Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month for January 2020

Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month
It’s that time of the month again, time for “Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month”.

So what is “Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month”? It’s a round-up of speculative fiction by indie authors newly published this month, though some December books I missed the last time around snuck in as well. The books are arranged in alphabetical order by author. So far, most links only go to Amazon.com, though I may add other retailers for future editions.

Once again, we have new releases covering the whole broad spectrum of speculative fiction. This month, we have epic fantasy, urban fantasy, sword and sorcery, paranormal mystery, science fantasy, fantasy romance, science fiction romance, space opera, military science fiction, dystopian fiction, Cyberpunk, Hopepunk, Steampunk, aliens, angels, dragons, shifters, superheroes, pirates, ghosts, druids, fae, crime-busting witches, supernatural serial killers, alien mating rituals, planet killers, space marines, living swords, life after death and much more.

Don’t forget that Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month is also crossposted to the Speculative Fiction Showcase, a group blog run by Jessica Rydill and myself, which features new release spotlights, guest posts, interviews and link round-ups regarding all things speculative fiction several times per week.

As always, I know the authors at least vaguely, but I haven’t read all of the books, so Caveat emptor.

And now on to the books without further ado:

Strange Love by Ann AguirreStrange Love by Ann Aguirre:

He’s awkward. He’s adorable. He’s alien as hell.
Zylar of Kith B’alak is a four-time loser in the annual Choosing. If he fails to find a nest guardian this time, he’ll lose his chance to have a mate for all time. Desperation drives him to try a matching service but due to a freak solar flare and a severely malfunctioning ship AI, things go way off course. This ‘human being’ is not the Tiralan match he was looking for.

She’s frazzled. She’s fierce. She’s from St. Louis.
Beryl Bowman’s mother always said she’d never get married. She should have added a rider about the husband being human. Who would have ever thought that working at the Sunshine Angel daycare center would offer such interstellar prestige? She doesn’t know what the hell’s going on, but a new life awaits on Barath Colony, where she can have any alien bachelor she wants.

They agree to join the Choosing together, but love is about to get seriously strange.

Magic Lies by Fatima BaderMagic Lies by Fatima Bader:

Hunting a serial killer can be hazardous to your health.

My name’s Selena Valeron, and I’m the Supernatural Bureau of Investigation’s best undercover witch. After three years, the bureau has just handed me my biggest case: hunting the magical community’s most prolific serial killer, Xavier.

Lately the dead women on the morgue table bear an eerie resemblance to me. A shocking revelation indicates the killer is someone from my past—if I can remember it. Years ago, an accident wiped out my memory and threatened to end my career. Now my magical powers seem to be manifesting into something stronger.

Was my memory loss really an accident, or a failed murder attempt?

Time’s ticking as I dig through my past to find the killer. I need answers. If I can’t get them in time, I’ll lose friends, family—even my own life.

MAGIC LIES is a fast-paced urban fantasy mystery with plenty of thrilling twists and turns that will keep you guessing. Agent Valeron may have lost her memory, but she hasn’t lost her snarky attitude and she’s still a badass witch. Jump into this magical world and start reading the Selena Valeron series today!

King of the Republic by P.J. BermanKing of the Republic by P.J. Berman:

Queen Silrith has fallen. Now she must rise again. However, when her army lands in Etrovansia in search of reinforcements and political support, their welcome is far from warm. Their retreat from one war could start another.

Ezrina, a vengeful Hentani priestess, feels the weight of expectation placed on her by her tribe. Without Jezna by her side, her headship is a lonely one. Will the arrival of strange new allies prove a welcome help or complicate matters further?

Zethun, an ambitious young politician, rides a wave of public support amid the passion of revolution. Now he must restore order before the mob descends into anarchy.

All three rebels stand on the precipice of their defining moments. There is no going back now.

Meanwhile, the tyrannical usurper, King Jostan, brings new violence to the Verusantian reign of terror over Bennvika.

Planet Killer by Lindsay BurokerPlanet Killer by Lindsay Buroker:

Casmir has survived against impossible odds, and now he longs to return home. But an invasion force is blockading the Kingdom’s wormhole gate, and it would be suicidal to fly through it now. Worse, his family and friends are stuck on the other side, with hostile forces attacking their home world.The only way Casmir can help is to find out who’s behind the invasion… and convince him to stop. But Casmir isn’t known for his ability to strong-arm people, and this is one enemy who won’t be won over by his friendly demeanor. As he soon finds out, he must face the very rich and very powerful person who’s been trying to have him killed for months.

Firebird's Lair by Rachel FordFirebird’s Lair by Rachel Ford:

A mysterious warlock. A ruthless band of wyvern poachers. A marriage neither of them wants.

Tsar Kirill’s only daughter is ailing. Poachers and robbers plague his kingdom. He doesn’t want a wife. Especially not that one.

Tsarevna Yuliana has a home already. She doesn’t want to leave everything she’s known, the seaside that she grew up by, to start a new life in a strange land. Especially not with him.

But Tsar Fyodor, his ally and her father, has other plans. He wants to forge an empire. And empire building by marriage is so much less taxing than empire building by war.

Or so he thinks.

First at odds, Yuliana and Kirill unite to outwit Fyodor and save themselves from his machinations. But as a mysterious sorcerer and a dangerous band of wyvern poachers threaten the future of both kingdoms, the two must risk everything – including their hearts – to save the hard-won peace.

A humorous fantasy novel, full of lovable characters, dangerous villains, and laugh-out-loud moments.

Osmium War by Thomas GreenOsmium War by Thomas Green:

He betrayed her. Her revenge will shake their worlds.

Captain John Lang has devoted his life to his duty. Raised as a child soldier, he has never known another life.

And since the cold war between Earth and Mars has been going on for over two centuries, he never will.

To save his lover, Raina, from the same fate, he sent her to Earth.

But things didn’t go for Raina the way John expected them to. Wearing an artificial face, she works as a corporate assassin for the Earth’s largest weapons manufacturing syndicate.

On Earth, she’s an escaped prisoner while on Mars, she’s officially dead. And has neither forgiven nor forgotten.

So, when Earth bans deep core mining, creating a system-wide osmium shortage, she seizes the opportunity and escalates the crisis.

For if she manages to make Earth and Mars go to war, they are sure to destroy each other. And her syndicate would then rule over the wasteland.

After all, she could have no better revenge than for John and all his soldier brothers to die in a nuclear apocalypse.

Ever the Hero by Darby HarnEver the Hero by Darby Harn:

Superheroes are big business. Imagine not being able to afford them.

Kit Baldwin just wants to make rent. The only work she can find in the ruins of her devastated city is scavenging for alien technology. When she finds a powerful alien weapon, her discovery pays off more than she could have hoped: it draws the attention of the most powerful of the superhuman Empowered, Valene.

Valene hears everything, everywhere. She suffers for it, and as they begin a precipitous romance, Kit believes she can use the weapon she’s scavenged to mitigate Valene’s pain. If she can’t, Valene will retreat to the soundlessness of space. Without Valene’s compassion, the stricken city is left to the mercy of Valene’s ruthless father, who denies the assistance the city needs unless it can pay for it.

As Valene’s condition worsens, Kit becomes more desperate and unleashes the full power of the alien weapon. In an instant, she is transformed into a being of cosmic power. She can acquire the knowledge and energy of anything – or anyone – she touches.

Ghostly Charms by Lilly Harper HartGhostly Charms by Lilly Harper Hart:

Harper Harlow thought the only thing she was going to have to worry about in the shadow of spring was planning her wedding. She was wrong.A string of break-ins in Whisper Cove have caught the attention of the cops, including her fiancé Jared Monroe. Things take a turn for the worse when one of those break-ins results in the death of a local barber. It seems what was once written off as teenage hijinks is something else entirely. In addition to the break-ins, Harper finds herself distracted by a new resident. He’s bringing an art gallery to town … as well as his troubled sister. Rain Porter doesn’t want to be in Southeastern Michigan and she’s hiding a big secret. Harper is determined to help the girl until the young woman pushes the exact wrong buttons. Things aren’t what they seem and the deeper Harper digs the more she worries that she doesn’t really want to find an answer. When a ghost from the other side of the state shows up and starts invading her dreams, things go from bad to worse. Jared wants nothing more than to protect Harper, but there are some things he can’t fight … and a ghost is one of them. It’s going to take everyone working together to find a way out of this one and even then survival is not a given. Jump on the ghost train with Harper, Jared, and Zander … because this one is going to be a wild ride.

Mother Savant by A.L. HawkeMother Savant by A.L. Hawke:

It is now 2244 and the all-female society of Arkite is on the brink of revolution. Only the return of the Mother Savant can hope to maintain order.

Savant Elise Jackson, Arkite’s supreme leader, is stricken with terrible grief over the recent loss of her lover. She has spent the last two years with her assistant, Sara, trying to repair and genetically engineer her lover’s damaged body and mind.

But the Viceroy of Pyramid City and her followers in the Savant Council have no interest in squandering the city’s resources for Elise’s personal gain. With the help of the mainframe AI, they will vie for power, even attempting collusion with Sara and sabotage.

And even if her enemies fail and Elise somehow manages to revive her lover, Elise knows she’ll have to vie for something she covets even more—her lover’s love. For Sara once loved her just as much, if not more.

Mother Savant is the sequel to Candy Savant—Book 2 in the Candy Savant Series.

The Living Sword 2: The Road Ahead by Pemry JanesThe Living Sword 2: The Road Ahead by Pemry Janes:

Eurik & Leraine have escaped the land of the necromancers, but still face a long journey. Eurik is looking for answers about who his parents were and how they ended up adrift at sea. Leraine must carry the news of her teacher’s death back home, yet also has a debt to Eurik for helping her to avenge Irelith.

Together, they’ll have to traverse the Neisham Hills, where lone travelers are snatched in the night and even numbers don’t guarantee safety. And beyond the hills, all along the long Inza Road, the drums of war beat louder and louder.

But the greatest threat may not be goblins, elves, or bandits. It may be the people they’ve chosen to travel with.

Trinary by Gaja J. KosTrinary by Gaja J. Kos:

Cairo MacKennon doesn’t give a shit about rules, save for one. Avoid SCAR Force at all costs.

When a high-end heist goes south and not even the best stealth ship in the Vedrina trinary system can keep her off SCAR Force’s radar, Cairo’s thieving ways become the least of her problems.

The Space Combat and Retrieval Force doesn’t forget past sins.

And what they have in mind for Cairo’s transgression beats even her worst nightmare.

Scroll up and start reading the first episode in the action-packed sci-fi serial with a slow-burn romance, daring pilots, and space ships galore!

Halfax by Joseph R. LalloHalfax by Joseph R. Lallo:

If you can’t have good luck, you should at least have a good dragon.

The princess has inherited the family curse. Plagued by terrible luck, it is all the palace staff can do to keep her safe from herself. When her father pricks himself with an assassin’s needle meant for her, her mother Queen Jade knows there is only one thing they can do. They must seek a cure. To reach it, they will need the help of their greatest protector. But even the great dragon Halfax may not be ready for the challenges ahead.

Halfax is a direct sequel to Jade. It takes place many years after the events of the Book of Deacon series.

Hex Type Thing by Amanda M. LeeHex Type Thing by Amanda M. Lee:

Hadley Hunter is feeling on top of the world.

She’s embracing her new home on Moonstone Bay and coming into her own as a witch. Her boyfriend Galen Blackwood, who happens to be sheriff, is even involving her in his investigations.

Unfortunately, the peace on Moonstone Bay is about to be threatened.

A local millionaire and a one-hit-wonder songstress are hosting the Skyclad Festival, a paranormal beach extravaganza that features a bevy of famous faces in paranormal circles … and those who want to hobnob with them. There’s only one little problem ….

One of the local influencers, a woman whose only job is to rave about things on the internet, ends up dead. Then, in short order, the organizer himself goes missing. That means Galen is on the case … and Hadley insists on serving as his sidekick.

There are a lot of witches on the island. The question is: Is magic to blame for murder or is something more insidious happening?

It’s going to take everyone working together to find the correct answers – and keep each other safe – as the problem on the beach deteriorates.

Someone has murder on the mind and Hadley is determined to find the culprit. All she has to do is survive long enough to uncover a mystery that has roots in a past long since forgotten … well, and not step on the wrong witchy toes.

The odds of doing both seem long but where there’s a witch, there’s a way.

Druid Vices and a Vodka by Annette MarieDruid Vices and a Vodka by Annette Marie:

I’ve said it before, but sometimes I’m a bad person. I cheated on my twelfth grade math final, I’ve run countless yellow lights, and I gossip about how hot my kickass best friends are. (Good thing my job as a guild bartender doesn’t require moral perfection.)

But there’s bad, and then there’s bad. And I’m not sure which applies to a certain dark druid/wanted criminal/reluctant friend of mine. His transgressions include black-magic dealings, kidnapping, and murder, and he’s about to add “revenge-fueled killing spree” to his resume—if I don’t stop him.

Should I stop him?

He and his nemesis are gearing up to tear each other apart, rogues and vultures are converging with their sights on the spoils, and the guilds that would normally stomp them into the ground are under attack. We’re on the verge of an all-out criminal turf war, and my time to decide is almost up.

Who’s the real bad guy … and do I dare stand in his way?

Sky Scorcher by Harlan J. MeadeSky Scorcher by Harlan J. Meade:

James Blackwin and his body guard, Misty, are appointed to provide security for the King’s Ball, but their plans are soon disrupted after Misty has a dangerous encounter with a mysterious man with ill intentions. Join James and his crew on board his flying airship as he attempts to defeat pirates, recover stolen plans, and save his friend. Will he prevail or will the obstacles he must face be more than he can handle?

 

 

Fallen Reign by Nazri NoorFallen Reign by Nazri Noor:

Half human, half angel, 100% pissed off.

Mason Albrecht’s life changed the day the angels tried to kill him. As the son of a fallen angel king, Mason is an abomination, one who can command the Vestments, divine arms and armor summoned from heaven’s own arsenals. And everybody wants a piece: death witches, demon princes, even deities of ancient myth.

Then an enterprising enchantress offers to cloak Mason from those who would corrupt him into a living weapon. But will Mason run from supernatural entities forever, or embrace his unholy birthright and defy the very forces of heaven and hell?

Sins of the Father is a new adventure series from Nazri Noor, bestselling urban fantasy author of the Darkling Mage series. Follow Mason’s first steps in Fallen Reign, a humorous, high-impact supernatural suspense story filled with magic, mythology, and plenty of mayhem.

The Last Mystic by Susan Kaye QuinnThe Last Mystic by Susan Kaye Quinn:

What if you knew there was life after death?

Eli is back from the dead… and determined to stop the powerful ascenders who blasted him out to the void. But in the three days he was gone, the world moved on. The girl he loves is determined to build an army of augmented humans to fight the ascenders—with herself as the next Offering. The ascenders are lining up in a death cult based on the charismatic ascender Eli accidentally released from storage—and all the restraints that have kept the ascender world in balance are now off. Everyone is rushing to be the first to bring a Second Singularity—to reach the numinous world from which Eli just returned—regardless of the cost. And the chaos and bloodshed of the first Singularity show just how high that cost can be. How can he stop the world from hurtling off the cliff when he’s the one who proved there’s something to reach, if only you could learn how to fly?

The Last Mystic is the thrilling conclusion to the Singularity series. This philosophical, HopePunk sci-fi series explores the intersection of mind, body, and soul in a post-Singularity

Price of Imperium by Dave RobinsonPrice of Imerpium by Dave Robinson:

The Imperium is on the brink of annihilation, and only one person can save it.

After centuries of peace, the Enemy has returned, and the only one who can unlock the Imperium’s last line of defense is the rightful emperor. Unfortunately, the throne has been empty for a decade.

The sole remaining heir is rumored to be on a backwater planet where no one has heard of the Imperium. Can he be found before the Imperial system is dissolved and the ships of the Imperial Guard are sent to the Wreckers?

Tam’s a destroyer skipper who’s been passed over for promotion one too many times. He’s on a routine mission in his last command.

Meanwhile, on Earth, a homeless man dreams of the stars. John doesn’t know who he is, or where he’s from. He just knows someone will come looking for him and he needs to be found.

Jayne is a woman who works at a homeless shelter in Seattle and finds herself a long way from home.

Who among them will be willing to pay the Price of Imperium?

Alarik by Aurora SpringerAlarik by Aurora Springer:

Two people fleeing their planets discover a shared destiny.

When an alien spacecraft crashes on Mars, the repercussions sweep throughout the solar system and endanger the fragile new alliance with the Warrish mermen.

Alarik Kenton Tallis, Eldest of three brothers, was forced to infiltrate human society on Earth as a spy to insure his injured brother receives proper medical care. But, when his transmissions are detected, he must flee the planet.

On Mars, Phoebe Wong, a veterinary scientist with dubious family connections, is desperate to escape the underworld gangs terrorizing the domed city. She jumps at the chance to join the colonists bound for a distant exoplanet.

Their paths converge on a space ferry bound for the outer planets. Troubles created by the mysterious spacecraft pursue them to Jupiter. Will their flight end on Europa, the hyperspace gateway to the stars protected by three diverse species?

Shifters and Sabotage by Lily WebbShifters and Sabotage by Lily Webb:

All’s fair in love and roar…

Zoe Clarke’s life is changing shape. After solving a litter of paranormal mysteries, Zoe’s ready to slow down and focus on domestics with her new live-in shifter boyfriend, Beau.

But someone in Moon Grove is eaten up with jealousy about their relationship — as Zoe learns from the series of disturbing anonymous letters addressed to Beau in their mailbox. So when Zoe finds Beau trapped in his golden retriever form, it’s up to her to sniff out what happened.

From his obsessive co-workers to the secretive community of shifters surrounding him, Zoe’s convinced the attacker is someone in Beau’s pack — until another prominent shifter is found locked in their animal form.

Can Zoe track down the culprit and reverse the shifter curse? Or will the attacker take a bite out of her too?

Shifters and Sabotage is the seventh book in the Magic and Mystery series of witch cozy mysteries. If you like shady shifters, raving reporters, and magical murder mysteries, then you’ll love this lighthearted seventh entry in Lily Webb’s spellbinding series.

Steel City, Veiled Kingdom by Danielle WilliamsSteel City, Veiled Kingdom: The Complete Edition by Danielle Williams:

Jerimin Icarii’s life is in shambles. Once an ambitious young scientist, years of hardship on the streets of his homeworld have transformed him into a desperate man, willing to do anything to get his life back.

In his darkest hour, he strikes a deal with the bizarre Queen of the faerie world. Now her supernatural powers help him keep up appearances while he claws his way back into society. The longer he keeps up the charade, the closer he gets to respect, wealth, and glory. But one slipup will get him killed.

And that’s not even the dangerous part. Because the cost of the Queen’s aid is obedience to her every whim. And Jerimin never knows what she’ll make him do next…

Steel City, Veiled Kingdom is a science fantasy overflowing with intrigue, adventure, and colorful characters you’ll love (and a few you’ll love to hate). It’s the perfect story for any sci-fi/fantasy lover looking for an immersive, inventive read.

Steel City, Veiled Kingdom: The Complete Edition presents the entire story as it was originally envisioned–as a single, complete, epic-length novel. The Complete Edition is only available in digital format at this time. However, all 5 parts of the story are offered as individual volumes in both digital and paperback and are listed here:

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Indie Crime Fiction of the Month for January 2020

Welcome to the latest edition of “Indie Crime Fiction of the Month”.

So what is “Indie Crime Fiction of the Month”? It’s a round-up of speculative fiction by indie authors newly published this month, though some December books I missed the last time around snuck in as well. The books are arranged in alphabetical order by author. So far, most links only go to Amazon.com, though I may add other retailers for future editions.

Our new releases cover the broad spectrum of crime fiction. We have cozy mysteries, small town mysteries, animal mysteries, hardboiled mysteries, historical mysteries, medieval mysteries, Victorian mysteries, Jazz Age mystries, paranormal mysteries, crime thrillers, legal thrillers, spy thriller, historical thrillers, pulp thrillers, police procedurals, romantic suspense, private investigators, amateur sleuths, judges, FBI agents, police officers, Pinkerton agents, spies, ex-cons, serial killers, kidnappers, missing children, heists, con artists, organised crime, crime-busting witches, crime-busting writers, crime-busting cats, crime-busting ghosts, pinched Pisarros, crime and murder in New York City, Denver, East Berlin, Scotland, Snowdonia, Miami and much more.

Don’t forget that Indie Crime Fiction of the Month is also crossposted to the Indie Crime Scene, a group blog which features new release spotlights, guest posts, interviews and link round-ups regarding all things crime fiction several times per week.

As always, I know the authors at least vaguely, but I haven’t read all of the books, so Caveat emptor.

And now on to the books without further ado:

Where Missing Boys Go by Parker AvrileWhere Missing Boys Go by Parker Avrile:

A missing ex. Two missing children. And the man caught in the middle of a cartel’s proposed hostage exchange.

When his boyfriend vanished with stolen millions, Darke went to prison for his part in the heist. Another man might want revenge. All he wants is the chance to rebuild his life with a new and better man, former FBI Special Agent Flare Greene.

But everybody else– including the FBI– still wants the millions.

When a faceless organization grabs two small hostages to force Darke to lead them to the missing money, he no longer has a choice. He must find his elusive ex or die trying.

And death is not an option as long as the two boys are in the hands of kidnappers.

Meanwhile, the FBI is dangling a mysterious new assignment in front of Flare? an assignment very far away from the rescue of two small hostages. What are the higher-ups in the bureau up to?

If they think they’re going to stop Darke Davis from finding the money first and saving those boys, they’ve got the wrong guy.

Nobody and nothing is stopping Darke from saving those boys.

Not his devious ex.

Not the FBI.

Not even Flare.

Magic Lies by Fatima BaderMagic Lies by Fatima Bader:

Hunting a serial killer can be hazardous to your health.

My name’s Selena Valeron, and I’m the Supernatural Bureau of Investigation’s best undercover witch. After three years, the bureau has just handed me my biggest case: hunting the magical community’s most prolific serial killer, Xavier.

Lately the dead women on the morgue table bear an eerie resemblance to me. A shocking revelation indicates the killer is someone from my past—if I can remember it. Years ago, an accident wiped out my memory and threatened to end my career. Now my magical powers seem to be manifesting into something stronger.

Was my memory loss really an accident, or a failed murder attempt?

Time’s ticking as I dig through my past to find the killer. I need answers. If I can’t get them in time, I’ll lose friends, family—even my own life.

MAGIC LIES is a fast-paced urban fantasy mystery with plenty of thrilling twists and turns that will keep you guessing. Agent Valeron may have lost her memory, but she hasn’t lost her snarky attitude and she’s still a badass witch. Jump into this magical world and start reading the Selena Valeron series today!

Murder by Midnight by Blythe BakerMurder by Midnight by Blythe Baker:

Murder and mystery in a Scottish castle…

When Alice Beckingham boards a train for Edinburgh in 1929, she begins a journey that will test everything she thinks she knows about her past and her family. From the moment of her arrival at the rugged and remote Druiminn Castle, something sinister haunts her steps.

With the murder of her host and the revelation that one of her fellow guests at the castle is an unscrupulous jewel thief, Alice resolves to uncover secrets that someone will stop at nothing to keep hidden.

Coercing the coolly unpredictable Sherborne Sharp into assisting her, Alice follows in the footsteps of her detective cousin Rose and pursues a heartless killer through glittering dining rooms, shadowed passages, and moonlit groves. A mysterious local legend may hold the key to unraveling everything, but will Alice survive long enough to decipher it?

The Pinched Pisarro by Will BriggsThe Pinched Pisarro by Will Briggs:

Sam Powell is a down on his luck con-man on the run from a vindictive ex-con whom he has double crossed.

His luck turns when he’s given one last shot at working for a criminal organization led by an enterprising Park Avenue butler. His mission: steal an invaluable Pissarro from one of Manhattan’s richest socialites.

However, Sam’s ex-partner (who happens to be his ex-girlfriend) doesn’t want anything to do with him so he’s forced to recruit his unwitting neighbor, a struggling piano tutor named Wendell Hoyt, to help.

Sam and Wendell find themselves pitted against a psychopathic hit-man, a criminal organization, and Wendell’s authoritative aunt.

Together they could end up millionaires…if they survive.

The Heavy Hand of the Editor by Cora BuhlertThe Heavy Hand of the Editor by Cora Buhlert:

New York City, 1938: Richard Blakemore, hardworking pulp writer by day and the masked vigilante only known as the Silencer by night, has faced many a horror in his day. But few of them can match the terror of the blank page. Especially since Donald A. Stuart, the upstart young editor of an upstart young magazine called Stunning Science Stories, has already rejected Richard’s story “The Icy Cold of Space” four times.

