featuring guest authors; crafting tips and projects; recipes from food editor and sleuthing sidekick Cloris McWerther; and decorating, travel, fashion, health, beauty, and finance tips from the rest of the American Woman editors.

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Monday, January 31, 2022


Aside from her tendency to think of weird ways to kill people, Anne Louise Bannon is appallingly normal. Her only real quirk is wearing earrings that don’t match. She is the author of the Freddie and Kathy series, set in the 1920s, the Operation Quickline series of cozy spy novels, and the Old Los Angeles series, featuring Maddie Wilcox, a doctor and winemaker in 1870. Anne and her husband live in the Los Angeles area, where they make the things most sane people buy. Which would be a quirk but seems to be increasingly normal these days. Today Anne stops by to talk about making her own bias tape. Learn more about her and her books at her website.  

Making Your Own Bias Tape


Lisa Wycherly, one of the two main characters in my Operation Quickline series, sews a lot of her own clothes, but we don’t actually see her doing it very often. That’s probably because it’s a lot more interesting to see her chasing down bad guys or fighting with her partner, Sid Hackbirn, than it is to see her putting in a zipper. 


On the other hand, in the latest Quickline story, My Sweet Lisa, we see her doing working on her friend Kathy’s wedding dress. And we get to see her sewing room through Sid’s eyes and through her mother’s eyes.


It's no coincidence that Lisa sews. I do, too, and like Lisa, I have a lot of scraps hanging around. One of the things I sometimes do is make my own bias tape. It’s rather easy, thanks to a gizwatchee called a bias tape maker (https://clover-usa.com/collections/bias-tape-makers).


The best fabrics to use are medium-weight cottons, but I’ve made bias tape out of corduroy, and it worked well. I’ve also used the backs of shirts whose collars have died. If I can get some solid strips, I’ll make bias tape out of it. The toughest part is finding the bias on a scrap that no longer has its selvedge. The second toughest part is figuring out how much you need if you have a specific project in mind.

To find the bias on a scrap, look for the warp (lengthwise grain) or the weft (crosswise grain), and draw a line with a washable marker, chalk, or whatever you like. I use Flair pens because the ink shows up well and washes out easily.

Next, get a right triangle – you can find them in art supply stores or raid someone’s toolbox. Line up the triangle so that one of the right angle legs runs along the grainline you marked and the hypotenuse cuts diagonally across the grainline. If you happen to have a bit of selvedge on your scrap, you can line up the triangle along that instead. Mark the diagonal line, then use your ruler to make a series of lines parallel to each other along the diagonal.

How wide to make that line depends on how wide you want your finished tape. It can vary and you should check the directions that come with your specific bias tape maker. As a general rule, the cut width is going to be three times your finished width. So, if you want half-inch wide bias tape, you’ll want to cut your bias strips an inch and a half wide. The wider the tape, though, the more it will depend on the specific bias tape maker you have. Another thing to consider is that if you’re using heavier fabric, you’re going to want to make the tape a lot wider since corduroy, for example, won’t go through a half-inch maker.


Once you’ve drawn your strips, you need to stitch them together. The best way to figure out which angle to match the ends is to lay the pieces out. If it will make a nice straight line when sewn and pressed, then that’s how it goes together.

Now, the fun starts. Depending on how long your strip is and how clean your floors are, you can just let the fabric hang off your ironing board or find something to roll it on, such as an empty toilet paper tube. You’ll probably also want another tube or piece of cardboard to roll up the freshly pressed tape.


Get your bias tape maker ready and your iron good and hot and steaming, adjusting for your fabric as needed. Poke the end of your strip into the wide end of the maker and push it through. This can be a little tricky and some makers have little holes in the top or bottom so that you can use a pin or other pointed object to push the fabric through. Once you’ve got the end through, get your iron in place and press on the end. Pull the maker back along the strip and you’ll see the folds magically form. Press those folds into place, roll up the strip, leaving enough space for the iron, then pull the maker back, and press again.


That’s pretty much all there is to it. Use your bias tape like you would any other. I used some corduroy tape to bind the edges of a vest. Other tape I used as decoration on a dress, and there’s a blouse somewhere in my closet that has my homemade tape binding the raw edge of a collar.

Now, whether we’re going to see Lisa Wycherly making bias tape in a later Quickline story, I don’t know yet.


My Sweet Lisa is currently appearing as a fiction serial on AnneLouiseBannon.com/blogs. It’s the seventh Operation Quickline story. You can find the previous six stories at https://annelouisebannon.com/operation-quickline-series/


My Sweet Lisa

Finally, it's real love... Now what?


