Tag Archives: private investigator

Blitz & Review: Stiff Lizard by Lisa Haneberg

STIFF LIZARD
by
LISA HANEBERG

Series: A Spy Shop Mystery
Publisher: Written Pursuits Press
Pages: 364 pages
Pub Date: March 13th, 2021
Categories: Women Sleuths / Cozy Mystery / Private Investigator / Humor

Rodent Roger, a popular Galveston Island exterminator, goes missing the day after he tells private investigator and spy shop owner Xena Cali about a concerning uptick in green iguana sightings on the island. They’re crapping in people’s boats and falling from trees. Are the lizards swimming over from Florida to escape the pythons, or is it something more nefarious? Can Xena help untangle the mess before the raucous reptiles take over Galveston?

Ultima Penelope Roger is a best-selling writer of romance novels. The Lizard Liquidators have set up shop on Galveston Island. Herpetologist Quintana Flores, PhD, works on a bizarre cruise ship that sails out of the Port of Galveston. Sasha Barlow is a driven junior reporter who’ll do anything to get the story. Ned “The Pelican Man” Quinn writes a column about bird necropsies. Captain Ethan Slaughter is the head of the Major Crimes team at the Galveston Police Department. Xena and her team will have to partner with and/or battle this cast of characters and others to solve what becomes a disturbing murder investigation.

Stiff Lizard is the third full-length book in the Spy Shop Mystery series. If you like fast-paced crime novels, clever satire, and gritty beach towns, then you’ll love Lisa Haneberg’s humorous and contemporary cozy caper.

 

PRAISE FOR STIFF LIZARD

“Lisa Haneberg has a wicked sense of humor. She can also write a fast-moving, totally original mystery.” — Alan Rinzler

Lisa Haneberg’s newest entry in the Spy Shop Mystery Series lives up to its predecessors. A good number of laughs, lots of intrigue, a bit of titillation, lots of interesting information, and lots of mystery make for a good read.” – Verified
purchaser from Amazon 

Review

Stiff Lizard by Lisa Haneberg was as cool and as funny as its protagonist – the amazing Xena Cali. I have said before that I would love to meet a book character in real life, but I have never meant it more than right now. Who wouldn’t want to spend time in a spy shop solving mysteries with a woman who practices parkour and lets people taze and pepper spray her for training?

And as if Xena’s character couldn’t be improved upon even further, I love that she is listening to Dale Carnegie’s classic, How to Win Friends & Influence People, and is seriously applying it to her personal and professional lives. (Side note: My mother has a certificate for completing the leadership training course in New York and has been harassing me to read the book since college. I can now pretend that I have read it, thanks to this wonderful book!)

Haneberg’s writing style is casual and I adore that she breaks the fourth wall repeatedly. I like how she talks about the local places in a way that assumes you know exactly what and where she is describing. I have yet to Google whether each place is actually real, but what I am most interested in researching before my next trip out to Galveston was piqued by this passage: 

“There are dozens of beautiful tree sculptures on Galveston Island carved to look like mermaids, dogs, pelicans, dolphins, angels, and other things. Most were commissioned by wealthier homeowners and nonprofit organizations after Hurricane Ike flooded the island in 2008.” 

I wonder how many of these sculptures I have walked by and never noticed. I will definitely stop by the visitor’s bureau to pick up the Tree Sculpture Tour map during my next trip.

In case you haven’t noticed, I’m a big fan of quirky characters – and this book has them by the bushels! Such a colorful (quite literally at times) cast from the spy shop employees and friends to the locals and, of course, the clientele and the suspects. There is also a character from Houston that I became quite fond of and sincerely hope plays a bigger role in upcoming books.

Haneberg does a great job of getting you up to speed if you haven’t read the previous books (I hadn’t) but she definitely dangles some great tidbits that make you want to go back and devour the entire series. The Spy Shop Mystery series is definitely on my TBR list and I will sign up for notifications so that I know when the next book drops!

 Purchase Links
 Amazon | Bookshop | Barnes and Noble 
 
 
 

Lisa Haneberg loves to explore Galveston Island’s gritty back streets, stellar seafood joints, magnificent natural areas, and all points in between. In addition to the Spy Shop Mysteries, she’s a blogger and has authored over a dozen nonfiction books. She earned an MFA degree from Goddard College and a BS in Behavioral Sciences from the University of Maryland.

