Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month for January 2024

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 newly published this month, though some December books I missed the last time around snuck in as well. The books are arranged in alphabetical order by author. So far, most links only go to Amazon.com, though I may add other retailers for future editions.

Once again, we have new releases covering the whole broad spectrum of speculative fiction. This month, we have urban fantasy, cozy fantasy, sword and sorcery, paranormal mysteries, ghost stories, space opera, military science fiction, dragons, elves, barbarians, alien invasions,  starships, space marines, paranormal investigators, crime-busting witches, crime-busting skeletons 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:

Paranormal Investigation by Chantal BellehumeurParanormal Investigation by Chantal Bellehumeur:

This fictional ghost story with a slice of humour was inspired by historical facts and true events.

Discover the dark history of Cornwall’s old jail, built in 1833, and follow the fictitious Roy family as they conduct a paranormal investigation inside the historic building. Their spooky venture evokes questions about a spirit possibly following them home.

 

Captain by Jonathan P. BrazeeCaptain by Jonathan P. Brazee:

As a captain, Ryck Lysander has been given one of the most sough-after assignments in the Marines: an infantry company commander.

His new battalion commanding officer, however, is not impressed with Ryck’s past accomplishments, and Ryck finds himself struggling to fulfill his CO’s expectations.

Now, abandoned by the Navy, stranded among the asteroids, Ryck and his battalion must find a way to survive the day.

But these are Marines. . . and that means never giving up.

Destiny Delayed by Lindsay BurokerDriven by Destiny by Lindsay Buroker:

Arwen Forester is on a quest to remove her dark-elven tattoo and get her mother’s evil people out of her life forever. The last thing she wants is for them to magically manipulate her into betraying Azerdash Starblade, the half-dragon refugee she has feelings for.

But when an old elven comrade visits Azerdash, sharing the location of one of the invaluable galaxy blades that were made for his kind, Arwen must set aside her own quest to help him. This may be a chance for him to once again become the leader he was meant to be.

But there are people—and dragons—who will kill to keep the powerful sword from returning to Azerdash’s hands. And they would have no problem slaying Arwen in the process. Is his quest worth dying for?

Echoes in the Deep by Terry Maggert and J.N. ChaneyEchoes in the Deep by J.N. Chaney and Terry Maggert:

Mark Tudor is learning a valuable lesson about being a Peacemaker.

With Veteran pay comes veteran problems. And the Guild, more often than not, is the issue.

He’s become an effective enforcer of the law, but unfortunately, crime is growing a lot more complicated. Someone is slaving artificial beings to ships, running contraband across the stars in a fatal practice that marries murder, theft, and kidnapping. Even as Mark’s crew grows, he discovers these crimes aren’t just horrific—they’re common.

And he means to stop it.

Deep in the black between stars, Mark finds an ancient and bizarre place, filled with the galaxy’s discarded junk. And in the middle of that cold, distant void lies a massive ship—one that holds secrets that will rock the halls of power in known space—and turn crime into profit.

Diving headlong into new cases, Mark will find that the elite criminals aren’t scared of a farm boy from Iowa. That professional killers are lurking in the shadows.

But he’s no longer alone.

With Tan, the teenaged tech wizard, and Drogo, whose gifts are a bit more martial, the search for justice will become a little more violent. With seemingly unconnected events escalating, one killer separates herself from the crowd.

Bone Appetite by Rachel FordBone Appetite by Rachel Ford:

I’m a magic-wielding Freak. My partner Flinty Jack is a sentient skeleton. We’re Flint & Co Paranormal Investigations.

Things are going well. I mean, sure, our short-term squatter seems to have turned into a perma-resident. And yeah, there are rumors that an undead serial killer might have set his sights on us next.

But work is steady, and the agency is finally on solid footing. Until one of Nat’s plaintiffs, head chef of an up-and-coming local restaurant, decides to bail on a rock solid case. She doesn’t believe he left willingly, and her firm asks us to take the case. Unpaid.

We don’t have the manpower, and we’re not doing well enough for charity cases yet. But saying no isn’t really an option. Not when it’s my fiancée asking.

So now we’re up to our eyeballs in work, trying to track down an un-missing person. Except the deeper we dig, the more it looks like someone went to a whole lot of trouble to cook up a story of the chef with cold feet…

The Revelations of Zang by John R. FultzThe Revelations of Zang by John R. Fultz:

A collection of dark fantasy tales with a metaphysical edge, full of grotesque wonders and weird splendor. Artifice the Quill flees from tyrant sorcerers into a world of strange magic, ancient gods, and exotic kingdoms. The exiled author joins a traveling troupe of performers known as the Glimmer Faire, where he learns the magical power of art and the art of magical power. These Twelve Tales of the Continent alternate between the exploits of Artifice and the adventures of Taizo the Rogue, a master of skullduggery who sparks a rebellion in the name of bloody vengeance.

The Lost Gods of Narr were displaced a century ago by the Sorcerer Kings, a council of dictators who rule the Golden City with necromancy, alchemy, and terror. The mysterious folk of the Red Isle foster dissension in Narr by smuggling their enchanted goods into the city, while the ancient Zang Forest expands itself across the lands of men, devouring farms and towns as it reaches to smother the wicked city. Now that the Lost Gods are returning to destroy the world, only Artifice, Taizo, and a small band of rebels have any hope of preventing the apocalypse. Seven of these interrelated stories are previously unpublished, including “Spilling the Blood of the World,” the novelette which brings the entire Zang Cycle to a staggering finale.

There's something about magic by Lily Harper HartThere’s Something About Magic by Lily Harper Hart:

The day Ivy Morgan-Harker has been dreading is here and the woman she helped send to prison is back in Shadow Lake…and she’s not acting like herself.

Ava Moffett returns to town just in time to be swept up in the death of a local woman, who had no ties to the area before recently taking over the hardware shop with her husband. Poison is the cause of death, but who doled it out?

If the death wasn’t bad enough, Ivy and her husband Jack have another problem. It seems their daughter Olive is sensing things that Ivy herself can’t see, which means Shadow Lake’s top witch might be falling behind.

Ivy wants nothing more than to live a happy life and help her friends. Ava’s revenge might make that impossible, though.

Prepare yourselves, because Ivy’s past is threatening her future, and this just might be the one fight she can’t win.

Whale Mail by Patty JansenWhale Mail by Patty Jansen:

Picture this: you’ve somehow come into the possession of a dragon (long story–you can read the previous book if you really want to know, but it’s kinda embarrassing, so you don’t need to).

And you need to return that dragon to the place it came from.

You’ve tried putting it on a truck–but it destroyed the truck.

You’ve tried putting it on the train–but it destroyed the carriage.

Now you’ve put the dragon in a warehouse while you figure out what to do, but–

You guessed it: the dragon destroys the warehouse.

Tell me, why wouldn’t you trick some rich merchant into lending you the only thing you haven’t yet tried: a boat.

The Quelling by C.L. LauderThe Quelling by C.L. Lauder:

When you’re Stained, patches of skin glisten like liquid starlight, and sooner or later, his creatures find you.

When Kyjta accidentally brands herself with an alien fluid while plotting revenge, she knows her fate is sealed. As one of the Stained, her markings glisten star-bright, and the creatures sent by the Rhemans to scavenge for bodies will have no trouble finding her.

One night, while sheltering during a raid, Kyjta forms an unexpected pact with a Rheman rebel to protect a young girl, Calipsie, who’s fallen into her care. Days later, when Calipsie is taken, Kyjta abandons precaution to go after her. Facing impossible odds and allied by a Rheman she’s not sure she can trust, Kyjta must not only rescue Calipsie, but also face the Rheman overlord who’s taken a disturbing interest in her.

Witching on the Job by Amanda M. LeeWitching on the Job by Amanda M. Lee:

Hadley Hunter came to Moonstone Bay to find herself. That included finding her passion in life. She just didn’t think it would involve becoming mayor.

She has no qualifications, other than being a powerful witch.

Half the town is rooting against her.

The other half is just sitting back to see what happens.

Only a handful of people are rooting for her, but they’re the only ones who matter.

When a body appears on the beach, one that’s been stabbed in the back and surrounded by curse runes in blood, Hadley finds her attention split. She might be the new mayor, but she’s also interested in what killed a former member of the power-hungry DDA.

The investigation involves old grudges, hidden files, a new witch in town, and the island’s biggest secret. Hadley isn’t ready for any of it, but she’s not going to have a choice.

Someone on the island is trying to keep dark information from coming to light, and it’s going to put them all in danger.

So, brace yourselves, because the new mayor is about to face a very old problem. Can she solve the case and keep the island safe? That’s anybody’s guess, but the odds are stacked against her.

Neither Beg Nor Yield, edited by Jason M. WaltzNeither Beg Nor Yield, edited by Jason M. Waltz:

Can you handle the truth?

Sword & Sorcery has always been about the attitude.

Stop seeking elaborate definitions. Cease arguing over semantics and accoutrements. Quit making it more difficult than necessary. Learn the fundamental immutability of the S&S Riddle: Protagonists with nonchalant mercenary motivations & indomitable wills. It’s all in their attitude.

The definition of S&S has never been clearer.

Sword & Sorcery warriors are very, very dangerous people, considered barbaric, who act according to their own codes of honor in pursuit of their own ends. Brothers (and sisters) to THE WILD BUNCH, comrades of the SEVEN SAMURAI, partners of every MAN IN BLACK, and riders in every WILD HUNT. They don’t just seize the day—they seize Life itself by the throat and squeeze until it begs. They don’t falter in the dark or before the unknown—they spit in the face of Death itself and stomp it into the dirt until it yields.

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Indie Crime Fiction of the Month for January 2024


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 hardboiled mysteries, cozy mysteries, holiday mysteries, animal mysteries, historical mysteries, Jazz Age mysteries, 1950s mysteries, paranormal mysteries, crime thrillers, adventure thrillers, gothic thrillers, noir, police officers, FBI agents, private investigators, amateur sleuths, ex-cons, heists, kidnapped teenagers, kidnapped cats, suspicious suicides, crime-busting witches, crime-busting socialites, crime-busting housekeepers, murder and mayhem in London, Minneapolis, Florida, Hawaii, Brighton, the Côte d’Azur, the Caribbean 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 Murder in Brighton by Magda AlexanderA Murder in Brighton by Magda Alexander:

With her wedding day rapidly approaching, all Kitty Worthington wants is a fun seaside holiday with her loved ones. But some are at outs with each other, the weather’s not promising, and someone gets murdered. Again.

Brighton 1924. The pleasant vacation Kitty Worthington envisioned is not going well. Disagreements and altercations between those dear to her all too soon scuttle her plans. Determined to enjoy some fun in the sun, she heads to the shore with her fiancé, Chief Detective Inspector Robert Crawford Sinclair. But before they can dip their toes in the surf, they stumble across the body of a wealthy socialite. In their beach hut, of all places.

As bad luck would have it, Kitty’s intended is soon assigned the case. After all, he’s not only present, but experienced at solving murders of the elite. Although reluctant to become involved in the investigation, Kitty agrees to help. And soon, so do her family and friends.

But finding the murderer won’t be easy. The woman was roundly disliked. Did the milquetoast husband kill her? Or was it the much put upon stepdaughter? And what about the shady stepson in debt up to his ears?

With a raging storm bearing down on them, there’s no time to lose. Witnesses and suspects are all jumping ship. And if that weren’t enough, the Worthingtons’ beloved basset hound soon goes missing. Is it the murderer’s ploy or an unfortunate coincidence? Whatever the reason, they must discover the killer before all is lost.

The Happy Housekeeper's Guide to Arson by Blythe BakerThe Happy Housekeeper’s Guide to Arson by Blythe Baker

Suspicion. Lies. Murder. Barbara Hollis didn’t expect to encounter any of these in small town life. With a murky past to hide from, moving to quiet little Cobbsville was supposed to be a perfect escape. But a neighbor who has her own dangerous secret to conceal soon becomes as big a threat as the crazed lunatic who is setting fire to houses around town…

Even as a terrible new doubt surfaces against her brother, Barbara is intrigued by an attractive new acquaintance who happens to be the local mayor. But will one more distraction prove welcome … or deadly?

The Bleak Midwinter by Beth ByersA Bleak Midwinter by Beth Byers:

Once again, Smith and Bea are back to London and back to their regular lives. Smith’s niece is off to school and the couple is back to work.

Only Bea switched back to Vi’s house for her employment, so she can be near her daughters while she works, and all is going well.

In the bitter cold, nearly alone at Vi’s home, Bea discovers an unseasonable and un-Londonlike snowfall. She’s stuck. And, she’s not alone.

Murder on the Cote D'Azur by Colette ClarkA Murder on the Côte d’Azur by Colette Clark:

A riveting Riviera murder!

Antibes 1926
Penelope “Pen” Banks and friends have finally made it to the Côte d’Azur, settling into a beautiful villa in Antibes. After only one week it’s been perfect weather, beautiful scenery, welcoming French locals, and a fashionable set of American expats with whom to socialize.

The only fly in the ointment is the odious Mrs. Vera Tynehook. With her belittling words, acerbic nature, and ruthless lack of consideration for others, she has managed to make an enemy of almost everyone.

It’s enough for Penelope to wonder why so many attend the parties she hosts, no matter how swanky they are. She soon learns they all have a bit of fun at the hostess’s expense. But what happens when a night of harmless teasing ends in Vera’s murder?

There are too many suspects to count, especially when the police reveal the surprising nature of her death.

