Book review: Crime with the Classics series by Katherine Bolger Hyde

Hey everyone,

Today I want to let you know about the delightful series, Crime with the Classics, written by my colleague in crime, Katherine Bolger Hyde. Ms. Hyde and I are both members of Santa Cruz Women of Mystery, women in Santa Cruz who write mysteries! Imagine my delight when I discovered that we share an alma mater — Reed College in Portland, Oregon. In fact, the protagonist of this series is a literature professor at Reed.

The first book in the series, Arsenic with Austen, introduces us to Emily Cavanaugh, Reed College professor, avid knitter, and cat lover. She inherits a fortune from her great aunt; a seaside home on the Oregon coast in fictional Stony Brook, Oregon; as well as plenty of real estate. The series takes off from there, with at least one murder in each book, as well as a blossoming romance that leads to true commitment. The books in the series are clever, with a well-loved classic anchoring each one:

  • In Arsenic with Austen, Emily turns to Jane Austen’s Persuasion while searching for happiness.
  • In Bloodstains with Bronte, Emily is reading Wuthering Heights and discovers that one of the young men remodeling her home has much too close of a resemblance to Heathcliff.
  • And, in book 3, Cyanide with Christie, Emily leans on vintage Agatha Christie to solve a murder, one where she herself may have been the intended victim.
  • Book 4, Death with Dostoevsky, finds Emily back at Reed College (now called Bede), set on finishing her treatise on Dostoevsky. When one of her favorite students, a tormented, talented scholar, is accused of murder, Emily investigates.
  • Fatality with Forster, Book 5, will be out soon. I’m looking forward to it.

The covers are charming as well:

The aspect I most liked about the series is what my writing teacher calls “container.” I was so impressed with how Ms. Hyde was able to impart the tone and style of the classic used as the central theme of the book to the story at hand. It was brilliant! For example, Ms. Hyde was able to take the darkness of Dostoevsky and create the mood for Death with Dostoevsky around that. In the first chapter, the tormented young scholar Emily is trying to clear of murder charges is described as someone whose “…dark eyes in their deep sockets burned now with annoyance, but she [Emily] remembered them smoldering with a perpetual agitation…” In Arsenic with Austen, the last sentence in the first paragraph starts with “Of late…” Just a small turn of phrase that sets the container for the book. Ms. Hyde clearly knows language, container, and how to write a compelling book!

All in all, I highly recommend this series.

Until next time,


Book Review: The Glass House

Hey everyone,

Today I’m reviewing The Glass House: A PIP Inc. Mystery by Nancy Lynn Jarvis.  It’s the first book in a new series by Nancy, and I loved it! It’s fun and entertaining.


Here’s my review:

I love the start of this new series from Nancy Lynn Jarvis. It’s written in her engaging style, with solid characters, plenty of red herrings, and a murder that feels perfect since the victim is someone you love to hate! 

I was particularly impressed by the deft introduction of the main character, Pat Pirard. At the start of the book, Pat is in her new car, a two-door sunburst yellow Mercedes, pulling into her newly-designated parking spot at the Santa Cruz County office building. She’s listening to Aretha’s “Respect.” We learn that she’s got strawberry blond hair. She’s wearing peachy lipstick and stylish pointed-toe pumps, and she totes a leopard print briefcase. It’s a great character portrait, right there on page 1.

Needless to say, I was hooked. Pat is a fun character. She’s likable, smart, and funny. Her friends are equally so. The plot moves along quickly, with Pat pulled into a murder investigation thirty pages in. As Pat proves herself as a P.I., she’s also falling in love. The romantic element of this book is written with just the right amount of spice. And the story is fun, with lots of detail about Santa Cruz, glass work, and the ins and outs of private detecting. As the plot unfolds, you’ll find plenty of suspects and shifting facts, and you’ll definitely want to keep reading to find out what happens. 

I highly recommend The Glass House for readers who like a cozy mystery with a dose of romance.

You can find the book on Amazon and connect with Nancy on her Amazon author page.