Stuart demands changes that Richard does not want to make. Worse, he also holds Richard’s story hostage. Unless Stuart permanently rejects the story, Richard cannot sell it elsewhere.

There are a lot of shady practices in the pulp business, but Stuart’s actions are beyond the pale even for the wild west of publishing. And so the Silencer decides to pay Stuart a visit to put the fear of God into an editor who believes himself to be one.

This is a novelettes of 10800 words or approx. 38 print pages in the Silencer series, but may be read as a standalone.

Any resemblances to editors, writers and magazines living, dead or undead are entirely not coincidental.

Hijinks and Murder by Beth ByersHijinks and Murder by Beth Byers:

January 1926

Violet has received an obscure note, a strange request, and the claim of a murder. She’d like to ignore it, but the writer knows too much about her.

Has someone died? Who is the author of the note and why are they dragging Violet into this crime? Just what is going on and will Violet be able to reach the bottom of this madness?

 

The Vault by Mark DawsonThe Vault by Mark Dawson:

A desperate agent. A petty criminal. An audacious plot.

When Harry Mackintosh is called upon to exfiltrate a valuable asset from East to West Berlin, what could have been an intelligence coup becomes an international embarrassment. Mackintosh’s men and his lover are killed by the East German secret police in a brutal crossfire and he barely escapes with his life. He flees to the West and promises himself that he will have vengeance.

Mackintosh is the head of Berlin Station but he doesn’t have the staff to compete with the Stasi. He returns to London to plead for the resources to fight back. But instead of the seasoned operatives that he needs, Mackintosh is given a single man: Jimmy Walker, a petty criminal with a record for robbing banks.

Mackintosh takes Walker to Berlin and sets in train an audacious plan that will see them both on the other side of the Wall. Mackintosh and Walker face off against Karl-Heinz Sommer, the Stasi general known as die Spinne – the Spider – a man known for his brutality and ruthlessness.

The plan is already a longshot, and then Walker learns of the riches that Sommer stole from displaced Berliners in the days after the Wall was constructed. Will Walker follow orders or will he find the prospect of the Stasi gold in Sommer’s secret vault too tempting to ignore? Will Mackintosh have his revenge or will he become another fly caught in the Spider’s web?

With ambiguous loyalties, clashing agendas and danger beyond measure, these two men will struggle to form a team. But in a battle as unequal as this, the unexpected might be the best strategy that they have.

Ghostly Charms by Lilly Harper HartGhostly Charms by Lilly Harper Hart:

Harper Harlow thought the only thing she was going to have to worry about in the shadow of spring was planning her wedding. She was wrong.A string of break-ins in Whisper Cove have caught the attention of the cops, including her fiancé Jared Monroe. Things take a turn for the worse when one of those break-ins results in the death of a local barber. It seems what was once written off as teenage hijinks is something else entirely. In addition to the break-ins, Harper finds herself distracted by a new resident. He’s bringing an art gallery to town … as well as his troubled sister. Rain Porter doesn’t want to be in Southeastern Michigan and she’s hiding a big secret. Harper is determined to help the girl until the young woman pushes the exact wrong buttons. Things aren’t what they seem and the deeper Harper digs the more she worries that she doesn’t really want to find an answer. When a ghost from the other side of the state shows up and starts invading her dreams, things go from bad to worse. Jared wants nothing more than to protect Harper, but there are some things he can’t fight … and a ghost is one of them. It’s going to take everyone working together to find a way out of this one and even then survival is not a given. Jump on the ghost train with Harper, Jared, and Zander … because this one is going to be a wild ride.

Die in the Wool by Katherine HaytonDie in the Wool by Katherine Hayton:

A sudden death has Tash Mallory all stitched up!

Tash Mallory’s future is in the balance when her employer “Auntie Fran” (no relation) fires her from the knitting shop job she’s held for twenty years. Even worse, when Tash returns to confront her, she finds Fran’s dead body in the back room.

Luckily, the doctor soon concludes the death is from natural causes. A decision cast into doubt when Tash finds out she’s inherited Fran’s store and home.

With an aggrieved nephew determined to fight the will in court and Fran’s despondent fiancé pointing the finger of blame, Tash battles to clear her name. The police mightn’t believe the death was murder, but the good folks of Patiti are quicker to rush to judgement.

If Tash can’t manoeuvre through the undercurrent of small town politics, winning the inheritance will be a Pyrrhic victory. Worse, the doctor’s assessment might be wrong, leaving a killer on the loose.

Murder Comes Home by K.R. HillMurder Comes Home by K.R. Hill:

The body was still warm. He’d never forget that touch.

Private investigator Connor Marin butts heads with the Russian mob as he investigates the murder of his best friend.

While working the case, he discovers that his own father, a police detective, had a bloody secret. To get to the bottom of his father’s story, Connor makes enemies of the police department.

With mob thugs threatening from one direction, and angry cops coming at him from the other, Connor is trapped.

How can he protect his beautiful fiancé, learn the truth about his father, and bring down a killer?

Mooved to Murder by CeeCee JamesMooved to Murder by CeeCee James:

Chelsea Lawson is a ride-or-die friend. When her best friend Tilly asked her to stay at her place to watch her six-year-old daughter and pets for a while, Chelsea didn’t hesitate to say yes. What she didn’t realize was that “Tilly’s place” was a micro-farm and “a few pets” included a cow and two goats as well as a child who was too smart for her own good.

Chelsea was already in over her head before the dead body turned up.

When the local community, instead of offering support, tries to run her out of town, Chelsea suspects something is going on. Something big and rotten. The mayor makes it clear she’s not wanted and the townspeople give her the cold shoulder, but that only makes Chelsea more determined to uncover their secrets.

But no one expected the repercussions those secrets would have, especially Chelsea. Now life on the farm is hanging in the balance. Will Chelsea ever be able to wake up from this nightmare?

Seven Shadows by V.S. KemanisSeven Shadows by V.S. Kemanis:

A criminal prosecutor is bound to make a few enemies over a decades-long career, and Dana Hargrove is no exception. Who has it in for her?

In 2015, the former prosecutor is in her second year as a trial judge in Manhattan. It’s a new world. Dana cut her baby teeth in the DA’s office during the crack epidemic, the ’80s and early ’90s. Now, the murder rate is a fraction of what it was, and public opinion about incarceration is softening. So is Dana. As a judge, she agonizes over every sentencing decision before her.

Midlife has also hit Dana hard on a personal level. She misses her children and adjusts to the empty nest by immersing herself in work. Instead of growing closer to her husband Evan, their relationship becomes strained. What is happening to them?

Tension builds as Judge Hargrove presides over two high-stakes media cases. The defendants: a glamorous dot-com millionaire who killed her business partner, and an orthopedist who runs a deadly pill mill. In the public mail bag, the judge receives a message from an anonymous crank. Then her family starts getting letters that sound all too personal. Someone with an agenda is harassing and shadowing Dana and her loved ones.

In Seven Shadows, the judge and her pursuer are on a collision course meant to teach Dana the meaning of empathy and the value of the people she cherishes most.

Hex Type Thing by Amanda M. LeeHex Type Thing by Amanda M. Lee:

Hadley Hunter is feeling on top of the world.

She’s embracing her new home on Moonstone Bay and coming into her own as a witch. Her boyfriend Galen Blackwood, who happens to be sheriff, is even involving her in his investigations.

Unfortunately, the peace on Moonstone Bay is about to be threatened.

A local millionaire and a one-hit-wonder songstress are hosting the Skyclad Festival, a paranormal beach extravaganza that features a bevy of famous faces in paranormal circles … and those who want to hobnob with them. There’s only one little problem ….

One of the local influencers, a woman whose only job is to rave about things on the internet, ends up dead. Then, in short order, the organizer himself goes missing. That means Galen is on the case … and Hadley insists on serving as his sidekick.

There are a lot of witches on the island. The question is: Is magic to blame for murder or is something more insidious happening?

It’s going to take everyone working together to find the correct answers – and keep each other safe – as the problem on the beach deteriorates.

Someone has murder on the mind and Hadley is determined to find the culprit. All she has to do is survive long enough to uncover a mystery that has roots in a past long since forgotten … well, and not step on the wrong witchy toes.

The odds of doing both seem long but where there’s a witch, there’s a way.

The Snowdoina Killings by Simon McCleaveThe Snowdonia Killings by Simon McCleave:

A small town murder. A big city detective.

DI Ruth Hunter’s dream of escaping the murderous streets of South London and settling in the rural peace of Snowdonia has come true – until a brutal killing turns it into her worst nightmare.

Detective Inspector Ruth Hunter lives with the pain of her partner’s mysterious and unsolved disappearance. About to hit fifty, the veteran police officer trades in the crime-ridden streets of London for a more peaceful life in rural North Wales. But Ruth has barely settled into her new position in North Wales Police, when the body of a brutally murdered woman is discovered…with strange symbols carved into her skin. Teaming up with an obstinate deputy, Ruth struggles to eliminate anyone from a long line of suspects. When another slain victim is discovered with the same cryptic markings, she’s forced to re-think the investigation.

Has Ruth got what it takes to solve the case before the murderer attacks again?

The Girl That Vanished by A.J. RiversThe Girl That Vanished by A.J. Rivers:

Ring…Ring…

One call from her past was all it took to change everything.

A ten-year-old girl has vanished on her way home from camp.

And things took a turn for the worse when another child, a child that Emma knows, goes missing.

Disappearances, death, and tragedies have followed Emma Griffin throughout her childhood.

Her obsession with finding out the truth behind her past was what led her to join the FBI.

It’s been months since the horror of Feather Nest.

After the shocking revelation of the last case, FBI agent Emma Griffin decides to take a much-needed vacation.

But a phone call from Sheriff Sam Johnson, a man from her past, completely derails her plans.

A young girl has disappeared, and another child has gone missing.

With the number count slowly climbing.

Emma must now put her plans on hold, go back to her hometown and face some ghosts from her past.

When a mysterious package appears on her birthday.

Emma can’t shake the feeling that someone is monitoring her every movement.

Someone is getting too close for comfort.

The question is who?

In the close-knit town of Sherwood, the truth is never as it seems.

All the Good Girls by Willow RoseAll the Good Girls by Willow Rose:

Detective Harry Hunter of Miami PD’s homicide squad throws himself into a case no one asked him to solve.

Four teenagers from one of Miami’s affluent neighborhoods are murdered on a boat. Another is found in a dumpster. All five of them go to the same school and are on a list of witnesses to another crime.

Because he’s in bad standing with his boss, Harry is given the task of protecting a possible future victim, but Harry isn’t always known to follow his boss’s orders.

Soon, he’ll risk everything while racing to stop a killer who has left everyone else in the homicide squad shaking in terror.

An Agent for Pearl by Christine SterlingAn Agent for Pearl by Christine Sterling:

A quiet woman with no desire to become an agent; an agent with no intention of ever having a partner, and the case that cooks up surprises.

Pearl Bolton has enough on her plate, she doesn’t want to add anything else. She loves her job as a cook for the Pinkerton’s Denver office. At night she rushes home to help take care of her invalid father. The last thing she needs is a husband, no matter how temporary. What she didn’t count on was a case that involved her two passions: baking and Pinkerton Agent Zeke Preston.

Zeke Preston has a crush on the shy cook, and he has the extra ten pounds to prove it! He wishes he could get her to open to him, but Pearl doesn’t appear to need anyone or anything. Every time Zeke comes around, it’s as though Pearl avoids him. He knows exactly what to do to get her attention. Someone has sabotaged a national baking competition and he needs her to help solve the case. The fact he must marry her is just a bonus!

Does Pearl assist Zeke in finding the saboteur? When Pearl is the victim of a crime, will Zeke be able to protect her and solve the case? Will their marriage end at the case’s conclusion, or will they bake up something new together?

The Burned Man by Jason VailThe Burned Man by Jason Vail:

One of medieval Ludlow’s mills burns to the ground during a cold November night. Former coroner Stephen Attebrook walks down to the site out of curiosity the following morning like many of the town’s residents, where he discovers the charred corpse of the miller in the smoldering ruins. It could have been an accident, but the evidence points to murder. Mysterious deaths are no longer Attebrook’s business — or so he mistakenly supposes. The constable of Ludlow Castle, anxious to ingratiate himself with the local lord who owns the mill, pushes Attebrook into pursuing the culprit, a move that pitches him into a tapestry of murder and robbery that reaches even into his own home — for a rampaging criminal gang steals all the money he has in the world, threatening him with poverty and ruin. Pulled two ways, Attebrook must decide whether to save his fortune or seek justice for the miller’s death.

Shifters and Sabotage by Lily WebbShifters and Sabotage by Lily Webb:

All’s fair in love and roar…

Zoe Clarke’s life is changing shape. After solving a litter of paranormal mysteries, Zoe’s ready to slow down and focus on domestics with her new live-in shifter boyfriend, Beau.

But someone in Moon Grove is eaten up with jealousy about their relationship — as Zoe learns from the series of disturbing anonymous letters addressed to Beau in their mailbox. So when Zoe finds Beau trapped in his golden retriever form, it’s up to her to sniff out what happened.

From his obsessive co-workers to the secretive community of shifters surrounding him, Zoe’s convinced the attacker is someone in Beau’s pack — until another prominent shifter is found locked in their animal form.

Can Zoe track down the culprit and reverse the shifter curse? Or will the attacker take a bite out of her too?

Shifters and Sabotage is the seventh book in the Magic and Mystery series of witch cozy mysteries. If you like shady shifters, raving reporters, and magical murder mysteries, then you’ll love this lighthearted seventh entry in Lily Webb’s spellbinding series.

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Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month for December 2019

Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month
It’s that time of the month again, time for “Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month”.

So what is “Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month”? It’s a round-up of speculative fiction by indie authors newly published this month, though some November books I missed the last time around snuck in as well. The books are arranged in alphabetical order by author. So far, most links only go to Amazon.com, though I may add other retailers for future editions.

Once again, we have new releases covering the whole broad spectrum of speculative fiction. This month, we have epic fantasy, urban fantasy, historical fantasy, dark fantasy, paranormal mystery, paranormal romance, science fiction romance, space opera, military science fiction, post-apocalyptic fiction, Steampunk, lots of holiday books, crime-busting witches, crime-busting cats, crime-busting frogs, demons, the devil himself, ghosts, quests, pirates on the high seas and in space, magical body swaps, Christmas after the end of the world and much more.

Don’t forget that Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month is also crossposted to the Speculative Fiction Showcase, a group blog run by Jessica Rydill and myself, which features new release spotlights, guest posts, interviews and link round-ups regarding all things speculative fiction several times per week.

As always, I know the authors at least vaguely, but I haven’t read all of the books, so Caveat emptor.

And now on to the books without further ado:

Mercy's Trial by Sever BronnyMercy’s Trial by Sever Bronny:

Grasping at a sliver of hope, a group of friends undertake a perilous quest last attempted thousands of years ago . . . a quest to summon dragons.

A ruthless enemy has conquered Augum’s kingdom. Sheltered beneath a protective dome, the Academy of Arcane Arts stands as the sole remaining stronghold.

And Augum and his friends are about to abandon it.

Little does he know escaping will be the easy part, for a harrowing adventure awaits. Along the way, he’ll have to evade an enemy that always seems one step ahead—while dealing with an ally questioning his leadership.

But his greatest challenge?

Learning when to show mercy . . . and when to drive in the sword.

Christmas after the End of the World by Cora BuhlertChristmas after the End of the World by Cora Buhlert

It’s Christmas… five months after the Yellowstone supervolcano erupted, blacked out the sun and covered most of the western US in ash.

Thirteen-year-old Natalie, her younger brother Liam, baby Olivia and family dog Bud are among the few still holding out in the evacuation zone.

Day to day survival is hard enough, but Natalie is determined to give Liam and Olivia an unforgettable Christmas… after the end of the world.

And who knows, maybe they’ll even get a true Christmas miracle…

This is a post-apocalyptic holiday novelette of 10000 words or approx. 35 print pages.

Frosted Croakies by Sam CheeverFrosted Croakies by Sam Cheever:

’Tis the season for great folly…walawalawalawalala…ribbit.

It’s Christmas time at Croakies. The tree is up. The stockings are hung. And Christmas tunes are turning the atmosphere jolly. After a tumultuous Samhain, I’ve found my chi again and I’m starting to enjoy the season of love and giving.

Yeah. You probably know how this is going to end.

When Sebille suggests I open the bookstore up to a small holiday party, I foolishly agree. How was I supposed to know that the hobgoblin would decide it would be fun to hide everybody’s stuff? Or that we’d be hit with a freak winter storm that confined everybody inside for the duration. Or that a “You’re me but who am I?” spell would be released inside the shop, switching everybody’s identities and creating general chaos and hysteria?

I could probably deal with all that if it weren’t for the fact that my friend, Lea…the one person who could possibly reverse the spell…was ensconced in SB the parrot, with no opposable thumbs for spelling.

And me? Of course, I’m sitting fat and squishy inside Mr. Slimy. Thank goodness Rustin isn’t currently in residence, or it would be really crowded in here.

Who spelled my party? What do a pair of Santa’s elves have to do with it? And why have old enemies suddenly become new friends? I apparently have a little holiday mystery to solve inside Croakies, and I have no idea how I’m going to solve it with everybody mixed up and some of us human.

Have I told you I hate this season?

Ribbit!

Race Across Spacetime by M.D. CooperRace Across Spacetime by M.D. Cooper:

The Alliance has suffered an unimaginable loss: Tangel is dead.

The crew of the I2 struggles to carry on, dealing with the impending occupation of New Sol and surrender of the Orion Freedom Alliance. But Bob harbors a suspicion, a kernel of hope, and sends the Falconer in search of additional survivors.

Back at Star City, Finaeus and Earnest reel at the news that Tangel died to save her family and people—until they are visited by a mysterious AI from the past who presents them with a way forward.

Now the race is on. Sera chases after a Caretaker ship headed to the galactic core while Finaeus and Earnest travel beyond the galaxy to save a future Bob can no longer see.

Only time will tell if they can forge a new path forward.

Best Friends by Laurann DohnerBest Friends by Laurann Dohner:

Working together has forged a strong friendship between Melinda York and Mary Muller. So much so, they’re more like sisters. When two men burst into their diner with murder on their minds, Mel doesn’t hesitate to act. She’ll do anything to protect her friend, as well as their New Species customers…especially the one she’s been crushing on for months.

A single act of bravery sparks a series of events that result in Snow getting to know the waitress he’s been obsessively thinking about. He just wants to keep Mel safe. And convince her he’s the male for her.

Mary is the brunt of jokes because of her extreme fear of animals. Phobias aren’t funny. Is she the only one who understands that? When Mel’s actions link them both to New Species, she’d like to hide from those scary men with fangs. That would make her a crappy best friend, though. She’ll try to be brave…right up until the moment she comes face to face with a lion man named Lash. He’ll make her confront her fears in the most unexpected ways possible.

Star Rage by M.R. ForbesStar Rage by M.R. Forbes:

Events on Naraka leave Grayson exhausted but hopeful. The invaders may not be as unstoppable as he thought, and the entire weight of the Alliance is about to enter the fray. Rejoining the Navy should bring closure to his ordeal and allow him to return to his life as a pilot.

Except his mesh partner is still stranded on a freezing planet.

Except his past refuses to let go of his future.

Except the man he trusted to rally the defenses may have sabotaged them instead.

Humankind is on the verge of extinction, and if Grayson is going to stop it, he’ll have to outmaneuver opposition from every side of the equation.

Otherwise, there will be nothing left.

Angels and Amulets by Nicole GrotepasAngels and Amulets by Nicole Grotepas:

If there’s a way to spoil something, the villains of the 6 Moons will find it.

There’s no rest for the weary. Just when Holly Drake takes a break from searching for more information about her father, a Christmas-related heirloom vanishes. Sure, it’s Christmas on the 6-Moons, but Holly can’t relax. Neither can her team.

Fate forces them to give up their cozy fires, mulled drinks, and holiday feasts to race across the harsh volcanic terrain of the planet Kota to win back the prize before it’s destroyed. If they can’t save the heirloom, the already strained diplomatic relations between humans and the Centau will snap.
If they don’t save Christmas, who will?

Angels and Amulets is a Christmas novella set in the 6 Moons universe.

The Hexorcist by Lily Harper HartThe Hexorcist by Lily Haper Hart:

Ofelia Archer has a full life … which only gets fuller when a dead body lands in her backyard.

As owner of New Orleans’ premier supernatural speakeasy, Ofelia is always in the thick of things when the witch hits the fan. That’s no exception now … even when the local police start breathing down her neck.

Zach Sully has a colorful background. As a panther shifter, he keeps his true origins secret while walking the colorful streets of the French Quarter keeping law and order. A tourist murder draws him into new and uncharted territory, and a feisty witch is at the center of it.

Sully and Ofelia circle one another … warily … as they both try to solve a mystery that revolves around an outsider who somehow had ties to their little corner of the world. Eventually, they’re going to have to join forces … and it’s not exactly a comfortable meeting of the minds.

Chemistry is one thing. Trust is another. Ofelia and Sully will be forced to get over their inner misgivings and unite if they want to solve the crime … and stay alive in the process.

Welcome to a magical world, where the characters are colorful, the magic is fantastical, and the drinks are poured strong.

It’s Bourbon Street, baby, and you’ll never be the same again.

Well of Magic by B.R. KingsolverWell of Magic by B.R. Kingsolver:

I never expected to see a mage battle on national TV.

When the ley lines—the orderly rivers of magical energy that circle the globe—went wild, chaos ensued.

Magic hid in the shadows for hundreds of years, but then a secret order took control of one of the world’s largest religions. Their goal is to rule the world, and the first step is to control the ley lines and magic users.

I didn’t escape the Illuminati just to become a slave to the Knights Magica. If they want me, they’re going to have a fight on their hands.

The Incubus Impasse by Amanda M. LeeThe Incubus Impasse by Amanda M. Lee:

Charlie Rhodes is at a crossroads in her life. Her big secret is out – at least with the most important person in her life Jack Hanson – and now they have to deal with a whole new reality.

Things are going relatively well when the Legacy Foundation is sent on a mission to Charleston. It seems women are dying under strange circumstances: open windows, no immediate sign of violence, locked doors. The leader of their group is convinced it’s an incubus, and even though he was the chief naysayer before, Jack has no idea what to believe given the reality of his magical girlfriend.

It’s a new world and Charlie is excited to embrace it. Jack wants to keep her close while exploring her abilities. They make a fearsome twosome … although there’s danger at every turn.

It seems Charlie resembles the dead women, and even though local police thought they had nothing in common … it seems they actually did. They were bucking for a reality television show and it appears someone in that business may be a murderer.

Charleston is a new environment and Charlie and Jack are embracing a brand new world. Things are going to be fine … as long as they live to tell the tale.

A murderer is stalking Charleston, death is close, and only Charlie can save the day. She’s going to need those closest to her to do it. Luckily, they’re up for the challenge.

Junkyard Pirate by Jamie MacFarlaneJunkyard Pirate by Jamie MacFarlane:

Knocking at death’s door. Bargaining for a second chance. Seems like a heck of a way to find out about an alien invasion…

Vietnam vet Albert Jenkins is battling a bulging waistline and a passion for drink. So when a towering pile of scrap rocket parts falls and crushes the stubborn curmudgeon, he thinks it’s finally the end. But just as he’s about to take one final breath, a snarky alien parasite offers him a deal: his life in return for sharing his body.

With a little coaxing from his new pop-culture-loving inner resident, AJ’s broken carcass improves so much that even an old flame is impressed. But his bright outlook fizzles when he discovers he’s at ground zero of a galactic conspiracy to strip Earth of precious resources humans don’t even know exist.

Can the unlikely partners join forces and use AJ’s rusty military skills to raise the alarm? Or, will the alien invaders put him down once and for all?

Junkyard Pirate is the first book in an imaginative space opera series. If you like grizzled soldiers, clever twists and turns, and intergalactic tactical pairings, then you’ll love Jamie McFarlane’s fast-paced alien adventure.

Scent of Revenge by Mina MaiaScent of Revenge by Mina Maia:

Tamsin has a score to settle and she isn’t waiting any longer…

An elite combatant and tracker, Tamsin’s life is one built upon the ashes of her former one. However, she has unfinished business, the kind that an oath of revenge won’t let her forget.

It means she has to return to Vectis, a planet where she is considered less than human. Where she left behind a man who has probably forgotten all about her now.

Tamsin must fulfill her destiny, right past wrongs and possibly find closure all at the same time.

SCENT OF REVENGE is a science fiction romance novella with a medium heat level and an MF HEA.

