Mutt Mysteries: Fun “Tails” of Mutts and Murder!

It’s my great pleasure to host FOUR authors today from the Mutt Mysteries series: Teresa Inge, Jayne Ormerod, Rosemary Shomaker, and Heather Weidner. They’re here to discuss their newly-released To Fetch a Scoundrel, a “fetching” collection of novellas from the authors who brought you To Fetch a Thief.

To begin, a message from the Mutt Mystery authors:
Thank you, Maggie King, for inviting the Mutt Mysteries authors to your blog. Whereas readers may be anxious about the COVID-19 virus, reading fiction is a useful diversion. Fiction serves to divert us as well as to unite us, as readers bathe in the familiar and recognize commonalities. In this blog, you’ll find yourself in the company of animal lovers and of mystery lovers. Enjoy getting to know the Mutt Mysteries authors as they share their backgrounds and story origins. When you pick up a copy of To Fetch a Scoundrel, your conscious may wistfully note pre-COVID-19 actions in the stories, as you realize we cannot attend car races like in “The Fast and the Furriest,” or gather in the private dog park for cocktails as characters do in “Pawsitively Scandalous,” or even visit a funeral home as in “Ruff Goodbye.” Perhaps your mind will work overtime assessing the changes Catt Ramsey in “A Doggone Scandal” must make to her Woof-Pack Dog Walkers business in this COVID-19 era. In all those cases, the Mutt Mysteries stories have taken your mind off your worries and hopefully provided a little entertainment.

How did the theme for the Mutt Mysteries series come about?TeresaWhen we began discussing our next collaboration, we met at the Williamsburg Winery in Williamsburg, Virginia to have lunch, a glass of wine, and brainstorm our future series together. We are also friends and have collaborated on several anthologies over the years, but decided this series would be titled the Mutt Mysteries Series and each book would be about “Four Fun Tails” of mysteries.

Jayne: To Fetch a Thief (our first book) came first, and we wrote stories based on the premise of “Four Fun ‘Tails’ of Theft and Murder.” The catch phrase Mutt Mysteries came about at a brainstorming session of the authors at the Williamsburg Winery. Amazing what a nice bottle of Cabernet can do to spark creativity.

Rosie: The four of us worked together on other mystery fiction writing projects, so we respected and trusted one another. We discovered that a love for our dogs also connected us, and voilà! Mutt Mysteries was born!

Heather: Teresa Inge came up with the original book title. It combines her love of dogs and classic movies. Jayne Ormerod came up with the title for our series. 

Tell us about your story in To Fetch a Scoundrel.
Teresa: “A Doggone Scandal” features Catt Ramsey, owner of the Woof-Pack Dog Walkers, who is back on the case when she receives a mysterious note in her pet supply order. Convinced the sender’s motive is scandalous, Catt packs up her SUV and heads to the Outer Banks with her sister Em, family friend Jonathan Ray, and pups Cagney and Lacey to solve the mystery. 

Jayne: “Pawsitively Scandalous” is a cozy mystery, primarily set in and around the Grant’s Garden Dog Park. Yappy Hour occurs on Friday afternoons while dogs romp and owners gossip . . . and, it turns out, solve mysteries. 

Rosie: I had an idea, a setting, and a main character. I wanted to write about a sinister happening in a funeral home and how we each have scoundrels in our lives, with different degrees of scoundrel-ness. In “Ruff Goodbye,” the reader considers whether wrongdoing is related to ego, mental illness, purposeful inattention, or something else. After debating with whom to align my canine character, I injected one dog into the story, and another dog appeared in my mind. Both dogs are pivotal in “Ruff Goodbye.”

Heather: Cassidy Green just wants to keep her racetrack business from crashing. When an altercation breaks out between two race teams at the driver meeting, it adds one more problem to her already full plate. Cassidy gets more than she bargains for when Oliver, her Rottweiler, finds one of the star drivers dead in her garage. She hopes her fuzzy director of security will help uncover clues to reveal the killer before the bad publicity drives business into the wall.

Does the dog in your story solve the crime? Or is she/he happy to cheer on your human sleuth?
TeresaCagney and Lacey are hot on the trail with their owner Catt Ramsey to find out who sent the mysterious note. By barking, biting, growling and alerting Catt to dangerous situations, they help solve the murder, mystery, and scandal.

Jayne: I don’t want to give too much away. Suffice it to say Natti, the black Lab mix, plays a critical role.

Rosie: Dogs signal problems and identify bad buys in “Ruff Goodbye,” so their role is protective. They also serve to give the characters an audience for their processing of what’s happening in the story—quiet but attentive sidekicks!

Heather: Yes, Oliver (the Rottweiler) is director of security at the racetrack. In the story, he helps to uncover some clues that lead to the villain.

Luke and Lena, Teresa’s dogs


Tell us about your human sleuth in To Fetch a Scoundrel.

TeresaWhen Catt Ramsey was laid off her corporate event planning job and discovered her husband was cheating on her, she moved into the room above her sister Em’s garage and started the Woof-Pack Dog Walking service.

Jayne: Pilar Pruitt is a 45-year-old smart, sassy, hardworking woman who owns her own party planning business. There is an ex in her distant past, but no current romantic entanglements. Her strength is her ingenuity, especially when it comes to creating signature cocktails for her events. Her weakness is junk food, especially Cheez Doodles. She’s too much of a fraidy-cat to have ever considered a career in crime solving, and yet she is the driving force in cracking the case. Life is funny that way, isn’t it?

