Miss Morris Must Die by Val Wilson is a mystery novel set in 1957 in Milford, England. Lady Felicity and Major Reginald Manners-Gore live in a large manor called Fig Tree Hall and they invite several guests for a murder mystery weekend. Their servants are required to take part in the fictional murder and give clues to help identify the killer. Six guests arrive, but shortly afterward, only five guests remain when one of them dies after suffering an unfortunate accident. Was it really and accident? Or was it murder?
I enjoyed the mystery and intrigue in this book. There were several hints that I picked up throughout the story which led me to suspect the answers to various aspects of the mystery before the truth was revealed, but there was enough misdirection that it kept me guessing until the end. All of this made me feel like one of the guests trying to figure out what was going on. The fictional murder mystery was intriguing although the clues sometimes lacked clear connections. However I doubt I would have solved any of the clues if I had been one of the guests, although I didn’t quite understand how the clues were supposed to lead the characters to the ‘killer’ if the weekend had gone as planned.
I liked the characters of Becca and Peter, and the way they interacted together. Several of the women especially were self-centered and cruel. I’m glad that the story ended happily for Becca and Peter.
I enjoyed the overall tension and mystery building throughout the novel. Trying to crack the clues as they came is always a fun logic puzzle. However, it seemed odd that the murder mystery weekend continued as though nothing had happened after one of the guests died. Most of the characters showed little reaction to the death except to worry that it might ruin their fun. And then a murder attempt of one of the other guests was brushed aside.
But these oddities aside, this book is a perfect fit for any mystery aficionado looking for something in the vain of an Agatha Christie novel. This is one intriguing murder mystery I would easily recommend.
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The Gumdrop House Affair is a genre-crossing novel with elements of mystery, thriller, and crime drama as well. Did you start writing with this in mind or did this happen organically as you were writing?
I never considered what genre anyone would label or put The Gumdrop House Affair in when I began writing it. The character of Father William Yeats Butler also known as “The Monk”, is so multi-faceted both physically and spiritually and I have known him so intimately, he doesn’t fit just one genre. However, as the book developed from my initial outline it became its own entity. The characters, including the Monk became deeper and, in some cases, more complicated. Empathy, cynicism, anger, spiritual beliefs and violence at all levels came from unexpected sources.
An outline is a good start, but I feel you should never be a slave to it. As I write, my ideas seem to expand because I am more open to the flow of the work. This may sound odd, but often my characters surprise me. They tell me things or remind me of things that I never considered or have forgotten about in their development. The organic part of writing and character development is too important to dismiss because it wasn’t in your outline. It’s what makes it the writing the most fun and rewarding. Sometimes the most beautiful things appear that were never in any outline.
The characters in this novel, I felt, were intriguing and well developed. Who was your favorite character to write for?
The Ugly in all his forms and his confrontations with the Monk directly or indirectly. There are a surprising number of Christians who don’t believe in Satan because they don’t want to think about there being a Hell as a possible destination after they die. Every religious belief I’ve read about has some form or entity like the Ugly.
Even those who profess no faith question the seemingly senseless acts of cruelty and violence that man does to his fellow man. What motivates a timid Florist to go home one night, beat his family to death, then kill himself. Someone or something moved this man to commit such an unspeakable crime.
Being the Irish Catholic that I am, expressing how I feel the Ugly works and giving him human forms, a conversational voice and intellect gives the reader an awareness of the Ugly in a way they may not have had before reading any of the Monk Mysteries. He can appear as the 14-foot-tall winged purple creature with a long tail and scale like skin or a handsome man in an Armani suit, what ever works best at the time. If the Devil was at your party, he would be the most popular and attractive person in the room. Plus, he would be able to tell you everything you ever wanted to hear about yourself to make you feel special and superior.
Giving the Ugly a sense of humor, a temper, a social presence and a fantastic awareness of the nature of man made the Ugly a compelling character. His surprisingly humorous shenanigans with the Monk could not hide the true malevolence of his presence. This was intended to make the reader aware who the real enemy in our culture is.
The novel touched on many social issues prevalent today like crime and corruption. What were the themes you wanted to explore in this novel?