The Lies in the Falls by Elle GrayThe Lies in the Falls by Elle Gray:

It’s the perfect time to enjoy the winter snow.
Unfortunately, there are things brewing in Sweetwater Falls that neither coffee nor hot cocoa can solve…

It’s Founders Day in the once idyllic town, as well as the beginning of the festive holiday season.
Contrary to the beautiful scenery, being the sheriff of Sweetwater is not quite as cozy as Spenser Song imagined. Nor did she think she would meet her match with her grumpy neighbor turned confidant, Ryker Makawi. When her evening out with Ryker is interrupted by the daughter of one of the town’s most powerful families. Spenser gathers her forces and launches a hunt for the supposed missing matriarch of the Gilchrist clan. It’s a hunt that grows increasingly strange with little making sense and even less being what it seems.

When her body is uncovered in a surprising way. The list of suspects is long.
Nothing and nobody are what they appear to be and when the finger pointing starts, Spenser doesn’t know who to believe. As she peels back the layers of the Gilchrist family, the answers she uncovers are far from what she expected them to be.

It’s wintertime in Sweetwater Falls and the bodies are falling like snow.
Will Spenser, with Ryker’s aid, solve the chilling case before the blizzard of chaos buries the whole town?

There's something about magic by Lily Harper HartThere’s Something About Magic by Lily Harper Hart:

The day Ivy Morgan-Harker has been dreading is here and the woman she helped send to prison is back in Shadow Lake…and she’s not acting like herself.

Ava Moffett returns to town just in time to be swept up in the death of a local woman, who had no ties to the area before recently taking over the hardware shop with her husband. Poison is the cause of death, but who doled it out?

If the death wasn’t bad enough, Ivy and her husband Jack have another problem. It seems their daughter Olive is sensing things that Ivy herself can’t see, which means Shadow Lake’s top witch might be falling behind.

Ivy wants nothing more than to live a happy life and help her friends. Ava’s revenge might make that impossible, though.

Prepare yourselves, because Ivy’s past is threatening her future, and this just might be the one fight she can’t win.

Lighthouse Point by Nicholas HarveyLighthouse Point by Nicholas Harvey:

Deadly Grand Prix racing. Daring deep dives. Double-crossing diamond thieves.

When dive boat operators AJ Bailey and Reg Moore are hired to explore a newly discovered wreck on the island of Bonaire, the treacherous depths are not the only danger they face.

With hidden ties leading back to a fledgling Formula One Grand Prix team from 1970, the two exhilarating timelines build to a thrilling climax with a twist leaving AJ and Reg fighting for their lives.

Book fifteen in this bestselling series takes AJ and her mentor Reg out of their Cayman Islands comfort zone and plunges them into a wild adventure in another beautiful Caribbean paradise.

The Cabin Conspiracy by CeeCee JamesThe Cabin Conspiracy by CeeCee James

Georgie joins the party!

Georgie invites Stella to come stay at her aunt’s bee farm for the week. It’s a vacation, right?

All is fun and games until the local gardener is murdered and Aunt Penelope is taken to jail as the suspect. No one can believe sweet Penelope has been arrested, especially Stella. But Georgie confesses her aunt has a strange past.

A past that’s apparently revisited the small bee farm. And Stella and Georgie can’t boot him out!

Witching on the Job by Amanda M. LeeWitching on the Job by Amanda M. Lee:

Hadley Hunter came to Moonstone Bay to find herself. That included finding her passion in life. She just didn’t think it would involve becoming mayor.

She has no qualifications, other than being a powerful witch.

Half the town is rooting against her.

The other half is just sitting back to see what happens.

Only a handful of people are rooting for her, but they’re the only ones who matter.

When a body appears on the beach, one that’s been stabbed in the back and surrounded by curse runes in blood, Hadley finds her attention split. She might be the new mayor, but she’s also interested in what killed a former member of the power-hungry DDA.

The investigation involves old grudges, hidden files, a new witch in town, and the island’s biggest secret. Hadley isn’t ready for any of it, but she’s not going to have a choice.

Someone on the island is trying to keep dark information from coming to light, and it’s going to put them all in danger.

So, brace yourselves, because the new mayor is about to face a very old problem. Can she solve the case and keep the island safe? That’s anybody’s guess, but the odds are stacked against her.

Maui Holidaze by Toby NealMaui Holidaze by Toby Neal:

A cat hunt at Christmas on Maui…

I’m Kat Smith, Secret Service agent turned postmaster sleuth in the small town of Ohia on Maui, and I’m dealing with my first private investigation at the holidays: Lady Sapphire, a pedigreed feline expecting her first litter on Christmas, has been stolen from her elderly owner. My hot pilot boyfriend Mr. K and I are up to our eyeballs in cozy mystery motives when we discover that Tiki, my beloved stray, has also disappeared.

Now the hunt is personal, and I’ll leave no furball unturned to bring these cats home.

Murder on the Thames by Emily OrganMurder on the Thames by Emily Organ:

The river reveals its secrets…

Amateur sleuth Augusta Peel is showing a friend the sights of London when their boat trip on the River Thames is cut short. A body has been found adrift in a rowing boat.

The circumstances are puzzling. Scotland Yard takes on the case and Augusta makes some enquiries of her own. But since Detective Inspector Philip Fisher’s resignation, she no longer has a contact at the Yard to help her.

Could the murder be linked to a series of accidents at a factory? And who was behind an attack on a young woman a few weeks previously? A breakthrough comes when the Yard asks for assistance, but Augusta has already made an enemy who’s determined to make life difficult for her.

Philip’s new detective agency is getting off the ground. And although he’s happy to help Augusta, a lady in distress is causing a distraction…

The Girl in Hawaii by A.J. RiversThe Girl in Hawaii by A.J. Rivers:

“Don’t look back. There’s someone out there that will save us all.”

When an unexpected call from FBI agent Bella Walker takes Ava James on a red eye flight to Hawaii waters.
Nothing could have prepared her for the surprising mysteries that lie hidden in the Jurassic World-like landscape.

After the 17-year-old, Kelly Winters went missing in Florida, Ava James worked tirelessly on the case only to reach a dead end.
She had lost hope of finding the truth behind Kelly’s mysterious disappearance.
Until she received a shocking call.

In the middle of the Oahu rainforest, physically battered, but with an unbreakable determination,
Kelly Winters pushed her body to the limit to escape her captors.
Upon hearing the young girl’s story, Ava makes a promise to Kelly that she will follow through until all the other victims are found.
While Ava and Bella unravel the case, they find it linked to a huge trafficking network that has spread its seeds everywhere.
From everyday men to Capitol Hill to Japan to the Middle East.
The case could mean career suicide or even an untimely death.
The stakes are higher than ever. There are enemies to be found in even the police precincts.

This conspiracy is bigger than she could have ever imagined, and no person could save her from the bones that she would unearth…

Northtown Angelus by Robert WhiteNorthtown Angelus by Robert White:

Johnny Dillon took his life. His wife Cora wants to know why. The Northtown cops don’t care; they closed the case as a suicide. The M.E. hasn’t got any answers for the discrepancies Ray Jarvi discovered in the autopsy report and from what Johnny’s wife told him about the days leading up to his decision to take his life.

This is the beginning of an investigation for private investigator Ray Jarvi, who follows a twisting path of corruption and vice in his rust-belt town on the shores of Lake Erie to help her find some resolution to the worst day in her life. Like a medieval play between warring devils and angels battling for a soul, he must deal with a variety of Northtowners who play one part or the other on his journey to find those answers. Getting past one obstacle only leads to another—and another. Before long, Jarvi does not know whom to trust. He realizes nothing in his town is what it appears to be and that there are some dangerous people who like it that way.

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Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month for December 2023

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 newly published this month, though some November books I missed the last time around snuck in as well. The books are arranged in alphabetical order by author. So far, most links only go to Amazon.com, though I may add other retailers for future editions.

Once again, we have new releases covering the whole broad spectrum of speculative fiction. This month, we have epic fantasy, urban fantasy, gaslamp fantasy, sword and sorcery, fairy tale retellings, paranormal mystery, historical fantasy mystery, gothic thrillers, space opera, military science fiction, werecats, prophets, rougarous, starships, space marines, space pirates, crime-busting witches, haunted houses 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:

Prophet of a Blind God by Tim AkersProphet of a Blind God by Tim Akers:

Fleeing the Guild of the Wheel is no small task. Clinging to his fragmented memory and the pale sword that drives him, Lohit Maast makes his way to the swamps of the Mossmarch, where the Guild has no dominion. But in the cracks of the world, other powers gather. Strange figures stalk his dreams, and a secret cabal of Seers lurks in the shadows. In Lohit, they find the answer to their prophecy, and promise to help him recover his memories if he will assist them. But is their revelation one of hope, or destruction? Is Lohit their savior, or the herald of coming doom?

Federation Marine: Lieutenant by Jonathan P. BrazeeFederation Marine: Lieutenant by Jonathan P. Brazee:

As a certified “hero,” Sergeant Ryck Lysander gets offered a commission as a second lieutenant.

Only, he doesn’t feel like a hero, and his tendency to jump into a fight himself is at odds with his duties as an officer.

When first contact with an alien race turns into a full blown war, Ryck is thrust into combat once again, and the battle goes poorly.

Before he has time to take a breath, Ryck finds himself in a crises. Did he make a mistake by accepting the commission? Or will he rise to his newfound position?

With humankind facing an existential threat, one confused former hero won’t amount to much. A change from infantry to recon gives him one last chance to prove that he has what it takes to not only be a leader of men…

Grave Memories by Stacy ClaflinGrave Memories by Stacy Claflin:

The Brannon House stands as a deceptive facade, its past horrors refusing to dissipate into the shadows.

Ember Brannon is inexplicably drawn to an old gravestone bearing her own name, its forgotten presence casting an unsettling pall over her family’s ancestral home. As she becomes fixated on the stone and the long-forgotten life it represents, Ember’s reality begins to unravel. Vivid dreams transport her to a time shrouded in mystery, the tragic demise of her namesake becomes an obsession she won’t release.

Obsessions have their price. Ember awakens with muddy feet, evidence of nocturnal wanderings she can’t remember. The discovery of a hidden diary, chronicling the life of the other Ember, triggers a relentless spiral into fascination and compulsion. Her loved ones try to stop her, but she pushes everyone away.

Within the opulent halls of the Brannon House, Ember hurtles toward an impending breaking point. Is she fated to echo the tragedies that haunt her lineage, becoming another ghost within the estate’s dark history? Or will she find the strength to confront the enigma she’s become, and the danger that now stalks her every move?

Tomb of Heart and Shadow by Cara N. DelaneyTomb of Heart and Shadow by Cara N. Delaney:

Their marriage was a simple bargain. Love was not supposed to complicate things.

When her reputation-obsessed family issues her an ultimatum – get married or be disinherited – Saria seizes upon what seems like a most convenient solution. She strikes a deal with a stranger – marriage and a child in exchange for freedom and security. That her bride is a sorcerer from the mysterious city of Neeth is not a problem. Or so Saria thinks.

Taleysin doesn’t expect much from her second marriage. A child and heir to carry on her sworn duty to the city of Neeth, and more importantly, a wife who won’t ask too many questions. The deal with Saria seems to be everything she wants – and nothing more. She will have her heir, and Neeth will remain safe for another generation.

But soon enough, their resolve over their practical decision begins to crumble. While Saria grows ever more curious about Neeth’s magical secrets, Taleysin finds herself falling for a woman who was supposed to be nothing more than a means to an end. When a mysterious assailant begins to hunt down sorcerers, Saria and Taleysin must find a way to work through this shift in their relationship – to save both their marriage and the city.

The Saga of Pthren Four-Scars by Jeff DraperThe Saga of Othren Four-Scars by Jeff Draper:

A collection of three stories set in the same world of low magic and brutal savagery, where the first choice is usually violence followed by a second choice of more violence. In amongst the violences are a few very sweet character moments that will draw you into the world Othren Four-Scars is trying to protect.

The Battle of Raven Kill is the second story I ever had published, first appearing in “The Return of the Sword: An Anthology of Heroic Adventure”, edited by Jason Waltz. It’s a 1 vs 100 slugfest with mud, blood, cracked skulls, knife wounds, broken bones, and of course bookended by a touching father-daughter vignette.

The Feorhmaegan was a follow-up prequel to Raven Kill that gives us a better understanding of where our hero comes from and the type of adventures he’s had. (Spoilers: Violent ones!) I never found a publisher for it before moving on to other things but I think the quality is high enough to include it here.

The Witch of the Westmoors is a flash fiction piece first published in “Abandoned Towers, #3” by Cyberwizard Productions. It’s set in the same world, only years later and with new participants in the ancient struggle set up in the other two stories.

Werecats Resurgent by Mark J. EngelsWerecats Resurgent by Mark J. Engels:

Cornered, captured, and determined to make their stand…

After springing her lover from the brig, Pawly and her family make ready to swipe a container from an ocean freighter transiting Lake Michigan—one containing the genetic material needed to save her mother from the debilitating effects of her unsated bloodlust. All according to Mawro’s plan, him having laid a trap for them on behalf of his rogue state employer. But Mawro’s superiors spring a trap of their own, exploiting Pawly’s feral rage by revealing to her a horrific secret from her past. Chaos ensues, leaving members of her family kidnapped, their remote island hideaway in flames, and her mother at death’s door. Now Pawly and the family—together with some unlikely new allies—must journey halfway around the world on a veritable suicide mission, a final showdown to rescue their loved ones and to quell her kind’s lethal bloodlust once and for all.

