ACTS OF MALICE ~ Release Day!!!

AOM Release pngIt’s here! Release Day for ACTS OF MALICE. It was on Pre-Order, but now, TODAY, it is officially released!!!

Detective Story, murder mystery, national security

Lavender Raines and Mac “Mackey” Mackenzie are polar opposites. Thought not a holiday novel, per se, ACTS OF MALICE has Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s scenes that will touch your heart, make you gasp, have you laughing, or all three.

ACTS OF MALICE IN A NUT SHELL…

ACTS OF MALICE:  A taut and compelling classic murder mystery with a national security underlying theme. Interpersonal relationships, greed, dry humor. Unrequited Love. Uplifting.

Lavender Raines gets the ‘doorbell ring’ no wife ever wants to get. Her husband has been brutally murdered, and the FBI is more secretive than helpful. The problem is, his body was found in Caracas when she thought his business trip had taken him to New Orleans.

Mackenzie just opened a second beach resort-town restaurant, this one in Ribault Beach, Florida…but now the clandestine security organization that from-time-to-time sends him on covert missions wants him to find Lavender’s husband’s killers.

Forces from within the “Deep State” have shaped circumstances that will alter the course of both their lives. Then a local man is murdered. Mackey is emotionally shut down about his life, but protective of others. Lavender is a pillar of strength in her family, but distrusting of Mackey and guarded around him. Can they find common ground amidst this treachery and turmoil?GreenStar Burst

Excerpt:

Chapter Five

Lavender Raines

Yawning, my mother entered the kitchen with a lazy, graceful sway. She tightened her fuchsia kimono-style bathrobe and headed for the coffee maker. “I didn’t sleep well at all last night.”

I placed my coffee mug on the kitchen table and swiveled in my chair to face her. “Was the guestroom bed uncomfortable?”

“Well … no, Darling, not really.” She waved, limp-wristed, as if she were shushing me. “I need to get some coffee in me.”

“On the counter. Help yourself.”

She poured coffee into a mug. “I simply can’t understand why George’s parents didn’t fly in to attend his memorial service.”

If I cared for hard liquor, which I didn’t, I might want a shot in my coffee before long. “Mother, you know Marianne has early onset dementia. Henry doesn’t want her to be told George is gone. Besides they recently moved into an assisted living apartment in Seattle and are still settling in.” The fact was neither of his parents had any idea their son’s death certificate and funeral papers had been falsified to make it appear he’d died while visiting them. I went along with this charade because I had no idea who was behind George’s murder, or why. I was afraid for Kendall’s safety, as well as my own and my mother’s.

“Yes, yes, of course.” She added two percent milk and artificial sweetener to her mug and stirred.

“What a pretty bathrobe.” I hoped to change the topic of conversation.

She brought her mug to the table and sat opposite me. “This old thing? I got it several years ago at this marvelous little shop when your father and I were in Santa Barbara. Now he’s gone, and George is gone. It’s just us three girls.” She tilted her head and slid her fingers through her highlighted, chin length hair.

Hard liquor was looking better and better. I slipped my hand behind my neck and scooped my hair out from under my knit robe that had seen better days. “Mother, we’ll be fine. You’ll see. We girls will pull through.”

She ran her French manicured index finger around the rim of her mug. “I want more for you and Kendall than pulling through. Really, dear, this house is not in good shape. You should sell it and come live with me in Virginia Beach.”

I stifled a gasp at the same time that Kendall lurched into the kitchen. “Sell the house? No, never. This is Dad’s house. We have to keep it.”

I stood and hurried over to her. “Honey, Grandma was just thinking out loud.”

“Kendall, darling, it isn’t ladylike to eavesdrop.” My mother’s sing-song rhythm was light, with a softness to it.

Kendall pouted. “I wasn’t eavesdropping. I was coming into the kitchen to get coffee.”

I sat down at the table and kept to myself that I’d also been unable to sleep. In the wee hours, selling the house had very briefly crossed my mind. “The house does have a few projects still left to be done. George finished the living room, dining room, and kitchen. Only the bedrooms need a little cosmetic touch-up.”

“Both bathrooms need a complete renovation. The master bath is very outdated. Really, Darling, there’s not even a hint of open concept. With your talent in home décor, you should know that.” My mother wriggled her nose.

