Book Tour & Giveaway: Scattered Legacy: Murder in Southern Italy by Marlene M. Bell – Genre: Mystery/ Suspense @ewephoric @RRBookTours1 #RRBookTours

Welcome to the book tour for Scattered Legacy by Marlene M. Bell! Read on for details and the fantastic giveaway at the end!

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Scattered Legacy: Murder in Southern Italy 

Publication Date: November 4th, 2021

Genre: Mystery/ Suspense

To outsiders, the relationship between Manhattan antiquities assessor Annalisse Drury and sports car magnate Alec Zavos must look carefree and glamorous. In reality, it’s a love affair regularly punctuated by treasure hunting, action-packed adventure, and the occasional dead body.

When Alec schedules an overseas trip to show Annalisse his mother’s birthplace in Bari, Italy, he squeezes in the high-stakes business of divesting his family’s international corporation. But things go terribly wrong as murder makes its familiar reappearance in their lives – and this time it’s Alec’s disgraced former CFO who’s the main suspect.

Accompanied by friend and detective Bill Drake, Annalisse and Alec find themselves embroiled in a behind-closed-doors conspiracy that threatens the reputation and legacy of Alec’s late father – linking him to embezzlement, extortion, and the dirty business of the Sicilian Mafia. The search for the truth sends the trio straight into riddles, secrets, and an historic set of rosary beads. Annalisse leads Alec toward a discovery that is unthinkable, and events that will change their futures forever.

Scattered Legacy is the third in Marlene M. Bell’s thrilling Annalisse series, which weaves romance, crime, and historical mystery into addictive tales to instantly captivate fans of TV show Bones or Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code.

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Excerpt

The reception area is completely empty, and there’s a smell like metal in damp dirt circulating overhead. Farther in, the ceiling fan is hovering on high speed, and the windows are open.

A dead body inside a warm office leaves an unmistakable odor behind, as did the body Ethan found inside the stall at Walker Farm. Decomp is one smell that sticks with you forever. Adding to the office creepiness, who chose the interior’s decor? We’re surrounded by limestone walls painted an ugly shade of ochre, slightly more yellow and definitely more unappealing than the building’s exterior. The rooms will need another coat of fresh paint to cover a harsh stench known to stick to the walls like cigarette tar does.

No one is nearby, not even the receptionist.

The office cubicles are silent but for a few flapping papers. Not a single desk phone is ringing. It’s like the office decided to have a fire drill midday, and the employees left their computers on and didn’t bother to close folders—open to anyone passing by. Frames holding pictures of sweethearts and children stand by as guardians for the people who are absent from their high-back swivel chairs.

Officer Raffa returns and mutters in heavy Italian brogue, “Il signore is waiting for his… avvocato difensore.” He points to the room with a closed door. “Come, Mr. Zavos. Your friends stay here.”

“Josh is in there waiting for his defense attorney. Back soon.” Alec touches my arm and looks at Bill, sending him a private message.

Alec’s led to a side office, and the solid door closes behind them.

“Is Alec signing autographs, or should I even worry about what’s going on in that room? Has Josh been here the entire time messing with evidence?” I ask Bill.

“Alec’s prepared for all contingencies. I’m surprised they haven’t taken Jennings down to the station by now.”

A few minutes later, Alec emerges by himself. “They weren’t going to allow us to talk to Josh, but I persuaded him. It shouldn’t be much longer.”

For what feels like an eternity, we sit in ladderback pine chairs with brown cushions while Alec keeps adjusting his watch. I don’t know what Alec had to promise the officer. Autographs are fine with me, but if he had to pay him off, I’d rather not know.

“I hope Brad is parked in the shade somewhere.” Alec looks at his watch for the eighth time in twenty minutes and turns to me. “Now that we’re here, they seem to be in no hurry to get rid of us. I’m sorry, Anna. Hold on a little longer.” His smile is an honest one full of regret.

I’ve heard the sentiment from him so often it doesn’t even register with my brain anymore. We both have a lot of work to do in the I-promise-to-do-better department.

The closed door at the back wall opens, and a guy pokes his head out, surveying the room. He’s fiftyish and, with his reading glasses, reminds me of Gen’s studious accountant.

Alec pivots, and his earlier smile vanishes.