Werecats Resurgent is the third and final installment of the Forest Exiles Saga featuring the modern-day remnant of an ancient clan of werecats, torn apart as militaries on three continents vie to exploit their deadly talents.

Battles Unfought by Rachel FordBattles Unfought by Rachel Ford:

A new ship. A new era. A new mission.

The Lady Bane is under new management. The military prototype turned privateer vessel is the new home and base of operations for Maggie, Kay, and the former crew of the Black Flag.

They’d prefer to spend some time getting to know the new ship. But when a high priority mission comes in from the admiralty, they can’t refuse.

The mission is straightforward: break into a secure facility owned and operated by a cabal of criminals, crack a state-of-the-art safe, and retrieve a data chip containing sensitive information.

The stakes are high. It’s a very secure facility, and very sensitive information. Wars have been waged for less.
The payout is huge – whatever they can lift from the safe, they can keep.

If they survive long enough to get away with it, anyway.

Masters of Hex by Lily Harper HartMasters of Hex by Lily Harper Hart:

Life in the French Quarter is about to calm down for the off-season, so of course things in Ofelia Archer’s life are about to heat up.

With Halloween right around the corner, all Ofelia wants to worry about is what couple’s costume she and her boyfriend Zach Sully are going to wear to the big reunion party being hosted for her former high school. Then the unthinkable happens and she senses Sully is in danger when he’s out on a case.

Ofelia swoops in, the mightiest witch in the French Quarter, and finds herself saving the love of her life shoulder-to-shoulder with his father.
Zeke Sully is all charm and secrets. He wants to win Ofelia over, but there are shadows chasing him…and dropping bodies all over the Quarter.

Sully doesn’t want anything to do with whatever his father is involved in. Ofelia doesn’t feel she can abandon her future father-in-law. That leads to some strife.

Some business deals can’t be undone, and Ofelia is about to get a glimpse of the seedy business underbelly in New Orleans. The question is, can she fix what’s been broken, or is it already too late?

The Rougarou Rigmarole by Amanda M. LeeThe Rougarou Rigmarole by Amanda M. Lee:

Charlie Rhodes joined the Legacy Foundation because she was looking for information on who she was. More important, she wanted to know why she could do the things she could do.

What she found out changed the course of her life.

Now the big fight is almost upon her. She’s supposed to be in New Orleans practicing her new abilities so she can be ready for that fight, but a local legend might derail everything.

Every state has its own version of the Bigfoot legend. In New Orleans, the beast is called the Rougarou and usually only appears following a great tragedy. The murder of some innocent teenagers in the French Quarter is just such a tragedy…but the killing isn’t over. No, not by a long shot.

Even though she knows she’s supposed to be focusing on the enemy that’s coming for her, Charlie can’t stop herself from digging into the case of the Rougarou…and what she finds might just send her over the edge.

New Orleans is the type of city that holds a million secrets. Charlie is about to discover a big one.

With the help of her motley crew of characters—including a visiting mage who is determined to help and a fledgling crossroads demon who is determined to be a hindrance—Charlie has a battle in front of her. It will be good practice for the big one, which is right around the corner.

She just has to survive long enough to fight both enemies.

It won’t be as easy as anybody wants it to be.

A Death at the Dionysos Club by Melissa Scott and Amy GriswoldA Death at the Dionysus Club by Melissa Scott and Amy Griswold:

Secrets, Magic and Murder…

The gentleman’s clubs of Scott and Griswold’s gaslamp fantastical London are full of secrets and the ones that Julian Lynes and Ned Mathey and their circles frequent are even more hidden than most. Beneath their respectable, or less respectable, façades, they are a haven…or a torment for men who desire each other’s company. Now someone is leaving a trail of murder victims, each one found without a heart. Each one somehow connected to Lynes, Mathey, their friends, their enemies and the communities that they belong to. Finding the murderer could reveal everything, leading to certain ruin for some, and the loss of all they hold dear for Julian and Ned. How far will they go to solve the mystery and stop a killer?

Mirror of My Heart by Laura WeyrMirror of My Heart by Laura Weyr:

When the happily ever after isn’t the one you expect.

Once upon a time, a spoiled princess met her youthful new stepmother, a woman as cold as she was beautiful. . .or so she seemed.

Once upon a time, a queen burdened a girl with harsh tasks, yet never heavier than she could bear. . .and so a princess became strong and wise.

Once upon a time, in the midst of loneliness, two hearts touched love. . .until a king returned from war to find his daughter grown into the very likeness of her dead mother.

Now fled to the forest, her beloved a prisoner, can Snow White win her happily ever after?

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Indie Crime Fiction of the Month for December 2023


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, historical fantasy mysteries, Jazz Age mysteries, 1930s mysteries, 1950s mysteries, paranormal mysteries, crime thrillers, adventure thrillers, gothic thrillers, police officers, FBI agents, private investigators, amateur sleuths, crime-busting witches, crime-busting socialites, crime-busting housekeepers, haunted houses, murder and mayhem in London, Boston, New Orleans, Cornwall, the Caribbean 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 with Mayhem by Blythe BakerMurder With Mayhem by Blythe Baker:

As Sylvia and Miles prepare for their wedding day, tragedy threatens. With the life of a member of the wedding party in danger, can Sylvia catch a murderer and get to the bottom of one final mystery?

 

 

 

 

The Happy Housekeeper's Guide to Homicide by Blythe BakerThe Happy Housekeeper’s Guide to Homicide by Blythe Baker:

Bloody murder is the last thing on Barbara Hollis’ mind when she agrees to travel to a sleepy little town to keep house for her widowed brother. Aside from chasing after her irritating young nephews, she thinks the biggest challenge she’ll face is learning to cook a proper soufflé. But a bizarre encounter on a train quickly draws her into a more complicated and dangerous future than she bargained for…

When a local woman turns up dead, and Barbara’s sheriff brother is too inept to solve the case, Barbara finds herself joining forces with a handsome deputy in search of a cold-blooded killer. But her new hometown is crawling with secrets, and Barbara just might discover that unmasking one villain is only scratching the surface…

Murder on the Cornish Cliffs by Verity BrightMurder on the Cornish Cliffs by Verity Bright:

A festive invitation from an old family friend, the promise of gingerbread at the village inn, snowy walks on the Cornish coast with Gladstone the bulldog… But wait, is that a body on the beach?

Winter, 1923. It’s nearly Christmas and Lady Eleanor Swift has received a rather strange letter from an old friend of her uncle. Mr Godfrey Cunliffe has asked her to stay in Cornwall for the holidays – but only because he believes his gardener is trying to poison him! With not a moment to waste Eleanor hurries down to his picturesque manor house with her butler Clifford and handsome beau Detective Hugh Seldon. But they arrive too late to stop the crime…

Lying dead at the bottom of the steep cliffs, however, is not Mr Cunliffe, but the gardener himself. And his plans for restoring the gardens to their former glory are missing. Jerome St Clair has gone from suspect to victim. This certainly puts a twist in the tinsel!

As snow begins to fall, Eleanor quizzes the family. Mr Cunliffe’s alibi is as fragile as the glass baubles hanging from his towering Christmas tree. Eleanor quickly realises everyone from the handyman to the housekeeper is keeping secrets, and she’s convinced that Mr Cunliffe is still scared for his life.

When Gladstone the bulldog pulls a charred corner of the missing garden plans from a fireplace festooned with a gold-ribboned garland, Eleanor thinks the clue she needs is hiding out in the grounds. But when someone tries to run her over with the huge lawnmower, she knows she must wrap up the mystery fast before her Christmas is cancelled for good…

Murder at Manningtree by Beth Byers

Murder at Manningtree by Beth Byers:

It’s 1921, and Veda Wright is almost alone in the world. With a widowed aunt giving Veda a place to stay, it’s time for her to find a way to look after herself.

When she applies for a position as a secretary for a famous historian in Manningtree, her worries are entirely mundane. Until she walks around with spectral sound of footsteps following her. There is an unholy wail on the wind. The feel of being hunted is in the air. And, when she is entirely alone, she stumbles over a body.

She’s certain of several things. Firstly, this poor soul was murdered. Secondly, this scene was set for her. And thirdly, it isn’t a ghost playing games with her. The only question she can’t answer is: why her?

Christmas Wrapped Intrigue by Beth ByersChristmas Wrapped Intrigue by Beth Byers:

In this short Christmas caper, Denny has solved his first crime and has sworn not to solve another. His friends, however, are contagious. This time, Denny notices something is amiss with Father Christmas. Meddling a little seemed harmless until he stumbles on a real crime.

Before he can help himself, he’s been arrested for something he didn’t do and needs to prove his innocence. Soon, coal in his stocking is the least of the things Denny needs to worry about. There are the crimes that are chasing him into a trap that he’s not prepared to escape. Will Denny slide out of troulbe or will he find himself in shackles on Christmas morning?

Grave Memories by Stacy ClaflinGrave Memories by Stacy Claflin:

The Brannon House stands as a deceptive facade, its past horrors refusing to dissipate into the shadows.

Ember Brannon is inexplicably drawn to an old gravestone bearing her own name, its forgotten presence casting an unsettling pall over her family’s ancestral home. As she becomes fixated on the stone and the long-forgotten life it represents, Ember’s reality begins to unravel. Vivid dreams transport her to a time shrouded in mystery, the tragic demise of her namesake becomes an obsession she won’t release.

Obsessions have their price. Ember awakens with muddy feet, evidence of nocturnal wanderings she can’t remember. The discovery of a hidden diary, chronicling the life of the other Ember, triggers a relentless spiral into fascination and compulsion. Her loved ones try to stop her, but she pushes everyone away.

Within the opulent halls of the Brannon House, Ember hurtles toward an impending breaking point. Is she fated to echo the tragedies that haunt her lineage, becoming another ghost within the estate’s dark history? Or will she find the strength to confront the enigma she’s become, and the danger that now stalks her every move?

Shadow of the Falls by Elle GrayShadows of the Falls by Elle Gray:

Spenser Song could have never imagined that her career in the FBI would lead to her husband’s death.
She moved to Sweetwater Falls and accepted the job as the town’s Sheriff to escape from the pain of her dark past.
But a fresh start in the once idyllic town came with many unexpected twists…

Fortunately, with her new friends, a new sense of family and community, and a blossoming relationship with Ryker, Spenser felt a sense of peace and contentment. A feeling she thought would be lost to her since the night of her husband’s murder and her near death.

Unfortunately for Spenser, good things never seemed to last.
Unbeknownst to her, the past was rising like a dark shadow, intent on destroying the people she loved and the community she vowed to serve.

When Spenser is called out to a brutal sexual assault, she uncovers a pattern of similar assaults in the surrounding towns. More disturbingly, Spenser finds that the women in this string of assaults all bear a striking physical resemblance to her.
Each attack is more vicious and brutal than the last, and it isn’t long before Spenser’s worst fears are realized.

How do you fight a monster that seems to know you better than you know yourself?
There’s a dark shadow covering the Falls and Spenser will need the help and comfort of Ryker and his Lab, Mocha more than ever before.

Masters of Hex by Lily Harper HartMasters of Hex by Lily Harper Hart:

Life in the French Quarter is about to calm down for the off-season, so of course things in Ofelia Archer’s life are about to heat up.

With Halloween right around the corner, all Ofelia wants to worry about is what couple’s costume she and her boyfriend Zach Sully are going to wear to the big reunion party being hosted for her former high school. Then the unthinkable happens and she senses Sully is in danger when he’s out on a case.

Ofelia swoops in, the mightiest witch in the French Quarter, and finds herself saving the love of her life shoulder-to-shoulder with his father.
Zeke Sully is all charm and secrets. He wants to win Ofelia over, but there are shadows chasing him…and dropping bodies all over the Quarter.

Sully doesn’t want anything to do with whatever his father is involved in. Ofelia doesn’t feel she can abandon her future father-in-law. That leads to some strife.

Some business deals can’t be undone, and Ofelia is about to get a glimpse of the seedy business underbelly in New Orleans. The question is, can she fix what’s been broken, or is it already too late?

The Rougarou Rigmarole by Amanda M. LeeThe Rougarou Rigmarole by Amanda M. Lee:

Charlie Rhodes joined the Legacy Foundation because she was looking for information on who she was. More important, she wanted to know why she could do the things she could do.

What she found out changed the course of her life.

Now the big fight is almost upon her. She’s supposed to be in New Orleans practicing her new abilities so she can be ready for that fight, but a local legend might derail everything.

Every state has its own version of the Bigfoot legend. In New Orleans, the beast is called the Rougarou and usually only appears following a great tragedy. The murder of some innocent teenagers in the French Quarter is just such a tragedy…but the killing isn’t over. No, not by a long shot.

Even though she knows she’s supposed to be focusing on the enemy that’s coming for her, Charlie can’t stop herself from digging into the case of the Rougarou…and what she finds might just send her over the edge.

New Orleans is the type of city that holds a million secrets. Charlie is about to discover a big one.

With the help of her motley crew of characters—including a visiting mage who is determined to help and a fledgling crossroads demon who is determined to be a hindrance—Charlie has a battle in front of her. It will be good practice for the big one, which is right around the corner.

She just has to survive long enough to fight both enemies.

It won’t be as easy as anybody wants it to be.