Emperor's Throne by Shannon MeyerEmperor’s Throne by Shannon Meyer:

Three against one is not the best odds in any fight.
But does she dare gamble on making an enemy into an ally?

There might be no rest for the wicked, but there’s no rest for the exhausted either. We’ve barely survived one fight, and we have another blade at our throats-strike that, three blades.

I can see only one possible chance at surviving the three evils we face, no matter how much I might hate it.

I have to make my peace with one of them and pray that they will help me take down the other two before we turn on each other.

The only question is…who do I trust not only my life but with the life of my family? Because I have all those I love the best at my side.

Maks.
Lila.
Bryce.

Or do I leave them, and take the danger with me to face it all on my own?

One thing is for sure…even if I go down, it’ll be swinging with everything I have.

Charmed, I'm Sure by Christine PopeCharmed, I’m Sure by Christine Pope:

Is their love the perfect Christmas gift…or a curse?

Allan D’Alessandro thought he had his ticket out of Hell secured. Until his alleged “soul mate” bailed, leaving him only three weeks — three weeks — to lose his heart and be loved in return. For real. Or for real he can kiss the Hollywood glamor, the hilltop house, the Tesla roadster goodbye. And say hello to his old job as Asmodeus, object of his fellow demons’ eternal derision.

But there’s that aquamarine-eyed wedding planner who pulled off Lucifer’s nuptials without a hitch. She’s all about romance, right? Wooing her should be a piece of cake. Wedding cake, if he plays his cards right.

Belinda Carson has had to get used to letting men walk out of her life. She has no choice — any man who falls in love with a Carson witch is guaranteed a gruesome fate. So she uses her magic to create perfect weddings…just not her own.

But surely there’s no harm in indulging in a harmless holiday fling with the sandy-haired Hollywood agent whose megawatt smile lights up her world. After New Year’s, they’ll go their separate ways. They’ve agreed. It’s all set.

Except he’s dismantled all her defenses. And this time, her heart isn’t letting go….

The Lady of Kingdoms by Suzannah RowntreeThe Lady of Kingdoms by Suzannah Rowntree:

Magic made her a warrior.

Justice will make her a legend.

Jerusalem, 1180: A catastrophe destroyed Marta Bessarion’s family and whisked her away from everything she once knew. Now, armed with a magic spear and a burning thirst for justice, Marta vows to protect her new home and family, no matter the cost.

But trouble is brewing in the glittering palaces of Jerusalem…

The young Leper King, Baldwin, is dying. Before he goes, Baldwin must choose a successor…but every choice is a bad one. An innocent child, exploited by stronger men? A crafty cousin who has already tried to snatch the crown? Or his brilliant, passionate sister who is determined to rule – even if it triggers a war?

When enemy armies muster on the kingdom’s borders, Marta charges into battle. But when Baldwin’s choice puts her newfound family at risk, Marta finds herself fighting a new kind of battle – one in which intrigue, deception, and betrayal are the weapons.

To save the kingdom, she’ll need more than a magic spear to destroy its enemies.

She’ll need a saint to save its soul.

Stemming the Tide by Rosie ScottStemming the Tide by Rosie Scott:

They may have lost their ship and cargo after audaciously challenging the pirates that rule the sea, but Calder Cerberius, Koby Bacia, and their crew of misfits refuse to surrender. The pirate leader’s right-hand man, Cale Woodburn, plans to establish a stranglehold in the wildlands and steal its precious local resource: ferris, the herbal drug shapeshifting beastmen rely on to prevent the agony of transformations from breaking their minds. Calder and Koby’s crew pursue Cale across the seas to regain control of the lucrative ferris trade and save the wildlands from ruin.

Indigenous tribes of beastmen rise up to defend their homeland. Shapeshifters on both sides transform into beasts of the land, sea, and sky to brawl to the death. A run-in with an ancient sea creature of apocalyptic size gives Calder the idea to spark a massive rebellion against the pirates using dangerous and unconventional means, but other mercenaries will only agree to come to his aid once he defeats the deranged Cale Woodburn and restores peace to the wildlands. When Calder finally catches up with Cale, two mentally unstable captains will clash in beast form until only one emerges the victor from a pool of blood.

All I Want For Christmas is Wicked by Lotta SmithAll I Want for Christmas is Wicked by Lotta Smith:

Trees decorated, stockings full of presents, and another case to crack!

The Rowling family is gearing up for another Merry Christmas, and Mandy has her hands full with holiday prep, but how can she get into the spirit of the season when the victim in her latest case isn’t a ghost?

Twenty years ago, during a Christmas Eve blackout, Kevin Holt, the husband of a rich heiress, lost his memory in a fall down the stairs of their mansion. Now he’s discovered evidence that someone might have been trying to kill him, and all he wants for Christmas is to find out who. Since the resident ghost of the Holt house didn’t witness the attack, Rick and Mandy will have to rely on old fashioned sleuthing (and a little help from Mandy’s paranormal pal Jackie) to find out which of the four suspects is the culprit.

Meanwhile Rick has been saddled with novice investigator Cameron Gibson (call him Ace!) the son of one of USCAB’s wealthiest clients. Ace is trying to catch the creep stalking a New York City fashion model, but despite wanting Mandy to mentor him, one ghostly encounter has him seriously spooked.

A run in with a biker ghost and dancers in danger complicate the case, but the big question on Mandy’s mind is why does little Sophie want a bear trap for Christmas? Find out in this wickedly merry holiday installment of the Paranormal in Manhattan Mystery Series.

Crusade by Glynn StewartCrusade by Glynn Stewart:

A newborn Alliance, forged to stop the destroyers of worlds
A potential ally, with secrets hidden by a thousand lies
A long-doomed star, whose ruins hold a vital answer

Isaac Lestroud, Admiral of the Exilium Space Fleet, has spent the last three years working with Ambassador Amelie Lestroud to build an alliance against the Rogue Matrices, AIs bent on converting every world into a paradise—regardless of whether anyone lives on it.

As Isaac hunts the Rogue that destroyed one of their allies’ homeworlds, Amelie begins negotiations with a potential new ally that could tip the balance. The Governance is a power to rival the human homeworlds the Lestrouds were exiled from—but like those homeworlds, not all is as it seems.

And far from the war, Octavio Catalan leads an expedition into the shattered wreckage of the home system of the Matrices’ builders. Among those dead worlds, he hopes to find the answer to the question that haunts the survivors of that race: why did their AIs go genocidally insane?

The Black Hole by James David VictorThe Black Hole by James David Victor:

It turns out pirates might not have been the biggest scourge on the galaxy after all.

The pirate lord Parallax was defeated and his flag ship, the Black Hole, was utterly destroyed. This should have ushered in an era of galactic peace. Instead, a far worse conflict between the Federation Navy and the Byers Clan has torn the galaxy apart. Those that are left must find a way to fight on and save the galaxy from something far worse than space pirates. Can a new batch of hero’s step up and save the galaxy or will the remnants of the pirate lords reassert their control of a galaxy at war?

The Black Hole is the fifth book in the exciting Deep Black space opera. If you like fast-paced space adventure, rogue pirates, and stories more complex than good vs. evil, you are going to love your visit to the Deep Black.

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Indie Crime Fiction of the Month for December 2019

Welcome to the latest edition of “Indie Crime Fiction of the Month”.

So what is “Indie Crime Fiction of the Month”? It’s a round-up of speculative fiction by indie authors newly published this month, though some November books I missed the last time around snuck in as well. The books are arranged in alphabetical order by author. So far, most links only go to Amazon.com, though I may add other retailers for future editions.

Our new releases cover the broad spectrum of crime fiction. We have plenty of cozy mysteries, small town mysteries, animal mysteries, historical mysteries, 1940s mysteries, paranormal mysteries, crime thrillers, humorous thrillers, police procedurals, romantic suspense, noir, private investigators, amateur sleuths, serial killers, kidnappers, missing persons, cold cases, robberies, organised crime, motorcycle gangs, crime-busting witches, crime-busting wedding planners, crime-busting cats, crime-busting frogs, thieving Santas, crime and murder in New Orleans, Charleston, Memphis, Philadelphia, Manhattan, the Bronx, London, Northumberland, the Caribbean and much more. and much more.

Don’t forget that Indie Crime Fiction of the Month is also crossposted to the Indie Crime Scene, a group blog which features new release spotlights, guest posts, interviews and link round-ups regarding all things crime fiction several times per week.

As always, I know the authors at least vaguely, but I haven’t read all of the books, so Caveat emptor.

And now on to the books without further ado:

A Simple Country Deception by Blythe BakerA Simple Country Deception by Blythe Baker:

The violent death of a friend plunges Helen Lightholder into another case of danger and deceit as she struggles to unravel the truth behind the grisly killing. With her own past continuing to haunt her, Helen works to uncover the ultimate answer behind the mystery that has plagued her since the beginning.

Return to the quaint – and deadly – village of Brookminster a final time for the dramatic conclusion to Helen’s adventures.

 

Mustang Sally by Blake BannerMustang Sally by Blake Banner:

The cops at the 43rd called it the unsolvable case.

October, 2010, Sally Jones had been stabbed in the heart in her apartment on Commonwealth Avenue, in the Bronx. Her coat was on the back of her chair. Her shoes were beside her bed, her clothes were neatly folded, and she was dead under the sheets.

The killer had removed Sally’s hands and feet and departed, leaving no trace – except the dismembered body.

October, 2019, as the national media focuses on the 43rd’s unbroken record in cold cases, Detective John Stone, head the unit, decides to tackle the case.

But he and Dehan are soon to discover that this is a case like no other: who were the visitors who came to see her before her death? What was their connection with the shadowy Sacred Brotherhood of Christ? And did her brother, Captain Ewan Jones, seek to help her – or murder her? It soon begins to look like this is indeed the case they will never crack.

And what, Dehan wants to know, happened to the Mustang?

Santa's Sticky Fingers by Cora BuhlertSanta’s Sticky Fingers by Cora Buhlert:

Normally, Detective Inspector Helen Shepherd doesn’t deal with petty crime and pickpockets. But when the Christmas market in Kingston upon Thames is hit by a wave of thefts, Helen and her team are called in to help out.

Harry, a homeless man who always hangs around the market, seems to be the most obvious suspect. But there is also the mysterious man in the black leather jacket some witnesses claim to have seen. Or maybe, the thief can be found much closer to home…

Can Helen and her team crack the case in time for Christmas?

This is a holiday novelette of 7800 words or approx. 26 print pages in the Helen Shepherd Mysteries series, but may be read as a standalone.

Frosted Croakies by Sam CheeverFrosted Croakies by Sam Cheever:

’Tis the season for great folly…walawalawalawalala…ribbit.

It’s Christmas time at Croakies. The tree is up. The stockings are hung. And Christmas tunes are turning the atmosphere jolly. After a tumultuous Samhain, I’ve found my chi again and I’m starting to enjoy the season of love and giving.

Yeah. You probably know how this is going to end.

When Sebille suggests I open the bookstore up to a small holiday party, I foolishly agree. How was I supposed to know that the hobgoblin would decide it would be fun to hide everybody’s stuff? Or that we’d be hit with a freak winter storm that confined everybody inside for the duration. Or that a “You’re me but who am I?” spell would be released inside the shop, switching everybody’s identities and creating general chaos and hysteria?

I could probably deal with all that if it weren’t for the fact that my friend, Lea…the one person who could possibly reverse the spell…was ensconced in SB the parrot, with no opposable thumbs for spelling.

And me? Of course, I’m sitting fat and squishy inside Mr. Slimy. Thank goodness Rustin isn’t currently in residence, or it would be really crowded in here.

Who spelled my party? What do a pair of Santa’s elves have to do with it? And why have old enemies suddenly become new friends? I apparently have a little holiday mystery to solve inside Croakies, and I have no idea how I’m going to solve it with everybody mixed up and some of us human.

Have I told you I hate this season?

Ribbit!

Lady in Red by Stacy ClaflinLady in Red by Stacy Claflin:

She appears only at night. Watching. Waiting…

When local children begin to vanish, Officer Alex Mercer is positive the cases are tied to recent threats against his family—especially since the first girl to go missing is his best friend’s daughter.

It all ties back to Alex. He’s sure of it.

The only solid link to the missing kids is a mysterious woman in a red dress. But that isn’t enough to go on, and Alex has orders to focus on another case. As if that will stop him.

He stumbles upon something so chilling, it finally provides the proof that he was right all along—the kidnappings are part of an elaborate worldwide scheme. And he and his family have landed on the bad guys’ radar.

Alex will stop at nothing to take down the dangerous criminal empire… if they don’t end him first.

In Plain Sight by Adam CroftIn Plain Sight by Adam Croft:

A trail of death. A web of corruption. The ultimate betrayal.

A series of armed robberies on local petrol stations leaves Mildenheath CID chasing their tails. But things are about to get a whole lot worse.

When an elderly woman is killed during an armed raid on her jewellery shop, Knight and Culverhouse realise one of their own is involved — a police officer.

With the future of Mildenheath CID at stake and the lives of their loved ones under threat, time is running out — fast.

As they begin to investigate the web of corruption, they discover just how deep it runs — and how close to home. But are they prepared for the truth?

Jocelyn's War by Jason Ryan DaleJocelyn’s War by Jason Ryan Dale:

There’s a war in the streets. The vicious Ghost Knights biker gang, suddenly flush with cash and guns, is challenging the Mob for control of the city. No one is safe as bodies fall and houses go up in flames.

Danny Rinker is a young Mob soldier, but he’s keeping his distance from the fighting. Encouraged by Jocelyn, his new girlfriend, Danny spends his days in the local bar he finally owns after years of struggling. While his friends are out making names for themselves, Danny finds in the velvety touch of Jocelyn’s lips all the action he’ll ever need.

From a chance encounter, Danny learns a secret that goes to the heart of the Ghost Knights’ newfound power. If he can unravel a twenty-year-old mystery, Danny will be the one who takes the bikers down once and for all.

But Jocelyn is not all she appears. She knows things about this war that her lover can’t even imagine. Danny is about to discover that Jocelyn is a warrior, and even if it breaks her heart, she will carry on her fight to the end.

Claus for Celebration by Laura DurhamClaus for Celebration by Laura Durham:

Wedding disasters are one thing. A missing Santa (who is presumed dead) is quite another.

This is no normal holiday season for DC’s top wedding planners. Not only is the weather too warm for their winter wonderland wedding, but their neighborhood’s singing Santa, Kris Kringle Jingle, is missing. On top of that, Annabelle’s engagement party is looming, and someone seems to be sabotaging their wedding plans. Can the Wedding Belles and their colorful crew find Santa, save the wedding, and stop the person who’s trying to make their lives a holly, jolly catastrophe?

Claus for Celebration is the 15th standalone book in the hilarious Annabelle Archer Wedding Planner Mystery series. If you like larger-than-life characters, madcap capers, and an insider’s look at glamorous society weddings, then you’ll love Laura Durham’s award-winning cozy mystery series.

Buy now to cozy up to this funny, festive holiday mystery today!

The Hexorcist by Lily Harper HartThe Hexorcist by Lily Haper Hart:

Ofelia Archer has a full life … which only gets fuller when a dead body lands in her backyard.

As owner of New Orleans’ premier supernatural speakeasy, Ofelia is always in the thick of things when the witch hits the fan. That’s no exception now … even when the local police start breathing down her neck.

Zach Sully has a colorful background. As a panther shifter, he keeps his true origins secret while walking the colorful streets of the French Quarter keeping law and order. A tourist murder draws him into new and uncharted territory, and a feisty witch is at the center of it.

Sully and Ofelia circle one another … warily … as they both try to solve a mystery that revolves around an outsider who somehow had ties to their little corner of the world. Eventually, they’re going to have to join forces … and it’s not exactly a comfortable meeting of the minds.

Chemistry is one thing. Trust is another. Ofelia and Sully will be forced to get over their inner misgivings and unite if they want to solve the crime … and stay alive in the process.

Welcome to a magical world, where the characters are colorful, the magic is fantastical, and the drinks are poured strong.

It’s Bourbon Street, baby, and you’ll never be the same again.

The Incubus Impasse by Amanda M. LeeThe Incubus Impasse by Amanda M. Lee:

Charlie Rhodes is at a crossroads in her life. Her big secret is out – at least with the most important person in her life Jack Hanson – and now they have to deal with a whole new reality.

Things are going relatively well when the Legacy Foundation is sent on a mission to Charleston. It seems women are dying under strange circumstances: open windows, no immediate sign of violence, locked doors. The leader of their group is convinced it’s an incubus, and even though he was the chief naysayer before, Jack has no idea what to believe given the reality of his magical girlfriend.

It’s a new world and Charlie is excited to embrace it. Jack wants to keep her close while exploring her abilities. They make a fearsome twosome … although there’s danger at every turn.

It seems Charlie resembles the dead women, and even though local police thought they had nothing in common … it seems they actually did. They were bucking for a reality television show and it appears someone in that business may be a murderer.

Charleston is a new environment and Charlie and Jack are embracing a brand new world. Things are going to be fine … as long as they live to tell the tale.

A murderer is stalking Charleston, death is close, and only Charlie can save the day. She’s going to need those closest to her to do it. Luckily, they’re up for the challenge.

Golgotha by Guy PortmanGolgotha by Guy Portman:

You can’t keep a good sociopath down.

Dyson Devereux is languishing in prison awaiting trial for murder. Languishing wouldn’t be so bad were it not for the irksome inmates, crowded conditions and distinct lack of haute cuisine.

Only Alegra, his sometime paramour and frequent visitor, shares his desire to see him released. The problem is, she wants Dyson freed so they can start a new life together. But all Dyson desires is to get back home to his treasured mementos.

As judgement day draws ever closer, can Dyson keep up appearances long enough to win his freedom? And at what cost? For hell hath no fury like a sociopath scorned.

Golgotha is a funny, fast-paced crime comedy novel, boasting a sardonic and sinister sociopath at its helm.

Ryan's Christmas by L.J. RossRyan’s Christmas by L.J. Ross:

Christmas can be murder…

After a busy year fighting crime, DCI Ryan and his team of murder detectives are enjoying a festive season of goodwill, mulled wine and, in the case of DS Phillips, a stottie cake or two—that is, until a freak snowstorm forces their car off the main road and into the remote heart of Northumberland. Their Christmas spirit is soon tested when they’re forced to find shelter inside England’s most haunted castle, where they’re the uninvited guests at a ‘Candlelit Ghost Hunt’. It’s all fun and games—until one of the guests is murdered. It seems no mortal hand could have committed the crime, so Ryan and Co. must face the spectres living inside the castle walls to uncover the grisly truth, before another ghost joins their number…

Murder and mystery are peppered with romance and humour in this fast-paced crime whodunnit set amidst the spectacular Northumbrian landscape.

All I Want For Christmas is Wicked by Lotta SmithAll I Want for Christmas is Wicked by Lotta Smith:

Trees decorated, stockings full of presents, and another case to crack!

The Rowling family is gearing up for another Merry Christmas, and Mandy has her hands full with holiday prep, but how can she get into the spirit of the season when the victim in her latest case isn’t a ghost?

Twenty years ago, during a Christmas Eve blackout, Kevin Holt, the husband of a rich heiress, lost his memory in a fall down the stairs of their mansion. Now he’s discovered evidence that someone might have been trying to kill him, and all he wants for Christmas is to find out who. Since the resident ghost of the Holt house didn’t witness the attack, Rick and Mandy will have to rely on old fashioned sleuthing (and a little help from Mandy’s paranormal pal Jackie) to find out which of the four suspects is the culprit.

Meanwhile Rick has been saddled with novice investigator Cameron Gibson (call him Ace!) the son of one of USCAB’s wealthiest clients. Ace is trying to catch the creep stalking a New York City fashion model, but despite wanting Mandy to mentor him, one ghostly encounter has him seriously spooked.

A run in with a biker ghost and dancers in danger complicate the case, but the big question on Mandy’s mind is why does little Sophie want a bear trap for Christmas? Find out in this wickedly merry holiday installment of the Paranormal in Manhattan Mystery Series.

Chilly Comforts and Disasters by Anne R. TanChilly Comforts and Disasters by Anne R. Tan:

Raina Sun is newly married and enjoying her role as the police station’s unofficial pastry chef. When her husband bought a dilapidated old house on a steal, they are thrown into a whirlwind of construction activities with well-meaning relatives coming into town, permitting issues, and a dead body behind the drywall of the attic.

With all construction activities at a standstill and her husband working overtime to help with the cash flow, Raina must solve this cold case to get her life back on track. With the help of the geriatric Posse Club, will Raina find this hidden killer after all this time or will she become the next victim?

When Raja Met Vinny by Jack ThomsponWhen Raja Met Vinny by Jack Thompson:

Who says oil and water don’t mix?

Before Vinny, Raja worked solo. His unique connection to people and his intuitive brilliance was all he needed to solve crimes. Having a partner never crossed his mind. When he met Vinny that changed.

The death of a prominent banker takes Oxford-educated private investigator Raja Williams on a case to his home turf, the Caribbean. Vinny Moore, a hipster hacker who got caught with her hand in the government’s cookie jar, is pressed into service helping a CIA task force stop a prolific cocaine smuggling operation in the Caribbean.

When the two cases cross, Raja and Vinny meet with explosive results. They are as different as night and day, but together they form a powerfully effective crime-fighting team.

Dateline Memphis by LynDee WalkerDateline Memphis by LynDee Walker:

Crime reporter Nichelle Clarke heads home for the holidays…and learns that crime doesn’t take a day off.

Nichelle detours to Graceland in search of an Elvis Presley souvenir for her mother.

But when a valuable piece of memorabilia goes missing, the historic mansion descends into chaos.

With security swooping in and Graceland on lockdown, Nichelle finds herself shut in with staff, security guards, and Elvis superfans, all in the midst of an unfolding crime. Never one to miss an exclusive scoop, Nichelle whips out her notebook and starts reporting.

Locked behind the famous Graceland gates, Nichelle must work through a long list of suspects with no time to lose. But the closer she gets to the truth, the more danger she finds herself in.

The house of the King offers many clues, but will Nichelle be able to connect the dots in time to save a piece of history…and herself?

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Two New Holiday Stories Available: Christmas after the End of the World and Santa’s Sticky Fingers

It’s the last new release announcement for 2019. And what would be more fitting for a new release announcement that goes out on Christmas Eve than a holiday story? And this year, I have not one but two holiday stories to announce.

As the title implies, the first new release Christmas after the End of the World is a post-apocalyptic holiday story. Now post-apocalyptic fiction is not a subgenre you’d expect to fit in with holiday stories, but I hope that I managed to pull it off.

As for how Christmas after the End of the World came about, I try to write a holiday story every year. However, this year I was racking my head trying to come up with an idea for a holiday story, because inspiration for holiday stories usually doesn’t strike me until two or three weeks before the holidays.

However, I chanced to listen to this recording of the post-apocalyptic fiction panel at the 20Booksto50K Vegas writers conference. The panellists – all male, by the way – declared that post-apocalyptic fiction should have male protagonists, preferably ex-military, and lots of action to appeal to the prepper crowd. Now as anybody who has read After the End or The Hybrids knows, I don’t write that sort of post-apocalyptic fiction at all. Mine is more quiet and cozy and people actually help each other rather than shooting at each other. My protagonists are all civilians, often female, often young, sometimes children and teenagers. And then I thought, “Why don’t I write a post-apocalyptic holiday story? About a family trying to celebrate Christmas after the apocalypse.” And so Christmas after the End of the World was born. And because I’m a contrarian, I made the protagonist a thirteen-year-old girl.

So follow along as Natalie tries to prepare as good a holiday as she can for her younger siblings in…

Christmas after the End of the World
Christmas after the End of the World by Cora BuhlertIt’s Christmas… five months after the Yellowstone supervolcano erupted, blacked out the sun and covered most of the western US in ash.

Thirteen-year-old Natalie, her younger brother Liam, baby Olivia and family dog Bud are among the few still holding out in the evacuation zone.

Day to day survival is hard enough, but Natalie is determined to give Liam and Olivia an unforgettable Christmas… after the end of the world.

And who knows, maybe they’ll even get a true Christmas miracle…

This is a post-apocalyptic holiday novelette of 10000 words or approx. 35 print pages.

More information.
Length: 10000 words
List price: 0.99 USD, EUR or GBP
Buy it at Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Germany, Amazon France, Amazon Netherlands, Amazon Spain, Amazon Italy, Amazon Canada, Amazon Australia, Amazon Brazil, Amazon Japan, Amazon India, Amazon Mexico, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Apple, Google Play, Scribd, Smashwords, Thalia, Weltbild, Hugendubel, Buecher.de, DriveThruFiction, Casa del Libro, e-Sentral, 24symbols and XinXii.