“That’s Jennings,” Bill says quietly.

“Yes.” Alec waves to draw the man’s attention.

A confused Josh looks at us and then the floor as if he’s embarrassed. Eventually he settles his eyes on Alec. “I wasn’t sure you’d come. My attorney should be here soon. Come back to the conference room.”

Bill asks Alec, “Is it okay to go on ahead?”

Alec must have compensated the officer well to allow us entry this close to the crime scene.

“Let’s get this over with.” Alec seems queasy.

The three of us move through the aisle between desks and toward the room with a door left open for us. Josh has already gone inside. For someone who wants Alec’s help, he sure doesn’t appear happy or grateful for his effort. A huge effort. This had better not be Josh’s way of buying himself out of the woman’s death. The disgrace of being fired from Signorile after Pearce’s tragedy has to hurt his pride.

There’s news of a deadly virus moving through Europe, and the typical handshake is no longer being used between business execs.

Bill lifts his arm and catches himself. “Mr. Jennings? My name is Bill Drake, an associate of Mr. Zavos. You’ve asked to see him, and we also have some questions for you on another matter.”

“Wonderful.” The man in a sweaty, slept-in polo isn’t thrilled with us staring him down. There’s frost in the room as testosterone flies between glances. No one wants to be the first to break the sheet of ice forming around the presumed blue-eyed killer. Alec hasn’t made any assumptions yet until we talk to him, but Josh’s cool facade feels calculated to me. A superior to Alec, or something like that. For an innocent, I don’t like his peculiar behavior in the presence of a man who’s here to keep his neck from a noose.

“I asked to see Alec. Who are the rest of you?”

He’s behind a chair, using it as a shield to save himself from a CEO who wants to take his livelihood from him again. Or is it because he’s guilty of ending a woman’s life?

Alec pulls out the chair for me, and we all sit at the long conference table with a fancy letter F embellished in the center.

Josh’s temples bead with sweat, and he’s wringing his hands next to a wool felt fedora hat with a band. They seem to be popular in Italy. The guy’s bloodshot eyes and dark circles are sure signs of insomnia and stressing to the max. Wet ovals hang beneath the armpits of his beige shirt.

Alec’s unshakable gaze lands on Jennings, who abruptly turns away.

This meeting isn’t opening well.

Bill addresses Josh. “We don’t have a lot of time. Authorities aren’t thrilled with us questioning you, but they were… let’s say, swayed. Tell us what happened here?”

“She was tied and tortured in my office after I left night before last. I opened the building in the morning at seven and found her lying on her side, strapped to a chair and wrapped in wire near my desk. Lots of blood.” Josh holds a paper towel over his mouth, then uses it to wipe away perspiration. “When I left the building, she was in the conference room. I have no idea how she ended up in the office. Maybe the cat went in there.” He slides the fedora into his lap.

“Who is she?” Alec asks.

“Benita Alvarez.”

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About the Author

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“Mystery at a killing pace”

Marlene M. Bell is an award-winning writer, artist, and sheep breeder who resides in beautiful East Texas. Her renown sheep photographs grace the covers of many livestock magazines.

The third book in the Annalisse Series releases in 2021. Scattered Legacy is an international mystery with light touches of romance. Stolen Obsession and Spent Identity, books one and two, received numerous awards including the Independent Press Award for Best Mystery in 2020. Her mysteries can be found at marlenembell.com.

Marlene also writes children’s books. Her first children’s picture book, Mia and Nattie: One Great Team! is based on true events with Natalie from the Bell’s ranch. It’s a touching story of compassion and love between a little girl and her lamb. Mia and Nattie is honored to be a Mom’s Choice Gold Award winner.

Marlene shares her life with her husband and a few dreadfully spoiled horned Dorset sheep: a large Maremma guard dog named Tia, and cats, Hollywood, Leo, and Squeaks. The cats believe they rule the household—and do.

