Death in Tranquility by Sharon Linnea

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Death In Tranquility by Sharon Linnéa Banner

Death In Tranquility

by Sharon Linnéa

February 1-28, 2021 Tour

Synopsis:

Death In Tranquility by Sharon Linnea

No one talks to the cops. Everyone talks to the bartender. And Avalon Nash is one hell of a bartender.

Avalon is on the run from her life in Los Angeles. Having a drink while waiting to change trains in the former Olympic town of Tranquility, New York, she discovers the freshly murdered bartender at MacTavish’s. A bartender herself, she’s offered the position with the warning he wasn’t the first MacTavish’s bartender to meet a violent end.

Avalon’s superpower is collecting people’s stories, and she’s soon embroiled in the lives of artists, politicians, ghost hunters and descendants of Old Hollywood.

Can Avalon outrun the ghosts of her past, catch the ghosts of Tranquility’s past and outsmart a murderer?

The first book in the Bartender’s Guide to Murder series offers chills, laughs, and 30 of the best drink recipes ever imbibed.

If you’re looking for a new, fun mystery series, this is it. There’s death, but very little horror and gore, making this a “cozy” mystery with a little bit of romance and sass mixed in. The location is a thinly disguised Lake Placid NY which is populated with a good mix of quirky, interesting, and ordinary characters who help push the story along. New Yorkers will appreciate this. I know I did – I’ve been in that popcorn shop!

Main character Avalon is a semi-relatable protagonist (her backstory is anything but ordinary) who is written with enough panache to make me want to read more of her adventures. That the book is peppered with some really delicious cocktail recipes is an added bonus and one that would make this an ideal pick for a mystery book club that features drinks! For me, another bonus is the plotline involving old Hollywood, which is one of my favorite things. The story moves along at a good pace with just the right amount of suspense, leading to a satisfying ending.

Recommended!

Book Details

Genre: Mystery
Published by: Arundel Publishing
Publication Date: September 29th 2020
Number of Pages: 323
ISBN: 9781933608 (ISBN13: 9781933608150)
Series: Bartender’s Guide to Murder, 1 (Click here to check out other books in the series!)
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Bookstore Plus | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

Chapter 1

Death in the Afternoon

“Whenever you see the bartender, I’d like another drink,” I said, lifting my empty martini glass and tipping it to Marta, the waitress with teal hair.

“Everyone wants another drink,” she said, “but Joseph’s missing. I can’t find him. Anywhere.”

“How long has he been gone?” I asked.

“About ten minutes. It’s not like him. Joseph would never just go off without telling me.”

That’s when I should have done it. I should have put down forty bucks to cover my drink and my meal and left that magical, moody, dark-wood paneled Scottish bar and sauntered back across the street to the train station to continue on my way.

If I had, everything would be different.

Instead I nodded, grateful for a reason to stand up. A glance at my watch told me over half an hour remained until my connecting train chugged in across the street. I could do Marta a solid by finding the bartender and telling him drink orders were stacking up.

Travelling from Los Angeles to New York City by rail, I had taken the northern route, which required me to change trains in the storied village of Tranquility, New York. Once detrained, the posted schedule had informed me should I decide to bolt and head north for Montreal, I could leave within the hour. The train heading south for New York City, however, would not be along until 4 p.m.

Sometimes in life you think it’s about where you’re going, but it turns out to be about where you change trains.

It was an April afternoon; the colors on the trees and bushes were still painting from the watery palate of spring. Here and there, forsythia unfurled in insistent bursts of golden glory.

I needed a drink.

Tranquility has been famous for a long time. Best known for hosting the Winter Olympics back in 19-whatever, it was an eclectic blend of small village, arts community, ski mecca, gigantic hotels and Olympic facilities. Certainly there was somewhere a person could get lunch.

Perched on a hill across the street from the station sat a shiny, modern hotel of the upscale chain variety. Just down the road, father south, was a large, meandering, one-of-a-kind establishment called MacTavish’s Seaside Cottage. It looked nothing like a cottage, and, as we were inland, there were no seas. I doubted the existence of a MacTavish.

I headed over at once.

The place evoked a lost inn in Brigadoon. A square main building of a single story sent wings jutting off at various angles into the rolling hills beyond. Floor-to-ceiling windows made the lobby bright and airy. A full suit of armor stood guard over the check-in counter, while a sculpture of two downhill skiers whooshed under a skylight in the middle of the room.

Behind the statue was the Breezy, a sleek restaurant overlooking Lake Serenity (Lake Tranquility was in the next town over, go figure). The restaurant’s outdoor deck was packed with tourists on this balmy day, eating and holding tight to their napkins, lest they be lost to the murky depths.

Off to the right—huddled in the vast common area’s only dark corner—was a small door with a carved, hand-painted wooden sign which featured a large seagoing vessel plowing through tumultuous waves. That Ship Has Sailed, it read. A tavern name if I ever heard one.

Beyond the heavy door, down a short dark-wood hallway, in a tall room lined with chestnut paneling, I paused to let my eyes adjust to the change in light, atmosphere, and, possibly, century.

The bar was at a right angle as you entered, running the length of the wall. It was hand-carved and matched the back bar, which held 200 bottles, easily.

A bartender’s dream, or her undoing.

Two of the booths against the far wall were occupied, as were two of the center tables.

I sat at the bar.

Only one other person claimed a seat there during this low time between meal services. He was a tall gentleman with a square face, weathered skin, and dark hair pulled back into a ponytail. I felt his cold stare as I perused the menu trying to keep to myself. I finally gave up and stared back.

“Flying Crow,” he said. “Mohawk Clan.”

“Avalon,” I said. “Train changer.”

I went back to my menu, surprised to find oysters were a featured dish.

“Avalon?” he finally said. “That’s—”

“An odd name,” I answered. “I know. Flying Crow? You’re in a Scottish pub.”

“Ask him what Oswego means.” This was from the bartender, a lanky man with salt-and-pepper hair. “Oh, but place your order first.”

“Are the oysters good?” I asked.

“Oddly, yes. One of the best things on the menu. Us being seaside, and all.”

“All right, then. Oysters it is. And a really dry vodka martini, olives.”

“Pimento, jalapeño, or bleu cheese?”

“Ooh, bleu cheese, please.” I turned to Flying Crow. “So what does Oswego mean?”

“It means, ‘Nothing Here, Give It to the Crazy White Folks.’ Owego, on the other hand means, ‘Nothing Here Either.’”

“How about Otego? And Otsego and Otisco?”

