The Final Steps – Book Trailer
Who murdered a popular law professor on a northern Michigan college campus?
Judge Rosaline Maxwell is living the good life. Retired from the circuit court bench, she now lives in the home of her dreams, lakefront in scenic Harbor Springs, Michigan. She’s written a fascinating new book and is invited to speak at a local college. But her idyllic existence is rudely interrupted by a call from her best friend, Tyler Guthrie, the college president.
A popular law professor has taken his final steps—he is found dead at the bottom of a popular outdoor staircase. The police suspect foul play. There are no witnesses, but key pieces of evidence make Tyler the number one suspect. After his arrest, Rosaline doubts her friend’s innocence but still jumps into the fray, abandoning the law, antagonizing local police, becoming an amateur sleuth with one goal and one goal only: To prove, conclusively, that Tyler Guthrie is innocent of this brutal crime.
Along the way, Rosaline receives anonymous death threats, warning her to stay away from the investigation, but the former judge will not be deterred from her quest for the truth. There is no shortage of interesting and quirky suspects as attorney/award-winning author Mark M. Bello keeps you guessing ‘whodunnit’ until the very end.
If not Tyler Guthrie, who killed Professor Kevin Johnstone?
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The Bossman’s Killer
Backstabbed on Broadway takes place in a glamourous yet menacing theatrical world where a young woman must solve the murder of her tyrannical boss and navigate the cut-throat industry. What inspired you to write a mystery novel set in the world of theater?
Many years ago I actually worked in a talent agency office, and I was shocked to the core by how insanely it was run. My boss was a screaming-and-yelling megalomaniac, but there was even more strangeness going on there than just that. I was the only one working there who wasn’t some kind of an addict and I was resented for that, which of course makes no sense. I saw lots of young people who would come to New York from all over the country, trying to break into careers in the entertainment industry, and they’d be trying to impress these wacky agents, or, many times, preyed upon by a lot of unscrupulous people who only wanted to use them as cash cows. Some got ensnared by self-proclaimed “acting teachers,” basically con artists in sheep’s clothing, who claimed they’d make “stars” out of them, and the students spend years paying for “lessons” that led nowhere. Part of the reason I wanted to write this book was as a warning. As the saying goes, “All that glitters isn’t gold.”
Was there anything about Jasmine’s character that developed organically while writing that surprised you?
There were no surprises there, really. All the way through, Jasmine has a real inner strength that her boss and co-workers lack. She’s not easily intimidated or impressed, and she doesn’t make excuses for all of the craziness she sees going on around her with the rest of these assorted nuts. She arrives at work thinking of quitting, finds her lunatic boss dead on the floor, and then learns she’s inherited his agency. It turns everything upside-down. Suddenly she owns the place and is the boss of her wacky co-workers and the phony clients she had hoped to leave behind. Furthermore, any one of them could be the bossman’s killer because he was a nightmare of a man in several different directions. So Jasmine finds herself in a dilemma. She’s debating with herself all through the story as to whether she should stick with the agency that’s been handed to her or to run the heck out of there screaming.
The book takes place in a world where many people are not who they pretend to be. How did you approach writing characters with dual identities, and what did you hope to accomplish with these complex characterizations?
I had basically seen a lot of that when I worked in show business jobs, so it really wasn’t hard to write. There’s plenty of talented people who go into the theater because they want to entertain, but there’s also some who don’t like their own backgrounds and desperately want to become someone else. I figured those types were perfect to include in a mystery story because their true selves are like unknown quantities. It makes it harder to figure out whodunit, and you have to wonder what happened to push them away from themselves in the first place.
What is the next book you are working on and when will it be available?
I tend to work on several projects at one time and I have several going at the moment. I’m particularly interested in making BACKSTABBED ON BROADWAY the start of a series and have begun work on another book featuring Jasmine and many of the same characters. With any luck, it should be ready later this year.
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Tags: author, author interview, Backstabbed on Broadway, book, book recommendations, book review, book reviews, book shelf, bookblogger, books, books to read, Carolyn Summer Quinn, cozy mystery, crime fiction, crime thriller, ebook, fiction, goodreads, indie author, kindle, kobo, literature, murder mystery, nook, novel, read, reader, reading, story, whodunit, writer, writing
Took On A Life Of Its Own
Murder at Manzanar follows a private eye with a knack for finding things others cannot who ends up uncovering more than he anticipated. What was your inspiration for the mystery that must be unraveled?