Marlene M. Bell | FacebookTwitter 

 

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Book Tour Schedule

December 20th

R&R Book Tours (Spotlight) http://rrbooktours.com

Reads & Reels (Spotlight) http://readsandreels.com

Books, Rambling, and Tea (Spotlight) https://booksramblingsandtea.com/

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Bunny’s Book Reviews (Review) https://bookwormbunnyreviews.blogspot.com/

December 21st

Carrie’s Book Reviews (Spotlight) https://carriesbookreviews.com/

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The Magic of Wor(l)ds (Spotlight) http://themagicofworlds.wordpress.com

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December 22nd

Gina Rae Mitchell (Spotlight) https://ginaraemitchell.com/

Jessica Belmont (Review) https://jessicabelmont.com/

@gryffindorbookishnerd (Review) https://www.instagram.com/gryffindorbookishnerd/

The Faerie Review (Spotlight) http://www.thefaeriereview.com

December 23rd

  @louturnspages (Spotlight) https://www.instagram.com/louturnspages/

Stine Writing (Spotlight) https://christinebialczak.com/

   @efatuatedreadings (Review) https://www.instagram.com/efatuatedreadings/

Liliyana Shadowlyn (Review) https://lshadowlynauthor.com/

December 24th

B is for Book Review (Spotlight) https://bforbookreview.wordpress.com

Lisa’s Everyday Reads (Spotlight) https://lisaevrydayread.wordpress.com/

@lisaeverydaylife (Spotlight) https://www.instagram.com/lisaeverydaylife/

 

Giveaway US Only:

A Signed Copy of Scattered Legacy – The Annalisse Series

Annalisse Series Flashlight (red)

Biking in Tuscany Wooden Puzzle

Tessilechiti Italian Designer Throw Blanket (51×67 inches) Made in Italy

 

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Available for Review: Behind the Veil by E.J. Dawson – Genre: Gothic/ Paranormal Suspense @ejdawsonauthor @RRBookTours1 #RRBookTours #Books

I don’t know what is more enticing, this beautiful cover or the plot? Check out Behind the Veil by E.J. Dawson!

Behind the Veil - Dawson, E. J_

Behind the Veil

Publication Date: October 1st, 2021

Genre: Gothic Noir/ Paranormal Suspense

Can she keep the secrets of her past to rescue a girl tormented by a ghost?

In 1920s Los Angeles, Letitia Hawking reads the veil between life and death. A scrying bowl allows her to experience the final moments of the deceased. She brings closure to grief-stricken war widows and mourning families.
For Letitia, it is a penance. She knows no such peace.

For Alasdair Driscoll, it may be the only way to save his niece, Finola, from her growing night terrors. But when Letitia sees a shadowy figure attached to the household, it rouses old fears of her unspeakable past in England.

When a man comes to her about his missing daughter, the third girl to go missing in as many months, Letitia can’t help him when she can’t see who’s taken them.

As a darkness haunts Letitia’s vision, she may not be given a choice in helping the determined Mr Driscoll, or stop herself falling in love with him. But to do so risks a part of herself she locked away, and to release it may cost Letitia her sanity and her heart.

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Excerpt

Finola lay in a room better suited to a princess.

A four-poster bed draped in gauze shrouded the figure within. A pale pink duvet covered the slight frame, illuminated by a rose glass lampshade held aloft by a fairy cast in bronze.

Pretty as it was, Letitia focused on the girl in the bed.

Finola’s breathing was labored, her eyes twitching beneath her lids and forehead clammy, with threads of auburn hair sticking to her skin.

Letitia studied her for several moments.

There was no darkness attached to the girl, though the room’s low light gave too many shadows for Letitia’s liking. Ever wary of self-protection, she took hesitant footsteps closer.

When she stood at the foot of the bed, and was sure there were no dark specters here, she took Finola’s measure.

Finola was drugged, but from the girl’s eyes flickering in uneasy sleep it wasn’t working. Even with the morphine, Letitia could tell what the others could not—Finola would still have the nightmares.

A nurse sat beside the bed, and Letitia looked to her, letting a sliver of the nurse’s personality in.

A warm autumn breeze regarded her, refreshing though it was weak. The nurse stared at Letitia but made no comment at Letitia’s scrutiny.

“What’s your name?” Letitia asked, coming around the bed to offer her hand.

“Nurse Hopkins.” Hopkins had curling brown hair and hard dark eyes. A firm hand gripped Letitia’s gloved one, and she maintained eye contact. There was a hardness within the nurse, and Letitia guessed she’d served in the war. Not on the front lines, but she was toughened by her experience.