His eyebrow raised. He was impressed by my knowledge of obscure town names in New York State. “They all mean, ‘We’re Just Messing with You Now.’”

“Hey,” I said, raising my newly delivered martini. “Thanks for coming clean.”

He raised his own glass of firewater in return.

“Coming clean?” asked the bartender, and he chuckled, then dropped his voice. “If he’s coming clean, his name is Lesley.”

“And you are?” I asked. He wasn’t wearing a name tag.

“Joseph.”

“Skål,” I said, raising my glass. “Glad I found That Ship Has Sailed.”

“That’s too much of a mouthful,” he said, flipping over the menu. “Everyone calls it the Battened Hatch.”

“But the Battened Hatch isn’t shorter. Still four syllables.”

“Troublemaker,” muttered Lesley good-naturedly. “I warned you.”

“Fewer words,” said Joseph with a smile that included crinkles by his eyes. “Fewer capital letters over which to trip.”

As he spoke, the leaded door banged open and two men in chinos and shirtsleeves arrived, talking loudly to each other. The door swung again, just behind them, admitting a stream of ten more folks—both women and men, all clad in business casual. Some were more casual than others. One man with silvering hair actually wore a suit and tie; another, a white artist’s shirt, his blonde hair shoulder-length. The women’s garments, too, ran the gamut from tailored to flowing. One, of medium height, even wore a white blouse, navy blue skirt and jacket, finished with hose and pumps. And a priest’s collar.

“Conventioneers?” I asked Joseph. Even as I asked, I knew it didn’t make sense. No specific corporate culture was in evidence.

He laughed. “Nah. Conference people eat at the Blowy. Er, Breezy. Tranquility’s Chamber of Commerce meeting just let out.” His grey eyes danced. “They can never agree on anything, but their entertainment quotient is fairly high. And they drive each other to drink.”

Flying Crow Lesley shook his head.

Most of the new arrivals found tables in the center of the room. Seven of them scooted smaller tables together, others continued their conversations or arguments in pairs.

“Marta!” Joseph called, leaning through a door in the back wall beside the bar.

The curvy girl with the teal hair, nose and eyebrow rings and mega eye shadow clumped through. Her eyes widened when she saw the influx of patrons.

Joseph slid the grilled oysters with fennel butter in front of me. “Want anything else before the rush?” He indicated the well-stocked back bar.

“I’d better hold off. Just in case there’s a disaster and I end up having to drive the train.”

He nodded knowingly. “Good luck with that.”

I took out my phone, then re-pocketed it. I wanted a few more uncomplicated hours before re-entering the real world. Turning to my right, I found that Flying Crow had vanished. In his stead, several barstools down, sat a Scotsman in full regalia: kilt, Bonnie Prince Charlie jacket and a fly plaid. It was predominantly red with blue stripes.

Wow. Mohawk clan members, Scotsmen, and women priests in pantyhose. This was quite a town.

Joseph was looking at an order screen, and five drinks in different glasses were already lined up ready for Marta to deliver.

My phone buzzed. I checked caller i.d. Fought with myself. Answered.

Was grabbed by tentacles of the past.

When I looked up, filled with emotions I didn’t care to have, I decided I did need another drink; forget driving the train.

The line of waiting drink glasses was gone, as were Marta and Joseph.

I checked the time. I’d been in Underland for fifteen minutes, twenty at the most. It was just past three. I had maybe forty-five minutes before I should move on.

That was when Marta swung through the kitchen door, her head down to stave off the multiple calls from the center tables. She stood in front of me, punching information into the point of sale station, employing the NECTM—No Eye Contact Tactical Maneuver.

That’s when she told me Joseph was missing.

“Could he be in the restroom?”

“I asked Arthur when he came out, but he said there was nobody else.”

I nodded at Marta and started by going out through the front hall, to see if perhaps he’d met someone in the lobby. As I did a lap, I overheard a man at check-in ask, “Is it true the inn is haunted?”

“Do you want it to be?” asked the clerk, nonplussed.

But no sign of the bartender.

I swung back through into the woodsy-smelling darkness of the Battened Hatch, shook my head at the troubled waitress, then walked to the circular window in the door. The industrial kitchen was white and well-lit, and as large as it was, I could see straight through the shared kitchen to the Breezy. No sign of Joseph. I turned my attention back to the bar.

Beyond the bar, there was a hallway to the restrooms, and another wooden door that led outside. I looked back at Marta and nodded to the door.

“It doesn’t go anywhere,” she said. “It’s only a little smoker’s deck.”

I wondered if Joseph smoked, tobacco or otherwise. Certainly the arrival of most of a Chamber of Commerce would suggest it to me. I pushed on the wooden door. It seemed locked. I gave it one more try, and, though it didn’t open, it did budge a little bit.

This time I went at it with my full shoulder. There was a thud, and it wedged open enough that I could slip through.

It could hardly be called a deck. You couldn’t put a table—or even a lounge chair—out there.

Especially with the body taking up so much of the space.

It was Joseph. I knelt quickly and felt for a pulse at his neck, but it was clear he was inanimate. He was sitting up, although my pushing the door open had made him lean at an angle. I couldn’t tell if the look on his face was one of pain or surprise. There was some vomit beside him on the deck, and a rivulet down his chin. I felt embarrassed to be seeing him this way.

Crap. He was always nice to me. Well, during the half an hour I’d known him, he had been nice to me.

What was it with me discovering corpses? It was certainly a habit of which I had to break myself.

Meanwhile, what to do? Should I call in the priest? But she was within a group, and it would certainly start a panic. Call 911?

Yes, that would be good. That way they could decide to call the hospital or the police or both.

My phone was back in my purse.

And, you know what? I didn’t want the call to come from me. I was just passing through.

I pulled the door back open and walked to Marta behind the bar. “Call 911,” I said softly. “I found Joseph.”

It took the ambulance and the police five minutes to arrive. The paramedics went through first, then brought a gurney around outside so as to not freak out everyone in the hotel. They loaded Joseph on and sped off, in case there was anything to be done.

I knew there wasn’t.

The police, on the other hand, worked at securing the place which might become a crime scene. They blocked all the doorways and announced no one could leave.

I was still behind the bar with Marta. She was shaking.

“Give me another Scotch,” said the Scotsman seated there.

I looked at the bottles and was pleasantly surprised by the selection. “I think this calls for Black Maple Hill,” I said, only mildly surprised at my reflexive tendency to upsell. The Hill was a rich pour but not the absolute priciest.

He nodded. I poured.

I’m not sure if it was Marta’s tears, or the fact we weren’t allowed to leave, but local bigwigs had realized something was amiss.