2022 was the 80-year anniversary of the internment of Japanese Americans in World War II. I had been reading quite a bit about it and wondered how I could weave it into a story. As part of my research, I came across how many Japanese families had to just walk away from their homes and businesses never to see them again because of unscrupulous people, who conned them out of everything they owned. They were only allowed to take what they could carry when they were dispersed to various camps around the country. It wasn’t until 1990 that the US government paid out reparations to those who survived the internment camps. I thought about how interesting it would be to see how one Japanese family was conned out of their business and how the wrong came full circle to the detriment of the person who stole it.
How did the mystery develop for this story? Did you plan it before writing, or did it develop organically?
It developed gradually and I had some input from one of my Tai Chi students who happens to be a Buddhist priest she told me about a story that she thought would be interesting for a book and I asked her if I could use part of it and she gave me the permission to do so. From there the story took on a life of its own and I just put down on paper.
Was there a reason why you chose this location as the backdrop for your story?
The backdrop for my story is pretty much the same as all of the Polish Dragon P. I. stories. They, mostly take place in Northeast Ohio where I was born and raised. On occasion, Tom or Suzie may travel away from Ohio but always return to their home state. I like to share little tidbits about where I grew up. People don’t realize what a great place Northeastern Ohio is to live in. Things have changed over the years and Cleveland is a top vacation destination. It even has quite the food scene for all of you foodies out there. Right now Cleveland has three chefs who were named semi-finalists for the James Beard award. Time magazine calls the James Beard award the Oscars of the food world.
I hope the series continues in other books. If so, where will the story take readers next time?
The story has continued with two more novellas following Murder at Manzanar. They are The Dragon is Missing and Finding Ami. In these two books, Suzie gets more of the spotlight, especially as the first title states Tom ends up going missing and Suzie must find him. In Finding Ami, she has to do a lot of the work because, well let’s just say Tom was out of the picture. I hope everyone enjoys reading them as much as I like writing them.
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Journey Through Grief
A Hamburger Christmas follows two charismatic detectives who are investigating a series of burglaries happening around Christmas time. What was the inspiration for the setup of your story?
This novella is a prequel to my detective series. Since it’s a Christmas story, I wanted it to have a heart-warming and touching message behind it. I thought it would be perfect to tell the story of one of the detective’s journey through grief. As he experiences his first Christmas without a loved one, his friendship with his partner will help him through it. They have a close relationship and this story allowed me to reveal more about their tight bond.
While Christmas is a special time for most it’s also a hard time for others, and this novella shows how the people you love can be your lifeline.
Some of the characters experience a change of heart during the story. What were some of the emotional and moral guidelines you followed when developing your characters?
Two other characters in the story are struggling teenage brothers who are being manipulated by an unscrupulous gangster who is using them for his own gain. The brothers’ relationship closely mirrors the relationship between the detectives because the teenagers are also struggling with grief. I wanted to explore the bonds between them from both sides of the law.
When the detectives come to terms with their situation with the teenage burglars, they have to decide how far they’re willing to go to capture the boys and at what point does compassion affect their decision when there’s a chance to help them?
When someone breaks the law and threatens your life, do they deserve a second chance?
How did you decide on the title of this novella?
There’s a story from one of the detectives about a lousy Christmas from his past. His father lets him down, and trying to cheer her son up, his mom makes hamburgers, and they call it their Hamburger Christmas. What happens during that Christmas and the gifts they exchange play a role in the unfolding of the novella and it makes for a perfect title.
Can you tell us a little about where the story goes in the next book and when the novel will be available?
This prequal novella leads into the Detectives Daniels and Remalla series. This is a six-book series that starts with Haunted River. I like throwing a little supernatural into my books, so they are all mystery-thrillers with a dash of the unexpected. The detectives face a ghost or two and a murderer in Haunted River and will confront an evil, charismatic cult leader whose fascination with living forever and the paranormal will kick off a five-book storyline that will threaten Daniels’ and Remalla’s friendship and lives.