Before writing crime fiction, she was a seasoned human resources professional with a strange attraction to gnarly internal investigations. She lives with her husband and dog in Lexington, Kentucky. Lisa once owned a home on Galveston Island and is a frequent visitor.

 

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Review & Giveaway: Death at Thorburn Hall by Julianna Deering

DEATH AT THORBURN HALL

A Drew Farthering Mystery, #6

by
JULIANNA DEERING
  Genre: Historical British Mystery / Suspense
Date of Publication: November 7, 2017
Number of Pages: 336

Scroll down for the giveaway!

Investigating a suspicious accident leads Drew on a path that points to international intrigue and ever-growing danger

Drew Farthering arrives in idyllic Scotland for the 1935 British Open at Muirfield, hoping for a relaxing holiday with his wife, Madeline, and friend Nick. But death meets him once again when Lord Rainsby, their host at Thorburn Hall, is killed in a suspicious riding accident–only days after confiding in Drew his fears that his business partner was embezzling funds.

Thorburn Hall is filled with guests, and as Drew continues to dig, he realizes that each appears to have dark motives for wanting Rainsby out of the way. Together with Madeline and Nick, he must sort through shady business dealings, international intrigue, and family tensions to find a killer who always seems to be one step ahead.



PRAISE FOR DEATH AT THORBURN HALL:

“Amateur sleuthing at its finest!”–Fresh Fiction Review

“Another great mystery headed by the charming Drew Farthering and his intelligent wife, Madeline. There is murder, mystery, intrigue and a little romance, which makes Death at Thorburn Hall a most enjoyable read . . . The plot has twists, turns and a few surprises throughout the story. Deering is at her best when penning Drew Farthering mysteries.”–RT Book Reviews
“This sixth series entry will delight Agatha Christie fans.”
Library Journal

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I don’t know what it is about this book that brings to mind authors like Evelyn Waugh and Bernard Malamud, but it reads instantly like a classic. I think I’m not the only one who thinks so since the cover art chosen is also very classic. The premise – bougie people spending the week in Scotland watching a golf tournament – super classic.
But don’t make the mistake in reading classic as boring or predictable. Deering does a masterful job of building this world of interesting characters. I especially like the relationship between Drew and Madeline. While we aren’t filled in too much about what has happened in the previous books, we can gather that the couple has been through the wringer together. I love that Madeline bravely stands by her husband and refuses to cower in fear. Nick and Carrie seem to have a hard time reconnecting because Carrie is still traumatized by past events. It is truly agonizing trying to will those two together.
There are a few more couples in the book but more than a few complicated storylines that tie everyone together. The first murder and each mishap that follows threatens to sever those lines, making the motive and the murderer more elusive than ever. My first hunch was off but my second hunch was validated when one character met their demise. I’m curious to see if any of you readers get it right from the first. Deering does an amazing job of spreading breadcrumbs all around in a uniform fashion. No bait and switch here. And I’m so glad because that is such a cheap trick in mystery novels.
I’m tempted to blather on but I would hate to ruin anything. Let me just end this review by saying that there’s a pleasant reveal at the end. I definitely didn’t see it coming and it was handled beautifully. Read this if you want to immerse yourself into a perfect mystery novel.
JULIANNA DEERING (also writing as DeAnna Julie Dodson) has always been an avid reader and a lover of storytelling, whether on the page, the screen or the stage. This, along with her keen interest in history and her Christian faith, shows in her tales of love, forgiveness, and triumph over adversity. A fifth-generation Texan, she makes her home north of Dallas with three spoiled cats and, when not writing, spends her free time quilting, cross stitching, and watching NHL hockey. Her series of Drew Farthering mysteries set in 1930s England debuted from Bethany House with Rules of Murder (2013) and is followed by Death by the Book and Murder at the Mikado (2014). Dressed for Death (2016), and Murder on the Moor and Death at Thorburn Hall (2017). She is represented by Wendy Lawton of the Books and Such Literary Agency.