Thousands of men and women takes vows and oaths everyday and promise to live up to those vows and oaths as to their jobs as Priests, Nuns, Policemen, Doctors and Politicians. Those who live up to those oaths and vows seldom receive any press. Those who don’t live up to those oaths get more press than they deserve. However, the coverups by the Church, payoffs and ignoring all types of crimes has become culturally systemic in the Church and needs to be addressed.
Having been a Criminal Investigator most of my life I know firsthand these men and women are also human with stresses and problems like everyone else. Everyone has character defects, but too often society expects Priests and those who are in Law Enforcement and positions of trust to be faultless. When you spend so much of your day dealing with people as their worst or as victims it is easy to become extremely cynical.
As in The Gumdrop House Affair, everyone reaches their breaking point and responds one way or the other. Stress, both physical and mental are often internalized in the name of being a “Tough Cop”. What this does to personal relationships and your spiritually is something I wanted the Reader to understand and be aware of. These men and women are just as susceptible to the tricks of the Ugly as anyone else, badge notwithstanding. Often the badge can make it worse.
This is the second book in your Monk Mysteries series. What will book 3 be about and when will it be available?
In Vol 1 The Monk, Father William must deal with his personal epiphany as to his calling to the Priesthood and leave the Police Department. All the while dealing with Jack Laskey’s feeling of betrayal and assisting Laskey with one of the most high-profile murders in years.
In The Gumdrop House Affair the Monk gets to deal with the Ugly head to head and is put on notice the Ugly will be giving him special attention. The first two books take place in Denver. Vol. 3 Death by Kachina takes place in Sedona Arizona and Monument Valley on the Navajo Reservation. “Thou shalt not murder” is the original Aramaic quote for the 6th Commandment. The King James version says “Thou shalt not kill” which has always caused confusion to Christians and non-Christians alike. It is because most people think the definition of kill and murder are the same. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
If you are commanded not to kill why does the Church pray for victories in wars that are won by killing the other people. The Monk is dealing with spiritual burnout and takes a sabbatical in Sedona with old friends. It is not long before spiritual forces have the Monk in Monument Valley dealing with powers and principalities seen and unseen. He will have to struggle with both translations of the 6th Commandment. Due to be published in July 2018.
A Jewish Accountant chokes on a Polish Sausage in a City Park. A young Catholic Priest is found wearing only his collar with a dead “Gay Hooker” hanging from the Ceiling. The body of Mafia “Construction Baron” is found in the parking lot of the Diocese of Denver.
It’s obvious how Denver Homicide Detectives, Sargent Jack Laskey and his partner Detective Mai Li McDuff would become involved with these events. But how does Father William Yeats Butler of the Franciscan Order become totally involved in every one of these events and more with his ex-Partner Jack Laskey.
An African American standing 6’5″and weighing 315 pounds of muscle, Father William Butler was an imposing figure in the robes of a Franciscan Priest. Father William was always known as “The Monk” because of his devout Catholic faith when he was an All American Linebacker at Notre Dame or a Narcotics and Homicide Detective for the ten years that he and Laskey were Partners.
In the tenth year of his police career the Monk felt a calling to the Priesthood. He felt as a Police Officer he was only dealing with the spiritual symptoms of humanity’s illness not the real cause of the illness, the Devil’s influence on common man. The Monk had an acute and powerful awareness of the Devil’s presence. Not a “6th Sense”, but a powerful gift from God.
The Devil, who the Monk calls “The Ugly” is now and always has been active on Capitol Hill. In The Gumdrop House Affair many of his deceptions and ploys are revealed as the Monk and his faith stand against the “Wickedness and the snares of the Devil.” Written by a Veteran Cop the pace is fast, violent, profane, humorous and honest.
A tribute to the men and women who give all to stay true to their Vows and Oaths as they protect a cynical public and a decaying culture.
You will fall in love with Father Augustus O’Shea, Aunt Rhoda, Popcan Charlie, Paisley Bob Lewis, Frank the English Bulldog and all the people who visit St. Benedict the Moor Catholic Church.
The Gumdrop House Affair”deals with the recent Sex Scandals in the Catholic Church and the effects in an honest Blue Collar Layman’s fashion.
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Dead Air follows Glenn, a security guard investigating the murder of his friend who was shot while on the air at a radio station. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thrilling novel?