“Grandma, you make it sound like Daddy didn’t provide a good place for us to live.”

“Kendall, darling, I’m expressing my feelings. Would you like me to be dishonest with you and your mother?”

Kendall smacked her mug on the countertop, and liquid sloshed over its brim. She ignored it. “Daddy’s memorial service was only yesterday. So, Grandma, I don’t mean to be rude, but if you can’t put him in a good light, don’t say anything.”

She rushed out of the room, her eyes brimming with tears.

Lavender Raines, Afternoon 

A walk along the waterfront might calm my jangled nerves. I’d been a walking enthusiast for years and had been known to go for miles. Sunrise Boulevard wasn’t that far away and was a lovely stroll along the beach.

I slipped into and tied my running shoes. Did I need a sweater? I checked my phone for the weather report. High seventies. No sweater. I’d be exerting myself, and that would keep me warm enough. I slipped the phone into the diminutive leather bag slung across my body.

After a slow trot to the end of our driveway, I turned and inspected the house. A white concrete ranch on residential Catalina Street with a large picture window, a dark-blue front door, and a couple of palm trees in front. We lived in a respectable neighborhood. George had wanted the house. After growing up in the sizable two-story colonial with a pool I thought of as the house my father bought for my mother, I would’ve preferred a three-bedroom townhouse. Still, George, Kendall, and I had been happy here. So, why had I felt so defensive during my mother’s manipulative harangue, feeling almost as if our house was a hovel?

While walking along Sunrise Boulevard at a leisurely pace, the blahs of self-recrimination had set in and settled. When I pulled my gaze up from the sidewalk, I realized I’d turned the corner onto Mystic Drive. I found myself standing before Funky Boutiking and immediately felt a bit better. The quaint shop sat behind the graceful yet casual Blue Dolphin Boutique Hotel.

Ribault Beach benefited from naturally occurring, softly rolling dunes which somewhat protected the city during fierce storms. Sunrise Boulevard, one of the city’s major thoroughfares ran north and south along the beach. At its southernmost end, a small concrete and steel bridge crossed a short expanse of ocean to Cannoner Island.

“Such a funny shape.” I placed my flattened hand over my sunglasses to block out the hot sun and stepped to the side, trying to get a better view of the small island. Not used to talking to myself, a giggle bubbled up. Then I giggled again. “Looks like my feet brought me here for a reason.”

Recalling the often-told tale charmed me. French Huguenot settlers in the mid-1500s gave the island that name because its seaward end rose higher out of the ocean than its landward end. They thought it resembled a cannon. Of course, the name had long since lost its French spelling and pronunciation– and Ribault Beach had also lost its French pronunciation.

I turned toward the pale yellow 1950s bungalow that was Funky Boutiking and placed my foot on the first step. Should I go in? “I don’t want to be a burden.” This talking to myself was weird.

The house rested on a foundation of concrete blocks two-feet-high with spaces between them which would allow a rushing storm surge to pass underneath. The bungalow sported a craftsman-style stone porch with concrete steps and blue painted wooden pillars. It was a sturdy little structure.

I held onto the railing and walked up the steps and onto the porch which displayed outdoor and indoor pieces of furniture for sale. I continued into the store.

Abigail Hunter stood at the front counter, behind the register, worry reflected in her eyes.

A well-dressed, thirty-something man on the opposite side of the wooden counter faced her. Randall Creston, another of George’s distant relatives. He hadn’t come to the memorial service. He and his family lived in Crescent Beach, just north of our city. We hadn’t seen him or heard from him for so long, all memory of him had escaped me, until now.

He slapped his hand on the counter. “You and your sister are two stubborn old ladies.”

Abigail winced but still managed a thin smile. “It’s probably true we’re set in our ways.”

“I’ll be back again, and we’ll continue this conversation. I have an appointment in less than twenty minutes.” He turned on his heel and stalked off.

His shoulder nearly brushed against mine as he left. He grunted and nodded. “Good day.”

“Good … day.” I turned and watched him rush out the door, not sure if he recognized me.

When I turned back, Abigail clasped and unclasped her hands.