Lisa Wycherly's surprise birthday party ends in a terrifying disaster when she's kidnapped off the street. Her partner, Sid Hackbirn, is so devastated that he loses his interest in sleeping around - the one thing keeping the two of them apart. The kidnapping gets messy enough when it comes to light that the kidnappers got the wrong target. But there's also a defecting KGB agent playing games with the CIA, who are involved with the Colombian kidnappers.


Then Lisa's recovery sets in motion a whole other set of challenges as she and Sid deal with her trauma and try to get the KGB agent under control, only to find that Sid's randy past will continue to haunt them. The only thing worse? Figuring out how to be a couple.


Buy Link for Operation Quickline Box Set 

Friday, January 28, 2022


As an educator for more than 40 years, Dianne DeMille has written curriculum and co-authored the memoir of her father Leslie B. DeMille, a world-renowned. She continues to write curricula, presents at local and national conferences and works with university students becoming high school mathematics teachers in retirement. She joins us today to talk about how she came to write about a true crime DEA investigation. Learn more about Dianne and her books at her website. 

I retired from Education as a high school mathematics teacher. I spent the last eighteen years of my career at Orange County Department of Education in California where I worked with teachers and administrators and also wrote curriculum. In retirement, I continue my connection to teaching by working part-time with California University, Fullerton, supervising new high school mathematics teachers.


My father, Leslie B. DeMille was a well-known professional artist throughout the country and internationally, specializing in portraiture. He asked me to co-write his memoir along with his friend who was living in the same senior facility. We finished It Started with a Pencil: Memoir, Leslie B. DeMille about six months before my father passed away in 2016. 


A few years ago, I met Randy Torgerson, a private investigator. We lived in the same area and owned our own businesses. After talking about what we have done, he told me briefly about a case he and his friends wanted to write about. I said I would like to hear more about it. 

He then introduced me to Jeff Pearce, another private investigator. They had both worked with DEA Agent Larry Hardin in the 90s in Yuma, AZ and Mexico. The four of us had a meeting. They convinced me I should write their story. I thought, "Uh-oh, what am I getting myself into?" I kept asking questions, "Am I safe?" "Are we going to be OK?". This was a brand-new experience for me. 


When I heard the stories, along with their excitement and passion, I said, "OK, let's do it." 


I questioned whether I could do this. I am a person who often says, "Well, let's give it a try." I think my experience in working this way with mathematics problems, gives me the courage to try most things.


The title of the book is Path of the Devil, Camino del Diablo. We finished it in about a year and a half and it has created a lot of interest. I learned a whole new vocabulary and things happening at the border that I knew nothing about. This was a fascinating experience and continues to be as I work with these guys.


Larry and I wrote his second book about his personal spiritual journey called Fighting My Greatest Enemy, Myself. We also did a podcast series during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Path of the Devil: Camino del Diablo

Path of the Devil: Camino del Diablo is a story of true events that occurred from 1991-1996. DEA Agent Larry Hardin and two private investigators, Jeff Pearce and Randy Torgerson, were determined to bring down the Meraz organization along the southwestern border. For five years the three men spearheaded two separate and simultaneous investigations in different locations that eventually merged.


Jeff and Randy provided information to Larry to build his case when they found the Merazes were working with corrupt employees of their California client. The Meraz's attempted to murder two DEA agents (1970s) and were connected to the murders of Kiki Camerena, George Montoya, Paul Seema, Jose Montoya, Dan Elkins, and Michael Crowe. Larry was determined to indict the Merazes.


Buy Links



Wednesday, January 26, 2022


Sue Pepper writes cozy mysteries set in the Pacific Northwest where she lives with her two kids, fuzzy yellow dog, and real-life action hero husband. A former resident of Jackson Hole, WY pushed out by the billionaire-caused housing crisis, she enjoys writing revenge and redemption for the fictional residents of her Jackson Hole Moose's Bakery Not So Cozy Mystery series. Learn more about Sue and her books at her website. 

How My Years in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Influenced My Books

My family lived in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, for three wonderful years. Calling the famed tourist destination on the outskirts of Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks home had its difficulties. The cost of living was astronomical and trying to park downtown during tourist season was impossible, but the nearby natural wonders and vibrant, close-knit year-round community made it worth it. 


We left because stable housing was financially unattainable, which is why most people have a difficult time staying there. While we’re now happy in the Pacific Northwest, we miss Jackson dearly. When I started brainstorming my new mystery series, I immediately knew I wanted to reconnect with Jackson Hole by making it the setting. The current housing crisis is at the center of each of my mysteries, and the tension between second and third homeowners, the strained local workforce, millions of tourists a year, wildlife, conservationists, and developers provide lots of inspiration for plot.


