Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month for January 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 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, epic fantasy, historical fantasy, gaslamp fantasy, paranormal mystery, fantasy romance, science fiction romance, science fiction thriller, space opera, military science fiction, near future science fiction, YA science fiction, dystopian fiction, solarpunk, hopepunk, steampunk, Greco-Roman mythology, vampires, dwarves, elves, ghosts, space marines, space pirates, space prisons, blood matches, crime-busting witches, vengeful goddesses 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:

Nexus of Chaos by Jonathan P. Brazee and J.N. ChaneyNexus of Chaos by Jonathan P. Brazee and J.N. Chaney:

When humanity joins the cause, the war with the Naxli begins to tilt in the favor of the allied races.

The Naxli have other ideas, though, and they launch a full-out blitz against the upstart humans. If they succeed, humanity’s very existence is at stake.

Gunnery Sergeant Reverent Pelletier and the First Human Expeditionary Brigade not only have to survived the onslaught but figure out a way to end the war, once and for all.

Join Rev, Tomiko, Randigold, and the rest as they fight not only the Naxli, but a growing distrust of the IBHU Marines and other hyperaugments.

Tested by Lindsay BurokerTested by Lindsay Buroker:

Matti would prefer never to see her vindictive dwarven aunt ever again. All she wants is to find her missing parents.

But her aunt is extorting the elven assassin, Sarrlevi. That would be problematic on its own, but he’s become Matti’s biggest ally and the man—the elf—she’s falling in love with.

To save her family, Matti must find a way to help Sarrlevi before he strikes the most devastating blow of all.

 

Horse Lattitudes by Rachel FordHorse Lattitudes by Rachel Ford:

Sometimes, silence is just the quiet before the storm.

When the Black Flag crew is assigned to transport a young Union ambassador on his first diplomatic mission, they’re promised a few weeks of quiet downtime. Easy money.

What they find is a diplomatic quagmire. On one side is an untrusting, desperate, and dying world willing to do anything to anyone in order to secure their own survival. On the other is their thriving neighbor: equally desperate, but for entirely different reasons.

And dead in the water, the Black Flag readies to weather the coming storm – weather it, or be swept away in its fury.

The Ashlands by Chris FoxThe Ashlands by Chris Fox:

A Desert of Living Death

Four centuries ago the Stewards rained ash on the heartland of an empire for a year and a day, murdering the Elentian Empire and orphaning the Hasran Imperium where I was born.

The stories say the ash drains magic and that any who venture into the Ashlands will need to contend with the armies of unliving swimming beneath the ash. Unliving as old as the Mad Imperator Jhordil himself.

My final tomb lays somewhere out in that terrible ocean of soot. Before I can help Li or settle the Hasran civil war I need to find it. I need to understand who and what I am if I am ever to fight my aunt or the demon princes she no doubt controls.

I will sail into those uncharted lands, and I will prevail. I have to. The cycle depends on it.

Tethered by Elayna R. GalleaTethered by Elayna R. Gallea:

What could be worse than an arranged marriage to a vampire prince?

When Luna is sold into marriage to the Prince of Darkness on her twenty-first birthday, she thinks she knows what to expect. Arranged marriages happen all the time, right? Wrong. No one could have prepared her for the reality of being married to the vampire prince.

Ever since the day he was Made, Sebastian has been living according to Queen Marguerite’s rules. After all, he’s only alive because of her. When she orders him to marry and Bind himself to Luna, a human hailing a neighboring kingdom, he has no choice. He agrees to the marriage but never expects to feel anything for her.

When their Binding Ceremony goes awry, and they are magically Tethered, everything is thrown into upheaval. Unable to leave each other’s presence, they must learn to live with each other. Or die.

Oracle of Life by Katherine D. GrahamOracle of Life by Katherine D. Graham:

Six fallen lords. Three vengeful goddesses. And one mortal, damned to prophesy for them all.

An Exiled Oracle

Nariah, the Heiress of Ellonai, is dead. An exiled, desert-dwelling Doomsayer is all that remains within the shell of the powerful princess she once was.

A Heretic

She isn’t sure which of her visions her people hate more: the one where the three benevolent goddesses they serve have decided to destroy the world, or the vision of six lords falling from the skies to save them.

The World’s Only Hope

Stumbling across the very lords she’s been seeing in her visions for years, only Nariah’s accursed gift of Sight can aid the lords in their rebellion against the goddesses, and determine the fate of her world before it’s turned to ash.

But does she even want to save those who’ve wronged her?

Storm of Magic by Kyra HallandStorm of Magic by Kyra Halland:

After losing everything else, they found each other.

Now Leshi and Esavas are ready to begin their new life together in Yevoruta, the city of the mages. But the battles of the past raised more questions than they answered, questions that themselves must be answered if Esavas and Leshi are to lay the ghosts of the past to rest and find peace in their new life.

But beneath the mannered, elegant surface of mage society lies treachery, and the search for those answers could cost Leshi and Esavas everything as they face the difficult – and heart-wrenching – challenge of stopping the evil that threatens to consume the life of their beloved Islands.

Storm of Magic is the epic conclusion of Mage of Storm and Sea.

New Ghosts, Old Tricks by Lily Harper HartNew Ghosts, Old Tricks by Lily Harper Hart:

Harper Harlow-Monroe has everything she’s ever wanted. She has a husband she loves, a best friend who is only irritating fifty percent of the time, and a daughter who refuses to be “normal.” So, basically, she has it all.

Then the unthinkable happens. During an afternoon picnic with her husband and daughter, Harper’s yard is flooded with ghosts … right as five bodies float by on the river. Harper’s daughter Poe is finally in the thick of things because she’s the only one who can communicate with the ghostly newcomers.

Worried, Harper calls in her friends Rowan, Maddie, and Ivy. Together, the foursome is going to figure out what’s haunting Poe … one way or another.
There’s not much to be found regarding the victims. They were adventurers, making a name for themselves finding treasure at the bottoms of oceans and lakes. They were hired by a local billionaire, but nobody can figure out why and the man in question is being cagey.

Harper always knew her daughter would turn out gifted. The reality is different from the fantasy, however. Poe’s magic is already strong, and when she gets a little encouragement from her friends, things begin to spiral.

It’s an all-hands-on-deck situation for this battle, and only the strong will survive.

Hierarchy of Blood by Jennifer HaskinHierarchy of Blood by Jennifer Haskin:

The winner will be crowned Ambassador’s Bride. The losers will meet certain death.

When you’re living inside a dwarf planet in the cold abyss of space, life is only easy if you’re rich. 17-year-old Marishel Vance works as a seamstress – but when she’s selected to compete in a brutal contest for the Ambassador’s hand in marriage, she’s quickly catapulted into a life-threatening struggle.

Marishel hates the idea of fighting for some stuck-up rich guy – no matter how handsome he is. But after her attempts to escape are thwarted, she becomes desperate to find a way to end the Blood Match and save the lives of the girls she’s training with. The key could lie in Ambassador Quin himself … but as she tries to win his friendship, her growing feelings for him only complicate the matter.

As the Blood Match looms closer, Marishel spirals deeper into a world of intrigue, danger, punishment, and secrets. Trusting the wrong people means game over. If Marishel wants to save herself – and the other fifty-nine girls sentenced to death – she’ll have to break every rule in the book to do it…

Half Empty Half Full by John HundleyHalf Empty Half Full by John Hundley:

An interstellar war is brewing. A monster guards the key to power. Can a reluctant hero overcome an ancient evil to forestall a galactic apocalypse?

Clifford Crane hates having been labeled a hero. Centuries of experience has taught the legendary shifter that standing in the limelight only illuminates the target on his back. Desperate to stay safe and under the radar, he is demoralized to find the SS Huey on a mission that puts him in the crosshairs of the powerful corporation whose plans to build an army of cyborgs he just thwarted. THE Corporation wants revenge, and it has the resources and firepower to exact it.

Branded a terrorist, and his ship a pirate vessel, Crane plots a secret route through an armed blockade to the planet Kier, where the discovery of a rare metal could shift the galactic balance of power. With all previous attempts at mining meronium ending in the gruesome deaths of every miner involved, and the locals revealing to him the nature of what guards the mines, Crane confronts the dread realization that he alone must face the monster.

Can Clifford Crane and the SS Huey run the gauntlet of battle cruisers, overcome the ancient evil that guards the mines, and tip the galactic balance of power in their favor? Or will they find themselves caught in the middle of an apocalyptic interstellar war?

A Shadow Melody by Brian KaufmanA Shadow Melody by Brian Kaufman:

In the early 1900s, Thomas Edison, Nikola Tesla, and Harry Browning each researched devices to contact the dead through scientific means. Only one of them succeeded.

Harry Browning is a prodigy with an extraordinary understanding of the natural sciences. Orphaned as a child, he becomes a beloved professor, a war hero… and a shell shock victim.

At war’s end, he returns to his college hometown in Ohio and dedicates himself to research. Alone and isolated, he hires Elizabeth Rose, a young housekeeper with secrets. Together, they will seek to answer the one question that all humanity shares—what becomes of us after we pass beyond the veil?

They may not like the answer.

The Last Resort by Michael KaufmanThe Last Resort by Michael Kaufman:

It’s March 2034, six months after D.C. police detective Jen Lu and Chandler, her sentient bio-computer and wannabe tough guy implanted in her brain, cracked the mystery of Eden. The climate crisis is hitting harder than ever: a mega-hurricane has devastated the eco-system and waves of refugees pour into Washington, D.C.

Environmental lawyer and media darling Patty Garcia dies in a bizarre accident on a golf course. Of the seven billion people on the planet, only Jen thinks she was murdered. After all, Garcia just won a court case for massive climate change reparations to be paid out by oil, gas, and coal companies. Jen is warned off, but she and Chandler start digging. Signs point to Garcia’s abusive ex, a former oil giant, but soon Jen turns up more suspects who have an even greater motive for committing murder

Soon Jen is in the crosshairs of those who will ensure the truth never comes to light, no matter the cost. She has to move quickly before she becomes next on the killer’s list.

Frostbite by Casey LeaFrostbite by Casey Lea:

Amber Grace has spent countless lives preparing for battle, but her time has finally run out. She’s mortal now and can only hope that her enemy is close. That when the monster comes to devour them all, she’ll still be alive and able to offer herself instead.

All Amber has to do is keep herself safe, but one thing the Universe never guarantees is safety. Forced from hiding and trapped on the Rim with the criminal scum of every interstellar species, Amber finds herself truly living in a way she hasn’t for millennia. Suddenly her choices are more than equations and the potential of billions killed must be balanced against protecting the people close to her.

When the ice takes your friends and then comes for you, what do you do?

Beach Blanket Wendigo by Amanda M. LeeBeach Blanket Wendigo by Amanda M. Lee:

Moonstone Bay is in an uproar. The DDA is on the run, but they’re not going down without a fight. While all that’s going on, Hadley Hunter is practicing her magic. She managed to join with her elemental friends for a huge wins—and feels that’s important for the DDA fight—but she needs practice.

Nothing is perfect, however.

When a tourist is found dead on the beach one night after hearing a series of eerie howls, Hadley and her boyfriend Galen Blackwood think they have a new mystery to solve. The problem is, all signs point to a wendigo … which shouldn’t be possible on Moonstone Bay.

Things become even more convoluted when the victim’s movements on the night of her death lead them to a local. He denies killing her, but something is clearly amiss.

There’s a wendigo, a rogue DDA faction, and a plane door that just won’t stay closed.

Hadley has a lot on her plate. Nothing is going to stop her from doing what needs to be done, however. She’s ready to fight … even if that fight might kill her.

Hadley’s friends are determined to help, but as usual, she’s at the center of things. Moonstone Bay is caught in a shift of unbelievable proportions, but only one faction can come out on top.

There’s a battle coming, and when the truth comes out, everybody will be rocked.

Buckle up, because this ride is going to be bumpy.

The Bloodstained Shade by Cass MorrisThe Bloodstained Shade by Cass Morris:

In the third book of the Aven Cycle, a trio of sisters and an ambitious senator use charm, wit, and magic to protect their city from ruin.

Latona of the Vitelliae, mage of Spirit and Fire, lies still as death. Her fate rests in the hands of her allies, who must redeem her soul from the churning void where Corinna, leader of a banished Discordian cult, has trapped it.

Protected by a cabal of corrupt priests and politicians, Corinna plans her most daring assault yet: a ritual striking at the ancient heart of Aven, with the power to swallow the city in a maw of chaos and strife. Her success would be Aven’s doom, and the greatest violence would fall upon the most vulnerable.

Before Sempronius Tarren can join Aven’s defense-and his beloved Latona-at home, he must end the war abroad, outwitting the blood-soaked machinations of his Iberian opponents. His own magical talents remain hidden, but dire circumstances tempt him to succumb to ambition and use forbidden tactics to hasten the way to victory.

To defeat Corinna, Aven’s devoted protectors will need to perform extraordinary magic, rally support from unexpected quarters, and face the shadows on their own souls.

Nautilus Rising by Ernesto R. SanchezNautilus Rising by Ernesto R. Sanchez:

Far from Earth, PhD candidate Arixa Nez must solve a disturbing conspiracy while the largest spaceship in history is about to embark on its maiden voyage. The Nautilus, the greatest spaceship ever created in human history, is finally complete. Its mission is to travel through a mysterious wormhole found decades earlier. Before long, Arixa becomes the unlikely person able to prevent the greatest terrorist act in the solar system.

Can Arixa stop the conspiracy before time runs out?

Nautilus Rising is the prequel novella to the Far Side Chronicles.

Far From Home by John WalkerFar From Home by John Walker:

Seth thought he had his life all planned out. After retiring from the Marines, he sought a career in the private sector. Moving up the corporate ladder proved harder than he thought, and when he suddenly loses his job, he wonders if he might be wasting his life.

Until a car accident changes it forever. Finding himself marooned on an alien prison planet, he must team up with a rebel in order to survive. But the environment isn’t the only hazard to overcome with bloodthirsty genetic anomalies and dangerous inmates on the prowl. It seems the only way to survive is to escape the planet, if he can find the necessary allies and equipment to achieve the impossible.

For no one’s escaped Lakon Prison before. But then, they never tried to cage a Marine.