Rosie: Bar owner Len Hayes mourns one friend’s death as he witnesses the buildup to another friend’s death. When evidence incriminating his wife Joyce and his own animosity toward his frenemy become issues, Len tries to put the puzzle pieces together. Two dogs, Cloud and Clarion, fetch clues.

Heather: Cassidy Green was a marketing specialist until she inherited a small racetrack from her father. Now she spends her days trying to come up with ideas to keep the attraction viable.

Does your story feature your own dog, or dogs?
Teresa: “A Doggone Scandal” features Cagney and Lacey, two Yorkshire Terriers who belong to a friend of the authors.

Jayne: Natti is a compilation of the six dogs we’ve owned over the years and a few habits I’ve found endearing in friends’ dogs.

Rosie: Dogs I’ve known and loved figure in my stories only as background to animate the canine characters and to enrich characters’ interactions with the dogs.

Heather: No. I have two Jack Russell Terriers. Oliver is based on my Uncle’s Rottweiler.

Tell us about the pets you’ve loved throughout your life.
Teresa: I’ve mainly had German Shepherds since they are so beautiful, loyal, protecting and loving to my family. They’re our best friends.

Jayne: I lived on a very busy road, so we went through quite a few kitties. I learned not to get too attached. Finally, my parents wised up and kept the cat indoors. Punchy was a Siamese, and could be cuddly, but could also be mean as a wet hen. Once I married, we made the switch of our allegiance to dogs, always mutts, most from shelters, one picked out of a cardboard box at a flea market in Charleston, SC. He was so tiny! Grew to over 100 pounds! Lesson learned there!

Rosie: We just sent our family dog over the rainbow bridge. We got him as a puppy as one of my kids entered her teenage years as a way to outer-focus her attention and her energies. This dog continued to serve as an outer-focus and friend to my younger child and to me. He was a great dog. The dog we had when my kids were very young was an exceptionally calm and motherly dog whose life ended tragically. She was an exceptional dog whose contribution to my life deserves its own, longer story. I had a dog when I was a child, too. As I reflect these days, in my 20s, I learned a lot about my boyfriends by seeing them with their dogs.

Heather: There have been a lot. My favorite was probably my grandmother’s Boston terrier. I picked him out. He was a black and white bundle of energy with a black dot on the top of his head.

 

Tiller and Scout, Jayne’s dogs


What do your pets do when you’re writing?
TeresaLuke and Lena sit at my feet when I am writing. We named the dogs after my husband’s grandparents.

Jayne: Tiller and Scout are my current mutts. If I take my laptop to the sofa, they snuggle up with me, and sometimes “help” when their noses hit the touch screen and delete blocks of text (I have learned to back up frequently!). If I sit at the table, they sleep in a chair or look out a window or go out in the backyard and get into trouble. Someday they WILL make it all the way to China before I stop them!

Rosie: My dog napped nearby until he knew to drag me away from the computer. He’d rouse and march over to me with that look in his eyes that said, “Enough, boring lady! Let’s go outside!” He was always right, and we’d take walks or play in our fenced backyard.

Heather: My JRTs have beds in the office, so they usually play or nap while I’m writing. The couch in the library is next to a sunny window, so if I can’t find them in the office, that’s where they usually are.

Name your favorite stories, movies, and shows that feature dogs as a prominent character.
TeresaOf course the classic LassieRin Tin Tin, and Benji still remain my favorite.

Jayne: The Pokey Little Puppy has had a tremendous influence on my life. I always make sure I travel with “the pack” and don’t dawdle. We also make frequent references to Ribsy by Beverly Clearly (One of our dogs was scarily thin!). When it comes to movies, I did find The Secret Life of Pets hilarious! Had to sneak into the theater to watch the animated film without the excuse of a child (I was the only one that day!) but laughed because the personalities were so true! TV show might be obvious, as I am a mystery writer: Scooby-Doo!

Rosie: I’m old enough to remember Lassie on TV, and I liked the rural setting. For years and years, I wanted a collie! I’m a sucker for Wilson Rawls’ Where the Red Fern Grows novel and older movies. Jack London’s Call of the Wild is a classic, and I look forward to seeing the Harrison Ford movie version. You gotta love the 1995 Balto movie starring Kevin Bacon. I can go on and on!

Heather: There are so many. My favorite dog is Snoopy. As a kid, I loved the “Benji” movies and books.

How did you decide on the novella form for the Mutt Mysteries series?
Teresa: We met and brainstormed “Four Fun Tails” of mysteries and decided each author would contribute a novella.

Jayne: With four authors involved, and a desired 60,000-word novel, we asked each author to write a 15,000-word story, and voilà.

Rosie: Having met through an anthology collection of fifteen plus stories from different authors, and contributed to other multi-author anthologies, we wanted to simplify and explore a new direction. Ha! There is nothing simple about collaborating on a book. The 15,000 to 20,000 word novella format allowed Teresa and me to stretch from writing short stories into producing a longer work and allowed the two novel writers, Heather and Jayne, to schedule in this mid-length format with their other work.

Heather: This group had done short story anthologies together for many years. We all love animals, and during a planning lunch one day, we decided to make the mysteries a little longer. What’s better than dogs and mysteries?