There is also a four-book series called The Family or Foe Saga with Detectives Daniels and Remalla. This precedes the detective series and can also be read after A Hamburger Christmas. It focuses on three unique siblings with strange backgrounds whose connections lead them to work with Daniels and Remalla. They’ll discover the truth about a revenge-seeking killer with dangerous abilities who plans to destroy them all.
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Tags: A Hamburger Christmas, A Hamburger Christmas: A Heartwarming Crime and Mystery Novella for the Holidays, author, author interview, book, book recommendations, book review, book reviews, book shelf, bookblogger, books, books to read, christmas, crime fiction, crime thriller, ebook, goodreads, holiday, indie author, J. T. Bishop, kindle, kobo, literature, mystery, nook, novel, read, reader, reading, story, thriller, whodunit, writer, writing
I Didn’t Know The Killer
Death by Saxophone follows a radiology tech with a love for jazz who becomes embroiled in the unthinkable when a smooth jazz musician is found bobbing in the Verrazano Narrows. What were some sources that informed the development of this novel?
Well, I come from that area and know the vibe there, between the small restaurants and clubs with back rooms and spending time on the boardwalk and the handball courts. I grew up with all that. As far as music, I first came upon “bone records” as a thing from an article on the NPR website that I read around 2020 and I was fascinated by the whole idea. The Cold War and the fact that American music was forbidden in Russia (which was why bone records, also called “X-ray records,” were created) sparked the kernel of the idea for the book.
I enjoyed the mystery in this story. Did you plan it before writing or did it develop organically while writing?
Thank you! I planned the main arc but “organic” is a great way to describe how it unfolded. I didn’t know the killer till pretty deep into the process!
What were obstacles that you felt were important to developing Becka Rifkin’s character?
Traveling to Russia knowing it could become a real problem; political issues are brewing in 2016 that involve relations between the US and Russia, but Becka is determined to go there and see the bone records for herself. Plus, of course, her love interest. She can’t get this guy off her mind after all these years (they met when she was a teenager and he moved back home to St. Petersburg, Russia). When they reunite, she falls for him hard and becomes conflicted about going home but even more concerned about the secrets he doesn’t share. And there are plenty of those!
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I’m working on Volume 3 of my nonfiction series Tasty Jazz Jams for Our Times. It’s a book filled with interviews of contemporary jazz musicians and will be out later this year. My amazing designer created another beautiful cover, and I can’t wait to show it off!
As far as my next novel, it’s another murder mystery; a coming together of the classical music world and the jazz world after a new symphony by a famous composer is accidentally discovered, and somebody, somewhere, is more than willing to kill for it. The musical score has a hidden meaning written into it that, once revealed, puts the main character, a middle-aged cellist, in harm’s way. Like all my main characters, she’s tough, smart and believe me, flawed.
It will probably be out in 2024.
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The Death of Harry Crow
Four years after a fatal car crash involving three vehicles and numerous people, a string of disappearances causes investigator William Snow to delve into the complex connections between the events. Snow utilizes his psychic gift to aid a who is mother looking for her missing daughter. He uncovers clues along the way to help reveal the criminal’s true motives. The Death of Harry Crow also intriguingly explores the mental health of those involved in such a crime, including the detective, as well as uncovering how their pasts led them into the situation. The story builds up into a riveting crescendo of action and emotion, which keeps the reader on their toes until the very end.
This is a story that, once your in the middle of it, you are desperate to finish it. It’s a mystery that is absolutely enthralling and I really enjoyed the way that it was methodically unraveled. Author Leith C. MacArthur did a great job of building up the tension, especially in the final chapters. There are some stunning descriptions of the setting, captivating the beauty yet loneliness of the islands.
I enjoyed this crime thriller and, once the clues are uncovered, the criminal was easy to figure out and we follow the investigator as the pieces are brought together. I was hanging on until the last page to see how it all ended. I loved the author’s writing style and I am eager to read more of the series. I would recommend this book to readers who enjoy mystery novels with a touch of the supernatural. Each character in The Death of Harry Crow is unique yet relatable. I enjoyed how the backstories of the characters are told, which brings the reader closer to them and creates a feeling of empathy for each, even the killer. Perhaps the most mysterious character of the book is the investigator himself, which add a really interesting component to the story.
