#FREE “Unleashed: Sydney Rye Mysteries #1” by Emily Kimelman

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My dog once took a bullet that was intended for me.

A bullet that ripped through his chest, narrowly missing his heart, and exited through his shoulder blade, effectively shattering it. This left him unconscious on the floor of my home. Amazingly, this bullet did not kill him.

Ten years ago I adopted Blue as a present to myself after I broke up with my boyfriend one hot, early summer night with the windows open and the neighborhood listening. The next morning I went straight to the pound in Bushwick, Brooklyn. Articles on buying your first dog tell you never to buy a dog on impulse. They want you to be prepared for this new member of your family, to understand the responsibilities and challenges of owning a dog. Going to the pound because you need something in your life that’s worth holding onto is rarely, if ever, mentioned.

I asked the man at the pound to show me the biggest dogs they had. He showed me some seven-week-old Rottweiler-German shepherd puppies that he said would grow to be quite large. Then he showed me a six-month-old shepherd that would get pretty big. Then he showed me Blue, the largest dog they had.

The man called him a Collie mix and he was stuffed into the biggest cage they had, but he didn’t fit. He was as tall as a Great Dane but much skinnier, with the snout of a collie, the markings of a Siberian husky, the ears and tail of a shepherd and the body of a wolf, with one blue eye and one brown. Crouched in a sitting position, unable to lie down, unable to sit all the way up, he looked at me from between the bars, and I fell in love.

“He’s still underweight,” the man in the blue scrubs told me as we looked at Blue. “I’ll tell you, lady, he’s pretty but he’s skittish. He sheds, and I mean sheds. I don’t think you want this dog.” But I knew I wanted him. I knew I had to have him. He was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen.

Blue cost me $108. I brought him home, and we lived together for years. He was, for most of our relationship, my only companion. But when I first met Blue, a lifetime ago now, I had family and friends. I worked at a crappy coffeehouse. I was young and lost; I was normal.

Back then, at the beginning of this story, before I’d ever seen a corpse, before Blue saved my life, before I felt what it was like to kill someone in cold blood, I was still Joy Humbolt.

I’d never even heard the name Sydney Rye.

P.S. The dog does not die.

**Beware: If you can’t handle a few f-bombs, you can’t handle this series.**

FREE at all online digital retailers!

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#BookTour “Ceremony (Murders for Substance, Book 1)” by Paul Austin Ardoin

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 Murders for Substance, Book 1

Mystery

 

Date Published: 08-17-2021

Publisher: Pax Ardsen

Dr. Kep Woodhead is a brilliant, irascible forensic toxicologist with a dark past. Bernadette Becker is a disgraced federal investigator with one last chance. They’re both assigned to a strange poisoning case: a graduate student has been found dead in a 15th-century chapel, a needle filled with a controversial hallucinogen sticking out of his arm. The priest, the professor, the piscary president, the protestor, the protégé—they all emerge as suspects to stop the victim’s research project, and soon Becker’s life is in danger. Do Becker and Woodhead have a prayer of discovering the truth before more people are killed?

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EXCERPT

He ducked through the doorway, pushed his glasses up, then raised his nose and sniffed.

“Dr. Woodhead, it’s a pleasure to meet you.” Bernadette stuck out her hand in greeting.

He closed his eyes and held up an index finger. Bernadette lowered her hand. Detective Dunn looked over her shoulder at Bernadette, who gave a slight shrug.

Bernadette could almost hear the seconds tick by in her head.

Finally, Dr. Woodhead opened his eyes and pointed to the table on the altar holding a brass censer, a sphere resting on a stand with notches in the top half and an ornate cross on the lid. “Did the CSI team say how long ago that incense was burned?”

The detective followed his gaze. “No. Not since the body was found, anyway. I don’t think.” She hesitated, then spoke quickly. “And I’m Detective Kerrigan Dunn, Milwaukee Police.” She didn’t offer her hand.

“Most of the incense had already been burned, judging from the smell. Benzoin was used.” Woodhead sniffed again, ignoring Dunn. “I’m getting other styrax scents as well; perhaps a touch of frankincense. Is incense used in the services? Are there even services held here?”

Kerrigan Dunn nodded. “The Anglicans have their service Sunday morning, of course.” Detective Dunn took out her notebook and consulted it. “We’ve got a group of Seventh-Day Adventists Saturday, a small Presbyterian group Sunday evening. Tuesday, of course, it’s the Agios Delphi people.”

