Indie Crime Fiction of the Month for December 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 crime 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 cozy mysteries, holiday mysteries, historical mysteries, Victorian mysteries, Jazz Age mysteries, paranormal mysteries, hardboiled mysteries, police procedurals, crime thrillers, legal thrillers, psychological thrillers, science fiction thrillers, police officers, amateur sleuths, private investigators, ex-cops, lawyers, drug-dealers, assassins, organised crime, missing persons, crime-busting witches, crime-busting socialites, crime-busting seamstresses, crime-busting ghosts, crime-busting bakers, murder and mayhem in Florida, Minnesota, New Orleans, London, Australia, South America and outer space 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:

Murder at the Mayfair Hotel by C.J. ArcherMurder at the Mayfair Hotel by C.J. Archer:

It was the most fashionable place to stay in London, until murder made a reservation.

December 1899. After the death of her beloved grandmother, Cleopatra Fox moves into the luxury hotel owned by her estranged uncle in the hopes of putting hardship and loneliness behind her. But the poisoning of a guest on Christmas Eve throws her new life, and the hotel, into chaos.

Cleo quickly realizes no one can be trusted, not Scotland Yard and especially not the hotel’s charming assistant manager. With the New Year’s Eve ball approaching fast and the hotel’s reputation hanging by a thread, Cleo must find the killer before the ball, and the hotel itself, are ruined. But catching a murderer proves just as difficult as navigating the hotel’s hierarchy and the peculiarities of her family.

Can Cleo find the killer before the new century begins? Or will someone get away with murder?

A Tangle of Secrets by Blythe BakerA Tangle of Secrets by Blythe Baker:

Lily Dickinson’s discovery of a dead gamekeeper in a cottage near a country lane leads to a search for his killer. Suspects range from employees of the nearby Grangehurst estate to a number of dangerous characters much closer to home.

Before Lily can face the murderer, she needs to enlist the aid of her younger sister Iris. But with Lily still refusing to share the secret of the trunk in the attic, will Iris be willing to help when Lily needs her most?

 

The Lurid Possibility of Murder by Beth ByersThe Lurid Possibility of Murder by Beth Byers:

December 1925

Severine DuNoir has discovered who has been hunting her. Now she needs to discover why. As the foes circle each other, their friends and family get drawn into the conflict.

Just who can Severine trust? How can she stop the rogue? And what will happen to those she loves if she fails? She’s all too afraid the answer is one she won’t be able to live with.

 

Baking Magic by Melinda CraigBaking Magic by Melinda Craig:

Starry Valley has been anything but calm since Lindsey moved in. She’s tackled thieves walking through walls, and just last month, she faced down a killer. Not to mention, she had a short romance with one of the handsome police officers and an unusual friendship is blossoming with a maybe detective…she’s still trying to figure that one out. It’s all Lindsey can do to stay sane, yet these people, this town, is more home to her than any place she’s ever been.

She’s still getting used to being open with people about her ability. After all, reading memories is no cakewalk, and it’s definitely not conversation for dinner. But Starry Valley isn’t like other places. She can be real with a select few others, and that is heaven…to finally not hide.

So when Felmira asks for Lindsey’s help in finding a friend’s husband, it’s no surprise she says yes. Helping is a given; delivering is another thing. Lindsey promised Sarah she’d find her husband before Christmas…she only hopes he’s still alive.

The Happy Widow by David CrosbyThe Happy Widow by David Crosby:

MARRIED AND MURDERED—

WHAM, BAM, SCAM YOU, MA’AM…

In his sixth hard boiled action thriller, reporter Will Harper attempts to balance the beginnings of new love with a treacherous fraud investigation. While trying to unmask scammers who target vulnerable elderly Floridians, Will risks angering homicidal con artists who will stop at nothing to extort their hapless victims.

The mystery opens with an exhilarating honeymoon at sea: philanderer Alain Duvalier has whisked his new—wealthy—wife away on a honeymoon cruise. There’s trouble in paradise, though: Duvalier pushes his giddy wife off the cruise ship, then claims the death was a tragic accident. The remorseless widower packs his bags and moves into his late wife’s ritzy Florida condo, with immediate plans to sell off all her assets.

Enter semi-retired journalist Will Harper, who’s just started researching a hard-hitting series on black widows and widowers who seduce aging, wealthy single folks. This project is personal: Will’s newly exclusive girlfriend Bonnie has an elderly uncle who’s being isolated and financially controlled by a new, monstrously villainous wife—the infamous Millie Potts.

While brainstorming story ideas aboard his live-in yacht, The Wanderlust, Will gets wind of the honeymoon cruise death and immediately begins tracking Duvalier. Will attempts to juggle his dangerous investigation into Millie’s murky past with an equally risky inquiry into Duvalier’s whereabouts. These scammers are so morally bereft that they’ll swiftly, thoughtlessly kill anyone who stands between them and a bundle of cash. Which is unfortunate, considering that Will, Bonnie, and Callie—Will’s ex girlfriend and current coworker—are all standing in the way.

The Contract Lawyer by John EllsworthThe Contract Lawyer by John Ellsworth:

He went into the jungle to find his family. He came back out to find himself…

Thaddeus Murfee is an attorney in San Diego whose nephew is kidnapped to South America. The traffickers just didn’t know all the rules, but he did.

This is Thaddeus at his best, pulled away from his normal life and cast into a cruel world where the cartels run rife and anything goes. This time, they rang the wrong doorbell, took the wrong kid, and ran in the wrong direction. Because this seasoned lawyer will stop at nothing to bring back his sister’s son. And in the end, there will be a trial, inside a California courtroom, where justice is sought and crimes are punished.

But will they even be there? Or will they no longer walk the earth, buried in a South American jungle where no one cares?

Alley Katz by Mike FaricyAlley Katz by Mike Faricy:

Dev Haskell is running late for dinner at his girlfriends house when he rear ends a car in the parking lot. Small world, the car is driven by a Dev’s former high school English teacher. . In lieu of paying for damages Dev agrees to work Tuesday and Thursday evenings helping kids with homework. From there he ends up searching for an art forger with ties to local crime lord, Tubby Gustafson.

Along the way he’s beat up by a petit woman in a thong, searches for a missing boy… Oh, and he sets a homeless kid on a career path.

Another hilariously delightful Dev Haskell tale.

A wonderful read to remind you that, actually, your life is pretty good!

As always, Morton, Dev’s Golden Retriever, provides a dose of sanity.

Witch Is the New Black by Lily Harper HartWitch Is the New Black by Lily Harper Hart:

Ofelia Archer has faced demons, evil witches, and freaky zombies, but nothing could prepare her for the horror of meeting her boyfriend’s mother, Madeline Sully. She thinks she’s ready and able, but she’s really not.

For his part, Zacharias “Zach” Sully isn’t any more thrilled by his mother’s visit than his girlfriend. He’s simply better at dealing with Madeline’s brand of madness.

After one meal, a magical barrage of fire rains down on the group as they’re walking down Bourbon Street. When the flames clear, a young woman is left for dead, and the only thing they know about her is that she was part of a multi-level marketing scheme called Hexential Oils.

Before they realize what’s happening, Sully and Ofelia find themselves knee-deep in an odd world that neither of them really understand … and it leads straight to trouble, as usual. It seems New Orleans is teeming with suspects, and they have no idea which one to focus on.

Ofelia and Sully have a bond that can’t be broken. That won’t stop outsiders from trying. When the hierarchy of Hexential Oils leads to long-forgotten magic and a creature of mythical proportions, they realize they’re in over their heads.

They’ll die to protect one another … and someone desperately wants to make that a reality. It will take both of them working together to make sure that doesn’t happen.

Ghostly Graves by Lily Harper HartGhostly Graves by Lily Harper Hart:

Maddie and Nick Winters are embarking on the biggest adventure of their lives: parenthood. They’re nervous, excited, and prepared to go shopping. That leads them to a special baby boutique in Whisper Cove, where they just happen to participate in a cemetery tour run by Michigan’s most famous ghost hunter.

Maddie and the tour guide Harper Harlow recognize each other for what they are right off the bat, although they don’t initially say anything. Everything spills out in the open, though, when a ghost leads Maddie to the body of a local plastic surgeon.

The dead doctor has an interesting reputation with the women around town, and Maddie recognizes him from her days of nursing. Before anybody realizes what’s happening, the two women have formed a crime-fighting team and they’re determined to uncover answers.

Nick would prefer Maddie shop and embrace their incoming baby but he knows when her inner detective can’t be silenced. While the men bond – and discuss loving a magical woman – the women (and Zander, of course) dig deep and uncover exactly how sordid the tale of an unethical doctor can be.
Get ready for some fun. Maddie, Harper, and Zander are ready for adventure … and they’re dragging absolutely everybody along for the ride.

Church of the Assassin by Ross HarrisonChurch of the Assassin by Ross Harrison:

KILL ONE TO SAVE A HUNDRED

Alexiares spends her time killing, tinkering with a car she never drives, and wondering if she’s a sociopath. This simple life is complicated by a deadly purge of her sect and she finds herself on the run, trying to make sense of the slaughter. She’s not alone: the broken-minded assassin has inherited a baby girl. But how can hands that know only how to squeeze necks and strip engines ever nurture a child? When painful revelations, betrayals, and secrets show Alexiares that her life can only cause Baby pain and suffering, she’ll have to make a difficult choice.

Across the galaxy, one seemingly natural death puts rookie Intelligence officer Ryan Blake on a collision course with Alexiares. His journey into desperation and madness will reveal a world he’ll wish had stayed hidden. One full of mysteries and death. As his mentor says, there are cases to make your career and there are cases to make you look over your shoulder for the rest of your life, right up until it ends abruptly and violently.

KILL A HUNDRED TO SAVE ONE

Relentless hunters want both her and Baby, and they will tear worlds apart to get them. They are bigger, stronger, and more resourceful. But Baby is more than a newfound vulnerability to Alexiares: she is a reason to live. A reason to kill.

When you take a shot at an apex predator, do not miss.

Foxtrot Hotel by Simon HayneFoxtrot Hotel by Simon Haynes:

First a dead body shows up on Harriet’s favourite beach.

Then she discovers the whole place is going to be bulldozed for an apartment complex.

She’s convinced the two are connected, but she’ll have to untangle a web of lies and corruption to reach the truth.

Meanwhile, someone has decided that the best way to avoid discovery is to silence Harriet… for good!

 

Watch Her by Edwin HillWatch Her by Edwin Hill:

While attending a gala at Prescott University’s lavish new campus, Hester Thursby and fellow guest, Detective Angela White, are called to the home of the college’s owners, Tucker and Jennifer Matson. Jennifer claims that someone broke into Pinebank, their secluded mansion on the banks of Jamaica Pond. The more Hester and Angela investigate, the less they believe Jennifer’s story, leaving Hester to wonder why she would lie.

When Hester is asked by the college’s general manager to locate some missing alumni, she employs her research skills on the family and their for-profit university. Between financial transgressions, a long-ago tragedy, and rumors of infidelity, it’s clear that the Matsons aren’t immune to scandal or mishap. But when one of the missing students turns up dead, the mystery takes on new urgency.

Hester is edging closer to the truth, but as a decades-old secret collides with new lies, a killer grows more determined to keep the past buried with the dead…

The Banshee Brouhaha by Amanda M. LeeThe Banshee Brouhaha by Amanda M. Lee:

Charlie Rhodes has spent her entire life wondering who her birth parents were, why they abandoned her, and where the magic she’s been learning to hone came from.

She’s finally going to get some answers.

With proof that the new member of the Legacy Foundation is really her brother, Charlie sets off to visit Salem with him and her boyfriend Jack Hanson. She’s never been to the city before and finds that the history swirling is only one of the things that has her excited.

Not long after landing, a body is strung up in Salem Common, and witnesses say it was ghosts doing the dirty work. Jack is intrigued enough to call in the rest of the team. Since Charlie’s parents are supposedly taking refuge within the city limits, the investigation makes for a nice cover.

It’s not long before Charlie realizes that there’s more going on in Salem than witches and white magic. Something dark is festering under the surface, and whatever it is seems to be taking aim at her.

Charlie wants answers. She’s also afraid to get them. During the search for what she’s lost, though, she becomes more determined than ever to hold onto what she has.

There’s evil afoot, and a woman who looks like an older version of Charlie is stalking the group. Could the two things be connected? Charlie won’t leave until she knows for certain.

Salem’s history might be coming back to haunt those who venture into the city and it’s up to the Legacy Foundation to figure out why … that is if they survive long enough to uncover the answers.

Hold onto your broomsticks, because it’s going to be a witchy ride.

The Lost Letters of Playfair Street by Michelle MontebelloThe Lost Letters of Playfair Street by Michelle Montebello:

A lover’s game. A chest of clues.
Come find me. I’ll be waiting…

1929: On the night of her engagement to austere banker Floyd Clark, Charlotte Greene meets enigmatic Sydney Harbour Bridge engineer, Alexander Young. Their encounter is brief, but their attraction instant.

Alex invites Charlotte to play a game with him, one of daring clues and secret meeting places. She accepts and they embark on a thrilling lover’s chase across the city.

But with her arranged marriage to Floyd looming, will she have the strength to let Alex go?

Present Day: Paige Westwood is helping her boss establish a publishing company in his newly-purchased Playfair Street house in The Rocks, Sydney. In the attic, she discovers a chest of old clues that lead the reader on a journey across the city.

Paige contacts the former owner, Ryan Greene, who explains the clues belonged to his great-aunt Charlotte, who once lived in the house, but who mysteriously disappeared in 1929.

Together, they follow Charlotte and Alex’s clues to unravel a fascinating tale of lies and intrigue, of two lovers bound by hope, but also by deceit. Can they solve the mystery of Charlotte’s disappearance or has all hope been lost to the past?

Should Grace Fail by Priscilla PatonShould Grace Fail by Priscilla Paton:

When a disgraced policeman who rescues addicts and trafficking victims is murdered, Detectives Erik Jansson and Deb Metzger have their skills put to the test as killers target a vulnerable girl, an empathetic pianist, and a man generous to a fault.

 

 

 

Better To Be Lucky by Ben RehderBetter To Be Lucky by Ben Rehder:

The trouble at the Conlees’ lakeside estate begins when vandals topple and destroy an expensive Italian fountain. Then they slash the tires and damage the paint job on a Jaguar. That’s when Roy Ballard’s client, the insurance company, asks him to catch the vandal in the act and prevent future claims. Surprisingly, the homeowner, Norman Conlee, opposes the idea. He intends to address the problem himself by fencing the property and keeping his revolver handy. Eventually, though, he gives in, and Roy goes to work. It’s not long before the case escalates in a way nobody saw coming. Roy will need some luck to close this case before he winds up a victim himself.

Murder on a Midnight Clear by Sara RosettMurder on a Midnight Clear by Sara Rosett:

A snowbound country mansion, a missing butler, and a Christmas case…

Olive and Jasper have never been closer—except in one area. Jasper is still reticent about his frequent disappearances from polite society. With the holidays approaching and no paying client on the books, Olive decides to shadow Jasper when he’s unexpectedly called away. Her search brings her to Holly Hill Lodge where an eclectic group has gathered to celebrate an old-fashioned English Christmas.

The guest list includes a celebrated lawn tennis champion, a fussy scientist studying snowflakes, a persuasive luggage salesman, a famous lady explorer, and the family’s eccentric aunt who has a fondness for the newfangled drinks called cocktails.

When the butler goes missing, Olive and Jasper must work together to solve the Christmas crime—as well as the secret Jasper hides.

Rising Moon by Wayne StinnettRising Moon by Wayne Stinnett:

On Grassy Key, things aren’t as idyllic as they seem. The quiet, sleepy community has been awakened. A young woman with strong ties to the community is missing.

A local craftsman, the last person to see the girl, is questioned and released. The girl’s friends are interviewed. Nobody knows what happened to Cobie, except that she left for work one day and didn’t arrive. The only lead is the girl’s car, parked where she worked. But it provides no clues and nobody saw anything.

Days go by. Then weeks. The case grows cold.

The employer of the girl’s mother knows Jesse McDermitt, a retired Marine and reputed government spook. Jesse leans on people the way only he can and soon finds there is a lot more to the abduction than anyone knew.

Does he find the missing girl? Does he survive what he uncovers? Find out in this 19th novel in Wayne Stinnett’s wildly popular Jesse McDermitt Caribbean Adventure Series.

Murder in Hyde Park by Lee StraussMurder in Hyde Park by Lee Strauss:

Murder’s a fashion faux pas. . .

The summer of 1926 brings high fashion to Hyde Park. Ginger’s Regent Street dress shop, Feathers & Flair, is a major sponsor, and when top designer Coco Chanel makes an appearance, the London fashion scene lights up.

Until a model drops dead and Miss Chanel is suspected of murder. The fashion icon hires Lady Gold Investigations to clear her name, but can Ginger discover the murderer before becoming a lifeless mannequin herself?

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A Holiday Story Bonanza

It’s time for the last new release announcement of the year. As the title indicates, this will be a big announcement, because I have three new holiday stories plus a collection to announce.

Unfortunately, some of the buy links are still missing, because several distributors and vendors are slow to get new e-books up in the run-up to the holidays.

Furthermore, the good folks at Smashwords are having their annual end of the year sale. You can get lots of e-books at reduced prices, including several of mine.