I walked up to the register. “Are you all right? Wasn’t that Randall Creston?”

“Our cousin Randall, the lawyer. He helps with our finances, such as they are.”

Olivia peeked out from the behind a display toward the back of the store. The sizable bungalow accommodated a small two-bedroom apartment in the back and sat on a half-acre lot. “Is he gone?” She noticed me and rushed over. “Lavender, I’m so glad to see you. I just put on water for tea. Would you like to join us?”

“Thank you, that would make my day.”

The kettle whistled, and the petite woman spun around and hurried to the back.

I returned my attention to Abigail, wondering if I’d just witnessed elder abuse, or perhaps intimidation. “This is none of my business, but it seemed as if Olivia was trying to avoid ‘cousin’ Randall’. I made quotation marks in the air with my fingers.

“Lavender, honey, you have your own troubles. Come sit and have tea with us.” Abigail walked toward an alcove to the side of the front counter.

I sat on the cushioned bench built into the alcove. “Abigail, you and Olivia are my husband’s family. If you’re having any problems, you can come to me.”

Abigail settled her long frame into the seat of an upholstered chair. It was positioned to one side of a small coffee table. “You’re sweet, just like Georgie.”

Olivia bustled in carrying a tray which she placed on the coffee table. “You’ll have to add milk and sugar to your taste. Please help yourself to home-baked oatmeal cookies.” She sat in an upholstered chair on the other side of the coffee table in front of the alcove.

I added a splash of milk to my tea, and then took a cookie which I rested in a napkin on my lap. “Olivia, Randall Creston nearly collided with me as he rushed out.”

She rolled her eyes and mixed two heaping spoons of sugar into her tea. “He’s a very busy man. His clients are the cream of the crop in Ribault Beach. He wouldn’t even come here otherwise, except for this business deal he’s all worked up about.”

“You and Abigail are also his clients?” I sipped my tea.

Olivia shifted in her seat. “We’re his poor church-mouse relatives. His charity account.”

 

ACTS OF MALICE IS NOW ON PRE-ORDER ON AMAZON

NIKE N. CHILLEMI’S AUTHOR PAGE ON AMAZON

 

KNIGHT IN SHINING APRON by Carole Brown ~ a review

knight-in-shining-armor

 

KNIGHT IN SHINING APRON is a a cozy foodie mystery, yes. Yet it goes beyond that to become a psychological cozy tackling the issue of domestic abuse thoroughly, but also in a manner that won’t distress readers of cozies and classical mysteries. This is a well written story.

Sir Joel Peterman, an actual British knight who is a bonafide gourmet chef, is mistaken for a new hire dishwasher and gets off on the wrong foot with Starli Cameron, the owner of Apple Blossoms restaurant in West Virginia.

Starli has a lot of issues. She was severely abused by her deceased husband and as the novel opens is being stalked and threatened by her police officer brother-in-law. P.O. Roland Stratton, well respected in the town, blames her for his drunken brother’s deadly car crash. Then there’s the sulking assistant chef, the scheming kitchen worker, and the cloying banker who is in love with her. There are more twists and turn and red herrings than you can shake a spatula at.

The novel captures small town business rivalries to perfection. The culinary aspects of the novel ring true. After a break in at the restaurant where the freezer has been deliberately left open, Joel knows exactly how to save the meat. I particularly liked his menu ideas and wanted to eat dinner at Apple Blossoms.

Amazon Purchase Link

“Humorcide” ~ Is it a bird, a plane, a new sub-genre?

Murder Book

Is it when you hate the heinous killer, but you’re still laughing?

Or, maybe, when the twists and turns give you thrills and chills and giggles?

hand gun 2

Humorcide…a dealy funny murder mystery. Grittier than a cozy, which are usually laced with humor. A classic mystery, a whodunit, that gives the reader hearty chuckles and belly laughs.

Harmful Intent, Framed

HARMFUL INTENT is “humorcide.” A deadly funny whodunit. Twists and turns, thrills and chills, a budding romance. Husband of one year cheated on her. Deputy thinks she migh’ve shot him dead. The laughs roll with the action when a when a Yankee female sleuth messes in west Texas murder case to clear her name.