***

The second holiday story, Santa’s Sticky Fingers, is also the latest entry in my Helen Shepherd Mysteries series. It is also the second Christmas mystery in the Helen Shepherd series after A Bullet for Father Christmas.

The inspiration for this story was a news report about pickpockets operating on Christmas markets, which is a recurring problem during the holiday season. Now I had already considered writing a mystery set at a Christmas market, but was still looking for a suitable plot. And when I heard that news report, I thought, “That’s it. Why not write a mystery featuring the hunt for pickpockets terrorising a Christmas market? After all, it doesn’t always have to be murder.”

The hunt for pickpockets of course requires someone to do the hunting. And since I already had a series featuring a regular investigative team, I thought, “Why not make it a Helen Shepherd Mystery?”

Now Christmas markets were originally a very German phenomenon, but they have become a lot more popular abroad during the last ten to fifteen years or so, particularly in the UK. And so many British cities now have Christmas markets of their own, often with vendors coming over from Germany. Therefore, it was absolutely no problem finding one in the greater London area for Helen and her team to investigate.

And so I sent Detective Inspector Helen Shepherd, Detective Constable Kevin Walker and Scene of the Crime Officer Charlotte on a tour across the Christmas market to interview vendors and witnesses and find the pickpocket who has been ruining many people’s holiday cheer.

So follow along as Detective Inspector Helen Shepherd and her team investigate…

Santa’s Sticky Fingers
Santa's Sticky Fingers by Cora BuhlertNormally, Detective Inspector Helen Shepherd doesn’t deal with petty crime and pickpockets. But when the Christmas market in Kingston upon Thames is hit by a wave of thefts, Helen and her team are called in to help out.

Harry, a homeless man who always hangs around the market, seems to be the most obvious suspect. But there is also the mysterious man in the black leather jacket some witnesses claim to have seen. Or maybe, the thief can be found much closer to home…

Can Helen and her team crack the case in time for Christmas?

This is a holiday novelette of 7800 words or approx. 26 print pages in the Helen Shepherd Mysteries series, but may be read as a standalone.

More information.
Length: 7800 words
List price: 0.99 USD, EUR or GBP
Buy it at Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Germany, Amazon France, Amazon Netherlands, Amazon Spain, Amazon Italy, Amazon Canada, Amazon Australia, Amazon Brazil, Amazon Japan, Amazon India, Amazon Mexico, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Apple, Google Play, Scribd, Smashwords, Thalia, Weltbild, Hugendubel, Buecher.de, DriveThruFiction, Casa del Libro, e-Sentral, 24symbols and XinXii.

I only finished Santa’s Sticky Fingers early on Sunday morning, so the book isn’t up at all vendors yet.

If you want more holiday stories, you can get all of mine in a handy bundle at a reduced price over at DriveThruFiction. The bundle contains ten holiday stories ranging from romance via science fiction and fantasy to mysteries and thrillers.

And if you want even more holiday stories, I just posted my annual round-up of my favourite holiday speculative fiction and holiday mysteries and crime fiction by indie and small press authors.

Finally, if you’re looking for some free science fiction and fantasy e-books, there is a giveaway going on at StoryOrigin, where you can get more than forty e-books for free, if you subscribe to the author’s newsletter (don’t worry, you can always unsubscribe). The Crime Thriller and Vigilantes giveaway also still going on at StoryOrigin.

That’s it for this year, at least with regard new releases. There will still be blog posts, of course. I’ll probably write a post about Star Wars (both The Rise of Skywalker and The Mandalorian) and I also have an announcement to make that has nothing to do with my books for once.

Next year, there’ll be more In Love and War stories, more Thurvok adventures, more Silencer stories, including one where the Silencer meets a John W. Campbell stand-in. I’m also planning to launch a new series called Raygun Romances and I hope that I’ll finally get the long delayed After the End 2 – More Stories of Life After the Apocalypse out.

But until then, have a very happy holiday season, whichever one you celebrate.

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Magic under the Mistletoe 2019 – A Round-up of the Best Indie Holiday Speculative Fiction

Magic under the Mistletoe banner

Our monthly round-ups of new speculative fiction and new crime fiction releases by indie authors are a perennially popular feature. Therefore, we now offer you a round-up of our favourite holiday science fiction, fantasy and horror by indie authors.

These holiday stories cover the broad spectrum of speculative fiction. We have epic fantasy, urban fantasy, cozy fantasy, paranormal romance, paranormal mysteries, science fiction, space opera, time travel, post-apocalyptic fiction, Steampunk, plenty of dragons, werewolves, were-reindeer, elves, Krampuses, telepathic detectives, crime-fighting witches, magical cats, holiday body swaps, orphans in danger, troubled marriages, musketeers in space, alien invasions, Christmas in space and after the apocalypse, robots, sentient starships playing Santa and much more. But one thing unites all of those very different books. They’re all set around the holidays.

As always with my round-up posts, this round-up of the best indie holiday mysteries is also crossposted to the Speculative Fiction Showcase, a group blog which features new release spotlights, guest posts, interviews and link round-ups regarding all things speculative fiction several times per week.

As always, I know the authors at least vaguely, but I haven’t read all of the books, so Caveat emptor.

And now on to the books without further ado:

A Dark Root Christmas by April AasheimA Dark Root Christmas: Merry’s Gift by April Aasheim

When ten-year-old Merry Maddock makes a holiday wish on a shooting star, she has no idea how her life will change.
Suddenly, she’s become the parent to a strange baby owl, and the caretaker of what appears to be an enchanted tree.
But will her wish for a family Christmas be granted? Or will her mother’s desire for a year without a holiday win out?
Magick, mystery, and family take center stage in this charming witchy novella featuring the Maddock girls when they are young.
This 20k word novella is a prequel story to the popular Daughters of Dark Root series and can be read as a stand alone novel.

A Very Mercy Christmas by M.Z. AndrewsA Very Mercy Christmas: A Witch Squad Holiday Special by M.Z. Andrews:

It’s Christmas time at the Paranormal Institute for Witches. Excited to go home for the holidays and be reunited with their families, Mercy, Jax, Holly, Sweets, and Alba say their goodbyes. However, when an unpredicted snowstorm ravages Aspen Falls, the girls must scramble to figure out their next move. Tempers flare as blame is placed and feelings are hurt. By the looks of it, Christmas will surely be ruined.

But when a surprise visitor arrives, the girls are forced to find out what friendship really means and decide whether or not it’s worth saving. Visited by some blasts from the past, the girls are given glimpses into each other’s pasts and find out what life would have been like if they’d never met and formed the Witch Squad on the first day of classes.

A Very Mercy Christmas is the 5th book in the Witch Squad Cozy Mystery series – there is no mystery to solve, instead sit back and enjoy a Christmas story about what went down over the Witch Squad’s first winter break and get a glimpse into the lives of each of the girls before they met.

The Journey of Joseph Winter by John AnthonyThe Journey of Joseph Winter: A Christmas Fairy Tale by John Anthony:

A heartwarming Christmas story in the tradition of the holiday classics It’s a Wonderful Life and A Miracle on 34th Street.

Take a personal journey to discover the true magic of Christmas.

Joseph Winter is a good and gentle man, but he carries with him the pain and regret of a childhood mistake.

When a package mysteriously arrives on his doorstep, he is invited on a path to redemption.

Traveling far from his cozy little home in St. Paul, Minnesota, into the snowy landscapes of the Arctic, his touching Christmas journey takes him in search of the one man who may be able to help him find peace—Santa Claus.

An inspirational family Christmas tale in the style of the classic Christmas stories shared by families every holiday season, The Journey of Joseph Winter: A Christmas Fairy Tale is the inspiring story of a man in search of Santa Claus, his childhood, and ultimately—himself.

A Tale of Christmas Past by Katelyn A. BrownA Tale of Christmas Past by Katelyn A. Brown

A woman from the future, trapped in the past…

Avery Lawson expects to spend another holiday alone, with only memories of her parents and her abandoned faith for company. One chilly day, she reads an old journal that once belonged to a pioneer named Kathleen. Avery is captivated by the story, but she never imagined how much her own life would be turned upside down after reading it. In a strange twist of fate, she finds herself transported to a Kansas homestead in the year 1880, with no conceivable way to get home to the future.

Widower Jacob Cole is in desperate need of a housekeeper and nanny for his three young children. When the mysterious Miss Lawson shows up at his farm, his instincts tell him to trust her, despite the bizarre circumstances surrounding her arrival. She quickly becomes an important part of his world. Could she be just what his hurting family needs?

But being from the future, Avery has a dreadful secret. With Christmas fast approaching, can she stop another terrible tragedy from befalling the family? Will she ever make it home to the future? Or–with the Cole children and Jacob steadily breaking down the walls around her heart–does she even want to anymore?

Christmas on Iago Prime by Cora BuhlertChristmas on Iago Prime by Cora Buhlert

Eight-year-old Libby has come with her parents to spend a year at the newly established colony on the planet Iago Prime. Libby’s parents believe that this is a great opportunity for all of them, but Libby is unhappy on Iago Prime. There are no other children on Iago Prime and Libby can’t go anywhere, because she doesn’t even have a space suit. Worst of all, they will spend Christmas on Iago Prime, where there aren’t even any Christmas trees.

However, Libby’s parents, with a little help from Santa Claus himself, conspire to give Libby an unforgettable Christmas on Iago Prime.

This is a science fictional Christmas story of 6600 words or approx. 22 print pages.

Christmas after the End of the World by Cora BuhlertChristmas after the End of the World by Cora Buhlert

It’s Christmas… five months after the Yellowstone supervolcano erupted, blacked out the sun and covered most of the western US in ash.

Thirteen-year-old Natalie, her younger brother Liam, baby Olivia and family dog Bud are among the few still holding out in the evacuation zone.

Day to day survival is hard enough, but Natalie is determined to give Liam and Olivia an unforgettable Christmas… after the end of the world.

And who knows, maybe they’ll even get a true Christmas miracle…

This is a post-apocalyptic holiday novelette of 10000 words or approx. 35 print pages.

The Bakery on Gloomland Street by Cora BuhlertThe Bakery on Gloomland Street by Cora Buhlert:

A legendary monster threatens Christmas…

It’s Christmas time in the permanently fog-shrouded seaside town of Hallowind Cove, which is also known as the “Harbour of the Weird”.

Rachel Hammersmith is new to Hallowind Cove and has recently taken over the bakery on Gloomland Street, after Marie Percht, the previous owner, retired.

However, Marie Percht didn’t tell Rachel everything, when she retired. She didn’t mention the fog, for starters, and she also didn’t mention that her bakery plays a vital role during the Christmas season and not just as a provider of holiday cookies either.

For the Krampus, a yuletide monster from alpine folklore, is coming to Hallowind Cove. And the only thing that can keep him from wrecking the town and ruining Christmas are pastries baked according to a secret recipe. Unfortunately, Rachel has no idea what the recipe is.

However, with the help of fellow newcomer Paul MacQuarie, Rachel will bake up a storm to pacify Krampus and save Christmas.

The Tinsel-Free Christmas Tree by Cora BuhlertThe Tinsel-Free Christmas Tree: A Not Really SF Short Story by Cora Buhlert

Bertha and Alfred, married for twenty years, enjoy a truly science fictional life in the twenty-first century. But in spite of all the technological marvels surrounding them, an argument about how to decorate the Christmas tree escalates and threatens their marriage.

This parodistic piece is a mundane short story of 2900 words or approximately 12 print pages, written in the style of science fiction’s “golden age” of the 1940s and 1950s.

 

Frosted Croakies by Sam CheeverFrosted Croakies by Sam Cheever:

’Tis the season for great folly…walawalawalawalala…ribbit.

It’s Christmas time at Croakies. The tree is up. The stockings are hung. And Christmas tunes are turning the atmosphere jolly. After a tumultuous Samhain, I’ve found my chi again and I’m starting to enjoy the season of love and giving.

Yeah. You probably know how this is going to end.

When Sebille suggests I open the bookstore up to a small holiday party, I foolishly agree. How was I supposed to know that the hobgoblin would decide it would be fun to hide everybody’s stuff? Or that we’d be hit with a freak winter storm that confined everybody inside for the duration. Or that a “You’re me but who am I?” spell would be released inside the shop, switching everybody’s identities and creating general chaos and hysteria?

I could probably deal with all that if it weren’t for the fact that my friend, Lea…the one person who could possibly reverse the spell…was ensconced in SB the parrot, with no opposable thumbs for spelling.

And me? Of course, I’m sitting fat and squishy inside Mr. Slimy. Thank goodness Rustin isn’t currently in residence, or it would be really crowded in here.

Who spelled my party? What do a pair of Santa’s elves have to do with it? And why have old enemies suddenly become new friends? I apparently have a little holiday mystery to solve inside Croakies, and I have no idea how I’m going to solve it with everybody mixed up and some of us human.

Have I told you I hate this season?

Ribbit!

Merry Chris Witch by C.K. DawnMerry Chris Witch by C.K. Dawn:

Magic is real and dreams do come true. Be careful what you WITCH for.

Chris Heron is a witch who loathes the holiday season. What’s even worse is getting expelled from private coven school on Halloween and having to attend public magic school, where Santa’s son is visiting and has all the girls in a frenzy. Fairies, mermaids, elves, even the trolls are swooning over Kris Kringle Jr. All except for one girl, and she’s a North Pole mystery that has Chris intrigued. Will he be able to put his prejudices aside in time to see the true magic all around him?

I Wtich You a Merry Christmas by Snow EdenI Witch You a Merry Christmas by Snow Eden:

A heart-warming story about Christmas, elves, Santa Claus…and a really mad witch.

There are many things Cinnamon Mercy Claus is struggling with this holiday season: the memories of long forgotten holidays when the Christmas season was about family; that she’s just found out her grandfather is Santa Claus; and that her grandmother is a witch—who is bent on destroying Christmas for them all.

This is a 30,000-word novella with a dose of Hallmark warmth and crazy witch mayhem!

It is a ‘clean’ read with no cursing. Situations should be appropriate for all ages.

Crimson Yuletide by Rachel FordCrimson Yuletide by Rachel Ford:

Autumn gone off to sleep
And winter her secrets no more keep
Rises he from the deep
Flesh to flay and flesh to eat

Twelve days of Christmas. Twelve days of terror and death.

An ancient evil prowls the quiet streets of Wixcombe. An old man is murdered in the town square. Children disappear in the night. Villagers report sightings of Krampus, the Christmas demon.

For siblings Nan and William Fitzgerald, the season began with a promise of new loves and Christmas magic. But they find themselves in the eye of the storm when their godfather becomes the prime suspect in the killings.

To protect both the women they love and their village, the siblings must discover Krampus’ true identity. But they might not like the answers they find…

Carrie Hatchett's Christmas by J.J. GreenCarrie Hatchett’s Christmas by J.J. Green:

It’s Christmas! The alien invasion has begun.

Carrie Hatchett’s hoping for a quiet Christmas. She’s got five times as much food as she needs, and she’s made a catnip surprise and a dogfood cake for her pets.

But there’s no rest for Carrie.

An ancient race seems intent on invading Earth. As a Transgalactic Intercultural Community Crisis Liaison Officer, Carrie’s duty-bound to respond to the threat.

The aliens have been spotted at Santa’s Grotto and in a pantomime. Will Carrie find them in time and send them packing before they ruin everyone’s Christmas?

Carrie Hatchett’s Christmas is a standalone novelette in the comedy sci-fi romp Carrie Hatchett, Space Adventurer.

Follow Carrie on her adventures today.

Bringing Christmas to the Dragons by Rinelle GreyBringing Christmas to the Dragons by Rinelle Grey:

She may not be a dragon, but it was her humanity they needed right now.

With time running out before his clan’s prince is discovered by mining or killed by enemy dragons, dragon shifter Jayrian needs to convince the elders to accept help from the humans. He hopes that the clever librarian, Gretchen, might be able to help him with that. He didn’t count on falling for her—that wasn’t part of his plan at all.

Gretchen longs for adventure outside of the books she reads in her job as a small town librarian. But not the kind that involves her moving to the big city to take the promotion her Aunt Mary offers. The cute guy who’s been hanging around the library seems far more exciting—there’s just something about him that draws her—so on impulse, she invites him to her family’s Christmas celebration. When a dragon lands on the front of her car on the way there, she wonders if she’s gotten more than she bargained for.

Together they must find a way to save his prince and clan, without sacrificing who they are, or their budding relationship.

Angels and Amulets by Nicole GrotepasAngels and Amulets by Nicole Grotepas:

If there’s a way to spoil something, the villains of the 6 Moons will find it.

There’s no rest for the weary. Just when Holly Drake takes a break from searching for more information about her father, a Christmas-related heirloom vanishes. Sure, it’s Christmas on the 6-Moons, but Holly can’t relax. Neither can her team.

Fate forces them to give up their cozy fires, mulled drinks, and holiday feasts to race across the harsh volcanic terrain of the planet Kota to win back the prize before it’s destroyed. If they can’t save the heirloom, the already strained diplomatic relations between humans and the Centau will snap.
If they don’t save Christmas, who will?

Angels and Amulets is a Christmas novella set in the 6 Moons universe.

Meet Douglas Fir by Kyndra HatchMeet Douglas Fir by Kyndra Hatch:

People put objects on trees? As a holiday tradition? The singing tree creature is a threat that needs to be eradicated.

Being human isn’t easy with robotic alien residents misunderstanding the simple stuff. Alex can’t imagine his family life without Bazin and Miaxa, though. Time to show them Christmas holiday traditions, preferably without space aliens blowing things up.

 

 

How Aunt Tillie Stole Christmas by Amanda M. LeeHow Aunt Tillie Stole Christmas by Amanda M. Lee:

Fourteen years ago, Christmas hit Walkerville with a bang. Or, rather, a big ball of fire.
When a local group home for orphaned children goes up in smoke right before the holidays, Tillie Winchester volunteers her family to take in some kids – even though her arch nemesis Margaret Little is dead-set against it. Of course, that’s part of the appeal for Tillie so she’s considering it a win.

Three boys – all of them with a little attitude – have no idea what to expect from the Winchester household. No matter what, Tillie is sure they’re about to get more than they bargained for. In short order, they’re welcomed into the family at the same time the town is on edge due to a second fire.

Tillie is determined to prove the boys are innocent while also finding them a forever home … even if she has to take on a local judge and declare all out war to do it.

So, hang your stockings by the fire and sit back for another Christmas with the Winchesters. You’ll never be the same again.

Note: This is a 28,000-word novella set in the Wicked Witches of the Midwest world. It’s set back in the past so it can be read in any order.

Fur-miliar Felines by Harper LinFur-miliar Felines by Harper Lin:

Three witches and their magical cats solve paranormal murder cases in the mystical town of Wonder Falls.

It’s Christmastime, but something strange and sinister is in the air. Treacle, Cath’s courageous black cat, can’t see what it is, but he feels a dangerous presence out there in the snow-blanketed streets.

Aunt Astrid also feels dark ripples in the dimensions. The Greenstone witches suspect this creature is somehow tied to the disappearance of two high school students. Soon, one of them turns up dead, half-eaten.

The holiday spirit is in full effect in Wonder Falls, but so is a puzzling and gruesome murder mystery.

A Mind Reader's Christmas by Al MacyA Mind Reader’s Christmas by Al Macy:

Eric Beckman, a mind-reading private investigator, is spending Christmas in snowy Vermont with his wife and daughter. He needs a break from solving cases, but the townspeople convince him to look into the village mystery: Every holiday season, someone switches the baby Jesus with one of the other figures in the town’s Nativity scene.

With the help of his ten-year-old daughter, also a mind reader, he soon learns that some of the residents of the small town are not who–or even what–they seem to be. There’s something supernatural going on in Newburn, Vermont.

His investigation causes an escalation of strange happenings, and soon, swapped manger figures are the least of the town’s worries. If Beckman can’t adjust his view of the world–force himself to believe in things he never thought possible–the Christmas vacation could turn out to be his family’s last.

A Mind Reader’s Christmas may be read as a standalone book or as Book Four in the Eric Beckman series.

The Santa Claus of Mystic Springs by Mona MarpleThe Santa Claus of Mystic Springs by Mona Marple:

What if Father Christmas is on the naughty list?

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas in Mystic Springs, but all is not still or calm with the department store Santa.

The amateur dramatics club is full of big egos and legends-in-their-own-heads, so their spats aren’t unusual. But when the theatre owner is shot dead during the Christmas play, it’s Santa who pulls the trigger.

With the arrival of an unwelcome ex, a petition to end Discrimination Against Spirits, and a second attack by St Nick, the chances of a quiet Christmas seem to be quickly disappearing.

Has Santa really gone bad? Or is there more to it?

Town medium Connie and her dead sister Sage are both avoiding their own festive conundrums. A mistletoe murder is just the distraction they need.

In Time for Christmas by Monique MartinIn Time for Christmas by Monique Martin:

At a time when interest in the Christmas holiday was waning, Charles Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol and inspired the world.

But now, history is changing, and the book is never written. When the Council for Temporal Studies asks time travelers Simon and Elizabeth Cross to “save Christmas,” they think he’s joking.

But it’s anything but a laughing matter. Simon and Elizabeth must go back to 1843 London and convince Dickens to write his endearing story, or the Christmas holiday we all know and love will cease to be–forever.

Christmas in New York by Monique MartinChristmas in New York by Monique Martin:

Time-Traveling adventurers Simon and Elizabeth Cross return in an all-new Christmas novella!

Along with their young daughter, Charlotte, the Crosses travel back to 1937 New York City to visit an old friend, Charlie Blue. But Charlie’s in trouble — holiday-sized trouble — and their plans for a pleasant little Christmas vacation soon fly out the window.

Christmas in New York is the fast-paced and heartwarming tale of the true meaning of Christmas — and the importance of the people we share it with.

Christmas in Silver Birch Valley by Lorri MoultonChristmas in Silver Birch Valley by Lorri Moulton:

A small town has held on to their traditions and celebrates Christmas as if it were 100 years ago…which reporter Jake Logan finds surprisingly charming, but wonders if it’s too good to be true.

Jake has traveled the world but never really felt at home, until he spends time in a town that has its own unique way of celebrating the holidays. The longer he stays, the more he comes to like the town, the people, and one charming B&B owner in particular.

Lorna Sullivan has never met anyone like Jake, but she knows tourists don’t stay once the holidays are over. The more time she spends with Jake, the easier it is to wonder if this could be different…but there are secrets in every town and this one could destroy their chance at happiness.

Not His Christmas by Annie NicholasNot His Christmas by Annie Nicholas:

It’s Eoin and Angie’s first Christmas together and he wants to make it special. But his dragoness is lacking holiday spirit and doesn’t want anything to do with celebrating. Does Angie think Eoin is the type of dragon who could ignore her unhappiness? Clipping on his jingle bells and grabbing the mistletoe, Eoin is on a mission.

 

 

 

Snowed in with the Alien Dragon by Sonia NovaSnowed in with the Alien Dragon by Sonia Nova

A Christmas without warmth…
Rachel hates her life in Alaska. She hates the weather, but even more, she hates her job which requires her to stay in the sodden state even for the holidays! Instead of going to visit her family in sunny California, she will be spending the holidays alone in the cold north. But when she encounters an unconscious, golden alien on the way home from work – amidst a massive snowstorm to top it all off – it looks like the holidays might not end up as boring as she’d thought after all!

A dragon paralyzed by cold…
Captain Erro of Traag never thought to go down in a battle. Even less did he think to find his mate on the surface of the planet he crashes on! Trapped in the planet’s frozen wasteland, Erro can hardly function in the cold climate. He’s a dragon, for heaven’s sake! He needs some heat! And yet, despite the icy weather seeping into his bones, every time the strangely beautiful alien female smiles at him, his inner flame burns stronger than ever. She is his mate, there is no question about that.

Now, if only he could understand what the hell she was saying…

Snowed in with the Alien Dragon is a standalone sci-fi romance novella with a scorching hot dragon, a HEA and no cliffhangers. Intended for mature audiences only.

When Birdie Babysat Spider by Kristen PainterWhen Birdie Babysat Spider: A Jayne Frost Short Story by Kristen Painter:

Welcome to Nocturne Falls, the town that celebrates Halloween 365 days a year.

Jayne Frost is a lot of things. Winter elf, Jack Frost’s daughter, Santa Claus’s niece, heir to the Winter Throne and now…private investigator. Sort of.

But none of that matters at the moment, because Jayne is headed back to the North Pole to visit her family, and leaving everyone’s favorite werewolf, Birdie Caruthers, to watch her cat, Spider.

With the heartfelt promise that all will be well, Birdie follows Jayne’s instructions to the letter. Unfortunately, that doesn’t stop Spider from getting into trouble.