“Excuse me,” the man in the suit came to the bar. “Someone said Joseph is dead.”

“Yes,” I said. “He does seem to be.”

Marta swung out of the kitchen, her eyeliner half down her face. “Art, these are your oysters,” she said to the man. He took them.

“So,” he continued, and I wondered what meaningful words he’d have to utter. “You’re pouring drinks?”

It took only a moment to realize that, were I the owner of this establishment, I’d find this a great opportunity.

“Seems so,” I said.

“What goes with oysters?” he asked.

That was a no-brainer. I’d spied the green bottle of absinthe while having my own meal. I poured about three tablespoons into the glass. I then opened a bottle of Prosecco, poured it, and waited for the milky cloud to form.

He took a sip, looked at me, and raised the glass. “If I want another of these, what do I ask for?”

As he asked, I realized I’d dispensed one of Ernest Hemingway’s favorite libations. “Death in the Afternoon,” I replied.

He nodded and went back to his table.

It was then I realized I wasn’t going to make my train.

* *

Ernest Hemingway’s Death in the Afternoon

Ingredients

• 3 tablespoons (1 1/2 ounces) absinthe
• ½ to ¾ cup (4 to 6 ounces) cold Champagne or sparkling wine

Method

Hemmingway’s advice, circa 1935: “Pour one jigger absinthe into a Champagne glass. Add iced Champagne until it attains the proper opalescent milkiness. Drink three to five of these slowly.”

Chapter 2

No Known Address

Since I found the body, I got to talk to the lead investigator.

He was in his mid-thirties, just under six feet, walnut skin, black hair cut short. He would have benefitted from a beard. He looked ripped; the king of ripped you got from taking out your frustrations in the gym. His demeanor was no-nonsense.

“Investigator Spaulding,” he said, and he pulled out a notebook. “State Police.”

“State Police? Isn’t that the same as State Troopers? Don’t you manage highways?”

He stopped writing in his small, leather-covered notebook and looked up.

“Common misconception. The local P.D. is small—only 9 on staff. When something big happens, they ask for assistance.”

“They ask?”

“It’s a dance.”

I wasn’t a suspect (yet), so he didn’t need to write down my stats, but I could read upside down as he made notes. He asked my name, and began guessing at the rest. Nash, Avalon. Female. Caucasian. Blonde hair. 5’7 was his guess at my height. The next thing he wrote down could go seriously south, so I said, “healthy weight.”

He looked up.

“5’7” and at a healthy weight,” I supplied. “If I’m charged with something, we’ll get more specific.”

“Age?”

Did he really need to know all of this? “Twenties,” I said, waiting to see if he’d have the gall to object. He didn’t.

“Best way to reach you?”

I gave him my cell number.

“Permanent address?”

“I don’t have one.”

He looked up.

“I’m in the process of moving from California to New York. I’m only in town to change trains. I don’t have a New York address yet.”

“A relative’s address?”

I held up my phone. “This is your golden ticket,” I said. “If you want to reach me, this is it.”

I saw him write ‘no known address.’ Yep, that pretty much summed it up. I glanced at my watch. Seven minutes until my train pulled into—and, soon after, departed from—the station.

“Um, Detective,” I started.

“Investigator Spaulding,” he corrected.

“Investigator Spaulding, my train is about to arrive. I don’t know anything except what I’ve told you. I came in for a drink and helped Marta find the bartender, whom I hope died of a massive heart attack—well, of natural causes. You know what I mean.”

At that point, his phone buzzed and he gave me a just-a-minute finger. He answered, listened for a while, and started to write. Then he hung up, flipped his notebook shut and said, “I can’t let you leave. He was murdered.”

“Great,” I said, the tone somewhere between rueful and intrigued, as I headed back toward Marta, then I turned back toward Investigator Spaulding. “Can I continue to pour drinks?”

He considered less than a moment. “By all means, serve truth serum to anyone who will imbibe.”

Then he turned and walked toward the other officers.

I went to stand with Marta behind the bar. In my imagination, I heard the train chug in across the street.

Investigator Spaulding cleared his throat, and the room went silent. “Ladies and gentlemen,” he said. “This is now a homicide investigation.” He had to pause as everyone shuffled or gasped, or cried out. “Please do not leave until we have taken your statement.”

A woman in her fifties came and sat down in front of me at the bar. Her hair was in a no-fuss bob, she wore a free-flowing skirt with a linen jacket, both of which were in style twenty years ago, but they worked on her. “Got anything stronger than those Death things?” she asked. “I’m not big on Champagne.”

“Sure.” I said. I sized her up. “Layers in a martini glass work for you?”

“Honey, it’s the strength, not the glass.” She looked shaken and sad. I went for the rums and found Malibu Black, the stronger brother of the original. What a bartender Joseph must have been! I decided to try something new. Malibu Black, mango pineapple vodka, and pineapple juice. I mixed it over ice, shook, and poured. I sank some Chambord and topped it with Jägermeister Spice.

“See if this does it,” I said.

Her hand shook slightly as she held up the glass, appreciated the layers, and then took a sip. The jury was out. She took another. She nodded and smiled.

It occurred to me that everyone in the room knew Joseph. They’d lost one of their own.

Another woman in skinny white pants and a white shell with a fancy pink sports jacket came and sat next to her. They were about the same age, if I had to guess, but the new woman was thin as a rail, muscular, and with her blonde hair in a ponytail. I was guessing she colored her hair not from a darker shade, but to cover the white. The two women embraced. “Suzanne,” said the new arrival.

“Gillian,” said no-fuss-bob Suzanne. Then, “Can’t believe it.”

“I can’t, either,” replied hard-bodied Gillian. She had the remains of an Eastern European accent. They sat a respectful moment. “What are you drinking?”

Suzanne looked at me. “No Known Address,” I said.

“Okay,” Gillian said. “I’ll have one.” She then turned and I was dismissed to my task.

“I can’t believe it. One of the only straight, available guys between forty and crotchety, and he’s gone!” said Suzanne.

“There’s Mike,” Gillian said, tilting her head toward the state police investigator. “And I’m not sure Joseph was available.”

“First, really? Maybe if he worked out. Second, you or I crook our little fingers and get a guy away from Sophie.” They both looked back, shooting daggers toward one of the three women in the center wall booth. I knew which must be Sophie, as one of them was crying copiously while the other two petted her solicitously.

“And do we have a suspect?” asked pink jacket Gillian.

This time, they looked at a younger woman who sat at a table with two newly arrived Chamber men. She was gorgeous—skin the color of chai latte and hair as dark as a sky at new moon. She was staring off into space.