Wolfpack by Rem WigmoreWolfpack by Rem Wigmore

Orfeus the hunter is searching for redemption in the wake of destruction…

Orfeus has always loved grand gestures. And what could be grander than risking her life to gain entry to the fabled Cloud Forest to find one of humanity’s greatest losses and make a gift of it to her beloved? But the cost proves higher than she could have ever imagined and now she is on the run, navigating a whole new world of danger with few allies and even fewer friends. Arcon, the Cloud Forest’s mechanized guardian, is determined to track her down, even if it means destroying everything in their way. Even if it means convincing Jean, a traumatized young trans man escaping a cult, to host them in order to complete their mission. Can Orfeus figure out a way out of the mess that she’s created and work with the Order of the Vengeful Wild and their allies to fix what she’s broken before their world is pushed once more to the brink?

The Tale of the Border Knight by A.R. WithamThe Tale of the Border Knight by A.R. Witham:

They say the Noble Seven came from the Waste.

They say the knights arrived from the desert gleaming in silver mail, shimmering bright as the sun, a refraction of every color under God’s sky. They were honor, righteousness, and courage made flesh. Some claim they came from beyond, angels sent to stand against damons. Some say.

If you want to know the truth, I will tell you.

Send to Kindle
Posted in Books, Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Indie Crime Fiction of the Month for January 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 December books I missed the last time around snuck in as well. The books are arranged in alphabetical order by author. So far, most links only go to Amazon.com, though I may add other retailers for future editions.

Our new releases cover the broad spectrum of crime fiction. We have cozy mysteries, animal mysteries, holiday mysteries, historical mysteries, Jazz Age mysteries, paranormal mysteries, crime thrillers, legal thrillers, spy thrillers, technothrillers, science fiction thrillers, romantic suspense, police officers, FBI agents, lawyers, private investigators, amateur sleuths, bodyguards, spies, cold cases, missing children, murdered twins, crime-busting witches, crime-busting socialites, crime-busting dogs, murder and mayhem in London, Washington DC, Washington state, Florida, North Carolina 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 Means by Blythe BakerMurder With Means by Blythe Baker:

Sylvia is still struggling with the terrible secret she has learned about Miles, when she is dealt a fresh blow. During a visit to an art museum, she unknowingly becomes the last person to speak with a murder victim alive.

Forced to set aside her misgivings, Sylvia must trust Miles enough to lean on his help once again. Together, can the pair catch an elusive killer before the trail goes cold?

 

Scavenger Hunt by Jack BoudreauxScavenger Hunt by Chad Boudreaux:

Blake Hudson just wants to serve his country well as a lawyer for the United States Justice Department—but when an unknown threat begins plotting his downfall, he must find who is setting him up before it costs him his life.

Scavenger Hunt is a suspense novel chronicling the plight of Blake Hudson, a Justice Department lawyer assigned to a clandestine counterterrorist group created to bypass onerous legal requirements. After the group mysteriously disbands, Hudson becomes the scapegoat and is transformed from hunter to hunted. As he searches for answers and attempts to piece the puzzle together, people are following him, trying to kill him.

Written for fans of fast-paced thrillers, dry humor, political gamesmanship, and Clue-like twists and turns, Scavenger Hunt carves out a distinct niche best described as a hybrid of the Robert Ludlum classics and works by Brad Meltzer. Blake Hudson’s story addresses issues that have shaped recent elections and continue to frustrate interest groups and government leaders, while featuring the inner workings of the U.S. Department of Justice Building—arguably the most important and misunderstood agency in the federal government. Author Chad Boudreaux’s unique voice and page-turning storytelling packs a plot-driven punch that readers won’t be able to put down.

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

Vi and Jack are journeying on a second honeymoon. Sand, sea, long, lingering nights along with slow, sleepy mornings seem to be just what life demands.

They set out, driven by whimsy. Soon they join a small boat tour of the islands along with other travelers. At first, they’re surrounded by loving families, but as the journey progresses, they uncover that all is not what it seems. And with that, someone is found down. But why?

 

A Nags Head Murder by Joe C. EllisA Nags Head Murder by Joe C. Ellis:

Private Detective Angie Stallone opens her fledgling agency in the quaint town of Buxton, North Carolina on the Outer Banks. Struggling to establish a credible business, she teams up with local bookstore owner, Mee Mee Roberts, to solve a cold case from the 1960’s. Their investigation leads them to a remote island in the middle of the Currituck Sound. The evidence they dig up opens a door to membership in a strange cult that meets in one of the old beach houses along Nags Head’s Historic Cottage Row. The recent death of a cult member raises new questions. Was it murder? Is the cold case connected to the recent death? If so, who’s next?

New Ghosts, Old Tricks by Lily Harper HartNew Ghosts, Old Tricks by Lily Harper Hart:

Harper Harlow-Monroe has everything she’s ever wanted. She has a husband she loves, a best friend who is only irritating fifty percent of the time, and a daughter who refuses to be “normal.” So, basically, she has it all.

Then the unthinkable happens. During an afternoon picnic with her husband and daughter, Harper’s yard is flooded with ghosts … right as five bodies float by on the river. Harper’s daughter Poe is finally in the thick of things because she’s the only one who can communicate with the ghostly newcomers.

Worried, Harper calls in her friends Rowan, Maddie, and Ivy. Together, the foursome is going to figure out what’s haunting Poe … one way or another.
There’s not much to be found regarding the victims. They were adventurers, making a name for themselves finding treasure at the bottoms of oceans and lakes. They were hired by a local billionaire, but nobody can figure out why and the man in question is being cagey.

Harper always knew her daughter would turn out gifted. The reality is different from the fantasy, however. Poe’s magic is already strong, and when she gets a little encouragement from her friends, things begin to spiral.

It’s an all-hands-on-deck situation for this battle, and only the strong will survive.

Vow of Justice by Robin JamesVow of Justice by Robin James:

A small-town sheriff is found murdered in a Dollar Kart parking lot. A relentless prosecutor vows to bring his killer to justice.

Sheriff Bill Clancy humbly served the citizens of Maumee County for three decades. He wanted nothing more than to finish his term and retire to the woods he called home. When he’s found shot to death behind the wheel of his own car, every cop in the county is out for blood.

The weight of justice falls squarely on Prosecutor Mara Brent’s shoulders when an arrest is quickly made. With an election just a few months away, all eyes are on her. There’s no room for error.

The man accused is a nobody. A drifter without a dime to his name. There’s a mountain of physical evidence tying him to the crime, but no obvious motive. Even without one, the case seems open and shut. But when a high-powered defense attorney with ties to Mara’s past comes forward to defend the killer, she suspects a conspiracy.

Is the accused just a patsy? Was Sheriff Clancy’s assassination part of a larger scheme that could ruin Mara’s career? Or was Clancy hiding an even bigger secret that could shake the foundation of the police department he vowed to serve?

And just when Mara thinks victory is in sight, a courtroom bombshell threatens to spiral the town into chaos.

The Last Resort by Michael KaufmanThe Last Resort by Michael Kaufman:

It’s March 2034, six months after D.C. police detective Jen Lu and Chandler, her sentient bio-computer and wannabe tough guy implanted in her brain, cracked the mystery of Eden. The climate crisis is hitting harder than ever: a mega-hurricane has devastated the eco-system and waves of refugees pour into Washington, D.C.

Environmental lawyer and media darling Patty Garcia dies in a bizarre accident on a golf course. Of the seven billion people on the planet, only Jen thinks she was murdered. After all, Garcia just won a court case for massive climate change reparations to be paid out by oil, gas, and coal companies. Jen is warned off, but she and Chandler start digging. Signs point to Garcia’s abusive ex, a former oil giant, but soon Jen turns up more suspects who have an even greater motive for committing murder

Soon Jen is in the crosshairs of those who will ensure the truth never comes to light, no matter the cost. She has to move quickly before she becomes next on the killer’s list.

Beach Blanket Wendigo by Amanda M. LeeBeach Blanket Wendigo by Amanda M. Lee:

Moonstone Bay is in an uproar. The DDA is on the run, but they’re not going down without a fight. While all that’s going on, Hadley Hunter is practicing her magic. She managed to join with her elemental friends for a huge wins—and feels that’s important for the DDA fight—but she needs practice.

Nothing is perfect, however.

When a tourist is found dead on the beach one night after hearing a series of eerie howls, Hadley and her boyfriend Galen Blackwood think they have a new mystery to solve. The problem is, all signs point to a wendigo … which shouldn’t be possible on Moonstone Bay.

Things become even more convoluted when the victim’s movements on the night of her death lead them to a local. He denies killing her, but something is clearly amiss.

There’s a wendigo, a rogue DDA faction, and a plane door that just won’t stay closed.

Hadley has a lot on her plate. Nothing is going to stop her from doing what needs to be done, however. She’s ready to fight … even if that fight might kill her.

Hadley’s friends are determined to help, but as usual, she’s at the center of things. Moonstone Bay is caught in a shift of unbelievable proportions, but only one faction can come out on top.

There’s a battle coming, and when the truth comes out, everybody will be rocked.

Buckle up, because this ride is going to be bumpy.

Two Shakes of a Hangman's Noose by Rimmy LondonTwo Shakes of a Hangman’s Noose by Rimmy London:

A silly ghost story? Or did someone get away with murder…

Megan Henny takes a day trip to a lighthouse just off the rugged Washington coast. Along with her trusty Great Dane, Fred, she comes across a haunting legend. Thirty years ago, a woman startlingly similar to herself, disappeared from the charming coastal town of Seacrest. With no clues to follow except a noose hanging from the branches of a nearby tree, did someone get away with murder? Or could something darker be haunting the coastline?

Together with Fred, Megan digs into the past. But what she finds are chilling memories that mix truth with ghost stories. Late one night, she discovers a noose in the forest behind her house and fears she could be next. Will Megan and Fred realize just where the danger is coming from, or will it catch them unaware?

The Girl and the Winter Bones by A.J. RiversThe Girl and the Winter Bones by A.J. Rivers:

In the morning Ellie walked to school. All was seemingly predictable.

Until one day, the unexpected occurred and little Ellie was never seen again…

When an unexpected storm hits, forcing a young couple on a road trip to seek shelter within an abandoned school in the woods. They witness strange phenomena and stumble upon corpses. Soon FBI agent Emma Griffin finds herself in the middle of a case that forces her to investigate the past to sort out the mystery behind the twisted occurrences in the present. With a trail of missing girls, strange oddities, and red herrings.
Emma and all involved find much more than they bargained for.

It’s no longer about surviving a night of haunting and evading a storm.
It’s about escaping the things that should have remained forever frozen in time…

You Better Run by Willow RoseYou Better Run by Willow Rose:

When 19-year-old Meg Briggs wakes up after having a crazy party with her friends, she finds a girl in the pool.

Dead.

Who is this girl?

How did she end up in the pool?

Was she even at the party?

Even more strange is when they pull her out of the water, Meg realizes the girl looks very familiar. As a matter of fact, she looks just like her.

Like an identical twin.

But Meg has no twin, at least none that she knows of, and no one at the party knows this girl or can say where she is from.

What is Meg’s mom hiding from her?

FBI profiler Eva Rae Thomas is caught in distress at home with her children and between the two men in her life when she is asked to help out on the case.

Who killed Meg’s identical twin and why? And where did she come from?

As Eva Rae Thomas digs deeper into the story, she can barely believe the revealed secrets, secrets so cruel that someone is ready to go to great lengths to keep them hidden.

Murder at Yuletide by Lee StraussMurder at Yuletide by Lee Strauss:

Have Yourself a Merry Little Murder

Clive Pippins, Lady Ginger Gold’s beloved, elderly butler is apparently Christmas shopping when a body is found. To the shock of everyone in Ginger’s household, the victim is the spinster cousin Pippins worked for during the years surrounding the Great War.

As Ginger investigates things begin to look grim for her dear butler. What had the man been up to during the war years, and had he been complicit in a crime?

What secret was Pips holding onto?

And worse, would he be the next victim before he had a chance to divulge it?

The only gift Ginger wants for the Christmas of 1927 is for the killer to be found before it’s time to ring in the new year!

Once a Killer by Margaret WatsonOnce a Killer by Margaret Watson:

Bree Gordon looks nothing like a bodyguard. But the short, slender woman knows how to keep her principal safe. And one of her most potent weapons is her appearance. People see her and dismiss her. Their mistake.

Jameson Ford is a technical whiz who’s working on a program that’ll be a game changer. The military wants it. So does the CIA, along with some unsavory players. Someone close to him wants it, as well – one of the engineers in his lab.

When he reluctantly hires a bodyguard, he’s shocked when Bree shows up. But it doesn’t take long for him to appreciate her abilities. Will the attraction flaring between them be their salvation? Or will it be their downfall?

Send to Kindle
Posted in Books, Indie Crime Fiction of the Month | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month for December 2022

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 urban fantasy, epic fantasy, YA fantasy, military fantasy, paranormal mystery, paranormal romance, science fiction romance, space opera, military science fiction, YA science fiction, science fantasy, post-apocalyptic fiction, horror, Greek mythology, Norse mythology, elves, werewolves, krampuses, nutcrackers, crime-busting witches, robot Santas, doctors in space, 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:

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.

Trolled by Lindsay BurokerTrolled by Lindsay Buroker:

Busy looking for her missing mother and dodging enemies that are after her magical hammer, Matti Puletasi doesn’t need any more problems. She definitely doesn’t need the person who hired an assassin to kill her mother to show up—and target her.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, the handsome elven ally she’s falling in love with… may be working for the other side.

 

 

Kepler-186f by Rachel FordKepler-186f by Rachel Ford:

The Genesis mission promised a new start on Kepler-186f. A new start for Captain Nikkole Johnson, and a new start for humanity.

An elite soldier recruited to protect settlers on the new world, Johnson wakes from cryosleep to find that the mission went sideways thousands of years ago.

Most of the original crew has vanished. Those who remain know no more than she. Strange voices whisper in the trees and on the winds. Monsters attack in the night to carry off the survivors. To save what’s left of the mission, Johnson must discover what happened in the first place.

Before the ghosts of the past erase any chance of a future.

Wings Unfurled by Rebecca Gomez FarrellWings Unfurled by Rebecca Gomez Farrell:

The vicious claren that used to plague the reunited countries of Medua and Lansera are long gone. So what are the new dark patches appearing in Lady Serra’s second sight? She rushes to King Albrecht to report the danger, only to discover that he’s ailing and Vesperi, Prince Janto’s wife, has fled far to the north to grieve her disappeared daughter. Vesperi still wields the silver flame, possesses all the authority she’s ever wanted, but nothing can heal the wound of a missing child. When the silver moon Esye begins to fade, a gnawing fear preys on her for the first time since she escaped her father’s cold rule. Ominous creatures once thought mythical are now rampaging through the countryside. Janto sends Serra to investigate. But without her friendship and Vesperi’s love, he fears he cannot slay this challenge. He failed to find his own daughter, after all. To save the Lanserim, the legendary bird with three heads must fly again. Will Janto, Vesperi, and Serra find the strength to raise it? Or will this menace, with the might to drain a moon, devour them first?