Jackson is beautiful in all seasons­–the brief, shining summer, the brief, colorful fall, the long cold and snowy winter, and the muddy, rainy spring. My goal for the series is to write a book in each month of the year, connecting it to what it’s like to live in Jackson as a local year-round. The first book, Mountain Town Murder, happens in October and culminates on Halloween. 


I set Hot Springs Murder, the second in the series, in January when Jackson Hole transforms into a snowy wonderland. Yearly accumulating more than 400 inches of snow, Jackson is a destination for downhill skiing, snowmobiling, fat biking and cross-country skiing. Town square transforms into a winter wonderland with an ice-skating rink and warming shelter, while tiny lights are strung in the signature antler arches and the trees, lighting up the long nights. 


The hot springs in my book are fictional but are based on Granite Hot Springs south of Jackson in Hoback Canyon. In the summer, you can drive up the forested road to visit them, and even camp nearby. In the winter, the hot springs are a snowmobile, cross-country ski, fat bike, or dog sled away. The natural 112-degree spring water is perfect for soaking after a day on the slopes at one of the three nearby ski resorts, including Snow King Mountain, which overlooks the town of Jackson. 


My series protagonist, Sadie Moose, owns the fictional local landmark Moose’s Bakery just off the Jackson town square. I based her bakery on three of my favorite local coffee shops, all places I’ve sat with my laptop as I dreamt up this career I’m currently enjoying. Moose’s has the vibes of Cowboy Coffee Co., location of Persephone Bakery, and knotty pine cabin look of Jackson Hole Roasters. All three are excellent and worth a stop if you’re ever in town.


Having the license as an author to take inspiration from multiple places, move things around to fit my narrative, and make things exactly how I want them to be is so much fun. The opportunity to show an unseen side of an often-visited place through my work is very satisfying. More reasons I love writing! 


Hot Springs Murder

A Jackson Hole Moose’s Bakery Not So Cozy, Book 2


Things are heating up...


Sadie Moose is enjoying a romantic evening in a snowy moonlit hot spring with her new boyfriend when a dead body floating in the pool interrupts their steamy interlude.


Yes. Another dead body. But she is absolutely not getting involved this time. She has enough to do with a business expansion underway, her new renters, and her new relationship.


Except the chief suspect is the troubled grandson of one of the regulars at her bakery in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. She promises she’ll ask some questions to keep him out of jail. And then her new barista is a neighbor of the deceased, and she’s having a hard time sleeping thinking someone in her tight-knit neighborhood is a murderer. So Sadie asks a few more questions.


Soon, she’s embroiled in the investigation, with danger lurking around every snowy corner. With help from her sexy boyfriend, rowdy bakery crew, a maybe-mob-princess, and her trusty canine companion, Tyrone, Sadie must clear the mist surrounding this mystery, before the killer boils her, too.

Buy Link

Monday, January 24, 2022


Today we sit down for a chat with Louise “Weezy” Napolitani from author John Baird Rogers Mayfield-Napolitani Thriller Series.

What was your life like before your author started pulling your strings?

I grew up in the North End of Boston in the third generation of a family of fishmongers. Thirty or so close relatives, mostly cops, firemen, fishermen. When I went across the bridge to go to MIT, I became the odd person out in my family. 


My author described me like this in Fatal Score: “‘Weezy’s a pistol’ was the throwaway line members of her tracker team informally known as the OddBalls used to salve egos she shredded. She certainly didn’t look intimidating. Her face was angular, beautiful in some perspectives, plain in others. In junior high, a growth spurt stretched her to five-foot-eight, and she grew into her nose. ‘Weezy’ came along with her younger brother’s first words and stuck because ‘Louise Napolitani’ was too long and too formal to fit her. She was slender to the point that Adam Ambrosio, the rookie member of the OddBalls, said with a grin, ‘Look at her sideways, all’s you get is T&A.’


Her Aunt Tonia, speaking in a stage whisper to Weezy’s mother, had said, ‘Beautiful. She would be byootiful if she’d only take care of herself.’ Taking care of herself would mean styling her hair, wearing lipstick to highlight her full lips, and amending her already lush eyelashes. Instead, Weezy wore whatever was on top of the clothes pile in the morning, and details like combing her chestnut mop usually didn’t make her priority list.”


I’m not sure that’s entirely fair. My best friend, Maddie, straightened me out a bit on the fashion bit (see below), and I now find that I enjoy making myself pretty for Joe.


What’s the one trait you like most about yourself? 

I guess I have to say honesty. That’s really an offshoot of efficiency and mathematical elegance—honesty is always the most efficient solution. if you don’t lie, you don’t have to remember how to cover your butt. True, it gets me in trouble sometimes. I see stuff other people might eventually figure out, usually before they do, and sometimes I blurt it out and offend them.