I almost said, “You know I can hear you.” But maids, taxi drivers, and bartenders… well, we’re invisible, which is partly how we get the good gossip.

They stopped talking abruptly as two men approached. “Can we get some food?” asked the first. He was in a polo and navy blue slacks.

I heard snuffling and saw that Marta was in the shadows, leaning back against the wall. “Hey,” I said, “would you ask the chef if we can continue to order food?”

She nodded and swung through the kitchen door.

Arthur, the man in the suit who had ordered earlier, accompanied the newcomer in the polo. Arthur addressed his companion in an audible hiss. “I’m telling you… we can’t let word of this get out. Tranquility has to be considered a safe haven. For everyone. For…the festival folks. It’s part of what lures them here. Change of pace.”

“How do we not let the word get out? It’s a matter of record! And everyone in town knows about it—or will, within minutes.”

From the furious pace of thumbs texting throughout the room, it was clear he was correct.

“I mean, don’t print this as front-page news.”

“It is front page news, Art. And, the film festival folks are already committed. They’ve submitted their films. They’ll come.”

Marta returned with a positive nod. I slapped down two menus. “Marta will be out to take your order,” I said. As they turned, I added. “And if it’s a film festival, you don’t need to worry. Film people eat news like this for breakfast.”

Arthur looked at me in surprise, but gave a raised-eyebrows look that inferred I could have a point.

They left with the menus and I turned back to Marta, trying to help get her mind on something other than her boss’s death. “Can you help me add these drinks to people’s tabs?” I nodded toward the POS.

For the record, I hate point of sale machines. Each one hates humans in its own unique way. I pointed at people and she pulled up their tabs and showed me how to input the drinks I’d served.

I only had the Scotsman’s tab left undone when the man in the artist’s shirt stopped right before me. He was likely late 40s and had a face that was long but not unattractive. His shoulders were unusually broad, and he exuded self-confidence and a self-trained impishness. His shirt had one too many buttons left undone.

“Okay,” he said, “I wasn’t going to drink, but Joe…”

“You weren’t going to drink because it’s late afternoon, or because you’ve been sober for seven months?” I had no interest in tipping someone off the wagon.

He laughed. “I haven’t been drinking because this isn’t my favorite crowd,” he said. “And I don’t usually drink. But murder seems an excuse, if there ever was one.” He extended his hand. “Michael Michel,” he said, and smiled, waggling his eyebrows as if this should mean something to me.

I took his hand and shook. It was apparent I didn’t recognize him.

“The Painter Who Brings You Home,” he said, and the trademark practically bled from the words.

“Right,” I said, trying to sound impressed. “Nice to meet you. I’m Avalon. What’ll ya have?”

“Vodka tonic lime.”

“Care which vodka?”

He shook his head while saying, “Whatever you’ve got. Grey Goose.”

Ah, a fellow who pretended not to drink, who knew exactly what he wanted.

I poured and went for the garnish tray. The limes were gone. I looked at the back bar and found lemons and oranges. No limes, though clearly there had been some. I walked along the front bar and found, below patron eye level, a small cutting board with a lime on it. The lime was half-cut, some of them in rounds, a few in quarters. Some juice was dripping down onto the floor.

I reached for a wedge, and then I stopped short.

Joseph never would have left this on purpose. It was obviously what he’d been doing when he was interrupted by death—or someone who led him to his death. Or by symptoms that eventually spelled death.

I leaned down and sniffed.

It was lime-y. But there was something else, also.

I backed away. I walked over to Marta and said, quietly, “Don’t let anyone near that end of the bar.”

Then I walked over to Investigator Spaulding, where he sat at a booth interviewing someone. “Investigator?” I said. “Sorry to interrupt, but this is important.”

He looked at me, squinting, then seemed surprised, since I’d made such a point of being Ms. Just-Passing-Through.

He stood up and stepped away from the booth.

“I believe I’ve found the murder weapon,” I said.

As we walked together, I realized that the door to the smoker’s porch sat open. It was crawling with half a dozen or so more crime scene people.

Together we walked to the limes. I said, “Don’t touch them. If this is what Joseph was doing when he died, if they are poisoned, my guess is that the poison can be absorbed through the skin.”

Investigator Spaulding looked at me like, Of course I knew that, but he stepped back. As another officer and two crime scene investigators came over, I backed away, removing myself as far as possible from the action.

I returned to the Artist Shirt. “I think today we’re going with a lemon and a cherry,” I said. I smelled them before putting them in the drink.

It struck me then that perhaps Joseph hadn’t been the intended target. Maybe there was someone who consistently ordered a drink garnished with lime, and the murderer had injected the poison into the lime, not realizing it could be absorbed as well as ingested.

Like, for instance, the man before me, Mr. Vodka Tonic Lime.

Still, this was a pretty non-specific way of poison delivery. The limes could have been served to half a dozen people before anyone realized they were toxic. Who would do something like that?

The police were letting people go once they had been interviewed. I asked Investigator Spaulding if I could go. He nodded, adding, “Please stay in town until tomorrow morning, in case we have any further questions.”

As if I had a choice. All the trains had gone, except the 11 p.m. to Montreal.

The bar had been sealed off with crime-scene tape, a welcome relief as I didn’t relish closing a dead man’s station on the night of his murder. Why would I even think that? I didn’t work here. But my need to leave a bar in pristine condition ran down to bone and marrow.

As I headed for my bag, which I’d left on my original stool, I saw I wouldn’t even be allowed to access the POS machine.

The only patron whose drink I hadn’t input was the man in the kilt. I looked around the emptying room to find he’d moved to a pub table over to the side. “Sorry, sir,” I said. “I wasn’t able to enter your drinks into the machine. I guess you’re on the honor system to pay up another day.”

He gave a small smile. “Lass,” he said, “I’m Glenn MacTavish. Owner of this place. Seems I’m out a bartender and will be needing another. You have any interest?” he asked.

I stopped and stared. “There’s really a MacTavish?” I asked.

“Aye, and you’re looking at him.”

“But… you don’t know anything about me.”

“You keep a clear head and you know what you’re doin’. That’s all I really need to know. Besides, you don’t know anything about me, either.”

“I, well—thank you for the offer. It’s a beautiful bar. Can I think on it overnight? I’ve been told not to leave town.”

“Aye,” he said. “You can tell me in the mornin’ if you might be stayin.’ And while you’re decidin’, I could pay you for your services tonight with a room here at the hotel.”