Current, Rosie’s dog

Tell us about yourself personally. Where are you from, what jobs have you held in the past, and what do you love most about writing?
TeresaI live in  Southeastern Virginia with my husband and two dogs, Luke and Lena. Our daughters are grown but live close by and stop by often. I have worked in the financial industry for nearly 30 years as an administrative assistant. I love to write cozy mysteries and create strong, female protagonists who own their own business and can solve murder and crimes on the side.

Jayne: I’m originally from a small town in Ohio. After graduating with a BS in Accountancy, I married a naval officer. Best thing about that is we have always (except for one tour in Memphis, TN) lived near the ocean. As often as we moved, it was hard to build an accounting career. So, my work-history is long and varied. I’m no spring chicken, and there are too many jobs to list here. Perhaps the most interesting one was my stint as a Wal-Mart Stripper. No, I did not stand by the shopping carts and rip my clothes off; I stripped the covers off unsold paperback books to send back to the publisher for credit. The books themselves were tossed in the trash. (Yes, it hurt my writerly-heart terribly to do that!) My current side-hustle is Realtor. (I love looking at houses! And so many interesting people to incorporate into my stories!) The things I love about writing are that I can “work” in my pajamas, and that I can use my wild imagination, and thus maintain my sanity.

Rosie: I grew up in the Metro DC area and benefited from its political and international environments and from strong public schools. I stayed in Virginia for college and graduate school and now live in Central Virginia. Long, long ago, I was a police dispatcher for a bit. I was also an aide to a Virginia General Assembly delegate, and I worked much of my professional life as a data and policy analyst for state government. I love fiction writing because I don’t have to limit myself to facts and data as I did in my jobs. Although, I must admit that a creative, broad perspective was useful when analyzing state government policy!

Heather: I’m originally from Virginia Beach, and I’ve lived in Central Virginia for most of my adult life. I’ve had a variety of jobs through the years. I’ve been a CK (cop’s kid), receptionist, technical writer, Director of Special Projects, college professor, marketing specialist, technical writer (did this one twice), software tester, and IT governance manager. I’ve always wanted to be a writer. I love that I get to share ideas and stories with others.

Tell us about your other writing.
TeresaMy story “Riverboat Revenge” will be in the Coastal Crimes: Mysteries by the Sea anthology to be published by Wildside Press in April 2020.

Jayne: I’m a true-blue cozy mystery writer with more than a dozen titles to my credit, most set along a body of water. Many involve a little tipple. All invoke humor where possible. My stand-alone novels are The Blond Leading the Blond and Blond Luck. Look for a full list of my novellas and short stories on my website.

Rosie: Several of my women’s fiction and mystery short stories can be found in the Mozark Press A Shaker of Margaritas series and the Koehler Books Virginia is for Mysteries series. “Heads or Tails” is a fun story of mine in Wittier Than Thou: Tales of Whimsy and Mirth inspired by the life and works of John Greenleaf Whittier. All proceeds from Wittier benefit the Whittier Birthplace museum in Haverhill, Massachusetts. A portion of proceeds from the Mutt Mysteries books is donated to animal welfare charities.

Heather: All of my stories are set in Virginia. I write where I know. My private investigator series (that has three novels) is set in and around Richmond. I’ve written three novellas for the Mutt Mysteries series (The third comes out next year.), and I’ve written short stories for several mystery anthology collections. All of my stories are humorous mysteries with strong female sleuths (and sometimes canine sidekicks).

What’s next for the Mutt Mysteries series?
Jayne: We’re working on To Fetch a Villain: Four Fun “Tails” of Miscreants and Murder. Should be out in 2021.

Anything you wish I’d asked? Anything you’d like to add?
TeresaThanks for letting me join!

Jayne: The other contributing authors (Teresa, Rosemary, and Heather)  are the best! We have had a lot of fun working together. Road trips for vittles or vino, it’s always great to meet for planning and plotting sessions.

Rosie: Support local authors. Read a mystery. Comment on social media about what you liked about a story, book, or author event. Post short reviews on bookseller websites about local authors’ books.

Disney and Riley, Heather’s Jack Russell terriers

Where can readers find To Fetch a Scoundrel?
Amazon    ♦   Barnes & Noble   ♦   Kobo   ♦   BAM! Books a Million

Mutt Mysteries has its own website/blog, Twitter page, and Facebook page!
Blog
: MuttMysteries.blogspot.com
Twitter: @MuttMysteries1
Facebook: @MuttMysteries

Stay tuned to the @MuttMysteries Facebook page for upcoming online and in-person events!

Please share your personal social media links with us.
Teresa:
Website   ♦   Facebook   ♦   Twitter   ♦   Instagram

Jayne:
Website   ♦   Jayne Ormerod’s Life’s a Beach blog   ♦   Facebook

Rosemary:
Instagram   ♦   Twitter   ♦   Goodreads

Heather:
Website and Blog   ♦   Twitter   ♦   Facebook   ♦   Instagram   ♦  Goodreads   ♦   Amazon Authors   ♦   Pinterest   ♦   LinkedIn   ♦  BookBub   ♦   AllAuthor   ♦   YouTube

Mutt Mysteries #1

Write What (and Where) You Know: Location as Character

by Heather Weidner

Thank you so much for letting me visit. I’m Heather Weidner, and I write the Delanie Fitzgerald mysteries, Secret Lives and Private Eyes, The Tulip Shirt Murders, and Glitter, Glam, and Contraband. All are set in and around Central Virginia, primarily in Chesterfield, Amelia, Henrico, Farmville, Petersburg, Goochland, and Richmond.