Like Beck, my high school best friend owned a radio station. He sold out before being shot, however. The only constant we have is change. Commercial radio exemplifies that change.
Radio was born to play the music that record companies were trying to sell. It soon become the primary form of entertainment for Americans broadcasting the early soap operas. Then came rock and roll. Talk radio attracts a wide range of demographics. Interestingly, I graduated from the same school as Alan Freed, who coined the iconic term Rock and Roll.
Beck struggles to put the past behind him and move forward. The murder at the station was a perfect analogy of transformation as Beck seeks the killer.
Beck is investigating the murder of his friend Zito, who we slowly learn is not who Beck thought. Did you plan this slow reveal of Zito’s backstory or did it happen organically while writing?
Beck and Zito’s friendship started as teenagers. In the decades since school, they have drifted apart. Life leads people down many paths. We become more guarded, reluctant to share the many secrets with those we depended on in youth.
The victim is an important character in a story. Murderers rarely plan to kill without a motive. There must be a reason to want that person dead. All mystery plots boil down to one of three motives, love, greed, or to cover up a crime.
The investigation of any murder, real or fiction, is a slow process. Investigators don’t know the full story immediately. People conceal secrets, they lie. The search is a painstaking pursuit to reveal the skeletons in the closet.
I think of this novel as a whodunit story that puts fascinating characters in interesting situations. Are there any scenes in your story that you had fun writing?
Beck and Irene, his romantic interest/partner, track his missing client to a hunting cabin where she is being held. Nothing in his white-collar career has prepared him for this confrontation. They are fighting through thick woods and underbrush to reach the cabin while carrying guns.
In order to survive, he must physically subdue a hired enforcer and be prepared to kill if necessary. Beck has become a hard ass with a chip on his shoulder. He comes to the epiphany that Irene is the love of his life and he must protect her at all costs.
This is the scene where he recognizes the past is behind him. What the future holds he doesn’t know.
What is the next story that you are working on and when will it be available?
I am writing the second in the Glenn Beckert series, Dead Secrets. In this tale, Beck mistakenly dismisses a missing person case until the body is found on the river bank. Beck endeavors to track the missing time of the deceased’s final hours and find the killer. He is quickly immersed onto the dark web where the secrets of artificial intelligent are a commodity. As a further distraction, Beck’s perplexed by a startling revelation by Irene, creating further conflict for him. He’s searching for a killer in a world where secrets stay secret or you die. Dead Secrets will be available in late 2018.
I have just completed a short story, Who Swiped Bobby Bucco Bear, a Christmas mystery featuring Glenn Beckert. I plan to have this available next year.
Dead Air signals trouble at the radio station. Glenn Beckert discovers his high school best friend is shot in the head while on the air. Beck, the owner of Blue Water Security, is employed to provide security for the station.
He becomes willingly embroiled in the investigation by the not-so-innocent widow. The list of potential suspects is long, gleaned from the numerous extramarital affairs of the victim and widow. The pending sale of the radio station has created friction between his now dead friend, Richie Zito and the major stockholders. Motives for murder becomes increasingly murky after the search reveals an encrypted file on Zito’s laptop.
Beck enlists the help of an old flame, Irene Schade, to break the code, revealing a money laundering network leading to the financial and political powers of his beloved city of Pittsburgh. Their collaboration ignites the flames of passion each had considered extinguished.
A former college teammate, police Lieutenant Paglironi delivers a message to back off. Arrogantly, he ignores his friend’s advice. The threats from less friendly sources are more ominous, forcing Beck to move in an unfamiliar world. A startling revelation from his client forces Beck to deal with his inner conviction of right and wrong, challenging the gray areas of his ethical principles. Betraying his client’s confidence could expose the killer. The alternative is to confront the suspect and take matters into his own hands. Either way his life is in jeopardy.
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Dead Air: A Glenn Beckert Mystery by Cliff Protzman is a thrilling mystery story. Glenn “Beck” Beckert runs the security for a radio station where his friend, Zito, from high school works. While this friend is working, he is shot in the head. Beck finds himself involved in the investigation and it turns out that the list of suspects is fairly complicated. Far more people had motive to murder his friend than he anticipated. The widow and the victim were both unfaithful, giving plenty of motive. He was also on the outs with the radio station stockholders that were looking to sell. Then Zito’s laptop uncovers a mystery all of it’s own.