“I didn’t have time to research them much,” Bernadette said. “It’s an odd name for a church. Delphi was the name of the oracle from Oedipus Rex. Is it Greek Orthodox?”

The detective scoffed. “It’s no kind of orthodox. More like a pyramid scheme dressed in religious clothing.”

“It’s not a mainstream denomination,” Bernadette said.

“If I recall correctly, our victim was a member.” Dr. Woodhead opened his folder. “Yes, here it is: ‘Mr. Thompson was a member of a local church called Agios Delphi.’” He turned a page. “Agios Delphi of Greater Milwaukee. Kymer Thompson was an elder.” Woodhead glanced up at the detective. “Twenty-five and an elder. That’s humorous.” He did not smile.

Bernadette chewed her bottom lip. Woodhead had a point: he was young to have such an elevated position in the church. “Detective, the Agios Delphi group meets here on Tuesday, correct? But last night was Monday.”

“Right,” Dunn affirmed.

“So why was Mr. Thompson inside the chapel yesterday?”

“Perhaps he was trying to, I don’t know, cleanse the bad juju from the chapel for tonight’s service. Maybe that’s one of the things the elders have to do for the, uh, church.” Dunn landed on the last word harder than necessary.

“Detective Dunn,” Dr. Woodhead said absently, reading the report from the folder, “are you able to maintain impartiality, or will your opinion of the victim’s religion color your investigation?”

Dunn formed her hands into a steeple. “I haven’t said anything that isn’t relevant to the investigation, Dr. Woodhead. This organization is known to use methods to separate their congregation from their money. I have a thick folder back at the District 5 station full of fraud allegations. Widens the net we need to cast for suspects.”

Woodhead raised his head, a smile touching the corners of his mouth—the smile looked friendly, but his eyes flashed behind his glasses. “You haven’t answered my question. Will your dislike of Agios Delphi affect your ability to investigate this crime?”

“I believe I’m more familiar with Agios Delphi than you are.” Dunn crossed her arms. “And like I said, I haven’t said anything irrelevant.”

“CSAB was called,” Bernadette broke in, “because your M.E. strongly suspects that ibogaine caused Mr. Thompson’s death. That requires investigation—ibogaine is a class 1 controlled substance. We need to work together.” But she couldn’t catch Woodhead’s eye when she said it.

Dunn pressed her lips together and was silent.

Woodhead looked up at the vaulted ceiling. “So Agios Delphi uses this space for their services on Tuesday nights?”

“Yes.”

“How did Mr. Thompson get in here?”

“According to the docent, he was one of the two people from the Delphi group who had a key. He was an elder in the organization, and he lived in university-owned housing, so he was close.”

“Who’s the other member with a key?” Woodhead asked.

“Vivian Roundhouse.”

Bernadette remembered the name from her file. “Ms. Roundhouse is the Agios Delphi priest.”

Woodhead flipped back a page. “Ah. Yes.” He turned to face the back wall, stepping closer until his nose was only an inch or two from the stones. Pushing his glasses up again, he took a long whiff and kept sniffing.

After the third sniff, the muscles around Woodhead’s eyes tightened.

Uh oh. That wasn’t a good sign.

He opened his eyes and looked at Detective Dunn.

“Is something wrong?” the detective said.

And then Bernadette caught the faintest whiff of it—perfume. And not the same scent the docent wore.

“You—” Woodhead began.

Then Bernadette caught his eye. She set her mouth in a line. He had already upset Detective Dunn by questioning her ability to stay neutral. They needed Dunn on their side—and if he insulted her again, she might not be cooperative. “I tried to reach you several times, Dr. Woodhead.”

“Yes, I know.”

That wasn’t a response she’d expected. “I’d hoped you would give me some direction on clearing the crime scene for you so this kind of thing wouldn’t happen.”

Woodhead looked at Bernadette impassively. “It wouldn’t have helped. You wouldn’t have been able to prepare it to my satisfaction.”

Oof. Martin’s letter was prescient.

“Does someone want to tell me what’s going on?” Dunn asked.

Woodhead turned to face her. “You’re contaminating the crime scene.”

Dunn narrowed her eyes. “Excuse me? I haven’t touched anything.”