Until next time,


Meet Laurel Heidtman

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Today, I interview Laurel Heidtman. I met her through an author Facebook group I’m a member of. I’m really looking foward to reading her books. Laurel is originally from southwestern Ohio and is a three-time graduate of Miami University of Ohio. For the past 28 years, she and her husband  have lived on private land inside Daniel Boone National Forest in Kentucky with an assortment of dogs and cats (3 dogs, 2 cats at the current time).

Over the years, she’s worked in many different professions. Laurel has been a dancer, a police officer, a registered nurse, and a technical writer to name the ones she did the longest. When she retired from the 9-to-5 life, she decided to pursue her lifelong dream of writing fiction. She now writes mysteries and thrillers as Laurel Heidtman. She also write cozy mysteries, contemporary romance and romantic suspense as Lolli Powell.

Here’s a list of Laurel’s books. It’s impressive!


Catch A Falling Star (An Eden Mystery), 247 pages, May 2014 – Laurel Heidtman


The Boy Next Door, contemporary romance, 226 pages, November 2014 – Lolli Powell 



The Wrong Kind of Man, romantic suspense, 353 pages, January 2015 –Lolli Powell


Bad Girls (An Eden Mystery), 344 pages, August 2015 – Laurel Heidtman



Whiteout, thriller, 284 pages, March 2016 – Laurel Heidtman


The Body on the Barstool (A Top Shelf Mystery), cozy mystery, 314 pages, November 2016 – Lolli Powell

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Whiskey Kills (A Top Shelf Mystery), cozy mystery, 369 pages, September 2017 – Lolli Powell


The Gift: A Novella, 99 pages, November 2017 – Lolli Powell



Convenient Death (An Eden Mystery), 260 pages, January 2018 – Laurel Heidtman

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Murder in Eden, bundle of three Eden mysteries, 757 pages, April 2018 – Laurel Heidtman


On to the interview!

What genre are your books?

As Laurel Heidtman, I write mysteries (crime novels) and thrillers. As Lolli Powell, I write cozy mysteries and romance.

Do you consider your books character-driven or plot-driven?

I think all of my books are a pretty even mixture of both. I write genre fiction, and the primary purpose of genre fiction is to entertain, so obviously plot is important to that. But unless the reader also believes in and likes/hates/fears the characters, he or she isn’t likely to be entertained. In 2017, Whiskey Kills, the second book in my Top Shelf cozy mystery series won a Bronze in The Wishing Shelf Independent Book Awards contest. The contest is judged by reader groups in London and Stockholm, and the readers provide feedback to the authors. One of the things they give an opinion on is whether they think the book is plot- or character-driven. Out of twenty-three readers, ten thought my book was plot-driven and thirteen thought it was character-driven. Since they all read the same book, I think that confirms I’m correct in thinking mine are a pretty even mixture.

Do you plot ahead of time, or let the plot emerge as you write?

I know where the story starts and where it ends, but how I get from one to the other usually emerges as I write. It’s like a road trip—you start at point A and you know you’re going to point B, but there are a lot of roads you can take to get there.

How do you develop the names for your characters?

I name characters the same way I name my dogs and cats—I play around with different names until the dog/cat/character tells me that’s the one. Seriously, some names just don’t seem to fit, and then all of a sudden, one does.

How do you decide on the setting?

That is dictated by the story or the situation or event that triggered the idea for the story. For example, I got the idea for my thriller Whiteout from the experience of being trapped in our home in the woods in the freak March 1993 blizzard that hit Kentucky. We had 22 inches of snow and the high winds piled that into hip-high drifts. We lost power, of course, and had no hope of getting out for days. So I imagined what would happen to two couples with issues stranded like that and then two escaped killers show up on their doorstep.

Do you have a writing mentor?

Not really. But I am thankful for the support and encouragement of the many indie authors I’ve befriended both locally and through the Internet.

What’s your writing schedule? Do you have a favorite place to write?

My writing schedule leaves a lot to be desired, especially in the summer! I really want to get more disciplined about that, and it’s my goal for not only the New Year but the rest of this year. I’ve written and self-published eight full-length novels and one novella (plus published a bundle of three of my mysteries) in the last five years. That’s not bad, but if I had treated this more as a full-time job, I could have done a lot more.