It takes the help of a gentlemen friend (and a few others), for Birdie to make things right again. But not before her love life takes a very interesting turn…

The Krampus Hunters by J.P. ReedmanThe Krampus Hunters by J.P. Reedman:

Krampus, haunter of the dark winter’s nights before Yule, comes bearing a switch to beat ‘bad children’…

Young Snoefrith, daughter of the Erl-King, leaves her homeland on a quest to find her lost mother…and a life. As she travels in wild, unfamiliar lands, she is accosted by Old Nickor, a red-robed goblin who flies the wintry skies in a sleigh pulled by coal-black deer, and his bestial companion, Krampus. Nickor sets Krampus upon Snowfrith, seeking to capture her to sell to the Kobold King who dwells under the mountains.
Rescued by Red Roo, a feisty girl who is the best archer in the Wandron tribe, Snoefrith believes she is now safe.
But Krampus is determined to capture his prey and please his master, Nickor. Under cover of darkness, he destroys the Wandron’s caravans and sends Snoefrith and Red Roo fleeing into the forest and beyond.
Soon they learn that they cannot flee forever.
The hunted must become the hunters….

KRAMPUS HUNTERS

A short fantasy novelette for all ages, 15,000 words.

Joyeux by Tansy Rayner RobertsJoyeux: A Musketeer Space Novella by Tansy Rayner Roberts

There’s mistletoe growing out of the walls, it’s snowing inside the space station, and a sex scandal is brewing that could bring down the monarchy. Must be Joyeux!

Joyeux on Paris Satellite is a seven day festival of drunken bets, poor decision-making, religious contemplation and tinsel. But mostly, poor decision-making. Athos and Porthos aren’t going to sleep together. Aramis is breaking up with her girlfriend because it’s that or marry her. Athos is not ready to deal with the ghost of his ex-husband. Oh, and no one wants Prince Alek to break his marriage contract by hooking up with a sexy Ambassador…

It’s down to the Musketeers and the Red Guard to save the space station and the solar system from disaster. So… that’s not going to end well.

This novella is a festive prequel to Musketeer Space, a genderflipped space opera retelling of The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas.

Created for Christmas by Joynell SchultzCreated for Christmas by Joynell Schultz:

Need the perfect man? No problem—simply create him!

Ivy wanted nothing more for Christmas than to have someone to come home to…to have a companion to chat about her day with, and someone to show off at her family holiday celebrations.

This Christmas, she’s not going to be alone! Ivy decides to create her perfect companion at Dream Droids, the premier robotics company specializing in sentient humanoids. Ivy spends weeks with Dr. Pierce, creating her dream man, from his appearance, personality, and even his knowledge of her life.

There’s just a few problems: when a special gift she purchased for her father goes missing, and Dr. Pierce agrees to help her find it, she finds herself falling for him. After getting her heart stomped on by her ex-fiancé, there’s no way she can open it up again…besides, she just created the perfect man.

Jingle Stars by Jenny SchwartzJingle Starr by Jenny Schwartz:

When a starship decides to play Santa Claus…

Ahab is a mLa’an artificial intelligence embedded in the starship, Orion.

The campaign for AIs to be recognized as full citizens of Galaxy Proper is within reach of its extraordinary goal. The only thing that could stop it now is if an AI did something foolish…like take a space station hostage to save eight orphaned children.

***
And this is the letter to Santa that starts it all:

Dear Santa

I don’t know if yourreindeers work in space. But if you have room in your sleigh after you finishdelivering presents to the lucky kids with parents and homes, can you come and getme and my friends? Please?

We’ve been good. Well,we haven’t been really bad. We’re on Station Elphame, in the junkyard, and Zoeis sick. She’s bad sick. I think she’d be better on a planet. We don’t needpresents. We just need a way out of here. Ollie tried to sneak onto atrampship…he died.

Please, Santa, I don’twant any more of my friends to die.

Aiden.

Elves and Deer by Hollis ShilohElves and Deer by Hollis Shiloh:

Greer is a reindeer shifter working at a magical shipping hub up North. He has little use for or understanding of elves—such delicate, short-lived creatures—but he tries to do his best by the ones in his life. And it seems like more and more are coming into his life, confusing and frustrating him, needing help, needing rescued.

Since Greer is always busy, it’s easy to overlook the things he doesn’t want to acknowledge—until a terrible danger gives him unwanted time to think…and to realize there’s just one elf who means more to him than he’s ever wanted to admit.

A Christmas tale
38,000 words
Heat level: very low

All I Want For Christmas is Wicked by Lotta SmithAll I Want for Christmas is Wicked by Lotta Smith:

Trees decorated, stockings full of presents, and another case to crack!

The Rowling family is gearing up for another Merry Christmas, and Mandy has her hands full with holiday prep, but how can she get into the spirit of the season when the victim in her latest case isn’t a ghost?

Twenty years ago, during a Christmas Eve blackout, Kevin Holt, the husband of a rich heiress, lost his memory in a fall down the stairs of their mansion. Now he’s discovered evidence that someone might have been trying to kill him, and all he wants for Christmas is to find out who. Since the resident ghost of the Holt house didn’t witness the attack, Rick and Mandy will have to rely on old fashioned sleuthing (and a little help from Mandy’s paranormal pal Jackie) to find out which of the four suspects is the culprit.

Meanwhile Rick has been saddled with novice investigator Cameron Gibson (call him Ace!) the son of one of USCAB’s wealthiest clients. Ace is trying to catch the creep stalking a New York City fashion model, but despite wanting Mandy to mentor him, one ghostly encounter has him seriously spooked.

A run in with a biker ghost and dancers in danger complicate the case, but the big question on Mandy’s mind is why does little Sophie want a bear trap for Christmas? Find out in this wickedly merry holiday installment of the Paranormal in Manhattan Mystery Series.

Blood and Mistletoe by E.J. StevensBlood and Mistletoe by E.J. Stevens:

Holidays are worse than a full moon for making people crazy. In Harborsmouth, where many of the residents are undead vampires or monstrous fae, the combination may prove deadly.

Ivy Granger, psychic private investigator, returns to the streets of Harborsmouth in this addition to the bestselling urban fantasy series.

Holidays are Hell, a point driven home when a certain demon attorney returns with information regarding a series of bloody murders. Five Harborsmouth residents have been killed and every victim has one thing in common–they are fae. Whoever is killing faeries must be stopped, but they only leave one clue behind–a piece of mistletoe floating in a pool of the victim’s blood.

The holidays just got interesting. Too bad this case may drive Ivy mad before the New Year. Heck, she’ll be lucky to survive Christmas.

Cloaked in Christmas by T.F. WalshCloaked in Christmas by T.F. Walsh:

After fleeing her abusive ex, wulfkin Cacey Varg and her daughter settle happily with a new pack in Finland. As Christmas approaches, Cacey learns her ex has found them and is on his way to take their daughter back. But a massive snowstorm prevents her from packing up and leaving town – and instead delivers a sexy stranger to her doorstep. Can she trust that he isn’t one of her ex’s henchmen?

Second-in-command to Europe’s most powerful wulfkin, hunter Vincent Lyall’s spur-of-the-moment decision to check on his ailing mother soon finds him marooned at a cabin in the woods by the blizzard of the century. Trapped with this spirited vixen, resisting temptation is easier said than done . . . But she refuses to believe he is who he says he is.

Is love powerful enough to win when two sexy wolf shifters, an unwelcome past, and animalistic urges wreak havoc on the holiday season?
Sensuality Level: Sensual

A Most Apocalyptic Christmas by Phil WilliamsA Most Apocalyptic Christmas by Phil Williams:

On the night before Christmas, mercenary Scullion’s ride home is ambushed halfway between the last surviving cities in America. Concerned only with getting drunk for the holiday, his attempts to abandon his fellow passengers to bandits lead him on a collision course with a barbaric community who have utterly distorted the seasonal spirit. This is one madcap night he cannot survive alone, challenging his perceptions of the meaning of Christmas.

A Most Apocalyptic Christmas is a near-future dystopian novella, set in a war-ravaged land where chaotic city states are all that are left of once powerful countries. Born fighters like the thug Scullion are the predominant survivors in this desolate world devoid of resources, comforts and hope.

This is a Faergrowe Free State novella, set in the same world of the screenplay The Faergrowe Principle.

Elixirs and Elves by Astoria WrightElixirs and Elves by Astoria Wright:

The elves of Mount Vale are throwing a Christmas Party, and they’ve invited everyone! While the human residents of Moss Hill are excited to attend, many of the sidhe find the invitation beneath them. It’s no secret that they dislike mingling with non-faeries, but are they so hostile toward humans that one of them would commit murder? Carissa has never gotten along with the sidhe guard, but Varick of Vale has helped her on occasion. So, when he asks for her help after suspicion falls on him, it’s up to her to prove his innocence – if, that is, he isn’t guilty after all.

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Murder under the Mistletoe 2019 – A Round-up of the Best Indie Holiday Mysteries and Crime Fiction

Murder under the Mistletoe banner

Our monthly round-ups of new speculative fiction and new crime fiction releases by indie authors are a perennially popular feature. Therefore, we now offer you a round-up of our favourite holiday mysteries by indie authors.

The holiday mysteries cover the broad spectrum of crime fiction. We have plenty of cozy mysteries, small town mysteries, culinary mysteries, animal mysteries, paranormal mysteries, historical mysteries, Victorian mysteries, jazz age mysteries, WWII mysteries, romantic suspense, police procedurals, crime thrillers, pulp thrillers, men’s adventure, private eyes, masked crime fighters, telepathic detectives, thieving Santas, crime-fighting witches, crime-fighting bakers, crime-fighting watchmakers, crime-fighting wedding planners, crime-fighting dogs, crime-fighting frogs, magical cats, holiday body swaps, murder in circusses and aboard cruise ships, in ski resorts and cupcake shops, in small towns and the big city, missing children, missing presents, orphans in danger and much more. But one thing unites all of those very different books. They’re all set around the holidays.

As always with my round-up posts, this round-up of the best indie holiday mysteries is also crossposted to the Indie Crime Scene, a group blog which features new release spotlights, guest posts, interviews and link round-ups regarding all things crime fiction several times per week.

As always, I know the authors at least vaguely, but I haven’t read all of the books, so Caveat emptor.

And now on to the books without further ado:

A Very Mercy Christmas by M.Z. AndrewsA Very Mercy Christmas: A Witch Squad Holiday Special by M.Z. Andrews:

It’s Christmas time at the Paranormal Institute for Witches. Excited to go home for the holidays and be reunited with their families, Mercy, Jax, Holly, Sweets, and Alba say their goodbyes. However, when an unpredicted snowstorm ravages Aspen Falls, the girls must scramble to figure out their next move. Tempers flare as blame is placed and feelings are hurt. By the looks of it, Christmas will surely be ruined.

But when a surprise visitor arrives, the girls are forced to find out what friendship really means and decide whether or not it’s worth saving. Visited by some blasts from the past, the girls are given glimpses into each other’s pasts and find out what life would have been like if they’d never met and formed the Witch Squad on the first day of classes.

A Very Mercy Christmas is the 5th book in the Witch Squad Cozy Mystery series – there is no mystery to solve, instead sit back and enjoy a Christmas story about what went down over the Witch Squad’s first winter break and get a glimpse into the lives of each of the girls before they met.

The Season for Slaying by Hillary AvisThe Season for Slaying by Hillary Avis:

All is quiet at the Pines and Needles Christmas Tree Farm. Too quiet.

It’s Christmas Eve, and Darla Cooper is merrily preparing for a family holiday when she witnesses a shocking murder in the woods.

Luckily, her son is a police detective. The problem? He doesn’t believe her—and the body is missing.

Darla must prove that a murder occurred, but she has no body, no witnesses, and no evidence except her own memory—which, to be honest, isn’t that great these days. Plus, she didn’t have her glasses on.

Join Darla as she hunts down a killer…just in time for Christmas.

The Season for Slaying is a short holiday cozy mystery story full of suspense, snowflakes, and sleighbells.

Fatal Festive Donuts by Cindy BellFatal Festive Donuts by Cindy Bell:

Christmastime at the holiday market means mistletoe, colorful lights and…a dead body.

It is almost Christmas and Joyce and Brenda are excited to get a coveted spot at the local holiday market. Business is thriving and they are looking forward to celebrating the holidays.

But Christmas becomes the last thing on their minds when a dead body is found on ‘Donuts on the Move’. Not only is their truck shut down, but they become the prime suspects. With the evidence stacking up against them and a detective who thinks they’re guilty, they decide to take things into their own hands and find the murderer.

Joyce and Brenda’s investigations lead them straight towards danger. Will they find the killer before they land up in handcuffs or even become victims themselves?

Recipe Included: Baked Gingerbread Donuts with Ginger Glaze

A Merry Murder at St. Bernard Cabins by Cindy BellA Merry Murder at St. Bernard Cabins by Cindy Bell:

A pet-loving sleuth. A perplexing murder. Will the murder be solved before the clues are buried forever?

Nikki Green is taking a break from walking and pet-sitting her loyal companions. She is going to a ski resort for the holidays for some quiet time with her family. To her delight her solo journey turns into a group excursion. However, the trip doesn’t go according to plan when Nikki lands up in the middle of a snowstorm.

Then things go from bad to worse when someone is murdered, and her brother is the prime suspect. With the roads impassable, and two inexperienced officers on the case, Nikki decides to take matters into her own hands and clear her brother’s name. She plows through a mountain of clues to reveal the truth before the snow melts and the murderer disappears forever.

It’s a slippery slope of suspects and danger as she goes hurtling towards the truth.

A Bullet for Father Christmas by Cora BuhlertA Bullet for Father Christmas by Cora Buhlert:

When two men dressed up as Father Christmas rob a London jewellery store and one of them ends up dead on the floor, shot by his own accomplice, it’s certainly one of the more unusual cases for Detective Inspector Helen Shepherd and her team. But as Helen begins to investigate, it turns out that the case is even more bizarre than she suspected.

This is a mystery novelette of 9300 words or approx. 30 print pages.

 

Santa's Sticky Fingers by Cora BuhlertSanta’s Sticky Fingers by Cora Buhlert:

Normally, Detective Inspector Helen Shepherd doesn’t deal with petty crime and pickpockets. But when the Christmas market in Kingston upon Thames is hit by a wave of thefts, Helen and her team are called in to help out.

Harry, a homeless man who always hangs around the market, seems to be the most obvious suspect. But there is also the mysterious man in the black leather jacket some witnesses claim to have seen. Or maybe, the thief can be found much closer to home…

Can Helen and her team crack the case in time for Christmas?

This is a holiday novelette of 7800 words or approx. 26 print pages in the Helen Shepherd Mysteries series, but may be read as a standalone.

St. Nicholas of Hell's KitchenSt. Nicholas of Hell’s Kitchen by Cora Buhlert:

Christmas time in 1930s New York. After escaping through the chimney of an orphanage in Hell’s Kitchen, Richard Blakemore a.k.a. the masked crimefighter known only as the Silencer is mistaken for Santa Claus by one of the children and learns that the orphanage is under siege by both a gang of brutal racketeers and an unscrupulous landlord.

Richard vows to help the children and their guardians. However, it turns out that the attacks on the orphanage are only part of a much larger plot, when Richard’s quest for justice leads him into the upper echelons of Manhattan’s high society.

Soon, the Silencer finds himself face to face with one of the most powerful men in the city, while Richard and Constance struggle to save the orphanage and give the children of Hell’s Kitchen an unforgettable Christmas.

This is a novella of 30000 words or approximately 100 pages in the Silencer series, but may be read as a standalone.

A Jolly Little Murder by Beth ByersA Jolly Little Murder by Beth Byers:

December 1925

Violet Wakefield is determined to dive into the holiday and enjoy every occasion. She’s going to see the live nativity, listen to Handel’s Messiah, and attend the Nutcracker ballet. She’ll cover her house in all the holly and lights. In fact, Vi wants nothing more than to put up the largest Christmas tree she can locate and stuff it with gifts. ??She little expects, however, to stumble across a crime in action. When she gets pulled into the madness, her biggest concern isn’t the crime, it’s keeping Jack from committing a holiday homicide.

Merry Masquerade in Savannah by Hope CallaghanMerry Masquerade in Savannah by Hope Callaghan

Carlita, Mercedes, and Tony are gearing up to celebrate their first Thanksgiving at their new home in historic Savannah, Georgia. Along with the excitement of the upcoming holiday season, there’s a lingering sadness because part of their family won’t be there to celebrate.

When Carlita’s friend, Victoria “Tori” Montgomery, invites the Garlucci family to her “Merry Masquerade” party at Montgomery Hall, Carlita is thrilled to have something to take her mind off the approaching holiday.

Despite a recent theft and an assault on her butler, Tori moves forward with her party plans, a grand affair and a gathering of Savannah’s elite. The Merry Masquerade turns out to be everything it was billed to be and more, when one of Tori’s employees is found murdered inside the pool house.

Is the murder linked to the recent break-in and the butler’s attack at Montgomery Hall? Could the killer be living under Tori’s roof? Or was it a masked party guest trying to make it look like an inside job?

Join the Garlucci women as they help one of Savannah’s most prominent residents track down a killer!

Reindeer and Robberies by Hope CallaghanReindeers and Robberies by Hope Callaghan:

The Christmas Season is in full swing on board the cruise ship, Siren of the Seas thanks to Andy Walker, the ship’s cruise director who is all in on his new holiday theme, “The Reindeer Games.”

Millie and her co-worker, Danielle, are tasked with taking charge of the holiday theme and everything is running smoothly until one of the reindeer comes up missing. But the missing reindeer is the least of the security staff’s worries after a string of thefts are reported.

Millie jumps in with an investigation of her own that soon turns south when a stalker surfaces, determined to make her life miserable or worse yet.

Despite escalating incidents from the deranged stalker, Millie sorts the clues and discovers a possible link between the mysterious thefts and her stalker that hits close to home.

Can Millie survive the holiday season…or even more terrifying…make it out alive?

Frosted Croakies by Sam CheeverFrosted Croakies by Sam Cheever:

’Tis the season for great folly…walawalawalawalala…ribbit.

It’s Christmas time at Croakies. The tree is up. The stockings are hung. And Christmas tunes are turning the atmosphere jolly. After a tumultuous Samhain, I’ve found my chi again and I’m starting to enjoy the season of love and giving.

Yeah. You probably know how this is going to end.

When Sebille suggests I open the bookstore up to a small holiday party, I foolishly agree. How was I supposed to know that the hobgoblin would decide it would be fun to hide everybody’s stuff? Or that we’d be hit with a freak winter storm that confined everybody inside for the duration. Or that a “You’re me but who am I?” spell would be released inside the shop, switching everybody’s identities and creating general chaos and hysteria?

I could probably deal with all that if it weren’t for the fact that my friend, Lea…the one person who could possibly reverse the spell…was ensconced in SB the parrot, with no opposable thumbs for spelling.

And me? Of course, I’m sitting fat and squishy inside Mr. Slimy. Thank goodness Rustin isn’t currently in residence, or it would be really crowded in here.

Who spelled my party? What do a pair of Santa’s elves have to do with it? And why have old enemies suddenly become new friends? I apparently have a little holiday mystery to solve inside Croakies, and I have no idea how I’m going to solve it with everybody mixed up and some of us human.

Have I told you I hate this season?

Ribbit!

Never Mess with Mistletoe by Edie ClaireNever Mess with Mistletoe by Edie Claire:

Frances Koslow was ecstatic to have her humble abode chosen as stop #3 on the Holiday House Tour. Then everyone drank the cider.

When Leigh’s parents’ house becomes a last-minute substitution on the regional garden club’s famous Holiday House Tour, Frances Koslow is thrilled. But the tour is tomorrow, there’s work to be done, and Frances’s dwindling and aging “Floribunda” chapter is in dire need of reinforcements. Worried about her mother’s blood pressure, particularly as sisterly tensions rise over Leigh’s Aunt Lydie’s upcoming Christmas Eve wedding, Leigh steps in to make sure the tour runs smoothly.

But perhaps Leigh isn’t the ideal choice for the task. Not when a fortune cookie has just portended the return of her infamous “bad karma.” Not when everyone knows the real reason the Floribundas have declined is because every remaining member is a whackadoodle. And not when someone’s idea of Christmas spirit is to add a little something extra to the sweet cider punch.

One dead Floribunda later, Leigh struggles to keep her family calm in the midst of swirling suspicions, flying accusations, and dubious warnings of biological warfare. But when someone threatens to silence her own all-too-curious daughter, mother-rage kicks in. Nobody is ruining Leigh’s family’s Merry Christmas. Not even her family.

The Christmas Key by Philippa Nefri ClarkThe Christmas Key by Philippa Nefri Clark

A hot summer Christmas Day is just around the corner in the Australian seaside town of River’s End. Beachside BBQs and sumptuous dinners are on the menu.

But Martha Blake is like a dog with a bone, determined to solve the last of the cottage mysteries. She and great-niece Christie begin a secret investigation.

Meanwhile, Thomas is busy with his own clues and enlists the help of his reluctant grandson, Martin.

At Palmerston House, loving new couple Elizabeth and Angus face their greatest obstacle, throwing their happy future into doubt.

With everyone working at cross-purposes, who will find themselves in the middle, cast decades back into memories of a terrible mistake?

Is love enough this time, as the beloved residents of River’s End deal with the fallout of the old mystery? Who, or what, will bring them all together in time for Christmas?

The Christmas Key is a heartwarming novella rounding off the Christie Ryan Romantic Mystery series with the last of the secrets revealed, and delightful Christmas magic to touch the favourite residents of River’s End. Read as a standalone, or start the series with The Stationmaster’s Cottage.

Merry Buried Christmas by Lyndsey ColeMerry Buried Christmas by Lyndsey Cole:

Murder always ruins the best baked plans . . .

Annie Hunter has a lot on her plate just before Christmas, but it’s not all sugar and spice and everything nice! With an open house at her aunt’s new Blackbird Bed and Breakfast, all Annie hopes for is a drama-free day.

Of course, events never go as planned.

On top of preparing a whirlwind of food, holiday decorating, and keeping to a tight schedule, a surprise visitor is also on the menu. When that visitor turns up dead, Annie must search for the killer to keep everything from crumbling like a stale Christmas cookie.

Annie’s plan to flush out the murderer includes one tasty bribe, a pinch of needling, and a heaping tablespoon of accusation. When she is threatened, it’s time to put it all on the back burner.

But the killer has other ideas.

While the snowflakes fly, Annie finds herself caught between a cookie and a crazy person. This time, it looks like she bit off more than she can chew.

***Merry Buried Christmas is volume 12 in the Black Cat Cafe Cozy Mystery Series. Lyndsey’s books can be read and enjoyed in any order.

The Cop Who Stole Christmas by Christie CraigThe Cop Who Stole Christmas by Christie Craig:

It’ll take a tall, hot Texan and a little holiday spirit to mend a broken heart and catch a Christmas killer . . .

Savanna Edwards is feeling downright Scrooge-like. Who can blame her? A truly unjolly Santa—suit, beard and all—just repossessed her car because of her ex’s shady business dealings. She’d like to murder the no-good lying cheat, but somebody already did that for her—and left him right in the middle of her kitchen, wrapped up with a bow.

Detective Mark Donaldson has a rule against getting involved with his neighbors. He can look—and he’s studied every sweet curve of Savanna from across the street—but he can’t touch. So when she lands on his doorstep in need of help, he finds himself torn between being naughty or nice, and fights every urge to unwrap her like a shiny new Christmas present.

Trouble is, even Mark can’t resist a little holiday magic . . . and there’s definitely something magical happening between him and the girl next door.

Jingle Bells and Deadly Smells by Amber CreweJingle Bells and Deadly Smells by Amber Crewe:

“Each of the Sandy Bay mysteries are great! I think they just keep getting better.”

Christmas is that season…that season of pleasant surprises…delicious smells…and family and friends to share the holidays with.

This Christmas, Sandy Bay’s lovable bakery owner, Meghan Truman, gets a whole lot more than she bargained for…plus a dead body at the door of her favorite restaurant. Some people would rather sweep this murder under the carpet but something smells awfully fishy about the events surrounding it.

Will Meghan join Detective Irvin to find the murderer or will this event serve to etch unpleasant memories of this most wonderful time of the year?

Twelve Days by Mark DawsonTwelve Days by Mark Dawson:

John Milton hasn’t seen Elijah Warriner for three years. The last time they met, Milton’s efforts to keep the boy safe didn’t go exactly to plan. Now Elijah is a promising boxer, preparing for the bout that will take him to the big time. Milton decides that he will spend the week before Christmas in London so that he can watch the fight.

But Elijah’s burgeoning fame has brought him to the attention of old acquaintances with long memories and grudges to bear. They have noticed Elijah, too, and decide that now is the time to settle old scores.

