pineapple juice, grenadine, and Maraschino...but you'd have to read the book to get the full recipe... A short bibliography for further reading is also provided...

If you enjoy historical, humorous looks at the past, together with a splendid set of characters who save the day...you really do need to check this one! It's so much fun, I've got to  highly recommend it!


See previous blog article by Gwen Mayo on the Poison of Choice...and authors' information

And Thanks to Gwen and Sarah for sharing their book at
Book Readers Heaven!

Monday, January 30, 2017

Touring Author of Murder on the Mullet Express, Sarah E. Glenn, Visits! Review Next...

I Love a Good Poisoning…

In Fiction

By Sarah E. Glenn

When Gwen and I sat down to plot Murder on the Mullet Express, we had already chosen a method of murder: poison. Perhaps it would be better to say that I had already chosen the method of murder, because I am a poison enthusiast. I am no toxicologist or physician, nor am I a chef, which should bring you great relief. I just find poisons… interesting.

The choice of an interesting poison for a story can add to the enjoyment of the reader… at least this one. Agatha Christie, the grand dame of mystery, used her pharmacological experience to great effect in her tales. The Mysterious Affair at Styles is a special favorite of mine where poisoning is concerned.

Strychnine is a dramatic poison. The victim is seized with violent spasms and convulsions, and in the final stages the entire body bends backward in one huge arc. The risus sardonicus – the rictus grin on the dead victim’s face – also plays well in visual media. Most authors, Christie included, don’t become too graphic with their depictions, but Stephen King had no problem with describing it in Mr. Mercedes. Then again, it was Stephen King.

The poisoning at Styles rises above other tales of poisoning because of the clever method used to divert suspicion. Strychnine used to be used in tiny, tiny doses in tonics because of its stimulating qualities. The killer introduced a bromide into the mix, which caused the strychnine to precipitate to the bottom of the bottle – creating one awful dose that would be taken while the killer was conveniently busy at his (or her) alibi.

Arsenic poisoning, on the other hand, is best portrayed off-screen. The major symptoms are vomiting and diarrhea, which are rather off-putting. Arsenic is more interesting for its uses than its misuses. Arsenic seems to have been in everything before the authorities put a lockdown on it. It was used to harden metals (hello, lame blacksmith archetype), to improve health in tonics like Fowler’s Solution (I sense a pattern here), plus it made a dandy green wallpaper. You could even buy it in wafers to improve your complexion! There were also people referred to as ‘arsenic eaters’, who were reputed to have built a tolerance to (and even a need for) the poison.

Dorothy Sayers used arsenic eaters to great effect in Strong Poison, where a shared meal kills one man and not the other. Sharyn McCrumb flipped the idea over in If I’d Killed Him When I Met Him… when a wife kills her husband by not feeding him arsenic. I’ve admired McCrumb’s inventiveness since her story with the anthrax in the bagpipes.

Some authors invent interesting poisons on their own. Robin Cook, a physician known for his medical thrillers, developed a good one in Mortal Fear. A colleague of the hero is involved in research to learn why salmon die shortly after they spawn. His intent was to identify the ‘kill switch’ and develop an antidote which might then be used to prolong human life. Instead, someone takes the information about the ‘kill switch’ and uses it to murder patients who have become inconvenient. The method of introducing the poison is equally clever and drawn from Dr. Cook’s knowledge.

The poison I chose for Murder on the Mullet Express, savin, is less well-known but fitting to the story. Agatha Christie said that her stories stemmed from a ‘crime before the crime’, and ours does, too. Its primary use hints at that crime, and points to the motive of the killer.


Gwen Mayo is passionate about blending her loves of history and mystery fiction. She currently lives and writes in Safety Harbor, Florida, but grew up in a large Irish family in the hills of Eastern Kentucky. She is the author of the Nessa Donnelly Mysteries and co-author of the Old Crows stories with Sarah Glenn.

Her stories have appeared in A Whodunit Halloween, Decades of Dirt, Halloween Frights (Volume I), and several flash fiction collections. She belongs to Sisters in Crime, SinC Guppies, the Short Mystery Fiction Society, the Historical Novel Society, and the Florida Authors and Publishers Association.

Gwen has a bachelor's degree in political science from the University of Kentucky. Her most interesting job, though, was as a brakeman and railroad engineer from 1983 - 1987. She was one of the last engineers to be certified on steam locomotives. 