A Death at the Dionysos Club by Melissa Scott and Amy GriswoldA Death at the Dionysus Club by Melissa Scott and Amy Griswold:

Secrets, Magic and Murder…

The gentleman’s clubs of Scott and Griswold’s gaslamp fantastical London are full of secrets and the ones that Julian Lynes and Ned Mathey and their circles frequent are even more hidden than most. Beneath their respectable, or less respectable, façades, they are a haven…or a torment for men who desire each other’s company. Now someone is leaving a trail of murder victims, each one found without a heart. Each one somehow connected to Lynes, Mathey, their friends, their enemies and the communities that they belong to. Finding the murderer could reveal everything, leading to certain ruin for some, and the loss of all they hold dear for Julian and Ned. How far will they go to solve the mystery and stop a killer?

Friends of the Devil by Wayne Stinnett and Stewart MatthewsFriends of the Devil by Wayne Stinnett and Stewart Matthews:

After watching his yacht burn to the waterline in a fiery explosion, Jerry Snyder is forced to make a deal with the only devil who can help track down a lead—his estranged, mob-connected father figure, Arlen Burkhart.

The investigation starts on unsure footing, and Jerry’s deal with Arlen goes from bad to worse when, at a funeral held on a private Caribbean island where the uber-wealthy have met to pay respects to one of their own, bodies begin to wash up at Jerry’s feet like fish on a red tide.

In this luxurious tropical paradise, murder, blackmail, and deceit are the name of the game, and secrets are as abundant as sins. Before Jerry can determine who is trying to kill the funeral attendees, he’ll not only have to risk his life, but he’ll also have to confront a past which threatens to claim his very soul.

Death on Tremont Row by Lee StraussDeath on Tremont Row by Lee Strauss:

Death isn’t an act!

It’s been five years since Haley Higgins moved back from London to Boston, and in that time she’s become a doctor of pathology and the assistant pathologist at the Boston City Morgue. In her position, she often assists in the solving of crimes and murders, particularly since she’s been working in tandem with Samantha Hawke, an intrepid newspaper reporter and good friend.

In the spring of 1932, depression is widespread in all its forms. Haley is cheered by news that her good friend Ginger Reed, once known as Lady Gold and a former resident of Boston, is coming to visit! Naturally, Ginger will want to spend time with her sister and stepmother, but there will certainly be time for two old friends to chum around.

Tremont Row, a bustling shopping and theatre district, is exactly the kind of place Haley and Ginger, along with Samantha, love to hang out. Until a death at a play on opening night interferes with their shopping plans!

Haley and Samantha, continuing to fight the patriarchal barriers in their respective fields, work together to find justice for the latest victim. Is it a crime driven by the desperation of poverty, or is the motive far more sinister?

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Magic under the Mistletoe 2023 – 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, nutcrackers, telepathic detectives, crime-fighting witches, Puritan witch hunters, 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 Solstice Horror by Cora BuhlertThe Solstice Horror by Cora Buhlert

Massachusetts in the Year of the Lord 1695: Apprentice witchfinder Matthew Goodson, and condemned witch Grace Pankhurst have been on the run from Matthew’s former masters for months now.

Shortly before Christmas, Matthew and Grace find shelter with the Whitelaw family in the town of Cold Hollow. But the witchfinders are on their trail, so Matthew and Grace have to flee again on the day of the winter solstice.

Many dangers lurk in the dense woods of Massachusetts Bay Colony. But which is the greater threat, the witchfinders or the thing from beyond that dwells in the woods and hunts on the darkest nights of the year?

This is a historical holiday horror novelette of 11100 words or approximately 40 print pages by two-time Hugo finalist Cora Buhlert.

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.

 

Invasion of the Robot Santas by Cora BuhlertInvasion of the Robot Santas by Cora Buhlert

No one ever expected the robot apocalypse to begin in the little town of Brighthaven. And no one ever expected it to involve murderous robot turkeys and their even more terrifying brethren, robot Santas that fire laserbeams from their eyes.

However, Brighthaven’s finest are ready to tackle any robotic holiday menace that might come their way.

Two interlinked holiday stories of approx. 6000 words by Hugo winner 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.

Winter Solstice Murders by C. FarrenWinter Solstice Murders by C. Farren:

Investigating your own death can be murder.

Bea Goldfrapp runs her own magical greetings card business in the small town of Magpie Cove, Maine. She lives with her demon familiar, Widdershins, a cat that can change its breed on a daily basis, and a talking magpie that’s lived for a thousand years. She likes her life and wouldn’t change it for the world.

Then someone poisons her tea and she dies.

Luckily for Bea her father is a powerful sorcerer, and he brings her back to life, losing his own soul in the process. Bea is understandably miffed that someone wanted to kill her, and decides to find out who did it. This only brings more complications to her life, mainly because she never realised she had so many enemies. Can she find out who killed her before the killer strikes again?

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.

White Witchmas by Amanda M. LeeWhite Witchmas by Amanda M. Lee:

Chestnuts are roasting. Jingle bells are rocking. The halls are about to be decked.

In other words, Christmas is about to hit Hemlock Cove. Hard.

There’s just one little problem…or maybe two. Okay, there are three big problems plaguing Bay Winchester before she can enjoy the holidays.

The first is that the warden who lost his job thanks to a prison break weeks before is determined to stalk Bay until she magically fixes his life. He keeps showing up in the oddest of places and making the sort of demands she can’t fulfill.

The second involves Aunt Tillie, who has decided to gift her nemesis Margaret Little a special spell rather than a lump of coal this holiday season. It involves her Christmas decorations taking on a life—and voice—of their own. The spell, however, isn’t nearly as contained as it was supposed to be.

When a body shows up at the local private school, that means it’s one problem too many for Bay. And she doesn’t know which problem to solve first.

The headmistress of the school was involved in a convoluted affair with father of one of her students. The list of suspects who wanted her dead was long and sundry, however.

All Bay wants is to surprise her husband with a dog for Christmas and to eat her weight in cookies. She has to save the day first, though.

Murder, mayhem, and mistletoe are on the menu.

Death might not be far behind.

Buckle up, because the Santa decorations are coming to town.

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 Curse for Christmas by P.A. MasonA Curse for Christmas by P.A. Mason:

Christmas back home in Arkansas sounded like a chance to put my feet up for a few weeks. Little did I know that a magical calamity would threaten the big day.

You know the real kicker? It was Mom—a renowned magical healer—who came down with a mystery malaise on Christmas Eve. I couldn’t remember a time where she had anything worse than a sniffle. To see her bedridden scared me to my core.

To examine the facts and solve the case, I had to think fast before Mom’s condition got any worse. With a new werewolf beau in her life, half the town of Tumbling Springs were whispering behind Mom’s back, the loudest of them a hex witch with a nasty view of weres. On the other hand, a new business rival in the next town over had Mom’s healing services on the rocks. The question was—did either witch have enough motive to do something as awful as all that to Mom?

If you enjoy paranormal cozy mysteries with a seasonal Christmas flair, this holiday special is for you.

Nutcracker of Crystalfall by Kay L. MoodyNutcracker of Crystalfall by Kay L. Moody:

The annual Christmas party was going just fine… until the trolls showed up.

Clara is a young woman who is wickedly good at puzzles, but she also has a secret her parents have shamed her into hiding. The weight of that secret has ruined nearly every happy moment in her life.

At least this year’s Christmas party gets more interesting once a mysterious stranger shows up. He teaches Clara how to crack nuts, wears a soldier’s uniform she’s never seen, and flashes a smile she’ll never forget.

But then a cruel party guest destroys the only gift that matters to Clara. Even worse, trolls appear and try to kill the handsome stranger she only just met. The fight rages into the night. Soon, Clara has to make a choice.

She could finally escape her unloving parents and the dreadful life they have planned for her. It would only take a promise to join an even greater conflict in the magical and dangerous realm of Faerie—a land she previously didn’t know existed.

If she stays home, her happiness will end forever. If she goes to Faerie, a great adventure awaits her…but it might kill her too.

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.

Jingle Spells by Christine PopeJingle Spells by Christine Pope:

Sweet baby Jesus, someone’s stolen a lot of Christmas dough!

All is calm and bright as Globe, Arizona’s holiday celebrations approach. Selena Marx should have known it wouldn’t stay that way. The painted snowflakes on her shop window are barely dry when her best friend, Josie Woodrow, bursts in with news that the baby Jesus is missing from the crèche in front of St. Ignatius.

Selena has enough on her mind without having to use her psychic powers to suss out the culprit. Her boyfriend Calvin Standingbear’s parents are still on the snow-covered fence about accepting her, which throws a dimmer on the town’s highly anticipated Festival of Lights. And when Calvin springs a surprise on the solstice, Selena realizes she has some work to do to reconcile the two men in her life: Calvin, and her cursed cat, Archie.

The last thing she needs is a spontaneous vision that indicates the baby Jesus theft was more than just a prank. And if someone doesn’t spill the beans soon, someone’s getting away with…well, not murder (this time), but a whole lot of dough — and we’re not talking cookies.

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 2023 – 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, legal 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.

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

Vi and friends are ready to dive into anything but London. The days have turned dreary, and these days they’re proactive about avoiding the blues. So, they pack their bags and head to the country where they’re hoping to find clear skies and cheery days.

They aren’t surprised, however, when a storm rolls in. They’re even excited when they’re invited to a local contest for the best snow sculpture. They find their way to the meadow, and they play in the snow. They drink an excess of cocoa. Except during the celebration, a body is found. A body with something they recognize. Maybe it was an accident? Evidence seems to suggest otherwise and–once again–the murderous hand of fate has struck.

Murder and Mistletoe by Beth ByersMurder and Mistletoe by Beth Byers:

Holiday, Murder, Mayhem…what else could be expected when Vi and friends gather for Christmas?

The friends have gathered for a major holiday in the country. They’ve brought in those they love. Excessive gifts have been purchased and feasts have been planned.

Once again, a body is discovered. This time under the mistletoe. Will Vi, Jack, and the rest discover the murderer before St. Nick arrives? Or will the holidays be ruined?

 

A Murderous Little Christmas by Beth ByersA Murderous Little Christmas by Beth Byers:

It has been five years since Violet and her twin gathered up their friends and traveled to the aid of their aunt. Who they failed. Agatha Davies was murdered, their family faced many of its demons, and Violet met the love of her life.

A lot has happened since then, mostly of a murderous nature. This year, they’re determined to take back Christmas. Fate, it seems, has other things in store. Feeling like death is stalking them, Vi and friends set up for the holiday. When the bodies start appearing, it’s clear that death is stalking them and this time–they might not be as lucky as before.

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?

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.

 

Suspect Santa by Mike FaricySuspect Santa by Mike Faricy:

Private Investigator Dev Haskell gets a call from Tubby Gustafson. There’s a car waiting for Dev just outside his office. If he doesn’t want to take the ride, he’ll have to drive himself to the Emergency room. Dev decides whatever he was involved in can wait and is driven to Tubby’s mansion.

Turns out Tubby wants any and all information on east coat mobster Alex Chillcot who’s rumored to be moving into town. The more Dev uncovers, the worse Chillcot looks. Almost immediately the bodies begin to pile up.

In case that isn’t bad enough, Dev’s latest squeeze, Layla, works every year as a sexy elf at Santa’s Workshop. There’s only one problem, Santa turns out to be an obnoxious drunk who frightens children and tells them he won’t come to their house. Dev gets more involved than he planned.

Better get your copy now and see if Dev can save Christmas…

Winter Solstice Murders by C. FarrenWinter Solstice Murders by C. Farren:

Investigating your own death can be murder.

Bea Goldfrapp runs her own magical greetings card business in the small town of Magpie Cove, Maine. She lives with her demon familiar, Widdershins, a cat that can change its breed on a daily basis, and a talking magpie that’s lived for a thousand years. She likes her life and wouldn’t change it for the world.

Then someone poisons her tea and she dies.

Luckily for Bea her father is a powerful sorcerer, and he brings her back to life, losing his own soul in the process. Bea is understandably miffed that someone wanted to kill her, and decides to find out who did it. This only brings more complications to her life, mainly because she never realised she had so many enemies. Can she find out who killed her before the killer strikes again?

Murder and the Mermaid by L.B. HathawayMurder and the Mermaid by L.B. Hathaway:

Sometimes the truth is as slippery and hard to grasp as a mermaid…

December, 1925

A dark, smog-filled London doesn’t seem very Christmassy, or exciting, but then Posie Parker, London’s premier female Private Detective receives an urgent call from one of her oldest friends; Rufus, Earl of Cardigeon.

Summoned to ‘The Mermaid’, an ancient hotel in Rye, on the Sussex Coast, in the heart of smuggling country, Posie, together with her husband, Richard, finds her friend in a real state.

Rufus has been promised answers about his missing wife, Dolly, but instead there’s simply a bizarre string of events: a priceless car mysteriously driven off a cliff; a missing Frenchman, and telegrams from men who simply don’t exist. While Richard Lovelace, Chief Commissioner of New Scotland Yard tries to work out if Rufus himself is the target of a complicated plot, Posie has her own investigations to make.

The local tragedy of a missing dancer has been dealt with by local police as an open-and-shut case. But Posie soon discovers it is anything but. And she suspects foul play.

And as the snow falls, and Christmas lights go up, secrets are revealed, and Posie becomes involved in perhaps her most personal case so far. She becomes aware that danger lurks at ‘The Mermaid’, and not just for Rufus.

A murderer is 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?