“It’s not—”

Bernadette steeled herself and interrupted. “Dr. Woodhead, as I’m sure you saw on TV, has a gift for identifying subtle scents. It’s what makes his expertise in poisoning cases such as this so invaluable. But”—she gave Woodhead a questioning look, then spoke haltingly—“perfumes, strong deodorant soaps—those can mask the scents he’s trying to find at the crime scenes.”

“Oh,” Detective Dunn said.

Theme Music.” Woodhead muttered. “Obviously.”

“What?” Bernadette said. “Did you say Theme Music?”

Dunn glanced at Bernadette. “He’s right. The name of my perfume—Theme Music.”

“That’s correct,” Woodhead said tersely. “Would you step outside?”

“Outside the crime scene?”

“Yes.” Woodhead lifted a hand, palm in, fingers down, and made a shooing motion.

Bernadette winced.

Dunn scoffed. “Sure. Wouldn’t want to disturb the famous TV star with my overpowering stench.” She walked out, not quite stomping, into the snowy day, but left the front door open.

“We haven’t been properly introduced, Dr. Woodhead,” Bernadette said, keeping her hands down. “I’m your new case analyst. Bernadette Becker.”

“Salmon will mask scents too,” Woodhead said.

Bernadette cocked her head.

“What?”

“Salmon. You must have had some earlier.”

“Not since last night, and I showered and brushed my teeth twice since then. Surely I don’t—”

“You smell like urine.”

Bernadette took a step back.

“The trimethylamine oxide in the salmon breaks down into ammonia. Very similar scent profile to urea. It’s extremely distracting.”

Bernadette shook her head and followed the detective out the front door.

“He’s a real charmer,” Dunn said under her breath.

Bernadette grunted. “Yeah. We’re getting along like a house on fire.”

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About The Author

Paul Austin Ardoin is the Amazon bestselling author of The Fenway Stevenson Mysteries. Book 1, THE RELUCTANT CORONER, is his debut novel. He has published short fiction and humorous essays in the anthologies Bottomfish and Sweet Fancy Moses, and non-fiction works about computer security in California Computer News and European Communications.

Paul is a California native who put his creative writing degree to use by authoring marketing materials for computer security companies for the better part of two decades. When he’s not writing novels or trying to save the world through better computer security, Paul plays keyboards in a dance rock band. He lives in the Sacramento area with his wife, two teenagers, and a menagerie of animals.

Join Paul’s mailing list at paulaustinardoin.com for news about new books.

Contact Links

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#NewRelease “Little Girl Taken: An absolutely gripping and heart-pounding crime thriller (Detective Madison Harper Book 3)” by Wendy Dranfield

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Rain rattles through the trees as she leans into the car, careful not to touch anything. Two pretty blue eyes stare back through the dark, wide with relief, or maybe fear. A baby girl, wrapped up in a pink snowsuit, reaches out a tiny hand. Her mother is nowhere to be found…

An abandoned baby is the last thing Detective Madison Harper expects to find as she drives to her first day back at work since the case that ripped her life apart. But as she cradles the shivering child close, all her instincts tell her there’s something more sinister at play. Then she finds a lone sneaker down a muddy trail nearby, the laces spattered with blood…

In a town as small as Lost Creek, Colorado, the baby and the shoe are quickly identified as belonging to Kacie Larson, a waitress at the local diner who quietly stashed away her tips to make a better life for her daughter. A mother herself, Madison can’t believe that Kacie would just abandon her child, but she also can’t convince her new team. Not for the first time, Madison feels she must go it alone to get the job done.

But when a body is pulled from a nearby lake, and it’s not Kacie, the case takes an agonizing turn. Is this missing mother really who she says she is? Is there a chance she’s still alive? Madison barely has time to think before the sweet little girl she rescued is snatched on a crowded street. Gone, in the blink of an eye.

To break this case and earn her place back on the force, Madison must learn to trust her team, and herself againand fast. If she doesn’t find this twisted individual in time, a little girl could die…

A pulse-pounding, absolutely gripping and totally addictive page-turner that will have you racing through the pages and reeling at the twists. Perfect for fans of Melinda Leigh, Lisa Regan and Kendra Elliot, you’ll be sleeping with the lights on!

Kindle Unlimited

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#BookSale “Keeping Secrets, A Legal Thriller (The Warrick Thompson Files Book 3)” by Deborah Hawkins

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An innocent man is scheduled to die. A United States Supreme Court nominee holds the key to his freedom. Which will she choose? Her career or his freedom?