Can Milton keep the young man and his mother safe, or will Elijah’s old running mates get to him first?

Swamp Santa by Jana DeLeonSwamp Santa by Jana DeLeon:

It’s Christmas in Sinful and Fortune is set to participate in all the local hoopla. A Christmas gala, caroling, and a sleigh ride are on the agenda. Murder is not. But when someone bumps off Santa, Fortune is aware a killer is lurking among the holiday cheer. But with no client and no reason to interfere with a police investigation, it looks as if Fortune, Ida Belle, and Gertie will have to sit this one out.Big and Little Hebert might be criminals, but they prefer no competition in their territory, especially someone brazen enough to kill a man at the Christmas gala. When they hire Fortune to investigate the man’s death, she gets her Christmas wish and Swamp Team 3 sets out to solve their final case of the year.

Trepalli's Christmas by Marcelle DubéTrepalli’s Christmas by Marcelle Dubé:

It’s Christmas eve day and Constable Marco Trepalli of the Mendenhall Police Department can’t wait to be off shift. He’s planning a big surprise for his girlfriend, Amanda. Something special. Something romantic.

Then a kid doesn’t return home after sledding and Trepalli forgets all about his plans in the mad scramble to mobilize search parties and interview the kid’s friends. And as hour after hour slips by with no sign of the boy, Trepalli braces himself for what could turn into the worst Christmas ever… for him and the kid’s family.

Claus for Celebration by Laura DurhamClaus for Celebration by Laura Durham:

Wedding disasters are one thing. A missing Santa (who is presumed dead) is quite another.

This is no normal holiday season for DC’s top wedding planners. Not only is the weather too warm for their winter wonderland wedding, but their neighborhood’s singing Santa, Kris Kringle Jingle, is missing. On top of that, Annabelle’s engagement party is looming, and someone seems to be sabotaging their wedding plans. Can the Wedding Belles and their colorful crew find Santa, save the wedding, and stop the person who’s trying to make their lives a holly, jolly catastrophe?

Claus for Celebration is the 15th standalone book in the hilarious Annabelle Archer Wedding Planner Mystery series. If you like larger-than-life characters, madcap capers, and an insider’s look at glamorous society weddings, then you’ll love Laura Durham’s award-winning cozy mystery series.

Buy now to cozy up to this funny, festive holiday mystery today!

Winter Downs by Jan EdwardsWinter Downs by Jan Edwards:

Bunch Courtney stumbles upon the body of Jonathan Frampton in a woodland clearing. Is this a case of suicide, or is it murder? Bunch is determined to discover the truth but can she persuade the dour Chief Inspector Wright to take her seriously?

In January of 1940 a small rural community on the Sussex Downs, already preparing for invasion from across the Channel, finds itself deep in the grip of a snowy landscape, with an ice-cold killer on the loose.

 

Spirit of the Season by Cynthia E. HurstSpirit of the Season by Cynthia E. Hurst:

In a season of peace and goodwill, it was shocking for residents of the Cotswold town to learn a stranger had been murdered in their midst. It was even more shocking that he died on the doorstep of the town’s police inspector’s home as he was entertaining guests on Christmas Eve. It appeared Daniel Keegan’s only failing had been to fall in love with the wrong person, something that sends a chilling message to two of the inspector’s guests. Newlyweds Jacob Silver and Sarah Simm are used to criticism, but does Keegan’s death mean their own lives may be in danger?

‘Spirit of the Season’ is the eighth book in the Silver and Simm Victorian Mysteries series.

Potluck by Cynthia E. HurstPotluck by Cynthia E. Hurst:

The R&P Labs staff members are planning their Christmas potluck lunch when a stranger arrives on the doorstep with an announcement that threatens to turn several lives upside down. ’Tis the season to be wary, and in this short story, the five scientific sleuths have to do some rapid research to discover whether one of them will be getting a very unusual Christmas present.

 

 

Zukie's Gift by Cynthia E. HurstZukie’s Gift by Cynthia E. Hurst:

All sorts of things were donated for St Augustine’s Christmas bazaar — books, second-hand clothes, cookies, murder weapons …

Zukie’s Gift is a short story and part of the Zukie Merlino Mysteries series.

 

 

 

Big Top Treachery by CeeCee JamesBig Top Treachery by CeeCee James:

Christmas at the Circus!

What if the holly berry meant more than a cozy Christmas tradition? When Trixie, billed by the Concello circus as the world’s smallest Lady Godiva, finds a large ruby on the circus grounds, she thinks she’s one of the luckiest people on earth. Until she learns the stone’s past is stained as holly-red as the jewel itself. ??

When the police get involved, suspicion is cast not just on Trixie, but on her other friends at the circus. ??The pressure is on with Trixie getting threats from an anonymous source. When the calliope player is murdered, Trixie knows the threats she has been receiving aren’t just to scare her… she’ll be the next to die if she can’t find out the truth about the stone and unmask the murderer?

How Aunt Tillie Stole Christmas by Amanda M. LeeHow Aunt Tillie Stole Christmas by Amanda M. Lee:

Fourteen years ago, Christmas hit Walkerville with a bang. Or, rather, a big ball of fire.
When a local group home for orphaned children goes up in smoke right before the holidays, Tillie Winchester volunteers her family to take in some kids – even though her arch nemesis Margaret Little is dead-set against it. Of course, that’s part of the appeal for Tillie so she’s considering it a win.

Three boys – all of them with a little attitude – have no idea what to expect from the Winchester household. No matter what, Tillie is sure they’re about to get more than they bargained for. In short order, they’re welcomed into the family at the same time the town is on edge due to a second fire.

Tillie is determined to prove the boys are innocent while also finding them a forever home … even if she has to take on a local judge and declare all out war to do it.

So, hang your stockings by the fire and sit back for another Christmas with the Winchesters. You’ll never be the same again.

Note: This is a 28,000-word novella set in the Wicked Witches of the Midwest world. It’s set back in the past so it can be read in any order.

Cremas, Christmas Cookies and Crroks by Harper LinCremas, Christmas Cookies and Crooks by Harper Lin:

It’s almost Christmastime in Cape Bay, and another murder has everyone in town talking. A despised new drama teacher at the local high school is killed in the school’s parking lot. The police arrest a beloved teacher, Mrs. Crowsdale, but everyone else thinks she is too nice to murder anyone. Mike, however, says they have solid evidence that proves she did it.

Sammy is particularly devastated. Mrs. Crowsdale was her favorite teacher and still her hero. Sammy begs Fran to find the real culprit. Fran isn’t so sure. Mike would be angry with her for butting in on another case. And what if more danger befalls her? After all, there are some pretty dangerous people in town…

Includes 3 special recipes!

Fur-miliar Felines by Harper LinFur-miliar Felines by Harper Lin:

Three witches and their magical cats solve paranormal murder cases in the mystical town of Wonder Falls.

It’s Christmastime, but something strange and sinister is in the air. Treacle, Cath’s courageous black cat, can’t see what it is, but he feels a dangerous presence out there in the snow-blanketed streets.

Aunt Astrid also feels dark ripples in the dimensions. The Greenstone witches suspect this creature is somehow tied to the disappearance of two high school students. Soon, one of them turns up dead, half-eaten.

The holiday spirit is in full effect in Wonder Falls, but so is a puzzling and gruesome murder mystery.

Pilfered Promises by M. Louisa LockePilfered Promises by M. Louisa Locke:

Holiday cover edition: It is November, 1880, and the future looks promising for Annie and Nate Dawson. Nate’s law practice is taking off. Annie has made the transition from pretend clairvoyant to a successful financial consultant. And they are looking forward to spending their first Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays together.

For Robert Livingston, the owner San Francisco’s newest grand emporium, the holidays don’t look so promising. Not if he can’t figure out how to stop whoever is stealing from his department store, the Silver Strike Bazaar. However, when he hires the Dawsons to investigate, they discover that behind the doors of his “Palace of Plenty,” nothing is quite what it seems.

Pilfered Promises, a sweet cozy historical mystery, is the fifth novel in the Victorian San Francisco Mystery series featuring Annie and Nate Dawson and their friends and family in the O’Farrell Street boarding house and it comes right before the newest novella, Kathleen Catches a Killer

Kathleen Catches a Killer by M. Louisa LockeKathleen Catches a Killer by M. Louisa Locke:

It’s the very end of December, 1880, and the servant Kathleen Hennessey expects to spend a quiet week taking care of the O’Farrell Street boarding house while her employers, Annie and Nate Dawson, are off spending the Christmas holidays with Nate’s family. However, when she agrees to help out one of her friends, Kathleen discovers that a simple case of a servant being dismissed without notice has turned into a complicated puzzle that she is determined to solve.

While featuring minor characters from Locke’s Victorian San Francisco mystery series, Kathleen Catches a Killer contains all the light romance, humor, and suspense of the longer works. Chronologically, this novella comes right after the events in Pilfered Promises, but it can be read as a stand-alone and an excellent introduction to this mystery series about the gas-lit world of the late 19th century.

'Tis the Season by Jean Louise and Michael Yaworsky‘Tis the Season: Two short holiday stories by Jean Louise and Michael Yaworsky:

Heartwarming stories of comfort and joy….

In Stealing Christmas, two modern-day Robin Hoods use a little fa-la-la-la-larceny to bring cheer to those who could use it most.

Tipping Point is the story of a single act of generosity that sets a series of acts into motion, touching a surprising number of people with the holiday spirit.

 

Iced Inn by Karen MacInerneyIced Inn by Karen MacInerney:

It’s Christmastime at the Gray Whale Inn. The inn’s kitchen smells like ginger and spice, the ground is frosted with snow, and wedding bells are about to ring out for innkeeper Natalie’s favorite niece, Gwen. It’s a joyous time… until the families of the bride and groom descend on the island, bringing nasty tempers and a wicked winter storm with them. Add a baffling rash of thefts, a dash of romantic intrigue, and an unexpected power shutdown, and Natalie’s plans for a magical season are looking more like a recipe for disaster. Can Natalie find the missing gifts before the big holiday? And will the happy couple make it to the altar… or will the wedding go up in flames?

A Mind Reader's Christmas by Al MacyA Mind Reader’s Christmas by Al Macy:

Eric Beckman, a mind-reading private investigator, is spending Christmas in snowy Vermont with his wife and daughter. He needs a break from solving cases, but the townspeople convince him to look into the village mystery: Every holiday season, someone switches the baby Jesus with one of the other figures in the town’s Nativity scene.

With the help of his ten-year-old daughter, also a mind reader, he soon learns that some of the residents of the small town are not who–or even what–they seem to be. There’s something supernatural going on in Newburn, Vermont.

His investigation causes an escalation of strange happenings, and soon, swapped manger figures are the least of the town’s worries. If Beckman can’t adjust his view of the world–force himself to believe in things he never thought possible–the Christmas vacation could turn out to be his family’s last.

A Mind Reader’s Christmas may be read as a standalone book or as Book Four in the Eric Beckman series.

The Santa Claus of Mystic Springs by Mona MarpleThe Santa Claus of Mystic Springs by Mona Marple:

What if Father Christmas is on the naughty list?

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas in Mystic Springs, but all is not still or calm with the department store Santa.

The amateur dramatics club is full of big egos and legends-in-their-own-heads, so their spats aren’t unusual. But when the theatre owner is shot dead during the Christmas play, it’s Santa who pulls the trigger.

With the arrival of an unwelcome ex, a petition to end Discrimination Against Spirits, and a second attack by St Nick, the chances of a quiet Christmas seem to be quickly disappearing.

Has Santa really gone bad? Or is there more to it?

Town medium Connie and her dead sister Sage are both avoiding their own festive conundrums. A mistletoe murder is just the distraction they need.

Frostycake Murder by Summer PrescottFrostycake Murder by Summer Prescott:

MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM MISSY AND CHAS!!!

Life is full of surprises in the sleepy beachside town of Calgon, Florida, and the holiday season proves to be no exception. Echo faces a new reality that could change her life forever, Missy and Chas wrestle with the pain of facing their own limitations and uncertainties, while Spencer finds himself in a sticky situation relationally.

In the midst of all of the personal turmoil, a gruesome murder is discovered, and Chas once again has to take charge and hope that he finds the ruthless killer, before tragedy strikes a bit closer to home.

North Pole Unlimited by Elle RushNorth Pole Unlimited: Decker and Joy by Elle Rush:
Jaded P.I. Decker Harkness must track down a missing prototype if he wants a shot at a corporate security contract. Sexy cat-lady Joy McCall has her own investigation running after someone breaks into her animal shelter. When they cross paths during a triple kitten-napping, they’ll have to work together to close their cases. Will everyone make it home to celebrate a merry Christmas together?

Only Santa knows.

 

All I Want For Christmas is Wicked by Lotta SmithAll I Want for Christmas is Wicked by Lotta Smith:

Trees decorated, stockings full of presents, and another case to crack!

The Rowling family is gearing up for another Merry Christmas, and Mandy has her hands full with holiday prep, but how can she get into the spirit of the season when the victim in her latest case isn’t a ghost?

Twenty years ago, during a Christmas Eve blackout, Kevin Holt, the husband of a rich heiress, lost his memory in a fall down the stairs of their mansion. Now he’s discovered evidence that someone might have been trying to kill him, and all he wants for Christmas is to find out who. Since the resident ghost of the Holt house didn’t witness the attack, Rick and Mandy will have to rely on old fashioned sleuthing (and a little help from Mandy’s paranormal pal Jackie) to find out which of the four suspects is the culprit.

Meanwhile Rick has been saddled with novice investigator Cameron Gibson (call him Ace!) the son of one of USCAB’s wealthiest clients. Ace is trying to catch the creep stalking a New York City fashion model, but despite wanting Mandy to mentor him, one ghostly encounter has him seriously spooked.

A run in with a biker ghost and dancers in danger complicate the case, but the big question on Mandy’s mind is why does little Sophie want a bear trap for Christmas? Find out in this wickedly merry holiday installment of the Paranormal in Manhattan Mystery Series.

Blood and Mistletoe by E.J. StevensBlood and Mistletoe by E.J. Stevens:

Holidays are worse than a full moon for making people crazy. In Harborsmouth, where many of the residents are undead vampires or monstrous fae, the combination may prove deadly.

Ivy Granger, psychic private investigator, returns to the streets of Harborsmouth in this addition to the bestselling urban fantasy series.

Holidays are Hell, a point driven home when a certain demon attorney returns with information regarding a series of bloody murders. Five Harborsmouth residents have been killed and every victim has one thing in common–they are fae. Whoever is killing faeries must be stopped, but they only leave one clue behind–a piece of mistletoe floating in a pool of the victim’s blood.

The holidays just got interesting. Too bad this case may drive Ivy mad before the New Year. Heck, she’ll be lucky to survive Christmas.

Gusty Lovers and Cadavers by Anne R. TanGusty Lovers and Cadavers by Anne R. Tan:

Gusty winds…and a trail of destruction.

Graduate student Raina Sun is in for a season of mayhem and murder. When she volunteered to take the new foreign exchange student shopping on the last weekend before Christmas, she ended up in a riot for the last hot toy of the season and an abandoned baby. Sometimes it doesn’t pay to be a Good Samaritan.

But calling the mysterious phone number in the diaper bag leads to more questions than answers. A strange man claims to be the child’s father, and his alleged mother turns up dead. The local police are more interested in keeping the town’s good name out of international news than considering if there’s foul play. And to make matters worse, she has less than a week to find his birth parents before the FBI takes over the case.

Raina summons her sleuthing skills to protect this baby and soon discovers everyone has a few skeletons in their closets. With her pimp-cane-toting grandma, she must track down a hidden killer before she becomes the next victim. There’s no place for an amateur when it comes to murder…

Don’t miss out on Raina’s new adventure–get your copy of “Gusty Lovers and Cadavers” today!

Pineapple Gingerbread Men by Amy VansantPineapple Gingerbread Men by Amy Vansant:

Sheriff Frank asks newly-minted private detective Charlotte to help him crack the case, but she has no idea those darn gingerbread men will start showing up everywhere. What did Santa do that made them so angry? And what’s the secret in his colorful Christmas-themed bureau?

Charlotte is forced to split her time between searching for Santa’s killer and helping Declan’s crazy ex-Stephanie stop a corrupt district attorney in exchange for a book that could help solve more crimes in the future. She never thought she’d help calculating Stephanie with anything…but as this story comes to it’s shocking ending, you’ll find it could be Stephanie who’s finally bitten off more cookie than she can chew…

Tangled Destiny by Jenny WheelerTangled Destiny by Jenny Wheeler:

A promising proposal. A life-changing secret. Will she live out a lie or follow her heart?

New York, 1847. Elanora dreams of marrying her childhood sweetheart Eustace. The proposal on her 21st birthday is everything she hoped for, until her fiancé’s father dispatches him to the West Indies. After the promise of a white Christmas with the man she loves evaporates, she stumbles upon a secret that could tear Eustace’s family apart…

After a sudden death further sends Elanora reeling, she’s as vulnerable as ever until a gifted photographer comes to her rescue. With the tragic love triangle forming before her eyes and the secret burning within her, she has an impossible Christmas choice. Will Elanora obey the powerful men who want to control her or will she trigger generations of consequences by exposing the truth?

Tangled Destiny is a prequel novella to the Of Gold & Blood historical mystery series.

Run-A-Way for Christmas by Victoria L.K. WilliamsRun-A-Way for Christmas by Victoria L.K. Williams:

Christmas is all about children, but usually not all the children at once.

Megan and her faithful beagle Barney meet a gang of runaway children at the beach. Soon the investigative duo learn of exploitation, injury, and murder and with the help of FBI consultant Aiden and his dog, Gypsy, begin to investigate.

Megan’s family and friends rally round and share the joy of Christmas with the children who need it most, while Megan finds that Christmas is truly a time of love.

Elixirs and Elves by Astoria WrightElixirs and Elves by Astoria Wright:

The elves of Mount Vale are throwing a Christmas Party, and they’ve invited everyone! While the human residents of Moss Hill are excited to attend, many of the sidhe find the invitation beneath them. It’s no secret that they dislike mingling with non-faeries, but are they so hostile toward humans that one of them would commit murder? Carissa has never gotten along with the sidhe guard, but Varick of Vale has helped her on occasion. So, when he asks for her help after suspicion falls on him, it’s up to her to prove his innocence – if, that is, he isn’t guilty after all.

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Two new In Love and War stories and a new Thurvok story

It’s another commercial break of sorts, because I have not one but three new releases to announce. One of them is even a short novel. In fact, I’d hoped to announce those new releases before, but one vendor (24symbols – cough) was really dragging their feet to get the books up.

Let’s start with the two new In Love and War stories.

Mementos and Memories is another story to come out of the 2019 July short story challenge. The inspiration for this story was was the backcover blurb of a Jack Reacher novel, The Midnight Line by Lee Child, of all things. According to the blurb, Jack Reacher spots a West Point class ring in the window of a pawn shop and sets out to locate the owner, because no one would ever willingly give up such a ring. When I read the blurb, I thought, “Wow, this would be a great plot for an In Love and War story.” So I sent Mikhail and Anjali shopping in an intriguing environment and had them come across a Shakyri dagger.

Now I haven’t read The Midnight Line (I’m way behind on the Jack Reacher series), so I have no idea where Lee Child took his story. According to the summary, it involves the opoid crisis. Knowing the Jack Reacher series, I suspect there will be quite a lot of action and violence. That said, I’m pretty sure that Anjali and Mikhail would get along just swimmingly with Jack Reacher, should they ever find themselves in the same universe.

I sometimes call the In Love and War series cozy space opera and Mementos and Memories definitely falls onto the cozier end of the series. For following the trail of the dagger leads Anjali and Mikhail to a sweet elderly couple and a decades old tale of forbidden love. Because in an eighty-eight year war (actually, eighty-nine years by now), it’s kind of obvious that Anjali and Mikhail can hardly be the first to fall in love across the lines.

So follow along, as Anjali and Mikhail investigate…

Mementos and Memories
Mementos and Memories by Cora BuhlertOnce, Anjali Patel and Mikhail Grikov were soldiers on opposing sides of an intergalactic war. They met, fell in love and decided to go on the run together.

Now Anjali and Mikhail are trying to eke out a living on the independent worlds of the galactic rim, while attempting to stay under the radar of those pursuing them.

At a market on the tropical ocean world of Sentosa, Anjali and Mikhail come across a dagger for sale. This dagger is the signature weapon of the Imperial Shakyri Corps, and Anjali knows that no Shakyri warrior would ever willingly part with their dagger. So Anjali and Mikhail go in search of the lawful owner of the dagger and come across a long forgotten tale of forbidden love…

This is a story of 7300 words or approximately 25 print pages in the In Love and War series, but may be read as a standalone.

More information.
Length: 7300 words
List price: 0.99 USD, EUR or GBP
Buy it at Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Germany, Amazon France, Amazon Netherlands, Amazon Spain, Amazon Italy, Amazon Canada, Amazon Australia, Amazon Brazil, Amazon Japan, Amazon India, Amazon Mexico, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Apple iTunes, Google Play, Scribd, Smashwords, Thalia, Weltbild, Hugendubel, Buecher.de, DriveThruFiction, Casa del Libro, e-Sentral, 24symbols and XinXii.

If Mementos and Memories sits on the cozy end of the In Love and War series, Honourable Enemies sits on the opposite end, since it’s grimmer, grittier and has a lot more action. And gladiator fights in space, because who doesn’t love gladiator fights in space? Though there is also a food scene, because it wouldn’t be an In Love and War story without a food scene.

The basic idea behind Honourable Enemies was “What if Anjali and Mikhail were forced to work together with their greatest enemy, Mikhail’s former commander Colonel Brian Mayhew of the Republican Special Commando Forces?”

Now Brian Mayhew was initially conceived as as a rather one-dimensional antagonist whose only purpose it was to hunt down Anjali and Mikhail, a task he was very zealous about. You can see this version of Brian Mayhew in action in Bullet Holes and also in Freedom’s Horizon to a certain degree.

However, one day I was musing about the overall arc of the In Love and War series, particularly about a later novel in the series and something Mayhew does in that novel. I can’t say what exactly, because that would be a spoiler, but let’s just say it’s something pretty awful.

And suddenly, I heard Brian Mayhew’s booming voice in my head (yes, my characters talk to me on occasion), saying, “I wouldn’t do that. What do you take me for? I’m not a villain and I’m certainly not a monster.”

“Ahem, actually you are a villain,” I pointed out. “Or how do you explain all this?” And then I listed a lot of questionable to downright villainous things he had done.

“Well, about that…” Mayhew said and gave me a variation of the “It’s a dirty job, but someone’s got to do it and besides, I was just following orders” monologue.

I listened to all that and finally said, “All right, so let’s assume for a moment that you’re not a villain. Nonetheless, you’ve manoeuvred yourself into a situation where you have to do something awful. And you really can’t tell me you didn’t see that coming. So if you’re not a villain, what are you going to do about it?”

So he told me. And I suddenly realised just who this character was, namely the grizzled maverick space captain who is the hero of so many traditional space operas, turned reluctant villain. He became a lot more interesting as a character after that.

In the prequel novella Evacuation Order, we get see an unambiguously heroic Brian Mayhew before he joined the Special Commando Forces and also learn just why there is such a strong connection between him and Mikhail. There’s a little bit about Mayhew’s ongoing conflict with the Santerna brothers in that story, too.

And in Honourable Enemies, we finally learn what it takes to make Mayhew act against orders and go AWOL, ironically the very same offenses for which he persecutes Mikhail and Anjali so very mercilessly. A lot of the novel is told from his point of view, so we get a lot more insight into who Brian Mayhew is and what makes him tick. We also get to see Brian Mayhew in hero mode once more (even Anjali has to admit that) and we get the first hint that Mayhew is no more happy with the things he’s forced to do for the greater good than Mikhail.

Another strong influence on Honourable Enemies were the Italian sword and sandal epics that filled the airwaves when I was a kid. Now I grew up in the era of only three TV channels, which mostly focussed on wholesome and educational programming and felt that even Porky Pig of all things was too violent. However, for reasons best known to themselves, these wholesome and educational channels would broadcast Italian sword and sandal movies, which were anything but and a lot more violent than Porky Pig, too, on Sunday afternoons.

Those 1960s sword and sandal films were one of the most exciting things on TV in those days, featuring attractive women with fabulous hairstyles, scantily clad muscular men I found oddly pleasant to look at (there is a reason Arena fighters have to wear synth-leather shorts in the novel) and danger, death traps and narrow escapes galore. And at the climax, there was always a huge fight in the Arena, where the hero, his lover and all their friends were about to be executed and yet triumphed against all odds over wild beasts, enemy gladiators and death traps (unless it was a Hollywood attempt at a sword and sandal film, where everybody would die in the end and ascend to heaven singing Christian hymns).