My husband and I (and our two crazy Jack Russell terriers) have called his region home since 1991. I’m a transplant from Virginia Beach, but I love the Central Virginia area. The region with its mix of rural, suburbia, and urban neighborhoods is a great place to live and write novels. I work in downtown Richmond on a hill above the former Tredegar Ironworks with one of the best views in RVA. This region is home to the state capital, but in many ways, it’s still a close-knit community. And I’m excited to share the big city/small town feel of the area with my readers.

The location gives me a lot of freedom to develop my mystery in a world with trees, cows, farmland, suburbia, skyscrapers, and the mighty James River. My sleuth, Delanie Fitzgerald, is a spunky private investigator with a knack for getting in and out of humorous situations. She lives in a quaint Sears and Roebuck catalog bungalow that fits her quirky style. While there are some catalog homes in the Hopewell area, I took the liberty of moving one to Chesterfield County for my private eye. From 1908 to 1940, the homes were originally ordered and delivered by rail to the owners who assembled them on their property. Delanie’s home is the Yates model, and new, the price ranged from $1,812 to $2,058 in 1938.

Central Virginia is on the I-95 corridor, close to Washington, DC, the beach, and the mountains. My character zips around the countryside and through the city in her black Mustang. She investigates clues or tails suspects in and around many historic and popular locales, including: Belle Island, Bon Air, Brandermill, Byrd Park, Carytown, Church Hill, Kanawha Canal, Library of Virginia, Main Street Station, Maymont, the Poe Museum, and Shockoe Slip. In the back of my novels, I always include a short list of the locales that are real.

I also write short stories, and so far, these have all been set in Virginia. The idea for “Spring Cleaning” (Virginia is for Mysteries Volume II, 2016) came when we moved our offices at work. The moving company brought in large rolling bins for packing, and that gave me idea for some office spring cleaning when I realized the bin could hold a body.

Sometimes, I get ideas for crimes and capers from real cases, but I usually take liberties with the details. In my short story, “Washed up,” (Virginia is for Mysteries, 2014) a beat-up suitcase washes up on Chick’s Beach (Virginia Beach), and it’s filled with some mysterious contents. Back in the ‘80s, there was a real case where suitcases filled with body parts did wash up on beaches along the East Coast. In my story, I thought it would be interesting for beachgoers to find something old and sinister in an unexpected place.

In “Par for the Course” (50 Shades of Cabernet, 2017), a murder/accident (you decide) occurs on a Richmond golf course. While the city and its surroundings are real, I made up the golf course on the granite cliffs overlooking the James River. I try not to have horrific crimes occur at real locations.

In “Art Attack” in Deadly Southern Charm (2019), the murder takes place in a gallery in the Shockoe Bottom area of downtown Richmond.

While the story, characters, and the murders are fiction, many of the locales are real, and I hope it provides readers some insight into a region jam-packed with four hundred years of American history, unique restaurants, and Southern flair.

Glitter, Glam, and Contraband is Heather Weidner’s third novel in the Delanie Fitzgerald series. Her short stories appear in the Virginia is for Mysteries series, 50 Shades of Cabernet, and Deadly Southern Charm. Her novellas appear in The Mutt Mysteries series. She is a member of Sisters in Crime Central Virginia, Guppies, International Thriller Writers, and James River Writers.

Originally from Virginia Beach, Heather has been a mystery fan since Scooby-Doo and Nancy Drew. She lives in Central Virginia with her husband and a pair of Jack Russell terriers.

Heather earned her BA in English from Virginia Wesleyan University and her MA in American literature from the University of Richmond. Through the years, she has been a cop’s kid, technical writer, editor, college professor, software tester, and IT manager.

Synopsis of Glitter, Glam, and Contraband

Private investigator, Delanie Fitzgerald, and her computer hacker partner, Duncan Reynolds, are back for more sleuthing in Glitter, Glam and Contraband. In this fast-paced mystery, the Falcon Investigations team is hired to find out who is stealing from the talent at a local drag show. Delanie gets more than she bargains for and a few makeup tips in the process. Meanwhile, a mysterious sound in the ceiling of her office vexes Delanie. She uses her sleuthing skills to track down the source and uncover a creepy contraband operation.

Glitter, Glam, and Contraband features a strong female sleuth with a knack for getting herself in and out of humorous situations like helping sleazy strip club owner, Chaz Smith on his quest to become Richmond’s next mayor, tracking down missing reptiles, and uncovering hidden valuables from a 100-year-old crime with a Poe connection.

Book Links for Glitter, Glam, and Contraband

Amazon: https://amzn.to/36kd3ms

Apple Books: https://apple.co/2rxFTB6

Barnes and Noble: https://bit.ly/359T4H0

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/books/glitter-glam-and-contraband-by-heather-weidner

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/glitter-glam-and-contraband

Scribd: https://bit.ly/35lz83O

Connect with Heather

Website and Blog: http://www.heatherweidner.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/HeatherWeidner1

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HeatherWeidnerAuthor

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/heather_mystery_writer/

Goodreads: https://bit.ly/2sd357O

Amazon Authors: https://amzn.to/2LITTPh

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/HeatherBWeidner/

LinkedIn: https://bit.ly/2rpvvLQ

BookBub: https://bit.ly/36lib9P

AllAuthor: https://allauthor.com/profile/heatherweidner/

YouTube: https://bit.ly/349Wecz

Thanks for visiting, Heather, and best wishes as you continue your launch. I can’t wait to get my copy of Glitter, Glam, and Contraband. -Maggie 

 

 

 

The Natalie McMasters Mysteries

by Thomas A. Burns, Jr.