“What can you tell me about Finola’s condition?” Letitia asked. Mr. Driscoll came up beside her, and Letitia held up a hand to silence him. He glared but nodded permission for Hopkins to speak when the nurse hesitated.

“She has terrible night episodes,” the nurse said, “like those of the soldiers coming back. When she’s awake she cries a lot, she…bathes often but won’t eat much.” The nurse’s glance dipped between Finola and Mrs. Quinn as though she would say more, but she pressed her lips together.

“What else?” Letitia’s gentle tone, and the retreat of Mr. Driscoll’s looming form, let loose the nurse’s tongue.

“I walk with her in the gardens,” she said. “She…doesn’t like people to touch her. Appears distracted and nervous, takes to fright, doesn’t like strange men—the gardeners and delivery men and such.”

It was succinct but what Letitia needed to hear. “Thank you, could you give me a moment?”

The nurse needed another nod from Mr. Driscoll before she took her leave.

“Well?” Mrs. Quinn asked, standing on the far side of the bed, touching her daughter’s forehead. The girl flinched, and Mrs. Quinn drew back her hand with a disappointed frown.

“Please don’t,” Letitia asked, and Mrs. Quinn’s glower turned to acute displeasure.

“She’s my daughter and she’s sick.” Mrs. Quinn’s voice held a razor’s edge that hadn’t been there before.

“She also can’t distinguish who is touching her when she’s dreaming,” Letitia said, and Mrs. Quinn covered her widening mouth, gaze darting between Letitia and Finola. She must come do this often, and what should have been the comforting gesture of a mother made the nightmares worse.

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About the Authorweb-res-ej-dawson-005

Beginning a writing journey with an epic 21 book series, Ejay started her author career in 2014 and has taken on the ups and downs of self-publishing with her fantasy series The Last Prophecy since 2016. At the start of 2019, she put the series on the backburner to write Behind the Veil in 25 days, and signed a publishing contract for the gothic noir novel to independent publisher Literary Wanderlust. Behind the Veil is set for release on the October 1st 2021. She resumed self-publishing a scifi series, Queen of Spades released across 2020 and 2021, as well as signing another contract with Literary Wanderlust for NA fantasy, Echo of the Evercry. Believing in more than one path to a career in publishing, Ejay pursues self-publishing alongside querying traditional publishers with multiple manuscripts.

Ejay writes scifi, fantasy, and horror, with a dash of the paranormal. Behind the Veil is her first book with Literary Wanderlust, a romantic suspense with a touch of darkness. She also has a fantasy NA with Literary, Echo of the Evercry, and two self published series.

EJ Dawson | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

 

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Book Tour & Giveaway: Walnut Street: Phantom Rider (A Botanic Hill Detectives Mystery) by Sherrill Joseph @MysteryAuthor7 @RRBookTours1 #MG #Mystery #MGReads #RRBookTours

Welcome to book tour for Walnut Street: Phantom Rider by Sherrill Joseph. Read on for more info and a chance to enter a fantastic giveaway!

WalnutStreeteBookCover

Walnut Street: Phantom Rider (A Botanic Hill Detectives Mystery)

Publication Date: November 9th, 2021

Genre: MG Mystery/ Middle Grade (For fans of Nancy Drew type mysteries)

Objects of value have been disappearing from the Mayfield family’s rural California horse ranch. The Botanic Hill Detectives—Moki Kalani, Rani Kumar, and twins Lanny and Lexi Wyatt—are hired to come for a week to investigate.

Legend has it somewhere on the Mayfields’ forty-acre property is a long-lost gold mine. It was supposedly staked by thirteen-year-old Ben Mayfield’s five-time great-grandfather, “Papa” Mayfield, in 1875.

Adding to the excitement, a nervous Ben reveals a frightening secret to the detectives. At the ranch, he alone has seen a threatening black-clad figure on horseback whom he calls the Phantom Rider. Who is this mysterious person? Is he responsible for the thefts? Where is the lost gold mine? And what’s going on in the nearby, snake-infested ghost town of Rainbow Flats? The four intrepid detectives aim to find out.

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Purchase Paperback Here and eBook Here!  