Black and Brew by Lily Harper HartBlack and Brew by Lily Harper Hart:

The day Ofelia Archer has feared her entire adult life is here. Despite the happiness she’s been feeling since her engagement to Zach Sully, when the inevitable happens and her father has a breakdown on Bourbon Street, her life turns upside down.

Oscar Archer has been fighting a losing battle with mental illness for years, but when he finally hits a wall and is taken to the hospital against his will, he blames Ofelia. Despondent, she’s not paying attention, and when a shadow attacks and leaves her for dead, a new mystery is afoot…and it makes for an opportune distraction so Ofelia’s mind isn’t constantly drifting to her father. Unfortunately, the shadow leads to the one person Ofelia never wants to see again.

Sebastian Gendry is facing serious charges for the beating of Ofelia’s brother. When he slips his tether and disappears, Ofelia realizes he and the shadow are linked … and their paths lead right to the LaLaurie Mansion.

New Orleans has many sordid stories, but none are quite as bad as Delphine LaLaurie’s tale. When Ofelia starts digging, she realizes Sebastian has ties to the family … and they’re the sort that can never be broken.

A shattered heart won’t stop Ofelia. She promised Sebastian he would pay for what he did to her family, and she meant it.

Dark magic is loose in the French Quarter, and it’s going to take Ofelia’s entire motley crew to overcome it. Even then, heartbreak is imminent. Can Ofelia make it through the darkness to find the light on the other side?

The Guardian by A.L. HawkeThe Guardian by A.L. Hawke:

Medusa vacays on the Italian Riviera to stop her best friend from destroying the world.

I’m staying off the coast on the Italian Riviera in Portofino. Have you ever been? It’s this gorgeous bay surrounded by rectangular red and yellow pastel buildings with swanky shops, restaurants and gorge trails.

Well, I don’t want to be here. And I really didn’t want my lover to join me. See, I came to protect my friend. The ancient Greek gods of Olympus claim Arachne holds the Scepter of Azure. The Scepter is a weapon that can freeze an entire city. Well, I don’t really care about the Scepter, I care about my friend. Of course, Arachne can hold her own. Don’t ever underestimate animals like spiders—or snakes, like me, for that matter.

The Guardian is a short story.

Medusa returns from My Evil Eye in this vacation urban fantasy novella. Although The Guardian is chronologically Book II in the Furies series, this book is a distinctive stand-alone that was written to be enjoyed without having read the first novel, My Evil Eye.

Starburn by Benjamin KuttnerStarburn by Benjamin Kuttner:

Magicians versus hyperspeed assassins on a moon-sized whale.

A thousand years after the destruction of Earth. Three seventeen-year-olds are chosen for the heist of the millennium.

Their task is to steal a linkstone to stop a moon-sized whale creasing spacetime.

Starburn, an orphan training to be a quantum magician;

Estellar, a quirky assassin half-heartedly doing jobs for her family;

Aurum Junn, a gunfighter who loves a girl of a different species;

And on the cracked stardust of the whale’s skin lives another teen, Little Moon, who will protect the linkstone at all costs.

River of Night by Naomi KuttnerRiver of Night by Naomi Kuttner:

A dark and inventive urban fantasy about a young man who must face his deepest fears to save his friends — but the monster in the night might be exactly the ally he needs

Ivan thinks he might be going mad. Because the alternative is worse.

It’s the last summer of school, and Ivan’s main aim is to get into a university – any university – to escape his stifling hometown.

But when Ivan stumbles on an ancient Viking death cult, his new goal is simple: survive long enough to save his friends and stop his world from imploding.

As the stakes get higher, Ivan must learn to use the darkness within to face the dangers that surround him. The Shadow World may hold the key to victory, but does Ivan have what it takes to defeat ancient monsters and present-day murderers?

And if he does befriend the dark, what might he become…

The Krampus Kink by Amanda M. LeeThe Krampus Kink by Amanda M. Lee:

Charlie Rhodes has a lead on her past, but it just might endanger her future. Nothing can stop her from seeking answers though, which means a trip to Colorado with her boyfriend Jack. Her parents and brother are along for the ride. There’s just one problem … death has followed them to Estes Park.

It seems the hotel they’re staying at—the famous one was all booked up—is in the midst of a training session. Charlie doesn’t think much of it until a body appears in the hedge maze behind the hotel. That’s not all, because there’s a creature to go along with the body, and it has murder on its mind.

The Legacy Foundation has been grounded since the death of one of their own, but a potential krampus connection changes things. That means backup is coming, and Charlie’s fact-finding mission turns into a fight for survival.

Between the hotel workers, who are acting very odd indeed, and the return of the crossroads demon helping Charlie, she has her hands full.
A fight is coming, and Charlie needs help to battle the evil chanting her name. Unfortunately for her, trouble is coming in from every direction, and it’s going to take everybody working together to come out on the other side.

Charlie’s biggest enemy has made it back to this plane. Before she can take down Sybil, however, she has to know the truth about her past.

Brace yourselves, because it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

Oblivion's Cloak by Dylan McFadyen.Oblivion’s Cloak by Dylan McFadyen:

First Lieutenant Shaara was dead this morning.

Her captain is furious at her. She wasted company resources getting herself killed, and it’s coming out of her paycheck. Now, she’s sitting across from the first other human being she’s seen in six years. His name is Adnan. He claims to come from Earth—but that’s impossible. Earth died a long time ago. If Adnan’s telling the truth, he and the decaying ship the captain pulled him off are nearly a thousand years old.

Wherever he’s from, he’s Shaara’s responsibility now. Which is the last thing she needs. But it’s either that, or the captain sells Adnan into slavery. Shaara knows what that would mean. Most humans do. And something inside her won’t let her abandon Adnan to it: revenant memories, stabbed awake by the look in his eyes.

Facing those memories won’t be easy. It’d be far easier to ignore the feeling driving her forward. Far easier to let it all go to hell, and drift back to sleep.

Until a shadowy new faction starts stoking the fires of war. They’re looking for Adnan; Earth’s last survivor holds the key to unleash a terrible, indiscriminate vengeance on the galaxy that wronged them. Who they are is a mystery—to everyone but Shaara. Hard as she’s tried to forget, she knows them all too well. Which means she’s the only one who can stop them.

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.

Doctor Galaxy by Jenny SchwartzDoctor Galaxy by Jenny Schwartz:

New ER doctor Alexi Sur always intended to join an aid agency. She’d just expected to work among humans. But when the Pax Galactica Corps becomes her only option (don’t ask – the debts aren’t hers, but the family is. Much to her regret), Alexi finds herself traveling the galaxy and learning alien physiology and culture, all while becoming a reality TV star.

Being pursued by camera drones and starring in her very own Welcome-to-the-Universe documentary was never on Alexi’s to do list. She’s positive the show will flop. After all, Alexi is boring. That’s why her boyfriend left her for her stepsister.

But as trillions of aliens tune in to watch Alexi discover the universe in Doctor Galaxy, what she discovers is the existential threat facing humanity.

Major Soren Agha already knows about the danger. He’s currently playing peacekeeper for the Eripi of the Pariah Sector whose tragic fate could be humanity’s: conquered, exploited, lost.

Can one dedicated doctor save humanity? Can she, as Soren believes, also save the Eripi? And would anyone really notice if she sabotaged a couple of pesky camera drones?

Inheritance by Nanci SchwartzInheritance by Nanci Schwartz:

With the help of her crew and the rogue Mahjin, Victoria Anetti is determined to rescue her father.

But Alessandro surrendered for a reason: to find a cure for the enemy supersoldiers, who will soon die because of their genetic enhancements. While captive, he learns they aren’t so different from the Mahjin—and the only way to save their lives is to make them normal again.

The dangerous Janusian experiment requires a test subject, and Alessandro will stop at nothing to help those in need. Even give up the superhuman abilities that made him a hero.

Fueled by envy and rage, Victoria vows to finish his mission to save the remaining supersoldiers. But as the battle between the Janusian Union and Colonial Republic rages on, Victoria must choose whether to take her place at her father’s side and become what she always wanted—normal—or remain with her crew on the Robber Barron and accept her destiny as the last supersoldier.

Icebreaker by Glynn StewartIcebreaker by Glynn Stewart:

To the north, the ice
To the south, the enemy
In the middle, her Republic…

Coral Amherst is the middle child of a wealthy family, with fingers throughout the politics and laws of the magical Dalebloods and the Republic they lead. Skill and connections alike have propelled her to the highest ranks of the Republic’s Navy.

Now, duty inexorably drags her into a mission to learn the fate of a long-lost magical city, once home to many of the people the Dalebloods rule. Storms of dark magic drove the Seablood from their ancient city and to the shores of the Republic—and those same storms now assail the Republic itself!

An ancient threat rises beyond the ice of the northern waters and Coral Amherst will need every scrap of courage, honor, and magic she commands if she is to save the Republic!

Send to Kindle
Posted in Books, Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Indie Crime Fiction of the Month for December 2022


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, animal mytseries, holiday mysteries, historical mysteries, Victorian mysteries, Jazz Age mysteries, 1950s mysteries, paranormal mysteries, crime thrillers, legal thrillers, psychological thrillers, adventure thrillers, police procedural, police officers, FBI agents, lawyers, juries, private investigators, amateur sleuths, crime-busting witches, crime-busting socialites, crime-busting butlers, crime-busting reporters, crime-busting cats, crime-busting dogs, creepy hotels, deadly tea, deadly vinayards, murder and mayhem in London, New York City, New Orleans, Florida, Colorado, Yorkshire, Rutland, Kerala, 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:

Death Beneath a Troubled Roof by Blythe BakerDeath Beneath a Troubled Roof by Blythe Baker:

When the sudden illness of her father-in-law pulls Victoria Sedgewick away from London, she finds herself at the gloomy Yorkshire estate of her late husband’s family. There she discovers that her relations are in danger from a bitter darkness that threatens to engulf them all.

With the help of Branwell Keats, Victoria investigates a plot as dramatic and haunting as the isolated landscape…

 

 

Interred with their bones by Beth ByersInterred With Their Bones by Beth Byers:

In this short novella, Smith and Beatrice have been taking a break since the horror of their recent adventures. They lingered in the country over the holidays, and then, rather than returning to London, they linger some more. Bea even drags Smith to the town where her family lives.

When they’re approached by a woman who wants peace of mind, they find themselves agreeing. The goal was to ease back into their regular life, give this woman the answers she needed, and maybe save themselves from the brutality of London life a little longer.

They should have known better.

The Really High Tea by Joe ChackoThe Really High Tea by Joe Chacko:

Sub-Inspector Nair is in deep. Up to his neck.

Nair should have listened to his parents. He should have stayed at home instead of joining the Kerala Police. It’s not working out.

Nair’s boss, Inspector Kurien, is lazy and corrupt. And he hates Nair. Because Nair doesn’t know how to shut up. Or keep his head down.

The yoga-loving, pure vegetarian Nair is made for action. And action is his downfall.

It begins with an outbreak of delirious dancing amongst guests attending the fabulous Saturday afternoon High Tea at a luxurious 5-star hotel.

It progresses as a mad chase across the coastal city of Cochin, Kerala, from waterfront, to beach, to warehouse. There is subterfuge, conspiracy, criminality and chaos.

All to answer the question of what made the High Tea quite so high?

The Corpse's Secret by Stacy ClaflinThe Corpse’s Secret by Stacy Claflin:

Another corpse, another day…

If Vanessa and Chris had known how common death was in and around their hotel, they never would have moved in with their kids. The latest body is proving the most problematic — because it disappeared. Seemingly on its own. But that’s impossible. Isn’t it?

The only way it could have crawled away is if he’s still alive. And that would mean a murderer is on the loose. Again.

Not only that, but the kids have secrets of their own. The things they’re hiding could jeopardize them all, especially if the killer is still alive and roaming their halls.

Vanessa fears her husband is unravelling fast, and she knows she needs to protect her family before they lose everything. But she doesn’t know if she has the strength.

A Murder on 34th Street by Colette ClarkA Murder on 34th Street by Colette Clark:

A very merry mission ends in a very un-merry murder…on 34th Street.

New York 1925

The holidays are here and spirits are bright. Penelope “Pen” Banks and Cousin Cordelia have decided to go to Herald Square to watch the second annual “Macy’s Christmas Parade” ending at 34th Street.

But an even bigger event awaits her the next day. Pen is finally meeting Detective Richard Prescott’s family, and is hosting them all for Thanksgiving dinner. As such, she has decided to get a present for Richard’s young nephew.

After the parade, the quaint toy store across the street from the city’s largest department store catches her eye. While there, she manages to get her hands on what she’s been told is the most desired toy of the season for young boys.

Unfortunately, a body is found in the back room of the toy store soon after she makes her purchase. While the police are satisfied they’ve caught their suspect, Pen isn’t so sure. Still, she wisely follows Richard’s advice to let it go…until she realizes the crime has followed her home.

Nothing brings a family together during the holidays like a good mystery. Now, much to both Richard’s and Penelope’s surprise, both sides of the family have decided the holiday dinner is the perfect time to join in on playing detective with the couple.

At least until the festivities become potentially fatal…

Moment of Truth by Adam CroftMoment of Truth by Adam Croft:

A man is found dead in the judge’s chair inside the Great Hall of Oakham Castle, beaten to death with a ceremonial horseshoe.

As Rutland Police investigate, they discover the victim was a charitable, public-spirited man who only ever wanted to help others. So who wanted to kill him so brutally? And why?

DI Caroline Hills and DS Dexter Antoine are left disoriented and dejected. But the discovery of a shadowy and mysterious figure leads them onto a trail of deep corruption — one that will take them far from Rutland. And it seems their victim wasn’t quite the man he made himself out to be.

Is anyone ever truly innocent?

Full Metal Jury by John EllsworthFull Metal Jury by John Ellsworth:

The Jury Did its Job…and Everyone Else’s Job, too.

What happens when a new jury is made up of jaded members? Some of them have sat on juries where the bailiff or a policeman stuck his head in the door and gave them information that was barred in court. Or maybe the government uses a fake tape recording to convict someone, and the jury decides to get hold of the original tape and see what’s changed. Or maybe a judge has agreed to help the government because he’s under audit by the IRS and facing criminal tax charges. All of these things can and do happen.