Website URL: http://www.gwenmayo.com
Blog URL: http://gwenmayo.blogspot.com/
Facebook URL: https://www.facebook.com/Gwen-Mayo-119029591509479/
Twitter: @gwenmayo
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/gwen-mayo-41175726
Skype: gwen.mayo
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4108648.Gwen_Mayo
Amazon Author page: http://www.amazon.com/Gwen-Mayo

Sarah E. Glenn has a B.S. in Journalism, which is a great degree for the dilettante she is. Later on, she did a stint as a graduate student in classical languages. She didn’t get the degree, but she’s great with crosswords. Her most interesting job was working the reports desk for the police department in Lexington, Kentucky, where she learned that criminals really are dumb.

Her great-great aunt served as a nurse in WWI, and was injured by poison gas during the fighting. A hundred years later, this would inspire Sarah to write stories Aunt Dess would probably not approve of. 

Website URL: http://www.sarahglenn.com
Blog URL: http://saraheglenn.blogspot.com/
Facebook URL: https://www.facebook.com/Sarah-E-Glenn-177315008966709/
Twitter: @SarahEGlenn and @MAHLLC
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/sarah-glenn-216765b
Skype: sarah.glenn63
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4710143.Sarah_E_Glenn
Amazon Author: http://www.amazon.com/Sarah-E.-Glenn/e/B004P3MI2Q

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Acclaimed Author Warren Adler Presents Mother Nile An Amazing Tale of Egypt!

She had been King Farouk's favorite dancer but, ultimately, she was just another woman to throw away, like that last piece of sweet that he could not eat but wanted nobody else to have... The King lived for his excesses: power, food, and women controlled his life, all of his senses... Until she became pregnant just about the same time that he was announcing his wedding. Of course, Farrah's news meant nothing to him and he used his "pimp" to ensure that she disappeared... But Farrah was somewhat street savvy and realized what would probably happen. Still, she was not willing to get rid of the baby as everyone advised...

Mother Nile

By Warren Adler

The background historical facts of Egypt's politics during King Farouk's reign are all there in the latest novel by Warren Adler. However, Adler creates an enticing surrounding story  not only how Farouk was involved in all of the criminal activities in his town, but how his lust for power, combined with his constant desire for sexual relationships, affected those he chose each evening...He came often to the establishment where Farrah danced, having taken many of the other dancers other nights. But after he had chosen Farrah, she became his favorite.

Adler chooses to present Farouk from the eyes of  Farrah, who saw in him a lonely man, one who was searching for happiness. She provided him comfort and a semblance of love. Still, she was surprised and angered when he announced he was marrying to provide for an heir and her child was not considered! But there was another man who also loved Farrah--one she found to be disgusting. Farouk's pimp was much more...he had come in love and respect to serve the King, but was used as a loyal, but distant servant. So that when the King told him to "handle" Farrah, he did just that... Zakki had separated mother and child but did them no harm... at first...

Farrah returned to dancing and an American fell in love with her and took her home with him.

...She was too young to die, forty-
three. To Si, she had been a good,
blameless, and loving woman.
Watching her now, he realized
how little he knew about her.
Except that she loved him and
he lover her. Yet even as he
observed her agony, he felt that
she had cheated him, had left
him too much in the dark about
She looked at him for a long
time, until tears spilled over the
lower lips onto her cheeks.
Coming close, he kissed her and
gently wiped away the tears.
"Isis," she whispered, her lips
"My baby," she said...
"My baby, Isis," she repeated.
..."You have a sister, Osiris..."
Si, the son of Farrah, is the main character of the novel, who finds out on his mother's deathbed that he has a sister, Isis. Si, whose full name is Osiris immediately thinks of the historical connection of the two names. I can only say that he became obsessed with finding his sister and why she had been left by their mother.

His mother had told him she'd left the baby with the family Al-Hakim in the City of the Dead. "Come to my sanctuary..."

With his father's blessing, Si was soon on his way to Egypt... with only the one clue...Isis was left in the City of the Dead... Fortunately his mother had taught him her native language... And fortunately, he met a young boy who agreed to show him how to find the home of Al-Hakim...