Beck finds Irene, an old love, to help him unlock the mystery of Zito’s laptop. The laptop reveals even more than they both could have expected. Meanwhile, they start to realize there is still chemistry between them. Add in both mysterious and not so mysterious threats on Beck’s life, and you have the premise of this thrilling novel.
I felt like this novel did a fantastic job of utilizing a standard mystery format to deliver a thrilling and engaging story. A ‘whodunit’ novel that develops fascinating characters and puts them in some interesting situations.
I enjoyed the depth of each character, which is important in building suspense in a mystery novel. Cliff Protzman has fully realized characters with their own personal quandaries about right and wrong, which is refreshing. So many writers create characters that don’t adapt and flow through the story. It’s nice to see someone really put some thought and love into their character development.
What has really made this novel enjoyable is the way the mystery unfolds. It felt like the murder victim had many layers that Beck was slowly peeling off, one by one, only to find that the person at the core wasn’t who he appeared to be. In a way, many of the characters were that way. Each having their individual things they wanted the world to see, but as the story line and the investigation continued, we get to see the real person underneath the facade. Some of those people were nothing like what they wanted everyone else to believe they were.
Dead Air: A Glenn Beckert Mystery by Cliff Protzman is a well written dark murder mystery novel. The story was easy to follow with twists that I could follow. Get yourself ready for this novel; it was a fun read.
Pages: 321 | ASIN: B0765VNM1K
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A short, yet deliciously terrifying read can be found between the covers of Antitheus by G.A. Minton. A secluded inn, a group of religious leaders on a retreat and a well-timed blizzard set the stage for this thrilling horror story. When the aging innkeeper stumbles upon a badly mangled body that used to be one of his guests, the world he knew comes crashing down. Once the town sheriff comes to the inn to investigate our cast is complete. The horrors that await the soon-to-be stranded group evolve into a madness of biblical proportions. What could possibly be hunting them in the blizzard? Who murdered the minister and scrawled such a distasteful message in blood? These are the questions that will be answered in this compacted tale.
There is no shortage of gore and violence in this horror story. The graphic detail Minton puts into his storytelling is captivating while being slightly gruesome. It is not overdone, however, which can happen in tales like this. Not a drop of blood is out of place and the murders occur within a carefully crafted plan. This classic whodunit gets a twist while the characters try to flee for their lives. As each murder occurs it is clear that something is lurking in the blizzard and it very much wants to devour them. The infusion of religious content with traditional horror blends nicely. The religious aspects fit the story and they aren’t overdone or excessive.
The story begins strongly; captivating the reader and pulling them in. But there is the addition of a supernatural occurrence that doesn’t fit the story. The book would have been fine without it and while it serves a purpose, it seems like an afterthought. There is some concern with continuity: the characters refer to what is hunting them as ‘intelligent’, yet the trap they set is mundane. There is some clarification later on, but the tale is slightly marred by this. The ending feels rushed, which is a contrast to how meticulously the opening was laid out. G.A. Minton is a fantastic writer, I just wish that greatness was on display consistently throughout the book.
If you’re looking for a quick read and horror is your genre of choice, this is a tidy little book that will hold your interest. The majority of it has the makings of a terrific horror story; however it could have used some ironing out. There is magnificent potential and the reader will be able to tell that the G.A. Minton put thought and effort into the telling of Antitheus.
Pages: 198 | ASIN: B0744XJ11K
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Necessities tells the story of David Lewis, a double amputee Iraq War veteran who has taught himself to box and run half-marathons. David is bitter and angry but determined to succeed despite his injury. He has a promising career as a reporter for the Cleveland Post. His life is turned upside down when Cordelia Lehrer, with whom he had a brief fling in college seeks him out. Cory’s father is the publisher of a chain of an ultra right libertarian newspapers. Cory is looking for a newspaper man who can win her father’s approval and father an heir. David buys into the arrangement and finds himself in the middle of dysfunctional family wars and an increasingly difficult marriage, especially after young Tony, the heir, is born.