Okay…so gimme an idea what it’s about…

Betrayal runs in private investigator Veronica “Ronnie” Ingels’ family. So, why is she surprised when her husband of one year cheats on her? The real shock is his murder, with the local lawman pegging her as the prime suspect.

Ronnie Ingels is a Brooklyn bred private investigator who travels to west Texas, where her cheating husband is murdered. As she hunts the killer to clear her name, she becomes the hunted.

Deputy Sergeant Dawson Hughes, a former Army Ranger, is a man folks want on their side. Only he’s not so sure at first, he’s on the meddling New York PI’s side. As the evidence points away from her, he realizes the more she butts in, the more danger she attracts to herself.

Sweet, askance romance, warm intimacy, sophisticated themes presented tastefully…that’s HARMFUL INTENT.

Holding Out For A Significant Crime Fiction Hero ~ Heroine

Detective, In Morgue

One of the best things about crime fiction is getting into the head and heart of an incredible hero/heroine. Does he have to be the nice and honorable guy next door who morphs into a superheo? No, he doesn’t! Not for me!

She could be that stalwart homicide detective, a beleaguered single mom with a defiant kid, and she’s fighting crime against all odds. He could be highly flawed. Perhaps a heavy drinker or former alcoholic fighting his own demons as he labors on to catch a heinous killer. I want the hero or heroine to arouse my emotions. I want to feel their distress, root for them when the odds against them seem astronomical, and fear for them when they encounter danger  as they run their course.

Antisocial is perfectly fine for a crime fiction hero/heroine — as long as the character gets their hooks in me. They “gotta have heart” to get me to recommend the book. No matter how jaded they’ve become (and I love jaded heroes), on some level they have to believe they’re there to protect and serve. They have to seek justice for innocent victims of crime. And when the victim is not so innocent, even if it’s their um-teenth homicide, they can’t be indifferent to murder’s pain and suffering…even if they want to be.

I also go for a heroine/hero who is aware of the inherent injustice within society where there are always haves and have nots. I can appreciate a detective who gives a basically good bloke who’s made a few mistakes a break. The ghettos are populated with mostly ordinary citizens who are trying to provide for their families and have a good life. My type of hero/heroine would be angered by predators who commit atrocious acts, even if they hail from the underclass. My type of heroine/hero would relentless pursue the killer no matter if she/he were from society’s A-list, the boardroom, or the hood.

Above all else, I have to believe the hero/heroine is a cop. If you’ve taken, or know someone who’s taken a criminal justice course in college, then you might be familiar with the proverbial lecture on “the police officer’s psychological profile.” Police officers take psych tests when they apply for their jobs. So, it could be argued that the police force choses a certain personality for the job. Be that as it may, there is a “cop personality.” Police departments tend to be looking for officers who are efficient, pragmatic, conservative, cynical, suspicious, and action oriented. Even sleepy little villages who have never experienced a homicide want this type of police officer. In today’s law enforcement environment the smallest of police forces are incredibly professional. The local yokel who makes it onto the force is, for the most part, a thing of the past. Barney Fife is no more. Of course we write fiction…and if the story is a cozy, a Barney Fife might be just what the author desires.

For those writing detective stories, suspense, and/or thrillers that more realistic “cop personality” might give the main character traits that garner acclaim for him on the job. However, they can wreak havoc in a marriage and as a parent (cynical, suspicious). So our crime fiction hero/heroine might be doing well in the police department carving out a distinguished career while her/his private life is falling apart. This makes for interesting, multi-dimensional reading.

Graphic courtesy of Microsoft online images

ENTANGLED by Barbara Ellen Brink ~ a review

Entangled

 

Author Barbara Ellen Brink has been connected to the Grace Awards for a couple of years. Her supernatural thriller SPLIT SENSE won the Grace Award 2011 in the Speculative Fiction category. She was also a judge in the Young Adult category in 2011. So, it’s an honor and a pleasure to let everyone know how much I enjoyed the first book in her California winery mystery series.

 

*****

Sometimes long past memories are like ghosts coming back to haunt us.