Seasonable Doubt by Robin JamesSeasonable Doubt by Robin James:

It’s the week before Christmas and Santa is on trial for attempted murder…

Known to locals as the “Christmas Guy,” Nick Whittaker has delighted his neighbors with an elaborate holiday light show and his uncanny resemblance to Santa Claus. A bit of a loner, Nick has found his place and his calling as a mall Santa in the quaint Northern Michigan town of Helene. He’s the last person anyone would have suspected in the brutal beating of a local politician. But when the bloodied murder weapon turns up in his trash and surveillance video puts him at the crime scene, Nick finds himself on trial for his freedom.

Defense attorney Cass Leary has a soft spot for lost causes. When she crosses paths with Nick Whittaker on a trip up north, she realizes she’s his one shot at a fair trial. As a blizzard barrels down on Helene, Cass quickly learns the evidence against Nick may not be what it seems. Both he and the victim had enemies and secrets that could bury them and a courtroom bombshell throws everything into chaos. As Cass races against time to unravel the twisted threads of this mystery, whispers of intrigue and betrayal echo through the courthouse.

In the dead of winter, Cass Leary fights for justice in a town where even Christmas can’t thaw the icy grip of suspicion.

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.

White Witchmas by Amanda M. LeeWhite Witchmas by Amanda M. Lee:

Chestnuts are roasting. Jingle bells are rocking. The halls are about to be decked.

In other words, Christmas is about to hit Hemlock Cove. Hard.

There’s just one little problem…or maybe two. Okay, there are three big problems plaguing Bay Winchester before she can enjoy the holidays.

The first is that the warden who lost his job thanks to a prison break weeks before is determined to stalk Bay until she magically fixes his life. He keeps showing up in the oddest of places and making the sort of demands she can’t fulfill.

The second involves Aunt Tillie, who has decided to gift her nemesis Margaret Little a special spell rather than a lump of coal this holiday season. It involves her Christmas decorations taking on a life—and voice—of their own. The spell, however, isn’t nearly as contained as it was supposed to be.

When a body shows up at the local private school, that means it’s one problem too many for Bay. And she doesn’t know which problem to solve first.

The headmistress of the school was involved in a convoluted affair with father of one of her students. The list of suspects who wanted her dead was long and sundry, however.

All Bay wants is to surprise her husband with a dog for Christmas and to eat her weight in cookies. She has to save the day first, though.

Murder, mayhem, and mistletoe are on the menu.

Death might not be far behind.

Buckle up, because the Santa decorations are coming to town.

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.

A Curse for Christmas by P.A. MasonA Curse for Christmas by P.A. Mason:

Christmas back home in Arkansas sounded like a chance to put my feet up for a few weeks. Little did I know that a magical calamity would threaten the big day.

You know the real kicker? It was Mom—a renowned magical healer—who came down with a mystery malaise on Christmas Eve. I couldn’t remember a time where she had anything worse than a sniffle. To see her bedridden scared me to my core.

To examine the facts and solve the case, I had to think fast before Mom’s condition got any worse. With a new werewolf beau in her life, half the town of Tumbling Springs were whispering behind Mom’s back, the loudest of them a hex witch with a nasty view of weres. On the other hand, a new business rival in the next town over had Mom’s healing services on the rocks. The question was—did either witch have enough motive to do something as awful as all that to Mom?

If you enjoy paranormal cozy mysteries with a seasonal Christmas flair, this holiday special is for you.

Jingle Spells by Christine PopeJingle Spells by Christine Pope:

Sweet baby Jesus, someone’s stolen a lot of Christmas dough!

All is calm and bright as Globe, Arizona’s holiday celebrations approach. Selena Marx should have known it wouldn’t stay that way. The painted snowflakes on her shop window are barely dry when her best friend, Josie Woodrow, bursts in with news that the baby Jesus is missing from the crèche in front of St. Ignatius.

Selena has enough on her mind without having to use her psychic powers to suss out the culprit. Her boyfriend Calvin Standingbear’s parents are still on the snow-covered fence about accepting her, which throws a dimmer on the town’s highly anticipated Festival of Lights. And when Calvin springs a surprise on the solstice, Selena realizes she has some work to do to reconcile the two men in her life: Calvin, and her cursed cat, Archie.

The last thing she needs is a spontaneous vision that indicates the baby Jesus theft was more than just a prank. And if someone doesn’t spill the beans soon, someone’s getting away with…well, not murder (this time), but a whole lot of dough — and we’re not talking cookies.

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 2023

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 newly published this month, though some October books I missed the last time around snuck in as well. The books are arranged in alphabetical order by author. So far, most links only go to Amazon.com, though I may add other retailers for future editions.

Once again, we have new releases covering the whole broad spectrum of speculative fiction. This month, we have epic fantasy, urban fantasy, sword and sorcery, paranormal mystery, paranormal thrillers, science fiction mystery, space opera, military science fiction, werewolves, vampires, shifters, half-dragons, starships, space marines, crime-busting witches, chases across the universe 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 Butler Did It by Jerry BoydThe Butler Did It by Jerry Boyd:

The fleet manages to catch the Squirrel responsible for the horrible things they’ve seen recently. That should be a good thing, shouldn’t it? Turns out it’s only the beginning of their troubles, as their journey to collect a bounty on him turns into an adventure. Follow along, as Bob and the fleet get the best of the situation.

 

 

 

Federation Marine Sergeant by Jonathan P. BrazeeFederation Marine: Sergeant by Jonathan P. Brazee:

At last, Sergeant Ryck Lysander has found a home in the United Federation Marine Corps and has proven the temper of his steel in combat.

Stepping up as an NCO, however, is something different. It isn’t enough to be an effective warrior. He has to be able to lead his fellow Marines, all without doubting his own abilities.

Failing will not only lead to his own death, but to those under his command. The responsibility is heavy, and the cost of losing is high.

At the same time, an old ally becomes a new enemy, thrusting Ryck into a life and death situation where success or failure rides on his shoulders.

The question he must answer for himself is whether he has what it takes to lead. . . or if he should have stayed a recruit after all.

Marked by Magic by Lindsay BurokerMarked by Magic by Lindsay Buroker:

Arwen Forester may be a socially awkward introvert, but she’s an expert tracker, archer, and forager who has a pickling recipe for every vegetable in the garden. Unfortunately, none of these skills earn her a lot of money. And when the taxes go up on her father’s farm, she’s not sure how to help him keep the property.

Then someone offers her a lucrative new gig:

Hunt down a haughty half-dragon criminal with the power to incinerate those who irritate him.

Normally, Arwen would reject such a suicidal mission, but with the farm at stake, she’s desperate. Besides, all she has to do is tag the half-dragon with a tracking device. How hard could it be?

Find out in Marked by Magic, Book 1 in the new Tracking Trouble urban fantasy series.

Bound by Blood by Lindsay BurokerBound by Blood by Lindsay Buroker:

Magically compelled by bad guys, Arwen Forester shot her half-dragon ally in the thigh. She longs to make amends to him, but she’s busy with a new quest:

Get rid of the tattoo that lets dark elves control her.

Unfortunately, such magical marks aren’t easily removed. When the troll tattoo artist she visits is killed, she’s framed for murder.

Soon, hired guns are after her, and the troll’s clan is trying to get Val Thorvald, the Ruin Bringer, to hunt her down.

Arwen could use the help of a powerful half-dragon, but will Azerdash Starblade forgive her after her previous betrayal?

Galaxy Under Siege by M.R. ForbesGalaxy Under Siege by M.R. Forbes:

Caleb Card always knew that fighting back against overwhelming odds would be a thankless slog. And with Legion forces expanding across the galaxy, his opportunities to hit them where it hurts are fast running out. When a well-played hand and an unexpected betrayal nearly put a stop to both the rebellion and his life, all signs point to a quick and ugly end.

Only Caleb’s never quit anything before, and he isn’t about to start now. Not when he still has a few more aces up his sleeve…

…and with any luck, a Queen.

Whispers of the Dead by Elle GrayWhispers of the Dead by Elle Gray:

Storyville is a small town with world altering mysteries. Here the impossible is this town’s reality.

In the wake of her partner’s disappearance, FBI agent Cora Pratt calls for backup and accepts the aid of Sheriff Highsmith.

As the search for Nolan continues, Cora ventures deeper into the many mysteries in the supernatural small town.
When the hunt for answers leads her to a secret library within a library.
She is finally able to learn what lies behind some of the towns’ many secrets.

As Cora unravels her own tangled past connections to Storyville and the town’s secrets. Her dreams become far more jarring.

With dreams and reality converging and more truths finally found.

Cora must now follow the whispers from the past to save the future of Storyville and maybe even humanity itself…

Against the Witchy Tide by Lily Harper HartAgainst the Witchy Tide by Lily Harper Hart:

Hali Waverly is gearing up for a big change. The hip surgery she’s been dreading is only two weeks out, and that means it’s time to get things in order before she’s down for the count to recuperate. She has a plan….and then the unthinkable happens.

When leaving the doctor after scheduling surgery, a bank robbery suspect crosses Hali’s path. When his mask is removed, her boyfriend Gray Hunter recognizes him as a fellow shifter, and the questions only grow from there.

It seems there are a lot of strange shifters hanging around St. Pete Beach, and they don’t belong to the same faction. The one spot they agree to meet is Hali’s tiki bar…and sparks—and fur—are about to fly.

Hali doesn’t want to get involved in pack politics, but she might not have a choice. For Gray, who turned his back on the pack years ago, the appearance of warring factions on his turf means bad things are about to happen. He has no choice but to stand up and fight, however.

Hali knows what she wants for her future. Unfortunately for her, she’s going to have to go to war to get it. This fight—so many claws and teeth to contend with—might be out of her reach.

That won’t stop her from fighting…even to the death.

Clashing Blades by Matt HiltonClashing Blades by Matt Hilton:

Monsters, magic, savage action and clashing blades.

Sword and sorcery and heroic fantasy tales in the tradition of Robert E. Howard’s Conan and Kull, Lin Carter’s Thongor, and Karl Edward Wagner’s Kane, featuring Matt Hilton’s Korvix the axe warrior and other mighty heroes.

 

 

White Witchmas by Amanda M. LeeWhite Witchmas by Amanda M. Lee:

Chestnuts are roasting. Jingle bells are rocking. The halls are about to be decked.

In other words, Christmas is about to hit Hemlock Cove. Hard.

There’s just one little problem…or maybe two. Okay, there are three big problems plaguing Bay Winchester before she can enjoy the holidays.

The first is that the warden who lost his job thanks to a prison break weeks before is determined to stalk Bay until she magically fixes his life. He keeps showing up in the oddest of places and making the sort of demands she can’t fulfill.

The second involves Aunt Tillie, who has decided to gift her nemesis Margaret Little a special spell rather than a lump of coal this holiday season. It involves her Christmas decorations taking on a life—and voice—of their own. The spell, however, isn’t nearly as contained as it was supposed to be.

When a body shows up at the local private school, that means it’s one problem too many for Bay. And she doesn’t know which problem to solve first.

The headmistress of the school was involved in a convoluted affair with father of one of her students. The list of suspects who wanted her dead was long and sundry, however.

All Bay wants is to surprise her husband with a dog for Christmas and to eat her weight in cookies. She has to save the day first, though.

Murder, mayhem, and mistletoe are on the menu.

Death might not be far behind.

Buckle up, because the Santa decorations are coming to town.

Magic By Any Other Name by Alison LevyMagic by Any Other Name by Alison Levy:

Ivy Nichols O’Reilly has grown up in a wealthy family full of magic, fantasy creatures, and emotional abuse—but when her narcissistic mother arranges an unwanted marriage for her, the young witch reaches her breaking point. She drops out of college, changes her name to Georgette, and flees across the country with her best friend, a Wood Nymph named Mei-Xing.

Georgette is determined to build a new identity and a new life. But her journey leads her to cross paths with a number of magical characters—a Werehyena searching for his kidnapped wife; a Vampire who runs a unique magical business; a curandero, a shamanistic practitioner of traditional medicine; and a Valkyrie who, along with her raven partner, wants to make a risky deal—who make it clear to her that the past is not so easily left behind. In order to grow into her new identity, help her new friends, and develop a healthy relationship with a man she’s beginning to care for, Georgette will have to confront the privileges that have shielded her from the pain and ugliness of the magic community in which she was raised—and find the strength to overcome the trauma of her childhood.

Scarper by Jenny SchwartzScarper by Jenny Schwartz:

A fate-defying chase across the universe.

Fate is a tricky witch.

On the run across federation space, Cherry has stuffed far too many dangerous secrets into her scout ship. Now the Delphic Dame is the most hunted spaceship in the universe.

It may also be the only force in the universe capable of saving humanity.

Cherry just has to stay one step ahead of her enemies – and, maybe, of her allies.

Honor and Renown by Glynn StewartHonor and Renown by Glynn Stewart:

A peacetime Navy has many roles.
Presence. Protection. Preparation.
Commerce. Sales.
Realpolitik.

A century before the Kenmiri ever touched humanity’s stars, Admiral Christopher Macleod commands the Extrasolar Squadron of the Commonwealth Space Force. His job, above all else, is to sell British military technology to the rest of humanity.

The Admiral has long ago accepted his role as the pony in the Commonwealth’s dog and pony sales show—but as war between the United States Colonial Administration and the Russian Novaya Imperiya twists ever closer to neutral stars, every nation must choose what neutral means for them.

And Admiral Macleod must choose what matters most to him: the Commonwealth’s neutrality—or the thousand-year-old traditions of Her Majesty’s Navy!