I write the Natalie McMasters Mysteries. Natalie McMasters is a detective for the new millennium. As the series opens, Nattie is twenty, short and blonde (OK, it’s bleached!), way cute, and a pre-law student at State. She’s also straight, or at least she thinks so. To put herself through school, she’s moonlighting as a private detective trainee at her uncle Amos Murdoch’s 3M Detective Agency, where the most exciting thing she does is sit in a car, staking out people who’ve claimed workers’ compensation to be sure they’re hurt as badly as they say. It’s the perfect gig for a college student, because she can study on the job. But one day she directly confronts a subject on a stakeout, and Amos fires her. That’s the plot of the first Natalie McMasters short story, Stakeout!, which you can read for free on my website.

Stripper! audio cover

In Stripper!, the first novel, Nattie meets another student who bears an uncanny resemblance to her, and everything in her life changes. When her new best friend is brutally murdered and Amos is critically injured, Nattie immerses herself in the seamy world of web cams and strip clubs to hunt the killer. Her investigation forces her to reassess many of the ideas that she’s lived by her whole life and do things she’s never considered before – strip on a stage, question her sexuality, and rediscover the meaning of love itself. Nattie eventually exposes a drug ring, police corruption, and an assassin-for-hire online. Then she stumbles upon the true face of evil, and her encounter does not leave her unscathed.

Revenge! is the second Natalie McMasters novel. A steamy video of Nattie making love appears on the campus-wide closed-circuit TV system. That’s only the first of a series of distressing events that affects every aspect of Nattie’s life and threatens the well-being of her family and friends as well. What could Nattie have possibly done in her short life to deserve the callous revenge her unseen tormentor is so brutally exacting?

In the third book, Trafficked!, Nattie must trace the most important person in her life – who doesn’t want to be found – through the squalid sex world of New York City. Even with help from old and new friends, she will need more persistence and courage than she’s ever shown before if she is to prevail in her most difficult and personal challenge.

To make Nattie available to a wider audience, I’ve decided to enter the audiobook market, currently the fastest growing segment of the publishing industry, with Stripper! You’ll be able to download Stripper! on your phone, plug the phone into the audio system in your car and get your daily mystery fix during your commute. Some Audible books (available on Amazon) also have the Whispersync feature, which lets you listen or read your book on Kindle, and updates either the print or the audio file as you switch back and forth.

The narrator of an audiobook is arguably as important as the author, because a poor narrator can ruin an otherwise great book. The narrator for Stripper! is the talented Lisa Ware, who captures Nattie’s voice perfectly, as well as those of the other diverse characters in Stripper! I’m sure you’ll find her work enjoyable. For more on Lisa, visit her Facebook page.

The audio version of Stripper! is scheduled for release sometime in November, 2019. Look for it on Amazon.

I’m also looking for audiobook reviewers. Anyone interested can contact me, and I’ll send you a credit (provided by Audible) for a free audio copy if you’ll commit to leaving a review on Amazon.

About the Author

Thomas A. Burns, Jr. is the author of the Natalie McMasters Mysteries. He was born and grew up in New Jersey, attended Xavier High School in Manhattan, earned B.S degrees in Zoology and Microbiology at Michigan State University and a M.S. in Microbiology at North Carolina State University. He currently resides in Wendell, North Carolina. As a kid, Tom started reading mysteries with the Hardy Boys, Ken Holt and Rick Brant, and graduated to the classic stories by authors such as A. Conan Doyle, Dorothy Sayers, John Dickson Carr, Erle Stanley Gardner and Rex Stout, to name a few. Tom has written fiction as a hobby all of his life, starting with Man from U.N.C.L.E. stories in marble-backed copybooks in grade school. He built a career as a technical, science and medical writer and editor for nearly thirty years in industry and government. Now that he’s truly on his own as a novelist, he’s excited to publish his own mystery series, as well as to contribute stories about his second most favorite detective to the MX Books of New Sherlock Holmes Stories.

Buy Links

Stripper! (audio): 

Stripper! (non-audio): https://amzn.to/2JoBINS

Revenge!https://amzn.to/2Wf5WYO

Trafficked!https://amzn.to/368TgHp

Connect with Tom

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/541595279667727/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/3Mdetective
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/3mdetective/?hl=en
Tumblr: https://nataliemcmasters.tumblr.com/
Website & blog: https://www.3mdetectiveagency.com/

 

Bradley Harper: Forensics …  or “Whodunnit?”

I welcome Bradley Harper to the blog. Brad is the author of Knife in the Fog, a pastiche novel that has Arthur Conan Doyle, Margaret Harkness, and Dr. Joseph Bell tackling the unresolved mystery of Jack the Ripper. Brad’s also one of the “Misters” in the Sisters in Crime Central Virginia chapter.

Today he tells us all about Forensics …  or “Whodunnit?” Take it away, Brad!

Aristotle said there are only three arguments: Blame, Values, and Choice.

Think of Professor Henry Hill in the musical, The Music Man, in his famous song, “We got trouble right here, right here in River City!” (The current situation is not acceptable to our values.)

“That starts with T and that rhymes with P and that stands for Pool!” (The new pool hall is to blame for the current situation.)

He goes on to suggest a community band would lead the youth back onto the path of righteousness, which is an argument of choice.

Arguments which center on assigning blame are called Forensics.