Pity the poor defense attorney being fed pilfered evidence by the jury. He knows the tape-recorded statement is the original, AND he knows it’s stolen–does he go ahead and use it? Or does he report the theft to the court or to the police? And on it goes throughout the trial of Lisa Marie Dearing, accused of shooting the man who told her he was single, got her pregnant, then ran home to his wife and kids. No one wants to see that lady go to jail for life. Thaddeus Murfee is on her case and doing everything he can to keep her out of prison. And the jury is feeding him evidence and exhibits they are getting from—you’ll want to read about this jury for yourself, unlike any other!

Black and Brew by Lily Harper HartBlack and Brew by Lily Harper Hart:

The day Ofelia Archer has feared her entire adult life is here. Despite the happiness she’s been feeling since her engagement to Zach Sully, when the inevitable happens and her father has a breakdown on Bourbon Street, her life turns upside down.

Oscar Archer has been fighting a losing battle with mental illness for years, but when he finally hits a wall and is taken to the hospital against his will, he blames Ofelia. Despondent, she’s not paying attention, and when a shadow attacks and leaves her for dead, a new mystery is afoot…and it makes for an opportune distraction so Ofelia’s mind isn’t constantly drifting to her father. Unfortunately, the shadow leads to the one person Ofelia never wants to see again.

Sebastian Gendry is facing serious charges for the beating of Ofelia’s brother. When he slips his tether and disappears, Ofelia realizes he and the shadow are linked … and their paths lead right to the LaLaurie Mansion.

New Orleans has many sordid stories, but none are quite as bad as Delphine LaLaurie’s tale. When Ofelia starts digging, she realizes Sebastian has ties to the family … and they’re the sort that can never be broken.

A shattered heart won’t stop Ofelia. She promised Sebastian he would pay for what he did to her family, and she meant it.

Dark magic is loose in the French Quarter, and it’s going to take Ofelia’s entire motley crew to overcome it. Even then, heartbreak is imminent. Can Ofelia make it through the darkness to find the light on the other side?

Murder at the Tea Rooms by Rosie HuntMurder at the Tea Rooms by Rosie Hunt:

The Green Ginger Tea Rooms have a neatly thatched roof, scones baked to perfection, and under a lace-edged tablecloth … a corpse!

England, 1921. On the eve of her first official assignment working with the reporter she admires most, journalist Lady Felicity Quick is more than slightly vexed when her grandmother requests a favour she cannot refuse.

Acts of petty sabotage are undermining the success of tea rooms run by a cherished friend of Felicity’s grandmother. But on arriving in the village to play the detective, Felicity finds more than spilt food dye and collapsed sponges.

Murder has occurred, and her grandmother’s friend is the prime suspect.

Can Felicity use her sleuthing skills to unmask the real killer and still make it in time for her special assignment? Or will Felicity’s battle to outwit a deadly foe destroy not only the tea rooms’ future — but also her own?

Clawful Scandal by CeeCee JamesClawful Scandal by CeeCee James:

Laura Lee and her friends are helping Mrs. Thornberry host a charity event for the local hospital. The dinner is a flurry with music, dancing, and celebrity guests. Everything seems to be going splendidly, including healthy donations piling in, until Mary sees the one person who Should Not be there.

The man is Timothy Skyler and is well known among the town’s criminals as one of the craftiest of the bunch. But when he shows up dead among the town’s elite, and with a piece of jewelry from Judge Katherine, everything explodes.

Life doesn’t settle back to normal though, when the mystery is dumped into Laura Lee’s lap as a mutual friend contacts her. Can the Secret Book Club untangle this mess before Laura Lee’s friend gets dragged in farther?

The Krampus Kink by Amanda M. LeeThe Krampus Kink by Amanda M. Lee:

Charlie Rhodes has a lead on her past, but it just might endanger her future. Nothing can stop her from seeking answers though, which means a trip to Colorado with her boyfriend Jack. Her parents and brother are along for the ride. There’s just one problem … death has followed them to Estes Park.

It seems the hotel they’re staying at—the famous one was all booked up—is in the midst of a training session. Charlie doesn’t think much of it until a body appears in the hedge maze behind the hotel. That’s not all, because there’s a creature to go along with the body, and it has murder on its mind.

The Legacy Foundation has been grounded since the death of one of their own, but a potential krampus connection changes things. That means backup is coming, and Charlie’s fact-finding mission turns into a fight for survival.

Between the hotel workers, who are acting very odd indeed, and the return of the crossroads demon helping Charlie, she has her hands full.
A fight is coming, and Charlie needs help to battle the evil chanting her name. Unfortunately for her, trouble is coming in from every direction, and it’s going to take everybody working together to come out on the other side.

Charlie’s biggest enemy has made it back to this plane. Before she can take down Sybil, however, she has to know the truth about her past.

Brace yourselves, because it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

Two of a Kind by Gail MeathTwo of a Kind by Gail Meath:

Jax and his new pint-sized partner team up to save the Christmas holidays in 1920s New York City.

Officer Jax Diamond doesn’t always play by the rules, and he’s in the hot seat again with the captain of his precinct. So, when a brazen little puppy alerts him of a crime, Jax is ordered to stand down or get canned.

On the city streets, broke and alone, Jax beats himself up for making the wrong decision. Even the little tramp who keeps trailing him everywhere can’t lift his spirits. But crime never stops in New York City and a string of deadly Christmas capers spirals out of control.

Hang on to your seat as Jax and his new pint-sized partner, Ace, team up to save the Christmas holidays during the Roaring Twenties, an era of fun and frolic, song and dance, speakeasies, gangsters, bootlegging, and bribes

Cast Off by Wayne StinnettCast Off by Wayne Stinnett:

After a terrible defeat in Key West, where the subject of Jesse McDermitt’s identity fraud investigation gets away, and which almost costs him dearly, Jesse returns home to his island in the Content Keys, determined to keep those he loves safe from harm.

He makes plans to fly his family and friends to the Leeward Islands for a very special occasion, unaware of events taking place on one small uninhabited island located a short distance from his destination—events that will suck him right back into the fray, as a past nemesis rears their head.

Gold will turn even the most docile into greedy, dangerous people. When the question of rightful ownership is brought up, legal professionals and government officials on the island, as well as those from France argue over a treasure estimated to be worth $20,000,000. But what is the price of one human life?

The simple life isn’t what it’s cracked up to be, and danger abounds in the picturesque city of Gustavia, on the French island of St. Barts, and speeding Mini Mokes on steep mountain roads isn’t the cause.

Still Alive by Ava StrongStill Alive by Ava Strong:

FBI BAU Special Agent Lily Dawn, half Dutch, half Hispanic, raised in the Caribbean, knows the isles like the back of her hand. When a surge in serial killers in the region prods the FBI to assemble a task force, Lily is the natural choice. But Lily is reluctant to face the demons of her past, including her missing sister, and when a new serial killer strikes, leaving a string of victims tied to buoys, Lily knows she is heading right into the darkness.

 

 

Tainted Wine by Linda WatkinsTainted Wine by Linda Watkins:

The body of a vintner is found among the vines at the renowned Fauchér Winery, a corkscrew lodged deeply in his throat. The primary suspect – Jessica Fauchér, heiress to the winery fortune, The San Francisco law firm of Jacobs, Felder, and Smith takes on the task of representing the young heiress and Steve Daniels, who works for them as an investigator, is assigned the task of determining her guilt or innocence. Is she a cold-blooded murderer or just a victim of circumstance? Will the revelations Steve uncovers about her past foreshadow an even darker future? And, will Steve get caught in the web of lies that is being spun around him?

Send to Kindle
Posted in Books, Indie Crime Fiction of the Month | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Magic under the Mistletoe 2022 – 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.

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.

Send to Kindle
Posted in Books, Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Murder under the Mistletoe 2022 – A Round-up of the Best Indie Holiday Mysteries and Crime Fiction

Murder under the Mistletoe banner

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

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

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

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

And now on to the books without further ado:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Recipe Included: Baked Gingerbread Donuts with Ginger Glaze

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

December 1925

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

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

December 1926

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

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

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

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?

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Frosted Croakies by Sam CheeverFrosted Croakies by Sam Cheever:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have I told you I hate this season?

Ribbit!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Murder always ruins the best baked plans . . .

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

Of course, events never go as planned.

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

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

But the killer has other ideas.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Twelve Days by Mark DawsonTwelve Days by Mark Dawson:

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

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

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

Swamp Santa by Jana DeLeonSwamp Santa by Jana DeLeon:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Winter Downs by Jan EdwardsWinter Downs by Jan Edwards:

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

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

 

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?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Includes 3 special recipes!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Heartwarming stories of comfort and joy….

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

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

 

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

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

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

Iced Inn by Karen MacInerneyIced Inn by Karen MacInerney:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What if Father Christmas is on the naughty list?

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Send to Kindle
Posted in Books, Indie Crime Fiction of the Month | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month for November 2022

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 urban fantasy, epic fantasy, YA fantasy, fantasy mystery, paranormal mystery, paranormal romance, science fiction romance, space opera, military science fiction, YA science fiction, dystopian fiction, LitRPG, horror, demons, dwarves, ghosts, exorcists, Norse gods, aliens, cyborgs, space marines, climate change, haunted roads, haunted prisons, magical schools, Pandora’s box, crime-busting witches, arsekicking grandmothers, veterinarians in space, 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:

Pandora's Demon by Odette C. BellPandora’s Demon by Odette C. Bell:

Oh dear. Ruby Whittle’s already down on her luck. Soon, she’ll descend much further into something far worse. When she inherits Pandora’s box and finds out Hell’s real – and coming for her – she needs help. And only one demon can save her.
Blake is the Sixth Son of Satan, a man just as arrogant as he is handsome. When he spies Ruby, the half-breed, he plans to kill her. But when Ruby contracts him with one of his father’s rings, she binds them. Blake must now protect her. Through Heaven, through Hell, and through one of the greatest plots the universe has ever seen.

A dark force is rising, and though Blake really doesn’t like it, Ruby is the only half-breed who can help him defeat it. To do that, she’ll make him discover the beating organ between the junction of his fourth and fifth ribs. And by the end of this demonic tale, she’ll rip his heart right out and lay it as his feet. For when a demon falls in love, things get sticky.

Pandora’s Demon follows a prince and a half-breed battling to save the universe. If you crave your contemporary fantasies with action, humor, romance, and fun, grab Pandora’s Demon Book One today and soar free with an Odette C. Bell series.
Pandora’s Demon is the 2nd Sons of Satan series. A witty, action-packed, light romance world where Satan’s sons must find love, but only after it sticks a ring on their finger. If you like your urban fantasies packed full of charming smiles, arrogant demons, and sprinkles of romance, dive in today.

The Master of Puppets by Molly J. BraggThe Master of Puppets by Molly J. Bragg:

Jakari, an alien assassin, receives orders taking her to a primitive alien world. She expects the mission to be like any other. Get in, eliminate the target and get out again. Instead, when she arrives, she finds out that one of the leaders of the fascist Char Oram is there, seeking to turn the inhabitants into mindless soldiers that could tip the war in favor of the Char.

Hayami Takahashi follows a strange woman down a dark street and all she wants is to make sure the woman didn’t wind up as the next victim of a kidnapping ring working the streets of Dallas. Instead, she finds herself in the middle of a civil war between two factions of shape shifting cyborg aliens.

After Jakari saves Hayami from becoming a test subject in a Char lab, the two of them are working together to stop a war that’s been raging for nine thousand years.

Smoke and Hellfire by Kristen BrandSmoke and Hellfire by Kristen Brand:

Keep calm and call an exorcist.

Most people don’t believe in the supernatural—at least until a ghost starts making the walls in their house bleed. That’s when they call Bea Romo Reyes. She’s my best friend and roommate, and she works as a freelance exorcist and paranormal consultant. Meeting her plunged me into a supernatural world both wonderful and terrifying, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

But there’s something Bea’s not telling me, and her secret might be more dangerous than the demons she’s hired to exorcise.

Smoke and Hellfire contains four episodic, novelette-length stories:

The Scent of Brimstone
When my friend dies mysteriously and her house stinks of brimstone, I know a demon is to blame. And when it threatens my friend’s family, I do the only thing I can think of: I call a professional exorcist.

An Unfair Bargain
Bea and I investigate a missing woman who wandered into the forest at night like she was possessed. But the truth of what happened is—if possible—even worse than demonic possession, and we might not make it out of the forest alive.

Drowning, Drowning
A ghost tour in St. Augustine accidentally raises a vengeful spirit who starts picking off the tour group one by one. Can Bea banish the ghost in time to save the young tour guides from a watery grave?

The Corporate Job
I always knew corporations were evil, but this one takes it a step further when they summon a demon to increase their profit margins. With a possessed CFO chained up in the basement and Bea’s exorcism failing, the demon reveals a sinister secret that could change everything.

Marines Never Die by Jonathan P. Brazee and J.N. ChaneyMarines Never Die by Jonathan P. Brazee and J.N. Chaney:

The war continues…and the body count rises.

With humanity joining the alliance to fight the Naxli invaders, the war should be turning in their favor.

Unfortunately, the enemy must not have gotten that memo.

Across the galaxy, the Naxli strive for total domination. To create a stronger resistance, Gunny Pelletier is sent to work with the various races, but he and his team soon discover that reaching common ground and coordinating military action is far more difficult than they’d imagined.

But the Naxli aren’t pausing to give the allied races time to work out the kinks, which means it’s time for humanity to go at it alone once again. Bureaucracy must wait while Marines do what Marines do best.

Besides, humanity owes the Naxli a few paybacks, even if the rest of the allied races are not willing to join the mission.

Roadside Horrors by Cora BuhlertRoadside Horrors by Cora Buhlert:

Roads are interstitial spaces, their only purpose to take you from one place to another.

In most cases, roads only connect two places in the real world. But occasionally, a road crosses the borderline into the unknown. That’s when things can come through, terrible things that lurk by the side of the road for the unwary traveller.

A car full of drunk teenagers on their way home from a festival encounter something terrible in the woods of Northwest Germany…

Nina delivers newspapers in the wee hours of the night and pays no attention to the pets that go missing in the neighbourhood… or the strange sounds echoing from the sewer grilles…

On a lonely country road in northern Spain, a truck driver encounters the ghosts of a terrible past…

So buckle up and get ready to meet the horrors that lurk by the side of the road. But be careful, because every encounter with them might be your last…

This is a collection of three tales of roadside horror of 9500 words altogether by Hugo winner Cora Buhlert.