I don’t have any favorite or interesting place to write. I just write at my desk, or occasionally I might take my laptop to a comfortable chair.

Anything else you’d like to add?

I’d just like to remind people that all writers, but especially indie authors, depend on reader reviews. Potential readers also depend on reviews to help them find a book that would appeal to them. We writers appreciate any and all reviews. Of course, we appreciate ones that detail what the reader liked and didn’t like about the book (the latter helps us improve), but even a simple one- or two-liner is appreciated.

Where can readers find you?

I have two websites, one for each of my author names. They are: and

My blog link is:

Amazon author pages: and

Facebook links:

Laurel Heidtman Facebook link:

Lolli Powell Facebook link:

Twitter link:

Google+ link:


Meet Isabella Adams

X Izzy author pic

Today, I’m happy to host Isabella Adams, AKA Izzy. Izzy was born in New York in the 1970’s. She has lived all over the world, and currently lives and works on the Gulf Coast of Florida. Izzy enjoys her three children (unless they are intent on rupturing everyone’s ear drums in a mile radius), the beach, her husband, and her dog, Isaac. And naps. Izzy loves a good nap.

Favorite Author: Ursula K. Le Guin, close second is FF Amanti
Favorite food: Baklava
Favorite beverage: water

Isabella draws her inspiration from the world around her. The ever evolving, ever surprising, and never boring, rock in space upon which we all sail along.

The book she’s talking about today is called Dancing For A Stranger. It’s 213 pages long and was released on April 2, 2018 by Foster Embry.

Dancing cover from Rachael

About the book:

Donny is looking for The One.

How many women will he kill before he finds her?

Five young dancers are found dead, their windpipes crushed by a serial killer. When Aphrodite, a burlesque dancer, interrupts his latest attack, she becomes his new object of desire. Dr. Andromeda Markos, along with Detective Sean Malone, and their childhood friend, Dr. Anastasia Antoniadis, fight to discover the killer’s identity before more women fall victim to his brutal violence. As they close in, the killer’s mind unravels and the friends must race against his tangled psyche in order to save one of their own.

Why did you decide to write this book?

This is the second novel based on the same characters. The first story came to me in a dream. I wrote it down, and away it went. The second one came to me in a dream as well, and begged to be written. My best friend is a burlesque dancer in France, and I believe the dream stemmed from a conversation with her about a show-gone-wrong. I work in the Greek community every day, and if I don’t write about it I will go nuts. Well, a little more nuts than I already am.

What genre is your book?

Mystery, cozy mystery, women’s fiction, or chick lit, as my husband likes to say.

Do you consider your book character-driven or plot-driven?

Both live large in my brain, so I think it’s hard to tease them apart. If I had to choose I would say character. I could hang out with my characters and write twenty pages about them in the car on the way to a movie, so I suppose I just like spending time with them.

What makes your book unique?

The characters, the setting… not much is out there about the Greek culture in the US right now. We had My Big Fat Greek Wedding, but after that it kind of fell away (until #2, but we won’t talk about that). Physician protagonists have been done to death, in my opinion, but Dr. Markos… well, she’s not just a doc. She’s a single mother, newly in the dating pool; she’s a daughter caught up in cultural expectations; she’s a best friend and confidant. In addition, the friendships in the story are almost as important as the plot. They are based on my own relationships, of course (write what you know, right?), and I wish that every woman in the world had the opportunity to have close friends the way I do, and as Andie does.

Do you plot ahead of time, or let the plot emerge as you write?

I am a super duper pantser. I have an idea and I sit down and see what happens. ‘Oh, look at that, who knew there was going to be a magic bowl in the story!’ (not in this story, of course, but another one). Things show up, twists write themselves in… I remember saying to my best friend, the dancer, “I can’t wait to sit down to see what happens next,” because even I didn’t know. That being said, I often have a general feeling as to what the end is going to look like, but as some of my closest friends can attest, endings have been known to change at the last minute.

How do you develop the names for your characters?