That seemed fair. The Hotel Tonight app was offering me a room at a local chain. Staying at MacTavish’s Seaside Cottage for free seemed infinitely more attractive. “All right,” I said. “I should probably let you know they’re expecting me in New York City.”

“All right,” he said. “I should probably let you know Joseph isn’t the first bartender to work here who’s been murdered.”

* *

No Known Address

Ingredients

• ½ oz. Malibu black
• 2 dashes Chambord
• ½ oz. mango pineapple vodka
• 2 dashes Jägermeister Spice
• 1 oz. pineapple juice

Method

Shake pineapple vodka, Malibu Black and pineapple juice over ice and strain evenly into martini glasses.

Sink a dash of Chambord into each flute by running it down the side of the glass.

Layer a dash of Jägermeister Spice in each glass.

***

Excerpt from Death in Tranquility by Sharon Linnéa. Copyright 2020 by Sharon Linnéa. Reproduced with permission from Sharon Linnéa. All rights reserved.

 

 

Author Bio:

Sharon Linnea

Sharon Linnéa wrote the bestselling Eden Series (Chasing Eden, Beyond Eden, Treasure of Eden and Plagues of Eden) with B.K. Sherer, as well as the standalone These Violent Delights, a movie murder series. She enjoyed working with Axel Avian on Colt Shore: Domino 29, a middle-grade spy thriller. She is also the author of Princess Ka’iulani: Hope of a Nation, Heart of a People about the last crown princess of Hawaii which won the prestigious Carter Woodson Award, and Raoul Wallenberg: the Man Who Stopped Death. She was a staff writer for five national magazines, a book editor at three publishers, and a celebrity ghost. She lives outside New York City with her family. In Orange County, she teaches The Book Inside You workshops with Thomas Mattingly.

Catch Up With Sharon On:
www.SharonLinnea.com
BartendersGuidetoMurder.com
Goodreads
BookBub
Instagram
Twitter
Facebook

 

 

Tour Participants:

Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways!


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Enter To Win!:

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Sharon Linnéa. There will be SIX (6) winners: ONE (1) winner will receive one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card and FIVE (5) winners will each receive one (1) copy of Death In Tranquility by Sharon Linnéa (These five (5) winners will have their choice of eBook or Print edition however print editions will only be shipped to U.S. addresses). The giveaway begins on February 1, 2021 and runs through March 2, 2021. Void where prohibited.

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Author Spotlight – Tina deBellegarde

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Tina deBellegarde lives in Catskill, New York with her husband Denis and their cat Shelby. Tina writes the Batavia-on-Hudson Mystery series which debuted September 2020 with Winter Witness. Her short stories appear in the Mystery Writers of America anthology A Stranger Comes to Town and the last two editions of Best New England Crime Stories. Find her winning flash fiction online at Retreat West, Ad Hoc Fiction and Reflex Press. When she isn’t writing, Tina is helping Denis tend their beehives, harvest shiitake mushrooms, and cultivate their vegetable garden. She travels to Japan regularly to visit her son Alessandro. Visit her website at www.tinadebellegarde.com

You’ve recently published Winter Witness, a murder mystery that takes place in a small NY town in the Catskill Mountains. What led you to write this book?

When I moved to the Catskills and started taking walks like Bianca does in Winter Witness, it became obvious to me just what a perfect place it was to stage a murder. There were cliffs, isolated hiking trails, speeding trucks paired with winding streets, abandoned quarries, aging resorts, deep lakes, and steep waterfalls. I decided to set my novel in a deceptively quiet town like my new home.

I have been drawn to murder mysteries since I found Martha Grimes in the 1980s. What I love about her Richard Jury series is that you can revel in the small village life and unravel not only a murder mystery but the intricacies of the characters’ lives as well. When I sat down to write, I wanted more than a murder mystery, I wanted characters to live on the page. A small town gives us a perfect backdrop to get to know our characters because in Batavia-on-Hudson everyone knows everyone, just like in my home of Catskill. The intimacy of the village makes the characters’ interactions more immediate.

I love murder mysteries because they are incubators for character studies. Just as our real lives are full of secrets and dreams, growth and evolution, choices and consequences, murder mysteries are about so much more than the murder. Coming of age stories, romances, and other dramas play out as well. The murder is merely a device to drive the characters’ stories forward.

How do you build your characters? Do you base them on real people, on bits and pieces of real people, or are they completely fictional?

Many of my characters are composites of people I know or have met. No character is based on any one person alone. Some I made up completely, but I wonder if that is even true. I always say that there is an enormous amount of autobiography in every piece of fiction because we use our own experience to understand the workings of our characters. Even if we make them up entirely, we imbue them with reactions and decisions based on our own personal experiences. We don’t write in a vacuum. So yes, they are made up, but based in some vague reality.

I keep a character bible, where I develop their backstory and personality traits. Once that is done, characters become real for me and when I place them in a scene they clearly act a certain way because they now have unique personalities.

What was your publishing process like?

My experience was positive but slow. I had no idea how to break in. I’m sure I’m not alone. In the early stages of my manuscript I attended mystery conferences and I found them a tremendous resource. Malice Domestic is a great fan based conference. New England Crime Bake is a wonderful mystery writers’ conference with craft workshops, pitch sessions and critique sessions. I found the community welcoming and supportive, and not competitive at all.

I pitched my book and had some interest, then I submitted the opening of my manuscript and received helpful feedback. I incorporated the feedback into my novel and then set it aside. I wasn’t ready to face the realities of trying to sell my book. Since this was what I considered the best version of Winter Witness, I was nervous about discovering that nobody might want it.

During this break, I started writing short stories. I have heard that many writers start in reverse. They write shorts and then grow into novel writing. But short stories were new to me and I was so excited to stretch my writing muscles in that direction. I discovered I love writing short fiction. I submitted pieces and got some recognition and publications. One of my short stories was picked up by Level Best Books for their annual Best New England Crime Stories anthology.

I also discovered that Level Best Books had expanded from anthologies to novels a few years ago. Since the anthology was launching at New England Crime Bake and I would be seeing the editors there I thought the timing might be right. I sent in my manuscript of Winter Witness, and I was thrilled to hear from them just before the conference. We met for breakfast there and they offered me a three book deal to launch my Batavia-on-Hudson series. I got to skip the agent stage and went straight to the publisher.

Level Best is a relatively small press, and I believe we are a good fit. The press has a solid presence in the mystery writing community and we are growing every day. It has been a very personal experience working with my editors. In fact, the entire community is tight knit. We host a monthly Zoom meeting where we share our news, ask the editors questions, and get guidance from more seasoned authors. Overall, I am thrilled to be with them.

Describe a typical writing day for you.