Back in 2013, I decided to write a Christmas story for the holiday season. This story was Christmas Gifts and it did quite well, so I decided to write another holiday story the next year. And then the year after. Some years, I ever wrote more than one holiday story. And so I’ve thirteen Christmas stories (as well as two Valentine’s Day stories and one Easter story) in various genres over the past seven years.

I haven’t been feeling particularly festive this year, but nonetheless inspiration struck and so I published not one or two but three very different holiday stories.

The first new story is a sweet holiday romance novelette called Driving Home for Christmas. The inspiration for this story happened last year just before Christmas, when I had to make a phonecall and therefore pulled into the parking lot of an outlet mall. The mall was closed, but the Christmas lights were still on and so the entire parking lot was lit up by electric stars. It looked very pretty – a lot prettier than an outlet mall deserves – and so I thought, “You know, this place would make a nice romantic setting for a holiday romance. Especially when it’s snowing.”

So I wondered what might bring two people to the parking lot of a closed outlet mall late at night just before Christmas. That particular outlet mall is right next to the Autobahn A1, one of the main North South routes for all of Europe. So I thought, “What if someone’s car broke down and they had to leave the Autobahn and wound up on the mall parking lot? And what if they meet a good Samaritan who’s willing to help them?” The story grew from there.

I used the real Autobahn exit and the outlet mall as a setting, though I did rearrange the shops a little. I also borrowed the details of a car breakdown I had a few years ago – though at a different Autobahn exit (because it would be too easy, if my car broke down some seven kilometres from home) and not at Christmas.

So follow college student Laura, whose car breaks down after midnight on Christmas Eve, and Danish truck drive Jonas, who comes to her aid, as they are…

Driving Home for Christmas
Driving Home for Christmas by Cora BuhlertWhen her car breaks down after midnight on Christmas Eve, Laura thinks she’ll never make it home for the holidays.

But then fate sends Laura her very own Christmas angel in the form of hunky truck driver Jonas…

This is a short and sweet holiday romance of 8400 words or approximately 30 print pages.

 

 

More information.
Length: 8400 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 Books, Google Play, Scribd, Smashwords, Thalia, Weltbild, Hugendubel, Buecher.de, DriveThruFiction, Casa del Libro, Vivlio, 24symbols and XinXii.

The second holiday story is another romance novelette. This one is part of Christmas at Hickory Ridge Mall series of loosely interconnected holiday romances. The connecting thread in this series is that all three stories to date take place at the same mall just before Christmas and that all characters eventually end up at the same coffee shop, where they are served by the same barista.

This latest story takes us outside the mall to the Christmas tree lot, where Jessica is trying to buy a tree one day before Christmas. However, she gets more than she bargained for, when she meets biology graduate student and seasonal Christmas tree vendor Matt in…

The Crappiest Christmas Ever
The Crappiest Christmas Ever by Cora BuhlertJessica is having the worst Christmas ever, when her parents announce that they are getting a divorce two days before the holidays.

Stuck on her own with no home to go to, Jessica heads for the mall to buy a Christmas tree for herself. Here she meets Matt, who sells Christmas trees and is having a really awful Christmas himself.

Matt and Jessica bond over their shared pain and also manage to make each other laugh. So maybe, this won’t be the worst Christmas ever after all…

This is a short and sweet holiday romance of 12000 words or approximately 40 print pages.

More information.
Length: 12000 words
List price: 2.99 USD, EUR or 1.99 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 Books, Google Play, Scribd, Smashwords, Thalia, Weltbild, Hugendubel, Buecher.de, DriveThruFiction, Casa del Libro, Vivlio, 24symbols and XinXii.

The third holiday story of 2020 is something completely different. For starters, it’s not romance, but horror comedy (since I’m still unable to write straight horror – it either comes out as urban fantasy or comedy).

The initial inspiration for this story was coming across this piece of fantasy artwork by artist Jakub Rozalski on Twitter. In the image, Krampus has just gutted Santa, while a few kids look on. Since Krampus, who also appears in The Bakery on Gloomland Street, another of my holiday stories, is actually supposed to be Santa’s helper, I have course wondered what might have led to Krampus turning on Santa. So I thought, “What if Krampus isn’t Santa’s pal at all, but actually hates him?”

As I looked through Jakub Rozalki’s portfolio at Art Station, I also came across another holiday related horror image of a reindeer with bloody antlers facing down Santa, while a gutted elf lies on the ground. So I thought, “Maybe it’s not just Krampus who hates Santa? What if the elves and the reindeer hate Santa as well?” The story grew from there.

To be fair, this Santa is a very bad Santa. He exploits his workers, cheats of Mrs. Claus with two attractive young women and he takes drugs, too. So don’t feel too sorry for him. And besides, Christmas still happens as normal, though with someone else manning the sleigh.

I may also have done something nasty to Donald Trump. But to quote a character in the story, “Ain’t no one gonna miss him.”

So watch as elves, reindeer, Krampus and Black Piet take on Santa and stage a…

Revolt at the North Pole
Revolt at the North Pole by Cora BuhlertRebellion is brewing at Santa’s compound at the North Pole. The elves and the reindeer both are overworked, underpaid and angry, so they unite to take down Santa. However, there’s still Santa’s most fearsome enforcer, the horned, clawed and fanged holiday monster known only as Krampus…

This is a short holiday horror story of 3900 words or approx. 14 print pages by Hugo finalist Cora Buhlert.

 

 

More information.
List price: 0.99 USD, EUR or GBP
Length: 3900 words
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 Books, Google Play, Scribd, Smashwords, Thalia, Weltbild, Hugendubel, Buecher.de, DriveThruFiction, Casa del Libro, Vivlio, 24symbols and XinXii.

Since I now had thirteen holiday stories in six different genres – romance, mystery, thriller, science fiction, fantasy and horror – I also decided to offer all of my holiday stories to date in one handy mega-collection. This one is a real bargain, because you get almost 400 pages worth of holiday stories at a much lower price than if you were to buy them individually.

So check out the…

The Christmas Collection
The Christmas Collection by Cora BuhlertThirteen tales of Christmas by Hugo finalist Cora Buhlert.

Romance, cozy fantasy, murder mysteries, pulp thrillers, science fiction, horror and humor – we have all that and more.

Watch young people find love in the pre-holiday shopping rush at Hickory Ridge Mall, at a Christmas tree lot, on the parking lot of a shuttered outlet mall and at the one bar in town that’s open on Christmas Eve.

Experience Christmas in Hallowind Cove, the permanently fog-shrouded seaside town, where strange things keep happening.

Watch as Santa’s various helpers unite to depose him.

Follow Detective Inspector Helen Shepherd and her team as they investigate the death of a robber dressed as Santa Claus as well as a wave of thefts at a Christmas market.

Meet Richard Blakemore, hardworking pulp author by day and the masked crimefighter known only as the Silencer by night, as he fights to save an orphanage from demolition in Depression era New York City.

Watch Alfred and Bertha, an ordinary married couple, as they decorate the Christmas tree and live their marvellous twenty-first century life.

Experience Christmas on the space colony of Iago Prime as well as after the end of the world.

Enjoy thirteen novellas, novelettes and short stories in six genres.

This is a collection of 118000 words or approx. 390 print pages.

Contains the following stories:

  • Christmas Gifts
  • Christmas Shopping with a Broken Heart
  • The Crappiest Christmas Ever
  • Christmas Eve at the Purple Owl Café
  • Driving Home for Christmas
  • The Bakery on Gloomland Street
  • Revolt at the North Pole
  • A Bullet for Father Christmas
  • Santa’s Sticky Fingers
  • Nicholas of Hell’s Kitchen
  • The Tinsel-Free Christmas Tree
  • Christmas on Iago Prime
  • Christmas after the End of the World

Length: 118 000 words
List price: 4.99 USD, EUR or 3.99 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 Books, Google Play, Scribd, Smashwords, Thalia, Weltbild, Hugendubel, Buecher.de, DriveThruFiction, Casa del Libro, Vivlio, 24symbols and XinXii.

***

So what can you expect from Pegasus Pulp next year? There will be more In Love and War space opera, more sword and sorcery in both the Thurvok and Kurval series, more Two-Fisted Todd adventures, more Helen Shepherd Mysteries, more Alfred and Bertha and lots of other stories.

But for now, I wish you a Merry Christmas or other seasonal holiday, whichever one you may celebrate, as well as a happy, healthy and hopefully better 2021.

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Magic under the Mistletoe 2020 – 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, LitRPG, plenty of dragons, vampires, werewolves, were-cougars, were-reindeer, elves, Krampuses, telepathic detectives, crime-fighting witches, magical cats, holiday body swaps, orphans in danger, fated mates, 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.

Revolt at the North Pole by Cora BuhlertRevolt at the North Pole by Cora Buhlert:

Rebellion is brewing at Santa’s compound at the North Pole. The elves and the reindeer both are overworked, underpaid and angry, so they unite to take down Santa. However, there’s still Santa’s most fearsome enforcer, the horned, clawed and fanged holiday monster known only as Krampus…

This is a short holiday horror story of 3900 words or approx. 14 print pages by Hugo finalist Cora Buhlert.

 

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!

The NutMacKer Sweet by Kate DanleyThe NutMacKer Sweet by Kate Danley:

The holidays are the sweetest time of year, but not for Maggie and Killian who must return the Nutcracker prince to his proper place when someone tries to make sure the show does not go on.

Come along on this Maggie MacKay Holiday Short Story Special.

 

 

A Merry Maggie Messmas by Kate DanleyA Merry Maggie Messmas by Kate Danley:

Everyone wonders how Santa is able to do his job, but when one of his helpers goes rogue and starts spreading TOO MUCH holiday cheer, it will be down to Maggie and Killian to hop on that sleigh and bring the world a silent night.

A part of the Maggie MacKay: Holiday Special short story series. This stands independently from the main Magical Tracker series and can be read at any time and in any order. It’s just an excuse to hang out with some of your favorite characters.

WARNING: This short story contains cussing, brawling, and unfestive behavior.

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…

DLC by Rachel FordDLC by Rachel Ford:

A fully immersive virtual reality system. A beta testing opportunity that’s the stuff of dreams – or a nightmare that may never end.

Jack Owens is stuck in Marshfield Studio’s newest virtual reality RPG. To escape, he needs to win the game. He knows that. He’s got his team of heroes back, and he’s finally comfortable with the world. He’s ready.

Except someone at Marshfield Studios forgot to cancel the holiday downloadable content test. Jack goes to sleep in a medieval fantasy world, and wakes up in some kind of bizarre winter wonderland where his quest – and his way home – plays second fiddle to holiday festivals, winter pets, and seasonal quests.

But Jack better not let his extended stay or the holiday doldrums distract him too much. Because there’s far worse waiting for him in this magical nightmare than a lump of coal in his stocking…

Christmas Hunger by Piper FoxChristmas Hunger by Piper Fox:

After three days of hosting his vampiric brothers and their mates, Magnus is at his wit’s end. A sworn viking bachelor, he needs a break from the happy couples.

The moment the doorbell rings, he takes the chance to get away from it all. Only to come face to face with a beautiful delivery woman who stirs his blood in a way that only a fated mate could.

Donna knows her vision is true the second she meets Magnus’ gaze. Knowing he could send her away before they really get to know each other, she’s careful to hide her true intentions. She wants Magnus to get to know the real her, not just her witchly title.

Magnus has no interest in being tied down to any woman, fated mate be damned. But her sexy confidence and alluring smiles might just have Magnus’ resolve faltering. The moment he has her in his arms, the pull is too strong. He knows giving into his need, even just for the evening, could lead to more than the vampire is willing to give.

Once her true identity is revealed, Magnus must decide whether the sassy, sexy Donna is worth sacrificing his independent bachelor lifestyle for the love of a witch.

Starlight Web by Yasmine GalenornStarlight Web by Yasmine Galenorn:

Moonshadow Bay…where magic lurks in the moonlight, and danger hides in the shadows.

One month before January Jaxson turns 41, her husband ditches her for a trophy wife. Adding insult to injury, he steals the business she helped build, and kicks her out during the holidays. So when her best friend Ari suggests she move back to Moonshadow Bay—a quirky, magical town near Bellingham WA—January decides to take the plunge.

Born into a family of witches, January accepts a job at Conjure Ink, a paranormal investigations website. The job’s right up her alley but she doubts that everything reported to Conjure Ink really exists. That is, until she’s sent out on her first case.

An abandoned asylum once housed a murderer, who killed an entire family one Yuletide Eve. It’s rumored that every December he returns to haunt the woodland around the asylum, seeking to add new members to his supernatural family. January’s sure it’s an urban legend, but when new victims show up with no logical explanation for their deaths, Conjure Ink sends her in to investigate. Suddenly January finds herself in over her head, staring directly into the shadowed world of the Veil.

Now, January must not only navigate the new life she’s trying to build, but the paranormal beasties she’s sent out to explore, as well as a hot new neighbor, who seems to be hiding a shadowed past of his own.

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.

A Little Mistletoe and Magic by Marianne MoreaA Little Mistletoe and Magic by Marianne Morea:

Done with grieving the loss of her family, Jenny Mitchell is looking for a fresh start. Life as she knew it is over, but what waits for her in the town of Whisper Falls is more than just quaint charm and an Inn no one wanted. Her near death experience awakens senses she didn’t know she possessed. Senses that both scare and fascinate her, especially when they bring her face to face with a sexy, supernatural truth that spells more than just second chance romance. Sparks fly under the mistletoe, and there’s no escaping the magic of the season, or the cougar shifter destined to help her through the darkness and mend her broken heart, in this modern twist on a holiday classic.

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…

Flight Before Christmas by Christine PopeFlight Before Christmas by Christine Pope:

They’ll have to fly faster than reindeer to rescue Santa…and save Christmas.

Other than the pleasure of etching delicate tendrils of ice on windows, there’s not much Kai Ulfsen enjoys about life under Jack Frost’s rule. But when he’s roped into serving on a strike team to kidnap Santa and destroy Christmas, Kai’s had enough. Frost must be stopped.

Human witches, the only other beings on Earth with magical powers, are his only hope. He never expected his search would lead him a woman with sky-blue eyes and hair like a river of gold.

Stella Monroe is five minutes away from closing up her tea shop for the holiday when a vision of Nordic male perfection fills the doorway. And, even more surreal, this beautiful man with silver hair, aquamarine eyes, and…pointed ears?…needs her help.

Granted, she flies the fastest broom at the Witch Olympics, but is her magic equal to a task like this? But maybe with a little luck — and a bag of pixie dust — Kai and Stella can beat the clock, beat Frost at his own game, and save the happiest holiday of the year.

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 2020 – 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.

Murder at the Mayfair Hotel by C.J. ArcherMurder at the Mayfair Hotel by C.J. Archer:

It was the most fashionable place to stay in London, until murder made a reservation.

December 1899. After the death of her beloved grandmother, Cleopatra Fox moves into the luxury hotel owned by her estranged uncle in the hopes of putting hardship and loneliness behind her. But the poisoning of a guest on Christmas Eve throws her new life, and the hotel, into chaos.

Cleo quickly realizes no one can be trusted, not Scotland Yard and especially not the hotel’s charming assistant manager. With the New Year’s Eve ball approaching fast and the hotel’s reputation hanging by a thread, Cleo must find the killer before the ball, and the hotel itself, are ruined. But catching a murderer proves just as difficult as navigating the hotel’s hierarchy and the peculiarities of her family.

Can Cleo find the killer before the new century begins? Or will someone get away with murder?

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.

The Reluctant Witness by S.L. BeaumontThe Reluctant Witness by S.L. Beaumont:

In the weeks leading to Christmas, Liam McArvey, lead singer of The Fury, falls for enigmatic Bella, a waitress at his local café. However, little does he know that she is hiding a dangerous secret. After a photograph of the couple, taken outside a London recording studio, surfaces on the internet, Bella panics and prepares to move on.

But Liam enlists his friend, and sometimes sleuth, Stephanie Cooper, to help Bella unravel events in her past. Together, they uncover a crime within a crime, and Bella must decide where her loyalties lie.

The Reluctant Witness introduces new characters into the Carlswick world along with some old favorites and can be read as a standalone.

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.

Silver Bells and Murder by Beth ByersSilver Bells and Murder by Beth Byers:

December 1926

Violet and Jack take the train to Scotland with their friends for the holidays only to arrive and realize that the village has been exposed to scarlet fever. Given the delicate babies in their family, they determine to insulate themselves at the lodge they’d taken.

Nearly desperate for some peace and holiday cheer, they intend nothing but lolling by the fire, diving into cupfuls of eggnog, and feasting.

Only, once again, they discover a body. The worst of it is that they were alone at the lodge when the crime was committed. Is it possible that one of them is the killer? Join Vi and friends as they determine their loyalties and hunt a murderer.

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?

Eggnog, Extortion and Evergreens by Tonya KappesEggnog, Extortion and Evergreens by Tonya Kappes:

Welcome to Normal, Kentucky~ where nothing is normal. A Campers and Criminal Mystery Series is another brainchild of USA Today Bestselling Author Tonya Kappes. If you love her quirky southern characters and small town charm with a mystery to solve, you’re going to love her new cozy mystery series!

Mae West is busy this Christmas season. She’s running around Normal getting the town ready for the first Winter Festival, which she hopes will become an annual event for the tourist town.

The freshly fallen snow sure does make the Daniel Boone National Park beautiful and ready for Santa’s arrival, but it also makes the curvy roads through the forest very slick. Unfortunately, Mae finds out just how slick the roads are after her car slides off the road and hits a tree, putting Mae into a deep coma.