In this story the main names came to me in my dreams. To be fair, I do work with a woman named Aphrodite and a woman named Kaliope every day. Andie’s name likely came from a discussion the night before my dream about the Andromeda galaxy, and Sean, well, that just kind of fell into place. Sophia was my roommate in college, and Sully, while an overused nickname in my estimation, was in the dream as well.

How do you decide on a setting?

As above, most of my ideas come to me in dreams. As far as setting…if I had to think about it I’m sure I would choose a setting that would lend itself well to the theme of the book, or in which my characters would naturally reside. Unless the story was about them being out of place, then it would be in a contrary setting.

Do you have a writing mentor?

Nope. Actually, I face a lot of criticism on a regular basis. Does it count if I have a negative mentor, like I write in spite of something or someone? Because then yes, I do.

What is your writing scheduled? Do you have a favorite place to write?

Ah, yes. I do not have a schedule. I work full time, Monday through Friday, and have three children, AND am married, which is a full time job unto itself. So here’s what I do: I get up earlier than everyone else and pray, do yoga, and make coffee. I then hope for at least half an hour to myself to write something. If not, oh well. If I get it, great. Then, at work, I write on my lunch hour. I do get kind of cranky when that gets interrupted, as it often is the only time I have for my creative expressions. There have been moments, while putting the kids to bed, or standing in line at the grocery store, where a scene occurs to me, in which case I put it in my phone and transcribe it later.

As for place to write, I love my leather armchair at home. My husband’s desk is great too, but that doesn’t happen often. I write at my work station out of necessity, but I could take that or leave it. I have written on the couch watching cartoons, in bed, in a hospital, and in my car. Basically, I write where I can, when I can.

Anything else you’d like to add?

I have to say this: For anyone who has a story that lives loud in their head, write it down. And for those of you who perhaps are stuck, my best advice is this: write. Just write. Don’t censor or edit, don’t listen to the voice that tells you your work is horrible. Just write.

Don’t give space in your life to those that would sap your creative energy. There will always be someone to tell you to “be real,” or “stop thinking you can write, that’s not reality.” I write my own reality, it’s part of what we do as writers. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do this. Just write.

Where can readers find you?



Twitter: @izzybellaadams





Meet Susan Solomon

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Formerly a Manhattan entertainment attorney and a contributing editor to the quarterly art magazine SunStorm Fine Art, Susan Lynn Solomon now lives in Niagara Falls, New York, the setting of many of her stories. In January 2017, she was appointed as the facilitator of the Just Buffalo Literary Center Writer’s Critique Group.

Since 2007 her short stories have appeared in numerous literary journals. These include Abigail Bender (awarded an Honorable Mention in a Writers Journal short romance competition), Ginger Man, Elvira, The Memory Tree, Going Home, Yesterday’s Wings, Smoker’s Lament, Kaddish, and Sabbath (nominated by the editor of Prick of the Spindle for 2013 Best of the Net, and winner of second place in the 2017 Word Weaver Writing Competition). A collection of her short stories, Voices In My Head, has been published by Solstice Publishing.

Susan Solomon is the author of the Emlyn Goode Mysteries. A finalist in M&M’s Chanticleer’s Mystery & Mayhem Novel Contest, and a finalist for the 2016 Book Excellence Award, her first Emlyn Goode Mystery novel, The Magic of Murder, has received rave reviews, as have the novelettes, Bella Vita, and The Day the Music Died, and the novel, Dead Again, which was a finalist for the 2017 McGrath House Indie Book of the Year. In the latest Emlyn Goode Mystery novelette, ’Twas the Season, Ms. Solomon once more demonstrates that murder has a sense of humor.

Emlyn Good Mysteries

The Magic of Murder

Dead Again:

Bella Vita:

The Day the Music Died:

’Twas the Season:

How long are your books?

Both current Emlyn Goode Mystery novels—The Magic of Murder and Dead Again are about 260 pages. There are also two Emlyn Goode Mystery novelettes, The Day the Music Died and ’Twas the Season, both of which are about 110 pages. Finally, for people with a penchant for short mysteries, Bella Vita is about 50 pages…

Wait now. I fibbed. There are two new Emlyn Goode Mysteries on the way. The novel, Writing is Murder will available soon on Kindle and in paperback. This book will also be about 260 pages. And finally (I mean it this time) the novelette, A Shot in the Woods which will appear in the Solstice Plots & Schemes 2 anthology is about 110 pages. Whew! Seven Emlyn Goode stories in the past three years. I think I’m exhausted.