Minneapolis divorce attorney, Wilhelmina “Billie” Fredrickson, inherits her adventurer uncle’s Californian winery. She’s determined not to leave her present life by moving to the left coast. She’s merely going to attend to all the legal details and then put the winery on the market. She soon begins having the reoccurring nightmares she used to have as a girl after a boy in her high school attempted to rape her at a drunken party. He didn’t get too far, as she broke his nose with a wine bottle, giving him a concussion. This is no helpless heroine, yet she is plagued by buried and conflicting emotions from her past she’s rather duck than deal with.

Arriving in California, Billie is immediately attracted to attorney Handle Parker, who was her Uncle Jack’s legal eagle. However, she can’t shake the feeling that he seems to resent her inheriting the Fredrickson Winery. One of the lines I most enjoyed in the novel is…I knew he questioned the validity of my receiving my uncle’s holdings, as though I’d conspired to put a voodoo curse on Jack before he died, which was preposterous since I was raised Lutheran.

Author Barbara Ellen Brink has crafted complex characters. Billie has many secrets, most of them hidden from herself. She’s got a complex relationship with Sabrina, her protective mother. And Billie has a tendency to run away from her problems. She’s definitely pushing down disturbing memories of a long lost summer at the winery twenty-years ago when as a girl she first met Handle as well as the many not so subtle hints that her mother has quite a few secrets of her own.

A break-in at the winery and the discovery of troubling photographs forces Billie to face her past. Then there’s vandalism which is a serious setback to her plan for putting the winery on a local winery tour. And let’s not forget the attempt upon her life. All these add up to one enticing mystery read. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself yearning for an aromatic glass of California wine and perhaps a slice or two of good cheddar.

wine grapes

Amazon/Kindle: http://amzn.to/14iCFIC

Barnes and Noble/Nook. http://bit.ly/14y0NuT

 

Recipes From the Kitchens of Sanctuary Point

Baking, Apfelstrudel, Apple Strudel

Some say I write “Foodie Fiction,” while others say I’m a crime fictionista. I’m okay with both of those. How about I’m a crime fictionista who writes foodie fic that also happens to be action packed, classic, historical whodunits with romance set in the mid-1940s?

Whatever the case may be, I love to pour over recipes. And here are two favorite recipes of mine that would’ve been used my characters in my Sanctuary Point series.

Apple Strudel is mouth watering. My paternal grandmother used to make this delicacy and our entire family enjoyed it so much. It’s a fairly complex confection to bake. There is several steps to it. The end result is well worth the effort. An amazing thing happened after I had finished writing BURNING HEARTS and my editor had the manuscript. I was reading it over and realized Mrs. Brogna was amazingly like my grandmother. I remember my grown father stealing a confection before she was ready to set it out on the table. She smacked him on the behind with a towel and chased my dad around the kitchen table while he laughed. That is something Mrs. Brogna would do.

Apfelstrudel – If I had Mrs. Brogna’s old-fashioned apple strudel recipe, this would be it.

Apple Strudel Dough:

2 ½ C flour

¼ tsp. salt

2 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. vegetable oil

13 tbsp. water

1. Combine the ingredients in a bowl.

2. Stir with a spoon until the dough forms a ball.

3. Knead the dough until it is smooth and no longer sticky.

4. Form the dough into a ball and coat it with additional oil. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and allow to sit at room temperature for an hour.

5. On a well-floured surface, roll the dough into a 9X13 rectangle.

6. Keep surface well-floured and gently flip the dough rectangle, keeping the long side toward you. Roll out as thinly as you can without breaking the dough. About 3 ft. X 2 ft. or slightly more.

Apple Strudel Filling:

½ C dark raisins

6  medium to large chopped, peeled and cored Granny Smith apples (not as fine as diced)

¾ C granulated sugar

1 tsp. lemon zest (grated lemon rind)

4 tbsp. lemon juice

1 tsp. cinnamon

1. Mix all ingredients together.

Preparing the Apple Strudel:

1 C melted butter

½ C white unseasoned breadcrumbs

1. Brush dough with slightly more than half the melted butter.

2. Evenly sprinkle the buttered dough with breadcrumbs.

3. Spread the filling along the longest edge of the dough as if it were a log.

4. Begin to roll the dough and the log of filling, slowly and gently.

5. Place the rolled strudel seam down in a horseshoe shape on a greased baking sheet.

6. Brush the remaining butter over the top of the strudel. Sprinkle a tiny bit of granulated sugar    on top.

7.Bake in a preheated oven at 375 degrees for 35 minutes. Serve either warm or at room temperature.