Oh, how I wish I had a typical writing day! I have tried and tried and not succeeded in creating a routine. It seems that just as I think I have something that works, it goes off the rails. I have a beautiful little writing cottage that my husband and his brother surprised me with. They built it one spring before we had moved here full time. I was still teaching and when my school year ended, and I came up for the summer, there it was. Ideally, I would wake up, exercise and write for the first half of the day.

More often I fit it in when I can. I can say this though, that as long as I am committed to my writing and doing so daily, that getting my head in and out of my writing is very easy. The writing flows and there is no time lost getting reacquainted with my work. When I have to step away from it for any length of time, when my writing isn’t regular, it is always like starting a new project. I have learned that writing daily keeps me limber and in character. When that happens I don’t need a routine, or a cottage. I just need my laptop or a notepad. Keeping the story fresh and alive in my head is the best writing practice.

Who are some of your favorite authors and/or books?

I grew up on women authors like Anne Tyler, Gail Godwin, Sue Miller, Alice Adams, and Muriel Spark. These women shaped my writing and my view of the world. They made me believe that a woman’s story was worth writing. They focused on the internal lives of their female characters and they did it with beautiful prose. They are all masters of character development. I have always felt that even if their books had no plots, I would read them anyway.

Since my son lives in Japan, I have immersed myself in Japanese contemporary literature. I love Japanese literary sensibilities. And I also love the slow burn, slice of life story that is typical of a Japanese novel. Haruki Murakami, Yoko Ogawa, Aoko Matsuda, Mieko Kawakami, Banana Yoshimoto. So many good ones.
As far as particular books are concerned. The Man with the Load of Mischief by Martha Grimes is my favorite traditional mystery. It was after reading this book that I knew I could have an audience for a book like Winter Witness. Bel Canto by Ann Patchett is one of my favorite literary pieces. Her ability to develop characters and relationships under the extraordinary circumstances of a hostage taking was spectacular. On Earth We Are Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong is a poetic novel. You “feel” every word. There are so many small perfect nuggets in that book that it ushered me into writing flash fiction.

Where do you stand on the oxford comma? My readers want to know!

Ah! The $64,000 Question! For most of my life I rejected the Oxford comma. Once I got into writing seriously, I realized that I couldn’t live without it. I used to rewrite a sentence to clarify. Now, since my prose matters so much, I prefer the flexibility the comma can give me. It means the prose as I wrote it can stand.

What do you want readers to experience when they read your work?

I wrote a book about a small village inhabited by characters that I hope readers will want to return to over and over. I want them to think and to feel, to relate and to empathize, and I want them to relax and enjoy. (Notice the comma) I think we read for many reasons, but one of those reasons is that we relate to the emotions of the characters on the page. I like to create characters who are ordinary people leading ordinary lives, but prove to be extraordinary just the same.

If you are an author and would like to be featured here, please contact me at patricia.uttaro @ gmail(dot)com.

New Feature Coming


A new feature will debut this week on It’s All About the Book.

Author Spotlight will feature interviews with debut and newer authors, who will have an opportunity to talk about their books. The feature will focus primarily on New York State authors, with many local to the Rochester region.

If you are an author who would like to be featured, send me a message at patricia.uttaro @ gmail(dot)com.

Before the Ruins by Victoria Gosling


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Lore by Alexandra Bracken


From the Publisher:

From the #1 New York Times best-selling author of The Darkest Minds comes a sweepingly ambitious, high-octane tale of power, destiny, love and redemption.

HER NAME WILL BE LEGEND

Every seven years, the Agon begins. As punishment for a past rebellion, nine Greek gods are forced to walk the earth as mortals, hunted by the descendants of ancient bloodlines, all eager to kill a god and seize their divine power and immortality.

Long ago, Lore Perseous fled that brutal world in the wake of her family’s sadistic murder by a rival line, turning her back on the hunt’s promises of eternal glory. For years she’s pushed away any thought of revenge against the man–now a god–responsible for their deaths.

Yet as the next hunt dawns over New York City, two participants seek out her help: Castor, a childhood friend of Lore believed long dead, and a gravely wounded Athena, among the last of the original gods.

The goddess offers an alliance against their mutual enemy and, at last, a way for Lore to leave the Agon behind forever. But Lore’s decision to bind her fate to Athena’s and rejoin the hunt will come at a deadly cost–and still may not be enough to stop the rise of a new god with the power to bring humanity to its knees.

This new vision of the Greek gods and heroes is an imaginative, pulse-pounding tale for the 21st century. Drawing on a deep knowledge of the old gods and new knowledge of pretty much every action-adventure-quest video game out there, Alexandra Bracken has created a dangerous world where the players breathe loyalty and betrayal. The fact that the protagonist is a young woman who kicks ass makes this even more appealing.

The ass-kicking isn’t all that’s special about Lore, though. She’s got very human feelings and morals, believing that doing good for others is far more important than power. Like any good hero, she struggles with the concept of power throughout the story, and nearly perishes while trying to defend the city at the end.

This will appeal to readers who enjoy fast-paced action-adventure blended with mythology. Well done.

Publication Date: January 5, 2021
Published By: Hyperion
Thanks to Netgalley for the review copy

Winter Witness by Tina deBellegarde

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Winter Witness by Tina deBellegarde Banner

Winter Witness

by Tina deBellegarde

on Tour November 1-30, 2020

Synopsis:

Winter Witness by Tina deBellegarde

When a beloved nun is murdered in a sleepy Catskill Mountain town, a grieving young widow finds herself at the center of the turmoil. Bianca St. Denis is searching for a job and seeking acceptance in her new home of Batavia-on-Hudson. Agatha Miller, the nun’s closest friend and the ailing local historian everyone loves to hate, shares her painful personal history and long-buried village secrets with Bianca. Armed with this knowledge, Bianca unravels the mysteries surrounding the death while dealing with the suspicions of her eccentric neighbors.

However, Bianca’s meddling complicates the sheriff’s investigation as well as his marriage. Can Sheriff Mike Riley escape his painful past in a town where murder and infighting over a new casino vie for his attention?

Danger stalks Bianca as she gets closer to the truth. Can the sheriff solve the mystery before the killer strikes again? Can the town heal its wounds once the truth has been uncovered?

Fans of cozy mysteries with an edge will enjoy this engaging debut set in upstate New York. There is a bit of everything here: a good, cleverly plotted mystery, some romance, history, and a colorfully drawn small town and its inhabitants.