Why did you decide to write this series?

The Emlyn Goode stories have grown from two things. First is my love of murder mysteries—especially cozies. If I close my eyes I can recall my parents sitting in our living room lost in such books for hours. Agatha Christie was my mom’s favorite. Dad’s was Rex Stout. I wasn’t much of a reader as a child until my mother gave me Christie’s Peril at End House. That Hercule Poirit mystery—the places, the characters, the twists and turns—filled my imagination. I’ve was hooked.

The second thing that’s led me to Emlyn Goode is a fascination with witchcraft. Ten or so years ago I was writing a short story for an online journal. That story, “Witches Gumbo,” was told in a metaphor of witchcraft practiced in a fictional Louisiana bayou, and focused on the maltreatment of women. To provide details that would give life to the story, I purchased a few books about witchcraft. Again I was hooked, and I’ve been researching the subject since.

So, when a friend dared me to write a murder mystery these two factors jumped into my mind: a light story—at times I laughed while typing it—people of all ages would get lost in, involving a modern day witch… or in the case of my narrator, a novice witch getting in trouble when trying to use the craft.

What genre is your series?

The Emlyn Goode stories are murder mysteries—cozy mysteries, actually.

Do you consider your books character-driven or plot-driven?

I believe a good story must be driven by its characters. I work to make my characters both believable and people my readers would like to have as friends. From the reviews and comments each Emlyn Goode Mystery has received, it appears I’ve accomplished this.

Once my characters had been established, it was time to wrap a plot around them. With murder mysteries I work to make that plot full of twists and turns—and a red herring or two. Always, though, there will be clues scattered within the story. Then I sit back and watch how my characters unravel what’s happened.

What makes your series unique?

The uniqueness of the Emlyn Goode Mysteries lies with my characters. Not long after her fortieth birthday, Emlyn Goode, my narrator, learns she’s a direct descendant of Sarah Goode, a woman hanged as a witch in Salem. Emlyn has been given her ancient relative’s Book of Shadows, a diary of a sort, in which old Sarah wrote her thoughts and observations of people she lived among. In this book are also ways in which herbs and spices might be mixed together to accomplish… uh, certain results. In each story portions of Sarah book are quoted.

Emlyn’s friend, Rebecca Nurse, owns The Black Cat, an arcane shop that stocks materials Sarah Goode might have used.

Where the history of Salem at the time of the witch trials is mentioned, the facts have been researched, as has the old-fashioned English Sarah used in her book. The herbalism/witchcraft mentioned has also been researched (I won’t claim I use these things—don’t want to be strung up as they were back then). Although magic is a factor in these stories, the crimes Emlyn and her friends (and cat) face aren’t solved by magic. Each time it’s used there’s an alternate explanation. For example, when Emlyn attempts a spell that takes her back in time, the alternate explanation is that she’s gotten stoned on the incense she burns during her ritual—her cop boyfriend certainly believes that’s what happened.

Do you plot ahead of time, or let the plot emerge as you write?

When I began to write I carefully outlined my stories, attempting to force my characters to do what I demanded of them. I soon found those early stories didn’t work. The characters had no life. Lesson learned, I became what people smile and call a “pantser.” By this I mean I start with a basic idea of the story’s end, then I develop my main characters and sit back and let them tell me how they’ll get there. The result has been a number of short stories published in print and in online literary journals—several of which have won awards—and then published novels which have also won awards.

How do you develop the names for your characters?