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Indie Crime Fiction of the Month for November 2023


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, Jazz Age mysteries, paranormal mysteries, crime thrillers, psychological thrillers, legal thrillers, medical thrillers, adventure thrillers, revenge thrillers, romantic suspense, police officers, FBI agents, amateur sleuths, lawyers, vigilantes, stalkers, missing persons, serial killers, crime-busting witches, crime-busting socialites, murderous Santas, murder and mayhem in New York, London, Florida, Michigan, the Everglades, 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 with Mirth by Blythe BakerMurder With Mirth by Blythe Baker:

Now that the murder of Miles’ late wife has been solved, Sylvia and Miles return to New York, intent on announcing their engagement. But disaster – and death – strike again, when least expected.

With a dead dinner guest and a long list of suspects, Sylvia and Miles will have to act quickly to outwit a vicious killer.

 

 

The Butler Did It by Jerry BoydThe Butler Did It by Jerry Boyd:

The fleet manages to catch the Squirrel responsible for the horrible things they’ve seen recently. That should be a good thing, shouldn’t it? Turns out it’s only the beginning of their troubles, as their journey to collect a bounty on him turns into an adventure. Follow along, as Bob and the fleet get the best of the situation.

 

 

 

A Murderous Little Christmas by Beth ByersA Murderous Little Christmas by Beth Byers:

It has been five years since Violet and her twin gathered up their friends and traveled to the aid of their aunt. Who they failed. Agatha Davies was murdered, their family faced many of its demons, and Violet met the love of her life.

A lot has happened since then, mostly of a murderous nature. This year, they’re determined to take back Christmas. Fate, it seems, has other things in store. Feeling like death is stalking them, Vi and friends set up for the holiday. When the bodies start appearing, it’s clear that death is stalking them and this time–they might not be as lucky as before.

Villain, Smiling Villain by Beth ByersVillain, Smiling Villain by Beth Byers:

Smith is back in London with a bustling family life and a busy work schedule. All is right with the world. Or, at least as right as it gets with Smith.

So no one is surprised when along comes a foe. This foe, however, is entirely unexpected. He’s not an old enemy. He’s not a current case. All things indicate that he is, in fact, entirely new.

For some reason, his focus is on Smith, Beatrice, and their daughters. Who is he? Why is he chasing Smith’s family? And just which of them will prove to be the greatest villain?

Behind the Lies by Maren CooperBehind the Lies by Maren Cooper:

Will Franklin—former academic geek, now recognized as a rare talent in the “fake it ’til you make it” biotech industry—is in the wings for his dream job as next CEO of a global powerhouse. Or so he thinks, until his boss, Chet, calls him into his office and angrily tells him he is going to be fired. Chet hints at impropriety, but won’t say more—and before Will can press him he falls so ill that he’s put on ventilator care.

Now, instead of losing his job, Will finds himself in the position of supporting Chet’s family through the hell of a dire illness. Just as suddenly, he finds his leadership ability tested by a crippling cyberattack that threatens the entire industry and leaves him with little time to untangle the mystery of whatever it is that Chet uncovered before he got sick.

Can Will clear his name before the ax falls—or his marriage collapses—due to his lapse in judgment? And does Bella, a young and beautiful rising star making waves with her own start-up company, have anything to do with this mess?

Undertow by Jana DeLeonUndertow by Jana DeLeon:

When Jill Morgan left Tempest Island after high school, she didn’t know what she wanted to do the rest of her life. The only thing she’d ever loved was writing fiction, but that was a pursuit with no financial guarantees. So she did the responsible thing and got her college degree, then a job that provided a good living, and she wrote in her free time. She never expected to become a bestseller, but her books—written under a pseudonym—brought her millions of happy readers.

And a stalker.

When her identity is compromised, Jill decides to disappear until the cops can identify the man threatening her. Her first thought is returning to Tempest Island, one of the many places her father was stationed with the Navy, and the only one that had ever felt like home. Plus, she had connections there who could help her remain off radar. It was just a matter of time until the cops had her stalker in custody and Jill could get back to normal. But being on Tempest Island again brings back old memories and creates some new ones, forcing her to take a hard look at her carefully crafted life.

Can she build a new life for herself on Tempest Island? Or will the stalker end that journey before it even gets started?

Whispers of the Dead by Elle GrayWhispers of the Dead by Elle Gray:

Storyville is a small town with world altering mysteries. Here the impossible is this town’s reality.

In the wake of her partner’s disappearance, FBI agent Cora Pratt calls for backup and accepts the aid of Sheriff Highsmith.

As the search for Nolan continues, Cora ventures deeper into the many mysteries in the supernatural small town.
When the hunt for answers leads her to a secret library within a library.
She is finally able to learn what lies behind some of the towns’ many secrets.

As Cora unravels her own tangled past connections to Storyville and the town’s secrets. Her dreams become far more jarring.

With dreams and reality converging and more truths finally found.
Cora must now follow the whispers from the past to save the future of Storyville and maybe even humanity itself…

Watching Her by Elle GrayWatching Her by Elle Gray:

“Welcome home. We’re alone now, no one can hear you.”

Blake Wilder has captured many dangerous criminals over the years.
When a familiar case lands on her lap, she could have never imagined the horrors that would follow.

A serial killer with a chillingly familiar pattern resurfaces, and it will take all her wit and power to ensure that the culprit never sees the light of day again.
As the case and the body count mount, it becomes apparent that he’s not just a step ahead of Blake: he’s a shadow in the darkness, a relentless tormentor who’s watching her every move.

While the killer continues to elude and taunt Blake at every turn. It seems only a matter of time before she either captures the predator or becomes prey herself.

Think you’re alone? Think again…

Against the Witchy Tide by Lily Harper HartAgainst the Witchy Tide by Lily Harper Hart:

Hali Waverly is gearing up for a big change. The hip surgery she’s been dreading is only two weeks out, and that means it’s time to get things in order before she’s down for the count to recuperate. She has a plan….and then the unthinkable happens.

When leaving the doctor after scheduling surgery, a bank robbery suspect crosses Hali’s path. When his mask is removed, her boyfriend Gray Hunter recognizes him as a fellow shifter, and the questions only grow from there.

It seems there are a lot of strange shifters hanging around St. Pete Beach, and they don’t belong to the same faction. The one spot they agree to meet is Hali’s tiki bar…and sparks—and fur—are about to fly.

Hali doesn’t want to get involved in pack politics, but she might not have a choice. For Gray, who turned his back on the pack years ago, the appearance of warring factions on his turf means bad things are about to happen. He has no choice but to stand up and fight, however.

Hali knows what she wants for her future. Unfortunately for her, she’s going to have to go to war to get it. This fight—so many claws and teeth to contend with—might be out of her reach.

That won’t stop her from fighting…even to the death.

Seasonable Doubt by Robin JamesSeasonable Doubt by Robin James:

It’s the week before Christmas and Santa is on trial for attempted murder…

Known to locals as the “Christmas Guy,” Nick Whittaker has delighted his neighbors with an elaborate holiday light show and his uncanny resemblance to Santa Claus. A bit of a loner, Nick has found his place and his calling as a mall Santa in the quaint Northern Michigan town of Helene. He’s the last person anyone would have suspected in the brutal beating of a local politician. But when the bloodied murder weapon turns up in his trash and surveillance video puts him at the crime scene, Nick finds himself on trial for his freedom.

Defense attorney Cass Leary has a soft spot for lost causes. When she crosses paths with Nick Whittaker on a trip up north, she realizes she’s his one shot at a fair trial. As a blizzard barrels down on Helene, Cass quickly learns the evidence against Nick may not be what it seems. Both he and the victim had enemies and secrets that could bury them and a courtroom bombshell throws everything into chaos. As Cass races against time to unravel the twisted threads of this mystery, whispers of intrigue and betrayal echo through the courthouse.

In the dead of winter, Cass Leary fights for justice in a town where even Christmas can’t thaw the icy grip of suspicion.

White Witchmas by Amanda M. LeeWhite Witchmas by Amanda M. Lee:

Chestnuts are roasting. Jingle bells are rocking. The halls are about to be decked.

In other words, Christmas is about to hit Hemlock Cove. Hard.

There’s just one little problem…or maybe two. Okay, there are three big problems plaguing Bay Winchester before she can enjoy the holidays.

The first is that the warden who lost his job thanks to a prison break weeks before is determined to stalk Bay until she magically fixes his life. He keeps showing up in the oddest of places and making the sort of demands she can’t fulfill.

The second involves Aunt Tillie, who has decided to gift her nemesis Margaret Little a special spell rather than a lump of coal this holiday season. It involves her Christmas decorations taking on a life—and voice—of their own. The spell, however, isn’t nearly as contained as it was supposed to be.

When a body shows up at the local private school, that means it’s one problem too many for Bay. And she doesn’t know which problem to solve first.

The headmistress of the school was involved in a convoluted affair with father of one of her students. The list of suspects who wanted her dead was long and sundry, however.

All Bay wants is to surprise her husband with a dog for Christmas and to eat her weight in cookies. She has to save the day first, though.

Murder, mayhem, and mistletoe are on the menu.

Death might not be far behind.

Buckle up, because the Santa decorations are coming to town.

Till Death Do Us Part by Willow RoseTill Death Do Us Part by Willow Rose:

Death was the only way she could leave.

Rachel Baker, a devoted mother of three, disappeared one Monday morning after dropping off her children at daycare. Her car was found on the side of the road, but there’s no trace of her anywhere. Soon, the questions start piling up:

What happened to her?

Would she leave her children just like that?

Was the husband involved?

When they find out she was planning to leave her husband, the question arises whether he killed her because she wanted to leave or if her sister helped her disappear. Who tells the truth, and who hides an ugly secret?

FBI Agent Eva Rae Thomas is in the middle of renovating her house with her boyfriend, Detective Matt Miller, when she is called in to assist with this strange case.

She knows Rachel, as their children are best friends, and has no problem taking over, trying to find her friend and fellow mom.

But when Rachel’s body turns up in a storage unit, and Eva Rae digs deeper; she realizes this killer is especially vicious and determined not to be found.

Meanwhile, the husband and mother-in-law fight over the right to the children, and things soon turn ugly as secrets are gushing out of the closet on both sides, one darker than the next.

By Any Means by J.C. RyanBy Any Means by J.C. Ryan:

Jessie Bell’s last parole hearing was a disgrace.

One board member called her a witch and a harpy and said that, given the chance, he would have her put down like a rabid dog.

Ten years in prison for killing her sadistically abusive husband had turned Jessie Bell into a poisoned, embittered, and dangerous person. The parole hearing was the straw that broke the camel’s back. It was payback time.

An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth? No, not for Jessie Bell. Her version of justice wasn’t just about getting even. It was about taking back twice as much as had been taken from you. Two eyes for one. Justice meant redressing all the imbalances – and putting out only one eye didn’t compare to the loss of all the advantages of losing two eyes.

Fortunately, Jessie is offered the position of the late Pavo, Regan’s Uncle Paul, in the Organization.

And she accepted it.

“Justice,” she murmured. “Poetic justice. Justice that I can create myself.”

She balled up her fists on the table. “Yeah, there’s more than a few people I know who need some poetic justice right about now.”

A former Delta Force operative is serving a life sentence for killing an eight-year-old girl. He was found guilty just because he could have done it and people feared him? Who was the real killer?

It was like the whole world was turning crazy. A judge’s son murdered innocent kids, then had his kids, in turn, murdered. Dangerous chemicals killed hundreds, then spread into the water supply. The City turned into a permanent rush hour – a panicked slow crawl. Drug dealers and pimps were getting killed on the streets.

Karma? Jessie had always been a fan of ordinary human beings carrying out the work of karma.

There is only one person who could possibly stop the inevitable bloodbath that Jessie is about to unleash on the city – Judge Regan St. Clair – but to do so, she must cross the line she has sworn never to cross – join the Organization.

But maybe it is as Uncle Paul always said: “The end justifies the means.”

Weigh Anchor by Wayne StinnettWeigh Anchor by Wayne Stinnett:

A lifelong friend finds something deep in the Everglades that is so very odd, that when he calls Jesse McDermitt, at first the semi-retired former special operator is in total disbelief. But he is also very intrigued, and the duo set out on another adventure reminiscent of their childhood days.

But their youthful quest had been all about fun and make-believe. This one was real, waiting nearly a century to be discovered.

There is another party interested in what Billy Rainwater stumbled upon. They have been searching for decades and will stop at nothing to recover what they believe to be not only their personal property, but their legacy. The Glades never gives up secrets readily.

Deep in the River of Grass, untold dangers lurk, waiting to snatch the unwary. It raises its ugly head in the backcountry of the Middle Keys, as well. But when it finds its way into the parking lot of Jesse’s favorite watering hole, a line in the sand has to be drawn once again.

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Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month for October 2023

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 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 epic fantasy, portal fantasy, historical fantasy, sword and sorcery, paranormal romance, paranormal mystery, space opera, military science fiction, science fiction poetry, Steampunk, cosmic horror, wizards, gnomes, zombies, sea serpents, ancient evils, starships, space marines, mercenaries, gladiators, warrior princesses, crime-busting witches, jaunts through the Multiverse 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:

Josh and Sen Save the Multiverse by D.P. BehlingJosh & Sen Save the Multiverse by D.P. Behling:

Josh Tanner, was trying to fix his life and get back to his four-year-old daughter Sophie. Then he was pulled into the multidimensional world of the Immortals simply by being the last person on the elevator after lunch . . . and carrying a briefcase!