The oldest use of Forensic science I’ve found was three thousand years ago, and the detective in our story was a magistrate in a small village in China who happened upon the body of a woman hacked to death, near a field where some men were working. When he questioned them, they all denied any knowledge regarding her death, so he had them line up and lay their sickles on a table in front of them, instructing each man to stand beside his tool.

Imagine the scene now. It must have been a warm day for them to be out harvesting, and the sweat on their brow could have been from exertion… or the fear of being found out. After a few minutes a familiar buzzing was heard, and slowly more and more flies appeared and settled on one blade, and one blade only. The dried blood, invisible to the naked eye, drew the flies nonetheless, who served as witnesses for the prosecution.

Despite this promising start, forensic science had no significant new developments until around the middle of the nineteenth century when Rudolf Virchow, a German pathologist in Würzburg, developed the discipline of pathology, and his students coined the term “autopsy,” which means “to see for yourself,” and the use of medical science to assist law enforcement began.

Still, when Arthur Conan Doyle penned his first Holmes Story, “A Study in Scarlet” in 1887, police investigations relied primarily on eye witness accounts and interrogations. The techniques Doyle uses in his stories were for all practicality science fiction when they were written, and it took a French admirer of Doyle’s detective to make Holmes’ methods a practical reality.

Edmond Locard was both a physician and a lawyer, and in 1910 he persuaded the chief of police in Lyon, France, to give him two small attic rooms and two assistants to create the world’s first crime lab. He was given two years to prove the concept, and as these two years drew near to ending without a significant breakthrough he became concerned his lab would be closed.

Then a young woman was found strangled in her apartment, and her lover was suspected as the killer, but four men swore he was playing cards with them in his apartment at the time the woman was probably murdered. Locard suspected the man right away, and scraped the man’s fingernails and retained the scrapings.

Cosmetics were common, but there were no large companies at the time, so women purchased them from the local pharmacy, each one having its own formula. Locard went to the pharmacy the murder victim used, and when this pharmacy’s cosmetics were compared under a microscope with the scrapings from the suspect’s fingernails, they matched perfectly. Confronted with this evidence, the man confessed he was the murderer, and had moved the clock back one hour in the room he’d played cards with his friends.

The conviction of the killer saved Locard’s lab, and soon crime labs sprang up in police departments around the world, turning Doyle’s science fiction, into fact.

Returning to the three types of arguments: values are always argued in the present tense: things are or are not acceptable. Forensic arguments of course are waged in the past tense: someone did, or did not. Choice pertains to the future: we should or should not take a particular course of action. So, if you hear a couple arguing, and notice they are not both using the same verb tense, one of their problems is they’re not having the same argument!

Bradley Harper is a retired US Army Pathologist with over thirty-seven years of worldwide military/medical experience, ultimately serving as a Colonel/Physician in the Pentagon. During his Army career, Harper performed some two hundred autopsies, twenty of which were forensic.

Upon retiring from the Army, Harper earned an Associate’s Degree in Creative Writing from Full Sail University. He has been published in The Strand MagazineFlash Fiction Magazine, The Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine and a short story he wrote involving Professor Moriarty in the Holmes tale of The Red Headed League (entitled The Red Herring League) won Honorable Mention in an international short fiction contest. A member of the Mystery Writers of America, Authors Guild, and Sisters in Crime, Harper is a regular contributor to the Sisters in Crime bi-monthly newsletter.

Harper’s first novel, A Knife in the Fog, involves a young Arthur Conan Doyle joining in the hunt for Jack the Ripper, and was a finalist for an 2019 Edgar Award by the Mystery Writers of America for Best First Novel by an American Author. His second book, Queen’s Gambit, is scheduled for release September 17.

Connect with Brad:

Website: www.bharperauthor.com
Twitter: www.twitter.com/bharperauthor
Facebook: www.facebook.com/bharperauthor
Instagram: www.instagram.com/bharperauthor
Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/bharperauthor
Podcast: bharperauthor.podbean.com/

A Knife in the Fog is available at most booksellers, but also online:

Amazon:
https://www.amazon.com/Knife-Fog-Featuring-Margaret-Harkness/dp/1633884864

Barnes & Noble:
https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-knife-in-the-fog-bradley-harper/1127779682?ean=9781633884861#/

Audible (audiobook):
https://www.audible.com/pd/A-Knife-in-the-Fog-Audiobook/B07HKJH1W5

Indigo:
https://www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-ca/books/a-knife-in-the-fog/9781633884861-item.html

 

 

 

DEADLY SOUTHERN CHARM: An Author Q&A

Sometimes southern charm is … DEADLY.

I’m thrilled to announce the release of DEADLY SOUTHERN CHARM: A LETHAL LADIES MYSTERY ANTHOLOGY. This outstanding collection features original mysteries set in southern locales with female sleuths.

The authors are members of Sisters in Crime Central Virginia. Today several of them agreed to be interviewed here.

The following is a complete list of the  authors who contributed stories:

Frances Aylor, CFA combines her investing experience and love of travel in her financial thrillers. MONEY GRAB is the first in the series. www.francesaylor.com

Mollie Cox Bryan is the author of cookbooks, articles, essays, poetry, and fiction. An Agatha Award nominee, she lives in Central Virginia. www.molliecoxbryan.com

Lynn Cahoon is the NYT and USA Today author of the best-selling Tourist Trap, Cat Latimer and Farm-to-Fork mystery series. www.lynncahoon.com

J.A. Chalkley is a native Virginian. She is a writer, retired public safety communications officer, and a member of Sisters in Crime.