Seasoned attorney Brendan Murphy eagerly uncovers legal loopholes for his defendants. After keeping his death-row client alive for thirty long years, he’s sure he can buy enough time for the man to see his son’s upcoming wedding. But when an imminent execution date is suddenly set, Murphy resolves to prove the convict couldn’t have murdered his pregnant wife.

Claire Chastain isn’t afraid to testify for those she loves. So when her soon-to-be father-in-law faces lethal injection, the gutsy lawyer reopens his case hoping to expose the real killer. But as she follows a trail littered with old love affairs, dangerous stalkers, and a missing witness, Chastain’s once firm belief in his innocence begins to waver.

And with the clock ticking closer to capital punishment, shocking revelations from the highest court in the land could turn the entire case upside down…

Can Murphy and Chastain untangle the web of clues before the truth dies with the accused?

Keeping Secrets, A Legal Thriller is the fourth standalone novel in the gripping Warrick-Thompson Files series. If you like true-to-life characters, electrifying suspense, and superb twists you’ll never see coming, then you’ll love Deborah Hawkins’ powerful drama.

99c for a limited time!

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#FREE “The Fiesta Burger Murder (A Burger Bar Mystery Book 1)” by Rosie Point

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A burger, a body, and a Boston detective… murder has never been this complicated.

Boston Homicide Detective, Christie Watson, wants nothing less than to bury her head in the sand in her hometown, Sleepy Creek, Ohio. Placed on sabbatical for a little ‘over-enthusiasm,’ Chris has to stay out of trouble or risk losing her job for good.

When Chris and her bestie find a dead body in the back yard, she can’t resist investigating. And that means trouble, big trouble, and no amount of delicious burgers can keep the real bad guys at bay.

Enjoy an afternoon of delicious mystery. One-click buy the first in this cozy series today!

FREE for a limited time!

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#Free “Just a Simple Little Holiday (Just a Simple Little series Book 1)” by bea kendall

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Fern wants a second chance at a normal life

Following a hit-and-run, she has mastered the art of being invisible from the comfort of her wheelchair.

But it’s time to live again.

Months into a new job, and with a reputation as The Ice Queen, making friends hasn’t been easy.

In fact, she can count the number of them on one finger.

When that friend – Nessa – invites her on a girly holiday in a luxury Portuguese villa, Fern’s first panicked thought is to refuse.

But Nessa is very persuasive, so much so that Fern pulls on her big girl pants and eventually agrees.

Is this her chance to prove the old Fern still exists?

After all, it’s Just a Simple Little Holiday.

What could possibly go wrong?

Women’s Fiction with a mystery thread and a hint of psychopath

 

(originally published as the Fifth Wheel by L.S. Fellows. Same story, same author, but with just a simple little makeover)

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#BookSale “Lost Souls (Detective Gaby Darin, Book 4)” by Jenny O’Brien

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‘Absolutely brilliant. The most twisted story I’ve ever read.’ NetGalley Reviewer, 5 Stars

A MISSING GIRL. A RACE AGAINST TIME.

Ten-year-old Elodie Fry vanishes overnight, along with a rucksack filled with her meagre belongings. Detective Gaby Darin and her team are fighting the clock to reunite Elodie with her distraught mother – but was Elodie kidnapped or did she run?

Later that day, a local undertaker uncovers a nasty surprise: the remains of an unidentified second adult among a late pensioner’s ashes. Torn between the two investigations, Gaby decides the gruesome discovery at the crematorium must wait – the team are desperate to find Elodie before they lose her trail.

But as she follows the evidence, Gaby realises the two cases have a sinister connection… and there’s a killer on the loose.

Can Gaby find the missing girl alive… or is she already too late?

Full of twists and turns, this gripping thriller will keep you hooked to the end. Perfect for fans of Angela Marsons, LJ Ross and D.S. Butler.

Readers LOVE Lost Souls!

Absolutely brilliant… A great story line and characters that are easy to relate to. Highly recommended.’ NetGalley Reviewer, 5 Stars

‘I think this is the best in the series so far. I read it in a couple of hours! Bring on the next one.’ NetGalley Reviewer, 5 Stars

‘I love reading this series, it gets better with every book. It is a great story which had me gripped from the start.’ NetGalley Reviewer, 5 Stars

‘Lost Souls has exceeded my expectations. I already want to read a new case of this fascinating series.’ NetGalley Reviewer, 5 Stars

‘This book had intrigue, suspense, action, drama, heartache and heartbreak. It was a real who done it!’ NetGalley Reviewer, 5 Stars

‘This book will keep you on the edge of your seat! Great writing! Great plot!’ NetGalley Reviewer

 

99c for a limited time on all online retailers!