But Si quickly began experiencing surprises... First his guide was a young girl... Second, his presence in Egypt was quickly known and spread until it reached the ears of Zakki. Third, he began to be followed everywhere he went...and soon there was death--as those to whom he talked were later murdered! Zakki, too, now had an obsession...one that was unspeakable and for which he now required revenge!

Adler's historical family drama soon evolves into an exciting, albeit a graphically violent, thriller that begins the chase of Zakki's hired guns after Si and his now sidekick and friend, Abdel. At the same time, readers learn the whole story of Farrah's time and terrible loss in Egypt...

Si is able to pay for information extracted after long searches to find the next step and soon is traveling the Nile visiting various sites along the way, including...

In the distant, he could see the flat cliffs, glowing reddish in the blazing sun. As they moved closer, the old tombs and temples defined themselves, like chipped jewels in a diadem of uncertain settings, the centerpiece of which was the beautiful and awesome three-tiered Temple of Queen Hatshepsut. Watching it as they came closer, it struck Si how arrogantly it had defied time. "A woman built that," he whispered to 
Abdel, his lips brushing against her ear. She said nothing, although he sensed that she felt some flush of pride.

"There," Si whispered, surprised at his detailed recall, knowing that it had lain embedded in his subconscious..."Is Ay, Tutankhamun's successor, wearing the blue crown of the reigning Pharaoh, performing the open-the-mouth rite on the mummified boy king. And there...is Nut, mother of Osiris, who receives him as her son...
He wanted to shout for joy, to hear the sound of his voice echo in the tomb. "Don't you see," he cried, "The connection." He looked at her and held her close. "Of all of us. The endless river of blood. You and I. My mother. Isis." He felt the exhilaration, an epiphany. "From there to now is more than three thousand years. Don't you see? It is important to know that. The human link. Nothing dies. Nothing ever really dies." Perhaps, he thought, that's why he had come to prove that his mother had never died, a part of her was still planted in this land...

I was getting close to the end of the book and I hadn't a clue what was going to happen. I wanted a happy ending, but could I expect that given the trail of bodies that had fallen on the way? What I will tell you that is I was totally astonished! And yet, it made sense to me. I was relieved first, then ecstatic at the originality the author presents in his climatic ending. 

Before I close, I want to mention that I had not read this author before. His literary style engulfed this reader, and I sank deeply into the story while I was also enjoying the historical tour of Egypt. It definitely is a multi-genre book that is both satisfying historically while presenting a staggering tale of lust, death and more in an awe-inspiring look at what we humans are capable of. While his The War of the Roses won him many accolades, I personally am thrilled to be among the first telling you about his latest--a book I would have chosen to read of all his novels!
Highly recommended for so many reasons!


Warren Adler is best known for The War of the Roses, his masterpiece fictionalization of a macabre divorce turned into the Golden Globe and BAFTA nominated dark comedy hit starring Michael Douglas, Kathleen Turner and Danny DeVito. In addition to the success of the stage adaptation of his iconic novel on the perils of divorce, Adler has optioned and sold film rights to more than a dozen of his novels and short stories to Hollywood and major television networks. Random Hearts (starring Harrison Ford and Kristen Scott Thomas), The Sunset Gang (starring Jerry Stiller, Uta Hagen, Harold Gould and Doris Roberts), Private Lies, Funny Boys, Madeline’s Miracles, Trans-Siberian Express and his Fiona Fitzgerald mystery series are only a few titles that have forever left Adler’s mark on contemporary American authorship from page to stage to screen. Learn more about Warren Adler at www.warrenadler.com.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Lin Wilder's A Price for Genius Brings Thriller Kidnapping into Literary Series!