 

About the Author

Author Photo

Sherrill Joseph will be forever inspired by her beautiful students in the San Diego public schools where she taught for thirty-five years before retiring and becoming a published author.

The author has peopled and themed her mysteries with characters after her own responsible, role-model students, of various abilities, disabilities, races, cultures, and interests. She strongly believes that children need to find themselves and others unlike themselves in books if all are to become accepting, anti-racist world citizens.

Her gift of lexical-gustatory synesthesia enables her to bring richer imagination to her writing.

Sherrill is the recipient of two Gold Awards from Mom’s Choice Book Awards, two Gold Awards from Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards, three awards from Story Monsters Approved, and numerous other children’s book awards. She is a member of SCBWI, the Authors Guild, and Blackbird Writers. Watch for many more adventures with the Botanic Hill Detectives!

Sherrill Joseph | Newsletter | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

 

Win a signed, personalized paperback copy of Walnut Street: Phantom Rider, some matching book swag (bookmark & sticker), and a $10 Amazon gift card (US ONLY).

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Book Tour Schedule

November 15th

Reads & Reels (Spotlight) http://readsandreels.com

@inkspit.blog (Spotlight) https://www.instagram.com/inkspit.blog/

Bunny’s Book Reviews (Spotlight) https://bookwormbunnyreviews.blogspot.com/

Sophril Reads (Spotlight) http://sophrilreads.wordpress.com

November 16th

Jessica Belmont (Review) https://jessicabelmont.com/

Stine Writing (Review) https://christinebialczak.com/

Read & Rated (Spotlight) https://readandrated.com/

November 17th

B is for Book Review (Spotlight) https://bforbookreview.wordpress.com

   @bookz.forever (Review) https://www.instagram.com/bookz.forever/

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November 18th

LoopyLouLaura (Review) https://www.loopyloulaura.com/

Nesie’s Place (Spotlight) https://nesiesplace.wordpress.com

Latisha’s Lowkey Life (Spotlight) https://latishaslowkeylife.com/

The Faerie Review (Spotlight) http://www.thefaeriereview.com

November 19th

Liliyana Shadowlyn (Review) https://lshadowlynauthor.com/

@wraithreads (Review) https://www.instagram.com/wraithreads/

Rambling Mads (Spotlight) http://ramblingmads.com

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Book Release Blitz: Walnut Street: Phantom Rider (A Botanic Hill Detectives Mystery) by Sherrill Joseph @MysteryAuthor7 @RRBookTours1 #MG #Mystery #MGReads #RRBookTours

Happy publication day to Sherrill Joseph! Today marks the release of Walnut Street: Phantom Rider, the next Botanic Hill Detective Mysteries novel! Read on for more info and the chance to win a fantastic giveaway!

WalnutStreeteBookCover

Walnut Street: Phantom Rider (A Botanic Hill Detectives Mystery)

Publication Date: November 9th, 2021

Genre: MG Mystery/ Middle Grade (For fans of Nancy Drew type mysteries)

Objects of value have been disappearing from the Mayfield family’s rural California horse ranch. The Botanic Hill Detectives—Moki Kalani, Rani Kumar, and twins Lanny and Lexi Wyatt—are hired to come for a week to investigate.

Legend has it somewhere on the Mayfields’ forty-acre property is a long-lost gold mine. It was supposedly staked by thirteen-year-old Ben Mayfield’s five-time great-grandfather, “Papa” Mayfield, in 1875.

Adding to the excitement, a nervous Ben reveals a frightening secret to the detectives. At the ranch, he alone has seen a threatening black-clad figure on horseback whom he calls the Phantom Rider. Who is this mysterious person? Is he responsible for the thefts? Where is the lost gold mine? And what’s going on in the nearby, snake-infested ghost town of Rainbow Flats? The four intrepid detectives aim to find out.

Add to Goodreads

Purchase Paperback Here and eBook Here!  

About the Author

Author Photo

Sherrill Joseph will be forever inspired by her beautiful students in the San Diego public schools where she taught for thirty-five years before retiring and becoming a published author. 

The author has peopled and themed her mysteries with characters after her own responsible, role-model students, of various abilities, disabilities, races, cultures, and interests. She strongly believes that children need to find themselves and others unlike themselves in books if all are to become accepting, anti-racist world citizens. 