Mae is one of the lucky patients who does wake up and happy to celebrate Christmas with family and friends.

One of the patients in the emergency room with Mae didn’t die that night of natural causes, and Hank Sharp has himself a new homicide case on his hands.

Mae starts having memories about the fire that took her family and a memory of a murder plot that she thinks happened when she was in her coma. Only, she’s having a hard time distinguishing between the two memories and the clues seem to have blurred lines. There’s one thing she does know for sure, both incidents come with clues that neither were accidents.

Once again, Mae West with the help of the Laundry Club Ladies put on their ameatur sleuth cap to help solve the mystery of the murders before the killer sends her Christmas gift she can’t return.

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.

 

Murder on Holiday Lane by London LovettMurder on Holiday Lane by London Lovett:

It’s a warm and sunny Christmas season in Los Angeles. Things are slow at the Starfire Detective Agency, but Poppy is sure things will pick up after the holidays. When a pretty young starlet who works part-time as an elf at Santa’s Workshop on Holiday Lane is murdered, Poppy’s close friend, the up and coming director, Wyatt Blaze, becomes a prime suspect. Wyatt needs Poppy’s help to find the real killer. Gossip travels fast in Tinseltown and an arrest, even a false arrest, will destroy Wyatt’s career for good.

Now Poppy must start from the very beginning to find out just who had it out for the elf. Is it possible Santa himself is behind the diabolical deed?

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.

Murder on a Midnight Clear by Sara RosettMurder on a Midnight Clear by Sara Rosett:

A snowbound country mansion, a missing butler, and a Christmas case…

Olive and Jasper have never been closer—except in one area. Jasper is still reticent about his frequent disappearances from polite society. With the holidays approaching and no paying client on the books, Olive decides to shadow Jasper when he’s unexpectedly called away. Her search brings her to Holly Hill Lodge where an eclectic group has gathered to celebrate an old-fashioned English Christmas.

The guest list includes a celebrated lawn tennis champion, a fussy scientist studying snowflakes, a persuasive luggage salesman, a famous lady explorer, and the family’s eccentric aunt who has a fondness for the newfangled drinks called cocktails.

When the butler goes missing, Olive and Jasper must work together to solve the Christmas crime—as well as the secret Jasper hides.

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.

Christmas in Nuala by Harriet SteelChristmas in Nuala by Harriet Steel:

In the sixth instalment of this popular and charming series set in the 1930s amidst the rolling green hills of colonial Ceylon, the little town of Nuala is full of Christmas good cheer, until murder overshadows the festivities.

The mystery he needs to solve baffles Inspector de Silva. It’s just as well he has his wife, Jane, to support him in his race to unmask the villain and save an endangered romance.

If you love entertaining and absorbing mysteries, spiced with colourful characters and a dash of humour, don’t miss The Inspector de Silva Mysteries. Christmas in Nuala makes a great short read for the busy holiday season. Treat yourself to a copy today.

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.

'Tis the Season to Be Murdered by Valerie Wolzien‘Tis the Season to Be Murdered by Valerie Wolzien:

The appetizers were to die for.

Exhausted after shopping for teenagers, struggling with cappuccino machines, and eating way too many cookies, Susan Henshaw is glad she hired “The Holly and Ms. Ivy” to cater her annual New Year’s bash.

But when half the team, the blond and buffed Z Holly, chef extraordinaire and notorious ladies’ man, is found strangled in a van full of helium balloons, Susan starts hunting for a killer—and a way to save her party.

Though kept in the dark by the police, Susan crashes the holiday parties of the area Hancock, nibbling her way through epicurean delights and sordid tales of sin. Will she discover if really,’Tis the Season to Be Murdered?

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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Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month for November 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 and small press authors (as well as the occasional Big 5 book) 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 urban fantasy, dark fantasy, paranormal mysteries, paranormal romance, time travel romance, science fiction romance, space opera, military science fiction, humorous science fiction, post-apocalyptic fiction, dystopian fiction, biopunk, agripunk, steampunk, gaslamp fantasy, time travel, alternate history, horror, LitRPG, vampires, aliens, dragons, dinosaurs, gargoyles, alien invasions, interstellar wars, space marines, mercenaries, pirates, thieves, interstellar brides, crime-busting witches, crime-busting psychics, samurai barbers, ninja haristylists 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 Trouble at Turtle Beach by Carrie BedfordThe Trouble at Turtle Beach by Carrie Bedford:

ROMANTIC GETAWAY BUZZKILL:
DEATH NEVER TAKES A HOLIDAY!

Harried, overworked architect Kate Benedict has no sooner stepped off the ferry to a tiny, remote island in Seychelles, primed to de-stress and celebrate at a destination wedding, than she spots imminent danger – auras spinning above the heads of two people on the dock. One’s a stranger, but the other’s the groom!

Kate has a gift – or possibly a curse. Unfortunately for her, she can predict death. When she sees the spinning circle of air above someone’s head, her heart sinks. She calls it an aura, and unless she can locate the source of danger and intervene, the person is destined to die within a matter of days.

But since the potential victim must be convinced of the danger, usually there’s no way to intervene with a stranger. When the second man is found drowned, Kate knows she has to tell her boyfriend Josh that the groom, Josh’s close friend from college, has an aura.

It’s hard to convince Josh’s friends that a murderer is lurking among the gracious islanders, the chill tourists, and serene natural beauty – but with a suspicious fire and a third aura sighting, the evidence is mounting. Until they can find the murderer, Kate and Josh have to keep the groom safe and fend off the worst wedding crasher ever – Death!

Folder by Raymond BoltonFolder by Raymond Bolton:

Eric Folder has moved to Oregon to attend Portland State University when an automobile accident leaves him stricken with migraine headaches. The resulting visual effects—something medical professionals term an aura—render him virtually blind and defenseless when a gang of street thugs attacks him. Desperate to see and needing to protect himself, Eric reflexively tears at the luminous lines of light and finds they have become tangible. When he pulls them aside, his present reality folds away with them, leaving him in better circumstances with his enemies vanished. Attempts to fold his way out of successive perils leave him in increasingly strange situations until, eventually, his world becomes a nightmare.

Neutral Ground by Cora BuhlertNeutral Ground by Cora Buhlert:

Two old soldiers share a coffee and fight for their lives

The Republic of United Planets and the Empire of Worlds have been at war for eighty-eight years now. But nonetheless, Colonel Brian Mayhew, deputy commander of the Republican Special Commando Forces, meets with his Imperial counterpart General Roderick Crawford to discuss an incident that’s a problem for both of them. For two of their elite soldiers fell in love and ran away with each other, an embarrassment to the Republic and the Empire both.

However, this secret meeting is not as secret as the two men think. And so Mayhew and Crawford are soon fighting for their lives side by side…

This is a novelette of 9500 words or approximately 32 print pages in the “In Love and War” series by Hugo finalist Cora Buhlert, but may be read as a standalone.

Ballroom Blitz by Cora BuhlertBallroom Blitz by Cora Buhlert:

Anjali and Mikhail go on a Valentine’s Day date. Trouble ensues.

Once, 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.

It’s Valentine’s Day and so Mikhail and Anjali enjoy a well-deserved romantic dinner. But their date is rudely interrupted, when they find themselves caught in the crossfire of a turf war between two rival gangsters.

This is a Valentine’s Day novella of 23200 words or approximately 78 print pages in the “In Love and War” series by Hugo finalist Cora Buhlert, but may be read as a standalone.

Secrets of the Sword by Lindsay BurokerSecrets of the Sword by Lindsay Buroker:

After helping my steady dragon Zav with his family problems, I thought life would get back to normal. As normal as it can be when you’re a hit woman responsible for hunting down bad guys.

That was before a strange artifact showed up in a bog and turned my ancient dwarven sword into a magical beacon. Now my enemies can sense it from hundreds of miles away. More than that, every club-toting, over-muscled orc, ogre, and troll who would like a magic sword can sense it.

Usually, fighting off opportunists wouldn’t be a problem (they don’t call me Ruin Bringer without reason), but even I can only handle so many attacks at a time. And Zav isn’t as much help as you’d think, since he’s busy on a quest for a ring.

No, it’s not a Lord of the Rings kind of quest. My boss put it in Zav’s head that since we’re mated in the dragon way, we should also be married in the human way. Now, he’s off to find the perfect engagement ring. Given his taste in human footwear, I may be in trouble for more reasons than my marked sword.

Not only is there no chance of my life getting back to normal any time soon, but if I can’t figure out how to fix my sword, I’ll be dead long before I can get married.

Leads and Lynxes by Rebecca ChastainLeads and Lynxes by Rebecca Chastain:

Be careful what you ask for…

Kylie got into journalism to write important stories. Ones about gargoyles and dryads, elemental warriors, and thwarted magical attacks on her city. The bigger the story, the better. So when she lands the opportunity to ask an enchanted everlasting tree for the answer to any question she desires, she doesn’t have to think about it. She wants the story of a lifetime.

So does her nemesis, Nathan. If anyone is going to write a high-profile story, the senior journalist believes it should be him—and Nathan’s not above playing dirty to get his way. Kylie must work fast or risk losing control of her story.

But with every new lead forcing Kylie and her gargoyle companion, Quinn, deeper into a deadly maze of murder, warped magic, and monstrous beasts, rushing could prove fatal. Kylie is determined to publish her dream story, but she is beginning to wonder…will she survive long enough to write it?

Rika Destroyer by M.D. CooperRika Destroyer by M.D. Cooper:

If the Nietzscheans want war…

…then Rika will bring it to their doorstep.

With the enemy embarking on a scorched earth withdrawal, Rika has few choices available. Either she spreads her Marauders out to protect the Genevian worlds, or she strikes at the enemy’s heart when they least expect it.

Even though her Marauders are fearless and have never been defeated in battle, they’ve also never faced off against the full might of the Nietzschean military. Rika’s plan doesn’t involve going toe to toe with the enemy—though she’s not above tricking them into thinking that by layering feints within feints.

Poised for victory, what Rika didn’t plan for is the internal machinations of Nietzschean politics and how far Admiral Hammond is willing to go to secure the empire for himself.

Aided by an old friend, Rika will push herself further than ever before in order to save her Marauders and the fledgling nation she’s pulled back from the brink.

Tales From a Scarygirl Two: Darkly Sinister by Marie Anne CopeTales From a Scarygirl Two: Darkly Sinister by Marie Anne Cope:

THEY WALK BESIDE YOU. THEY SHARE YOUR BED. THEY EVEN KISS YOUR KIDS GOODNIGHT.
Are you SURE you know your friends and family as well as you think you do?

These Darkly Sinister tales will challenge your view of those closest to you as they delve into the minds of a selection of murderers; all calm and composed on the outside, but harbouring depths of depravity within.

When someone says, ‘I love you’, have you considered the small print if you were to sign? When you make a desperate call for help, can you trust the person who responds? And, when you chase that adrenaline rush, have you considered the price may be your life?

In Darkly Sinister, volume two of Tales From A Scarygirl, Marie Anne Cope takes you on a journey to discover the wickedness of the human psyche and how, when it comes to being scared, you should look at those close by.

If you enjoy spine tingling short stories that leave you unsettled and feeling uneasy, Marie Anne Cope’s latest collection, encompassing the darkness of Stephen King and the visceral gore of Jack Ketchum, is the very reason you will sleep with the lights on.

Samurai Barber versus Ninja Hairstylist by Zed DeeSamurai Barber Versus Ninja Hairstylist by Zed Dee:

Change is in the hair.

Ninjas are wreaking havoc by cutting people’s hair without their permission. Behind this follicular terrorism is a master ninja, the Ninja Hairstylist, whose chaotic hairstyle embodies the anarchy that is about to tear the city apart.

The Samurai Barber must step up and cut down the evil strands on the Ninja Hairstylist’s head. It is not just keratin that is at stake. The Samurai Barber must fight for one of the cornerstones of modern civilization; the freedom and self-determination to choose your own hairstyle.

Bugs and Loopholes by Rachel FordBugs and Loopholes by Rachel Ford:

A fully immersive virtual reality system. A beta testing opportunity that’s the stuff of dreams – or a nightmare that may never end.

Jack Owens is stuck in Marshfield Studio’s newest virtual reality videogame. To escape, he needs to win. He’s started assembling his team of heroes, which brings him one step closer to leaving the virtual world forever.

Until Jack finds the mother of all bugs: his companions vanish into thin air. The same companions he needs to have a chance at winning the game.

Luckily for Jack, there’s no rule against utilizing cooperative mode to finish the quest. Level developer and beta test supervisor Jordan Knight spins up her character, and jumps in.

The problem? Cooperative mode is even buggier than single player…

Dryker's Fall by Chris FoxDryker’s Fall by Chris Fox:

Humanity’s End is Upon Us

The Tigris have declared a Sacred Hunt against Earth. During the last battle Dryker’s daring plan turned back their vanguard, but now the entire fleet has arrived.

Thousands of Tigris vessels converge upon our world, with only a few dozen battleships, and our remaining orbital defense platforms to shield us.

Captain Dryker is placed under the command of the sadistic Doctor Reid, and sent to reactivate an ancient Void Wraith factory. Within this factory slumbers an army of Void Wraith, and a fleet of harvesters. But if he succeeds those forces will not work for Earth.

They will begin the Eradication, and wipe out everything.

Rebel Mate by Grace GoodwinRebel Mate by Grace Goodwin:

A rebel alien roaming the far reaches of the galaxy. An Interstellar Bride on the run for her life. When her life crash lands into his on a remote planet, they’ll need each other to survive.

The Interstellar Brides Program guarantees it can match any female on Earth, even a cynical, street-wise, and very jaded Zara, who just wants to start over. But when she arrives on her new home planet… she gets more than promised:

Murder? Check.
Smugglers? Check.
A sexy as hell pirate who demands she follow his orders? Um, what?

Zara didn’t volunteer for this mess, but she’s a fighter. A survivor. She’ll work with a sexy–did I say bossy?–rebel to bring down the bad guys and take on a Rogue 5 legion in order to obtain what she wants, a white picket fence kind of life in outer space… if she can live long enough to get it.

Wicked Wedding by Lily Harper HartWicked Wedding by Lily Harper Hart:

You are formally invited to the wedding of Ivy Morgan and Jack Harker.

Before they walk down the aisle, though, there’s one more mystery to solve.

Ivy, who is finishing up the last days of her community service, inserts herself into a tense situation when the alarm at the domestic violence shelter she is working at sounds and she goes off to make sure all the women and children are accounted for. She expects a malfunction. What she gets is a violent man trying to remove his daughter from the facility. She reacts out of instinct … and magically thwarts the attempt.

Unfortunately for her, that’s only the beginning.

Because the man managed to escape, Ivy and Jack find themselves working together to track him down. On top of that, since the location of the building is supposed to be a secret, it appears an insider might be selling information.

More than anything, Ivy and Jack want to slide into happily ever after. However, neither of them can rest until they’re sure those most vulnerable are safe.

Ivy’s powers are growing. Her relationship with Jack was always destined to be. They’re both about to get everything they ever wanted … as long as they survive to make it down the aisle.

The big day is finally here.

An Enigma in Silver by Simon HaynesAn Enigma in Silver by Simon Haynes:

England, 1871. A quiet country village is rocked by murder. Police have no leads and no clues, apart from the grisly state of the victim’s body.

Evidence points to a supernatural killer, but Professor Twickham is curiously reluctant to lend his assistance.

Roberta, his daughter, has no such qualms, and she involves me in the case as well… only to turn around and abandon me for a sick friend.

Now I must unmask the vicious killer on my own, but had I only known the truth, I’d never have got involved…

This standalone novel is the second title in the Mysteries in Metal gaslamp fantasy series.

The Almost Good Witch by Erin HussThe Almost Good Witch by Erin Huss:

Abigail was your average evil witch, complete with the hat, the cat, the cackle, and the bad habit of turning people into slugs on a whim. Cursed with eternal life because of a hex gone wrong many centuries ago, Abigail spent her days exacting revenge on those she found to be the vilest of humans, from evil dictators to shoppers who didn’t return their grocery carts.

The line between good and annoying may have gotten blurred over the years.

Sick of spending immortality frozen at the age of twenty-five, Abigail does the only thing she can—turn herself into the Supernatural Crimes Department. Now she’s a member of Dark Magic Anonymous with a three year probation and a parole officer who is annoyingly powerful and more annoyingly cute.

Oh, and she’s traded in her broomstick for a Prius.

After centuries of being evil, Abigail struggles with entering the workforce and being good. But that pesky probation means one slip up will result in a life sentence. She’s not about to let that happen, and things are going well until her boss turns up dead with all evidence pointing to her.

Will Abigail be able to maintain her new good witch ways while she hunts a killer, or will she slip up and spend the rest of forever behind bars?

The Vampire by Erme LanderThe Vampire Duology by Erme Lander:

“I do not require your eternal love or devotion Ms Johnson, merely what is inside your veins.”

When Tina Johnson, single mother, forty, wakes up in an isolated castle in Central Europe she simply wants to return to her daughter as quickly as possible. She doesn’t expect to find that she has been kidnapped and brought into a world where power is the key to survival and sanity is an optional extra.