Hammered by Lindsay BurokerHammered by Lindsay Buroker:

Seattle native Matti Puletasi has the strength of a bear, the stamina of an ox, and a magical hammer inherited from her dwarven mother.

She’s happy renovating homes and occasionally thumping bad guys until she learns of a mysterious artifact hidden under the house she’s working on. Everybody from humans to orcs to werewolves wants it, and they’re willing to kill to get it. Things go from bad to worse when someone frames her for murder.

The only person interested in helping her is a haughty elf assassin from another realm. He’s handsome, powerful, and deadly, but he’s got an agenda of his own. She dare not trust him—or be attracted to him.

But if she can’t clear her name, the assassin will be the least of her worries.

Kill Spree by M.R. ForbesKill Spree by M.R. Forbes:

Ben used to dream about being famous. He didn’t expect to wind up infamous instead.

Now he’s stuck in the middle of the most grotesque contest in the galaxy, racing against time and some of the most dangerous and deranged psychopaths in the Spiral to rescue his crew from a bloody battle royale.

The clock is ticking. The leaderboard is reset. Millions are watching. There can be only one winner, and if he ever wants to see his best friend again…

It had better be him.

Digital Divinity by Rachel FordDigital Divinity by Rachel Ford:

A shadow hangs over Midgard. Malevolent forces stir in Asgard. Out of the chaos will rise… a grandmother?
Barbara Callaghan assumed she’d spend her retirement peacefully, playing bingo and babysitting her grandson. Not fighting giants and wrangling unruly gods.

But when she finds herself the victim of a digital scam, trapped as a barbarian brawler in a game world generated from old Earth mythologies, she knows she will either adapt or perish. And Barbara has never been a quitter.

To survive this harsh rendering of Midgard, Barbara must win the patronage of one of the Asgardian gods. With the help of her disloyal companion Carwyn, an elven NPC with more warrants out on him than coins in his purse, she seeks out Asgard.

She discovers a world in turmoil, with powerful gods at each other’s throats, rogue giants causing chaos at every turn, and dwarven craftsmen at war with one another.

A world that needs the practical, no-nonsense touch of a grandmother—and the occasional brute strength of a barbarian.

Eat, Drink and Be Witchy by Lily Harper HartEat, Drink and Be Witchy by Lily Harper Hart:

Life is going well for Hali Waverly. She owns her own tiki bar at one of St. Pete Beach’s premiere resorts and her life is settled for the first time in…well, a really long time. On top of that, a local private investigator she keeps crossing paths has decided it’s time to date, something that both thrills and terrifies her.

All of that changes when a body turns up on one of the resort’s balconies and the owner of the resort is passed out inside with no recollection of what happened. Police think Franklin Craven could’ve killed her. The only problem is the marks on her body could also be attributed to an animal…and maybe one of a supernatural variety.

Worried about his freedom, Franklin hires Gray to solve the case. That means Hali and Gray are going to be investigating together…again.
St. Pete is full of paranormals, but Gray and Hali are looking for one specific one, a murderer who has a clear goal, even if it’s one they can’t quite ascertain.

Sparks are about to fly, in more ways than one, and death is on the cocktail menu. Hali and Gray want a chance at a future. They have to get through the present to make it happen.

A Swift Kick to the Thorax by Mara Lynn JohnstoneA Swift Kick to the Thorax by Mara Lynn Johnstone:

When space poachers release Earth animals on an alien world, threatening a fragile new alliance, they anger the wrong people. A veterinarian, an accountant, and a furious sign-language-fluent gorilla are coming for them.

Robin enjoys being one of the only humans around: an exotic outsider, strange and tall, with no shell and only two arms. Consulting for locals who want to keep Earth pets is a fine job. But when a swarm of rabbits invade town and humanity is blamed, everything unravels.

If Robin wants to save the alliance between two planets – and keep from getting sent home in disgrace – she has to prove that a powerful crime ring is behind the crisis. Luckily for her, she makes friends who are eager to help: from planetside, from the nearby space station, and recently escaped from the poacher’s ship.

Those poachers may be bug aliens with an excellent range of vision, but they won’t see this coming.

Lights, Cameras, Witches by Amanda M. LeeLights, Camera, Witches by Amanda M. Lee:

Bay Winchester isn’t in the mood for trouble. It seems to continually find her, however, and this time it’s coming in the form of a television production crew.

Haunted Traditions has made a name for itself as the premiere reality television show catering to paranormal enthusiasts. Of course Hemlock Cove pops up on their radar. What they want most of all is an interview with Bay, the local newspaper owner and expert on all things Hemlock Cove, and a shot of magic happening in real time wouldn’t hurt either.

The woman in question is not having it.

When a body drops in an alley, it’s bad enough that the production crew is on site. What makes it worse is that the body is glowing … and there’s no hiding it. There’s no telling why it’s glowing either. It’s a mystery.

Bay and her husband Landon are convinced the body has something to do with a new meth gang that has taken over a chain of lake cabins on the outskirts of town. They just have to prove it.

Between dodging the television crew—who have taken up residence in The Overlook—and chasing a monster, the Winchesters have their hands full … and that’s not counting the family members who have decided they want to become television stars.

Bay is used to fighting evil. What she’s not used to is having to dodge potential exposure in the process.

The Winchesters are facing a battle. Now they just have to figure what side it’s coming from.

It’s a fight to the finish … and if the television crew catches them, it’s all over.

It’s lights, cameras, action in Hemlock Cove … and death may soon follow.

The Quarrygate Gambit by Marshall Ryan MarescaThe Quarrygate Gambit by Marshall Ryan Maresca:

Mixing urban and high fantasy, the fourth Streets of Maradaine novel follows the crew of outlaws led by the Rynax brothers as they struggle to protect the city they love.

After having thwarted some of the forces responsible for ruining their lives, reformed thieves Asti and Verci Rynax and the rest of the Holver Alley Crew had mostly settled back into sedate lives as upright citizens of Maradaine. But when they are suddenly arrested in mysterious circumstances, they find themselves in Quarrygate Prison, which tests the limits of their cunning and skill. While Verci struggles to keep their friends alive and safe in the prison, Asti gets pulled into a mysterious scheme in the underbelly of the prison, teaming him up with some of the most dangerous people in Maradaine. The cracks in Asti’s tenuous sanity get torn open as he is thrown into a cat-and-mouse game with one of the city’s most infamous killers.

Meanwhile back in their neighborhood, Verci’s wife Raych is desperate to help him and Asti and get them home. When her attempts to go through proper channels fail, she accepts a ludicrous deal from the local crime boss: Verci and Asti’s freedom in exchange for her pulling off a daring, nigh-impossible heist that would challenge even seasoned thieves. Raych doesn’t know how a simple baker like her could hope to succeed at such a task, but she will use every trick and wild idea she has to help her family. None of the Rynaxes will rest until they are free from Quarrygate and together at home again, no matter the risk, no matter the cost.

Planetfall by Emily McCoshPlanetfall by Emily McCosh:

A rogue cyborg. A talking badger. A bounty job that goes incredibly wrong.

Aaron is perfectly content to chase bounties in his run-down little space ship, avoid human interaction at all cost, and lay low from the cyborg planet that created him. But when he and Bat—his half-robotic badger companion (who talks just a little too much)—chase their largest bounty ever, they run head-first into not only some dangerous criminals, but other cyborgs much stronger than them, and worst of all, a handful of humans who aren’t going anywhere.

Their job leads them first to Yayth, a backwater planet nearly as inhospitable as it is frigid. On a planet this abandoned, their target should be an easy find. Until a storm rolls in that freezes even the engines of starships. Aaron and Bat find themselves trapped not only with their bounty, but with some bystanders determined to get in the way, and something monstrous wanting to crack its way out of the ice.

Dream of Death City by P.J. NwosuDream of Death City by P.J. Nwosu:

Chilling, dark fantasy with a heavy dose of Sherlock Holmes in this new series of twisty mysteries in fantasy worlds.

Pale moths haunt an icy frontier. Beneath the shadow of a drowned death god, a frozen body is unearthed from the snow.

Investigators arrive to a superstitious island to solve a brutal crime. Among them is a lowly slave desperate to prove her worth and a soldier with dark dreams. Neither are prepared for what they find.

Death City is a strange and violent frontier, and no one who survives comes back clean.
First though, Thora and Diem must survive.

Welcome to the Red Kingdom.

Severed Ties by Kris RuhlerSevered Ties by Kris Ruhler:

A scientist filled with doubts. A four-year-old facing death. A momentous journey to save her.

For Belor, life in Cerulis City provides a myriad of comforts: endless food, a nice and warm home, and his dream job. He has life all planned out.

But when four-year-old Saya is about to be executed, Belor makes an irreversible decision that upheaves his entire life.
Soon, the pair find themselves on the run, fighting for survival. Saya is no ordinary four-year-old. She is a half-Aeterna, a race of beings banned from Cerulis City.

Will Belor be able to keep Saya alive?

Eldsprak Academy by Oskar SoderbergEldsprak Academy by Oskar Soderberg:

What do you get when you take a geomancer with a bone to pick, a secret aeromancer, and a healing hydromancer, and put them in a practice yard with a commoner ranger and a bunch of noble sons of Eldsprak Kingdom?

A group of individuals who all need to win The Academy Tournament for reasons of their own!

It’s up to Goslin to make them work together. If they’re to have any sort of chance at coming out on top, they’ll need to adapt and change. Can they start to pull in the same direction, or are they doomed to fall over each other in their eagerness to prove themselves on the field of battle?

How will they conquer The Tournament when one of their many opponents is Goslin’s own brother, the champion from last year’s tournament, and his hireling pyromancer who can send blasts of fire from the palm of his hand?

All the tyrannical gods may have been killed by The Heroes of old, but who cares about things like that when sword strikes sword and bursts of magic erupt in the streets of Fyrie, Eldsprak’s capital, where The Tournament is just starting?

Orphans of Canland by Daniel Vitale Orphans of Canland by Daniel Vitale:

It’s 2088, and the dust has settled on America, decades after an environmental collapse. The eco-totalitarian organization, WORLD, has reconfigured society with the intention of restoring nature. Twelve-year-old eternal optimist Tristan Weekes lives in what he believes must be paradise: Canland, an agrarian California desert-greening project. However, Tristan’s life-defining medical condition, analgesia, prevents him from feeling physical pain, leaving his brain’s stress centers unresponsive to everything from ego-blows to heatwaves.

Well-intended, curious, and wielding a stunning vocabulary, Tristan loves to listen to the subversive theories spouted by his older brother, Dylan, a drug-addicted satellite hacker. He also wants to prove his independence to his mother, Helena, a powerful population control-extremist. Meanwhile, all around him, the survivors of the environmental collapse are just working toward a better tomorrow. But when a slew of violent acts befalls Canland, Tristan must confront certain truths about the community he loves-including his family’s secrets, his own involvement in the horrors enacted by WORLD, and the debts that are owed to the orphans of Canland.

In this work of literary fiction, set against the backdrop of a frighteningly plausible dystopia, Daniel Vitale explores the fate of our planet, the nature of family, and the duty of science, as Orphans of Canland asks: What does it mean to belong on Earth?

Send to Kindle
Posted in Books, Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Indie Crime Fiction of the Month for November 2022


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 hardboiled mysteries, cozy mysteries, holiday mysteries, historical mysteries, Victorian mysteries, Jazz Age mysteries, WWII mysteries, paranormal mysteries, fantasy mysteries, crime thrillers, legal thrillers, psychological thrillers, police officers, FBI agents, lawyers, private investigators, amateur sleuths, serial killers, gangsters, drug dealers, missing persons, crime-busting witches, crime-busting socialites, crime-busting butlers, crime-busting realtors, murderous movie sets, murderous cruises, creepy hotels, haunted prisons, murder and mayhem in London, Brighton, Paris, San Francisco, Chicago, Florida, Nevada 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:

Death Among Fitful Shadows by Blythe BakerDeath Among Fitful Shadows by Blythe Baker:

Victoria Sedgewick’s acceptance of a private case for a wealthy lady leads her into deeper danger than she ever imagined. But it isn’t only her own life at peril…

When her infant son is drawn into the dangerous game, Victoria enlists the help of Branwell Keats. Together, the pair must risk everything to win at all costs.

 

 

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?

 

Death's Approach by Beth ByersDeath’s Approach by Beth Byers:

It has been quite some time since Smith’s quarry has eluded him so fully. A woman was murdered in his home, he’s removed his family to Jack and Vi’s house, he’s pulled in all his friends to help, and he still can not find the engineer of his friend’s death.

Only, the noose has been tightening. The traps have been laid, and now Smith will have to win against one of the cleverest villains he’s had to track down. All while ensuring he doesn’t lose anyone else. Join Smith on his most fraught journey yet and discover the person who has thwarted him thus far.

The Father's Secret by Stacy ClaflinThe Father’s Secret by Stacy Claflin:

If you can’t trust family, who can you trust?

After a body is unearthed near Chris and Vanessa’s newly-acquired hotel, all eyes are on them. They may be the owners, but they’re also the newest residents. Everyone suspects them.

Not only that, but Chris is hiding multiple secrets from his new wife and rather than opening up her, he buries himself deeper in his troubles.

Meanwhile the oldest daughter is secretly dating one of the hotel staff — and only Chris knows how dangerous the boy is. By the time he finds out about their relationship, it might be too late to save his stepdaughter…

In Cases of Murder by Jan EdwardsIn Cases of Murder by Jan Edwards:

When the body of Laura Jarman is discovered crammed inside a steamer trunk and dumped on a Brighton railway station platform, her wealthy industrialist family is shouting for answers, but their reluctance to co-operate with the investigation arouses suspicion. Shortly after, a second body – Laura’s flatmate Kitty – is discovered in similar circumstances. What links Laura and Kitty to the private gentlemen’s parties held in a country house on the edge of sleepy Wyncombe village, and what is Laura’s family so desperate to conceal? Bunch Courtney and DCI William Wright find themselves racing along a convoluted trail through munitions factories and London clubs to a final shocking end.

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…

Thistlewood Manor: Murder at Hedgerow by Fiona GraceThistlewood Manor: Murder at Hedgerow by Fiona Grace:

For centuries, Thistlewood Manor has stood as home to the Montagu family, a beacon to British aristocracy in rural England. But it’s 1928, and in this new age of women’s rights, Eliza Montagu, 27, a free spirit, has turned her back on her family to live an artist’s life in London.

But when an unexpected family crisis arrives, Eliza has no choice but to return home to the demands of her family, to help her father, and to meet the Lord they hope she’ll marry.