Stacie Giles, after a career as a political scientist, linguist, and CIA analyst, is now writing historical cozies with a twist. Her first short story is in honor of her grandfather who was a policeman in Memphis in the 1920s.

Barb Goffman has won the Agatha, Macavity, and Silver Falchion awards for her short stories, and is a twenty-three-time finalist for US crime-writing awards.www.Barbgoffman.com

Libby Hall is a communication analyst with a consulting firm in Richmond, Virginia. She is also a blogger, freelance writer, wife, and mother of two.  

Bradley Harper is a retired Army pathologist. Library Journal named his debut novel, A KNIFE IN THE FOG, Debut of the Month for October 2018, and is a finalist for the 2019 Edgar Award for Best First Novel by an American author. www.bharperauthor.com

Sherry Harris is the Agatha Award-nominated author of the Sarah Winston Garage Sale mystery series and is the president of Sisters in Crime.www.sherryharrisauthor.com 

Maggie King penned the Hazel Rose Book Group mysteries. Her short stories appear in the VIRGINIA IS FOR MYSTERIES and 50 SHADES OF CABERNET anthologies. “Keep Your Friends Close” appears in DEADLY SOUTHERN CHARM.  www.maggieking.com

Kristin Kisska is a member of International Thriller Writers and Sisters in Crime, and programs chair of the Sisters in Crime Central Virginia chapter. www.kristinkisska.com

Samantha McGraw has a love of mysteries and afternoon tea. She lives in Richmond with her husband and blogs at Tea Cottage Mysteries.www.samanthamcgraw.com 

K.L. Murphy is a freelance writer and author of the Detective Cancini Mysteries. She lives in Richmond, Virginia, with her husband, four children, and two dogs.www.Kellielarsenmurphy.com 

Genilee Swope Parente has written the The Fate Series (a romantic mystery series) with her mother, F. Sharon Swope. The two also have several collections of short stories. www.swopeparente.com

Deb Rolfe primarily writes mystery novels. This is her first published short story. She and her husband enjoy life in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. 

Ronald Sterling is the author of six books and draws upon his colorful and varied life experience as a U.S. Airman, saloonkeeper, private detective, realtor, and New Jersey mayor.

S.E. Warwick earned a bachelor’s degree in American Studies in the last century. Ever since, she has been trying to decipher the American enigma.

Heather Weidner is the author of the Delanie Fitzgerald Mysteries. She has short stories in the VIRGINIA IS FOR MYSTERIES series, 50 SHADES OF CABERNET and TO FETCH A THIEF. She lives in Central Virginia with her husband and Jack Russell terriers. www.heatherweidner.com

Editors 

Mary Burton is a New York Times, USA Today and Kindle best-selling author. She is currently working on her latest suspense novel. www.maryburton.com

Mary Miley is a historian and writer with 14 nonfiction books and 5 mystery novels to her credit. www.marymileytheobald.com

◊ ◊ ◊

Here’s my interview with DEADLY SOUTHERN CHARM authors:

Maggie: How did you pick your setting and what is unique about it?

Mollie: “Mourning Glory” is set in the fictional Victoria Town, Virginia. It’s a historical town that has taken advantage of their history and built a little tourist haven for Victoriana fans. My main character Viv comes to town to help her aunt with her B&B, but also takes a part-time job in “Mourning Arts,” a store full of mourning gear, like mourning jewelry and black crepe. 

Heather: My story, “Art Attack” is set in an art gallery in downtown Richmond, Virginia. In a former life, the building was an old warehouse. I am a Virginia native, and my stories and novels are set in the Commonwealth.

Lynn: “Cayce’s Treasures” is set in the French Quarter of New Orleans. The first time I visited the area I felt a pull to the shops, the people.

Genilee: “Who Killed Billy Joe” is set in New Iberia, Louisiana. I lived in nearby Lafayette for three years and have always been fascinated by the Cajun and Creole cultures. I picked New Iberia because I wanted a small town setting close to a larger metropolitan area (New Orleans). I am a small town gal myself and love the life.

Frances: “The Girl in the Airport” is set in the Atlanta airport. Robbie, my main character, is heading to England for the summer to escape a broken college romance. I’ve been in this airport many times. It’s fun to watch all the other passengers and imagine what secrets they are hiding. 

Kristin: “Unbridled” is set in an equestrian center in Low Country, South Carolina. I grew up taking horseback riding lessons (English saddle) and competing in shows. Though I never owned my own horse (never say never), I’ve always wanted to write a story set in a stable.

J.A.: “Keepsakes” is set in Dinwiddie County, Virginia and revolves around a forty-year-old murder that occurred on the banks of Lake Chesdin. I grew up in the area and find that such places hold many untold stories and unsolved mysteries.

Maggie: Can you share something about your main character that readers wouldn’t know?

Mollie: Viv is in her 20s and trying to find her way as a game designer. Victoria Town is just a stopover for her. She plans to move on to bigger things, like designing her own computer games. But she’s very close to her aging aunt who owns the B&B and loves helping her out.

Heather: My character, Jillian Holmes, is an assistant at an art gallery in downtown Richmond, and she aspires one day to manage a gallery of her own. But right now, she’s at the beck and call of the current gallery manager, the narcissistic Harvey Owens.