Lausanne, Switzerland. Suddenly regaining consciousness, Rich Jansen attempted to stand, then instantly regretted the abrupt movement. The pain began at the base of his head and exploded in successive and increasingly intense waves of agony, forcing him to close his eyes, hang his head and wait motionless. Remaining on his hands and knees for a minute, then two; waiting for the pain to subside, for the nausea to fade. Jansen finally risked opening his eyes. Squinting at the bright light, he very slowly and carefully moved his head from right to left...
Whatever they hit me with had carried one hell of a wallop. The phone call from Reardon had happened last night? Or wait, was it yesterday? The minute he hung up the phone, Rich had called the airport to secure a seat on the next flight to Zurich. Sixteen hours later, he was in Lausanne, Switzerland, and had arrived at the animal research labs in the corporate offices of Andrews, Sacks, and Levine, one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world. The elfin-like Ariana had been showing him where the test mice were kept when everything went black. Quickly looking around for her, Jansen saw only a few spots of blood and some scuff marks. And, ugh… hundreds of mice, scrabbling all over the lab; for whatever reason, whoever broke in decided to free the mice. Ariana was nowhere to be seen. The letter... where is the letter? Jansen reached into the pocket of his sports jacket, the one he’d had on since leaving San Luis Obispo, and breathed a sigh of relief when his right hand found the single page. A page now smeared with blood from his head wound. 
Hello Mr. Reardon, By the time you get this letter, it will be too late. We’ll already have her. Here are the steps you must NOT take: Do not call the cops. Do not contact Interpol. Tell no one. We’ll know if you contact the police or Interpol. We’ll know and we’ll kill her instantly. But we are civilized business people; this is all about business after all. Do nothing at all until you hear from us. And you will hear from us, Mr. Reardon. You must know Sir, there is a price for genius. We trust you will pay it if you want to see your daughter alive.

A Price for Genius

By Lin Wilder

Rich Jansen had immediately flown to Lausanne as soon as he'd received the call Hank Reardon. He headed directly to the main offices of the pharmaceutical company and had immediately become part of the kidnapping...by getting knocked out in the animal quarters where he was reviewing the destruction and mice theft... He had been talking with Ariana who had been showing where the test mice were kept...Now, as he was trying to regain full consciousness, he realized that she was gone! Could this get any worse...

His first thought and action was to call Lindsey, his wife, and ask her to be on the next flight to Switzerland...

Two important women in their lives had been kidnapped, or possibly could be worse...

Wow, Lin Wilder has created a set of characters that have won, I am sure, the concern and care of all readers of this series. First, Wilder has a number of intelligent female scientists that are making groundbreaking discoveries--how I wish they were truly happening! Also, a leading prize-winning news journalist, as well as a legal team, including Rich Jensen, husband of Lindsey, who are the two main characters... There are a number of other close friends, including Hank Reardon, that round out a wonderful, close group that are always involved in doing the latest and greatest things for the world...

But this time, two of those individuals, both outstanding scientists in the pharmaceutical company run by Hank Reardon, have been kidnapped. One of them is Hank's daughter. And the ransom is not money...it's pharmaceutical discoveries and patents! Potentially worth billions!

“That’s one of the main things
 that keeps me from leaving the
 I know what I am capable
 of doing.”
There are always multiple stories in Wilder's books...These are people who are doing things and looking to do more. Lindsey, who had become the medical director of the prison has begun to get itchy to move on. She has already used her own money to totally upgrade the medical area of the prison, and soon realized that there were very few challenging cases that required her expertise... We learn where she is going next in this book, which undoubtedly will lead to the location of one of Wilder's future novels. 

In the meantime, readers learn about gang member issues there in Houston... And with 50% of the prison population being gang members, readers are involved with a major explosive situation within the prison where Rich actually gets back involved even though he is no longer head of the prisons... 

All hell had broken loose. The smoke was so thick that Rich’s eyes were streaming, and he could hear screams, but could not see... “Max, here.” Although he could not see him, Rich suddenly felt the cold nose of his dog in his right hand, the one which was groping along the wall as he moved in a rapid semi-crouched crawl, and breathed a sigh of relief at the touch. Suddenly, there was a pocket of clearer air, and he could see a pile-up of bodies on the floor. 
The skinny guard who had climbed through the ventilation ducts had one inmate in cuffs and another meekly standing against the wall away from the melee formed by the other seven bodies. Luke Preston was on the floor, his body crossways on one of the rioting inmates, his formidable legs in a scissor kick that was slowly asphyxiating the prisoner. The downed prisoner was a member of the Texas Syndicate, the TS tattoo readily apparent on the skin under the throat currently being crushed. His eyes were bulging, his skin slowly turning blue. 
Jansen crawled up behind Luke, ignoring all the other guards, and pulling out his Glock, placed the business end of the revolver on the side of his head. “Luke, let him go. Now.” Jansen’s voice was low, menacing. He guessed that Preston knew this creep and had figured him for the murder of his little brother, Devon...