Her gift of lexical-gustatory synesthesia enables her to bring richer imagination to her writing.

Sherrill is the recipient of two Gold Awards from Mom’s Choice Book Awards, two Gold Awards from Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards, three awards from Story Monsters Approved, and numerous other children’s book awards. She is a member of SCBWI, the Authors Guild, and Blackbird Writers. Watch for many more adventures with the Botanic Hill Detectives!

Sherrill Joseph | Newsletter | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

Win a signed, personalized paperback copy of Walnut Street: Phantom Rider, some matching book swag (bookmark & sticker), and a $10 Amazon gift card (US ONLY). Giveaway will close on November 12th!

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Cover Reveal: Walnut Street: Phantom Rider (A Botanic Hill Detectives Mystery) by Sherrill Joseph @MysteryAuthor7 @RRBookTours1 #MG #Mystery #MGReads #RRBookTours

We’re thrilled to share the beautiful cover of another exciting Botanic Hill Detectives mystery! This one is called Walnut Street: Phantom Rider and its coming late this Fall!

Subscribe to Sherril’s newsletter to learn more about the books and receive news about release dates etc.

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Walnut Street: Phantom Rider (A Botanic Hill Detectives Mystery)

Expected Publication Date: November 9th, 2021

Genre: MG Mystery/ Middle Grade (For fans of Nancy Drew type mysteries)

Objects of value have been disappearing from the Mayfield family’s rural California horse ranch. The Botanic Hill Detectives—Moki Kalani, Rani Kumar, and twins Lanny and Lexi Wyatt—are hired to come for a week to investigate.   

Legend has it somewhere on the Mayfields’ forty-acre property is a long-lost gold mine. It was supposedly staked by thirteen-year-old Ben Mayfield’s five-time great-grandfather, “Papa” Mayfield, in 1875.

Adding to the excitement, a nervous Ben reveals a frightening secret to the detectives. At the ranch, he alone has seen a threatening black-clad figure on horseback whom he calls the Phantom Rider. Who is this mysterious person? Is he responsible for the thefts? Where is the lost gold mine? And what’s going on in the nearby, snake-infested ghost town of Rainbow Flats? The four intrepid detectives aim to find out.

Coming Soon!

About the Author

Author Photo

Sherrill Joseph will be forever inspired by her beautiful students in the San Diego public schools where she taught for thirty-five years before retiring and becoming a published author.

The author has peopled and themed her mysteries with characters after her own responsible, role-model students, of various abilities, disabilities, races, cultures, and interests. She believes that children need to find themselves and those unlike themselves in books for developing accepting, anti-racist world citizens.

Sherrill is a native San Diegan where she lives in a 1928 Spanish-style house in a historic neighborhood with her adorable bichon frisé-poodle mix, Jimmy Lambchop, who blogs.

Her books are recipients of two Gold Awards from Mom’s Choice Book Awards, a Gold Award from Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards, three awards from Story Monsters Approved, and numerous other children’s book awards. She is a member of SCBWI, the Authors Guild, and Blackbird Writers. Watch for many more adventures with the Botanic Hill Detectives!

Sherrill Joseph | Newsletter | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

 

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Blog Tour: Maggie Dove by Susan Breen @SusanjBreen @KeriBarnum @RRBookTours1 #RRBookTours

Check out this new cozy mystery called Maggie Dove by Susan Breen! Read on for details and a chance to win a $25 Amazon e-gift card!

58474646._SY475_Maggie Dove

Genre: Cozy Mystery

Publication Date: July 27th, 2021

Susan Breen introduces a charming series heroine in this poignant and absorbing cozy mystery with a bite. Maggie Dove thinks everyone in her small Westchester County community knows everyone else’s secrets. Then murder comes to town…

When Sunday School teacher Maggie Dove finds her hateful next-door neighbor Marcus Bender lying dead under her beloved oak tree—the one he demanded she cut down—she figures the man dropped dead of a mean heart. But Marcus was murdered, and the prime suspect is a young man Maggie loves like a son. Peter Nelson was the worst of Maggie’s Sunday School students; he was also her late daughter’s fiancé, and he’s been a devoted friend to Maggie in the years since her daughter’s death.