What do you like least about yourself?

The blurting it out thing. And the fact I know I relate better to logical constructs than human beings.


What is the strangest thing your author has had you do or had happen to you?

So far, the main thing is he made me act like a lady in Skins and Bone. See “Maddie,” below. The next book, and the one that follows it has some pretty awful stuff, but it would be a spoiler to tell.


Do you argue with your author? If so, what do you argue about?

I want him to make Joe stronger, more interesting. See, when he started writing, Joe was the sole protagonist in the series. I think the author was writing himself, and he (Joe) was proudly ordinary. But ordinary doesn’t make for exciting plot points. So, as I’ve come to see the beauty of an ordinary guy, I’ve become a bit impatient about him wearing that ‘ordinary guy’ thing like a talisman. I mean, geez, he was 99.7th percentile in problem solving ability on that test the fancy investment bank gave him. He told someone a while ago that he was intimidated by me sometimes. So, okay, I do score higher than he does on that kind of test, but he’s got a lot more common sense than I do.


What is your greatest fear?

Hard to step back five years to Skins and Bone. My author told me not to do spoilers, but I have to say that fears I had never imagined back at good old MIT are coming for me. The PTSD symptoms, the … damnit, I didn’t want to say that. Greatest fear? Losing Joe.


What makes you happy? 

An elegant algorithm and dropping the hammer on some blackhat hacker out to hurt ordinary folks. The look in Joe’s eyes that lets me know I’m beautiful. 


If you could rewrite a part of your story, what would it be? Why?

I guess I’d write more about Joe and my feelings about him. I’m new to having a deep relationship, and the events in our story together keep ripping along and threatening to rip us apart. Doesn’t give enough time for reflection.


Of the other characters in your book, which one bugs you the most? Why?

In this book, my wet-behind-the-ears boss and the government bureaucracy that tells me I should stay away from my hacker friends.


Of the other characters in your book, which one would you love to trade places with? Why?

Maddie. She’s my best buddy at work, and she’s good at all the human relations stuff that makes me uncomfortable. And ohmigod she knows how to be female. For instance, in Skins and Bone Joe Mayfield gets a job in a fancy New York investment bank and invites me to one of their parties. I don’t know how to act, what to wear, so I blurted out to Maddie, “I’m going to New York to see Joe Mayfield. I have to go to some sort of party with the people he works for. He tells me outward appearances are important to them. He said it apologetically, but I know he’s scared I’ll turn up in hiking boots or something. I don’t know what to wear.”


Maddie drew herself up and slipped into her best deep south accent, “Well, y’all came to the right gal. I been bein’ primped an’ propered for this kind of challenge since I was a young thing.”


She pursed her lips. “First off, it’s going to be pretty easy. You’re a pretty woman, and being as thin as you are gives you lots of options.”


She glanced down at her own more substantial figure. “See, the best compliment I’ve gotten recently from a gentleman was that I have a lush body. ’Course, he was sayin’ lush but lookin’ lust. I have to be careful about which of my attributes to accentuate. If I go too low-cut, I can’t get most guys to squeeze out a conversation. You, on the other hand, have a lot of positives to pick from.”


She cocked her head at Weezy and grimaced, “Well, you’ll have to worry more than you do now—I mean, bright green socks and a worn-out sweatshirt? You are really trying to fly under the fashion radar, aren’t you?”


Tell us a little something about your author. Where can readers find her website/blog? 

You can find more about him and his books at http://johnbairdrogers.com.


What's next for you?

My author has put me in two books after this one. Not too much of a spoiler to say that Joe and I became a lot closer. And some things happen that cut so deeply that I know I’m a different person today than that sassy, confident woman readers saw in Fatal Score and Skins and Bone. Now he’s writing a fifth book (and I’m sweating bullets about what’s happening in the US of A … and what will happen to Joe and me.)


Skins and Bone

A Mayfield-Napolitani Thriller


In the world of finance, if you can foresee the worst-case scenario, you can protect against it. If you can make the worst case happen, you can profit enormously. Skins and Bone draws Joe Mayfield and Louise (Weezy) Napolitani into a world of high finance, European elegance, and murder. Joe lands his dream job at the respected investment bank ZCG, a chance to fly with the finance eagles—and be a train ride away from Weezy, his brilliant lover. 


Weezy is chief tracker for the national firewall set up shortly after CyberWar I. She’s also a member of a group of dark-web hackers. ZCG uses complex financial derivatives called ‘Skins’ to craft protection for firms working in politically unstable regions. Strangely, disaster seems to follow creation of Skins, and someone is raking in millions. Joe, curious, begins to dig. Weezy enlists a hacker friend to help. He dies in an “accident.” Then Joe is almost killed in a “random” mugging. Undaunted, Joe and Weezy dig further. A financial conference in Vienna and a sumptuous cruise down the Danube to Budapest provide the opportunity for the man making the millions to eliminate his Joe and Weezy problem.