These characters generate action and their actions normally result in problems and some type of criminal issue...but they also must experience the aftermath as well... And it can become overwhelming at times...

The searchlights illuminated the majestic bell tower, but high up and beyond the bell tower soared the crowning achievement of the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart. As they had gazed up at the over fifty-foot, illuminated stained glass window of the resurrected Christ, Rich had told Lindsey how awed he felt by the magnificence of the artist’s depiction. Rather than the weakened and pitiful representation of the Savior favored by artists of the last several hundred years, the Italian who had created this Christ had designed a hero, a warrior. A God-man whose humanity was perfected by the spectacular blood-red sacred heart residing in the massive and muscular torso from which power, strength and love seemed to flood the city of Houston...
Rich loved the window— had treasured it from the first few shots he had seen on television. He had even taken to driving downtown at night so that he could see the brilliant colors illuminated by the bright light within the church, and reflected through that crimson, sacred, heart. 
Each time Jansen viewed this Lord, he thought of the old Christian hymn, “Onward Christian Soldiers.” This was a general he could follow into hell. Smiling through tears once again, Lindsey winged a simple prayer of thanks to this God who had, for reasons she would never understand, graced her with this man, Rich Jansen...

 I'm loving the whole series, mainly because I'm loving the characters and feel like I know them as ethical, moral people, and consequently care for them... The mixture of the excellent writing, together with the world of the pharmaceutical industry, and merged with the criminal element of various types, makes Wilder's books an awesome series with formidable characters that are unequaled in my experience.

In fact, the only group that comes somewhat close is on Scorpion, one of my favorite television series right now. As that group shows again and again, the price of genius...is indeed high...but, putting them together in a tv program...or in a book series by Lin Wilder results in exhilarating, unique experiences time after time... Surely, you can't afford to continue without checking these books out!

I recommend you start with the first, The Fragrance Shed by a Violet then Do You Solemnly Swear... All of them can be considered free-standing; however, the major draw for me has been the characters and by A Price for Genius, you will be meeting old friends as they struggle to find and rescue the two young scientists, captured only because they are both geniuses... My recommendation for the works of Lin Wilder must be as Must-Reads...


Lin Wilder is a former Hospital Director and presently a self-employed writer who works from her home in northern Nevada. She finds peace and channels her creativity in the remote valley that offers her just the right amount of silence, stillness and solitude. She has written throughout her entire adult life but made the switch from non-fiction to fiction in 2006.

"I found, long ago, that the best way for me to understand something is to write about it.” Lin explains. Writing helps her to better comprehend even the most challenging subjects. Lin feels her line of work should be viewed like any other business, advising others, “In the beginning, expect to be in the red.” After years in the industry, she has learned the value of a good editor, finding that editing is far more than proofreading. "Writing is hard work and requires exceptionally thick skin. Once we decide to publish our work, we’re in the public domain where others can criticize, perhaps even in a hurtful way.” Wilder states.
Prior to her decision to switch to fiction, Lin Weeks Wilder had published over 40 articles and book chapters as well as a textbook. She has also written four self-help books. Lin's first novel, The Fragrance Shed by a Violet, was published in July of 2015. The second edition, The Fragrance Shed by a Violet: Murder in the Medical Center and the sequel, Do You Solemnly Swear are available to purchase on Amazon. When asked why she chose to create a second edition, Lin quotes Chesterton, "Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly" and explains that the multiple errors in the first edition begged to be fixed. The third in her series, A Price for Genius, was planned for a spring release but has been preempted by a non-fiction account of an "unplanned surprise" story of her return to faith: Finding the Narrow Road; A Love Story.
Her series of medical thrillers are situated in Houston, Texas with many references to the Texas Medical Center where Lin worked for over 23 years.
In her free time, Lin Wilder enjoys exercising, hiking, listening to beautiful music, gardening and last but certainly not least, reading. She is married to a former Marine and psychologist with 25 years of experience counseling ex- combat veterans. They reside in Nevada with their two dogs.

Here's a taste of the debut novel...

Thursday, January 26, 2017

The Secret Staircase by Melanie Jackson Continues Pattern...