Coming in November 2017
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The Ghost in the Mini Skirt begins in Vegas where after a meeting between two good friends, Jack meets a beautiful woman who captures his attention. But after their chance encounter, life takes an unexpected turn for Jack. Ghosts, tortured souls and a smothering darkness lead Jack on the path of a supernatural mystery. Two long lost lovers will connect with Jack and Terri in hopes that the truth will be revealed. Will Jack be able to solve this twisted tale or will the story be lost forever in Vegas?
The Ghost in the Mini Skirt, written by Kwen D Griffeth, starts as what appears to be another love story with a lonely guy in a bar on Valentine’s Day. However, it quickly escalates into a supernatural, fast paced, edge of your seat mystery as Jack hits a man with his car in the middle of the night.
The novel has modern tones with the likes of coding, computer hacking and Vegas being integrated into a murder plot, however, the premise of the novel is based on two love stories, one old and one new. But this is no typical romance. Be prepared for ghosts and unsolved mysteries that lead new lovers and old lovers together. There are action, secret agent style missions and even fortune tellers that will keep the reader on the edge of their toes, desperate to find out the answers.
Jack is proud, smart and at times stubborn. I was immediately drawn to his character and loved how pieces of his life are revealed as you move through the novel. He does not live an ordinary life by any means and his background and expertise lead him to a life with underground secret tunnels, guards and connections with the military. He has built a successful career and has a strong moral compass that means he protects those who are good and takes down those who are bad. The information surrounding his career was presented with such conviction that it leaves the reader feeling as though they had been able to peek into a world that they had never experienced before.
The contrast between him and Terri create two characters that swirl together and connect like sweet and savory. An unlikely combination that somehow works and creates a dynamic that made the novel easy to read and enjoy. At times Terri and Jack clash with their alternative views on life but through this conflict they learn to grow and respect each other and their differences. The introduction to Terri is like no other introduction I’ve read before. The smooth moves, the precise description of her walk and her irresistible beauty will have the reader conjuring up a woman so beautiful that she turns heads everywhere she goes.
I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys a supernatural style, whodunit novel mixed with a dash of love and humor.
Pages: 398 | ASIN: B00IF7VCYS
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Dead Men Walking, written by Kwen D Griffeth, follows Detective Nate Burns as he deals with the ramifications of a previous case that led him to fight for his job whilst he is suspended from the force. Meanwhile, Nate’s personal life is on the rocks as Clare, his wife, reveals that she is unhappy with their marriage and the anger that surrounds Nate on a daily basis. Between fighting for his marriage and career, Nate finds himself involved in a case involving a mysterious man, a bullet and a whole range of unanswered questions. Will Nate be able to save his relationship, his job and still solve one of the most complicated cases he has encountered?
Dead Men Walking begins with a intricately described murder scene that will leave nothing to the imagination. The reader will be walked through the exploding bullet, the impact and finally the target. You are given the impression that these details are important and the vivid imagery will be one that doesn’t leave your mind for some time.
Dead Men Walking is the second novel in the series and in this book we are shown a side of Nate that is normally hidden away. Nate starts to get in touch with his emotions as his love for his family and wife are brought to the surface. Old wounds will be exposed and history will be revisited in an attempt to heal the turmoil surrounding Nate. Dead Men Walking once again shows us that men and women in the police force are people too, who feel and experience the tragedies they encounter daily in order to protect our families. At times the story line was quite emotive and made you consider the impact of what everyday people are experiencing in order to keep us safe.
Between Nate dealing with his old demons and family problems, he is exploring a case of a mysterious man who has basically been labelled as a “well dressed homeless man” with no identity. The case is quickly slipping into being closed with the force running low with murder investigators but Nate is determined to find out more details. This launches the story into a whodunit style police investigation and the reader will be kept on the edge of their seat as clues to the puzzle are uncovered.
The story line is smooth, the writing vivid and the characters complex. Griffeth has a beautiful way of describing a scene and every intricate detail without drawing away from the plot line or boring the reader. Never been inside a police station or seen how their operations work? Dead Men Walking will take you through the inside, allowing you to visualize the physical attributes of a police station as well as the mental and emotional parts of those who serve. You will also be treated to the other side, where criminals in jail show their softer side as they desperately want to help their family.
I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys a crime story mixed with a dash of romance and adventure.
Pages: 350 | ASIN: B071FLPQZ8
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