When a dead body appears in the midst of the reunion, Eliza quickly realizes that if she doesn’t solve the mystery, the crime may just be pinned on her, and dash her hopes for a life as a free woman.

A charming historical cozy mystery series that transports readers back in time, THISTLEWOOD MANOR is mystery at its finest: spellbinding, atmospheric and impossible to put down. A page-turner packed with shocking twists, turns and a mystery that’s hard to solve, it will leave you reading late into the night, all while you fall in love with its unforgettable heroine.

Eat, Drink and Be Witchy by Lily Harper HartEat, Drink and Be Witchy by Lily Harper Hart:

Life is going well for Hali Waverly. She owns her own tiki bar at one of St. Pete Beach’s premiere resorts and her life is settled for the first time in…well, a really long time. On top of that, a local private investigator she keeps crossing paths has decided it’s time to date, something that both thrills and terrifies her.

All of that changes when a body turns up on one of the resort’s balconies and the owner of the resort is passed out inside with no recollection of what happened. Police think Franklin Craven could’ve killed her. The only problem is the marks on her body could also be attributed to an animal…and maybe one of a supernatural variety.

Worried about his freedom, Franklin hires Gray to solve the case. That means Hali and Gray are going to be investigating together…again.
St. Pete is full of paranormals, but Gray and Hali are looking for one specific one, a murderer who has a clear goal, even if it’s one they can’t quite ascertain.

Sparks are about to fly, in more ways than one, and death is on the cocktail menu. Hali and Gray want a chance at a future. They have to get through the present to make it happen.

That Last Ghost Dance by L.C. HaydenThat Last Ghost Dance by L.C. Hayden:

Unraveling Secrets

Kuyuidokado, Nevada’s Paiute’s chief councilman, is murdered while performing the Ghost Dance, a dance created by the Native Americans to bring peace and restore their land to the way it used to be.

Nevada reporter Aimee Brent is granted an exclusive to investigate the crime and report to the world what Kuyuidokado was really like. Aimee is eager to travel to Nixon to investigate the murder. She needs to be away from her editor/fiancé with whom she has just broken up with.

Upon arriving at Nixon, Aimee finds that not everyone or everything is as should be. She stumbles upon secrets—secrets that could lead to her death. It’s up to Aimee to unravel them before more people fall victim to the grand scheme of That Last Ghost Dance.

Moving Day Malice by CeeCee JamesMoving Day Malice by CeeCee James:

Stella O’Neil can hardly believe her luck…her favorite romance writer is moving to town and wants Stella to be her agent! Stella’s fantasy of becoming bff’s and getting to read advance copies is cut brutally short when Alicia BeeWater is murdered before she can even move in to her new home. Suspects abound in this all new edition to the Flamingo Realty series.

The police focus on Alicia’s stalker, who is the author’s #1 fan, Stella isn’t so sure. Then she covers some clues that send her down a different path… is it the truth or a trap?

Lights, Cameras, Witches by Amanda M. LeeLights, Camera, Witches by Amanda M. Lee:

Bay Winchester isn’t in the mood for trouble. It seems to continually find her, however, and this time it’s coming in the form of a television production crew.

Haunted Traditions has made a name for itself as the premiere reality television show catering to paranormal enthusiasts. Of course Hemlock Cove pops up on their radar. What they want most of all is an interview with Bay, the local newspaper owner and expert on all things Hemlock Cove, and a shot of magic happening in real time wouldn’t hurt either.

The woman in question is not having it.

When a body drops in an alley, it’s bad enough that the production crew is on site. What makes it worse is that the body is glowing … and there’s no hiding it. There’s no telling why it’s glowing either. It’s a mystery.

Bay and her husband Landon are convinced the body has something to do with a new meth gang that has taken over a chain of lake cabins on the outskirts of town. They just have to prove it.

Between dodging the television crew—who have taken up residence in The Overlook—and chasing a monster, the Winchesters have their hands full … and that’s not counting the family members who have decided they want to become television stars.

Bay is used to fighting evil. What she’s not used to is having to dodge potential exposure in the process.

The Winchesters are facing a battle. Now they just have to figure what side it’s coming from.

It’s a fight to the finish … and if the television crew catches them, it’s all over.

It’s lights, cameras, action in Hemlock Cove … and death may soon follow.

Failing Justice by Peter O'MahoneyFailing Justice by Peter O’Mahoney:

Fighting for justice in Chicago is a deadly game…

On Chicago’s South Side, the death of a five-year-old girl in a drive-by shooting captures the city’s attention. At the request of a desperate mother, defense attorney Tex Hunter agrees to defend the accused against a murder charge. With an entire city against them, Hunter struggles to find the truth about the incident.

To uncover the facts, to expose the truth, Hunter must battle against ruthless gangs, corrupt officers, and a culture of silence. Probing deep into the violent past of the disadvantaged neighborhood, Hunter uncovers information that will shock everyone.
If Hunter can’t expose the facts in court, an innocent man might be convicted… while the real killer stalks his every move.

Can Hunter reveal the truth in court? Or will silence continue to rule the streets?

The Quarrygate Gambit by Marshall Ryan MarescaThe Quarrygate Gambit by Marshall Ryan Maresca:

Mixing urban and high fantasy, the fourth Streets of Maradaine novel follows the crew of outlaws led by the Rynax brothers as they struggle to protect the city they love.

After having thwarted some of the forces responsible for ruining their lives, reformed thieves Asti and Verci Rynax and the rest of the Holver Alley Crew had mostly settled back into sedate lives as upright citizens of Maradaine. But when they are suddenly arrested in mysterious circumstances, they find themselves in Quarrygate Prison, which tests the limits of their cunning and skill. While Verci struggles to keep their friends alive and safe in the prison, Asti gets pulled into a mysterious scheme in the underbelly of the prison, teaming him up with some of the most dangerous people in Maradaine. The cracks in Asti’s tenuous sanity get torn open as he is thrown into a cat-and-mouse game with one of the city’s most infamous killers.

Meanwhile back in their neighborhood, Verci’s wife Raych is desperate to help him and Asti and get them home. When her attempts to go through proper channels fail, she accepts a ludicrous deal from the local crime boss: Verci and Asti’s freedom in exchange for her pulling off a daring, nigh-impossible heist that would challenge even seasoned thieves. Raych doesn’t know how a simple baker like her could hope to succeed at such a task, but she will use every trick and wild idea she has to help her family. None of the Rynaxes will rest until they are free from Quarrygate and together at home again, no matter the risk, no matter the cost.

Dream of Death City by P.J. NwosuDream of Death City by P.J. Nwosu:

Chilling, dark fantasy with a heavy dose of Sherlock Holmes in this new series of twisty mysteries in fantasy worlds.

Pale moths haunt an icy frontier. Beneath the shadow of a drowned death god, a frozen body is unearthed from the snow.

Investigators arrive to a superstitious island to solve a brutal crime. Among them is a lowly slave desperate to prove her worth and a soldier with dark dreams. Neither are prepared for what they find.

Death City is a strange and violent frontier, and no one who survives comes back clean.
First though, Thora and Diem must survive.

Welcome to the Red Kingdom.

All His by Blake PierceAll His by Blake Pierce:

Nicky Lyons, 28, a missing-persons specialist in in the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit, is an expert at tracking down abductees and bringing them home. The connection is personal: after Nicky’s twin sister was abducted at 16, Nicky made stopping kidnappers her life’s work.

But when Nicky is assigned to a new task force in south Florida dedicated to finding the recently missing, she soon realizes she’s up against a serial killer more diabolical than she imagined. Her only hope at finding these girls is entering his mind and outwitting him at his own game.

Nicky and her new partner, both headstrong, don’t see eye to eye, and the case opens decade-old wounds related to her sister’s disappearance. Can Nicky keep her demons at bay in time to save the victims?

Nicky, haunted by the demons of her own missing sister, knows that time will be of the essence in bringing these girls home—if it is not already too late.

Say It Isn't Sp by Willow RoseSay It Isn’t So by Willow Rose:

It is a dream come true for ten-year-old Becky when her parents take her and her younger sister on a cruise to the Bahamas.

But nothing is how it is supposed to be when her parents can’t stop fighting, and soon the trip turns out to be a true nightmare.

It becomes a puzzling mystery when she and her sister disappear as the ship is about to dock in Coco Cay.

How do you disappear on a cruise ship?

Why can’t they be found?

Could they have fallen overboard?

FBI profiler Eva Rae Thomas is flown in to assist on this bizarre but very time-sensitive case.

The parents both claim to know what happened to their children. Each of them blames the other for kidnapping them.

Who is telling the truth?

Meanwhile, the passengers are not allowed to leave the ship as the search continues, causing the tension to rise onboard. It becomes a race against time as a frustrated Eva Rae Thomas tries to find out what happened in the hours up until the disappearance of the two children.

When one of the children is found dead, she realizes this is more than a simple case of a parental dispute.

There’s a killer onboard.

Double Jeopardy by Sheldon SiegelDouble Jeopardy by Sheldon Siegel:

He was just trying to help a friend.
After three tours in Afghanistan, homeless and hooked on painkillers, Lenny was working to pull his life together. He gave Annie the last of his oxy pills to ease the pain from her shoulder injury. But when she was found dead in her tent the next morning, Lenny wound up in jail accused of killing her with fentanyl.

After a year behind bars, Lenny was finally about to get his day in court. But the uncertainty of the coronavirus threatened to delay his justice further.

The evidence is compelling: a pill bottle with Lenny’s name, fingerprints, and DNA is found in the tent of the decedent, Annie Parker. There are six pills laced with fentanyl inside the bottle. Lenny insists he’s innocent. He claims he gave Annie three of his legitimate OxyContin pills that he got from the V.A. When Lenny’s public defender is called away to help a family member sick with COVID, Mike Daley steps in to take over his case. Contrary to Mike’s advice, Lenny rejects a continuance leaving Mike little time to prepare for trial.

With the City on the verge of closing down, Mike must fly solo at trial as he desperately searches for witnesses in the homeless encampments and the drug-infested hotels in the Tenderloin.

Murder in France by Lee StraussMurder in France by Lee Strauss:

Murder is so sang-froid!

When the Reed family—temporarily exiled to France—is once again safe, Ginger decides to turn the event into a much needed holiday. And the absolute cake is Ginger’s reunion with her American friend Haley Higgins, who is working in France on a practicum to become a lady doctor.

Ginger celebrates the happy reunion by throwing a party at their villa in Paris, but the joyous activities are halted when a body is discovered. Like old times, Ginger puts her detective skills to work while Haley provides her forensic knowledge. As party guests continue to become more suspicious and worthy suspects, Ginger’s own past is soon on trial.

Has a long-ago, war-time “error” resurfaced to steal more than Ginger’s joie de vivre?

Send to Kindle
Posted in Books, Indie Crime Fiction of the Month | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month for October 2022

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 urban fantasy, epic fantasy, historical fantasy, dark fantasy, sword and sorcery, paranormal mystery, space opera, military science fiction, post-apocalyptic fiction, horror, vampires, dragons, ghosts, orcs, cyclopi, medusae, wars of succession, war in space, alien invasions, haunted houses, crime-busting witches, displaced villains 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:

Villain by Blythe BakerVillain by Beth Byers:

Not all endings are happy.

Especially when you’re the villain. When the wicked queen uses her magic to flee her realm, she never expected to end up here.

She and her friends—all notorious villains—find themselves in Astoria, Or. Now they’re trying to make their way in a world of taxes, wrinkle creams, and grocery stores. That would be bad enough, but no one is properly afraid.

It might just be time to teach them who they’re dealing with.

The Ghosts of Marsh House by Amy CrossThe Ghosts of Marsh House by Amy Cross:

Marsh House stands abandoned in the heart of an English seaside town. A local ghost tour guide regularly stops in front of the house to tell its grim tale, but no-one has actually set foot in the building for more than forty years. Until now.

Desperate to get away from his troubles in London, Andrew heads to Marsh House and sets about trying to fix it up. Between rotten floorboards and bug infestations, he’s got his work cut out for him. And that’s before he even notices the strange noises in the night, and the fact that a strange presence is watching his every move.

When he invites a new friend to move in with him, everything changes. Andrew might not have paid attention to the darker side of Marsh House, but his new guest quickly realizes that something’s very wrong. Does the ghost of a long-dead woman still haunt the house, cursing anyone who dares to fall in love? And is this malevolent entity somehow also responsible for the death of a local woman whose body was found on the beach?

And by the time he uncovers the shocking truth, will it be too late for Andrew to ever return to his old life?

The Shattered Spire by Ted CrossThe Shattered Spire by Ted Cross:

The magic of the Spire of Peace has banished evil from the Known Lands for more than twelve hundred years. When a dragon destroys the spire and murders the king, the realm is thrown into turmoil. As civil war looms, can the royal Kaldarion family regain control over the kingdom and restore peace?

Livia, 20, is the eldest child of the slain King Varun Kaldarion. Though the wisest and most learned of the surviving family members, tradition says she cannot inherit the throne.

Balmar, 18, is too feeble-minded to rule, but his uncle, Duke Erol, crowns him anyway in order to appoint himself regent.

Darus, 17, was exiled by the spire’s magic due to his bitterness that his father never named him heir. By force of personality and skill at arms, he has risen to command the army of exiles at the fortress of East Gate. Now he plans to invade the realm and take back what he feels is rightfully his by birth.

Imric, 13, was disavowed by his father after his mother died birthing him. Raised by his sister Livia, few in the realm even know he exists. Little more than a pawn in the conflict between Duke Erol and his brother Darus, Imric may hold the key to reuniting the fractured realm.

Eight Ball by M.R. ForbesEight Ball by M.R. Forbes:

When things fell apart, they fell apart fast, leaving Ben to pick up the pieces.

Unwilling to succumb or surrender, he’ll do whatever it takes to ensure the safety of his crew. Already far behind the eight ball, it’s going to take strength, resilience, and fortitude he never knew he had to get back into the fight.

If he doesn’t, everyone he cares about will die.

 

Grendel & Beowulf by C. GockelGrendel & Beowulf by C. Gockel:

Once upon a time, in our ordinary world, there was a grandmother.

She died.

She was reborn as a Vampire in a world of Magick.

The grandmother de-aged. Her ailments healed, her body became strong, and her wrinkles faded.

Her wisdom, however, did not diminish. She knew monsters need monstrous names so they never forget the monsters they are.

She named herself Grendel, after the medieval haunter of borderlands and drinker of warriors’ blood, slain by the hero Beowulf.