Tina discovers she has been watched for many years, she has a rare genetic structure that makes her attractive to vampires and has the possibility of living for well over a century, if she allows herself to become infected. Kalmár has stolen her and intends to keep her captive, hiding her from both her family and other vampires. Normality becomes a frightening place as Tina struggles to escape those holding her and to fights to keep her daughter, her lover and her freedom.

Those wanting teenage kicks and thrills had better stand aside. This is a story of a woman held hostage with only her own exhausted brain to help. The slow seductive burn of sleepless nights. The nightmare of a horrific reality setting in and the endless patience of a dark being who has time on his side.

Sitting somewhere between Anne Rice and Bram Stoker this is perfect for fans of paranormal romance that want something different to savour. The Vampire Duology is a modern twist on the classic vampire tale.

Please note that this duology consists of “A Dark Inheritance” and “A Dark infection” both available on Amazon as single books.

The Witch Is Back by Amanda M. LeeThe Witch Is Back by Amanda M. Lee:

Bay Winchester is living the high life. She’s engaged, owns her own business, and is undergoing a magical transformation, complete with growing powers at every turn. All that changes when a local teenager goes missing at a festival and nobody knows who took her.

The girl’s friends saw the abduction but the description they provide doesn’t match anybody in town. The only other witness is Marcus, her cousin Thistle’s boyfriend, and he was seriously injured in the attack and can’t provide additional information.

Bay is determined to solve the case, although she’s not sure where to look. On top of that, her normal partner in crime is otherwise engaged, which means her mother has decided to tag along for the ride.

Bay is the sort of witch who is willing to put herself on the line to save those who need saving. Unfortunately, this time around, the answers she finds only lead to more questions. On top of that, her great-aunt Willa and cousin Rosemary have arrived in town out of nowhere and they seem to be harboring their own secrets, and it’s something that could change the entire trajectory of Bay’s life.

The Winchesters are loyal, and it’s going to take all of them working together to solve this one. It seems new magic is afoot, and whoever is wielding it is deadly.

Magic, mystery and mayhem are about to collide. Batten down the hatches. The Winchesters are about to take you on a wild ride.

Tiny Planet Filled With Liars by Stephen M.A.Tiny Planet Filled With Liars by Stephen M.A.:

So, a fussy ex-military amateur sleuth walks into a brothel and saves the world.
(Stop me if you’ve heard it.)
A comically tragic spectacle; a cathartic balm for our times; a cerebral pack of filthy lies.

A shuttle pilot once remarked to me, “You know, no one needs a monthly visit from an undying alien armada just to remember rent’s due.”

But you’d be surprised.

For generations, the Unified Fiduciary Dominion has relied on the military contractors of the Board to defend our planet (and its revenue streams) from Fleet Eternal. Now, those preening corporate punks have left us dangling.

Armed with exclusive investigatory powers, I’ve collaborated with Zhou—Ruby District madame—to scry the mysterious conspiracy unfolding over our heads.

Why are time-tested battle plans of the Alpha Vector Defense Corps suddenly failing? And why is the Board sitting idly by as casualties pile up in the Divisions? Does inventory attrition prevention mean nothing anymore?!

Not to belabor the many faults of these Incorporated scoundrels, but just know this: A few weeks ago—after I discovered they’re probably about to get us all boiled alive in orbital battle radiation—I’m pretty sure one of the fuckers ruined my best jacket by ordering a lackey to put a knife through it on a busy industrial boulevard. While I was still inside it.

My best jacket.

The verdict is clear. (ahem) That is—the verdict is clearish. Let this report serve as our collective judgment all the same.

Behold, fellow plebs; take heart in these dark days, and stand tall once again.

The Board may not fear Fleet Eternal, but it will fear The Interviewer.

Trust me.

When Luck Runs Out by Terry MixonWhen Luck Runs Out by Terry Mixon:

After years of battle, Kelsey Bandar and Jared Mertz are finally ready to face the master AI enslaving the Terran Empire. With just a bit of luck, this nightmare will finally be over.

Only luck can run out just when you need it the most.

Outnumbered and outgunned, they must salvage victory from certain defeat. Failure means extermination, invasion, and the loss of everyone they love. Can they beat the odds just one more time?

If you love military science fiction and grand adventure on a galaxy-spanning scale, grab “When Luck Runs Out” and the rest of The Empire of Bones Saga today!

First Strike by Scott MoonFirst Strike by Scott Moon:

Joining the fight for the Galaxy isn’t required. It’s a choice.

The United Galactic Government is mired in a decade-long war for control of a key planet. Weakened by overextension and political intrigue, they could lose everything.

When a child of privilege gives up everything to enlist and fight for what is right, he learns what it means to become part of a team. He encounters refugees, aliens he never expected to empathize with, and the loss of comrades. In the end he must develop the courage to stand up, not only to aliens and governments, but his own family.

Eight Cylinders by Jason ParentEight Cylinders by Jonathan Parent:

Sebastian “Seb” McAlister has run out of luck in Vegas. Cornered by a trigger-happy gang and shot through the stomach, he makes a desperate escape in his supercharged Hellcat. Fate guides Seb safely out of Sin City and into the desert, but as his wheels fade into the horizon, he fades into darkness.

He awakes among a tiny community in the middle of nowhere. A mountain range circles the hodgepodge of shacks like prison walls looming high. And the warden that resides in those mountains is big, ugly, and deadly—a creature straight out of a Lovecraftian nightmare.

If Seb hopes to escape that wayward way station, he’ll need enough cunning to outwit a force beyond comprehension… and a fast car. With a little luck and a ragtag group of would-be monster mashers racing alongside him, Seb just might have a shot of making it through the mountains alive.

Proudly represented by Crystal Lake Publishing—Tales from the Darkest Depths.

The Impure by Kaitlyn PenningtonThe Impure by Kaitlyn Pennington:

Twenty-one-year-old Daniella Reilly always believed that her mother’s tales were nothing but fiction. But when she is taken to Seattle by her long-time friends, Madison, Derrick and Masen, Daniella meets people that she had been told did not exist. That is when she realizes that her mother’s stories of monsters and magic might actually be true. Vampires, Werewolves, Warlocks and Witches all exist among us, and Daniella finds herself launched into their world. She finds that not only does she have family in this strange, new world, but her mother is not who she believed her to be.Now knowing the truth of her childhood and family, Daniella joins Andrew, James, Amaelia, and Oliver on a mission to bring her mother’s work to a stop and to find a man that may not want to be found.Daniella’s main goal after discovering all that she has, is to make sure that her newfound family and herself all survive what’s coming and stick together despite the obstacles.

Longshot by Sean Platt and Johnny B. TruantLongshot by Sean Platt and Johnny B. Truant

While Las Vegas burns, John Abbot is on fire.

What’s a Gambler to do when the kind of winning streak he’s only ever dreamed about hits just as aliens invade and it looks like the world is coming to an end?

Even while Las Vegas catches fire all around him, John Abbot decides to let it ride. For the first time in his life it feels like he can do no wrong. But it’s gonna take more than a boatload of chips to survive the alien apocalypse. It might even require him to pull together the motley crew of left-over lowlifes and Vegas vagabonds to embark on a high-risk crusade.

In order to get a dying alien to Area 51, and hopefully save the world, John’s only hope is a disillusioned showgirl, a snarky comedian, a cynical slot maching junkie, and the rest of the Las Vegas leftovers.

Unless they die, and destroy the universe along the way.

It’s a race against time as the aliens arrive in this new stand-alone book in the Invasion universe by masters of story Sean Platt and Johnny B. Truant, authors of The Beam, Robot Proletariat, The Dream Engine, and more.

Ascendant by Joyce Reynolds-WardAscendant by Joyce Reynolds-Ward:

WHAT DOES ASCENSION TO POWER REALLY COST?

Six months after the triumphant collaborative conclusion of the AgInnovator Superhero game show, Ruby Barkley and her ex-husband Gabriel Martiniere still struggle with the professional and personal fallout from their victory. The Superhero money allowed Ruby to launch her line of agricultural biobots. But one of the RubyBot spinoffs, the Defender, leads to unsettling revelations about crop tampering using body-modified indentured workers. Their son Brandon uncovers even more disturbing information about the abuse of indentureds as he campaigns to end it. All of these disclosures lead back to the Martiniere Group, the family corporation controlled by Gabe’s malevolent uncle, Philip Martiniere.

Meanwhile, Ruby and Gabe wrestle with what form their resumed relationship will take, as Ruby contemplates whether she wants to take on the role of a Martiniere wife. The revelation that Gabe’s father is not who they thought, and Philip’s attempt to force Ruby away from Gabe once again confirms her decision. But the need to rescue one of Brandon’s valued indentured informants turns celebration into catastrophe. Will Ruby and Gabe be able to recover from this disaster—or will Philip triumph yet again in his campaign to destroy Gabe?

Realization by Joyce Reynolds-WardRealization by Joyce Reynolds-Ward:

THEY’VE ALMOST REALIZED THEIR DREAMS…BUT CAN THEY REMAIN THEMSELVES?

The indentured labor wars heat up as Ruby Barkley and Gabriel Martiniere struggle with medical complications that interfere with their fight to stop the sinister goals of Gabe’s father Philip. Discoveries by their son Brandon about the degree to which Philip and the family corporation, the Martiniere Group, are involved in unethical, interdicted human experimentation push them into accepting a questionable treatment to speed their recovery.

Philip’s direct challenge initiates Gabe’s final push to take over the Martiniere Group. Ruby and Brandon consolidate family support behind Gabe. When a high-profile assassination attempt at a political banquet reveals the existence of cyborged Martiniere descendants and clones of Philip intended to provide him with replacement parts, Ruby and Gabe must take action. One clone—Michael—still survives.

Along with their bid to win control of the Martiniere empire, Ruby and Gabe now face the dilemma of what is to be done with Michael. Can they save both the family and Philip’s clone—or should they even try?

The realization of their dreams is within Ruby and Gabe’s reach. Can they fulfill it while still remaining true to themselves?

Raven's Course by Glynn StewartRaven’s Course by Glynn Stewart:

Old friends have turned to foes
Old oaths have shattered
But old ties still promise redemption

Amid the ruins of a fallen empire, humanity fights to secure the fates of once-enslaved worlds. Captain Henry Wong and Ambassador Sylvia Todorovich of the United Planets Alliance have mustered force and diplomacy alike to drive their former allies in the Kozun Hierarchy back from their invasion.

With their superiors unwilling to fight a war this far from home, Todorovich leans on the Drifters, old allies of both the UPA and the Kozun, to broker a peace summit that could bring peace to a dozen worlds—if she can trust anyone.

Fearing treachery, Captain Henry Wong and the battlecruiser Raven accompany Todorovich to the summit. Even among former friends, he can trust no one—not the Drifters and, most especially, not the old friend in command of the Kozun delegation!

Stranded by Rosalind TateStranded by Rosalind Tate:

A modern girl. A door to the past. No way back.

When Sophie Arundel falls through a hidden portal into 1925, she assumes she’s dreaming.

Except she isn’t.

Then the portal disappears.

Mysteriously invited to stay in a grand house, Sophie must navigate high-stakes rules to find a wealthy suitor. But that’s the least of her problems.

History is unfolding differently in this England. Millions are starving, desperate and angry. When Sophie’s soulmate is attacked by a baying mob and his life ebbs away…

Can Sophie save him?

Stranded is the first book in the Shorten Chronicles romantic fantasy series. If you like time travel, adventure and heroic dogs, you’ll love Stranded.

The Diamond Device by M.H. ThaungThe Diamond Device by M.H. Thaung:

After diamond power promises to replace steam, an unemployed labourer and a thieving noble unite to foil an international plot and avert a war.

Alf Wilson resents the new technology that cost him his factory job, especially as his clockwork leg bars him from army enrolment. He daren’t confess his unemployment to his overbearing mother. Desperate over the rent, he ends up in a detention cell with a hangover.

Impoverished Lord Richard Hayes maintains his expensive parliamentary seat by a mixture of charm and burglary. During a poorly planned break-in, he inadvertently witnesses a kidnapping. To cap it all, the police arrest him for the crime. At least he’s using a fake identity. The real criminals make off with not just the professor who discovered diamond power, but her plans for a diamond-fuelled bomb.

When Rich encounters Alf in the neighbouring cell, he sees an opportunity to keep his noble reputation intact. He persuades Alf he’s a secret agent who needs an assistant. This chance association will take them to the oddest locations. But law-abiding Alf’s first assignment? Break Rich out of jail.

Within the Fog by Charles WelchWithin the Fog by Charles Welch:

The same ancient evil that killed 115 people at Roanoke, Virginia in the late 1500’s has arrived in a small eastern Colorado town. A fog covers the small town and closes in on Tom Benton and his family. The evil that lurks within the fog feeds on humanity but has special plans for those with anger deep inside. Tom Benton’s son Bobby has seen the face of evil outside his bedroom window in the darkest hours of the night. The man who appears at his window offers a veil of redemption to those holding onto anger and rage. As the fog wraps around the Benton family home there will only be a narrow chance at survival. Can Tom Benton and his family escape the issues of their past in time to save themselves from Croatoan?

Wearing Skin by Simon Paul WoodwardWearing Skin by Simon Paul Woodward:

None of us are what we seem to be on the outside. We are all pretending. We are all wearing skin.

The Angel of Loughborough Junctions: An amoral filmmaker experiences the horror of the world through an angel’s eyes.
Children of Ink: A living tattoo breaks one of the Five Laws of Ink and suffers the terror of life away from flesh.
Wearing Skin: Bigotry conquers true love in a blood-splattered tale of body swapping, sex and immortality.
American Sexual Lobster: A seafood chef loses his mind and body on a night of shellfish slaughter.
Manny & the Monkeys: An egotistical writer’s life is ripped apart by escalating, and increasingly bizarre, coincidences.

These 12 unsettling short stories include the British Fantasy Society award-winning Manny & The Monkeys.

If you’re a fan of Stephen King, Joe Hill or JT Lawrence you’ll love these dark stories with a twist. Get ready to stay up all night with award-winning horror author Simon Paul Woodward.

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Indie Crime Fiction of the Month for November 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 crime 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 cozy mysteries, holiday mysteries, historical mysteries, Victorian mysteries, Jazz Age mysteries, paranormal mysteries, Steampunk mysteries, hardboiled mysteries, noir, police procedurals, crime thrillers, legal thrillers, psychological thrillers, domestic thrillers, action thrillers, spy thrillers, horror thrillers, police officers, FBI agents, amateur sleuths, private investigators, lawyers, spies, thieves, terrorists, organised crime, heists, crime-busting witches, crime-busting socialites, crime-busting seamstresses, crime-busting psychics, murder in Scotland, Belfast, Wyoming, Virginia, Los Angeles, Australia, the Seychelles 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:

Murder After Midnight by Liam AsheMurder After Midnight by Liam Ashe:

Notorious profiteer Gustafson Graves has everything a man with great wealth could expect—a lavish estate, a king’s ransom in precious metals and too many enemies to count. With the Great War now just a memory, he hides from his past behind the closely guarded doors at River’s End. Justice, however, will not be denied. As the clock strikes twelve, Graves’ past comes calling with brutal results.

A bloody corpse, a houseful of suspects, a missing fortune and a locked room. Sleuth and former spy Mafalda Marchand claims nothing is beyond her legendary intuition, but in this impossible murder has she finally met her match?

A Fraying of Schemes by Blythe BakerA Fraying of Schemes by Blythe Baker:

Forced to stay at a local hotel while their home undergoes repairs, Iris and Lily Dickinson find themselves uncomfortably close to a violent crime. Risking a potential stain upon their reputations, the sisters delve into the deadly secrets of the hotel’s inhabitants.

With the guilty party determined to evade capture, will the Dickinson sisters uncover the truth – or be buried with it?

 

 

They're Gone by E.A. BarresThey’re Gone by E.A. Barres:

Two women’s husbands are murdered on the same night in the same way–and their investigation uncovers a terrifying connection.

Two men from vastly different backgrounds are murdered one after another on the same night, in the same fashion with two bullet wounds: one in the head, another in the heart. The two slayings sends their wives on a desperate search for answers–and a desperate attempt to save their families’ lives.

Grief takes a heavy toll on northern Virginia freelance editor Deb Linh Thomas when she learns of her husband’s murder. And utter dismay sets in when, just a week after the funeral, she discovers that he had been the subject of an FBI investigation after withdrawing a large sum of money from their shared accounts.

Elsewhere, Baltimore bartender Cessy Castillo is less bereft when her abusive husband, ex-cop Hector Ramirez, is killed. But it turns out that he was deep in hock–and now Cessy’s expected to pay up.

Deb and the FBI agent assigned to her case start digging into her husband’s murder and learn that he had been the target of criminals. As Deb and Cessy join forces to learn the truth, their investigation reveals an ever-darker web of clues, but if they’re not careful, they may just end up like their husbands

The Reluctant Witness by S.L. BeaumontThe Reluctant Witness by S.L. Beaumont:

In the weeks leading to Christmas, Liam McArvey, lead singer of The Fury, falls for enigmatic Bella, a waitress at his local café. However, little does he know that she is hiding a dangerous secret. After a photograph of the couple, taken outside a London recording studio, surfaces on the internet, Bella panics and prepares to move on.

But Liam enlists his friend, and sometimes sleuth, Stephanie Cooper, to help Bella unravel events in her past. Together, they uncover a crime within a crime, and Bella must decide where her loyalties lie.

The Reluctant Witness introduces new characters into the Carlswick world along with some old favorites and can be read as a standalone.