Often in small-town mysteries, the quirkiness of its inhabitants is exaggerated almost to the point of caricature; that doesn’t happen here. The author has followed the most common of writing advice – write what you know. She lives in this world and she has created what could be any number of small, upstate towns and villages and filled it with real people. This provides a solid foundation for the protagonist to sit upon while she struggles with significant changes to her own life.

The mystery here is intriguing and well-paced as old sins come back to bite. I’ll be recommending this to mystery fans and waiting for the next installment!

Book Details:

Genre: Traditional Mystery
Published by: Level Best Books
Publication Date: September 29, 2020
Number of Pages: 282
ISBN: 978-1-947915-76-3
Series: Batavia-on-Hudson Mystery, #1
Purchase Links: Amazon | Apple Books | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Goodreads | Oblong Books and Music

Read an excerpt:

CHAPTER ONE

Thursday, December 15

She could have been sleeping, were it not for the gaping gash in the back of her head and the bloody stone next to her limp body.

Sheriff Mike Riley stood alone on the shore of the near-frozen lake. At his feet, Sister Elaine Fisher lay face down, ice crystals forming around her body where it met the shoreline. The murmuring water of the nearby stream imparted a peacefulness at odds with the scene. In the waning winter light, he paused ankle deep in the snow illuminated by the beat of red strobe lights.

Murder seemed so extreme. The villagers would be baffled. Murder didn’t happen in sleepy Batavia-on-Hudson. An occasional stolen bicycle, some were paid off the books, but that was hardly worth mentioning. Lately, there had been a handful of amateur burglaries. Murder was another story altogether.

But there was no denying it. Elaine’s body was there before him, lifeless on a cushion of snow at the edge of the lake.

Sheriff Riley ran his chapped hands through his salt and pepper hair. A knowing person might have noticed that he used this motion to disguise a quick brush at his cheek, to eliminate the one tear that slipped through.

He feared this day, the day his lazy job would bring him face to face once again with the ugly underbelly he knew existed even in a quiet place like Batavia-on-Hudson. Mike Riley wasn’t afraid of death. He was afraid of the transformation a village like this was bound to go through after an act of murder.

He cried for Elaine; though he barely knew her. But also, he cried for the village that died with her that morning. A place where children still wandered freely. A village that didn’t lock doors, and trusted everyone, even the ones they gossiped about. Now, inevitably, the villagers would be guarded around each other, never quite sure anymore if someone could be trusted.

He thought he could already hear the locks snapping shut in cars and homes as word of the murder got out. Mothers yanking children indoors, hand-in-hand lovers escaping the once-romantic shadows of the wooded pathways, and old ladies turning into shut-ins instead of walking their dogs across the windy bluff.

Sheriff Riley steeled himself not just to confront the damaged body of the first murder victim of Batavia in over seventy years, but to confront the worried faces of mothers, the defeated faces of fathers and the vulnerable faces of the elderly.

He squatted in the slush, wincing as his bad knee rebelled, and laid his hands on Elaine’s rough canvas jacket, two-sizes too big—one of her thrift shop purchases, no doubt. As reverently as was possible in the muddy snow, Mike Riley turned over her body to examine the face of a changing village.

Sister Elaine had no one left, she had no known siblings and of course, no spouse or children. Only Agatha Miller, her childhood companion, could have been considered next of kin. How Elaine had tolerated her grumpy old friend was a mystery to everyone.

The sheriff knew that Elaine’s death would rock the community. Even a relative outsider like Mike understood that Elaine had been an anchor in Batavia. Her kindness had given the village heart, and her compassion had given it soul. No one would be prepared for this.

Mike knew from experience that preparation for death eases the grief. You start getting ready emotionally and psychologically. You make arrangements. You imagine your life without someone. But Mike also knew that when the time comes it still slaps you in the face, cold and bracing. And you realize you were only fooling yourself. Then somehow, in short order, work becomes demanding, bills need to be paid and something on the radio steals a chuckle right out of your throat. For a brief second you realize that there are moments of respite from your grief and perhaps someday those moments will expand and you may be able to experience joy once again.

But for now, Elaine’s death will be a shock. No one had prepared for her death, let alone her murder.

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Excerpt from Winter Witness by Tina deBellegarde. Copyright 2020 by Tina deBellegarde. Reproduced with permission from Tina deBellegarde. All rights reserved.

 

 

Author Bio:

Tina deBellegarde

Tina deBellegarde lives in Catskill, New York with her husband Denis and their cat Shelby. Winter Witness is the first book in the Batavia-on-Hudson Mystery Series. Tina also writes short stories and flash fiction. When she isn’t writing, she is helping Denis tend their beehives, harvest shiitake mushrooms, and cultivate their vegetable garden. She travels to Japan regularly to visit her son, Alessandro. Tina did her graduate studies in history. She is a former exporter, paralegal, teacher, and library clerk.

Catch Up With Tina deBellegarde:
tinadebellegarde.com, Goodreads, BookBub, Instagram, Twitter, & Facebook!

 

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The Book Collectors by Delphine Minoui


An urgent and compelling account of great bravery and passion.” —Susan Orlean

Award-winning journalist Delphine Minoui recounts the true story of a band of young rebels, a besieged Syrian town, and an underground library built from the rubble of war.

Reading is an act of resistance.

Daraya is a town outside Damascus, the very spot where the Syrian Civil War began. Long a site of peaceful resistance to the Assad regimes, Daraya fell under siege in 2012. For four years, no one entered or left, and aid was blocked. Every single day, bombs fell on this place—a place of homes and families, schools and children, now emptied and broken into bits.

And then a group searching for survivors stumbled upon a cache of books in the rubble. In a week, they had six thousand volumes; in a month, fifteen thousand. A sanctuary was born: a library where people could escape the blockade, a paper fortress to protect their humanity.

The library offered a marvelous range of books—from Arabic poetry to American self-help, Shakespearean plays to stories of war in other times and places. The visitors shared photos and tales of their lives before the war, planned how to build a democracy, and tended the roots of their community despite shell-shocked soil.

In the midst of the siege, the journalist Delphine Minoui tracked down one of the library’s founders, twenty-three-year-old Ahmad. Over text messages, WhatsApp, and Facebook, Minoui came to know the young men who gathered in the library, exchanged ideas, learned English, and imagined how to shape the future, even as bombs kept falling from above. By telling their stories, Minoui makes a far-off, complicated war immediate and reveals these young men to be everyday heroes as inspiring as the books they read. The Book Collectors is a testament to their bravery and a celebration of the power of words. – From the Publisher

As a life-long reader and after 35 years in a library career, I know and believe in the power of books. Reading this story of how that power was recovered, nurtured, and grown in the middle of a war was one of the most powerful and affecting reading experiences I’ve ever experienced.