Buy Links




Friday, January 21, 2022


Today we sit down for a chat with crime fiction and thriller writing partners Thekla Madsen and Karl Bort.

When did you realize you wanted to write novels?

Karl: I always had in the back of my head during my career as a cop. I’m an avid reader. When I was working midnights at psychiatric hospital in Cleveland, and I read in People magazine that a popular author started writing when he worked a nightshift – I thought – I could do that! I had an idea for a novel from this guy I arrested and it was so intriguing about the chase and arrest that it would make a great story. 


Thekla: I’ve been writing stories since I was a kid and somewhere in my teenage years I thought that I could write a book but didn’t actually get around to it until my early fifties when a mutual friend brought Karl and me together. Karl had a rough draft but needed help to turn it into a book. I read the draft and I loved it; it was the bones of a good story, but it needed to be fleshed out. He hired me as an editor, but I spent so much time researching and writing that eventually he said, “Why don’t you be my co-author?” I said yes, then worked for free after that! We are collaborative partners that work well together.


How long did it take you to realize your dream of publication?

Karl: About ten years


Thekla: About forty years!


Are you traditionally published, indie published, or a hybrid author?

Indie Published


Where do you write?

KarlFrom my house in Cleveland, Ohio.


TheklaFrom my home office in Wisconsin and my vacation office in Florida.


Is silence golden, or do you need music to write by? What kind?

KarlI’m not bothered by noise; when I start writing, I put myself in that place and imagine buildings, smells, noise; I’m in that place.


TheklaI listen to jazz by George Cartwright or piano music by Lori Line and George Winston when I’m writing. I’ll occasionally throw in some John Mellencamp (Mr. Happy Go Lucky) or Bob Segar and the Silver Bullet Band (Greatest Hits) when I need to get fired up. 


How much of your plots and characters are drawn from real life? From your life in particular?

Karl & TheklaOne hundred percent of the ideas come from real life and a majority of characters or characterizations. With Karl’s experiences as a cop and a nurse, we are able to write stories that you just can’t make up that also have the ring of authenticity despite some truly bizarre situations and characters.


Describe your process for naming your character?

KarlJuJu was a real person and Nick Silvano – our main character named after my grandson - was made up as a composite of several people I’ve known. 


TheklaWe like to name our characters after friends and family members; they get a kick out of seeing characters with their names in our books.


Real settings or fictional towns?

Karl & Thekla: Both. Readers like it when they can identify places or locations where characters live, work, play….and commit murder.


What’s the quirkiest quirk one of your characters has?

KarlJuJu and Voodoo – he was a true believer


What’s your quirkiest quirk?

KarlThrough my research I learned a lot about voodoo  – voodoo is a combination of many religions and I don’t dismiss it like I did before. I’m an overachiever – as I get older, I find there’s always new things to try!


If you could have written any book (one that someone else has already written,) which one would it be? Why?

KarlThe Sum of All Fears by Tom Clancy. It was exciting and the characters were put in the right place.


Everyone at some point wishes for a do-over. What’s yours?

KarlI don’t have a do-over – I don’t look back, only forward.


What’s your biggest pet peeve?

KarlTrust in the news media and politicians


You’re stranded on a deserted island. What are your three must-haves?

KarlMy wife, children/grandchildren, and food for everyone


Thekla: Books, pens, paper.


What was the worst job you’ve ever held?

KarlUnloading boxes of candy in a warehouse.


Thekla: Working food service in college.


What’s the best book you’ve ever read?

Karl: Anything by Louis L’Amour


TheklaGone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell


Ocean or mountains?

Karl & TheklaOcean


City girl/guy or country girl/guy?



TheklaBoth with emphasis on country


What’s on the horizon for you?

Karl & Thekla: We’re almost finished with our third novel in the Detective Nicholas Silvano Crime Thriller series. Bad JuJu and the Eye of Oya is expected to be available in early 2022.


Anything else you’d like to tell us about yourself and/or your books?