The Trouble at Turtle Beach by Carrie BedfordThe Trouble at Turtle Beach by Carrie Bedford:

ROMANTIC GETAWAY BUZZKILL:
DEATH NEVER TAKES A HOLIDAY!

Harried, overworked architect Kate Benedict has no sooner stepped off the ferry to a tiny, remote island in Seychelles, primed to de-stress and celebrate at a destination wedding, than she spots imminent danger – auras spinning above the heads of two people on the dock. One’s a stranger, but the other’s the groom!

Kate has a gift – or possibly a curse. Unfortunately for her, she can predict death. When she sees the spinning circle of air above someone’s head, her heart sinks. She calls it an aura, and unless she can locate the source of danger and intervene, the person is destined to die within a matter of days.

But since the potential victim must be convinced of the danger, usually there’s no way to intervene with a stranger. When the second man is found drowned, Kate knows she has to tell her boyfriend Josh that the groom, Josh’s close friend from college, has an aura.

It’s hard to convince Josh’s friends that a murderer is lurking among the gracious islanders, the chill tourists, and serene natural beauty – but with a suspicious fire and a third aura sighting, the evidence is mounting. Until they can find the murderer, Kate and Josh have to keep the groom safe and fend off the worst wedding crasher ever – Death!

Silver Bells and Murder by Beth ByersSilver Bells and Murder by Beth Byers:

December 1926

Violet and Jack take the train to Scotland with their friends for the holidays only to arrive and realize that the village has been exposed to scarlet fever. Given the delicate babies in their family, they determine to insulate themselves at the lodge they’d taken.

Nearly desperate for some peace and holiday cheer, they intend nothing but lolling by the fire, diving into cupfuls of eggnog, and feasting.

Only, once again, they discover a body. The worst of it is that they were alone at the lodge when the crime was committed. Is it possible that one of them is the killer? Join Vi and friends as they determine their loyalties and hunt a murderer.

Misjudges by James ChandlerMisjudged by James Chandler:

Sam Johnstone was hoping for renewal when he took a job at a boutique law firm in rustic Wyoming. The mountains and streams of the west would be a refreshing, quiet place to start over after years of war and turmoil in his personal life.

But after a local woman is brutally murdered, Sam realizes that things aren’t so quiet in this rural American town. The accused is one Tommy Olsen, a known delinquent who had been sleeping with the victim. Sam is repulsed by the crime and wants nothing to do with the case, but meets with Tommy to make sure he has legal representation.

Yet things are not as they seem.

What begins as a cut-and-dry case becomes infinitely more complicated as new facts are uncovered, and Sam agrees to serve as Tommy’s defense attorney.

With the killer’s identity still unknown, Sam is enveloped in the small-town politics and courtroom drama of a murder investigation that keeps getting more shocking.

But if Sam can’t uncover the truth, an innocent man might be punished…while the real killer watches from the shadows.

Tales From a Scarygirl Two: Darkly Sinister by Marie Anne CopeTales From a Scarygirl Two: Darkly Sinister by Marie Anne Cope:

THEY WALK BESIDE YOU. THEY SHARE YOUR BED. THEY EVEN KISS YOUR KIDS GOODNIGHT.
Are you SURE you know your friends and family as well as you think you do?

These Darkly Sinister tales will challenge your view of those closest to you as they delve into the minds of a selection of murderers; all calm and composed on the outside, but harbouring depths of depravity within.

When someone says, ‘I love you’, have you considered the small print if you were to sign? When you make a desperate call for help, can you trust the person who responds? And, when you chase that adrenaline rush, have you considered the price may be your life?

In Darkly Sinister, volume two of Tales From A Scarygirl, Marie Anne Cope takes you on a journey to discover the wickedness of the human psyche and how, when it comes to being scared, you should look at those close by.

If you enjoy spine tingling short stories that leave you unsettled and feeling uneasy, Marie Anne Cope’s latest collection, encompassing the darkness of Stephen King and the visceral gore of Jack Ketchum, is the very reason you will sleep with the lights on.

Tooting Moon by Brigid GeorgeTooting Moon by Brigid George:

A Dusty Kent mystery by an Amazon Best Selling author!

In one of Brigid George’s most ingenious mysteries, Dusty Kent must expose a killer of women.

Beautiful Tiri Welsh and her husband Blake Montgomery were iconic Hollywood stars adored by millions around the world. All that changed one dark night in the Indian Ocean, when Tiri drowned under mysterious circumstances. The truth behind her death was never uncovered.

For seventeen years, Tiri’s sister fought tirelessly to expose Montgomery as his wife’s murderer. Finally, she turns to Dusty Kent

Dusty travels to Broome, Western Australia where the actor now lives aboard his private yacht. She is immediately suspicious of Blake Montgomery, suspecting his urbane charm hides a sinister side. However, to get to the truth, Tiri’s is not the only mysterious death Dusty will need to solve.

Wicked Wedding by Lily Harper HartWicked Wedding by Lily Harper Hart:

You are formally invited to the wedding of Ivy Morgan and Jack Harker.

Before they walk down the aisle, though, there’s one more mystery to solve.

Ivy, who is finishing up the last days of her community service, inserts herself into a tense situation when the alarm at the domestic violence shelter she is working at sounds and she goes off to make sure all the women and children are accounted for. She expects a malfunction. What she gets is a violent man trying to remove his daughter from the facility. She reacts out of instinct … and magically thwarts the attempt.

Unfortunately for her, that’s only the beginning.

Because the man managed to escape, Ivy and Jack find themselves working together to track him down. On top of that, since the location of the building is supposed to be a secret, it appears an insider might be selling information.

More than anything, Ivy and Jack want to slide into happily ever after. However, neither of them can rest until they’re sure those most vulnerable are safe.

Ivy’s powers are growing. Her relationship with Jack was always destined to be. They’re both about to get everything they ever wanted … as long as they survive to make it down the aisle.

The big day is finally here.

An Enigma in Silver by Simon HaynesAn Enigma in Silver by Simon Haynes:

England, 1871. A quiet country village is rocked by murder. Police have no leads and no clues, apart from the grisly state of the victim’s body.

Evidence points to a supernatural killer, but Professor Twickham is curiously reluctant to lend his assistance.

Roberta, his daughter, has no such qualms, and she involves me in the case as well… only to turn around and abandon me for a sick friend.

Now I must unmask the vicious killer on my own, but had I only known the truth, I’d never have got involved…

This standalone novel is the second title in the Mysteries in Metal gaslamp fantasy series.

The Almost Good Witch by Erin HussThe Almost Good Witch by Erin Huss:

Abigail was your average evil witch, complete with the hat, the cat, the cackle, and the bad habit of turning people into slugs on a whim. Cursed with eternal life because of a hex gone wrong many centuries ago, Abigail spent her days exacting revenge on those she found to be the vilest of humans, from evil dictators to shoppers who didn’t return their grocery carts.

The line between good and annoying may have gotten blurred over the years.

Sick of spending immortality frozen at the age of twenty-five, Abigail does the only thing she can—turn herself into the Supernatural Crimes Department. Now she’s a member of Dark Magic Anonymous with a three year probation and a parole officer who is annoyingly powerful and more annoyingly cute.

Oh, and she’s traded in her broomstick for a Prius.

After centuries of being evil, Abigail struggles with entering the workforce and being good. But that pesky probation means one slip up will result in a life sentence. She’s not about to let that happen, and things are going well until her boss turns up dead with all evidence pointing to her.

Will Abigail be able to maintain her new good witch ways while she hunts a killer, or will she slip up and spend the rest of forever behind bars?

Resident Spy by Ethan JonesResident Spy by Ethan Jones:

When terrorists attack a black site, they burn it down and kill everyone, except for two CIA operatives who disappear. Were they kidnapped, killed, or complicit?

As the CIA’s foreign liaison, spymaster Justin Hall is called in. He’s not in the best physical or mental state, a fact he’s hiding from almost everyone.

A fact that could dangerously affect the entire mission.

Alone, with no evidence, no leads, and enemies on all sides, Justin must find out what happened. All before the terrorists use the ill-gotten intel to attack other black sites and free the detainees the agency has worked so hard to capture. Fighting on all sides, including his own, will Justin survive the overwhelming odds against him?

Behind Closed Doors by Phillip JordanBehind Closed Doors by Phillip Jordan:

A VIOLENT KILLING. A SUSPECT OFFERING NO DEFENCE. AN OPEN AND SHUT CASE?

Detective Inspector Veronica Taylor is summoned to assist in the aftermath of a horrific domestic incident.

With the suspect offering no opposition to the charges and with witness testimony and his own violent history stacking up against him, the charge officer deems the case open and shut.

As the victim’s influential Mother pressures her police contacts for a quick resolution and with only one lone dissenting voice speaking out, Taylor guided by her own intuition must uncover the circumstances leading up to the tragic events that played out BEHIND CLOSED DOORS.

BEHIND CLOSED DOORS is an introduction to Detective Inspector Veronica Taylor and the gripping Belfast crime series.

Explore the historic yet infamous city of Belfast in this lightning-fast police procedural from a new voice in British and Irish crime fiction that will keep you hooked until its shocking conclusion.

Eggnog, Extortion and Evergreens by Tonya KappesEggnog, Extortion and Evergreens by Tonya Kappes:

Welcome to Normal, Kentucky~ where nothing is normal. A Campers and Criminal Mystery Series is another brainchild of USA Today Bestselling Author Tonya Kappes. If you love her quirky southern characters and small town charm with a mystery to solve, you’re going to love her new cozy mystery series!

Mae West is busy this Christmas season. She’s running around Normal getting the town ready for the first Winter Festival, which she hopes will become an annual event for the tourist town.

The freshly fallen snow sure does make the Daniel Boone National Park beautiful and ready for Santa’s arrival, but it also makes the curvy roads through the forest very slick. Unfortunately, Mae finds out just how slick the roads are after her car slides off the road and hits a tree, putting Mae into a deep coma.

Mae is one of the lucky patients who does wake up and happy to celebrate Christmas with family and friends.

One of the patients in the emergency room with Mae didn’t die that night of natural causes, and Hank Sharp has himself a new homicide case on his hands.

Mae starts having memories about the fire that took her family and a memory of a murder plot that she thinks happened when she was in her coma. Only, she’s having a hard time distinguishing between the two memories and the clues seem to have blurred lines. There’s one thing she does know for sure, both incidents come with clues that neither were accidents.

Once again, Mae West with the help of the Laundry Club Ladies put on their ameatur sleuth cap to help solve the mystery of the murders before the killer sends her Christmas gift she can’t return.

The Witch Is Back by Amanda M. LeeThe Witch Is Back by Amanda M. Lee:

Bay Winchester is living the high life. She’s engaged, owns her own business, and is undergoing a magical transformation, complete with growing powers at every turn. All that changes when a local teenager goes missing at a festival and nobody knows who took her.

The girl’s friends saw the abduction but the description they provide doesn’t match anybody in town. The only other witness is Marcus, her cousin Thistle’s boyfriend, and he was seriously injured in the attack and can’t provide additional information.

Bay is determined to solve the case, although she’s not sure where to look. On top of that, her normal partner in crime is otherwise engaged, which means her mother has decided to tag along for the ride.

Bay is the sort of witch who is willing to put herself on the line to save those who need saving. Unfortunately, this time around, the answers she finds only lead to more questions. On top of that, her great-aunt Willa and cousin Rosemary have arrived in town out of nowhere and they seem to be harboring their own secrets, and it’s something that could change the entire trajectory of Bay’s life.

The Winchesters are loyal, and it’s going to take all of them working together to solve this one. It seems new magic is afoot, and whoever is wielding it is deadly.

Magic, mystery and mayhem are about to collide. Batten down the hatches. The Winchesters are about to take you on a wild ride.

Murder on Holiday Lane by London LovettMurder on Holiday Lane by London Lovett:

It’s a warm and sunny Christmas season in Los Angeles. Things are slow at the Starfire Detective Agency, but Poppy is sure things will pick up after the holidays. When a pretty young starlet who works part-time as an elf at Santa’s Workshop on Holiday Lane is murdered, Poppy’s close friend, the up and coming director, Wyatt Blaze, becomes a prime suspect. Wyatt needs Poppy’s help to find the real killer. Gossip travels fast in Tinseltown and an arrest, even a false arrest, will destroy Wyatt’s career for good.

Now Poppy must start from the very beginning to find out just who had it out for the elf. Is it possible Santa himself is behind the diabolical deed?

Alter Ego by K.A. MassonAlter Ego by K.A. Masson:

Pounding on the door. My seven-year-old son shaking me awake. My head fuzzy with sleeping pills. The hallway flashing with blue light. This morning my life will change forever.

Alex Kendrew is juggling single parenthood, work and dating; with a wild, impetuous streak that’s hard to keep in check, she struggles to find a balance and feels perpetually guilty for the choices she makes.

In K.A. Masson’s domestic noir thriller, Alex begins a passionate affair when an old flame gets in touch. But one morning, the police arrest her for his attempted murder. Someone is framing her; can she prove her innocence as the evidence mounts against her?

Eight Cylinders by Jason ParentEight Cylinders by Jonathan Parent:

Sebastian “Seb” McAlister has run out of luck in Vegas. Cornered by a trigger-happy gang and shot through the stomach, he makes a desperate escape in his supercharged Hellcat. Fate guides Seb safely out of Sin City and into the desert, but as his wheels fade into the horizon, he fades into darkness.

He awakes among a tiny community in the middle of nowhere. A mountain range circles the hodgepodge of shacks like prison walls looming high. And the warden that resides in those mountains is big, ugly, and deadly—a creature straight out of a Lovecraftian nightmare.

If Seb hopes to escape that wayward way station, he’ll need enough cunning to outwit a force beyond comprehension… and a fast car. With a little luck and a ragtag group of would-be monster mashers racing alongside him, Seb just might have a shot of making it through the mountains alive.

Proudly represented by Crystal Lake Publishing—Tales from the Darkest Depths.

Not Dead Yet by Willow RoseNot Dead Yet by Willow Rose:

Has former FBI-profiler Eva Rae Thomas finally gotten herself in deeper than she can handle?

When the body of Nancy Henry is pulled out of the water of Sykes Creek by two local fishermen, they soon realize she’s not dead.

Not yet.

Before she disappeared, Nancy Henry appeared to have everything: a successful husband who adored her, two beautiful children, a modeling career, and a charming home in south Merritt Island with a heart wreath on the door.

Now that she is back five years later, everything has changed. Her husband is with another wife, and her children are almost grown.

Everywhere she turns, people are telling her the same thing: We thought you were dead.

What happened to her?

Nancy claims she doesn’t know where she has been. She remembers nothing after a blow to her head. She doesn’t want to talk to the investigation team lead by former FBI-profiler Eva Rae Thomas, who has agreed to help with this bizarre case.

The sheriff’s office soon wants to give up on the case, but Eva Rae doesn’t quite believe in quitting. She sees fear in Nancy Henry’s eyes that makes her think she is lying to them, maybe to protect herself.

What secrets is she carrying?

To get to the truth, Eva Rae must get to the bottom of what really happened on that night five years ago when Nancy Henry disappeared from her home in what looked like a home intrusion. But the past isn’t always easy to dig up, especially not when someone wants it to stay hidden and will go to great lengths to make sure it does.

Someone obviously tried to kill Nancy Henry. Will they come back to finish what they started?

The Diamond Device by M.H. ThaungThe Diamond Device by M.H. Thaung:

After diamond power promises to replace steam, an unemployed labourer and a thieving noble unite to foil an international plot and avert a war.

Alf Wilson resents the new technology that cost him his factory job, especially as his clockwork leg bars him from army enrolment. He daren’t confess his unemployment to his overbearing mother. Desperate over the rent, he ends up in a detention cell with a hangover.

Impoverished Lord Richard Hayes maintains his expensive parliamentary seat by a mixture of charm and burglary. During a poorly planned break-in, he inadvertently witnesses a kidnapping. To cap it all, the police arrest him for the crime. At least he’s using a fake identity. The real criminals make off with not just the professor who discovered diamond power, but her plans for a diamond-fuelled bomb.

When Rich encounters Alf in the neighbouring cell, he sees an opportunity to keep his noble reputation intact. He persuades Alf he’s a secret agent who needs an assistant. This chance association will take them to the oddest locations. But law-abiding Alf’s first assignment? Break Rich out of jail.

The Boy in the Gutter by John TriptychThe Boy in the Gutter by John Triptych:

1947: While Los Angeles is mesmerized by the sensational Black Dahlia murder, an Asian boy’s mutilated body is found in a back alley of Chinatown. With the thoroughly corrupt LAPD unwilling to devote their already strained resources to cracking the case, it seems this grisly crime is destined to remain unsolved.

Tommy “Dapper” Luoo, a Chinese American college student, has dreams of becoming a private detective. Incensed and frustrated by the police’s lack of concern, he decides to help his community by finding out what truly happened.

But all is not what it seems as Dapper is drawn into a web of deceit and danger at every turn. For the City of Angels hides a dark underworld, where devils prey upon the damned and the desperate. Dapper is undaunted however, and he’ll keep on digging for answers, even if it kills him.

If you like hardboiled detective fiction with equal helpings of James Ellroy, Walter Mosley, Raymond Chandler, Ross Macdonald, and Dashiell Hammett, check out this newest crime noir novel by John Triptych. CAUTION: mature themes.