Senyak Marztanak needs to reacquire his immortality and his place on his family’s ruling seat. Both having been stripped away when he failed his grandfather’s trial.

Now, after being bonded through karma, Josh and Sen are forced to rise together through the levels of mortal cultivation to reach transcendence.

In a new and fully developed sci/fi-fantasy universe. Chock full of multiethnic mythology, ageless powers, saviors and treacherous villains. Josh & Sen Save the Multiverse tells the tale of two unlikely heroes pushed together by the fates, karma, and the most powerful immortals in existence. Through hilarious and life-threatening adventures, they form bonds of friendship and brotherhood. All while having to rely on each other’s unique qualities to survive eight iterations away from their universe of origin.

Follow Josh and Sen as they grow, fight, live, laugh, love and cry. They don’t know it yet . . . But for each to get home they will not only have to save their own lives . . . but the entire Multiverse!

Federation Marine Recruit by Jonathan P. BrazeeFederation Marine: Recruit by Jonathan P. Brazee:

What would you do to change your life? How far would you go? How hard would you fight?

Rather than work his bones into dust toiling away on a barren world, Ryck Lysander chooses to enlist in the Federation Marine Corps.

But as he quickly finds out, this path isn’t just a job. . . it’s a calling. . . and not everyone is suited to wear the uniform.

Like millions before him, Ryck will need to develop discipline, endurance, and strength as he’s pushed to the very limit of what he can do, all to earn his ticket off a baren world and into the stars.

But the price of failure won’t just mean going home to work the dirt fields. . . it could cost him his very life.

The time to stand is now, and Ryck will need every ounce of willpower to become what the galaxy needs. . .

He must become a Federation Marine.

Omega Force: Dead Reckoning by Joshua DalzelleOmega Force: Dead Reckoning by Joshua Dalzelle:

Mercenary life is hard.

No home. No family. Always looking over your shoulder, likely for the rest of your life.

When you find a crew that you can trust, you do anything for them. Jason Burke has a crew like that. He would kill for them… and he would die for them. Right now, they need his help and it will take all of his cunning and skill to bring them home safely. He is alone, without his powerful ship, the Phoenix, and the criminal cartels he’s going up against are some of the most ruthless in the galaxy.

For Captain Burke it’s all or nothing: bring his friends home safe… or die trying.

A Vengeful Realm by Tim FacciolaA Vengeful Realm by Tim Facciola:

Peace bought by blood seldom lasts, for vengeance knows no end. The same is true for mortals and Gods alike. Decades, centuries, eras may pass, but the cycle remains. As war and revolution rise again, Zephyrus finds himself at the center of it all. Chosen by the Gods, hailed as a prophet of liberation, and forged as a weapon to break the kingdom and restore balance to the realm, hope rests squarely on his shoulders.

If only he could remember…

Enslaved as a gladiator and thrust into a prince’s game of espionage, Zephyrus has only two clues to help unlock his shattered past: a prophecy foretelling destruction, and a letter to the enemy king, promising peace. Now Zephyrus must survive the dangers of the gladiatorial arena, the cunning fury of the Prince’s enemies, and the Gods’ torment if he is to find the truth of his identity and fulfill his fate. But to have any hope of breaking the cycle, first he must secure his freedom—and not just from his slavers.

Within this vengeful realm, a queen protecting her kingdom, a prince defending his father, and a gladiator slave haunted by a prophecy each contend for their own brand of freedom. But the Gods have an agenda of their own, and they’ll use any vessel—patrician, plebeian, or slave—to see it done.

The scales must be balanced. By peace. Or by blood.

Achy Breaky Hax by Lily Harper HartAchy Breaky Hex by Lily Harper Hart:

Hannah Hickok has a lot on her mind.

She’s engaged, with a wedding around the corner.

She and her husband-to-be Cooper Wyatt are building a house near the cosplay western town she inherited from her late grandmother.

And she’s gearing up for a fight with the witch who wants to steal her magic and kill her.

All of that falls by the wayside when Hannah realizes that people are starting to develop magical crushes…and the outcome is ugly when the fighting begins.

First up is local Sheriff James Boone’s teenage daughter. She’s overwhelmed by a spell when her latest crush’s attention is on the line.

Then the women at the bakery, all sisters, start fighting over the same man.

Then Cooper decides to come to blows for Hannah’s honor and it almost results in someone’s death.

Hannah is understandably confused. The only thing she knows without question is that there’s witchy magic afoot. Where is it coming from, though?

Hannah’s life is leading toward a specific fight. This fight, however, needs to be won before she can look to the future. Unfortunately for Hannah, the odds of winning are long.

There’s no evading the fight. So, here it comes.

Perilous Potions by Amanda M. LeePerilous Potions by Amanda M. Lee:

Luna Thorn sprang into being in the middle of the night in a downtown Detroit park years ago. She had no memory of her past and no idea what the future would hold for her. The only thing she possessed was magic…and the determination to win at all costs.

She’s finally about to get the answers she’s been looking for .

There are zombies popping up on Detroit’s mean inner city streets. They’re not normal zombies, however. They move fast and don’t go down under the usual methods. They have a mission, though, and the only thing that stops them is death.

Luna knows someone is controlling them, but who? She’s determined to find answers on her own, but the people who know her best and love her most refuse to let her fight this battle without backup.

Luna has been a loner for as long as she can remember, but her blood is running hot these days after joining with a phoenix, and news that she’s a traveler—a being that can jump through time—has her second-guessing every decision she’s ever made.

Detroit is about to be rocked by death and destruction. The question is, will Luna be the saint protecting it or the sinner bringing it down?

Things are about to change for everybody, and it’s impossible to know who will rise from the ashes.

The fight between good and evil, the past and the present, is on, and Luna will be right in the middle of it for better or worse.

The world is about to burn.

As the Cookie Crumbles by Amanda M. LeeAs the Cookie Crumbles by Amanda M. Lee:

Christmas is right around the corner, and Stormy Morgan is ready to celebrate for the first time in years. She’s been dreaming of one thing…Shadow Hills’ infamous Christmas festival.

There’s just one little problem.

When helping her new friend Easton pick out clothes in the thrift store, Stormy discovers the owner is missing. What’s worse, it looks as if there was a struggle in the back room. What happened to the married mother of one?

Stormy gets her boyfriend Hunter Ryan involved and they start searching. The only thing they can ascertain with any certainty is that there’s a hint of magic pulsing around the town, and maybe it has something to do with the disappearance.

Stormy has her hands full with gnome shifters and her old high school nemesis, so a missing person’s case isn’t something she’s looking forward to. She has no choice but to dig, though. Her conscious won’t allow the alternative.

Stormy might be new at the magic contest, but she understands winning. When another person disappears, she realizes she’s playing the wrong game.

In a world where fire rules, cold is about to claim them all. Can Stormy win? She’s about to find out. Come along for the ride.

The Horror at Pleasant Brook by Kevin LuciaThe Horror at Pleasant Brook by Kevin Lucia:

At the edge of the Adirondacks, an ancient malevolence descends upon the quiet town of Pleasant Brook, setting the stage for a chilling battle between the forgotten and an unstoppable evil.

Standing resolutely in its shadow is an unlikely alliance—the remnants, the forgotten, the outcasts, and the underestimated. As the malevolence swells, they emerge as the town’s last bastion of defense, its only hope against an ancient, remorseless force that brooks no resistance.

Yet, how can they hope to prevail against a power so ancient, so pitiless, so inexorable? The town of Pleasant Brook becomes the battleground for a confrontation between humanity’s resilience and an evil beyond imagination.

“Kevin Lucia paints in blood and dances in the viscera in a terrorized small town. Chilling and non-stop, horrifying in the best kind of way. Forget Halloween movies and pick up The Horror at Pleasant Brook instead.” —NYT bestselling author Tosca Lee

Prepare for a chilling journey into the heart of darkness with this horror novel that will grip fans of Stephen King, and Robert R. McCammon. Delve into a world of creeping dread, small-town enigmas, and suspense-laden horror that will keep you riveted from the very first page.

Discover the sinister secrets of The Horror at Pleasant Brook, a gripping addition to the pantheon of horror books and novels. Dive into the depths of horror fiction that will haunt your nightmares and captivate fans of horror and suspense books.

Bringer of the Scourge by M. Daniel McDowellBringer of the Scourge by M. Daniel McDowell:

When the end of ages comes for the empire, the princess must rescue herself.

An army of three brittle allegiances aims for the throne of Derebor, laying siege to the castle Talorr, where Vierrelyne, the last living daughter of the tyrant king, waits locked in a tower cell for the prophesied apocalypse that only she can prevent.

To escape the castle with the aid of her closest counsel, she takes a formidable ancient weapon from her family crypt: a holy suit of armor and a diadem infused with the soul of a demon prince. With this power, Vierrelyne is unstoppable, but its presence is corrosive.

Vierrelyne is haunted by what it means for her to tame the power she has been given, and by what means she might conquer the Bringer of the Scourge. For, if the prophecy she dreads is true, the weapons she wields might destroy everything she holds dear.

A (Non) Comprehensive Guide to Sea Serpents by A.J. SherwoodA (Non) Comprehensive Guide to Sea Serpents by A.J. Sherwood:

Two new apprentices. One charming engineer. A potential battle with both sea serpents and evil sorcerers.

When Sorcerer Adrien Danvers takes on a job that leads him into the slums of England, he never imagined he’d end up with not one, but two apprentices. Despite his doubts in himself, he’s the only chance the two pre-teens have to escape their hellish life.

When Sir Hugh Quartermain contracts him to deal with the mysterious circumstances surrounding his home on the Isle of Man, Adrien finds the more time they spend together, the more his walls come down around the beguiling engineer–an unusual occurrence and a terrifying prospect.

But as it turns out, this case is about to take a turn–a battle with both beast and man, the ultimate test of Adrien’s willingness to accept help. When he does, Hugh proves to be a fierce protector and friend, more so than Adrien could’ve ever bargained for, and he finds himself longing for something he shouldn’t.

Falling for his new friend is not a complication Adrien needs. (His matchmaking apprentices disagree.)

How To Navigate Our Universe by Mary Soon LeeHow To Navigate Our Universe by Mary Soon Lee:

How to Be a Star

Gravitationally collapse a nebula.
Fuse hydrogen into helium.
If desired, explode.

How-to astronomy poetry to answer vexing questions such as How to Surprise Saturn, How to Blush Like Betelgeuse, and How to Survive a Black Hole.

“Unraveling meaning from partial glimpses of the universe has preoccupied astronomers for thousands of years. Mary Soon Lee’s remarkable collection of poetry traces this journey, capturing the wonder of the celestial bodies that comprise our universe, the elegance of the rules that guide its evolution and the humanity of those who search to better our understanding.”
—Andy Connolly, Professor of Astronomy, University of Washington

Mary Soon Lee is a Grand Master of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Poetry Association, and has won the Rhysling Award, the Elgin Award, and the AnLab Readers’ Award. Her work has appeared in Science, American Scholar, Spillway, Asimov’s Science Fiction, and Strange Horizons. This is her second collection of science poetry, following on from Elemental Haiku: Poems to honor the periodic table three lines at a time. Born and raised in London, she now lives in Pittsburgh.

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

In times of peace, alliances wither and are forgotten.
In times of war, honor must reforge them in fire and steel!

The United Planets Alliance fought the Kenmiri Empire with a hundred allies at their side. Bound in common cause until genocide broke the Kenmiri—and Kenmiri schemes broke the alliance in turn—those one-time allies still left deep debts of blood and friendship behind.

Still, the UPA has forged ahead in the post-Kenmiri times, weaving new economic and military alliances despite their more limited reach. The last thing they are expecting is for a soldier of the Londu, one of those half-forgotten allies, to arrive in Sol itself and ask for help.

An unknown alien force, armed with weapons thought unique to humanity, has assaulted the Londu people. To honor debts and promises alike, Rear Admiral Henry Wong and Ambassador Sylvia Todorovich find themselves called to take a fleet farther than any human ship has gone in half a decade—and challenge an enemy they know nothing about.

If the Londu are even still there when they arrive…

The Beacon by James David VictorThe Beacon by James David Victor:

The fourth book in the epic Sentinels sci-fi adventure from Amazon All-Star author James David Victor.

The Beacon is the fourth book in the Sentinels series. If you like sci-fi adventures, space battles with complex alien invaders, and unexpected twists in humanities exploration of the stars, this could be your new favorite series.

Download The Beacon and see what happens next in this epic space adventure!

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Indie Crime Fiction of the Month for October 2023


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, culinary mysteries, historical mysteries, Jazz Age mysteries, paranormal mysteries, crime thrillers, psychological thrillers, action thrillers, adventure thrillers, police procedurals, police officers, FBI agents, amateur sleuths, spies, assassins, stalkers, missing persons, rockstars, vigilante justice, hidden treasures, heists, murdered viscounts, stolen Fabergé eggs, the Russian mob, crime-busting witches, crime-busting socialites, murder and mayhem in London, Bordeaux, the Florida Keys, Detroit,  Mexico 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 With Madness by Blythe BakerMurder With Madness by Blythe Baker:

Sylvia and Miles travel to London to investigate the murder of Miles’ late wife. At last, Miles is about to solve the crime that has haunted him for so long. There’s just one problem. The killer is dangerous and cunning.