Sometimes I just have to try another... I had enjoyed the first book I read by Melanie Jackson, Portrait of a Gossip. Some of you may recall that I really didn't appreciate the first chapter of the next book Requiem at Christmas but still recommended it...but that first chapter business...bugged me...So... here I am saying the same thing.... forget that the first chapter is unique, the rest of the book is great... Well, don't forget it, you see my issue is with continuity of the character... If the tone and dialogue of the book had continued, the first chapter would fit, in my opinion.
But then I got curious as I was writing today, and found that many reviewers did not like the ending of this latest book, The Secret Staircase. Yes, it does leave you to assume what would be happening as opposed to completely describing everything, but I didn't have a problem with that since it closed out what was hanging and projected the future... Perhaps what the readers were actually saying was that they enjoyed the character, and wanted more, while I thought it was an appropriate way to close out the book of a new series...

So here I am reading a first chapter which apparently many enjoyed, while I was thinking it was far too much like a "frivolous yarn," the only words I can use, meaning, that the tone of the first chapter, in first person, didn't match the straight-forward story from then on... It was almost as if the character telling the story was the Grandmother, as she talked continuously with her stories of the past with run-on sentences, as opposed to the second chapter when the story appears with the main character as merely part of the book. But I'm sharing a little of this chapter...if you enjoy it...then you're good to go!