Pages: 237 | ASIN: B08BVV3989
Posted in Book Reviews, Four Stars
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The Billionaire’s List
Greta Goldman is a reclusive young author who recently lost her estranged great-uncle, Richard Goldman. He was a wealthy entrepreneur who made billions in his lifetime and left it all to Greta. Expecting to quickly disperse his wealth to charities and organizations Richard originally supported, Greta finds out that her uncle’s will states that she must visit the friends and family of her deceased uncle. During her tour of Atlantic City, visiting people who loved and respected her uncle, Greta is determined to find out who murdered him and why. The Billionaire’s List by Cortney Donelson is a riveting murder mystery that takes a methodical but unpredictable path toward a resolution that is as surprising as it is entertaining.
The Billionaire’s List is a fun whodunit that will have you guessing who the murderer is until the very end. Using the classic children’s game, Monopoly, as inspiration for this novel is the icing on the cake. Readers will get to tour the city with Greta and learn new and interesting things along the way; sort of like Dan Brown’s novels. I can see some similarities to the game but reading Greta’s story is far more interesting. The mystery kicks off immediately, making this book engrossing right from the start, especially since I found Great’s character enthralling. The reader is given two clues right from the beginning, Richard was murdered and the killer is a woman, but the why and the who is just as entertaining as Greta’s character development.
The author has creatively set up the story so that I looked at everyone as they were a suspect including Greta herself. I was immersed in Greta’s world and thoughts and I was able to clearly imagine what was going on due to the vivid detail. I found it interesting that Greta is not too fond of the wealthy even though she came from a wealthy family. She had no obligation to carry out Richard’s will and did not want the money. She even went as far as to say she’d give it all away to the charities of Richard’s choosing. I enjoyed reading about Greta’s character and her deep thoughts. She is an introvert, but also has an active imagination which made reading about her thoughts much more interesting than it sounds and is a highlight of the novel.
The Billionaire’s List is a thrilling murder mystery with a protagonist that is just as fascinating as the mystery itself. This is a novel that was fun to read because of Greta but hard to put down because I so desperately wanted to know who did it. This is perfect for readers looking for an unpredictable crime fiction story, or for anyone looking for a suspenseful story with a curious female lead.
Pages: 290 | ASIN: B0BHM887ZB
Posted in Book Reviews, Five Stars
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Cloudy with a Chance of Answers
Cloudy with a Chance of Answers by Carolyn Summer Quinn is a mystery thriller and the second one in her “unsolved crimes against children” series. Bethany Barrows finds herself in the town of New Jersey in the early stages of Covid-19 when her uncle Ryan passes away and she has to settle his estate. In Bethany’s half-hearted search through her uncle’s belongings, she discovers that her detective uncle dedicated his entire life to finding his daughter Ashley’s abductor. Bethany gets “cloudy with a chance of answers” when she finds a very clear lead. Will she finally solve the mystery her uncle couldn’t solve before his death? To unravel Ashley Barrows’ abduction mystery from 1988, is Bethany willing to sacrifice her own life?
Cloudy with a Chance of Answers is a riveting piece of storytelling. The book is set in March of 2020, right when coronavirus was spreading globally and Quinn’s ability to recreate that environment is applause-worthy. Her attention to detail was spectacular and I felt as though I was transported back into that time. As the story forges ahead and Bethany comes across all types of hints, readers will find themselves trying to solve the mystery as well. This book is a true page-turner and it radiated nail-biting suspense.
Bethany’s character was as realistic as it gets and her naturally curious personality was a great character trait. Her devotion to her cousin’s closed abduction case and her need to solve it was amazing to read about. The sheer possibility of getting the long-anticipated answers not only compelled Bethany but readers as well.
Unlike most thriller novels, Quinn’s writing style takes on a conversational tone which made this book a fast read. I found it very hard to put this book down and I can’t wait for the next one in this series. As for the story, it was near perfect, at no point did I feel like it was being stretched out, and then as the mystery unfolded itself, I too got cloudy with a chance of answers.
Pages: 283 | ASIN: B0BGJNQSHR
Posted in Four Stars
Tags: author, book, book recommendations, book review, book reviews, book shelf, bookblogger, books, books to read, Carolyn Summer Quinn, Cloudy with a Chance of Answers, crime fiction, crime thriller, ebook, fiction, goodreads, indie author, kindle, kobo, literature, mystery, nook, novel, read, reader, reading, sleuth, story, suspense, whodunit, womens fiction, writer, writing