I loved those movies and like anything you consume during an impressionable age, they left their mark on me and eventually found their way into my writing. And so I not only wrote a space gladiator novel, but I also named the world and many of its people after characters and actors from vintage sword and sandal films.

Maciste is the hero of a long-running series of sword and sandal movies that goes all the way back to the silent era. Maciste first appeared in 1914 in a historical epic called Cabiria, which was written by none other than Gabriele D’Annunzio himself. Cabiria eventually became the name of the capital of Maciste. The actor who portrayed the character of Maciste in all his silent film appearances was named Bartolomeo Pangano and was a dockworker before his film career. I borrowed his name for the Arena champion (who also used to be a dockworker before his gladiator career). And in fact, all Arena fighters are named after actors who played Maciste in various movies.

So follow along as Anjali and Mikhail are forced to work with their greatest enemy, Colonel Brian Mayhew of the Special Commando Forces, and have to face certain death in the Great Arena of Maciste in…

Honourable Enemies
Honourable Enemies by Cora BuhlertOnce, Colonel Brian Mayhew was the deputy commander of the Republican Special Commando Forces. But now he’s gone AWOL to take out crime lord Rick Santerna, the man who murdered his family.

Mayhew’s quest for vengeance brings him to the rim world of Maciste, where he runs into his former protégé Mikhail Grikov, now wanted as a traitor and deserter for eloping with enemy soldier Anjali Patel.

Mayhew knows that it’s his duty to bring in Mikhail and Anjali. But with Santerna hot his tail, he finds that he needs their help.

Mikhail and Anjali know that Brian Mayhew is a threat to their freedom and their new life together. But now they are faced with a hard choice. Should they risk their lives to help a man who could condemn them both to death or should they let Mayhew die in the Great Arena of Maciste?

More information.
Length: 57000 words
List price: 3.99 USD, EUR or 2.99 GBP
Buy it at Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Germany, Amazon France, Amazon Netherlands, Amazon Spain, Amazon Italy, Amazon Canada, Amazon Australia, Amazon Brazil, Amazon Japan, Amazon India, Amazon Mexico, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Apple iTunes, Google Play, Scribd, Smashwords, Thalia, Weltbild, Hugendubel, Buecher.de, DriveThruFiction, Casa del Libro, e-Sentral, 24symbols and XinXii.

However, I’m not the only one who has a new release to announce. Richard Blakemore, hardworking pulp fiction writer by day and the masked vigilante only known as the Silencer by night, also has a new release to announce.

Now one of the risks of having a character who’s also a writer is that he occasionally wants you to write one of his stories for him. This is how the Thurvok series came to be. And now Richard wants to branch out into science fiction, too, though you won’t get to see the results until next year. Initially, I never wanted to use a pen name, but by now I actually like having a name under which I can publish deliberately retro stories and distinguish them from my other work. And besides, I make it very clear that Richard is me.

Like most of the Thurvok stories to date, The Temple of the Snake God came out of the July short story challenge. Like many of the July short story challenge stories, The Temple of the Snake God was partly inspired by a piece of fantasy art, namely the 1970 painting “Green Death” by Frank Frazetta.

The other inspiration was what eventually became the first line of the story, as uttered by Meldom, “It’s an easy job. Go in, grab the eye of the idol and get out.” Of course, anybody who has read any of the Thurvok stories knows that Meldom’s easy jobs inevitably come with a catch.

Zanya did not appear in the initial draft of the story. But when I was looking for cover art, I came across the perfect image. There was only one problem. The image featured a beautiful black warrior woman, but there was no such character in the story itself. So I thought, “Why don’t I write such a character into the story?” And so, Zanya was born, a young woman who wants to save her sister from being sacrificed to the snake god Tseghirun. In retrospect, the story works actually better with the addition of Zanya, because she gives our heroes a concrete reason to deviate from their original plan and rescue the girls. The girls actually did get rescued in the original draft, too, but our heroes simply deciding to do the right thing made for a weaker story overall. Not to mention that I like Zanya a lot and will certainly revisit her one day.

Some people will probably believe that a black woman would never have appeared as a heroic character in an actual 1930s pulp story. They are wrong, for in fact, there were quite a few pulp stories which featured characters of colour in non-stereotyped and even heroic roles. The most famous examples are probably Eric John Stark, Leigh Brackett’s interplanetary adventurer, and Josh and Rosabel Newton, an educated African American couple who aided the pulp hero The Avenger, but there are several others. Of course, Zanya would likely not have been featured on the cover of an actual 1930s pulp magazine. Even Eric John Stark was not depicted as a black man on the covers of his own adventures until 2008, almost sixty years after the character was introduced in the pages of Planet Stories.

So accompany Thurvok, Meldom, Sharenna, Lysha and Zanya as they venture into…

The Temple of the Snake God
The Temple of the Snake God by Cora BuhlertIt was supposed to be an easy job. Go in, grab the eye of the idol and get out.

But the temple of the snake god Tseghirun turns out to be unexpectedly busy, when Thurvok, the sellsword, and his friends, Meldom, thief, cutpurse and occasional assassin, the sorceress Sharenna and Meldom’s sweetheart Lysha attempt to steal the eye. Not only is there a ceremony going on at the temple, no, the cultists are also about to sacrifice several young girls to the snake god Tseghirun. And so what started out as a simple heist quickly turns into a rescue mission.

This is a short story of 6200 words or approximately 22 print pages in the Thurvok sword and sorcery series, but may be read as a standalone. Includes an introduction and afterword.

More information.
Length: 6200 words
List price: 0.99 USD, EUR or GBP
Buy it at Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Germany, Amazon France, Amazon Netherlands, Amazon Spain, Amazon Italy, Amazon Canada, Amazon Australia, Amazon Brazil, Amazon Japan, Amazon India, Amazon Mexico, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Apple iTunes, Google Play, Scribd, Smashwords, Thalia, Weltbild, Hugendubel, Buecher.de, DriveThruFiction, Casa del Libro, e-Sentral, 24symbols and XinXii.

By the way, you can also get both the entire In Love and War series and the entire Thurvok series in a handy bundle at a reduced price at DriveThruFiction.

And that’s it for today. There will be at least one more new release announcement before the holidays. I hope to publish a Christmas story this year – after all, I have been publishing a holiday story every year since 2013. And Richard Blakemore has also been busy, both as the Silencer and the author of the Thurvok stories. I’ll also have some non-book announcements to make.

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Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month for November 2019

Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month
It’s that time of the month again, time for “Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month”.

So what is “Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month”? It’s a round-up of speculative fiction by indie authors newly published this month, though some October books I missed the last time around snuck in as well. The books are arranged in alphabetical order by author. So far, most links only go to Amazon.com, though I may add other retailers for future editions.

Once again, we have new releases covering the whole broad spectrum of speculative fiction. This month, we have epic fantasy, urban fantasy, historical fantasy, gaslamp fantasy, sword and sorcery, paranormal mystery, paranormal romance, fantasy romance, time travel romance, science fiction romance, planetary romance, space opera, military science fiction, military fantasy, dystopian fiction, alternate history, Steampunk, horror, vampires, ghosts, gods, aliens, space marines, planet killers, gladiators in space, virgin sacrifices, crime-busting witches, autumn on Mars, the afterlife in Amsterdam and much more.

Don’t forget that Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month is also crossposted to the Speculative Fiction Showcase, a group blog run by Jessica Rydill and myself, which features new release spotlights, guest posts, interviews and link round-ups regarding all things speculative fiction several times per week.

As always, I know the authors at least vaguely, but I haven’t read all of the books, so Caveat emptor.

And now on to the books without further ado:

The Arkhel Conundrum by Sarah AshThe Arkhel Conundrum by Sarah Ash:

“But what happened to Gavril and Kiukiu after Children of the Serpent Gate? When is the sequel coming out?”

Readers have been asking me this question ever since Book 3 of The Tears of Artamon was published – and at last I’ve had the chance to provide an answer in Book 4: The Arkhel Conundrum.

Azhkendir, land of snow and shadows, harbours many secrets – and a powerful ancient winter deity is awakened when a foreign mining company begins to strip out the rare mineral resources beneath the mountains. Old clan hatreds are stirred up. The High Steward of Azhkendir, Lord Gavril, and his wife, Spirit Singer Kiukiu, hope to seek help from the Emperor Eugene. But their onetime enemy turned ally is distracted by his competition to build a flying machine. Is someone from their past trying to destabilize the fragile peace of the empire? Or are there supernatural forces involved? The Magus, Kaspar Linnaius, may have the answers…but he has disappeared and no one knows where he is or how to contact him.

God Given, Book 1 by Odette C. BellGod Given, Book 1 by Odette C. Bell:

“Every god will hunt you. They will not stop. There will be nowhere safe on the face of this planet. From now until the day you die, you will have to run.”
Those were the words that started everything. Casey was once normal – now she’s the most important piece in a game for the world.
She’s dragged into the realm of gods. It is violent, it’s tortured, and at its heart is a man she’s never been able to forget.

 

The Temple of the Snake God by Cora BuhlertThe Temple of the Snake God by Richard Blakemore and Cora Buhlert:

It was supposed to be an easy job. Go in, grab the eye of the idol and get out.

But the temple of the snake god Tseghirun turns out to be unexpectedly busy, when Thurvok, the sellsword, and his friends, Meldom, thief, cutpurse and occasional assassin, the sorceress Sharenna and Meldom’s sweetheart Lysha attempt to steal the eye. Not only is there a ceremony going on at the temple, no, the cultists are also about to sacrifice several young girls to the snake god Tseghirun. And so what started out as a simple heist quickly turns into a rescue mission.

This is a short story of 6200 words or approximately 22 print pages in the Thurvok sword and sorcery series, but may be read as a standalone. Includes an introduction and afterword.

Honourable Enemies by Cora BuhlertHonourable Enemies by Cora Buhlert:

Once, Colonel Brian Mayhew was the deputy commander of the Republican Special Commando Forces. But now he’s gone AWOL to take out crime lord Rick Santerna, the man who murdered his family.

Mayhew’s quest for vengeance brings him to the rim world of Maciste, where he runs into his former protégé Mikhail Grikov, now wanted as a traitor and deserter for eloping with enemy soldier Anjali Patel.

Mayhew knows that it’s his duty to bring in Mikhail and Anjali. But with Santerna hot his tail, he finds that he needs their help.

Mikhail and Anjali know that Brian Mayhew is a threat to their freedom and their new life together. But now they are faced with a hard choice. Should they risk their lives to help a man who could condemn them both to death or should they let Mayhew die in the Great Arena of Maciste?

This is a short novel of 57000 words or approximately 200 print pages in the “In Love and War” series, but may be read as a standalone.

Planet Killer by Lindsay BurokerPlanet Killer by Lindsay Buroker:

Casmir has survived against impossible odds, and now he longs to return home. But an invasion force is blockading the Kingdom’s wormhole gate, and it would be suicidal to fly through it now. Worse, his family and friends are stuck on the other side, with hostile forces attacking their home world.

The only way Casmir can help is to find out who’s behind the invasion… and convince him to stop.

But Casmir isn’t known for his ability to strong-arm people, and this is one enemy who won’t be won over by his friendly demeanor. As he soon finds out, he must face the very rich and very powerful person who’s been trying to have him killed for months.

Tooth and Blade by Shad CallisterTooth and Blade by Shad Callister:

Desperate young warriors fighting for gold and glory in a land filled with monsters.

The warriors of the Tooth and Blade will fight for Ostora, to protect the people of this new land from the dangers that stalk it. Somehow, if they live long enough, they hope to find a place for themselves here.

But the future of these fighting men is anything but certain, and Captain Pelekarr of the cavalry must work quickly with Damicos of the foot soldiers to establish the fledgling company’s reputation. The Kerathi military has pulled out, and the barbarian tribesmen are massing for battle while huge monsters lurk in the trees.

If the Tooth and Blade can fight their way past all this, they’ll become legends. But how many will die trying?

Before the Darkness by April CanavanBefore the Darkness by April Canavan:

Never stand in the way of fate.

Winter gave up on the human realm after she lost the love of her life. Being a witch didn’t stop the pain, and neither did the enchanted sleep she put herself in. She wakes up to a whole new world, and a mission given to her by the Mother of All.

Help two people fall in love.

Sarah’s a mortal, and Zander…well he’s the next in line for the vampire throne. As they welcome the attraction between them, Winter’s faced with a dilemma. Fate has other plans for Sarah and Zander. Winter finds herself having to choose between two impossible situations: let the love blooming between Sarah and Zander thrive now and destroy their worlds, or Winter can come to terms with the fact that no one escapes their fate.

Beauty by Stacy ClaflinBeauty by Stacy Claflin:

Chase Williams is desperate to find Penelope Jackson, and the only shot he has is by locating a specific mirror. Even then, his chances are slim. He can’t operate it, so she’d have to tumble through it to his exact time.

Penelope has been traveling through various years in her history in search of her parents’ killers. She’d been with the agency so long, she can hardly remember life before. She relies on her trusty mirror to take her to the times and places she needs to go.

Then one day, she stumbles out into a strange new place… and meets a man who clearly knows who she is. But she’s never seen him before—of that much, she’s sure. Unless her future self has? The possibilities are too numerous to count, and the implications could be disastrous. Is this man trustworthy or out to get her?

Giving her heart over could be the only way to find out for sure. Or it could lead to her ultimate demise. And maybe the destruction of time as we know it.

Hollow Heart by Ben EadsHollow Heart by Ben Eads:

Welcome to Shady Hills, Florida, where death is the beginning and pain is the only true Art…

Harold Stoe was a proud Marine until an insurgent’s bullet relegated him to a wheelchair. Now the only things he’s proud of are quitting alcohol and raising his sixteen-year-old son, Dale.

But there is an infernal rhythm, beating like a diseased heart from the hollow behind his home. An aberration known as The Architect has finished his masterpiece: A god which slumbers beneath the hollow, hell-bent on changing the world into its own image.

As the body count rises and the neighborhood residents change into mindless, shambling horrors, Harold and his former lover, Mary, begin their harrowing journey into the world within the hollow. If they fail, the hollow will expand to infinity. Every living being will be stripped of flesh and muscle, their nerves wrapped tightly around ribcages, so The Architect can play his sick music through them loud enough to swallow what gives them life: The last vestiges of a dying star.

Crimson Yuletide by Rachel FordCrimson Yuletide by Rachel Ford:

Autumn gone off to sleep
And winter her secrets no more keep
Rises he from the deep
Flesh to flay and flesh to eat

Twelve days of Christmas. Twelve days of terror and death.

An ancient evil prowls the quiet streets of Wixcombe. An old man is murdered in the town square. Children disappear in the night. Villagers report sightings of Krampus, the Christmas demon.

For siblings Nan and William Fitzgerald, the season began with a promise of new loves and Christmas magic. But they find themselves in the eye of the storm when their godfather becomes the prime suspect in the killings.

To protect both the women they love and their village, the siblings must discover Krampus’ true identity. But they might not like the answers they find…

Wicked Decisions by Lily Harper HartWicked Decisions by Lily Harper Hart:

Ivy Morgan is getting married, which means she needs a dress. Now that she’s finally embraced the idea of planning for the wedding (rather than just enjoying the marriage and honeymoon) she’s gung-ho to check things off her list.

The local dressmaker Zelda Morris has just the thing for Ivy. Before she can show it to her, though, she’s murdered in the back of her own store … while Ivy waits for her to return to the storefront. Unfortunately for Ivy, because she didn’t hear a thing, that makes her a suspect.

Jack Harker isn’t happy with the turn of events. He knows Ivy is innocent but he’s in a precarious position. If word gets out that he’s protecting his fiancée, then the Michigan State Police could take over the investigation, and he’s worried they might fixate on Ivy. That means he has to dig deep for answers … and what he finds is troubling.

It seems Zelda was only one of a multitude of women dating local lothario Henry Spencer, a man who has more girlfriends than brains. One of those girlfriends happens to be Ivy’s aunt, Felicity Goodings, which means the long eye of the law falls directly on both of them.

It’s up to Jack and Ivy to untangle a mess of motives and suspects, which include her beloved aunt. That causes issues with Ivy’s mother, who is loyal to her sister to a fault.

It’s a tense time, and it only gets worse when Ivy decides to embrace her magic and use it to solve the case.

There’s a killer on the loose and Ivy might be a target because she can’t keep her nose out of trouble. She needs to discover a killer, avoid this individual’s wrath, and continue planning her wedding if she wants a happily ever after.

It’s going to be a tall task.

A Riddle in Bronze by Simon HaynesA Riddle in Bronze by Simon Haynes:

Ghostly goings-on in Victorian London…

An elderly professor and his daughter advertise for an expert bookkeeper. Instead, they employ a naive young man with very little experience.

But what if keeping the books is not the real reason they hired him? What if they have an ulterior motive?

London, England, 1871.

When I applied for a position with Professor Twickham and his daughter, I lied about my qualifications.

As it turns out, they lied about the job for which I was applying.

Had we not been so untruthful with each other, there might have been fewer night terrors stalking the inhabitants of the City.

Fewer unexplained disappearances.

Fewer deaths.

Now, nobody is safe from the creeping horrors we’ve unleashed.

With no time to spare, we face an impossible task: we must discover the mysteries in metal in order to right this wrong.

But is it already too late?

Floodtide by Heather Rose JonesFloodtide by Heather Rose Jones:

The streets are a perilous place for a young laundry maid dismissed without a character for indecent acts. Roz knew the end of the path for a country girl alone in the city of Rotenek. A desperate escape in the night brings her to the doorstep of Dominique the dressmaker and the hope of a second chance beyond what she could have imagined. Roz’s apprenticeship with the needle, under the patronage of the royal thaumaturgist, wasn’t supposed to include learning magic, but Celeste, the dressmaker’s daughter, draws Roz into the mysterious world of the charm-wives. When floodwaters and fever sweep through the lower city, Celeste’s magical charms could bring hope and healing to the forgotten poor of Rotenek, but only if Roz can claim the help of some unlikely allies.

Set in the magical early 19th century world of Alpennia, Floodtide tells an independent tale that interweaves with the adventures.

The Towering Flame by Robert I. Katz The Towering Flame by Robert I. Katz:

Once, long ago, the Empire of Mankind spread among the stars, but the Empire fell into civil war and anarchy, leaving every human inhabited world across the galaxy to go its own way.

Today, after two thousand years of isolation, the Viceroy rules over seven nations on one long-abandoned planet. He alone possesses any vestige of the technology left behind by the vanished Empire and he uses it to rule with an iron fist in a velvet glove.

But below the surface, ambitious men are struggling for power and rebellion is simmering.

Terence Allen is the third son of a wealthy father. Terence is satisfied with his life. He has few responsibilities, fewer challenges and little desire to change.

Terence Allen is an unlikely catalyst for rebellion, but Terence’s destiny changes the moment he sees Thierry Jorge Garcia striding toward him one night at the Summer Fair in Varanisi, the Viceroy’s city. Thierry, the heir to a long-standing military tradition, will let nothing keep him from pursuing Irina Archer, the woman he had known and loved as a young man in far-off Cathay, the woman who is now Terence Allen’s fiancée.

The feud that results will have repercussions far beyond the borders of the city, as the seven nations seethe with conspiracies, rumors and strife. A war that has been brewing for over a century is coming, a war that will upend the foundations of both men’s world.

Witchin' Around the Clock by Amanda M. LeeWitchin’ Around the Clock by Amanda M. Lee:

Witches are descending on Hemlock Cove and the town is gearing up for mayhem. Bay Winchester is ready to cover the event for her newspaper, and is excited to see faces she hasn’t interacted with in more than a decade.

Then the unthinkable happens.

The local blacksmith shop catches fire and Bay and her cousin Thistle risk death to try and rescue the owner. Unfortunately, they’re too late, and the man is unable to be resuscitated. Not only that, but it wasn’t the fire that killed him. No, he was murdered.

Bay can’t shake the feeling that something bad is about to happen. Harbingers of the feathered variety are filling the sky … and threatening attack. Dark magic is at work, and someone is plotting multiple deaths.

It’s up to Bay and her family to save the day, and they have to do it before cousin Clove gets married on the summer solstice. It’s a big day for the family, and a big moment for Bay. She’s the center of attention as the clock ticks down, the weight of the world on her shoulders.

The Winchesters won’t sit back and wait for a fight to come to them, they’ll go after the fight … and this is no exception. As death comes calling, they will answer.

Sit back and enjoy the ride. Love, marriage, death, and destruction are about to collide. You won’t want to miss a thing.

Blood of the Prime: Spark by Erin MacMichaelBlood of the Prime: Spark by Erin MacMichael:

New bonds, new abilities. Will they be enough to change the game?

Rhys’s fiery union with Karra brings seeds of change rippling through his awareness. No longer afraid of Biak’s harassment, he uses the bizarre connection between them to launch his own quest to stop the reptile.

When Biak unleashes his war on the Maians, he encounters some unexpected surprises. Certain that the young pilot is interfering with his campaign, his obsession with Rhys escalates into rage and his strikes into Maia and Alcyone become brazen and deadly.

While the fleet meets Biak’s assaults head-on, Rhys travels with Karra to a geometric city in the Dreamcore where he senses the invisible presence of the T’nari League, a legendary group reputed to be fighting the Drahk. Driven to connect with the slippery League, he leads his family and friends on a journey to unlock the power of sexuality, blood, gold–and choice.

–”I’m just a match to light the fire. Before we’re done with this ride, we’ll all be up in flames.”

Sad All Over by Gideon MarcusSad All Over by Gideon Marcus:

I want to doff my hat in memory of an event that pummeled the nation. I don’t think any of us have any difficulty remembering the terrible events of Dallas that day. But shortly thereafter, as Beatlemania was sweeping the nation in the wake of the Fab Four’s appearance on the Ed Sullivan show, the dark part of my brain came up with a way that November 22, 1963 could have been even worse.

 

 

Haunted Hearts by Christine PopeHaunted Hearts by Christine Pope:

His prison lives in his very bones. She holds the key that could free him… or break him.

Elena Salazar doesn’t exactly have permission to house-sit, but she’s sure her cousin Ava won’t mind the not-quite break-in. After all, Ava would want her to feel safe. And free. Two concepts Elena’s still adjusting to after eleven years a prisoner in her own home, thanks to her terrifying ability to summon demons.

She manages to make peace with the resident ghost in Ava’s house, but she has to do some really fast talking when a tattooed, tautly muscled warlock shows up with Ava’s keys in his hand and deep-seated pain in his troubled eyes.

The Salvadoran Escobar clan is healing under new primus Gabriel’s leadership. But no one is likely to forget that the cruel former primus used Alessandro Escobar and his fearful gift as a weapon, unwilling though he was. When Gabriel sends him to Ava’s house for an extended “vacation,” Alessandro packs his bags with a heavy heart.

No one warned him the house was already occupied.

Elena is beautiful, skittish, fragile, with a demon for a friend and a nervous habit of hiding behind her books and her art. Alessandro drinks in her sweetness like water from a desert spring. But if he dares reveal who he is, what he is, the key to her heart could vanish, leaving him the lonely prisoner of his gift.

This time, for good.

Doll Crimes by Karen RungeDoll Crimes by Karen Runge:

‘It’s not that there aren’t good people in the world. It’s that the bad ones are so much easier to find.’

A teen mother raises her daughter on a looping road trip, living hand-to-mouth in motel rest stops and backwater towns, stepping occasionally into the heat and chaos of the surrounding cities. A life without permanence, filled with terrors and joys, their stability is dependent on the strangers—and strange men—they meet along the way. But what is the difference between the love of a mother, and the love of a friend? And in a world with such blurred lines, where money is tight and there’s little outside influence, when does the need to survive slide into something more sinister?

Proudly represented by Crystal Lake Publishing—Tales from the Darkest Depths.

Charon's Song by Skolion Authors CollectiveCharon’s Song by the Skolion Authors Collective:

A collection of stories by the Skolion Authors Collective.

In the Greek myths Charon is the ferryman who helps the dead across the rivers that separate the lands of the living from the underworld. Like Charon, each writer in this collection is a guide and guardian. Some of their stories are gentle and hopeful, some tell of betrayal and despair. There are tales set in the future of our Earth, or in magical realms of fantasy. Every story helps us look fearlessly into the face of death.

Step into the boat, gentle reader, and join us on this journey through the dark.
Stories by: Laurie Janey, Nerine Dorman, Cristy Zinn, Tallulah Lucy, Icy Sedgwick, Toby Bennett, Suzanne van Rooyen, Yolandie Horak, Masha du Toit, Cat Hellisen

Edited by Masha du Toit and Nerine Dorman

Autumn on Mars by SMAAutumn on Mars by SMA:

Tripp doesn’t know who he is, how he got here, or why this gorgeous man with dark eyes is the only familiar thing in sight.