Kelvin was dead to begin with.
There is no doubt about that.
No, I can’t do it. I can’t plagiarize Dickens. It’s a great beginning for this story though…. Let’s try again.
My Grandma Mac once told me that a malicious faerie had christened me in my cradle, giving me both brains and insight. Not a bad combination, you might think, but you probably weren’t born into a family that was as, shall we say, salt of the earth as mine. In my birth family, beauty and good nature were coin of the realm. My parents were simple. Trusting. Gullible. Apt to see life in shades of rainbow pastels when really the situation was very black and white.
I was not that way. Not that I put too much weight on this particular matter now that I am grown and accept that beauty really is only skin deep and that insight and intelligence are useful to my chosen trade. But it had mattered very much when I was a child and certain most days that I was a changeling put on earth to look after my supposed parents.
This story is in part a cautionary tale as well as a fable, so there must be a moral. Perhaps blood will tell or you can run but not hide. In any event, the sins of the fathers being what they are, when my grandmother had run away from her family and married a traveling man that they objected to, she changed the course of Wendover familial events and destinies. Wild blood entered the line and poisoned it—this is what my grandma said not long before she died. At the time I had thought she was speaking of my grandfather, but now I think perhaps she meant something else as well.
I didn’t know Grandma’s traveling man, so this part of the tale is all second-hand telling, but I think it’s fairly accurate since my mother hadn’t the guile to lie about her father and Grandma Mac wouldn’t have bothered.
Grandma was the primary breadwinner and the steady influence in her children’s lives. Once in a great while, my fly-by-night grandpa would breeze into town, bringing presents for his wife and daughters. He would have a drink or two, watch a little television, and then, once Grandma was asleep or away at her job, he would tell my mother tall tales about this subverted destiny of the high and mighty Wendovers who had thought themselves too good for him, and how he had saved my grandmother from a terrible fate. My mom, being gullible, came to think of my grandma as an unhappy princess kidnapped by the king of gypsies who had fallen in love with her and saved her from her cruel family by marrying her. It was my mother’s favorite bedtime story, made more precious because her own mother would never speak of the Wendovers.
It was the extra-special secret she shared only with her mostly missing father. In turn, my mother told me the lost princess stories when I was a child. It was the only story she told me, and I came to think of myself as being lost too—a changeling, as I said. Or maybe cursed. Clearly I didn’t belong with my supposed birth family. They were fair and I was dark. My mother had sapphire blue eyes and I had nondescript gray. My parents were small and delicate, and I was tall and sturdy. Handsome, not pretty.
Nor did I belong in that small town, with its small minds and small tolerance for smart girls who acted up in Sunday school and refused to join the choir. I longed to see the ocean and maybe to travel to foreign lands. I spent a lot of time looking at National Geographic at the library and feeling I belonged somewhere else. Perhaps, given Grandma’s hostility and reluctance to accept her familial destiny, it was fair that her parents’ predictions of a disastrous marriage were proven true, and that she should give birth to two very pretty but empty-headed children, neither of whom sought to make up for this deficit by marrying someone brighter or more sensible than they. Instead the sisters married for what they thought was love and for happiness, and more or less achieved it, though in very different ways.
Fortunately, Holly and Emmett (my mom and dad preferred I use their first names) were both sweet tempered and easy going, so I was able to organize home as I liked and arranged for my education, in spite of their indifference to this matter. Grandma supported me in my desire for college saving every spare penny she could for my tuition, hoping I would in turn help her at the newspaper when I graduated. Which I did. I couldn’t do otherwise when she needed assistance and would never have it from her own children...
Her maiden name, Wendover, was almost never spoken of after he died, and when it did come up in her presence, it was never said with affection. Especially when she spoke of her father, whom I came to think of as a Victorian-style tyrant, before forgetting him entirely during the turmoil of my teen years. My parents didn’t understand me or my educational ambitions, but were proud of my accomplishments, and we would probably still be enjoying a comfortable if uncomprehending relationship had my dad not decided to take the advice of a friend and try to improve a new fuel-injection system that blew both my parents to bits on the first test-drive when I was only a year out of college. My Aunt Verena is dead now too. Kicked in the head by a riding horse she was trying to “return to the wild,” if you can believe it. She was survived by her husband, Zach, but as my grandma had pointed out, Zach— unlike my naïve father— was a stranger to both truth and shame. He was, in addition to being a liar who always got caught in the act and was often in jail, kind of ugly. I am speaking in the physical sense though his soul was also far from shiny. His red face was clean shaven but he had a neck beard that ran straight into the pelts on his chest and back. It stuck up out of his shirt and he often looked like he was peering at you out of some kind of tall grass. As a kid I found this creepy. Actually I still find it creepy.
I don’t see him anymore. Grandma Mac passed away two years ago, and since Verena and Zach had no children, I am all that is left of our little clan, the last descendant of the runaway princess and the gypsy king. That I possibly had kin somewhere else never occurred to me. The Wendover stories were largely forgotten in the daily grind of keeping the newspaper afloat, and somehow I had gotten the impression that Grandma was an only princess anyway, so there was no point imagining loving cousins somewhere in Maine.
But one day a letter appeared in my mailbox announcing that I was the heir to the Wendover estate, which included a large house on a tiny island and some two hundred and fifty thousand dollars in securities, bonds, and cash. The attorney and author of the letter, Harris Ladd, suggested that I should call his office when it was convenient and we could settle the details of the estate. I had taken over my grandmother’s job at the newspaper, which she had eventually been conned into buying once the first owner was bled dry and decided to retire to Arizona while he still had a shirt on his back. I was making little better than minimum wage for overtime labor while the swirling, sucking, almost bankrupt money pit of false hopes and shattered dreams swallowed most of the revenue it brought in on a good month— and more than that in a bad one— so it was convenient to call at once. After all, I needed a new car before winter and a mortgage if I was going to buy my apartment when it went condo and I was pretty sure I couldn’t get a conventional loan. The newspaper was hardly adequate collateral. These days the banks were like a school of fish. Ask for money and they scattered in terror. I didn’t really want to take on the debt anyway. Though I hated to admit it, since the paper had been my grandmother’s life work, it seemed to me that The Democrat wasn’t long for this world unless the town’s reading population tripled and the economy got a whole lot better and very quickly.
The mild-voiced Mr. Ladd suggested I visit as soon as was possible— the estate would pay, of course. Go to Maine? Just pack up and go? Could I do that? I sat at my desk in the empty office and pondered my options. It was 104 degrees and sultry. My only full time staff reporter was on vacation getting a face lift, and our only photographer had just broken his leg carrying shingles up to his ex-wife’s leaking roof. This was a mixed blessing. Jack of the broken leg and I had tried dating, but he had been too caught up in post-divorce sorrow to be a good companion. Until the divorce, Jack had been the possessor of a sunny temperament which he shared with everyone. After the split, his sun had dimmed and he turned largely inward. A year in, I hoped that an invitation to dinner meant that he was healing, but I had broken off the social connection when I saw which way the ill wind blew. Things were now a little awkward at the office, so a break from each other seemed a good thing...