Maggie can’t lose Peter, too. So she sets out to find the real murderer. To do that, she must move past the grief that has immobilized her all these years. She must probe the hidden corners of her little village on the Hudson River. And, when another death strikes even closer to home, Maggie must find the courage to defend the people and the town she loves—even if it kills her.

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Excerpt

Maggie Dove wanted to be a beacon of light. She dreamed of being the sort of person who made others laugh, calmed crying babies, soothed wild dogs, inspired hopefulness. She wanted her life to be about something grand, yet every blessed thing that happened seemed designed to bring out all that was petty, cranky and small in her middle-aged self.

Take her neighbor, Marcus Bender. Maggie knew, intellectually, that he wasn’t an incarnation of Satan. He was just an annoying man. He was the sort of man who blew all his leaves onto her lawn each fall. He drove too fast down her quiet street, and once, when she had to jump out of the way of his car, she saw him laugh. He put a soccer net right up against her property so that every time his kids missed a goal, the ball went flying into her rose bushes. All of this, Maggie recognized, was insignificant. Petty. She tried to ignore it. She wanted to ignore it, and she might have succeeded had Bender not gone after her oak tree.

Maggie loved that oak tree. Her father planted it when she was a girl. She’d climbed on it. Her daughter had swung on its branches. She put ghosts on it for Halloween and lights on it for Christmas. Maggie loved the graceful shrug of its branches; she loved watching its little flowers unfold into leaves. She loved the little pods that floated over her lawn in the fall. Mostly she loved the way the tree linked her to her past and future. She would come and go, her daughter had come and gone, but the tree was as close to eternal as she was likely to see anytime soon.

Bender wanted her to move the tree. That was the sort of man he was. He thought you should move trees. It blocked his view of the Hudson River. He’d gone to considerable expense to remodel his house, which was the old Bell house, home of Maggie’s best friend growing up. He’d transformed the quiet little colonial into a Spanish style atrocity that looked like it had a dungeon in the basement. He had an art studio on the top floor, though he wasn’t an artist. He was a lawyer, but he had an artistic bent and wanted to paint studies of the Hudson River, and he didn’t want those studies blighted, as he said, by her oak tree. Blighted!

Maggie said no.

He offered her money. He had a lot of money and was willing to pay to get what he wanted. He seemed genuinely surprised to find there was a person in the world who didn’t care about what Bender wanted.

“We’ll work this out, Maggie,” he said, grinning at her in that wolfish way he had. He was a very good-looking man, athletic, muscular, tanned. He wore suits to work and his broad chest bulged against the constrictions of his shirt. Winifred Bell, who had once been Maggie’s neighbor, but was now confined to a nursing home because of Parkinson’s, was convinced that the source of Maggie’s anger was sexual desire, a conclusion Maggie thought so far off the mark, she didn’t even argue about it.

She didn’t like men like steam rollers. She liked gentle men, and gentle people. She loved her small town on the Hudson River and the people she’d grown up with and she loved that tree. There was no amount of money he could pay her to make it worthwhile to cut it down. She didn’t want to fight about it; didn’t want to talk about it. She just wanted to live her life and enjoy her tree.

Then, one April morning, Maggie went outside to see if any new leaves were starting to form. She loved those wispy little clusters that blossomed for a short time each spring, but as she neared the tree she was struck by a sharp odor. She saw a strange dark puddle at the base of the tree; bent down to sniff it and her nostrils burned. Poison.  Bender was poisoning her tree.

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About the Author

Breen casual photo

Susan Breen best-selling Maggie Dove mystery series was first published by a digital imprint of Penguin Random House and in the process of being reissued in paperback by Under the Oak Press. She’s proud to have had two of her Maggie Dove stories in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine. A new story will be in Malice Domestic’s upcoming anthology: Murder Most Diabolical (introduced by Walter Mosley.) She was also longlisted for the 2021 Margery Allingham Short Story competition. Susan’s first novel, The Fiction Class, won a Washington Irving Award from the Westchester Library Association.

Susan teaches novel-writing at Gotham Writers and she’s also on the faculty of the New York Pitch Conference. She lives in a very pretty little village on the Hudson River with her husband, two sweet cockapoo dogs and two rather aggressive cats. Her three grown children are flourishing elsewhere.

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