Lynn: Cayce is part of a grifter family who has ruled New Orleans’ fortune telling profession for years. She’s broken out of the family business and got a degree in design and art – mostly antiques. When she receives her inheritance, she moves home to buy an antique dealership on Royal Street. The story (and future series) is a spinoff of my Tourist Trap series. Cayce’s brother is Esmeralda’s (from Tourist Trap) first love.

Genilee: Chief of Police Clareese Guidry is not your typical police officer. She has returned to her small town after cutting her teeth on the New Orleans police force and fought her way to the top of the ladder. She’s tiny but formidable and well-respected among her colleagues. I loved her so much, I’ve made her a part of an upcoming mystery series.

Frances: “The Girl in the Airport” is a prequel to my financial thriller Money Grab. In the story, Robbie is a college student struggling with an unfaithful boyfriend who is dating her roommate. These same three characters reappear as adults in Money Grab, where Robbie is a wife, mother and successful financial advisor.

Kristin: Courtney lives, works, and breathes to keep her horse, Baymont Blues, in oats. Even though her bestie Gina is training with her to compete in the upcoming spring riding show season, Courtney has no intention of losing.

J.A.: Lynn wants to make it big. She wants to see justice for the victim, but she’s also hoping that solving the mystery will open the door to big opportunities.

Maggie: Tell us your favorite authors and/or influences.

Mollie: Toni Morrison is my all-time favorite. But I also love Louise Penny and J.D. Robb. As far as influences, I think Sue Monk Kidd was a huge influence—The Secret Life of Bees was a book that shaped me as a writer. After reading that book, I knew I wanted to write books about the power of women, friendship, family, and community. Mine just happen to involve murder.

Heather: My favorite authors are Agatha Christie, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Lee Child, Steve Berry, and John Grisham. I have always loved mysteries since Scooby Doo and Nancy Drew. I enjoy history and biography too, but I always return to mysteries and thrillers.

Lynn: I loved Scooby and the gang! I started reading series mysteries when I was in sixth grade and found a lovely place to hide out in the library. Maggie Sefton was my first taste of cozies. And I love a good paranormal twist especially if the magic is just part of the world. Favorite authors include Stephen King (especially when he does fantasy and other worlds), Robyn Carr for her Thunder Point series, Richard Bach for Illusions. Deborah Harkness for her All Souls world. Currently I’m obsessed with Louise Penny and Neil Gaiman (American Gods was amazing.) And I’m reading The Magicians after falling in love with the TV show.

Genilee: Although I usually say Mary Higgins Clark because she has an uncanny ability to throw readers off base and then reel them back in, I don’t like all of her books. I always enjoy reading the J.D. Robb series (Nora Roberts) because I love the strong female character and I think Nora Roberts writes very well. But again, I don’t like all of her books because I don’t like straight romance. I like anyone who writes well and doesn’t stumble on his or her own language.

One of my biggest pleasures is just finding someone new to read in the mystery genre, which is why being part of this anthology is so rewarding.

Frances: Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca was one of my favorite books in high school. I loved the tension of a woman struggling to establish herself in her marriage while constantly being undercut by everyone’s memories of her husband’s dead wife. Tana French writes psychological thrillers with evocative descriptions that pull the reader into the story. I’ve read her first book, In the Woods, three times.

Kristin: The book that inspired me to start writing was Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol, which was set in Washington D.C. Since I grew up near there, I could picture every scene he described. I decided to try writing a story set at my alma mater. From there, authors Mary Kubica and, of course, Agatha Christie have been major influences in my story.

J.A.: I love the dialogue in Elmore Leonard’s books. He does an amazing job of making characters sound real. He is an expert at dialect, and a good example of less is more. Charlaine Harris is great at delivering backstory with just a line or two. Agatha Christie was the first mystery writer I remind reading; Then There Where None is still one of my favorite books. I’m also a big fan of Rod Serling and Alfred Hitchcock.

Social Media Links 

Facebook: Lethal Ladies Write

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Website: Sisters in Crime Central Virginia Anthologies 

DEADLY SOUTHERN CHARM Buy Links

Wildside Press Paperback

Wildside Press eBook

Amazon  

Praise for DEADLY SOUTHERN CHARM

DEADLY SOUTHERN CHARM is a keep-you-up-at-night collection loaded with well-crafted characters and perfect plotting by some of today’s best mystery writers. Brava!
USA Today and NYT Best-selling author, Ellery Adams 

Deliciously devious and absolutely delightful, these marvelous stories will keep you captivated! Sweeter than sweet tea on the surface, but with smartly sinister secrets only a true southern writer can provide. What a joy to read!
Hank Phillippi Ryan best-selling Agatha and Mary Higgins Clark Awards winner

This collection of short crime fiction charms even as the stories immerse you in murder, revenge, and deadly deeds. Set all over the south, from Virginia to North and South Carolina, in Atlanta, Memphis, and New Orleans, the stories by eighteen authors engage and entertain with rich imagery and dialog from the region – and nefarious plots, too. Pour a glass of sweet tea and settle in on the porch swing for a fabulous read.
Edith Maxwell, Agatha and Macavity Awards nominee

This can’t-put-it-down collection of mystery short stories is flavored with the oft-eerie ambiance of the South, where the most genteel manners may hide a dark and murderous intent. Enjoy DEADLY SOUTHERN CHARM with a Mint Julep in hand – a strong one.
Ellen Byron, USA Today best-selling author, Agatha and Daphne Awards nominee and Lefty winner