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Two New “In Love and War” Stories Available: “Neutral Ground” and “Ballroom Blitz”

I have another new release announcement to make. This one is for the two latest stories in my In Love and War space opera romance series.

Now I don’t always write in chronological order and I’m in good company there, since Lois McMaster Bujold and Fritz Leiber didn’t do it either and they’re both highly acclaimed multiple award-winning authors. And so, both new stories slot into an earlier place in the In Love and War chronology. Besides, the In Love and War stories largely stand alone anyway, though you’ll get more out of the series, if you read them all.

The first of the two new stories is another one to come out of the 2020 July Short Story Challenge, where the aim was to write a short story per day during the month of July. It’s something of a side story, set just before Collision Course and featuring Mikhail’s former commander, Colonel Brian Mayhew of the Republican Special Commando Forces.

It’s been established throughout the series that Mayhew has contacts in the Imperial military. In this story, we finally get to meet one of those contacts, General Roderick Crawford, who’s basically Mayhew’s Imperial counterpart or rather the counterpart of Mayhew’s boss General Honold. Even though they’re theoretically sworn enemies, Mayhew and Crawford get along really well with each other. Unlike Mikhail and Anjali, they don’t draw any conclusions from this at all.

In this story, Mayhew and Crawford meet over tea, coffee and pastries to discuss the very embarrassing matter of Mikhail and Anjali running away together. And yes, there are recipes in the Author’s Note.

So accompany Brian Mayhew and General Roderick Crawford, as they meet on…

Neutral Ground
Neutral Ground by Cora BuhlertTwo old soldiers share a coffee and fight for their lives

The Republic of United Planets and the Empire of Worlds have been at war for eighty-eight years now. But nonetheless, Colonel Brian Mayhew, deputy commander of the Republican Special Commando Forces, meets with his Imperial counterpart General Roderick Crawford to discuss an incident that’s a problem for both of them. For two of their elite soldiers fell in love and ran away with each other, an embarrassment to the Republic and the Empire both.

However, this secret meeting is not as secret as the two men think. And so Mayhew and Crawford are soon fighting for their lives side by side…

This is a novelette of 9500 words or approximately 32 print pages in the In Love and War series by Hugo finalist Cora Buhlert, but may be read as a standalone.

More information.
Length: 9500 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 iBooks, Google Play, Scribd, Smashwords, Thalia, Weltbild, Hugendubel, Buecher.de, DriveThruFiction, Casa del Libro, Vivlio, 24symbols and XinXii.

The second new In Love and War story originally came about, when I was putting together my annual round-up of Valentine’s Day themed science fiction, fantasy and horror stories and thought, ‘You know, you ought to write another Valentine’s Day story, because holiday stories usually do well.”

So I wrecked my head trying to come up with an idea and finally thought, “Why don’t I write a Valentine’s Day story for the In Love and War series?” After all, it’s space opera romance set in a universe where everybody is descended from people who originally came from Earth, so it makes sense for there to be a Valentine’s Day in that universe. And so the idea was born to send Anjali and Mikhail on a romantic date that’s rudely interrupted by people with blasters.

Unfortunately, it was maybe two weeks before Valentine’s Day 2020, when I had the the idea to write a Valentine’s Day themed adventure in the In Love and War series. Besides, what had been supposed to be a short story turned into a fully fledged novella instead, so the story was not finished in time for Valentine’s Day. And then the pandemic happened and I found myself rather unexpectedly nominated for a Hugo Award and so the story ended up on the backburner for a while, until I picked it up again in the fall of 2020. However, I didn’t want to hold a finished story back until next February either, so instead of being released in time for Valentine’s Day, the story now comes out closer to Christmas.

Anjali and Mikhail celebrate their first anniversary in The Taste of Home. The Valentine’s Day story happens at an earlier point in their relationship, so I rearranged the series order yet again and slotted it inbetween Bullet Holes and Dead World.

Romance, action, crime, food, gratuitous destruction of property – this story has it all. So follow Mikhail and Anjali, as they get caught up in a…

Ballroom Blitz
Ballroom Blitz by Cora BuhlertAnjali and Mikhail go on a Valentine’s Day date. Trouble ensues.

Once, 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.

It’s Valentine’s Day and so Mikhail and Anjali enjoy a well-deserved romantic dinner. But their date is rudely interrupted, when they find themselves caught in the crossfire of a turf war between two rival gangsters.

This is a Valentine’s Day novella of 23200 words or approximately 78 print pages in the “In Love and War” series by Hugo finalist Cora Buhlert, but may be read as a standalone.

More information.
Length: 23200 words.
List price: 2.99 USD, EUR or 1.99 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 iBooks, Google Play, Scribd, Smashwords, Thalia, Weltbild, Hugendubel, Buecher.de, DriveThruFiction, Casa del Libro, Vivlio, 24symbols and XinXii.

The title Ballroom Blitz is a reference to the eponymous 1973 song by the British glam rock band The Sweet by the way. I chanced to hear it on the radio one day, while writing the story, and thought, “This is the perfect title for the up to then untitled story.”.

This covers for both stories are by the hyper-talented Tithi Luadthong. In the case of Ballroom Blitz, the cover actually came before the story, because I liked that image so much that I modelled the club where Anjali and Mikhail go for a night of romance and dancing after the image. And yes, that giant chandelier plays an important role in the story.

If you want to give the In Love and War series a try before buying, Double-Cross, another adventure of Anjali and Mikhail, is this month’s free story, which you can read right here on this blog.

And if you want to read the entire series of sixteen stories, the cheapest way to do so is via this handy series bundle, which is available exclusively at DriveThruFiction.

There’ll be at least one more new release announcement for 2020, maybe two, closer to the holidays. But for now, stay safe and healthy and have a happy Thanksgiving and/or First Advent, if you’re celebrating.

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Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month for October 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 and small press authors (as well as the occasional Big 5 book) newly published this month, though some September 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 urban fantasy, epic fantasy, historical fantasy, dark fantasy, young adult fantasy, paranormal mysteries, paranormal romance, science fiction romance, space opera, military science fiction, young adult science fiction, post-apocalyptic fiction, dystopian fiction, biopunk, agripunk, time travel, weird western, historical horror, gothic horror, humorous horror, vampires, demons, dragons, dinosaurs, ghosts, zombies, gods, androids, alien invasions, interstellar wars, space marines, superheroes, renegades, crime-busting witches, crime-busting psychics 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:

Gunmetal Gods by Zamil AkhtarGunmetal Gods by Zamil Akhtar:

They took his daughter, so Micah comes to take their kingdom. Fifty thousand gun-toting paladins march behind him, all baptized in angel blood, thirsty to burn unbelievers.

Only the janissaries can stand against them. Their living legend, Kevah, once beheaded a magus amid a hail of ice daggers. But ever since his wife disappeared, he spends his days in a haze of hashish and poetry.

To save the kingdom, Kevah must conquer his grief and become the legend he once was. But Micah writes his own legend in blood, and his righteous conquest will stop at nothing.

When the gods choose sides, a legend will be etched upon the stars.

Azalea Avenue by Cora BuhlertAzalea Avenue by Cora Buhlert:

1956: On the surface, Rosemary Wilson is a happily married wife and mother, enjoying a perfect life in the quiet suburb of Shady Groves. But the house on Azalea Avenue harbours a dark secret, for Rosemary’s husband Don is an abusive drunk, who vents his frustrations on Rosemary and their three children.

After nine years of abuse, Rosemary finally decides to leave Don. But her plans of escape are interrupted, first by Don coming home early from a weekend hunting trip and then by the appearance of a flying saucer from outer space in the sky above Shady Groves…

This is a novelette of 10400 words or approx. 38 pages in the The Day the Saucers Came… series, but may be read as a standalone.

Content warning for domestic violence.

Appletree Court by Cora BuhlertAppletree Court by Cora Buhlert:

1956: Bernie Stetson is a burglar, robbing suburban homes while their owners are not at home.

Bernie’s latest raid takes him to the subdivision of Shady Groves. But things quickly go wrong. First, the house Bernie is robbing turns out to be not as deserted as he thought. And then, a flying saucer from outer space appears in the sky above Shady Groves…

This is a short story of 3600 words or approx. 14 print pages in the The Day the Saucers Came… series, but may be read as a standalone.

Willowbrook Farm by Cora BuhlertWillowbrook Farm by Cora Buhlert:

1956: The elderly farmer couple Bob and Mary Graham are crushed by debt and about to lose the family farm to a greedy developer.

But on the day they are supposed to be evicted, a flying saucer from outer space appears in the sky above Willowbrook Farm…

This is a short story of 2700 words or approx. 10 print pages in the The Day the Saucers Came… series, but may be read as a standalone.

The Ghosts of Doodenbos by Cora BuhlertThe Ghosts of Doodenbos by Cora Buhlert:

The Netherlands in the year of the Lord 1571: The young widow Ann lives alone with her little son Florentijn in a house at the edge of the woods.

From childhood on, Ann has been told to never ever go alone into the woods. But when her little son runs away, Ann has no choice. She must venture into the forest to save Florentijn from the creatures that live in the woods surrounding the village of Doodenbos.

This is a historical horror short story of 3000 words or approx. 12 pages.

Puncture Wounds by Cora BuhlertPuncture Wounds by Cora Buhlert:

Every morning, Brett finds blood on his sheets and mysterious puncture wounds on his body. But as he tries to trap the “night pricker”, as he calls his unseen assailant, he’s in for a surprise…

The house at Green Corner has been standing there for fifty years now, surrounded by a tall fence and even taller hedges. And at dawn, bats flutter around the overgrown garden. No one has ever seen the owner of the house, let alone spoken to them. But early one morning, paper girl Maddie decides to venture beyond the tall hedges on a dare and finds something very unexpected…

Two modern vampire tales by Hugo finalist Cora Buhlert of 5000 words or approx. 18 print pages altogether.

Demon Summoning for Beginners by Cora BuhlertDemon Summoning for Beginners by Cora Buhlert:

When observing a magical ritual in the woods, make sure to take precautions…

If you try to summon a demon to grant you your heart’s fondest desire, you’d better get your Latin right…

When studying ancient grimoires, it’s never a good idea to actually read the contents out loud or you might just cause the end of the world…

Following your grandma’s heirloom recipe might just conjure up something other than marinara sauce…

Four short humorous horror tales of rituals gone very wrong by Hugo finalist Cora Buhlert of 5800 words or approx. 20 print pages altogether.

Rhonda Wray, Raptor Wrangler by Charon Dunn and Sally SmithRhonda Wray, Raptor Wrangler by Charon Dunn and Sally Smith:

Rhonda Wray: Raptor Wrangler is about a teenage girl who was innocently trying to listen to some live music … her favorite boy band happened to be playing a festival on a dinosaur planet … when bad things suddenly happened. Now she and her trusty robot are all alone in the wilderness, picking up survival skills and looking for her favorite singer, Sebastian Rose, just in case he needs to be rescued.

There’s hard science, explosions, plenty of dinosaurs (with feathers), diversity, no sex (although there are a few references to it), less violence than many dinosaur stories, cliffhangers galore, and a little bogus science just to honor the fine tradition of speculative fiction (what if raptors had syrinxes and could sing like birds?).

Blood Succession by Rachel FordBlood Succession by Rachel Ford:

A new queen. An ancient feud. A succession bought in blood.

The world changed in the blink of an eye. Once an estranged cousin to the king, Aria is now heir apparent to the South. With her nation still in the midst of an unjust war, torn by Byzantine politics and rampant treachery, the inheritance seems a curse. Not least of all because peacemaking between the distant branches of the royal family means marriage: her marriage.

Among the sycophants and assassins, politicians and spies, Aria knows who to trust: no one. She doesn’t trust her intended, Augustus. She doesn’t trust his smart talking half-sister, Terese. But when the young woman saves her life, the queen’s guard begins to slip.

Which is a problem. Because if she crosses the rest of the royal family, it won’t just be a war with the North she’ll have to contend with; it’ll be civil war.

Dryker's Stand by Chris FoxDryker’s Stand by Chris Fox:

Humanity’s First Interstellar War

Earth has had a year to recover from their first clash with the savage Tigris. A year they have put to incredible use. Over thirty vessels have been outfitted with the new Helios Drives, which allow them to enter our sun and emerge elsewhere in the galaxy, as the cats did when they attacked us.

For the first time we can take the fight to them.

Commander Dryker, now of the U.F.C, serves as first officer aboard the very first vessel to be retrofitted, the UFC Johnston. His mission…explore the six target worlds where they believe ancient Primo tech can be recovered. Without it mankind is doomed to a protracted war of attrition with a superior foe.

Meanwhile, Pride Leonis has never been in so precarious a position. Mighty Fizgig must aid the man she most hates in his rise to power, or risk her people’s ultimate destruction. Doing so will cost her everything, but make her a legend in the eyes of her people.

Unbeknownst to either the insidious Void Wraith are quietly returning, and preparing the next Eradication.

The Bison Agenda by Aaron FraleThe Bison Agenda by Aaron Frale:

Clara has it all, a swanky new job, a hot robot babe, and even a time machine. Paradise all comes crashing down when she realizes her ticket to the future was stolen.

She wakes up in a world that has been reshaped by the whim of a time traveler with a strange obsession with bison and chicken wings. Now she has to fix the timeline, or everyone she knows and loves will be wiped from existence.

There’s also a lot of flightless birds.

Find out how it all fits together in The Bison Agenda, the not anticipated sequel of Time Burrito.

Admiral Wolf by C. GockelAdmiral Wolf by C. Gockel:

To protect the human race, 6T9 evolved with the flip of a switch and a few lines of code.

But he’s made himself a killer as well as a protector. The programming that may save humanity has driven him from Volka, the woman he loves. In the heart of the Dark’s first strike against the Republic, 6T9 must discover what he has become, who he wants to be, and who he wants to be with.

Slowly and almost unnoticed, Volka has been evolving, too. Heartbroken by 6T9’s departure, she is torn between love and duty. Accepting the latter, she takes a mission that will lead her to the edge of the universe. There, she will be tested, and her evolution will pass a point where there will be no turning back.

An android who has become more than a sex ‘bot, a mutant who has developed startling abilities, 6T9 and Volka have become more than human. The changes they’ve endured may save the galaxy, but have driven them further apart.

Will they find a way forward together, or will the bond between them wind up another casualty of the Dark?

The Judgment of Valene by Darby HarnThe Judgment of Valene by Darby Harn:

Wealth. Privilege. Superpowers. Valene has it all… except any mercy from the person trying to kill her.

For the first time in her life, Valene Blackwood has peace. She’s been aboard her own private space station for a year, removed from the sonic duress of the world that she suffers due to her superhuman ability to hear everything, everywhere. When her father dies, she must return and take over the family business – selling superhuman protection for profit.

With her father gone, challengers emerge for control of Great Power. Valene is young, unproven, and wanting only to go back to her sanctuary in the sky. She struggles to stay focused, knowing the future of the company is at stake. The future of the Empowered. Before she has a chance to get her feet on the ground, someone tries to kill her.

Advanced technology nearly rips Valene right out of her own skin. Technology only one person in the world could have invented: the woman she left behind by going up to the space station. Kit Baldwin. But Kit is a hero. Is someone setting her up? Is someone trying to ruin them both?

Valene sets out to find the truth, and for the first time in her life, she has to listen. She has to stay in the world. She has to be the hero she never wanted to be.

If she can survive.

Vengenace of the Black Rose by A.W. HartVengeance of the Black Rose by A.W. Hart:

LINA MUST AGAIN PUT ON HER MASK AND ASSUME HER IDENTITY AS THE BLACK ROSE.

The Black Rose discovers that a small mission on the border of Texas and Mexico has been raided by someone locals call “The Beast.”

Many are dead but most of the women and children are missing. The trail of the kidnappers leads the Black Rose into Mexico, into a hidden valley where “The Beast” is raising an army to restore the Aztec Empire. “The Beast,” known by his followers as “El Tigre,” is human but something of a physical mutant whose face resembles that of a Jaguar.

The Black Rose will face an army with only a good sword arm and a fast gun between her and death for them all on a bloody altar.

Dances With Witches by Lily Harper HartDances With Witches by Lily Harper Hart:

Hannah Hickok is struggling. After the death of one of her workers, a woman who had been making life difficult, Hannah finds she is awash in a myriad of feelings she can’t quite put a name to. Things don’t get better when, following a romantic dinner with her boyfriend Cooper Wyatt, magic and mechanics collide in a multi-vehicle accident that looks to have been caused by a dark shadow. One of the survivors, a young teenager, could be shuffled into the system if someone doesn’t step up.

Sheriff Boone is the one who swoops in and brings the girl home, but all is not well. It seems something dark is chasing the girl, and it’s not of the human variety.

Hannah doesn’t know much – her knowledge as a witch is still growing – but she’s certain she needs to help the girl. It won’t be as easy as she hopes, though, because dark clouds are brewing and more than one storm is about to descend.

Hannah couldn’t save her employee and she’s haunted. She vows this girl will be different, even if she has to sacrifice herself to keep her safe.

Casper Creek has a long and storied past and old players are about to become new threats. Saddle up, because it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

Hyperia Jones and the Olive Branch Caper by David M. KellyHyperia Jones and the Olive Branch Caper by David M. Kelly:

The Hype is real!

Hyperia Jones is at the top of her game, and she knows it. By day, a glamorous pro-rasseler who dominates the TwistCube world of FIRE–the Federation of Interstellar Rassling Entertainment. By night, the daring, resourceful, and entirely unscrupulous Tekuani, master thief.