As a Cleveland Police detective, Karl Bort worked eleven years in Narcotics with a two-year stint assigned with the DEA and was elected to serve as the President of the Cleveland Police Patrolmens Association. After 27 years of police service, he retired and went to nursing school and worked as a psych nurse for the Cleveland Clinic for a number of years. Karl had his essay "Cops and Donuts” published in the Cleveland Plain Dealer and was interviewed on Cleveland.com. You can find Karl on Facebook


Thekla Madsen is a business and marketing writer from River Falls, Wisconsin. She was executive editor of a Minnesota/Wisconsin women's magazine and has had articles published in trade magazines. Thekla is a member of the Twin Cities (Minnesota) chapter of Sisters in Crime. Her short story titled “It Never Ends Well” was included in the Twin Cities Sisters in Crime chapter anthology Minnesota Not-So-Nice: Eighteen Tales of Bad Behavior published in Fall 2020.


The pair works together via email and phone calls from their respective cities and didn’t even meet in person until after their first book, Bad JuJu in Cleveland, was published. Together with their spouses, Karl and Thekla met a few years ago for the first time in Marathon, Florida where they shared a tiny condominium and worked on their second book, Angry Nurse.


Bad JuJu in Cleveland

A Detective Nicholas Silvano Crime Thriller, Book 1


Drugs….murder….voodoo! Four men are found brutally slain in an abandoned house on Cleveland’s east side, one with ties to City Hall and all marked with a mysterious symbol. When Detective Nicholas Silvano is called to the case, he finds this drug-deal-gone-wrong is anything but ordinary and the search for an elusive killer is on. With FBI Agent James Reis creating roadblocks at every turn, Silvano teams up with DEA Agent Charley Goetz on a manhunt that takes them from Cleveland to the shady side of Florida, where anything can be had for a price. The stakes become higher when the killer makes it personal, forcing Nick to face feelings he’d been denying for so long.

Buy Links



Wednesday, January 19, 2022


Holiday Howler Dog Treats
Author C.B. Wilson’s love of writing began after reading her first Nancy Drew book and reworking the ending. Her fascination with dogs and their passionate owners inspired Barkview, California, the dog friendliest city in America. She admits to chocoholic tendencies and laughing out loud at dog comics. Learn more about C.B. and her books at her website.  

Today, I am honored to be featured in Anastasia Pollack’s blog, Killer Crafts and Crafty Killers. Writing a guest blog offers me a wonderful opportunity to remind you all to honor that special pet in your life and help others find their own forever friend.


The Barkview Mysteries series is all about dogs and the people who love them. Set in a small seaside town where designated leash lanes lead to hound playgrounds, every resident has a BFF (Best Furry Friend) except Cat Wright.


Attacked by a dog while researching a story, the investigative reporter is more than a little uncomfortable in Barkview. As far as she can tell, she is the lone cat person in a town populated with over-the-top dog lovers. The Barkview Mysteries series tells the story of Cat’s journey to find the right companion to enhance her life.


Inspiration for this book series came from a chain of events I still find ironic. First, my military father’s fascination with a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel opened my eyes to the wonderful world of dogs. Second, my couch-potato mother adopted a Jack Russel Terrier/Chihuahua mix. (You can imagine how that played out.) My call to action came with the realization that there is a perfect dog for everyone. Some folks just needed a little help matching the right canine with their personality and lifestyle.


Each Barkview adventure features a different dog breed. The traits, personality, exercise and grooming needs, in addition to health issues, are highlighted in the story, offering insight into sharing a life with the dog.


Hope you enjoy Bichon Bisquets Barkery’s Holiday Howler Dog Treat Recipe, which was introduced in the December issue of my newsletter, The Bark View, and Bichoned to Death, the second book in the series. (5 bark reader rating)


Bichon Bisquets Barkery’s Holiday Howler Dog Treats

(Created by Brandi Wilson)


1 lb lean ground beef

1/2 cup Apple sauce

1 medium sweet potato 

5 oz. Bacon Bits

2 cups unbleached flour


Preheat oven 350 degrees.


Cook ground beef in saucepan.  Make three cuts in sweet potato. Place on paper towel. Microwave high for 5 minutes or until soft. Cool ground beef and sweet potato.


Mix cooled beef and sweet potato with apple sauce, bacon bits and flour.  Mix well. Roll out and cut into shapes or drop on parchment papered cookie sheet.


Bake 350 degrees 30-40 minutes or until brown.


Cavaliered to Death

A Barkview Mystery, book 1


Once bit, forever shy. Can she make it through a matted mess of missing dogs to catch a deadly criminal?


A feline loving investigative reporter living in the dog friendliest city in America, what can go wrong during dog show week when the quaint seaside town turns dog-eat-dog? Cat can almost handle dogs, but she finds the delicate balance bitterly disrupted when two opposing Cavalier King Charles Spaniels disappear and the mayor’s wife is murdered.


With her aunt heading the list of suspects due to the town’s cutthroat rivalry, Cat determines she must dig up enough evidence to prove her innocence. But, as the facts stack up against them, she’s plagued with a new problem—the dognapped Cavaliers are found in her aunt’s kennel.