BH, Paper Back

BURNING HEARTS:

Can a sheltered young seamstress, disillusioned by the horrors of WWII, escape an arsonist/murderer who has killed her employer and mentor, while trying to decide if she can trust the dashing war hero who’s ridden into town on his Harley—who some say is the murderer?

Erica Brogna’s parents doted on her and taught her to think for herself. Many boys she grew up with had fallen in the WWII, shaking her childhood faith. In rides a handsome stranger, at the hour of her most desperate need. A woman who is her close friend and mentor is trapped in a burning house. After making an unsuccessful rescue attempt, Erica stands by as this man rushes into the inferno and carries her friend’s lifeless body out.

Lorne Kincade can’t out run his past on his Harley Davidson WLA, the civilian model of the motorcycle he rode in the war. He’s tried. He’s been a vagabond biker in the year since the war ended. His Uncle Ivar bequeathed him a ramshackle cottage in Sanctuary Point, on the Great South Bay of Long Island, NY and now he’d like to hope for a future again, repair the miniscule place, and settle down. The only problem is, a young woman with hair the color of mink is starting to get under his skin and that’s the last thing he needs

Amazon/Print and Kindle. http://amzn.to/1b9pulE

Barnes and Noble/Nook. http://bit.ly/16A4y0b

Kolache

Kolacke (the precursor of Linzer Tarts)

Renata Lenart made hers with raspberry jam and served them on New Year’s Day in GOODBYE NOEL, the Christmas/New Years themed novel in the Sanctuary Point series. If I had Renata Lenart’s recipe, this is what it would be.

1/2 C butter, softened
1 small package cream cheese (3 oz.), softened
1 1/4 C all-purpose flour
1/4 C jam (raspberry, strawberry, or apricot)
1/4 C confectioners’ sugar

1. Cream butter and cream cheese in a medium mixing bowl with an electric mixer, until fluffy. Add flour, and mix well.

2. Roll dough to 1/8-inch thickness on a lightly floured surface; cut into circles with a 2-inch round cutter.

3. Place 2 inches apart on lightly greased cookie sheet. Spoon 1/4 teaspoon of the jam on each cookie; fold opposite sides together slightly overlapping edges.

4. Bake at 375°F for 15 minutes.

5. Remove to wire racks to cool; sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar while still warm.

Makes about 2 dozen cookies.

Goodbye Noel

GOODBYE NOEL:

The first body is found under a trimmed Christmas tree, the second as they ring in the New Year (1947), the third goes head long out a window. Will a young pediatric nurse determined to make it on her own be able to care for an infant whose mother was murdered and escape the killer who has struck again? Can she trust the stalwart village detective with her life and her heart as he works to catch this killer before somebody else dies?

Pediatric nurse, Katrina Lenart, grew up strong willed and independent minded, while sharing her mother’s flair for high fashion. When the police chief gives her an orphaned baby to care for, her maternal instincts take over and she’s willing to fight anyone who might not have the infant’s best interests at heart, even the man she’s growing to love. After an attempt is made to kidnap the baby, she and the resolute village detective team up and do some sleuthing, undercover at a cult as well as at a fancy ball.

Detective Ian Daltry is a widower with a child and is not interested in a new love. Hunting a killer who stops at nothing has placed him in the position where he must protect a beautiful young woman he’s drawn to. Is there’s something he’s overlooked in analyzing the case? Will he find out what that is before this ruthless murderer kills someone he loves?

Amazon/Kindle. http://amzn.to/11L4fUc

Barnes and Noble/Nook. http://bit.ly/18TPVLc

Do you love delish baked goods? Love to pour through recipes? I especially love to do that right before a holiday. I’ll pile up stacks of cookbooks, some of them quite old, many of them with outstanding food photography. Then about a week before the holiday I’ll make myself a strong cup of black tea (perhaps Irish) and spend hours looking through recipes and making my holiday menu.

Nike. Pix

Do you enjoy reading “foodie fiction”?

What do you love about baking and baked goods?

Leave a comment…