But when the law catches up with her unexpectedly, she’s forced to accept a dangerous mission working for the very people who’ve been trying to catch her for years, and steal evidence against a powerful drug smuggling operation that reaches deep into the elite levels of Seventeen Realms society.

Now it’s a battle on all fronts. Hyperia must put everything on the line and decide what means the most to her: the lives of her fellow rasslers or her freedom.

The Plot Against Heaven by Mark KirkbrideThe Plot Against Heaven by Mark Kirkbride:

Hell-bent on confronting God after the death of wife Kate, Paul gate-crashes Heaven. With immigration problems and a wall, Heaven turns out to be nowhere near as welcoming as expected. Both Heaven and Hell are modern and militarized, and the cold war that exists between them is about to heat up, with him in the middle of it. Caught on the wrong side of Heaven, Paul faces an impossible choice if he’s to have any hope of seeing his wife again.

Death doesn’t stand a chance against love.

 

Medici of Ackbarr by Erme LanderMedici of Ackbarr by Erme Lander:

“The men go mad eventually – unable to separate themselves from the cats they control. The women? They fare little better…”

The words from Lin’s journal haunt Mika as she gains her Medici qualifications. Left homeless by his death, she tries to escape her grief by burying herself in her work, only to discover both old and new enemies waiting in the wings.

The events in this book take place about five years after those in “Blood Lore”, Book Two of The Medici Chronicles.

A Dark Infection by Erme LanderA Dark Infection by Erme Lander:

A voice in the dark, “You have taken my Consort. You’ll give her up and take me instead, Kalmár.”

It has been ten years since Tina was kidnapped by Kalmár and she has settled into the twilight world of vampires and their pets. However circumstances and her own body are changing faster than she realises, leaving her vulnerable to those who would take advantage.

A different reality intrudes as she stumbles across her daughter, now a young woman, forcing her to make hard choices between the two worlds, both inimical to each other. To survive she must gamble with those most precious to her, while fighting to keep her both her sanity and humanity intact.

Caffeinated Calamity by Amanda M. LeeCaffeinated Calamity by Amanda M. Lee:

The only witch in the world? It might feel like it to Stormy Morgan but she knows better.

Twenty minutes away, in a town called Hemlock Cove, witches have taken over. Sure, the bulk of the town is made up of frauds looking to shore up their tourism industry, but there are real witches, too. There’s a family, last name of Winchester, and they’re notorious. Stormy wants to meet them but she has a myriad of problems darkening her doorstep.

The first is Hunter Ryan, her childhood love who is back in her life and ready to take the next step, which is formal dating … just as soon as he’s given proper respect to his previous relationship. While Stormy is waiting for that to happen, she runs to the aid of customer at the family diner when the older woman collapses as she’s leaving after breakfast. Before Stormy can offer even a dollop of help, though, the woman is dead and there are more questions than answers.

When the cause of death is determined to be poison, Stormy and Hunter have to follow a tangled trail of clues … and it leads them straight to the senior center. It seems the victim was a regular visitor there, and one of the better euchre players at the lauded weekly tournaments. Is that a motive for murder, though?

Stormy has her hands full with out-of-control euchre madness, magic she is trying to control, and hormones that are threatening to run rampant. When she finally makes it to Hemlock Cove, her nerves threaten to get the best of her.

She needs help. This is a world she doesn’t understand. The truth has to come out, but is she ready? It might not matter because a murderer has marked Stormy for death. It’s up to her and her motley crew of friends and family to save the day … if they can all come together as a team.

That will be easier said than done.

Of Fury and Fangs by Kyoko M.Of Fury and Fangs by Kyoko M.:

Someone wants Dr. Rhett “Jack” Jackson dead.

After surviving a vicious attack from a dragon in his own home, Jack and Dr. Kamala Anjali investigate who sent the dragon to kill him. Unfortunately, their list of enemies is long. Plenty of people have an axe to grind with the two scientists responsible for the rebirth of the previously extinct dragons that are now flourishing on every continent of the planet. Jack and Kamala rejoin with their team at the Knight Division to hunt down the culprit and put an end to their revenge scheme once and for all.

But will it cost them everything?

Of Fury and Fangs is the fourth novel in the Amazon and USA Today bestselling Of Cinder and Bone series, following Of Cinder and Bone, Of Blood and Ashes, and Of Dawn and Embers.

Refuge by Jessica MartingRefuge by Jessica Marting:

Brother Rordan came to at a monks’ temple with no memory of who he was or where he’d been, and he’s content to leave his forgotten life in the past. All that matters is his future as a monk in service to the all-knowing stars.

Dasha Caron crash-landing at his temple changes everything for him: she makes him question his beliefs and monk’s lifestyle. She also brings the devastating news that he’s really a cyborg, and he has a price on his head.

 

Demon Prints by Nazri NoorDemon Prints by Nazri Noor:

What if the chosen one was kind of a dirtbag?

Quilliam J. Abernathy is the Chosen of Asmodeus, destined to become demonkind’s greatest weapon against heaven and humanity. Honing his arcane gifts in both modern California and the depths of hell, Quill is a prideful, powerful sorcerer, his magic surging with every tome he adds to his arcane collection.

But a botched mission incurs Asmodeus’s wrath, and Quill is stripped of his sorcery, protections, even his beloved books. Oh, and a duo of deadly angels wants him dead, too. Quill must decide. Either obey Asmodeus, reclaim his magic, and embody the apocalypse… or rebel against hell.

Spoiler alert: We’re doomed either way.

Demon Prints is the first adventure in the Infernal Inheritance urban fantasy series, set in the same universe as Darkling Mage and Sins of the Father. Witness Quilliam’s unholy ascent in an intense supernatural suspense series filled with demons, devilry, and danger.

Darkspace Renegade by G.J. OgdenDarkspace Renegade by G.J. Ogden:

The interstellar bridges provide a lifeline for billions.
To save humanity the Darkspace Renegades must tear them all down.

Unjustly kicked out of the Consortium Security Force, Hallam Knight has been reduced to working as a gunner, defending the precious Randenite fuel tankers from notorious extremists, the Darkspace Renegades.

Hell-bent on ending bridge travel for good, the Darkspace Renegades threaten to tear down the interstellar travel network that supports billions of lives, across a dozen worlds.

The Darkspace Renegades are outlaws and radicals. Or so Hallam thought.

When a violent encounter with infamous mercenary group, the Blackfire Squadron, almost costs him his life, Hallam Knight finds himself at the mercy of the Darkspace Renegades and their mysterious and enigmatic leader.

Hallam Knight discovers that everything he thought he knew was a lie. Far from being the enemy, the Darkspace Renegades are humanity’s only hope – they just don’t know it yet.

The Consortium taught Hallam that no good deed goes unpunished. They’re about to find out that karma’s a bitch.

The Acheron by Rick PartlowThe Acheron by Rick Partlow:

Sandi and Ash never set out to be heroes.

She joined the Fleet to please her mother, the Admiral.
He signed up to escape the grinding poverty of the Housing Blocks.

And the unlikely friends envisioned boring, peacetime careers as shuttle pilots. The Tahni Imperium had other ideas…

Caught in the desperate fury of the Battle for Mars, the two young pilots wind up the last defense against an alien armada, but their war is just beginning. Recruited to fly the Fleet’s newest weapon in this new war, they take the fight deep into the heart of the Imperium and battle not just against the enemy but against incompetent leadership and ineffectual tactics.

Can the unconventional strategies of a pair of hotshot young pilots change the course of the war? And when the time comes that a choice has to be made between duty to command and loyalty to a friend, which of the two will be willing to make one last flight alone…

Ghost Dance by Christine PopeGhost Dance by Christine Pope:

An angel has returned to Paris. But is it the Angel of Music…or Death?

Two years have passed since Christine fled the opera house, put the memories and the horror behind her. And yet, in her dreams, she still hears his voice, feels his moth-light touch on her throat.

The rumors involving the legendary Opera Ghost are merely newspaper sensationalism. The Opera Ghost is dead. His tragic life, his epic opera, his obsession with her voice…ended. But with a slow, heart-pounding dread, Christine lets a lie slip from her lips, and heads for Paris. Alone. Because she has to know if Erik is dead. Or if he’s alive…and wreaking his vengeance.

Inheritance by Joyce Reynolds-WardInheritance by Joyce Reynolds-Ward:

YOU CAN’T ESCAPE THE INHERITANCE OF THE PAST…OR CAN YOU?

Rancher Ruby Barkley and her ex-husband Gabe Ramirez are competing head-to-head for the AgInnovator game show’s new one-shot award, the Ag Superhero. The winner walks away with $3.75 million per year for five years, with no accountability or need to re-earn the Superhero, unlike the Innovator’s other awards.

But issues beyond those raised by their long-ago acrimonious divorce face Ruby and Gabe. Fence cutting. Rogue biobots destructively ranging beyond programmed parameters. Physical attacks. And the realization that they may need to reunite to save their son Brandon from indentured servitude.

Then the secret shadow of Gabe’s hidden inheritance reveals itself. Will he step up to the Martiniere Legacy—and what role will Ruby accept in any future they may share?

The Legacy of Tomorrow by Audrey SharpeThe Legacy of Tomorrow by Audrey Sharpe:

Her strength is her greatest weakness.

Protecting others has always been Aurora Hawke’s defining characteristic — until a fierce battle with her mortal enemy creates devastating results, proving she’s more weapon than human.

Haunted by apocalyptic visions of her future and pursued by the ghosts of her past, she makes the only logical decision.

Run.

Abandoning her ship and crew goes against everything she holds dear, but it’s the only way to safeguard those she loves from the greatest threat of all — herself.

Shadows of the Fall by Glynn StewartShadows of the Fall by Glynn Stewart:

Fifty thousand years ago, the Precursors broke the universe.
Now great powers and small alike fight over their wreckage.
But in the midst of the chaos, there is a question no one asks…
Why?

Morgan Casimir, commander of the A!Tol Imperial cruiser Defiant, has seen the works of the Precursor aliens known as the Alava. She has seen their accidents threaten worlds and consume entire star fleets.

Charged by her Empress to prevent a conspiracy of profiteers from finding and using a lost fleet of Alava warships, she knows unimaginable catastrophe looms if she fails. With her lover, xenoarcheologist Dr. Rin Dunst, at her side, she is sent to a hot zone on the edge of war to once again achieve the impossible.

But as they search along a border flaring in violence, Morgan discovers that if the worst comes to pass, her orders are to destroy the ships rather than allow them to be taken…and she realizes that there just might be a reason seemingly godlike aliens lost an entire fleet.

Triton: The Descendants War by John WalkerTriton: The Descendants War by John Walker:

Commander Titus Barnes struggles to save his ship.

War brews on the horizon and the crew of the TCN Triton get caught in the middle. When they answer a distress call from one of their colonies on the edge of their space, they end up outmatched and outgunned by an unknown force. This conflict may well push humanity into a new age…or spell the beginning of the end for their race.

Meanwhile, two archaeologists work to uncover evidence of alien life on a far off planet. As they make what might be the biggest discovery of the human race, their activities trigger an alert, drawing dangerous forces to investigate. Cut off from any quick help and on their own, they must use every trick at their disposal to stay alive.

Into the White by Daniel WillcocksInto the White by Daniel Willcocks:

If the storm must taketh, it must surely giveth, too?

Their numbers are dwindling, the storm shows no sign of relenting. Yet, at the edge of the Drumtrie Forest, a strange phenomenon is occurring: dozens of the pale white beasts standing guard.

Over what?

Cody is gone; missing in the white. Tori has reunited with her sister, but it wasn’t the celebration she planned. Karl is lost to the wants and desires of the Masked Ones.

And, from out of the storm, comes a stranger who may hold all the answers to unravelling the mystery once and for all…

If the wendigos will let her.

Geek Fire by Mel WoodburnGeek Fire by Mel Woodburn:

Honors student, Emma Edgin, never thought she’d be a superhero, but she never thought she’d fail a class or be diagnosed autistic either.

After a strange craft flies over the West Coast, Emma sneezes a fireball and starts flying.

Emma doesn’t want to be a hero. She’s got to focus on passing English and keeping the new Super Commission agent from noticing her.
Too bad so many people need saving.

Geek Fire is the first novel in the Dragon Girl Series. If you like nerdy heroes and conspiracies, then you’ll love this series!

Web of Nightmares by P.D. WorkmanWeb of Nightmares by P.D. Workman:

Psychic Reg Rawlins is hoping to get her life back to normal, or some semblance of it. With the gems she was given by the fairies for saving Calliopia’s life, she doesn’t need to worry about money. Maybe never again. She can just relax, get the sleep she needs, and not have to worry about hustling a living.

Life is better with money. Maybe she’ll even take up a hobby. Travel. Visit Erin.

But the rest of the world seems to have other ideas. Reg senses that all is not well in Black Sands. She is plagued by nightmares and visions, but her ability to consciously access her powers is limited.

A fun, full-length paranormal cozy mystery with a captivating cat, drop-dead gorgeous warlock, and magical races as you’ve never read them before.

Send to Kindle
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Indie Crime Fiction of the Month for October 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 crime fiction by indie authors newly published this month, though some September 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, historical mysteries, Victorian mysteries, Jazz Age mysteries, paranormal mysteries, police procedurals, crime thrillers, adventure thrillers, action thrillers, psychological thrillers, domestic thrillers, western thrillers, military thrillers, police officers, amateur sleuths, private investigators, ex-Navy SEALs, organised crime, kidnapping, crime-busting witches, crime-busting socialites, crime-busting realtors, crime-busting psychics, environmental disasters 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 Thread of Madness by Blythe BakerA Thread of Madness by Blythe Baker:

A sudden death uncovers a string of secrets in a small village…

When seamstresses Iris and Lily Dickinson are accidental witnesses to a murder, the spinster sisters resolve to keep themselves – and their pristine reputations – a discreet distance away from the sordid business. But the unexpected discovery that the killer might be in their very midst soon changes everything, sparking an urgent desperation to ferret out his identity.

While assisting the local constable in his investigation, Iris stumbles across a family mystery of her own, a buried secret that calls into question everything she thinks she knows about her sister. With Iris’s once-blind faith in Lily shaken, can the sisters unite long enough to escape the schemes of a dangerous lunatic?

Betrayed Heroes by Gregg BellBetrayed Heroes by Gregg Bell:

The US president’s seven-year-old nephew has been kidnapped. The nation is horrified, but the crime turns out to be just the break that disgraced former Navy SEALs Shelby Ryder and Earl Bernstein need. If they’re able to rescue the boy, who’s being held somewhere in the Florida Everglades, the president assures them he’ll restore their SEAL trident pins.

But something’s not right.

Support people don’t show. Others won’t reveal their names. Many seem more mercenary than military. Shelby and Earl are suspicious, but they’re desperate to be SEALs again, and there’s a boy out there in need of rescue. And so, into the depths of the humid, alligator-infested Everglades they venture, to start a mission they were never intended to survive.

The Wicked Fringe of Mystery by Beth ByersThe Wicked Fringe of Mystery by Beth Byers:

November 1925

Severine DuNoir has discovered who has been hunting her. Now she needs to discover why. As the foes circle each other, their friends and family get drawn into the conflict.

Just who can Severine trust? How can she stop him? And what will happen to those she loves if she fails? She’s all too afraid the answer is one she won’t be able to live with.

 

Bye Bye Bobby by Mike FaricyCorridor Man: Bye Bye Bobby by Mike Faricy:

Things are about to change…

– Bobby Custer is looking to take the organization in a new direction.
– He just has to get everyone on board.
– No better way to do it than with rewards!

– Of course there are some loose ends…
– People who don’t want to change!
– People who secretly question Bobby’s decisions!

It’s an exhausting time! BYE BYE BOBBY!

Deadly Pursuit by Elle GrayDeadly Pursuit by Elle Gray:

Tick. Tock… The clock is ticking.
Time is running out for Paxton Arrington.
The choice he must make could be the difference between life and death.

Paxton Arrington had an upbringing of wealth and privilege. Rather than live the life of a corporate CEO, Paxton chose to become one of Seattle’s finest. He’s a man with a rigid and unyielding personality and a belief of always doing the right thing.

When he stumbles onto corruption in his own precinct, Paxton finds himself in a precarious position with no simple way out of it.

Going head to head with Detective Sergeant Radley and his highly decorated Strike Team is career suicide. More than that, he fears that taking them on could have a ripple effect of unintended consequences.

Drawn into a web of deceit and danger.

Paxton enlists his good friend, FBI Special Agent Blake Wilder to help him get the evidence he needs to bring the Strike Team down once and for all.

With forces aligning against him, Paxton must make a decision that could cost him everything.

One that will forever change his life.

Dances With Witches by Lily Harper HartDances With Witches by Lily Harper Hart:

Hannah Hickok is struggling. After the death of one of her workers, a woman who had been making life difficult, Hannah finds she is awash in a myriad of feelings she can’t quite put a name to. Things don’t get better when, following a romantic dinner with her boyfriend Cooper Wyatt, magic and mechanics collide in a multi-vehicle accident that looks to have been caused by a dark shadow. One of the survivors, a young teenager, could be shuffled into the system if someone doesn’t step up.

Sheriff Boone is the one who swoops in and brings the girl home, but all is not well. It seems something dark is chasing the girl, and it’s not of the human variety.