 

Amazon

 

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#FREE “The Whistle Blower: A Wing and a Prayer Mystery (Wing and a Prayer Mysteries Book 1)” by Robin Merrill

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Bad guys beware: There’s a soccer mom on your trail.

With three kids, Sandra’s life is a whirlwind of activity. Yet, sometimes she’s a little bored. 

When a referee drops dead during her son’s soccer game, and a short man claiming to be an angel asks her to help investigatesuddenly, life’s not such a routine.

The angel (is he really an angel?) tells her to go undercover as a soccer referee, which, of course, is ridiculous. She hasn’t run anywhere since high school.

But Sandra will find out she is still capable of far more than she thoughtwith a little help from above.

 

Amazon

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#BookSale “Missing Amanda: A Lou Fleener Mystery (Lou Fleener Mysteries Book 1)” by Duane Lindsay

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1950’S NOIR IS BACK— BUT
WITH TONGUE FIRMLY IN CHEEK!

P.I. Lou Fleener’s got a great disguise—he’s kind of short, slightly pudgy, and a little nondescript. But whatever you do, don’t get in a fight with him, even if you’ve brought a couple of buddies. Because you’re gonna lose every time. Some people just have a gift.

One of Lou’s is that nobody ever sees him coming, and he’s pretty much the Bruce Lee of street fighting. Who they see—especially if they’re female—is his tall, handsome friend Monk, and that brings us to Lou’s second superpower. He’s got a little something for the ladies too—he can dance like an Arthur Murray instructor.

Not your average 1950s Chicago P.I.

Duane Lindsay’s fresh take on the tough-guy detective is nicely buttressed by humor, graceful writing, and big, fun plots that sometimes evolve into intricate capers. Like this one.

It starts out nice and easy. Lou—an expert in Chicago gangster lore—is hired against his better judgment to find the adorable missing daughter of a wise guy. Only Amanda’s not really missing. In fact, there is no Amanda. The gangster’s got a devious agenda of his own.

But by the time Lou’s found that out, he’s got four crime bosses gunning for him, and he’s plenty pissed off. Not only should you never fight with Lou Fleener, you should also never piss him off. He quickly enlists Monk to outplot the plotters— because Monk’s super power is working out intricate and diabolical revenge plans. Next thing you know, Lou, Monk, a ragtag bunch of other P.I.s and blonde, intrepid Cassidy, Lou’s new squeeze, are conducting a dizzying array of heists that whisk the reader around glorious 1950’s Chicago.

If it all works, they get to live. And they might get rich. And for sure, somebody gets the girl.

Hard-boiled and caper readers step up—because here Lindsay pulls off a trick few writers who aren’t Donald Westlake will even attempt—he manages to create a noir yet delightfully careening and often humorous read.

Who else will like it? Well, since it pretty much has everything, pretty much all mystery fans, whether your favorite sub-genre is 50s pulp, noir, caper, or even cozy (because of the endearing characters, fun plot, and good humor). In particular fans of Westlake, Lawrence Block and Tim Hallinan (when in burglar mode), Thomas Perry, and TV shows like Good Girls and Imposters.

FREE at time of posting!

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#PreOrder “The Janitor’s Wife: A psychological suspense thriller full of twists” by L.G. Davis

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A local schoolgirl is murdered. Her husband is behind bars. Did he do it?

A year ago, after the devastating loss of their unborn child, Viola and Alex Watson leave Denver and start over in a tranquil town in Tennessee.

Viola is pregnant again, but her new life is about to collapse around her.

Alex is arrested for the murder of an Aston High schoolgirl who went missing three months ago.

Viola refuses to believe her husband is a murderer.

Eventually, the truth will unmask the real killer, and Alex will come back home.

But things are not always what they seem.

In her search for answers, Viola finds out the hard way that sometimes the truth can only be found in dark places. And once it’s out in the open, it has the power to expose the best-kept secrets and to punish both the innocent and the guilty.

The twists and turns in this gripping psychological thriller will leave you breathless.

Releases April 11th! (TOMORROW!)

PreOrder for 99c!

KINDLE UNLIMITED

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