Can Cat walk with the leash lovers long enough to catch a killer and save the dog show?


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Monday, January 17, 2022


King Kalākaua's Crown

Terry Ambrose has written more than a dozen books, several of which have been award finalists. In 2014, his thriller, “Con Game,” won the San Diego Book Awards for Best Action-Thriller. His series include the Trouble in Paradise McKenna Mysteries, the Seaside Cove Bed & Breakfast Mysteries, and the License to Lie thriller series. Learn more about Terry and his books at his

Five years ago, we visited ‘Iolani Palace in Honolulu. ‘Iolani is the only royal palace in the United States. Once the home of Hawaii’s monarchy, it’s now a museum and teaching center. The story of how this came to be struck a chord within me, and for years I wondered how I could weave the story of Hawaii’s last reigning monarch into a current-day mystery. It wasn’t until I came across a 2011 story from Honolulu Magazine titled Malice in the Palace: The Hawaii Crown Jewel Robbery that I knew I’d found my solution, a true and twisted tale of greed that created the perfect setup for Mystery of the Eight Islands.


It’s January 17, 1893, and trouble is brewing

Foreign businessmen, mostly Americans, are about to overthrow the Hawaiian government to further their business interests. But that’s only the beginning of the story. In the days following their coup d’état, a man named George Ryan and a few trusted friends commit a crime—not just any crime, but the theft of Hawaiʻi’s crown jewels.


George Ryan was only eighteen when he ran away from his hometown in Indiana. Ryan’s real name was Preston Horner. Few knew him by that name, however, because he used multiple aliases until he died. Ryan was no stranger to the streets, having held odd jobs between his stints at a penitentiary in Oregon and a prison on O’ahu.


Ryan’s notoriety began after he was arrested in Honolulu for carrying a concealed weapon and ordered to leave the islands. Rather than doing that, Ryan stayed on O’ahu. As a foreigner, Ryan was supportive of the coup that removed Queen Liliuokalani from power and joined the reorganized Hawaii Guard. One weekend, while stationed at ‘Iolani Palace, Ryan and a few accomplices went to the basement, found the crown of King Kalākaua, pried all of the gems from the crown, and stole them. 


The thieves used an elaborate network of opium dealers and hack drivers (equivalent of today’s taxi drivers) to fence the gems. The detective assigned to the case, William Larsen, spent months following leads and eventually arrested most of the participants. But here’s where things get twisted—most of the thieves were never tried for their roles.


Even Ryan’s charges were reduced to second-degree larceny. A jury found him guilty after deliberating for eight minutes. Rather than handing down a stiff sentence, the judge sentenced him to only three years in prison and a fine of $5,000. While in prison, Ryan received a letter from his sister thanking him for the six-carat diamond he sent her. With the cooperation of the Indiana police, the diamond was recovered, and promptly disappeared after it was returned to Hawaii. 


Sadly, most of the stolen gems are lost forever. Today, it would cost millions to restore the crown to its original condition. In a final twist of fate, George Ryan did eventually see justice. After he joined the American Army, he was stationed in the Philippines, where he was discovered digging up buried treasure by locals. Their justice was not so lenient. Ryan’s body was found floating on a raft down a river. He’d been tied to the raft and his hands had been cut off. 


The theft of Hawaii’s Crown Jewels provided me with a starting point for Mystery of the Eight Islands. The missing element was a fictional necklace I inserted into the real robbery. The necklace became the glue that brought the story together, tying current-day events with the real events of the 1890s that in many ways seem stranger than fiction.


I hope you’ve enjoyed this post and look forward to hearing what you think about it.


Mystery of the Eight Islands

A Trouble in Paradise Mystery, Book 11


Apartment manager and amateur sleuth McKenna wants a break from solving murders. Too bad his best friend, wannabe PI Chance Logan, doesn’t feel the same. Chance has found a case he thinks McKenna’s going to love—the death of prominent attorney Julian Carr, and the theft of a 125-year-old necklace that’s worth a quarter of a million dollars. Before long, McKenna’s feeling pressured from all sides—find the necklace, solve the murder. Sure. Why not just add save the world?


McKenna’s sure something fishy is going on when he and Chance meet with Julian’s granddaughter about the case. She’s created her own murder board with five suspects. The list includes an unstable, art-collecting veterinarian, a convicted felon, a disbarred attorney, a suspected art thief, and Julian’s new business partner. 

As the investigation ramps up, McKenna and Chance see their leads drying out faster than laundry in the tropical sun. The really bad news is they’re not sure they can even find the Eight Islands or solve the murder. For once, McKenna’s worried they just might fail. 