But he does know this:
It’s Autumntide on Mars and love is in the air!

—Embrace the wonders of Fall in this dreamy and evocative MM seasonal romance—
Louisa May Alcott meets the science fantasy of Ray Bradbury!

Tripp is a young employee of the Division, corporate authority in the Crater region. Reserved and sardonic, he’s inexplicably drawn to Dolan—a goofy, enthusiastic romantic with a body made to remember.

But it’s not just strong arms pulling Tripp toward this onyx-eyed man. Both colleagues are victims of amnesia caused by their recent interplanetary re-assignment. Though they don’t even recognize themselves, they’re driven by intense chemistry that feels too familiar to be coincidence …

With work suspended for the month-long Autumntide festival, can Tripp let his walls down and learn to love—even when he’s a stranger in his own head?

Experience the festivities as two lost souls find each other—again—under the ochre skies of Autumn on Mars.

The Journey by SMAThe Journey by SMA:

The Routine’s dominion is cracking. Can Owen pick up the pieces in time to save humanity?

Step into the realm of the Routine once again in this sensually adventurous continuation of the Twisting Fates saga.

A MIND-BENDING SCI-FI ADVENTURE CONTINUES
It’s not every day you fall in love and get sent to assassinate an AI god.

Dispatched to discover the truth about the missing colony on Mars, Owen finds allies in unexpected conditions, and explores the depths of new love.

But nothing can be taken for granted under the AI’s shadow. The Routine is dangerous, and the man Owen is sleeping next to every night might be its most vicious secret weapon.

Cut off from the world, the young Initiate must confront the strength in his own heart—and be prepared to lose everything. What awaits them on Mars, and can he really trust his new allies? Each discovery leads closer to the truth, but there’s one fact Owen will never forget:

The Routine is lying to us all.

Join the journey as Owen pursues the secrets of the Routine—and learns the endless bounds of love and his own desire.

An immersively mysterious sci-fi romance adventure that spans the solar system!

Helter Witchelter by Lotta SmithHelter Witchelter by Lotta Smith:

A haunted mansion in a beautiful town… A chilling ghost awaiting for his next prey… Throw in a newbie witch realtor!

Fio Valentine is starting to settle into her sometimes vexing job in the Haunted and Hexed Properties Management Department of Quest Realty, but when her friend Suze invites her on a weekend trip to Santa Barbara, she’s less than excited about visiting yet another haunted house.

Rumored to be hosting the ghost of a wealthy businessman, the mansion could hold a clue to the disappearance of Chris Adams, the older brother of her foxy boss Jack, and since Jack has decided his current assignment is too dangerous for her, Fio takes Suze up her offer, her spirit animal Champ in tow.

Can Fio solve the mystery of the ghost in the garden and earn some points with Jack at same time? Find out in Book Three of the Witches Guide to Haunted Properties.

Night Raiders by James David VictorNight Raiders by James David Victor:

All the universe’s answers lie in the depths of space where it’s black as night.

Anders and Dalia have escaped and now know who the real enemy is. Their only chance to stop them is to venture into the depths of space that can steal a man’s soul. And sanity. They soon learn that there are more players involved and none of them are likely to care if they succeed or fail. Can they find a weapon that can defeat the Throne or will they fall to the raiders from the dark reaches of space?

Night Raiders is the third book in the Memories of Earth space opera series. If you enjoy stories in fantastic worlds of aliens, space travel, and genetic engineering, the Memories of Earth series will be right up your alley.

Into Bones Like Oil by Kaaron WarrenInto Bones Like Oil by Kaaron Warren:

“A tale of creeping dread … Recommended.” —Tade Thompson, author of Rosewater and The Murders of Molly Southbourne

“Dark, disturbing, visceral” (5 stars) —NB Magazine

In this gothic-styled ghost story that simmers with strange, Warren shows once again her flair for exploring the mundane—themes of love, loss, grief, and guilt manifest in a way that is both hauntingly familiar and eerily askew.

People come to The Angelsea, a rooming house near the beach, for many reasons. Some come to get some sleep, because here, you sleep like the dead. Dora arrives seeking solitude and escape from reality. Instead, she finds a place haunted by the drowned and desperate, who speak through the sleeping inhabitants. She fears sleep herself, terrified that the ghosts of her daughters will tell her “it’s all your fault we’re dead.” At the same time, she’d give anything to hear them one more time.

Fate by Kirtsen WeissFate by Kirsten Weiss:

Something wicked this way comes…

Witch Jayce Bonheim has spent the last four months waiting for a horde of dark magicians to come to town.

Now, they’ve arrived, embedded in a traveling circus.

And they’re bigger and badder than this ex-party girl could have imagined, wreaking havoc wherever they go.

But when a murder rocks her small town, Jayce must stop the chaos. Walking a tightrope between dark spells and past regrets, can Jayce stop a murderer and stop these magicians from transforming the world forever?

Silver Search by Rock WhitehouseSilver Search by Rock Whitehouse:

It’s been just six months since the unprovoked, brutal attack on Inoria that killed tens of thousands. The enemy has paid a price in the deep-space skirmishes since but seems in no mind to retire. But, what, in fact, is the enemy mind? What, in the end, do they want?

Carol Hansen and her Antares shipmates are going back to solve the mystery they found at Beta Hydri, taking a retinue of academics with them.

David Powell survived Sigma’s battle, dragging that battered ship to safety. Now promoted and on Columbia with his old friend Dan Smith in command, a new role, indeed, a new life, begins for him.

Joanne Henderson’s Intrepid continues its silent mission among the nearby stars, while Natalie Hayden and Ben Price begin to find connections beyond what happens inside a Sentinel.

But back at Fleet HQ, there is growing frustration about how to run a war when a light-year-per-day just doesn’t seem nearly fast enough.

Mary van Amsterdam and the Tragically Dead in RecoveryMary van Amsterdam and the Tragically Dead in Recovery by M.P. Wilhelm:

Now that Mary van Amsterdam is dead, she can finally live.

The Amsterdam Afterlife empowered Mary, in a way she’d only dreamed of in the living realm. She’s devoted herself to the Tragically Dead in Recovery—quirky dead animals, struggling to come to terms with the trauma of their untimely deaths. Their macabre appearance and occasionally prickly personalities reflect each one’s painful demise. Just when Mary thinks she has a handle on things, her eccentric sanctuary comes under attack by a rogue soul reaper who threatens to upend her posthumous ambition.

Mary has her own emotional baggage. Mortally separated from her friends and family, she’s moving on. There’s little time for reflection on her past. Her hands are full, supporting a troubled dead horse on his Deathday, and making a journey to Prague to rescue a newly deceased raven. Troubles multiply when Mary finds herself face-to-face with the stalking menace, reopening painful emotions from her tragic time among the living.

Can Mary stay on track and protect her vulnerable companions?

Follow Mary and her menagerie of misfits, as she discovers new, mystical abilities to manage the new, menacing threat. Will this change the course of the Amsterdam Afterlife forever?

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Indie Crime Fiction of the Month for November 2019

Welcome to the latest edition of “Indie Crime Fiction of the Month”.

So what is “Indie Crime Fiction of the Month”? It’s a round-up of speculative fiction by indie authors newly published this month, though some October books I missed the last time around snuck in as well. The books are arranged in alphabetical order by author. So far, most links only go to Amazon.com, though I may add other retailers for future editions.

Our new releases cover the broad spectrum of crime fiction. We have harboiled mysteries, cozy mysteries, small town mysteries, animal mysteries, culinary mysteries, historical mysteries, regency mysteries, jazz age mysteries, 1940s mysteries paranormal mysteries, crime thrillers, adventure thrillers, action thrillers, medical thrillers, legal thrillers, spy thrillers, police officers, private investigators, FBI agents, amateur sleuths, lawyers, murdered judges, murdered vicars, terrorists, spies, cults, crime-busting bakers, crime-busting witches, crime-busting realtors, crime-busting witch realtors, suicide sonatas, hijacked drones, mayhem and murder in country mansions, hospitals and the circus, in Florida, the Appalachians, Napa Valley, Hollywood, Washington D.C., the Cotswolds and much more.

Don’t forget that Indie Crime Fiction of the Month is also crossposted to the Indie Crime Scene, a group blog which features new release spotlights, guest posts, interviews and link round-ups regarding all things crime fiction several times per week.

As always, I know the authors at least vaguely, but I haven’t read all of the books, so Caveat emptor.

And now on to the books without further ado:

A Simple Country Killing by Blythe BakerA Simple Country Killing by Blythe Baker:

Death, and Helen Lightholder, return to Brookminster with the murder of the village vicar. As Helen investigates the ghastly crime, she soon finds herself a suspect of the local police. To clear her name and protect her friends, Helen must discover the truth and outwit a devious killer.

But Helen’s personal life is not without its own mysteries and one of them continues to stalk her in the shadows…

 

 

Fall's Killer Vintage by Anne Celeste BurkeFall’s Killer Vintage by Anne Celeste Burke:

In wine country, a federal judge is murdered and Aunt Lettie’s old friend, Judge Colin Brinkley, quickly becomes a suspect.

Lily, Austin, and her friends are excited about the Calla Lily Winery vintages entered in the fall Taste of Napa Challenge. The event turns out to be more challenging than anyone imagined when a fire ends the awards ceremony before the winners are announced. The plot thickens when police become concerned that one of the wines entered in the competition may have been a killer vintage. The U.S. Marshal Service is on the job, but when Aunt Lettie’s old friend becomes a suspect, Lily and her friends are soon caught up in the mystery too. Is the murder of a federal judge about trouble at a winery, the judges’ cases, or something more personal? Join Lily and Austin as they try to discover who’s responsible for murder, arson, and fraud.

A Jolly Little Murder by Beth ByersA Jolly Little Murder by Beth Byers:

December 1925

Violet Wakefield is determined to dive into the holiday and enjoy every occasion. She’s going to see the live nativity, listen to Handel’s Messiah, and attend the Nutcracker ballet. She’ll cover her house in all the holly and lights. In fact, Vi wants nothing more than to put up the largest Christmas tree she can locate and stuff it with gifts. ??She little expects, however, to stumble across a crime in action. When she gets pulled into the madness, her biggest concern isn’t the crime, it’s keeping Jack from committing a holiday homicide.

Kicked to the Curb by Joanna Campbell SlanKicked to the Curb by Joanna Campbell Slan:

Life in Paradise isn’t what it’s cracked up to be. Cara Mia Delgatto feels like she is drowning in problems!

Stuart, Florida. Her ex-husband is refusing to pay their son’s college tuition (as promised), her sister is pulling mean pranks, and her old boyfriend has broken her heart…again. And that’s just the personal stuff.

She’s also concerned about keeping the cash register ringing at the Treasure Chest, her store specializing in upcycled, recycled, and repurposed goods.

An important media event goes sadly wrong and Cara’s famous temper gets the better of her. Then a prying reporter turns up dead, practically in Cara’s backyard. Could the reporter’s murder have anything to do with a century’s old blot on Florida state history, the infamous Dozier Boys School? Suddenly, Cara’s personal problems seem trivial compared to the abuse and murder of hundreds of innocent boys.

Kicked to the Curb is the charming second novel in the Cara Mia Delgatto cozy mystery series. If you like witty heroines, former flames reconnecting, and Florida’s beautiful Treasure Coast, you’ll adore Joanna Campbell Slan’s captivating tale.

Art Attack by Mike FaricyArt Attack by Mike Faricy:

Careful what you wish for . . .

PI Dev Haskell runs into Kristi McKenzie, his old high-school flame. Amazingly, she needs help . . .

Her artist husband has been missing for over half a year – and she’s never contacted the police!
Turns out he’s the guy she dumped Dev for way back when.
Her previous fiancé died under suspicious circumstances . . .
Dev begins his search but keeps coming up with more questions.
One thing is clear, someone is definitely on a mission to KILL Dev Haskell!

The Shield by Ken FiteThe Shield by Ken Fite:

When terrorists hijack weaponized military drones, a former government agent must team up with the people he swore he’d never work with to find the hijackers before they unleash the drones on DC.

 

 

 

 

Fatal Limit by Inge-Lise GossFatal Limit by Inge-Lise Goss:

A Murderer Is Loose In The Hospital

Dora Stephens can’t refuse this case.

When she witnesses Sheila, the aunt of her best friend, stagger out of the hospital and die from a traffic accident, Dora’s private eye instincts kick in. Something’s not right. Sheila had no known enemies… but someone wanted her dead.

Digging into the circumstances of Sheila’s death leads Dora on a devious path where she encounters lies, drugs, betrayal, and infidelity. She uncovers another mysterious death and stumbles upon a dark secret kept by some of the hospital’s top staff and privileged doctors.

Sheila was not the only nurse who had an affair with the hospital’s star surgeon. Would one of her romantic rivals stoop to murder? Or had she learned too much about the well-kept dark secret?

Wicked Decisions by Lily Harper HartWicked Decisions by Lily Harper Hart:

Ivy Morgan is getting married, which means she needs a dress. Now that she’s finally embraced the idea of planning for the wedding (rather than just enjoying the marriage and honeymoon) she’s gung-ho to check things off her list.

The local dressmaker Zelda Morris has just the thing for Ivy. Before she can show it to her, though, she’s murdered in the back of her own store … while Ivy waits for her to return to the storefront. Unfortunately for Ivy, because she didn’t hear a thing, that makes her a suspect.

Jack Harker isn’t happy with the turn of events. He knows Ivy is innocent but he’s in a precarious position. If word gets out that he’s protecting his fiancée, then the Michigan State Police could take over the investigation, and he’s worried they might fixate on Ivy. That means he has to dig deep for answers … and what he finds is troubling.

It seems Zelda was only one of a multitude of women dating local lothario Henry Spencer, a man who has more girlfriends than brains. One of those girlfriends happens to be Ivy’s aunt, Felicity Goodings, which means the long eye of the law falls directly on both of them.

It’s up to Jack and Ivy to untangle a mess of motives and suspects, which include her beloved aunt. That causes issues with Ivy’s mother, who is loyal to her sister to a fault.

It’s a tense time, and it only gets worse when Ivy decides to embrace her magic and use it to solve the case.

There’s a killer on the loose and Ivy might be a target because she can’t keep her nose out of trouble. She needs to discover a killer, avoid this individual’s wrath, and continue planning her wedding if she wants a happily ever after.

It’s going to be a tall task.

With Killer Views by CeeCee JamesWith Killer Views by CeeCee James:

Stella O’Neil has found a treasure of a house to list… a house possibly full of treasure, that is. Her new listing belonged to a man who died from a seemingly innocent accident. He also was embroiled in a bank investigation involving missing property and many enemies. The rumors have gone wild and people will stop at nothing to search it out.

If keeping treasure hunters out of her listing and avoiding being killed wasn’t enough drama, Stella has finally found her mom and a way to rescue her. With the rest of her family in place, and the neighbor and a hunky policeman friend to help, she’s determined to get her mom out. But someone is just as determined to stop her, even through murder.

Stella has come this far fighting to unite her family. She won’t stop until she’s finished. But will she regret it?

The Suicide Sonata by B.V. LawsonThe Suicide Sonata by B.V. Lawson:

Can a piece of music be cursed?

When a young marine biologist is found dead of suicide, his father can’t believe he took his own life and hires Scott Drayco to prove it was murder. But what of the strange song found with the young man’s body—the same song linked to a piano sonata that led to a wave of suicides in 1930s Hungary?

As Drayco digs deeper, he finds even more unusual aspects of the case not easily explained: the victim’s missing cellphone; his “Gang of Five” friends and their interest in the Akashic Records spiritual philosophy; and the gun used by the victim that was mysteriously stolen from a friend’s car.

Drayco fears a tragic incident from his own past may be clouding his objectivity. After all, the facts point to suicide, case closed. But when Drayco starts suffering from depression himself after playing the sonata, can he really be sure of what’s real and what’s imagined?

The Suicide Sonata is the fifth installment in the acclaimed Scott Drayco mystery series, a finalist for the Shamus, Silver Falchion, Daphne, and Kindle Book Awards.

Witchin' Around the Clock by Amanda M. LeeWitchin’ Around the Clock by Amanda M. Lee:

Witches are descending on Hemlock Cove and the town is gearing up for mayhem. Bay Winchester is ready to cover the event for her newspaper, and is excited to see faces she hasn’t interacted with in more than a decade.

Then the unthinkable happens.

The local blacksmith shop catches fire and Bay and her cousin Thistle risk death to try and rescue the owner. Unfortunately, they’re too late, and the man is unable to be resuscitated. Not only that, but it wasn’t the fire that killed him. No, he was murdered.

Bay can’t shake the feeling that something bad is about to happen. Harbingers of the feathered variety are filling the sky … and threatening attack. Dark magic is at work, and someone is plotting multiple deaths.

It’s up to Bay and her family to save the day, and they have to do it before cousin Clove gets married on the summer solstice. It’s a big day for the family, and a big moment for Bay. She’s the center of attention as the clock ticks down, the weight of the world on her shoulders.

The Winchesters won’t sit back and wait for a fight to come to them, they’ll go after the fight … and this is no exception. As death comes calling, they will answer.

Sit back and enjoy the ride. Love, marriage, death, and destruction are about to collide. You won’t want to miss a thing.

A Treacherous Performance by Lynn MessinaA Treacherous Performance by Lynn Messina:

Having inexplicably nabbed the Duke of Kesgrave, twenty-six-year-old spinster Beatrice Hyde-Clare is determined to marry him at once and no amount of handwringing from anxious family members, worried friends and well-meaning acquaintances will convince her to delay. Except…maybe she is a little swayed by her uncle’s efforts to make amends for treating her with cold indifference during her childhood. And her aunt’s concern about the growing scandal around her unfortunate habit of unmasking murderers in the middle of society events isn’t entirely unfounded.

And then there’s the truly unfathomable appearance on her doorstep of the former Miss Brougham, the spiteful heiress whose cruel taunts derailed Bea’s social career. Remarkably, the society matron has a mystery to solve and knows Bea is the only person who can help her. A dead grandfather, a missing jewel, a cryptic letter, an opportunity to condescend to her archnemesis—the case seems simple enough.

And yet somehow it all goes terribly, horribly wrong.

Game of Shadows by R.J. PattersonGame of Shadows by R.J. Patterson:

Titus Black wasn’t the trusting kind of guy, even for a black ops agent. And when he ventures into Russia to bring home a missing scientist, Black learns some information that makes him question everything he’s known to be true about his director, J.D. Blunt.

Meanwhile, Black and the Firestorm team uncover a treasonous plot from one of the most powerful men in congress. As Black’s worlds converge, he must thwart an assassination attempt or face dire consequences, including the end of the very organization that keeps his country safe from terrorists of every kind.

Eclairs and Extortion by C.A. PhippsEclairs and Extortion by C.A. Phipps:

Marriage, Menace, and Murder!

Is it just coincidence that a body turns up in the park the same day as Maddie’s mom arrives in Maple Falls?

And who is the dark stranger wandering about on the streets of her home town?

Preparations for a surprise seventieth birthday celebration for Gran are jeopardized when Maddie’s absentee parent shows up unannounced. Devoted to her grandmother, Maddie won’t allow her mom to ruin things like she usually does.

With three generations at logger-heads, a murderer to find, and a party to organize, life is about to get crazy.

If you love your eclairs with a side of mystery, click the buy button today!

The Maple Lane Mysteries are light, cozy mysteries featuring a quirky cat-loving bakery owner who discovers she’s a talented amateur sleuth.

Let Me Go by Willow RoseLet Me Go by Willow Rose:

What if a stranger told you that she believed your child is about to be killed? What if that woman was an ex-FBI profiler with a disputable reputation?

Would you believe her?

Eva Rae Thomas is chasing down a vicious killer, but no one will believe he even exists. If there are no unexplained dead bodies or missing persons, then how can there be a killer on the loose?

What they don’t understand is that the perfect murder is the one that doesn’t look like murder.

Can Eva Rae convince local law enforcement to help her with this case before the killer strikes once more? Or will she have to take matters into her own hands – again?

LET ME GO is the fifth book in the Eva Rae Thomas Mystery Series and can be read as a standalone.

Doll Crimes by Karen RungeDoll Crimes by Karen Runge:

‘It’s not that there aren’t good people in the world. It’s that the bad ones are so much easier to find.’

A teen mother raises her daughter on a looping road trip, living hand-to-mouth in motel rest stops and backwater towns, stepping occasionally into the heat and chaos of the surrounding cities. A life without permanence, filled with terrors and joys, their stability is dependent on the strangers—and strange men—they meet along the way. But what is the difference between the love of a mother, and the love of a friend? And in a world with such blurred lines, where money is tight and there’s little outside influence, when does the need to survive slide into something more sinister?

Proudly represented by Crystal Lake Publishing—Tales from the Darkest Depths.

Blind Justice by Rachel SinclairBlind Justice by Rachel Sinclair:

A prominent Hollywood A-List actor is killed on set.

It wasn’t an accident.

But the wrong woman stands accused.

Bianca Giancomo is a beautiful, and blind, music composer. The first woman to win an Oscar for best original score, she is well-respected, with a story that is made for Hollywood. She grew up poor, and handicapped, and had to teach herself how to play and compose music.

Now, however, she is simply Bianca Giancomo, accused murderess. Her lover, Chris Jenkins, was working on set with a prop gun when he was killed. It turns out the gun had actual bullets in it. Bianca is arrested for his murder when the authorities discover just how tumultous her relationship was with Chris.

Bianca had motive, means and opportunity.

Emerson Justice takes Bianca’s case, and finds that there are much more sinister elements afoot. Somebody wanted Chris dead, alright, and, when Emerson finds out why, she is shocked. And her own life becomes endangered.

Helter Witchelter by Lotta SmithHelter Witchelter by Lotta Smith:

A haunted mansion in a beautiful town… A chilling ghost awaiting for his next prey… Throw in a newbie witch realtor!

Fio Valentine is starting to settle into her sometimes vexing job in the Haunted and Hexed Properties Management Department of Quest Realty, but when her friend Suze invites her on a weekend trip to Santa Barbara, she’s less than excited about visiting yet another haunted house.

Rumored to be hosting the ghost of a wealthy businessman, the mansion could hold a clue to the disappearance of Chris Adams, the older brother of her foxy boss Jack, and since Jack has decided his current assignment is too dangerous for her, Fio takes Suze up her offer, her spirit animal Champ in tow.

Can Fio solve the mystery of the ghost in the garden and earn some points with Jack at same time? Find out in Book Three of the Witches Guide to Haunted Properties.

Rising Spirit by Wayne StinnettRising Spirit by Wayne Stinnett:

In the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, Jesse McDermitt has rebuilt his island in the Content Keys far better than it was before the storm. The task was enormous, but so was his need to make things better.

Unbeknownst to Jesse, an environmentally conscious woman from his past has stumbled onto a drug manufacturing cartel in Virginia while working on a pollution mitigation problem. The cartel responds by sending someone to murder people Jesse cares for. A contract killer stalks the woman all the way to Miami, leaving bodies in his wake.

With the help of an old flame in the FBI, Jesse goes to the snow-covered Appalachians to get to the root of the trouble; an unscrupulous prosecutor and dirty sheriff, who are producing LSD on an unbelievable scale.

Is Jesse out of his element this time? Can he protect the people he cares for most? It’s a race against time and Mother Nature to find a killer stalking the quiet neighborhoods of Coconut Grove.

Fate by Kirtsen WeissFate by Kirsten Weiss:

Something wicked this way comes…

Witch Jayce Bonheim has spent the last four months waiting for a horde of dark magicians to come to town.

Now, they’ve arrived, embedded in a traveling circus.

And they’re bigger and badder than this ex-party girl could have imagined, wreaking havoc wherever they go.

But when a murder rocks her small town, Jayce must stop the chaos. Walking a tightrope between dark spells and past regrets, can Jayce stop a murderer and stop these magicians from transforming the world forever?

ill-fated by Jody Wennerill-fated by Jody Wenner:

When Shana’s father joins a cult, she tries to find someone, anyone who will help her. Unsuccessful, she takes on the monumental task of fixing it herself. Eventually, she gets some support from the families of the other followers. Adding to her problems, the person she connects with the most is the leader’s son. She figures that’s the worst of it, until the rest of the group is found dead, and her dad is charged with eleven counts of first-degree murder and arson. With the trial looming, everything starts to nosedive as new revelations about the cult and their bizarre philosophies come to light. Shana’s confidence in her dad begins to waver. Maybe he isn’t a victim after all?

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