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11/29/17
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12/1/17
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12/2/17
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Murder at Peacock Mansion by Judy Alter

Lone Star Literary Life Blog Tours 
presents
 
MURDER AT PEACOCK MANSION
a Blue Plate Cafe Mystery
 
by 
Judy Alter
 
 
Title: MURDER AT PEACOCK MANSION
Author: Judy Alter
Genre: Cozy Mystery
# of pages: 258
 
 
Arson, a bad beating, and a recluse who claims someone is trying to kill her all collide in this third Blue Plate Café Mystery with Kate Chambers. Torn between trying to save David Clinkscales, her old boss and new lover, and curiosity about Edith Aldridge’s story of an attempt on her life, Kate has to remind herself she has a café to run. She nurses a morose David, whose spirit has been hurt as badly as his body, and tries to placate Mrs. Aldridge, who was once accused of murdering her husband but acquitted. One by one, Mrs. Aldridge’s stepchildren enter the picture. Is it coincidence that David is Edith Aldridge’s lawyer? Or that she seems to rely heavily on the private investigator David hires? First the peacocks die…and then the people. Everyone is in danger, and no one knows who to suspect.
 
 
BUY LINKS
 
 
Praise for the author
 
“Kate Chambers continues to impress. This third book in the Blue Plate Café mysteries opens with two intriguing story lines that intermingle flawlessly and will keep you captivated until the final page.” Terrie Farley Moran, Agatha Award-Winning author of the Read ’Em and Eat cozy mysteries. 
“With Murder at Peacock Mansion, the showy feathers of a rich woman’s birds aren’t enough to save either them or relatives of the recluse who thinks someone’s out to get her. Judy Alter, in her third Blue Plate Special mystery, serves up more than chicken-fried chicken as cafe proprietor Kate Chambers fights to save the ones she loves and figure out who the killer is, while keeping herself and her business alive, too.” Edith Maxwell, Agatha-nominated and national bestselling author of the Local Foods Mysteries, the Country Store Mysteries, and the Quaker Midwife Mysteries
 
 
“How did you meet Mr. Aldridge?”
“I was a cocktail waitress at the old Baker Hotel in Dallas. You might say I was Eliza to his Henry Higgins. He taught me to dress, speak, eat properly, even dance—he made a lady out of me, and I was always grateful. But once I was “finished”—his term, not mine—he found other Pygmalion-like subjects. In other words, he cheated on me, including financially, railed that I couldn’t run the house on the reduced budget he gave me.
“I used to lie in bed and listen to him roaming about downstairs, sometimes throwing things—I always hoped it wasn’t the Limoges he’d given his first wife, Alicia—and several times I thought I heard him fall. His best friend at night was a bottle of bourbon.
“One night I woke and realized he hadn’t come upstairs. By then I kept a derringer for self-protection, and this night I grabbed it and put it in my pocket. I found him at the foot of the stairs—he fallen apparently. What I didn’t realize until after I called the police was that he’d been shot too.
This tale was getting more bizarre. I itched to check it out on the Web, but for now I was a captive audience and, I admit, mesmerized by the calm recital of this woman’s life story. “What makes you think his children are trying to kill you now?” After all she’d lived this way for thirty years.
Review
 I’m not a big mystery reader but I’ve always been that person who saw the ending a mile away. This was not the case this time. Alter’s characters are interesting and her writing is so fluid and natural that you can’t help but be sucked into the story. I hadn’t realized that this was Book 3 of the Blue Plate Cafe Mysteries, but I had an idea the way that she brushes briefly about previous events and relationships. And like any good series writer, Alter doesn’t confuse you with the past you hadn’t seen but stokes your interest in reading them when you’re done with the one you’re working on. While some of the characters were certainly eccentric, all of them felt real. And every suspect could be seen from the guilty or innocent perspective as well. I highly suggest this book and series for readers who want to bring out their inner sleuth.
 
Judy Alter retired from Texas Christian University Press after thirty years, twenty of them as director. At the same time she developed her own writing career, focusing primarily on women of the American West. Now she writes fiction and nonfiction for all ages. She lives in Fort Worth.
 
 

 

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