The Secret Staircase:
A Wendover House Mystery

By Melanie Jackson

Jackson is an excellent writer... Somehow I get the impression, though, she needs to keep her readers off balance. Starting with a down-home atmosphere in the first chapter, then a straight-forward narrative thereafter is initially startling. Then there's the cover and title which you later learn are totally different from the storyline. What it results in, for me, the reader, is that I cannot totally sink into her stories... It seems she's playing a game rather than wanting to entertain... I don't like it. A mystery is a favorite of mine. Most readers want to immediately start learning about what is going to happen, believing that what is presented right from the cover will be tips, hints we can follow... Not... Nevertheless... I did become involved beginning with Chapter 2...LOL...

“There is a writer named
 Livingston. He writes
 some kind of spy books.
 He’s from away.”
The attorney sounded
 disapproving. I wonder
 if it was a contempt of
 novels or for people
 who had the misfortune
 to be born elsewhere.
 “Benjamin Livingston?”
I asked, surprised and
 maybe just a little
 starstruck. He was
 one of my favorite
“And here is the house,” 
Mr. Ladd said, 
sounding awed and also, 
perhaps, just 
 a bit nervous. 
“I trust you’ll like it. 
It really is a historical gem.”

Even though Tess MacKay had 
never met her grandfather, it was exciting to learn that she now had a home on Little Goose Island, Maine. There were two other occupants, one a writer, a favorite known by her, Benjamin Livingston, and an invalid cared for by a live-in nurse. On the other hand, she had a home and  newspaper which was to be considered, even though she'd been worried about being able to financially keep it going... What had Tess puzzled most though was that the lawyer representing the estate seemed very concerned that she plan to stay and live at Wendover, remembering how he had paled when she told him she'd probably be selling the property...

“It’s said that Abercrombie Wendover bought his property from one of the local tribes who had a sort of hermit medicine man that lived alone on the island, and that they put conditions on his taking up residence here before they would sell.” “Conditions or curses?” I asked jokingly when his face remained long. “Well, a bit of both, I suppose. The legend has it that the three islands would be protected from invasion as long as there is a Wendover in residence on Little Goose. The owner can leave briefly, but a Wendover must reside here most of the time or on the next New Year’s Eve the whole island will be drowned in vicious waves and pulled down into the ocean. It will destroy all ships in the water and drive the fish away forever. It is believed that the island is slanted because of the storm caused when the Indian hermit tried to leave.”

Again with the assuming. I hadn’t agreed to stay the night, though I knew that I was going to do it. After all, I should spend one night in the old family home before I sold it. And I would sell it if a buyer could be found. I was seventy-five percent sure.

Discovering the inside of the home was what really got her to thinking. It was beautifully furnished in antiques and was a place that she soon began to feel at home. But, then, there were few modern accommodations and living with, for instance, oil lamps for lighting certainly wasn't something she wanted to get used to...

And later, when she was alone, the darkness seem to be smothering and the noises began to happen... Fortunately, the first ones were caused by Kelvin, who had been a resident of the house for years...But Tess wasn't thrilled when she found that he had come in through the basement, which supposedly didn't have an outside entrance... Nor was she happy when the noise continued even after Kelvin had started staying on her bed at night...while the noise continued...

This is a fun cozy mystery. There is enough of a mystery regarding the house that keeps suspense high--is it haunted, will it be destroyed, along with all three islands, if Tess doesn't remain to live there?

Then, too, there seems to be an attraction between Tess and Benjamin, at least when they are alone, that Tess decides she'd like to explore...and, with the closing of this book, should provide further entertainment as the series continues.

Even with my earlier comments, I thoroughly enjoyed the story especially when Kelvin easily accepted Tess as her friend....a cat always makes a home warmer and comforting... Still, it was fun to discover at least what caused the noise, even if the curse may continue into the future... I'll probably stick around to find out why her first chapters affect me so much...😎 And... do check it out!


Melanie has been writing her entire life. In fact, one of her earliest fond memories is receiving an IBM Selectric typewriter for her birthday. After publishing romance novels (Scottish historical and paranormal) for New York based publisher Dorchester Publishing from 1999 to 2010, Melanie chose to begin self-publishing cozy mysteries. Since then she has released the Chloe Boston, Butterscotch Jones, Wendover House, Kenneth Mayhew and Miss Henry Mystery series.Melanie Jackson is the award-winning author of more than 100 novels, novellas, anthologies and bundles published in multiple languages. She lives with her writer husband and her bossy cat in the Sonoma wine country. Besides gardening, she is involved with animal charities.