This is a good question. It’s something I’ve never thought about. I guess in most cases the names just come to me. There are, of course, a few exceptions. In developing the Emlyn Goode Mysteries I needed the names of people who were prosecuted in the 1692 Salem witch trials. The names of these actual people were found in my research. For Emlyn I needed an old family name that sounded like it might have come from that period, and yet would be different enough to stick in the minds of my readers. Don’t know where “Emlyn” came from. It just popped into my head when I began to write. Blushing from embarrassment, I confess that in many respects Emlyn Goode is me…

Other names? Sometimes they’re those of people I know or have met (at least built on their initials). As an example, in the new Emlyn Goode novel that’s about to be released, a number of the characters are based on members of my writers group, so their names are built on their initials… again with one major exception. This was a character originally named Ellen. Halfway through the novel I realized that that I had three characters whose names began with an “E.” As a result, I had to change Ellen’s name to Samantha. Again, that name just popped into my head.

How do you decide on the setting?

The books I most enjoy reading allow me to see what the characters see, and taste and smell what they do. Since I want to give my readers this experience, my stories are set in places I know well. The Emlyn Goode stories as well as a number of my short stories are set in western New York—especially Niagara Falls, the place I live. Other stories, and a paranormal romance novel on which I’m currently working, are set in Manhattan and on Long Island. These are places I’d lived for many years. Using sites I know so well, I can imbue my stories with details—the streets and back alleys, the restaurants, the businesses—readers could find if they visited.

Do you have a writing mentor?

I do. Gary Earl Ross, a novelist and playwright. For a number of years Gary moderated the Just Buffalo Literary Center’s Writers Critique Group of which I’m a member. Though I’d had a few short stories published before we met—few among many I had written—Gary guided my writing to a level I never thought I could achieve. I don’t know what Gary saw in me or my writing, and I’ll never be able to properly thank him.

One thing I should mention. The Emlyn Goode stories are Gary’s fault. They are, and he can’t deny it. Though I’ve always loved reading cozy mysteries, I’d never written one. Gary, on the other hand, is a master of the genre. One evening after a writers group meeting he and I were talking about our mutual love of murder mysteries, and he asked why I hadn’t written one. I told him I didn’t believe I could create the plot for such a story. That’s when he did the unthinkable. He gave me a hard look, and dared me to try…  I’ve never been smart enough to ignore a dare. Well, The Magic of Murder, the first Emlyn Goode Mystery grew from that dare. So, readers, if you’re ready to throw a book against the wall in frustration from trying to unravel the clues on one these stories, blame Gary Earl Ross!

What’s your writing schedule? Do you have a favorite place to write?

I’ll write any chance I get and any place I happen to be. I carry my writer’s journal with me most of the time, and make notes about the places I am, the people I see, and conversations I might overhear… Of course, that last one can be a bit dangerous. Apparently people are less than thrilled to see me making notes of their private conversations—a few times I was asked to leave a restaurant. Well, at least a few stories built from notes in my journal have turned into published short stories—The Memory Tree, the Christmas story I wrote for a Solstice anthology was one of those.

As to the times I sit at my computer working on stories, after practicing law for more years than I care to remember I recently retired. Now I work on stories every morning—and when I’m in the middle of story, sometimes late into the evening. I have to get the writing done before I forget what I wanted to say. It’s fortunate I have a good friend who periodically drags me from my writer’s lair, or I might go months without breathing fresh air.

Anything else you’d like to add?

I do have three things to add. For Emlyn Goode Mystery fans, two new stories will soon be released. The novelette, A Shot in the Woods, is in Solstice Publishing’s Plots & Schemes 2 anthology, and there’s a new novel, Writing is Murder.

Besides these—and while a begin the fourth Emlyn Goode novel—I’m working through chapters of a paranormal romance that I expect to have out near this end of this year. This book will give my reads a view of stories I write when I’m not killing people.

Where can we find you?




Bonus! Book review!

I read The Magic of Murder and enjoyed it so much, I have to let you know! 5 stars:

I loved this book. It’s funny, clever, multi-layered, and rich with self-deprecating humor. The protagonist and amateur sleuth, Emlyn Goode, is a writer who has recently discovered her ancestry and family gift. As she works to master her powers, there’s a mystery to solve and a romance shimmering on the horizon. The well-planted red herrings, plot twists, and great characters kept me turning the pages. I’ll definitely read more in this series, and glad there are plenty of books to satisfy my craving for magic and murder!