Minoui communicates an odd and exhilarating blend of danger and joy in this gritty story of the creation of an underground library. This should be required reading for every librarian out there – it will remind you why you chose the profession. I am also planning to recommend this to every book club leader I know.

Absolutely stunning work.

Publication Date: November 3, 2020
Published By: Farrar, Straus & Giroux
Thanks to Netgalley for the review copy

Magic Lessons by Alice Hoffman


In an unforgettable novel that traces a centuries-old curse to its source, beloved author Alice Hoffman unveils the story of Maria Owens, accused of witchcraft in Salem, and matriarch of a line of the amazing Owens women and men featured in Practical Magic and The Rules of Magic.

Where does the story of the Owens bloodline begin? With Maria Owens, in the 1600s, when she’s abandoned in a snowy field in rural England as a baby. Under the care of Hannah Owens, Maria learns about the “Unnamed Arts.” Hannah recognizes that Maria has a gift and she teaches the girl all she knows. It is here that she learns her first important lesson: Always love someone who will love you back.

When Maria is abandoned by the man who has declared his love for her, she follows him to Salem, Massachusetts. Here she invokes the curse that will haunt her family. And it’s here that she learns the rules of magic and the lesson that she will carry with her for the rest of her life. Love is the only thing that matters. – From the Publisher

Alice Hoffman is an author I recommend all the time, and I have enjoyed her past stories about the Owens women of Magnolia Lane. In Magic Lessons, Hoffman takes us back to the beginning of the Owens curse and fleshes out the life of Maria Owens, who started the whole thing.

Hoffman skillfully blends historical elements with lush and lyrical writing, telling stories of the women of the time and how their actions shaped the future of their descendants. All the emotions are here: love, loss, heartbreak, jealousy, betrayal, rage, compassion, tenderness – which all come together in a whirlwind of a story that starts in Essex England and ends in Essex Massachusetts.

Fans of Practical Magic will thoroughly enjoy this prequel; Hoffman fans in general will enjoy.
Publication Date: October 6, 2020
Published By: Simon & Schuster
Thanks to Netgalley for the review copy

Heroes by Stephen Fry


In this sequel to the bestselling Mythos, legendary author and actor Stephen Fry moves from the exploits of the Olympian gods to the deeds of mortal heroes.

Perseus. Jason. Atalanta. Theseus. Heracles. Rediscover the thrills, grandeur, and unabashed fun of the Greek myths. Whether recounting a tender love affair or a heroic triumph, Fry deftly finds resonance with our own modern minds and hearts.

One must acquire a taste for Fry’s versions of age-old myths and stories and once you have it, it becomes a thirst to be quenched by his clever and irreverent prose. Here, it’s the human (or mostly human) heroes who get the Fry treatment. Heroes, demi-gods, half humans, beasts – they all benefit from the wit with which Fry tells these stories. What a way to introduce a new generation of readers to glorious mythology of Ancient Greece! Well done.

Publication Date: June 2, 2020
Published By: Chronicle Books
Thanks to Netgalley for the review copy

Reader Profile – Adam Traub


mendozaAdam is the Associate Director of the Monroe County Library System. Before joining MCLS in 2019, he had spent the past 15 years in academic libraries, primarily interested in consortial programs around resource sharing. He’s worked at the University of Rochester, RIT, St. John Fisher, and Strong Museum of Play. Adam grew up around Rochester and has been living in the city since 2005, currently living in the South Wedge with his partner. When he’s not working or advocating for libraries, you can find him cooking, running with his dog, or playing Ultimate (frisbee).

 

Write a one-sentence description of yourself as a Reader.

Sporadically voracious – that is not a sentence, but it’s accurate.

What are you reading right now?

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

The desert island question – What 5 books would you have to have with you if you were stranded on a desert island?

Are you a finisher? In other words, are you compelled to finish a book even if you hate it? What are some books that you’ve had to force yourself to finish, or which you’ve bailed on?

It took me many years to be able to put down a book but I’ve decided my time is too precious to waste on a book I don’t like. “The Savage Detectives” is one I bailed on that comes to mind.

Do you ever read the end of a book first? Why or why not?

Never! I hate spoilers so much, I avoid any summaries. For example, I had no idea what Station Eleven was about when I picked it up just before the COVID crisis hit us. Ugh – this will be a tough one to get through right now.

What is at the top of your To Be Read pile?

Once published, the third book in the Kingkiller Chronicle. Though, the second in the Founders Trilogy is supposed to be out shortly – I imagine I’ll tackle that ASAP.

Who is your go-to author when someone asks you for a recommendation?

Depending on the someone, I’d go for Patrick Rothfuss or Robert Jackson Bennett. Though, it really depends on what they like. If they aren’t into fantasy, I’d probably suggest Chabon or Winters.

Would you rather be your favorite author or your favorite character?

Well, my favorite author is dead and most of my favorite characters are pretty flawed. I’m content being me and enjoying them from a nice armchair.

Has any book defined your life, as in you would be a different person if you hadn’t read it?

The Hobbit. I was – decidedly – not a reader until high school. If it wasn’t for my uncle introducing me to Tolkien, I don’t think I’d be a librarian today.

Is there a genre or type that you are over and wish would just go away?

No – Ranganathan’s Third Law: “Every book its reader.”

Describe your favorite place to read.

My skin warmed – either by a campfire or equatorial sun, preferably with a dog nearby.

Book or movie? Is there a movie that you think was better than the book?

I enjoy both so much, I don’t know I can make a blanket statement. Casino Royale, perhaps?

What is your preferred format? Hardcover, paperback, digital, audio, doesn’t matter?

I prefer physical books, though I’m not too picky on their binding. One day, though, I’ll be thankful for a nice e-reader where I can make the text bigger.

Share a favorite quote from a book you’ve read. Why is it meaningful to you?

“Not all those who wander are lost.” – JRR Tolkien
It reminds me to enjoy life’s detours, but also to reserve judgment when someone else takes a different path.

What book are you recommending that everyone read right now?

I loved Foundryside and I’m really looking forward to the next in the series. Though, if I’m honest, “Name of the Wind.” Not only is it a great fantasy story, but I hope the increased sales urge the author to finish the series!

What book challenged you the most when you read it?

Native Son by Richard Wright. Growing up in a predominantly white middle-class neighborhood, in a predominantly white middle-class school district, surrounded by predominantly white middle-class – well, I had – and do have – a lot of learning to do. I’m grateful for my teachers who selected that as a part of the curriculum.