Hannah doesn’t know much – her knowledge as a witch is still growing – but she’s certain she needs to help the girl. It won’t be as easy as she hopes, though, because dark clouds are brewing and more than one storm is about to descend.

Hannah couldn’t save her employee and she’s haunted. She vows this girl will be different, even if she has to sacrifice herself to keep her safe.

Casper Creek has a long and storied past and old players are about to become new threats. Saddle up, because it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

The Last Resort by CeeCee JamesThe Last Resort by CeeCee James:

The mother that Stella O’Neil thought she’d lost forever is getting out of jail. Today.

Stella doesn’t know if she’s excited or terrified but one thing is for sure, everything in life feels like it’s finally settling down.

But as always in Stella’s world, nothing comes easily. When she arrives at the prison to take her mom home, she’s greeted with stunning news.
Her mother isn’t there.

Someone else picked her up.

As Stella pieces together the clues, she is more afraid than she’s ever been. She’s determined to unravel the mystery and connect the dots in order to finally connect with the mother she’s never known.

Rattlesnake Rodeo by Nick KolakowskiRattlesnake Rodeo by Nick Kolakowski:

The fiery sequel to Boise Longpig Hunting Club is here…

Three nights ago, Jake Halligan and his ultra-lethal sister Frankie were kidnapped by a sadistic billionaire with a vendetta against their family. That billionaire offered them a terrible deal: Spend the next 24 hours in the backwoods of Idaho, hunted by rich men with the latest in lethal weaponry. If Jake and Frankie survived, they’d go free; otherwise, nobody would ever find their bodies.

Jake and Frankie managed to escape that terrible game, but their problems are just beginning. They’re broke, on the run, and hunted by every cop between Oregon and Montana. If they’re going to make it through, they may need to strike a devil’s bargain—and carry out a seemingly impossible crime.

Rattlesnake Rodeo is a neo-Western noir filled with incredible twists. If you want true justice against the greedy and powerful, sometimes you have no choice but to rely on the worst people…

Caffeinated Calamity by Amanda M. LeeCaffeinated Calamity by Amanda M. Lee:

The only witch in the world? It might feel like it to Stormy Morgan but she knows better.

Twenty minutes away, in a town called Hemlock Cove, witches have taken over. Sure, the bulk of the town is made up of frauds looking to shore up their tourism industry, but there are real witches, too. There’s a family, last name of Winchester, and they’re notorious. Stormy wants to meet them but she has a myriad of problems darkening her doorstep.

The first is Hunter Ryan, her childhood love who is back in her life and ready to take the next step, which is formal dating … just as soon as he’s given proper respect to his previous relationship. While Stormy is waiting for that to happen, she runs to the aid of customer at the family diner when the older woman collapses as she’s leaving after breakfast. Before Stormy can offer even a dollop of help, though, the woman is dead and there are more questions than answers.

When the cause of death is determined to be poison, Stormy and Hunter have to follow a tangled trail of clues … and it leads them straight to the senior center. It seems the victim was a regular visitor there, and one of the better euchre players at the lauded weekly tournaments. Is that a motive for murder, though?

Stormy has her hands full with out-of-control euchre madness, magic she is trying to control, and hormones that are threatening to run rampant. When she finally makes it to Hemlock Cove, her nerves threaten to get the best of her.

She needs help. This is a world she doesn’t understand. The truth has to come out, but is she ready? It might not matter because a murderer has marked Stormy for death. It’s up to her and her motley crew of friends and family to save the day … if they can all come together as a team.

That will be easier said than done.

Sorry Can't Save You by Willow RoseSorry Can’t Save You by Willow Rose:

What if you thought your husband was a murderer?

The man you loved, the man who gave you two beautiful children and a perfect life.

What if no one believed you?

Laurie Davis is the mother of two children, struggling to keep her family together since her husband, Ryan, went to war and came back changed. His PTSD is evident.

He wakes up at night, screaming in fear; he can’t stand loud noises or anyone sneaking upon him.

He even gets aggressive toward Laurie and the children. It has gotten so bad that he can no longer stay under the same roof as his family.

When a woman from his squadron is found murdered, Laurie discovers something that makes her suspect Ryan, her own husband.

But what do you do when no one believes a decorated war hero could also be a murderer?

What if you don’t want to believe it yourself?

As more people from the squadron turn up dead, by apparent suicides, Laurie digs deeper into the case.

She is risking her own life by putting it all on the line in a race against time to avoid becoming the killer’s next victim.

Bird in Hand by Nikki SternBird in Hand by Nikki Stern:

In the sequel to the award-winning THE WEDDING CRASHER, Sam Tate faces off against a vengeful killer, a mistrustful boss, a shadowy nemesis, and a 300-year-old pirate.

When Arley Fitchett’s body washes up onto Maryland’s Eastern Shore, Lieutenant Sam Tate, just two months into her new job, is charged with finding out who murdered the popular guide and treasure hunter. Fitchett, she discovers, was hunting a rare carving he believed had been stolen by Chesapeake Bay pirates in 1718 and hidden nearby. No one knows if the story is true, but several locals seem to share Fitchett’s interest in the wooden bird with the sapphire eye. Any one of them could be the next victim. One of them is definitely the killer.

Rising Warrior by Wayne StinnettRising Warrior by Wayne Stinnett:

After returning home to the Florida Keys, Jesse moves on to Fort Myers, his hometown on the Southwest Florida coast. There is much work to be done and Jesse is no stranger to hard work.

On a kayaking adventure with friends, Jesse’s daughter finds and rescues a baby manatee suffering from respiratory problems. The red tide has returned and fish are dying by the thousands, along with dolphins, manatees, sea turtles, and sea birds.

The algal bloom is a naturally occurring phenomenon, but this time it’s much worse. Theories abound; it’s something left over from the previous spring’s coronavirus outbreak, it’s caused by pollution, someone is intentionally creating a super-algae.

But there’s something far more sinister going on among the Ten Thousand Islands, and it’s up to Jesse to find out where the bodies are buried.

Fair Cronies and Felonies by Anne R. TanFair Cronies and Felonies by Anne R. Tan:

A new director. Budget cuts. And a fire. The senior center will never be the same again.

As the new director for the senior center, Raina Sun thought organizing a few events for the geriatric crowd would be fairly easy. Until the center’s biggest donor dies in a fire, and her grandma’s arch nemesis becomes the prime suspect. As the body count piles up, Raina is drawn into another murder investigation. Can she solve the case, or will her grandma’s arch nemesis spend the rest of her golden years in prison?

Don’t miss out on the fun. Grab your copy now.

Web of Nightmares by P.D. WorkmanWeb of Nightmares by P.D. Workman:

Psychic Reg Rawlins is hoping to get her life back to normal, or some semblance of it. With the gems she was given by the fairies for saving Calliopia’s life, she doesn’t need to worry about money. Maybe never again. She can just relax, get the sleep she needs, and not have to worry about hustling a living.

Life is better with money. Maybe she’ll even take up a hobby. Travel. Visit Erin.

But the rest of the world seems to have other ideas. Reg senses that all is not well in Black Sands. She is plagued by nightmares and visions, but her ability to consciously access her powers is limited.

A fun, full-length paranormal cozy mystery with a captivating cat, drop-dead gorgeous warlock, and magical races as you’ve never read them before.

Send to Kindle
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A Trio of Spooky New Releases and Why I Cannot Write Straight Horror

I mentioned that there would be one more new release announcement for October and here it is. It’s somewhat incomplete, because the links to Barnes & Noble are missing, since the bookseller recently suffered a cyberattack and still hasn’t managed to get their system back online two weeks later.

But first of all, I also wanted to let you know that I have two new articles up at Galactic Journey. The first one is about East and West German comics of the 1950s and 1960s. The second article is about the biggest West German movie of 1965, Winnetou III, which ends with everybody’s favourite heroic Apache chief expiring tragically in the arms of his best friend and blood brother Old Shatterhand.

In other news, I am also doing episode by episode reviews of season 3 of Star Trek Discovery at my personal blog. I will probably also do season 2 of The Mandalorian, when it starts this Friday, which should keep me busy for a while.

But now on to the new releases. October is the spooky month, so I have three spooky new e-books to share. None of them are straight horror, because it turns out that I cannot write straight horror. Cause whenever I try to write horror, it either comes out as a parody of horror tropes or a story about trying to figure out what the spooky creature wants and how to deal with it without violence.

I’m not entirely sure why that is, especially since I grew up during the 1970s and 1980s, i.e. the heyday of the horror genre. However, I haven’t been scared by a horror movie since I was about eighteen and watched the original Nightmare on Elm Street on TV, while home alone. And even before that I haven’t been scared by horror movies all that often, if only because horror movies that were actually accessible – on TV and not in the cinema with an 18 certificate or banned altogether – were few and far between. In the three channel TV landscape of West Germany in the 1980s, horror films occasionally showed up on late night TV, but those were mostly older black and white films that relied on atmosphere more than gore. There were also the Dr. Mabuse and Edgar Wallace movies, which – though not straight horror – definitely have horror elements, but also mainly rely on atmosphere.

Meanwhile, the horror movies of the 1970s and 1980s were not at all easy to watch, if you were a teenager in Germany, because Germans are more sensitive to violence than Americans or Italians, whence those movies mostly hailed, and so any horror movie to reach our shores was either cut to ribbons or had an eighteen certificate slapped on it or both. The original Evil Dead was unavailable in Germany until a few years ago, because it was apparently too horrible for us to watch. If you had a VCR and knew someone who could rent 18+ movies, you could watch horror films, but otherwise you were out of luck. There was a moral panic about horror movie inciting teenagers to… well, I’m not entirely sure what horror movies were supposed to do to teenagers, but it was bad. One movie which came in for particular scrutiny was a 1980 Troma movie called Mother’s Day, which archieved near legendary status as a movie everybody had heard of, but almost no one had seen. And those who claimed to have seen it usually hadn’t seen it either, they simply made something up based what they’d heard. The trailer for Mother’s Day is here BTW, if you want to see what the fuss was all about.

As a result, I didn’t get to see most horror movies at the age when they would have scared me. And by the time, I finally got to see the films – once private TV had come to Germany – I was usually underwhelmed because what my mind had conjured up was usually scarier than the reality. Not to mention that a lot of horror movie tropes are rather silly, especially since most of those movies were made for a very different cultural context. People in Germany simply weren’t particularly bothered about teenagers having – gasp – sex, while camping in the woods, and certainly didn’t think this was a crime worth killing people for.

However, I also had issues even with those horror movies – usually more traditional vampire, ghost and monster fare – that I actually was able watch. For quite often, I found myself sympathising with the supernatural creature. One movie I remember infuriating me was House of Dark Shadows, a 1970 spin-off of the US horror soap opera Dark Shadows. In the movie, a young woman gets bitten and turned by Barnabas Collins. She is buried and returns as a vampire, bites someone and then several members of her own family hold her down, while someone stakes her. This scene absolutely infuriated me, because the young woman had been these people’s daughter, girlfriend, sister and yet they murdered her in cold blood. And besides, it wasn’t her fault that she was a vampire and that she was hungry. Surely it would be possible for her to live on blood donations.

Other films elicited similar reactions. “Okay, so the house is haunted, but why not try to coexist with the ghosts? After all, it’s their home, too.” – “Okay, so someone is possessed by a demon, but where exactly is the problem? Why not share the body with the demon and come to an agreement?” That’s also why I immediately took to urban fantasy, when I became popular, because here finally were stories which asked the same questions I had asked myself for years at that point.

As a result, whenever I try to write horror, it usually comes out either as parody or a story where the protagonists try to figure out what the monsters want and how to deal with them without violence. All of the stories I am going to announce today fall into one of those categories. Coincidentally, all of them were July challenge stories, too.

The first new story is of the latter type, where the characters try to figure out what the spooky creatures want. It is a historical fantasy tale set in the Netherlands during the the Eighty-Years-War, during which the Netherlands attempted and eventually succeeded in getting rid of the Spanish occupation. A large part of the issue was that the Netherlands were largely Protestant and found themselves faced with the Spanish Inquisition (which they no more expected than anybody else).

Now my Dad worked in the Netherlands, when I was a teenager, and I usually spent my holidays there and got in contact with the local pop culture. And the Eighty-Years War still looms large in Dutch memory and popular culture just as the Thirty-Years-War a little later looms in the German memory. So I learned about the Eighty-Years War by cultural osmosis from comic books and a book on the history of Rotterdam that someone had given my Dad and that I read when I ran out of reading material.

The actual inspiration for the story was a piece of fantasy art, namely this one by Michael MacRae. It’s an evocative piece that somehow made me think of the Netherlands in the 16th century. The story grew from there.

The problem when writing historical fiction (or historical fantasy) set during less explored periods is how much information the reader needs to tell them when and where the story is set. The first draft contained references to the Lowlands, William of Orange, the Spanish oppressors and people executed for heresy, which seemed completely sufficient to me to let the reader know when and where the story is set. However, the Eighty-Years War is not all that well known to people outside the Netherlands, so I also explicitly mentioned the year and the place where the story is set.

So follow Ann and her little son Florentijn as they confront…

The Ghosts of Doodenbos
The Ghosts of Doodenbos by Cora BuhlertThe Netherlands in the year of the Lord 1571: The young widow Ann lives alone with her little son Florentijn in a house at the edge of the woods.

From childhood on, Ann has been told to never ever go alone into the woods. But when her little son runs away, Ann has no choice. She must venture into the forest to save Florentijn from the creatures that live in the woods surrounding the village of Doodenbos.

This is a historical horror short story of 3000 words or approx. 12 pages.

 

More information.
Length: 3000 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 iBooks, Google Play, Scribd, Smashwords, Thalia, Weltbild, Hugendubel, Buecher.de, DriveThruFiction, Casa del Libro, Vivlio, 24symbols and XinXii.

While going through my backlog of unpublished stories, most of them July short story challenge stories, I realised that I had written no less than four stories featuring demon summoning rituals gone terribly wrong and thought, “Well, that’s enough for a collection then.” And this is how Demon Summoning for Beginners was born.

During the July short story challenge, I often use fantasy art as writing prompts and so two of the stories were inspired by pieces of fantasy art, namely this one by Nele Diehl and this one by David Velasquez.

Another story was inspired by watching an episode of Supernatural and getting annoyed at the badly mangled Latin used during a magical ritual. So I thought, “Well, if I’m annoyed, how annoyed will a demon be. And how will mangled Latin or mangled Hebrew affect a ritual?” The story grew from there.

The final story was inspired by noticing that the instruction for magical potions and spells and recipes for food often look remarkably similar, only that there are stranger ingredients in the former. So I thought, “What if a recipe accidentally conjures up a demon?”

These stories all fall into the parody category. Though the characters also try to figure out how to deal with a demon that none of them actually expected to show up.

So get ready for a lesson in…

Demon Summoning for Beginners
Demon Summoning for Beginners by Cora BuhlertWhen observing a magical ritual in the woods, make sure to take precautions…

If you try to summon a demon to grant you your heart’s fondest desire, you’d better get your Latin right…

When studying ancient grimoires, it’s never a good idea to actually read the contents out loud or you might just cause the end of the world…

Following your grandma’s heirloom recipe might just conjure up something other than marinara sauce…

Four short humorous horror tales of rituals gone very wrong by Hugo finalist Cora Buhlert of 5800 words or approx. 20 print pages altogether.

More information.
Length: 5800 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 iBooks, Google Play, Scribd, Smashwords, Thalia, Weltbild, Hugendubel, Buecher.de, DriveThruFiction, Casa del Libro, Vivlio, 24symbols and XinXii.

The final new release for this month is a collection of two short vampire stories. Both of them fall under the banner of “How can you deal with a vampire without staking them?”

Both stories were July challenge stories, but one of the stories was actually written on the day of the 2020 Hugo ceremony and indeed I wrote part of the story during the neverending Hugo ceremony from hell.

The story in question, “The House at Green Corner”, is also inspired by a real house with an overgrown garden in my neighbourhood, which looks exactly as it is described in the story.

In summer, I like taking walks in the early morning just before the sun comes up to avoid the heat of the day. And during one of those walks I noticed that there were a lot of bats fluttering around the house and its garden. Like the protagonist, I assumed that the bats probably lived in the overgrown garden. And then I thought, “Maybe the bats don’t just live in the garden, maybe they are the owners of the house and they’re all vampires.” The story grew from there.

So get ready to meet some vampires and make sure to avoid the…

Puncture Wounds
Puncture Wounds by Cora BuhlertEvery morning, Brett finds blood on his sheets and mysterious puncture wounds on his body. But as he tries to trap the “night pricker”, as he calls his unseen assailant, he’s in for a surprise…

The house at Green Corner has been standing there for fifty years now, surrounded by a tall fence and even taller hedges. And at dawn, bats flutter around the overgrown garden. No one has ever seen the owner of the house, let alone spoken to them. But early one morning, paper girl Maddie decides to venture beyond the tall hedges on a dare and finds something very unexpected…

Two modern vampire tales by Hugo finalist Cora Buhlert of 5000 words or approx. 18 print pages altogether.

More information.
Length: 5000 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 iBooks, Google Play, Scribd, Smashwords, Thalia, Weltbild, Hugendubel, Buecher.de, DriveThruFiction, Casa del Libro, Vivlio, 24symbols and XinXii.

If you want to read all of my attempts at horror fiction, the cheapest way to do so is via The Spooky Bundle, which is available exclusively at DriveThruFiction.

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