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Friday, January 14, 2022


Jeanne Matthews is the author of the Dinah Pelerin international mystery series published by Poisoned Pen Press. Originally from Georgia, she lives in Washington State with her husband and a Norwich terrier named Jack Reacher. Devil By the Tail is her first historical novel. Learn more about Jeanne and her books at her website. 

My grandfather was named Gettysburg. That bit of family history has given me a lifelong interest in the Civil War. But it’s the period immediately following the war that most fascinates me – a time when female reformers, suffragettes, and rebellious housewives began to struggle in earnest against the social straitjacket that confined them to their homes.


In the mid-19th Century, married women lived under the law of coverture. They had no separate identity apart from their husband and no legal rights. To be married was to be one person—the man. He controlled every aspect of their lives and the cult of True Womanhood – piety, purity, and submissiveness – kept the wife a virtual prisoner.


Nice women didn’t work outside the home. There were nurses and domestic servants, of course. But according to the Illinois Supreme Court, “The natural and proper timidity and delicacy which belongs to the female gender unfits it for most occupations.” Judged by that standard, the protagonist of my new mystery is the antithesis of the feminine ideal. Widowed and left in the lurch when her husband died without leaving a will, Quinn Sinclair joins forces with an ex-Confederate POW named Garnick to form their own detective agency.


The pair couldn’t have found a more crime infested place or time to hang out their shingle than Chicago in 1867. The city was a boomtown following the war. Immigrants from Ireland and Europe swarmed into the city along with thousands of battle-hardened veterans to work in the stockyards, lumber mills, and factories. Gambling dens and brothels sprang up to relieve these unsettled men of their wages. Drunkenness and prostitution proliferated, and violence was rampant.


Chicago had become synonymous with political corruption during the Republican Convention of 1860. Newspapers predicted that Lincoln would be “Chicagoed” by his conniving opponents and cheated out of the nomination. On the seamier side of town, to be “Chicagoed” meant simply to be beaten to a pulp. In addition to a reputation for corruption, the city was notorious as a mecca of vice. Its most colorful bawdyhouse madam, “Gentle” Annie Stafford, carried a horsewhip to keep order among her clientele while quoting the love poems of Lord Byron. 


Chicago attracted an intriguing mix of transgressive females in 1867. Mary Todd Lincoln, another victim of a husband who died without a will, tried to make a home in the city, but she needed money. Desperate and deeply in debt, she arranged to auction off the gowns she’d worn as first lady but ended up causing a scandal. 


Victoria Woodhull, who believed in the right of women to marry, divorce, and bear children without social or government interference, traveled to Chicago in 1867 to obtain a divorce. It’s not clear whether she got one or whether she committed bigamy with her next lover, but a few years later she ran for president against Ulysses Grant on a platform of equal rights and short skirts. And Kate Warne, who answered an ad placed in the Chicago Tribune by the Pinkerton Detective Agency, became the first female detective and, probably, the boss’s mistress.


I’d never thought about writing a historical novel, but the more I learned about that “toddlin’ town” in that tumultuous year, the more possibilities I envisioned for a story. It would feature a woman audacious enough to defy convention by her choice of profession and a man unconventional enough to cheer her on. This heroine would venture into the criminal underbelly of the city without being coarsened or compromised and she would maintain her privacy and respectability by using an alias professionally.


My previous novels have included an element of mythology and not even in that department did Chicago disappoint. In January 1867 the famous Italian tragedienne, Adelaide Ristori, performed in a production of Medea at Crosby’s Opera House. In the play as in the myth, Medea takes fiery revenge on her faithless husband by murdering her rival. That gave me my plot. A client of my detectives’ new agency is accused of a similar crime and the scandalmongering, sensationalist press of the era has a field day reporting the crime. With Quinn leading the investigation and Garnick assuming the role of front man to lend “male credibility” to the enterprise, the detectives take readers on a tour of the rough-and-tumble city as it existed before the Great Fire.


Devil by the Tail

A Garnick & Paschal Mystery


What’s a 20-something Union war widow to do in 1867? Start up her own detective agency with a former Reb POW, of course!


Quinn Sinclair, who uses the name Mrs. Paschal professionally, and her wryly observant partner Garnick get two cases on the same day  - one to help a man prove he didn't kill his wife, another to help a lawyer find reasonable doubt that his client killed her ex-lover's new bride. As the detectives dig deeper, they unearth facts that tie the cases together in disturbing ways.


This tantalizing tale of 19th Century Chicago comes complete with corrupt politicians, yellow-press reporters, gambling parlors, and colorful bawdyhouse madams. At every turn in the investigation, Quinn discovers more suspects and more secret motives for murder.


Not least among her worries, someone seems intent on murdering her.


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