The name seems appropriate. Grendel the Grandmother haunts the borderlands and drinks the blood of (mostly) evil warriors.

But in a Magickal world, names don’t just have meanings, they are prophecies.

And a new hero is rising. He has been molded since birth to fight evil, and been given the tools and skills to vanquish the most insidious evil of all: Vampires.

His name is Beowulf, and he’s coming for Grendel.

Bad Day at Casper Creek by Lily Harper HartA Bad Day at Casper Creek by Lily Harper Hart:

Hannah Hickok is looking forward to her first Christmas in Casper Creek. She has plans for cookies, cuddles with her fiancé Cooper Wyatt, and a visit from Chris Kringle. Instead, the man who visits isn’t the one Hannah was inspecting. No, it’s her former fiancé Michael…and he’s arrived with an agenda.

Michael has more attitude than brains and he’s ready to make life difficult for Hannah…right up to the point where his new fiancée is killed and her body goes missing from the morgue. When Michael is also attacked, Hannah has to use her magic to save him…and it doesn’t go as planned.

Cooper hated Michael when he was just a concept. Now that the man is staying at Casper Creek, Cooper downright loathes him. That’s not his biggest concern though. It seems there’s a new paranormal threat on the horizon…and Michael is a target.

Hannah wants to leave her past behind but she’s going to have to risk her life to save Michael before she can do it. This enemy knows her every weakness, and it’s going to be a fight to the finish to embrace the holiday season and make it to the new year.

Strap in, because it’s going to be a holiday catastrophe.

My Evil Eye by A.L. HawkeMy Evil Eye by A.L. Hawke:

Don’t look at me. Just don’t.

My name’s Gorgiana. For decades, I’ve lived a happy, simple life, shelving books at Sunland University’s library in Florida. But my peace ended when I witnessed an assault, bringing back horrors from my past. Or course, I took care of him. His body’s no longer whole. But that revealed my location.

I asked for help from my best friend, Cora, the goddess Persephone, and everything turned out just peachy. More than peachy. I met this real hot guy named Ash that same night. Later he took me out to a nightclub by the beach—next, a movie. All was well, until some thug stuck a gun in my boyfriend’s back. But I took care of him. He’s in pieces now too. But it all puts Medusa in a heap of trouble.

See, my name’s Medusa. Yeah, I’m that monster with the snakes in my hair. I warned you not to look.

Uprising by Joshua JamesUprising by Joshua James:

NOWHERE IS SAFE.

The survivors of Little Creek hope that salvation awaits them at Keystone, but it quickly becomes apparent that things are not as they seem.

As Len, Vera and Guppie grapple with the new reality on the base, Pammy and Cooper join forces with a sympathetic soldier to take the fight to the Clankers.

An unexpected lesson from an unlikely source might be the key to human survival.

But there is a greater enemy than even the Clankers afoot, and it will take all their ingenuity — and a little luck — to survive this time.

And time is running out.

We All Scream by Amanda M. LeeWe All Scream by Amanda M. Lee:

Stormy Morgan has accepted her life as a witch, and is even looking forward to the future. That means training with the most powerful witches in the Midwest. She’s determined to follow through on her destiny. Despite her best intentions though, not everything is going to be as easy as she hoped.

When Stormy steps in and uses her magic following a bus accident, she’s almost killed in the process. Worse than that, it seems the child she risked her life to save might be an ongoing target. At the bottom of a ravine, in a spot where nobody should be, three magical children threaten one innocent child … and only Stormy stands in their way.

Surviving a perilous fall should make Stormy happy. She’s unsettled though, and the magical children that attacked are still out there. Worse than that, they seem to want her. They blame her for thwarting their plans … and they’re coming.

Stormy is brave and loyal, but she’s in over her head. Her boyfriend Hunter Ryan wants to help but he’s out of his depth. Even the Winchester witches can’t figure out what’s going on. That means they’re all going to have to work together to secure Stormy’s future.

Stormy is ready to fight the good fight. With brutal death barreling toward her, however, she might not even get the chance.

Darkness has arrived in Shadow Hills, and there may be no stopping it. Could this be the end?

Only the Grim by Amanda M. LeeOnly the Grim by Amanda M. Lee:

The big finish is finally here.

Izzy Sage, a bruja with a dark past, is dreaming of a bright future with Braden Grimlock. There’s only one thing that stands in her way.

Banished to a different plane for centuries, the god Pan has managed to escape. He has one goal. He wants to take over the world, starting with Detroit. The only thing standing in his way is Izzy and her merry band of misfits and reapers.

Pan set his plan in motion years ago, and it turns out, Izzy plays into it. He can’t win without her. She has no intention of playing the game by his rules, however. Not only is she going to take him down, but she’s also going to put an end to the revenant army that’s been threatening Detroit for the better part of a year.

Izzy knows what she wants. She even knows how to get it. All that’s left is the fight.

War is on the Grimlocks’ doorstep. The only question is who will win.

The end will make Izzy a legend…if she can survive long enough to see it through that is.

Grimnir: Beasts of Waste and Desolation by Scott OdenGrimnir: Beasts of Waste and Desolation by Scott Oden:

This one might be of particular interest for fans of the blog. It’s an Orctober surprise! “Beasts of Waste and Desolation” is a short story from Grimnir’s wandering days. It’s a bit under 5K words, BUT . . . it’s paired with a sneak-peek at the forthcoming Grimnir novel, The Doom of Odin!

All told, we’re looking at 13,772 words of snarling, spitting action featuring our favorite historical orc.

 

Xenia in the Court of the Winds by Scott OdenXenia in the Court of the Winds by Scott Oden:

Sometimes, the monster is just a man…

Painted as the savage man-eating Cyclops in Homer’s masterwork, The Odyssey, Polyphemus comes to life in Scott Oden’s epic tale of duty and obligation. A giant, one-eyed foreigner living on the fringes of Aeolia in Sicily, Polyphemus shuns his neighbors; he scavenges from shipwrecks along the rocky coast, robbing the dead and leaving their bodies to the sea’s embrace — a monstrous breach of the ancient laws of hospitality.

But, when he is himself robbed and blinded by brutal Achaeans journeying home from the War at Troy, Polyphemus is quick to seek justice from those same neighbors. Making his way to the Court of the Winds, where the King of Aeolia holds sway, he befriends a fisherman’s son, young Glaukos son of Lykaon. Together, they seek to answer the question: can a self-professed monster, an outsider who flaunts the Gods and their laws of hospitality, find justice at the Court of the Winds?

Xenia in the Court of the Winds is a mesmerizing descent into the customs and traditions of the ancient Greeks; a beautifully rendered tale where heroes and villains aren’t always what they seem.

The White Lion by Scott OdenThe White Lion by Scott Oden:

Acre, at the close of the 13th century. The last remaining Crusader stronghold, where the ideals of a Kingdom of Heaven – forged by saints and zealots nearly two hundred years ago – now hang by the slenderest of threads. It is a city menaced by Saracen warlords; a city coveted by the Mameluke Sultan of Egypt. It is a city of infidels and sinners, lepers and thieves, seemingly forsaken by God.

Into this bloody crucible comes Tancred of Antioch, a battle-scarred giant of a man known to friend and foe alike as the White Lion. In the streets of Acre, he plies his trade as a sword-for-hire, a merchant of death, always keeping his true allegiances cloaked in mystery. But, when his friend, the gentle and learned apothecary Jawan Khandaq, is murdered and killers alight upon him, as well, the White Lion goes on the hunt.

Now, from the alleys of the Venetian Quarter to the crypts of the Leper King, Tancred of Antioch will reap a bloody harvest among his enemies. And those who seek to chain him, to exploit him, to kill him will learn the truth at the point of his sword: Tancred of Antioch, the White Lion, is not a man to be trifled with.

In The White Lion, Scott Oden does what he does best — he channels the spirit of Robert E. Howard into a tale of treachery and double-cross; a tale set against the last days of the Crusades!

To Stand Defiant by Glynn StewartTo Stand Defiant by Glynn Stewart:

Trapped between warlords
The choice is simple:
Capitulation…or defiance!

From the Solar System itself, Imperator James Calvin Walkingstick prepares the remaining fleets of the Commonwealth for a desperate and brutal campaign to retake their borders and unify humanity once more.

On the other side of the Commonwealth’s seceding star systems, Dictator Kaleb Periklos gathers his fleets to avenge their humiliation. To the mercenary Admirals of the Stellar League, it doesn’t matter whether the worlds they conquer still kneel to Terra.

Caught in-between these two would-be conquerors are Admiral James Tecumseh and the newborn Dakotan Confederacy. Now guardian to a nation, Tecumseh faces enemies on all sides. He’s left with only one answer true to his and his new nation’s principles.

Fight.

Crow Country by Emily V. SullivanCrow Country by Emily V. Sullivan:

“Everyone was, in one night, made basic again. For when the Lord snapped his fingers, the Devil took the stage. What tremendous music he made”.

October Ninth – the day the world went dark. Nearly three decades later, life is different. Slower, sicker, meaner. In Colorado the Old West was reborn, and with it came the Crows, beastly birds with a taste for man. They’ve outgrown Denver, the Crows. Judge sees how they spread, how they hunt and feast on what remains of mankind, and he hates them. The blackout without mercy—already crippled the world. The past twenty-six years only saw survivors shrivel and perish, quietly, pathetically. All because the lights never turned back on. Instead, through death and dark nights, the untamed West came roaring back, and with it the stink, the grime, and the danger of older days. Now bloodthirsty birds flock to finish what the Devil started.

If Judge could butcher them all, he would. Law has other plans. Perhaps by reliving the past, the town of Genesis might find its future. Already it bears vision, purpose, and people; it has guidance under Law and order through Judge. But talk of a machine, after so long of silence, stagnation, and simple living, has made Law a moth to a dangerous flame. He might walk through hell just to see it. He might take his whole town with him. But there are others—the callous, the crazed, the greedy—who stand in their way.

Could be all of them want the train. For power, for protection, or just for the sake of having something no other soul could claim, the rumor has started a race. One Law intends to win. Because the Crows are coming. And what good are walls when the Devil has wings?

Free Systems by James David VictorFree Systems by James David Victor:

When the pressure is the highest, a person’s true character will come out. The same can be said for entire civilizations.

Artemis has rejoined her childhood friend, Max, and they are now on the same assignment: conquer a new world and defend it from attack. In the process, she finds herself in the middle of a conflict she wants no part of, and her loyalties will be tested. If she makes the wrong choice, it could cost Artemis her life. Will she be able to handle the pressure and make the right choice or will she pay the ultimate price for the mistakes of others?

Free Systems is the third book in the Honor Among the Stars series. If you like sci-fi adventures, space battles with complex alien invaders, and unexpected twists in humanities exploration of the stars, you definitely want to know what happens next.

The Man on the Roof at Midnight by Eric M. WoodsThe Man on the Roof at Midnight by Eric M. Woods:

Fall asleep before you hear the footsteps …

Dr. Owen Drake recently suffered a tragedy so painful that he picked up his entire life and ran away from the memories. Now, Owen is in a new city with a new job as a psychology professor at a reputable university.

He also has a new home that sits on a lake, but the area is eerily quiet. The lake is calm. The neighbors are mysterious.

But then there are the nights … and the thundering noises above … that wake him every night at the same time…

Send to Kindle
Posted in Books, Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Indie Crime Fiction of the Month for October 2022


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,  animal mysteries, historical mysteries, Victorian mysteries, Jazz Age mysteries, paranormal mysteries, crime thrillers, legal thrillers, psychological thrillers, police procedurals, romantic suspense, police officers, FBI agents, lawyers, medical examiners, forensic pathologists, er-Navy SEALs, amateur sleuths, serial killers, explosions, heists, crime-busting witches, crime-busting socialites, crime-busting schoolmarms, crime-busting lords, crime-busting dogs, murderous movie sets, deadly hot air balloons, creepy hotels, cryptocurrency murders, murder and mayhem in London, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Texas, Florida, Wyoming, Vancouver, New Mexico, Dublin 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:

The Extra by Mal AnastasiouThe Extra by Mel Anastasiou:

The casting call is murder …

Vancouver schoolmarm Frankie Ray runs away to Silver Screen Hollywood to test her conviction that an actress who lacks glamour but has talent and an enterprising attitude can make it in the movies. But when a dissolute, womanizing matinee idol turns up dead on her sofa, Frankie’s career hopes shatter. She’ll need all her acting chops to sleuth out the murderer and clear her name.

 

Death Behind Silent Walls by Blythe BakerDeath Behind Silent Walls by Blythe Baker:

After her husband dies under suspicious circumstances, Victoria Sedgewick is drawn down a dark and spiraling path of family secrets. There, she uncovers a deception so deep it threatens to destroy everything she holds dear.

Will the private inquiry agent investigating her husband’s murder complicate matters? Or might Mr. Branwell Keats prove to be an ally, as a growing shadow of danger looms over Victoria’s household?

 

Death Under Wrathful Skies by Blythe BakerDeath Under Wrathful Skies by Blythe Baker:

A vicious killer haunts the streets of London and has selected a member of Victoria Sedgewick’s household as his next victim. Still reeling from recent revelations surrounding her late husband’s murder, can Victoria identify this new killer before he claims another life?

The inquiry agent hired by her in-laws still delves into the Sedgewick family secrets, but when violence strikes close to home, Victoria must take matters into her own hands.

 

Dead Upon Arrival by Kat BellemoreDead Upon Arrival by Kat Bellemore:

Flying high in the New Mexican sky has never been more lethal.

The biggest hot air balloon festival would have been a vacation if Maddie didn’t have to balance her apathetic teenagers, a meddling mother, and act as therapist for a desperate patient. Let alone solve a murder case!

When Maddie witnesses someone fall from a hot air balloon, it seems like a tragic accident. But as facts come to light, the police are convinced it’s foul play. And Maddie’s friend is to blame.

With the remainder of the festival canceled and all attendees required to stay for questioning, Maddie has two days to discover the truth behind the murder and free her friend from suspicion.

Dead Upon Arrival is the second book in the Maddie Swallows mystery series. If you like humor, intrigue, and, of course, hot air balloons, you’ll love this cozy mystery.

Nowhere Safe by Kate BoldNowhere Safe by Kate Bold:

FBI BAU special agent Harley Cole, as brilliant as she is at hunting serial killers, has bent the rules one too many times and, put on leave, decides to return to her small-town Southwestern roots and visit her dying father. But when a new killer strikes nearby, leaving a trail of women in abandoned desert mines, it hits close to home for Harley, eerily reminiscent of her sister’s unsolved case—and forces her to consider the local FBI field office’s desperate plea for help.