With Miles tracking down leads in the city, can Sylvia uncover the truth during a deadly weekend in the English countryside? Or will the killer strike again one final, terrible time?

 

Wood's Reward by Steven BeckerWood’s Reward by Steven Becker:

In “Wood’s Reward,” Mac and Wood find themselves confronted with the troublesome job of repairing a bridge piling supporting one of the iconic bridges spanning the Florida Keys. In the process they discover something unexpected—a cache of silver coins and bars embedded in coral. The pair, along with their archeologist friend Ned, soon realizes the immense historical significance of their discovery—the coins date back to the Civil War.

But their joy quickly turns to apprehension as they realize they are not the only ones interested in the treasure. The project engineer, a fellow treasure hunter with questionable motives, becomes a formidable obstacle in their path. And if that wasn’t enough, they find themselves at odds with the sheriff, who appears to be running a protection scam, further complicating their pursuit of the truth.

Just when Mac and Wood think they have reached an impasse, fate intervenes in the most unexpected way. A chance discovery of an old chest resting on the seafloor leads them to a remarkable journal written by the renowned Key West wrecker, John Geiger. Within its pages lies the captivating history of the silver, tracing it back to a legendary pirate chase and another shipwreck resting on the treacherous reef.

As they delve deeper into Geiger’s journal, Mac and Wood find themselves caught in a web of perilous diving expeditions, heart-pounding boat chases, and a race against time to unravel the truth before they become the next victims. With each page, the tension builds, and the lines between friend and foe become increasingly blurred.

Betrayed by the Truth by Daniella BernettBetrayed by the Truth by Daniella Bernett:

An inconvenient alibi…a priceless treasure…an MI6 mole It’s a lethal cocktail Journalist Emmeline Kirby and her jewel thief/ insurance investigator husband Gregory Longdon become targets after a desperate stranger asks them to deliver a fortune in rare red diamonds to hotelier Alexander Colefax. Before they can ask any questions, the man is killed. Driven by dark secrets, Colefax is willing to flirt with treason if it means getting what he wants. His coterie included the son of a Kremlin elite and a Russian mafia boss. When a man’s only loyalty is to money, his enemies become twice as ruthless. After Colefax is bludgeoned to death, Emmeline and Gregory discover that his dangerous games involved not only diamonds, but a stolen Fabergé egg that has vanished and a spy named Snowdrop. The trail of lies and revenge leads to Switzerland, where a treacherous double-cross could cost Emmeline and Gregory their lives.

A Burger to Die For by Beth Byers and Ann WarrenA Burger To Die For by Beth Byers and Ann Warren:

When Sam and Mia pick up their troublesome grandpa, and road-trip for an award-winning burger, they expect to find too much food, loud music, wind in their hair, and the likelihood of adding a pound or two. They don’t expect to find a dead body.

They’re quickly forced to dive into solving the crime to dig themselves out of trouble. Turns out, they’re rather good at cyber-stalking everyone who crosses their path, googling Miranda rights, and infuriating both police officers and private detectives.

Soon they’re having the time of their lives. The only question remaining is: will they survive the trouble they’ve found themselves in? Or have they had their last laugh?

Don't Trust Her by Stacy ClaflinDon’t Trust Her by Stacy Claflin:

Am I losing my mind, or does someone want me to think I am?

After a traumatic childhood shadowed by an institutionalized brother, I’ve finally created a picture-perfect life with my doting husband and four beautiful children. But behind the white picket fence, darkness looms.

Strangers claim to see me in places I wasn’t, doing things I would never do. Can I even trust my own mind with a family history of mental instability? As I race for answers, my life spirals out of control.

I suspect someone is plotting to steal my very identity. Then a shocking family secret points to a cruel deception that could shatter everything I know.

Who is behind this relentless game of deceit? The truth could destroy all I’ve built.

I must confront the sinister forces threatening my family, whatever the cost might be… even if it means my sanity.

Or my life itself.

Lie in Wait by Stacy ClaflinLie in Wait by Stacy Claflin:

The party was supposed to be all in good fun…until a killer showed up uninvited.

Halloween has been Ariana’s favorite holiday since she was little, and this year is no different. As she plans a huge neighborhood bash, things take a drastic turn when her friend Bella shows up, scared for her life.

Ariana and Damon never turn away someone in trouble, but this time it might put them in harm’s way. They do their best to keep Bella hidden, but the unhinged murderer won’t give up his search. And he’s getting closer.

Bella promised she would stay away from the Halloween party, but the festivities prove too much of a temptation. Surely nobody would recognize her if she wore a mask… Except the killer would know her anywhere, in any disguise.

Will Ariana and Damon be able to protect their friend and save their own lives?

Achy Breaky Hax by Lily Harper HartAchy Breaky Hex by Lily Harper Hart:

Hannah Hickok has a lot on her mind.

She’s engaged, with a wedding around the corner.

She and her husband-to-be Cooper Wyatt are building a house near the cosplay western town she inherited from her late grandmother.

And she’s gearing up for a fight with the witch who wants to steal her magic and kill her.

All of that falls by the wayside when Hannah realizes that people are starting to develop magical crushes…and the outcome is ugly when the fighting begins.

First up is local Sheriff James Boone’s teenage daughter. She’s overwhelmed by a spell when her latest crush’s attention is on the line.

Then the women at the bakery, all sisters, start fighting over the same man.

Then Cooper decides to come to blows for Hannah’s honor and it almost results in someone’s death.

Hannah is understandably confused. The only thing she knows without question is that there’s witchy magic afoot. Where is it coming from, though?

Hannah’s life is leading toward a specific fight. This fight, however, needs to be won before she can look to the future. Unfortunately for Hannah, the odds of winning are long.

There’s no evading the fight. So, here it comes.

What I Know About July by Kat HauslerWhat I Know About July by Kat Hausler:

Simon Kemper is on the up and up– he’ s out of rehab, and his band is gaining moderate success around Berlin. But out of the corner of his eye and over his shoulder, he’ s always aware of her. The stalker. She’ s at every show, no matter what city. She sends hundreds of postcards to his label. Worst of all, she acts like she knows him. Like she owns him. When the stalker disappears at one of his shows, Simon is the prime suspect. Initially an effort to clear his name, his search for July quickly becomes a deeper psychological quest: to prove that his fears were warranted? That she couldn’ t have given up her obsession that easily? The threads of July’ s disappearance turn out to be tangled into every corner of Simon’ s life: a trusted band member, a tenuous new love interest, a resentful ex, and the self he’ s supposedly left behind. Narcissistic, insecure, and consummately relatable, Simon is the anti-hero of his own life— trying to want to be better; hoping that’ s enough.

A Calculated Whisk by CeeCee JamesA Calculated Whisk by CeeCee James:

A Flamingo Cozy and Baker Street Mystery partnership. Stella O’Neil and Georgie Tanner are on the case.

When the siren goes off in the museum, everyone expected the prized exhibit to be stolen. No one imagined Oscar would disappear with it.

Take a quick trip through history with Stella, Georgie, Frank, Peanut and Oscar. Guess who is going to be surprised the most!

 

Assassin's Call by Ethan JonesAssassin’s Call by Ethan Jones:

He’s no Saint…

Assassin Xavier Saint has only one rule: kill no innocents. But on a supposed clean hit, he discovers his target has two kids and a woman with him. Why didn’t his client tell Saint? What’s worse, the woman is Saint’s former girlfriend…

While Saint processes this strange turn of events shots are fired. He watches the target and his ex fall. Rushing in to assess the damage, Saint’s ex reveals he’s a father. Not only that, he discovers he’s been set up.

In a race across Europe, Saint can barely stay a step ahead of those hunting him. He has uncovered a network of assassins eliminating innocents for profit, and he is being framed as the fall guy. With more to lose than just his life, Saint must bring down the entire network. But how?

He never claimed to be a saint, but he’s no demon either. In a world full of sworn enemies, how will Saint strike back, destroy the network, and be able to see the daughter he never knew he had?

Meet Saint.

Assassin's Vow by Ethan JonesAssassin’s Vow by Ethan Jones:

An impossible vow…

Assassin Xavier Saint is doing all he can to discover more about a network of assassins who are killing innocents while trying to stay one step ahead. But that is proving to be very costly. At the same time, to find and protect his daughter, Saint must pay back favors, which were steep and many. Now his “friends” have come for their pound of flesh…

Forced into a deadly assignment to save his new-found family, Saint vows to end the network and be the father he never knew he was. But how can he?

During all of this, he obtains suspicious intelligence that his ex-girlfriend might still be alive. With the network hellbent on eliminating him, no true friends, and the trap closing all around him, will Saint be able to get some answers and keep his promise before it’s too late?

It’s time to take off the gloves…

Perilous Potions by Amanda M. LeePerilous Potions by Amanda M. Lee:

Luna Thorn sprang into being in the middle of the night in a downtown Detroit park years ago. She had no memory of her past and no idea what the future would hold for her. The only thing she possessed was magic…and the determination to win at all costs.

She’s finally about to get the answers she’s been looking for .

There are zombies popping up on Detroit’s mean inner city streets. They’re not normal zombies, however. They move fast and don’t go down under the usual methods. They have a mission, though, and the only thing that stops them is death.

Luna knows someone is controlling them, but who? She’s determined to find answers on her own, but the people who know her best and love her most refuse to let her fight this battle without backup.

Luna has been a loner for as long as she can remember, but her blood is running hot these days after joining with a phoenix, and news that she’s a traveler—a being that can jump through time—has her second-guessing every decision she’s ever made.

Detroit is about to be rocked by death and destruction. The question is, will Luna be the saint protecting it or the sinner bringing it down?

Things are about to change for everybody, and it’s impossible to know who will rise from the ashes.

The fight between good and evil, the past and the present, is on, and Luna will be right in the middle of it for better or worse.

The world is about to burn.

As the Cookie Crumbles by Amanda M. LeeAs the Cookie Crumbles by Amanda M. Lee:

Christmas is right around the corner, and Stormy Morgan is ready to celebrate for the first time in years. She’s been dreaming of one thing…Shadow Hills’ infamous Christmas festival.

There’s just one little problem.

When helping her new friend Easton pick out clothes in the thrift store, Stormy discovers the owner is missing. What’s worse, it looks as if there was a struggle in the back room. What happened to the married mother of one?

Stormy gets her boyfriend Hunter Ryan involved and they start searching. The only thing they can ascertain with any certainty is that there’s a hint of magic pulsing around the town, and maybe it has something to do with the disappearance.

Stormy has her hands full with gnome shifters and her old high school nemesis, so a missing person’s case isn’t something she’s looking forward to. She has no choice but to dig, though. Her conscious won’t allow the alternative.

Stormy might be new at the magic contest, but she understands winning. When another person disappears, she realizes she’s playing the wrong game.

In a world where fire rules, cold is about to claim them all. Can Stormy win? She’s about to find out. Come along for the ride.

Stalked by Darkness by Mary StoneStalked by Darkness by Mary Stone:

I SEE U

Nobody was supposed to know that Deputy Justice Hall secretly went to the Amado Cartel’s stronghold in Mexico to mete out justice the judicial system denied to the creator of a deadly street drug and the leader of the motorcycle gang that distributed it.

But someone followed him. And they want him to know it, as evidenced by the handwritten note with the words “I SEE U”—accompanied by photo evidence and a heart-shaped stone—left at Justice’s ranch.

Is this somehow the work of Justin Black, the man who murdered Justice’s family and then kidnapped him? Is it blackmail? Or does Justice have some kind of twisted admirer?

Rattled, Justice is more than happy for the diversion of a new case. An unusual arson, complete with the body of a pimp, his head cleaved with a hatchet, and a note identifying the victim as woman abuser written on the wall behind the victim in eerily familiar handwriting.

When another fire occurs with clues left specifically for Justice, it’s clear the two are intertwined. And the writing is on the wall—literally. This vigilante killer and note leaver is after something personal. Now Justice is knee-deep in a game of cat and mouse. But is he the cat…or the mouse?

Murder at St. Paul's Cathedral by Lee StraussMurder at St. Paul’s Cathedral by Lee Strauss:

Family secrets are murder!

When Ginger’s former sister-in-law Felicia, now Lady Davenport-Witt, first received a mysterious note in the post, she dismissed it as coming from a nuisance writer. These things were known to happen to those who enjoyed social popularity. But with a third one, she began to feel ill at ease.

Ginger, however, had been worried since the first short missive had arrived. Someone knew of a family secret that would upset Felicia’s apple cart in a very big way.

Felicia’s new hobby of photography turned into freelance work for a London magazine, and her first assignment was to attend the wedding of the new Duke of Worthington and his very young bride-to-be taking place at St. Paul’s Cathedral. Murder follows matrimony, and Felicia finds herself in the middle of the muddle.

Can Ginger help Felicia navigate the twists and turns of fate and stop a second death?

Death at Chateau Peveril by Russell WateDeath at Chateau Peveril by Russell Wate:

When Viscount Peveril is found dead at his chateau in France, his children instantly suspect foul play. But with his demise being registered as ‘death by natural causes’, they must seek the assistance of DCI Sandy McFarlane to uncover the truth.

Against his superior’s wishes, Sandy travels to Bordeaux and Saint-Émilion, and swiftly concludes that something is not quite right with the circumstances of the Viscount’s death. Enlisting the help of an old friend, DCI Rich Singh, Sandy embarks on a complex and intriguing murder investigation.

With medical intrigue at its heart, this is no classic ‘whodunit’, and is the third book in the popular DCI McFarlane crime series.

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