Harley, reeling from her being put on leave, from her long-term relationship falling apart, and from her father’s dying, is hardly ready to return to her hometown, to its long-buried secrets, and her tortured past. She spent her life escaping this small town—but, as she settles back in, she wonders: might she have been wrong all this time?

Yet as more bodies surface and as every clue leads to a dead end, Harley, clashing with her new partner, realizes she’s in a race against time.

Will she save the next victim in time? Or will the endless desert, and her dark past, swallow her for good?

The Crimes of Clearwell Castle by Benedict BrownThe Crimes of Clearwell Castle by Benedict Brown:

A string of murders, an ancient curse and a castle full of secrets.

England, 1926. When esteemed detective Lord Edgington and his novice grandson Christopher plan a trip to the beautiful Forest of Dean, they hope for nothing more than a relaxing weekend with old friends. What they discover among the dark halls and secret passageways of Clearwell Castle is a centuries-old injustice and a rivalry that has ripped the area apart.

After two apparently unconnected villagers are murdered, Lord Edgington must pick the killer from a parade of cheery locals, cagey aristocrats and their sworn rivals. The only certainty is that every last suspect has something to hide. With talk of a ghost walking the castle and a curse that goes back generations, it soon becomes clear that this is no ordinary murder investigation.

Lord Edgington’s most thrilling and unusual mystery yet is packed with gothic intrigue and a labyrinthine plot that will keep you guessing until the final chapter. “The Crimes of Clearwell Castle” is an Agatha-Christie-style whodunit with a cast of unique characters and a loyal golden retriever along for the ride. Will the beloved detectives solve the case before there’s anyone left in the village to bump off? Or will you spot the killer before they do?

Capital Justice by James ChandlerCapital Justice by James Chandler:

When the death of a cryptocurrency magnate shakes a small town, Sam Johnstone is thrown into a new and dangerous legal frontier.

As changes in Wyoming banking law bring an influx of crypto entrepreneurs to small-town Custer, attorney Sam Johnstone doesn’t think much of the new arrivals. But when a shocking crime throws him straight into the epicenter of the digital world, there’s no turning back.

The death of crypto exchange magnate Max Kovalenko shatters the community, sparking local outrage and a long list of suspects. With many betrayed partners, jealous competitors, and bitter family members left in his wake, Max has stepped on plenty of toes since his arrival, and finding his killer is no easy task.

When Kovalenko’s protégé is accused of killing his mentor, Sam is reluctant to represent him—but an enormous fee tendered by Kovalenko’s daughter convinces him to take the case. As he begins his client’s defense, Sam must navigate a complex web of family and business secrets in an environment he doesn’t fully understand, where nobody can be trusted to give him the truth.

In the high-stakes world of cryptocurrency, a ruthless new generation of entrepreneurs compete for control over digital assets whose value can skyrocket overnight—and some freshly minted digital fortunes are worth killing for…

The Hotel's Secret by Stacy ClaflinThe Hotel’s Secret by Stacy Claflin:

A creepy old hotel, a newly blended family, and a murderer on a rampage…

Chris and Vanessa have seven kids between them, and they can’t fit everyone into either of their homes. So they pack up and move to Recluse Island, where they’ve inherited a hotel. Locals say the building was an asylum for the criminally insane decades earlier — and that the previous residents never left. But ghosts are the least of their problems.

Before the family has time to settle in, the kids discover a mysterious death threat. All of the hotel staff is suspect… until one of them is found dead. Now nobody is safe.

Chris and Vanessa will defend their family at any cost. When the twin daughters discover one of the hotel’s most dangerous secrets, there may be nothing anyone can do to protect the girls.

The Hotel’s Secret is a suspenseful, spooky tale that will keep you turning the pages until the stunning conclusion!

Adrift by Jana DeLeonAdrift by Jana DeLeon:

Emma Turner has spent eight years running, hiding, dodging…limiting her short stays to big cities where she could easily get lost in the crowd. But when she steps onto Tempest Island, something changes. The tiny island speaks to her in ways no other place ever has, and tempts her into breaking the life rules she established long ago to keep herself safe. Instead of taking a couple days off and then moving on, as originally planned, she applies for a job at the Island Surf Shop, despite the risky fact that she’s horribly attracted to the owner.

Since his wife’s death a year ago, Mark Phillips has done the best he can to put life back together for himself and his five-year-old daughter, Lily. Now he needs to give more attention to his somewhat neglected business so that he doesn’t have to worry about their future. Emma Turner has all the job qualifications he’s looking for, and he can’t help feeling drawn to the auburn-haired beauty.

But Emma is keeping secrets, and they’re about to catch up with her.

The Heist by Mike FaricyThe Heist by Mike Faricy:

US Marshal Jack Dillon, assigned to An Garda Síochána Special Branch, is investigating an assault and attempted abduction of an American Student named Melanie Brussard. Her father happens to be a US Senator, and he wants the investigation to be conducted his way.

The more Dillon and his partner DI Paddy Suel investigate, the more they discover similar assaults. Meanwhile, the FBI arrives in Dublin hoping to recover eight paintings, valued at over 100 million dollars, that were stolen from a New Orleans Art Museum twenty years ago.

At least Dillon is enjoying his relationship with sexy Nessa. Amazingly, nothing has gone wrong . . . yet. Better check things out and see what happens.

Yesterday's Over by Becky FladeYesterday’s Over by Becky Flade:

In the rubble of a massive explosion that rocked Philadelphia, bones are discovered beneath the remains of a row house.

Assistant Chief Medical Examiner Trudy Beasley prides herself on providing answers and closure to victim’s families, but the mystery surrounding the skeletal remains is something she’s never seen before. Could whoever did this still be loose in the city? Trudy’s instincts demand she pursue the truth.

Forensic anthropologist Benjamin Roberts disagrees. Ben sees the puzzle as an academic challenge, not a legal one.

As the investigation progresses, Trudy and Ben are pulled closer together, until their professional relationship crosses the line and they find themselves in each other’s arms. Will their newfound romance survive when someone is willing to kill again in order to keep secrets buried along with the bones from being unearthed?

Guilty by Susan FleetGuilty by Susan Fleet:

Infidelity can kill you.

A sadistic man kidnaps unfaithful women in New Orleans. For days, he holds them in his secluded hideaway, berating them for their infidelity. Then he kills them and sends a gruesome photograph to their spouse: a closeup of their face with GUILTY printed on their forehead.

City leaders and terrified residents pressure NOPD to catch him. But the police have no bodies, only photographs of dead women. Homicide Detective Frank Renzi desperately tries to find the killer before he strikes again. When a photo of his boss’s daughter arrives, Renzi fears the worst. Is she already dead like the others? If she’s alive, can he find her in time?

Bad Day at Casper Creek by Lily Harper HartA Bad Day at Casper Creek by Lily Harper Hart:

Hannah Hickok is looking forward to her first Christmas in Casper Creek. She has plans for cookies, cuddles with her fiancé Cooper Wyatt, and a visit from Chris Kringle. Instead, the man who visits isn’t the one Hannah was inspecting. No, it’s her former fiancé Michael…and he’s arrived with an agenda.

Michael has more attitude than brains and he’s ready to make life difficult for Hannah…right up to the point where his new fiancée is killed and her body goes missing from the morgue. When Michael is also attacked, Hannah has to use her magic to save him…and it doesn’t go as planned.

Cooper hated Michael when he was just a concept. Now that the man is staying at Casper Creek, Cooper downright loathes him. That’s not his biggest concern though. It seems there’s a new paranormal threat on the horizon…and Michael is a target.

Hannah wants to leave her past behind but she’s going to have to risk her life to save Michael before she can do it. This enemy knows her every weakness, and it’s going to be a fight to the finish to embrace the holiday season and make it to the new year.

Strap in, because it’s going to be a holiday catastrophe.

We All Scream by Amanda M. LeeWe All Scream by Amanda M. Lee:

Stormy Morgan has accepted her life as a witch, and is even looking forward to the future. That means training with the most powerful witches in the Midwest. She’s determined to follow through on her destiny. Despite her best intentions though, not everything is going to be as easy as she hoped.

When Stormy steps in and uses her magic following a bus accident, she’s almost killed in the process. Worse than that, it seems the child she risked her life to save might be an ongoing target. At the bottom of a ravine, in a spot where nobody should be, three magical children threaten one innocent child … and only Stormy stands in their way.

Surviving a perilous fall should make Stormy happy. She’s unsettled though, and the magical children that attacked are still out there. Worse than that, they seem to want her. They blame her for thwarting their plans … and they’re coming.

Stormy is brave and loyal, but she’s in over her head. Her boyfriend Hunter Ryan wants to help but he’s out of his depth. Even the Winchester witches can’t figure out what’s going on. That means they’re all going to have to work together to secure Stormy’s future.

Stormy is ready to fight the good fight. With brutal death barreling toward her, however, she might not even get the chance.

Darkness has arrived in Shadow Hills, and there may be no stopping it. Could this be the end?

Ten Years Gone by H.P. NewquistTen Years Gone by H.P. Newquist:

Every November for nearly a decade, a body has been found hanging from a tree outside the town of Kerrville. As the tenth year approaches, the killer leaves clues that indicate there will only be one more murder. A reality show and its celebrity host decide that this last murder could get the ratings they’ve always wanted–and they are determined to find the murderer before the police do. But the killer thinks that is a very, very bad idea…

 

 

The Girl in the Mist by A.J. RiversThe Girl in the Mist by A.J. Rivers:

There’s something strange about the mist…

After a night of a scary movie marathon, a cold thick fog rolls over Sherwood, bringing with it the promise of fall. And when FBI Agent Emma Griffin wakes up the next morning, she can’t help but shake the feeling that something is off.

She turns off her alarm clock, attaches her pager to her hip, and heads out to meet with the agent helping with her newest investigation.

There are rumblings through Sherwood. A camp with a sinister past has reopened.

There are many different stories about what happened at Camp Hollow twenty years ago, but Emma soon learns the truth is worse than anything told around a campfire.

Thirteen bodies then, fifteen now. And one that can’t be found.

As she unravels local legends and shifts through archives to find out what really happened that stormy night in 1964, she discovers more than just one tragedy…

Welcome to Camp Hollow, where gruesome tales come to life.

The Girl Who Lost Him by Amy VasantThe Girl Who Lost Him by Amy Vasant:

Shee McQueen lives in her father’s hotel for ex-military mercenaries. Life is never easy…and never boring.

Bounty hunter Shee and her second-chance love / ex-Navy SEAL, Mason Connolly, are sent to the middle of Florida to protect the family of a retiring small-town drug lord, only to find the man’s dead wife on her way out on a gurney. When the “accident” feels more like murder and the husband is implicated, Shee and Mason remain to protect the man’s teenage son and daughter, neither of whom has any interest in making their job easier.

When a rival gang’s psychotic son kidnaps their client’s daughter, Mason’s expert extraction skills are put to the test as the danger level in tiny Kinache, Florida notches to the boiling point.

It seems their client has more family secrets than Shee and Mason counted on…

Meanwhile, on the other side of Florida in Miami, Naval Academy graduate and Loggerhead Inn receptionist, Croix, has muscled her way into an FBI-backed art theft case alongside resident con artist, retired Army Captain, Ollie.

Secret family histories and dark obsessions twist both missions until they reach their explosive, gripping conclusions.

Not everyone will survive.

Doodled to Death by C.B. WilsonDoodled to Death by C.B. Wilson:

A CAT’S CRADLE OF CRIME, A DOODLE
TO DIE FOR, AND A GEM OF A COZY…

Two murders before lunch is a pretty bad day in anybody’s schedule, but when your sister’s a suspect, you just want to howl at the moon. Thankfully, that would hardly be noticeable in Barkview, the dog-friendliest town in America, where it’s starting to look as if humans are the endangered species.

Cat Wright (wrong name, wrong pet preference for Barkview) has barely had time to regret a good deed that just got punished when her younger sister Lani takes time out from performing mouth-to-mouth on an unconscious friend to give her an emergency call.

First murder first—Cat’s just learned she stirred up a dogfight when she nominated a distinguished female ancestor for the Aviation Hall of Fame. But here’s the rub—nominees have to be investigated and as a result, Barkview’s beloved hometown heroine now stands accused of the murder of a notorious rumrunner.

To add more intrigue, Cat’s ancestor’s also accused of stealing the Douglas Diamond, the fabled lost treasure of Barkview, to finance her flying adventures. That’s Page One news in this town and Cat feels terrible about accidentally tarnishing a hero’s legacy.

She’s just read the headline when she gets the call from Lani, who in short order is accused of killing Peter Gallardo, her friend and prof who, Cat’s starting to see, was probably Lani’s boy friend as well. And wouldn’t you know, Peter may have been one of many on a quest to find the famous gem.

A regular cat’s cradle of crime! But this is Barkview and so the co-star, as always in a Cat Wright mystery, is an irresistible pooch, in this case G-Paw, a fuzzy doofus of a golden doodle who’ll keep you laughing chapter after chapter—and who just about converts Cat to the canine side.

Add a few ancient diaries, plus Cat’s persistent investigative style, and soon author Wilson’s woven these seemingly disparate strands into a complex village puzzle mystery wrapped up (thanks mostly to G-Paw) in a comic confection inside a delicious contemporary cozy.

A Jar of Pennies by John YearwoodA Jar of Pennies by John Yearwood:

In the summer of 1979, the small town of Whitmire Texas—deep in the eastern piney woods of the state—is rocked by a series of murders None of the victims knew one another, none lived close by. A police chief floats to the surface of a lake, hooked on a trot line; a divorcing wife apparently overdoses on illegal drugs; the skeletons of a young mother and her three-year-old toddler are found near an abandoned barn; a Congressman is murdered in a shoot-out at his home, which also claims the lives of two drug pushers from Houston and a used car dealer. The sleepy private town of Whitmire is terrified and the town’s newspaper publisher is determined to bring the mystery to a resolution. BoMac—short for Beaufort Sebastian Maclean—is a young University of Virginia dropout devoted to journalism and committed to chronicling the life of the little community. He takes the publishing job at the weekly Whitmire Standard very seriously, pouring his life into a job that demands he not only write the news but also take the photos and sell the ads. In the fraught atmosphere of Whitmire where daily routines are thrown off kilter by the unknown terror, he keeps his eyes open and finally spots a jar of pennies: the evidence that clenches the death sentence for the killer.

Send to Kindle
Posted in Books, Indie Crime Fiction of the Month | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment