Love Through Space and Time 2023 – A Round-up of Indie Valentine’s Day Speculative Fiction

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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 Valentine’s Day science fiction, fantasy and horror by indie authors.

These Valentine’s Day stories cover the broad spectrum of speculative fiction. We have urban fantasy, a lot of paranormal romance, paranormal mysteries, science fiction mysteries, science fiction romance, space opera, space colonisation, horror, alternate history, time travel, dragons, werewolves, wizards, ghosts, demons, aliens, robots, magical greeting card writers, crime-fighting witches, crime-fighting ghosts, Viking ghosts, dinners with demons, grumpy cupids, love potions, Valentine’s Day in space and much more. But one thing unites all of those very different books. They’re all set on or around Valentine’s Day.

As always with my round-up posts, this round-up of the best indie holiday speculative fiction 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:

Dinner With a Demon by Iokasti ArgiriouDinner With a Demon: It’s Valentine’s Day After All by Iokasti Argiriou

Apparently it’s Valentine’s day. A day dedicated to love? What in Aphrodite’s name is happening?

Anath – or Leda to Persa as she always refuses to call her by her demonic name – approaches Persa after all this time and she chooses this specific day. Is it a coinsidence? And then, out of the blue, the strangest thing happens. She asks Persa out on a date. A real date.

Ok, it was Persa’s suggestion, actually, but she never thought that Leda would go along with it. Now Persa cannot bow out and…she really hopes that this Valentine dude knows what he’s doing. Please, don’t let him be a sham!

Roses & Tails by Barbara BeRoses & Tails by Barbara Be:

She is an alien with silver-blue skin and a sexy tail, he is human and sometimes she doesn’t quite understand his customs. Like that strange human event of Valentine’s Day. He has something special planned for that day and it involves Zero G. But maybe he hasn’t quite thought this through. Sex in Zero G has some unique challenges.

This short story has previously been published in 2017 as part of the “Red Hots” anthology, which has been unpublished.

 

Valentine's Day by Zack BrooksValentine’s Day: A Charlie The Cupid Short Story by Zack Brooks:

Meet Charles Vefflin. A cupid stuck as a drone within a corporate company run by the Fates in Boston, he is doomed to cause people to fall in love with their soulmates for all of eternity. He hates his job and most people of the world. But a job is a job, and he isn’t going to let a little thing like people ruin the few pleasures in his life.

Join Charlie on the worst day of the year, Valentine’s Day, where he must make a young couple fall in love at a most unconventional party. See him deal with the idiocy of his co-workers, the lunacy of humans, and even run into a perverted old god. But, one thing’s for sure, he’ll see the job through. Even if it takes some liquid courage just to get through the night.

Valentine’s day is short story, about 6,500 words or 22 printed pages

Ballroom Blitz by Cora BuhlertBallroom Blitz by Cora Buhlert:

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

Once, Anjali Patel and Mikhail Grikov were soldiers on opposing sides of an intergalactic war. They met, fell in love and decided to go on the run together.

Now Anjali and Mikhail are trying to eke out a living on the independent worlds of the galactic rim, while attempting to stay under the radar of those pursuing them.

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

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

Valentine's Day on Iago Prime by Cora BuhlertValentine’s Day on Iago Prime by Cora Buhlert:

Kai and Maisie are about the celebrate their first Valentine’s Day on the planet Iago Prime. However, the holiday traditions they established back on Earth such as celebrating Valentine’s Day with a picnic on the beach are impossible to maintain in the hostile environment of their new home. But in spite of the many limitations imposed by living on Iago Prime, Kai pulls out all the stops to give Maisie an unforgettable Valentine’s Day.

This is a science fictional Valentine’s Day story of 2200 words or approx. 10 print pages.

Cupid by Demelza CarltonCupid by Delmeza Carlton:

As a Cupid, Orel has plenty of experience helping other people find love, even if he’s unlucky in that department. But when he ends up covering for another Cupid at a speed dating event for singles in the leadup to Valentine’s Day, he dares to hope.

Can a lonely Cupid find love?

Or will he fall victim to the Cupid curse, too?

 

A Viking Ghost for Valentine's Day by Jo-Ann CarsonA Viking Ghost for Valentine’s Day by Jo-Ann Carson:

To feed her three children, Widow Abigail Jenkins takes the only job available in Sunset Cove: night cleaner in the notorious, haunted tea-house. She figures the wild, supernatural rumors about the place are pure fiction. After all, ghosts don’t exist.

Eric Eklund a sexy spirit from Sweden is over a thousand years old. Having missed his chance at Valhalla, the Viking spends his time roaming the world and gambling. That is until he sees Abby whose feisty earthly-spirit turns his ghostly world upside down.

When the two meet sparks fly, but their romance is interrupted by a poltergeist hunting children.

What happens when you mix a naughty, Viking ghost built like a Norse god, a strong woman who suffers no fools and a nasty poltergeist? Answer: another fun, Gambling Ghost story.

A Viking Ghost for Valentine’s is a lighthearted novella filled with love, laughter and just enough ghouliness to thrill and chill you to the bone.

Quill Me Now by Jordan Castillo PriceQuill Me Now by Jordan Castillo Price:

What if the words you wrote came true?

Spellcraft isn’t exactly a respectable business, but it does pay the bills. At least, it should. Unfortunately, Dixon Penn failed his Spellcraft initiation. Instead of working in his family’s shop, he’s stuck delivering takeout orders in his uncle’s beat-up Buick.

Winning a Valentine’s Day contest at the largest greeting card company in the tri-state area would be just the thing to get his life back on track—but something at Precious Greetings just doesn’t add up. And despite numerous warnings to quit pestering them about his contest entry, he simply can’t stop himself from coming back again and again.

It doesn’t hurt that the head of security is such a hottie. If Dixon had any common sense, he’d be scared of the big, mysterious, tattooed Russian.

To be fair, no one ever accused him of being too smart….

A Werewolf's Valentine by Zoe ChantA Werewolf’s Valentine by Zoe Chant:

Curvy cat shifter McKenzi Enkel gave up on love after one too many heartbreaks. What’s more, she declared war on Valentine’s Day. But then a handsome, whiskey-voiced stranger comes to town.

Sexy singer West, a lone wolf who lost his pack as a child, never stopped searching for his missing family. He sings when he can, fights when he must, and always moves on—until he meets the scorching hot McKenzi in the diner she reluctantly decorated for Valentine’s Day.

In a small town of shifters where anyone can find a refuge, West and McKenzi still feel alone. But as they begin to open their hearts to each other, he can’t make himself leave… and she can’t let him go. With Valentine’s Day approaching, can West and McKenzi forge a new pack… and find a love even they can’t deny?

My Maggie Valentine by Kate DanleyMy Maggie Valentine by Kate Danley:

Valentine’s Day is terrible. Especially when you’re Maggie MacKay and tasked with chaperoning the local high school Valentine’s dance. Join Maggie and Killian on a holiday, short story adventure. Sometimes you wrestle with demons. And sometimes they just want to cuddle…

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.

WARNING: This adventure contains cussing, brawling, and unladylike behavior. Proceed with caution.

Love Potion Sold Seperately by Nicole DragonBeckLove Potion Sold Seperately by Nicole DragonBeck:

Maggie Baker can’t think of anyone to ask to wear her corsage at this year’s First Days Celebration. After a visit from her fairy godmother, Maggie concocts her own Prince Charming, but when Charle arrives, things get more complicated than she bargained for.

 

 

 

Vintage Valentine by Cat GardinerVintage Valentine by Cat Gardiner:

Romance and time-travel meet Pride and Prejudice in this utterly romantic modern story. Step back in time to WWII-era for a sweet Valentine’s Day.

What begins as a begrudging visit to Time & Again antique shop turns into so much more than discovering trinkets from the past. The unexpected happens! Love and lessons await Lizzy Bennet when she leaves her mobile device in the future. Travel with her through a portal to timeless romance back in 1943 where she’s looking up into the eyes of one dashing G.I. at U.S.O dance.

An 8,500 word sweet paranormal romance.

A Dragon's Valentine by C.D. GorriThe Dragon’s Valentine by C.D. Gorri:

“She’s given up on love, but he’s just begun…”

After five hundred years of servitude, Dragon Shifter, Callius Falk and his three brothers are finally freed from their bonds. Callius has one mission, to find his true mate.

Winifred Castillo spends her nights tending bar at The Thirsty Dog, a local favorite in Maccon City, New Jersey. After her boyfriend skips town with her rent money, she’s sworn off men. For good!

But what’s a Werewolf to do when a dark-haired stranger with golden eyes and rippling muscles claims her as his mate?

A Very Klagan Valentine by Holly HanzoA Very Klagan Valentine by Holly Hanzo:

From being jilted at the altar, to being ghosted by a blind date, Mia held onto the hope that one day, she’d finally be the bride and not the bridesmaid. The Elodian invasion of Earth and Mia’s subsequent capture changed everything. Mistaken for a Sudabian, and dropped on Sudabia, a pleasure planet she’s never heard of, Mia finds herself smack in the center of their annual hedonistic mid-winter celebration – and – up for auction.

Klagan Warrior Rylan’s mission takes a turn for the worse after a firefight with a lone Elodian cruiser over a remote planet in the middle of nowhere. His worst nightmare comes true when he’s forced to land on Sudabia. As a virtuous man who doesn’t mix business and pleasure, his only goal was to get off-world, and fast, until he stumbles across the auctions – and the frantic pleas of an unwilling participant in the auctions stirred something within him. Against his better judgement, Rylan rescues Mia from the auction block.

She wants to leave. He can’t let her go.

The Ghost of Valentine Past by Bobbi HolmesThe Ghost of Valentine Past by Bobbi Holmes:

A romantic weekend at Marlow House Bed and Breakfast turns deadly when Earthbound Spirits founder, Peter Morris, is murdered. Plenty of people had a reason to want the man dead—especially Danielle’s current guests.

But it isn’t Morris’ ghost distracting Danielle on this deadly Valentine’s Day weekend, it’s her late husband Lucas. She has her hands full with suitors coming from all directions—both living and dead—while she tries to figure out if there’s a killer in Marlow House.

 

Ghoul You Be My Valentine? by Olivia JaymesGhoul You Be My Valentine? by Olivia Jaymes:

It’s time for another Ravenmist Whodunnit! A tiny Midwestern town with charming covered bridges, quirky residents, delightful antique shops, and more than their share of haunted activity.

Tedi has another packed inn of people for the Ravenmist Valentine’s Day Ball. The evening was a complete success until she and Jack find a dead body on the back patio with a Cupid’s arrow through his heart. There’s no shortage of suspects for his murder either. Jack will have his hands full paring down the list.

And Tedi? She’s staying out of this. No way is she going to be pulled into it. Not after last time. She has her own investigation. She and her friend Missy are trying to find why the town has suddenly been infused with paranormal energy. Ghosts are literally getting up and dancing around. It’s all going well too. That is until the investigation starts to hit just a little bit too close to home.

Hop into your ghostmobile and take a ride with Tedi as she meets a spirit who doesn’t think he’s dead, two ghosts in love, and a hard partying specter who just might have witnessed the murder. It’s a hauntingly good time in the little town of Ravenmist and you’re invited to the party.

Bear Valley Valentine by T.S. JoyceBear Valley Valentine by T.S. Joyce:

Colin Cross is a lone bear shifter living on the outskirts of Bear Valley. He likes his reclusive lifestyle, but when he musters the nerve to talk to the woman he has feelings for, being alone just doesn’t seem like enough anymore. When he finds Hadley on an online dating site, it’s the perfect way to build a relationship with her without dragging her into his dark past. Hadley is human, and humans don’t belong in his world, but a little online flirting never hurt anyone.

Hadley Bennett has had it with dating local townies. Determined to cast her net a little wider, she enters the chaotic world of online dating. When she finally secures a face-to-face date with the elusive Bearman28, it’ll be a Valentine’s Day to remember.

And if Hadley can handle his real identity, they just might find what they’ve both been searching for.

Bear Valley Valentine is a 20,000 word story with heart pounding romance, a thoughtful alpha bear, and spicy Valentine’s Day surprises.

For the Love of Cupidity by Raven KennedyFor the Love of Cupidity by Raven Kennedy:

First comes love, then comes mating, then comes the baby and some cupid training.

Cupidville is overrun with new cupid recruits, and it’s up to me to train them in time for Valentine’s Day. Too bad I have four mates who keep insisting that it’s time for me to take a break.

Juggling my role as the cupid boss, being a mate, and handling motherhood isn’t always easy, but it’s sure as hearts worth it. Let’s just hope I can get these cupid flunkies trained in time.

Author’s Note: This is a Heart Hassle novella just in time for Valentine’s Day.

Love Potion, edited by Graceley Knox and D.D. MiersLove Potion, edited by Graceley Knox and D.D. Miers:

A valentines day charity anthology featuring 8 exclusive stories from your favorite bestselling Paranormal and Fantasy romance authors! All proceeds will be donated to Room to Read!

How to Capture a Demon’s Heart – Graceley Knox & D.D. Miers
A Demon’s Plaything (The Elite Guards) – Amelia Hutchins
Deep Blue Sea – Pippa DaCosta
The Hellhound’s Legion: A Kit Davenport Novella – Tate James
The Heart Cantrip: a Family Spells Novella – C.M. Stunich
Eternal Hearts – A Forsaken Gods Series Novella – G. Bailey & Coralee June
A Damsel and a Demigod (The Guild Codex: Spellbound) – Annette Marie
The Fox and the Wolf – Clara Hartley

An Immortal Valentine's Day by Monica La PortaAn Immortal Valentine’s Day by Monica La Porta:

Once a playboy, Alexander Drako is now the happy father of three and eager to celebrate Valentine’s Day with a special party held on Friday night to accommodate his nocturnal vampire friends. Everything is ready except for a small detail. Alexander has forgotten to buy the roses and orchids for his beloved Ravenna. Unable to disappoint her, and accompanied by his loyal friends, Marcus and Samuel, he sets out for Wolf’s Haven, a rehab center for paranormals, hoping to find some flowers left for sale in their greenhouse.

After a honeymoon around the world that lasted half a year, Peter and Ophelia have just landed back in Rome. While he would like to relax in their apartment, Ophelia is eager to see her friends. Most of all, she can’t wait to hug Quintilius, her adoptive father.

Ophelia’s call reaches Quintilius at Wolf’s Haven, where he’s volunteering, and he rejoices at finally seeing her again. However, he isn’t thrilled to see Peter, the man who stole the heart of his little princess. A sudden crisis at the rehab center forces Quintilius to focus his thoughts and energies on looking for Luisa, a girl who’s run away with a dangerous gang member.

By fate’s design, all the friends have reunited at Wolf’s Haven and agreed to help Quintilius in his quest. Will they be able to save the girl and return to their loved ones in time to celebrate Valentine’s Day?

Moonshine Valetnine by Tegan MaherMoonshine Valentine by Tegan Maher:

It’s Valentine’s Day, and Noelle has no idea what to get for Hunter. While she’s getting her hair cut and tossing around gift ideas, Coralee’s long-term boyfriend pops in and declares his undying love via a marriage proposal, breaking rule numero uno of their relationship clause.

He’s only the first to fall, though. When the men of Keyhole Lake start acting like lovesick lunatics, Noelle and Rae have to put their heads together to figure out what happened before the whole town goes loopy in love, or someone ends up in jail.

This story falls in between book 4, Murder and Mayhem, and Book 5, Murder and Marinade, in the Witches of Keyhole Lake Mystery Series.

Heart Attack by Terri MainHeart Attack by Terri Main:

When Smelling Roses, Watch Out for the Thorns

Strange things are happening in Armstrong City right before St. Valentine’s Day. Several women who found roses on their doorstep passed out inexplicably. Carolyn and Mike must figure out how this happened, who is doing it, and why?

A fun little mystery for the holiday of love.

 

Valentines Day Time Patrol by Bob MayerValentines Day: Time Patrol by Bob Mayer:

“The point in history at which we stand is full of promise and danger. The world will either move forward toward unity and widely shared prosperity—or it will move apart.” President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

What does it take to change history and destroy our reality? Change events on the same date, 14 February, in six different years. The Time Patrol must send an agent back to each day, with just 24 hours for each to defeat the Shadow’s plan to disrupt our time-line, creating a time tsunami and wiping our present out.

Ivar: 1929. Gunmen massacre seven people in the infamous St. Valentines Day Massacre. Al Capone is consolidating his grip on the Outfit in Chicago. But what if it turns out very differently?

Eagle: 1945. President Roosevelt, heading home from the Yalta Conference, stops on the Great Bitter Lake to meet King Idn Saud of Saudi Arabia to discuss a relatively new topic: Arab oil. And a Jewish homeland.

Roland: 1779. Captain Cook, famed explorer of the Pacific, meets his fate in Hawaii.

Scout: 278. Saint Valentine is beheaded near the Milvian Bridge.

Doc: 1945. The Dresden Firebombing. Kurt Vonnegut is in a slaughterhouse as the first bombers appear overheard.

Moms: 1946. The ENIAC computer, programmed by six women, is unveiled to the public. The press thinks the women are simply models.

The mission, as always for the Time Patrol, seems straight-forward: keep history intact. No matter the cost.

But this time, things go very differently than in previous missions and one of the team members must make the ultimate sacrifice.

Rainbow Bouquet, edited by Farah MendlesohnRainbow Bouquet, edited by Farah Mendlesohn:

Authors featured are Harry Robertson, Edward Ahern, Victoria Zammit, Erin Horáková, Cheryl Morgan, Sarah Ash, Kathleen Jowitt, Sean Robinson, Garrick Jones and MJ Logue, and the settings vary from a mediaeval monastery to the ‘final frontier’, give or take the odd supernatural realm along the way. Stories of love in the past, present and future – all as fascinating in their variety as love itself.

 

 

My Bloodiest Valentine, edited by K.A. MorseMy Bloodiest Valentine, edited by K.A. Morse:

Roses are red. So is your blood. It’s Valentine’s Day, and we’ve brought you something good. Abandon the chocolates, forget flowers and wine. Because these authors stories are bloody divine. Demons from Hell or a vampires kiss, this collection of stories you don’t want to miss.

 

 

 

Kelianna by Leah NegronKelianna by Leah Negron:

What my fellow countrymen do not realize is that the tales are true. From the leprechauns to the fairies, the banshees to the pooka, the merrow to the kelpie, the changelings to the far darrig, they all exist.

There are many more creatures; some of them are good and stand by us in the fight to keep the evil ones at bay. The others, the dark ones, try to destroy everything that is good in the world.

Now there is a new threat, one that I have never seen before. Thankfully, Tiamat sent word through the portals to warn me of what is coming.

It’s time to bring my forces together for the battle of a lifetime. It looks like it’s going to be one hell of a Bloody Valentine’s Day.

Tiamat by Serenity RayneTiamat by Serenity Rayne:

You would think I was living a fairy tale life. I live in my ancestral home high up in the mountains, and I am heir to the Ice Dragon throne. With the standard court drama and Prince’s trying to court me that don’t measure up to the man in my dreams, life can be quite stressful at times. But in the darkness, an old evil lurks, one we thought my mother Aurora had extinguished long ago. Villagers start going missing by my father Klaus’s pack lands, and all signs point to the Strigoi. Time to help mom and get my talons dirty; this will be one bloody Valentines Day.

 

Love Magic by Jesi Lea RyanLove Magic by Jesi Lea Ryan:

“The day I met Derrick while playing my violin in the park was magical. Unfortunately, magic and love together don’t always mix.”

Oliver met Derrick while busking in the park, and they hit it off from the start. At first, Derrick’s “mysterious magician” vibe was intriguing, but after two botched dates, Oliver was ready to call it quits.

Fearing he lost his chance with Oliver, Derrick makes a last-ditch effort to win Oliver’s heart with a romantic Valentine’s date. But when love and magic collide, things tend to go awry. Will these two guys make it through the date unscathed?

Validated by Valentine's by Joynll SchultzValidated by Valentine’s by Joynell Schultz:

Ivory has the perfect man, from his microchip processor to his flesh-like exterior.

Ivory hated that she loved her Christmas gift this year. Her sister gave her the perfect humanoid companion, but there’s just one problem: he’ll never be able to say he loves her, no matter how much Ivory falls in love with him.

Was her dream man a present or a curse?

But when Ethan (Ivory’s Dream Droid) looks at her with those sweet blue eyes and secretly earns enough money to enter her in the city-wide bake-off, she realizes she doesn’t care. He’s hers. And that’s the best gift of all.

Ivory’s perfect world falls apart the closer she gets to the bake-off. It starts with a lost entry and Ethan having a few programming malfunctions, then she discovers someone’s deliberately sabotaging her. What started out to be a dream Valentine’s day, begins to turn into a nightmare. A large supportive family, a caring artificial companion, and the best cupcake recipe in the world might not be enough to uncover who’s setting Ivory up to fail.

My Wicked Valentine by Lotta SmithMy Wicked Valentine by Lotta Smith:

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner… Love is in the air and so are the ghosts!

When Rick’s old friend, up-and-coming celeb psychic Brian Powers is accused of murdering an esthetician at a luxe gentlemen-only spa, Mandy’s cozy afternoon at home goes from cookie-baking to crime solving.

With baby Sophie and ghost-pal Jackie in tow, Mandy and Rick take to haunting the spa where the facials are fab and the intrigue is high-end.

Every suspect has a secret, but who’s willing to kill to keep theirs under wraps? [Seaweed wraps, that is.] Find out in this dangerously funny installment of the Manhattan Mystery series.

Dragon's First Valentine by Emily Martha SorensenDragon’s First Valentine by Emily Martha Sorensen:

There’s a new dragon visiting from Chicago, and she’s green, like Virgil! Unfortunately, this might cause a few small problems nobody anticipated.

As well as a few revelations and surprises.

And all while Rose is trying to figure out what to give her husband for Valentine’s Day.

 

The Draed Arrow by Grigor WeeksThe Dread Arrow by Grigor Weeks:

Dark Space is strange, and so are the hitmen who live there. Strap in sweetheart. Love never hurt so good.

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Love and Crime 2023 – A Round-up of Indie Valentine’s Day Mysteries and Crime Fiction

Love and Crime bannerOur 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 Valentine’s Day mysteries by indie and small press 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, jazz age mysteries, police procedurals, crime thrillers, legal thrillers, amateur sleuths, crime-fighting witches, crime-fighting bakers, crime-fighting socialites, crime-fighting ghosts, crime-fighting dogs, masked vigilantes, missing children, kidnappings, jewel thefts, sleazy lawyers, serial killers, assassins and much more. But one thing unites all of those very different books. They’re all set on or around Valentine’s Day.

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:

Death by Baguette by Jennifer A. AldersonDeath by Baguette: A Valentine’s Day Murder in Paris by Jennifer S. Alderson:

Paris—the city of love, lights … and murder? Join tour guide Lana Hansen as she escorts five couples on an unforgettable Valentine-themed vacation to France! Unfortunately it will be the last trip for one passenger…

Lana Hansen’s future is looking bright. She has money in her bank account, a babysitter for her cat, and even a boyfriend. Regrettably she won’t get to celebrate Valentine’s Day with her new beau, Chad. Instead, she will be leading a lovers-only tour in France. Luckily for Lana, her best friend, Willow, and her partner, Jane, will be joining her.

Things go downhill when Lana’s new boyfriend shows up in Paris for her tour—with his wife. Chad is not the website developer he claimed to be, but a famous restaurant critic whose love of women rivals his passion for food.

After Chad drops dead during a picnic under the Eiffel Tower, a persistent French detective becomes convinced that he was poisoned. And the inspector’s sights are set on several members of the tour—including Lana!

While escorting her group through the cobblestone streets of Montmartre, the grand gardens of Versailles, and the historic Marché des Enfants Rouges market, Lana must figure out who really killed Chad before she has to say bonjour to prison and adieu to her freedom.

Introducing Lana Hansen, tour guide, reluctant amateur sleuth, and star of the Travel Can Be Murder Cozy Mystery Series. Join Lana as she leads tourists and readers to fascinating cities around the globe on intriguing adventures that, unfortunately for Lana, often turn deadly.

Valentine's Day is Murder by Carolyn ArnoldValentine’s Day is Murder by Carolyn Arnold:

Cupid’s arrow may have missed its mark…

Jimmy finally takes a vacation–and a chance on love–only to be abducted. His female companion originally thinks he had cold feet about their relationship, but Sean and Sara know there’s more to it. Jimmy isn’t the type to just up and disappear, let alone leave a lady stranded.

Setting out on their private jet, Sean and Sara reach the tropical paradise of Ocho Rios, Jamaica with sightseeing as the last thing on their minds.

With a gold coin being their initial tie to Jimmy’s kidnapper, Sean and Sara even speculate about the involvement of pirates. Yet as the hours pass, and there’s no word from Jimmy’s captors, Sean and Sara will need to figure out the real motive before it’s too late.

With help from their friend, Adam, back in Albany, the pieces come together and not a moment too soon.

A Valentine for the Silencer by Cora BuhlertA Valentine for the Silencer by Cora Buhlert:

Valentine’s Day 1938: All Richard Blakemore a.k.a. the masked crimefighter known only as the Silencer wants is to have a romantic dinner with his beautiful fiancée Constance Allen.

But on his way to his date, Richard happens upon a mugging in progress. Can he save the victim and make sure that young Thomas Walden has the chance to propose to his girlfriend? And will he make it to dinner with Constance on time?

This is a short Valentine’s Day story of 7200 words or approx. 24 print pages in the Silencer series, but may be read as a standalone.

He never brings me flowers...He never brings me flowers… by Cora Buhlert

He never brings me flowers…

Waiting for your boyfriend to finally come home from work can be hell, especially if it’s your anniversary and you suspect he forgot – again. But does the ringing of the doorbell promise roses and sex and the long overdue proposal or something far more sinister?

Lovers’ Ridge

A foundling, a newborn, abandoned and left to die. But tonight, he will have his revenge on the parents who deserted him. Tonight, they will pay, at the very place where the story once began, at Lovers’ Ridge…

This is a bumper edition containing two short crime stories of 3200 words altogether. Both stories are also available as part of the collection Murder in the Family.

Ballroom Blitz by Cora BuhlertBallroom Blitz by Cora Buhlert:

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

Once, Anjali Patel and Mikhail Grikov were soldiers on opposing sides of an intergalactic war. They met, fell in love and decided to go on the run together.

Now Anjali and Mikhail are trying to eke out a living on the independent worlds of the galactic rim, while attempting to stay under the radar of those pursuing them.

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

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

Valentine's Day, 1951 by Frank W. ButterfieldValentine’s Day, 1951 by Frank W. Butterfield:

Tuesday, February 13, 1951

What does the man who can buy anything get the man who doesn’t want anything?

That’s the mystery Nick Williams is trying to solve.

He’s a small-time private dick in San Francisco with a big-time trust he inherited from a rich uncle during the war.

With the help of his new secretary, Marnie Wilson, Nick is hoping he can come up with something that will let Carter Jones, the fireman he shares a house and a bed with, know how much he really loves him.

With a little luck, and some help from both friends and family, Valentine’s Day of 1951 might just be one they’ll both remember for a long, long time.

Valentine's Madness, edited by Beth ByersValentine’s Madness: A 1920s Historical Mystery Anthology, edited by Beth Byers:

Welcome to a very flapper Valentine’s Day!

Are you ready for the roaring twenties? For spunky young women crafting their own lives? If so, you’ll love Violet, Julia, Abigail, Evelyn, and Rosemary.

Inside, you’ll find four short Valentine’s day adventures, 1920s style including roses, chocolates, kisses, and cocktails. With stories from The Violet Carlyle Mysteries, the Piccadilly Ladies Club Mysteries, the Abigail Dutcher Mysteries, the Jazz & Gin Cozy Mysteries, and The Lillywhite Mysteries.

Mystery on Valentine's Day by Beth Byers and Lee StraussMystery on Valentine’s Day by Beth Byers and Lee Strauss:

The worlds of Ginger Gold and Violet Carlyle collide in this fun Valentine Mystery short story by bestselling authors Lee Strauss and Beth Byers.

While both Ginger and Violet had plans for a romantic evening of dinner and dancing to celebrate Valentine’s Day with their husbands, something goes terribly awry. One by one, female patrons discover that they are missing jewelry.

In this closed room mystery filled with a brigade of colorful characters, Violet and Ginger join forces to put their skills of deduction to work. Can they unveil the culprit and solve the mystery in time for dessert?

Don’t miss this delectable bite-sized tale. Pairs perfectly with a box of chocolate and a comfy chair!

The St. Valentine's Day Cookie Massacre by Elisabeth CrabtreeThe St. Valentine’s Day Cookie Massacre by Elisabeth Crabtree:

It’s Valentine’s Day in quiet, cozy Hatter’s Cove, Florida and food columnist, Kat Archer, has been assigned the event of the year, the grand opening of Miss Dolly’s Cookie Jar and Sweets Emporium.

What begins as a run of the mill, albeit tasty, assignment turns into something much more dangerous when one of the Cookie Jar’s employees is poisoned.

Now Kat is chasing the biggest story of her life, while trying to catch the eye of her handsome editor and avoid becoming the killer’s next victim.

A cozy novella: approximately 44,000 words

Murder on Valentine's Day by P. CreedenMurder on Valentine’s Day by P. Creeden:

It’s Valentine’s Day and 20-year-old Emma Wright just wants her crush to take notice of her. But Colby Davidson, the K9 search and rescue deputy only thinks of her as a kid sister. How will she get him to take her seriously?

When her veterinarian boss calls her to pick up a cat at a potential crime scene, she finds herself at the house of the richest woman in Ridgeway. Her father—the sheriff—and Colby are there. They both dismiss the untimely death as a heart attack, but Emma finds clues that it might be something more. Did the software billionaire die of natural causes, or was it murder?

The Valentine Mystery by Kathi DaleyThe Valentine Mystery by Kathi Daley:

If you love small towns, endearing relationships, food, animals, and a touch of murder, you will love this new mystery series by Kathi Daley, author of the popular Zoe Donovan Cozy Mystery Series.

It is Valentine’s Day in White Eagle Montana and Tess and Tilly are busier than ever delivering Valentine Cards along with the daily mail. Of course it wouldn’t be Valentine’s Day in White Eagle without a mystery to solve or a holiday adoption party to prepare for.

When Tess happens upon a vehicle accident where one man dies, she gets pulled into a mystery with roots into the past. With Tony’s help she not only tracks down a killer but she looks into the occurrence of a missing person as well.

Tony is still looking into the case of Tess’s father’s disappearance, meanwhile Tess and Tilly team up with Brady to make sure that every animal shelter resident finds their perfect match in time for Valentine’s Day.

The Case of the Cupid Caper by Kathi DaleyThe Case of the Cupid Caper by Kathi Daley:

How is one to start again after losing the one thing that speaks to your heart and fuels your passion?

After a serious accident leaves Calliope Rose Collins unable to continue with the career that has owned her soul for most of her life, she returns to Foxtail Lake, Hollister House, Great Aunt Gracie, and childhood friend, Officer Cass Wylander, where she begins to rebuild her life from the ashes of what she once had.

In book 3 of The Cat in the Attic series – It’s Valentine’s Day and Callie has finally been made a full time reporter for the local newspaper. Her first assignment as a full time reporter is to cover the case of a local cupid, a matchmaker who seems intent on coupling up all the single residents in the area. Things are going well for Callie and her story until one of the men she is sent to interview turns up dead.

A Valentine Murder by Steven DemareeA Valentine Murder by Steven Demaree

In this delightful combination of a whodunit mixed with humor, a woman, who has been celebrating her birthday and Valentine’s Day, is rushed to the hospital complaining of stomach pains and nausea. She grabs the doctor and tells him she has been poisoned, but before she can tell him any more, she dies. When Lt. Dekker and Sgt. Murdock investigate, they find out that no one liked her, with the possible exception of her husband.

 

 

Valentine's Day by Liz DodwellValentine’s Day by Liz Dodwell:

Valentine’s Day, a pet pig and smugglers just don’t go together

It’s happened again, pet-sitter Polly Parrett is embroiled in another mystery. The romantic Valentine’s Day weekend she’s been looking forward to with her number one guy turns into a fiasco. There’s a body of course, characters who may or may not be trusted, danger and snow – lots of snow.

Then something happens that causes the usually mild-mannered Polly to find her inner tigress, and woe betide the person she turns her claws on.

Corridor Man: Valentine by Mark FaricyCorridor Man: Valentine by Mark Faricy:

BETTER CHANGE THE LOCKS. BOBBY DID.

Disbarred attorney Bobby Custer continues to use his main skill set; murder, treachery and perversion in an ongoing effort to increase his personal gains.

Ever the charmer, Bobby provides Emily with an unforgettable valentine that up until now she could only dream about . . . or maybe it was a nightmare. Together they forever mark the day with a memorable secret. Psychotic, sociopathic, always charming– and you thought he was here to help.

The Heartless Valentine by Kacey GeneThe Heartless Valentine by Kacey Gene:

Roses are red; violets are blue
Is a lover from the dead here to kill you?

Valentine’s Day. 2020. Middlebridge, Wisconsin. When the quick-witted second grade teacher and amateur sleuth, Jennifer Hunter, receives a gift from a secret admirer on Valentine’s Day, she heartily investigates who her cupid could be. When she opens the box, though, she doesn’t find chocolates; she finds a human heart wrapped in red tissue paper.

And that’s not all. Her admirer has written a note confessing their desire to watch Jennifer die. That’s when Jennifer’s best friend and Middlebridge’s Police Lieutenant, Jake Hollow, steps in.

Jake and Jennifer put their dynamic duo focus on finding Jennifer’s deranged valentine, and that leads them to the recently deceased body of David Bird IV. He looks like an average dead guy except for one fact — his heart has been removed. Jennifer must investigate this heartless valencrime; otherwise, she fears she’ll be the next victim. Yet, her attempt to protect her own heart leads her to a set of love letters that tell the story of broken hearts from the past.

Valentine’s Day. 1910. Salem, Massachusetts. Clay Trunkett, a twenty year old hard-working journalist, is scheduled to hang for assaulting a man. His accuser? David Bird II, son of the wealthiest man in Salem. Clay’s true crime? Falling in love with Meghan White, the woman David has his heart set on marrying.

The love triangle of 1910 holds the clues Jennifer needs to find the heart snatcher of 2020, but with her own crazed valentine delivering threatening messages and bits of heart like they’re candy, Jennifer struggles to piece together this crime of passion from 1910.

And, Jennifer’s own passions get in the way when she discovers that her best friend, Jake, has a girlfriend — one that he’s been hiding from Jennifer for months. Betrayal runs high as masquerade parties, craft sales, murder mystery dinners, and a strange encounter at the local diner all distract Jennifer from her one mission: To find out who’s making her Valentine’s Day the most horrifyingly heart-filled in history. The problem is, Jennifer’s discoveries may end her friendship with Jake, and that’s a heartbreak she can’t take.

This clean cozy mystery will keep reader’s hearts pounding as they flip through love letters from the past and the alternating stories of Jennifer Hunter and Clay Trunkett. Jennifer’s down-to-earth and lovable personality plunges into new territory as she must assess her relationship with Jake and the type of love she wants in her life. She goes on crochet benders; she attends parties where she gets to be someone other than herself; and all the time she’s piecing together a crime that makes this Valentine’s Day anything but sweet.

Valentine by Celina GraceValentine by Celina Grace:

A respectable, middle-aged housewife. An ambitious young lawyer. A student burlesque dancer. Three women with nothing in common – except for the fact that someone has sent them a macabre Valentine’s Day gift; a pig’s heart pierced by an arrow.

Is this a case of serious harm intended? Or just a malicious prank? Detective Inspector Olbeck thinks there might be something more sinister behind it but his colleague Detective Sergeant Kate Redman is too busy mourning the departure of her partner Tin to New York to worry too much about the case. Until one of the women receives a death threat…

Valentine is a novella in the best-selling Kate Redman Mystery series by crime writer Celina Grace.

Love Is Murder by Michelle Ann HollsteinLove Is Murder by Michelle Ann Hollstein:

It’s Valentine’s Day and Aggie is looking forward to her yearly ritual of curling up on the couch in front of the television while eating ice cream. However, this year her friends Betty and Roger, have talked Aggie into spending an evening out on the town. And then, to her surprise, Officer Tom Wood had also asked her out. Wearing a very uncomfortable, slinky, red dress that Betty picked out for her, and a ruby red pocketbook to match, Aggie stumbles into a dangerous Valentine’s Day she’ll never forget.

 

The Ghost of Valentine Past by Bobbi HolmesThe Ghost of Valentine Past by Bobbi Holmes:

A romantic weekend at Marlow House Bed and Breakfast turns deadly when Earthbound Spirits founder, Peter Morris, is murdered. Plenty of people had a reason to want the man dead—especially Danielle’s current guests.

But it isn’t Morris’ ghost distracting Danielle on this deadly Valentine’s Day weekend, it’s her late husband Lucas. She has her hands full with suitors coming from all directions—both living and dead—while she tries to figure out if there’s a killer in Marlow House.

 

Ghoul You Be My Valentine? by Olivia JaymesGhoul You Be My Valentine? by Olivia Jaymes:

It’s time for another Ravenmist Whodunnit! A tiny Midwestern town with charming covered bridges, quirky residents, delightful antique shops, and more than their share of haunted activity.

Tedi has another packed inn of people for the Ravenmist Valentine’s Day Ball. The evening was a complete success until she and Jack find a dead body on the back patio with a Cupid’s arrow through his heart. There’s no shortage of suspects for his murder either. Jack will have his hands full paring down the list.

And Tedi? She’s staying out of this. No way is she going to be pulled into it. Not after last time. She has her own investigation. She and her friend Missy are trying to find why the town has suddenly been infused with paranormal energy. Ghosts are literally getting up and dancing around. It’s all going well too. That is until the investigation starts to hit just a little bit too close to home.

Hop into your ghostmobile and take a ride with Tedi as she meets a spirit who doesn’t think he’s dead, two ghosts in love, and a hard partying specter who just might have witnessed the murder. It’s a hauntingly good time in the little town of Ravenmist and you’re invited to the party.

Valentine's Day: Kiss of Death by Charlot KingValentine’s Day: Kiss of Death by Charlot King:

The quintessentially English Professor Elizabeth Green is not herself, shut in her bedroom she doesn’t even have time for her grandson, Godric, whom she adores. As the director of the student play, Godric, meanwhile, attends a College Valentine’s Banquet with some of his troupe. Soon after, he is one actor down, a body is found.

Meanwhile, Inspector Abley’s messy divorce has brought him alone up to Grantchester, as Sergeant Lemon steps in to lend support. With mystery after mystery building up, will Professor Green open her door to help?

Hugely popular author makes this beautiful historic city of Cambridge, England, leap off the page, with the eccentric Professor of poisons. Join the fast-growing number of readers of these page-turning whodunnits in the tradition of Agatha Christie, Colin Dexter, and grab a murder mystery fuelled by poison in the dark alleys of Cambridge!

Lady Rample and Cupid's Kiss by Shéa MacLeodLady Rample and Cupid’s Kiss by Shéa MacLeod:

Just when Lady Rample has given up on love, a former flame reappears, bringing with him all sorts of emotions she thought buried. Unfortunately, that flame comes with one very aggressive and rather angry almost-ex-wife. The ensuing catfight is almost worth the price of admission.

When the ex-wife is found dead in Hyde Park, stabbed with a hatpin in the shape of a heart, the police naturally assume the killer is the husband. Our intrepid heroine is not about to allow her love to go down for a crime he didn’t commit. Unfortunately, proving him innocent may put her own neck on the line.

Never one to shirk from danger, Lady R—with the help of her eccentric Aunt Butty—will need all her wits about her if she’s to solve the crimes of the Cupid Killer.

Enjoy the glitz and glamor of the 1930s with the sixth book in the popular 1930s historical mystery series, Lady Rample Mysteries.

The Venom in the Valentine by Shéa MacleodThe Venom in the Valentine by Shéa MacLeod:

Viola Roberts is down in the dumps after discovering her boyfriend, Lucas, is snowed in back east. Her best friend, Cheryl, agrees to substitute a girl’s weekend for the romantic Valentine’s Day he had planned. Massages and mani-pedis for the win!

That is, until the hotel guests start receiving venomous Valentines, and one of them ends up dead. In a remote resort on the wild Oregon coast, it’s up to Viola to get to the bottom of things before any more guests fall to the killer’s poison pen.

Moonshine Valetnine by Tegan MaherMoonshine Valentine by Tegan Maher:

It’s Valentine’s Day, and Noelle has no idea what to get for Hunter. While she’s getting her hair cut and tossing around gift ideas, Coralee’s long-term boyfriend pops in and declares his undying love via a marriage proposal, breaking rule numero uno of their relationship clause.

He’s only the first to fall, though. When the men of Keyhole Lake start acting like lovesick lunatics, Noelle and Rae have to put their heads together to figure out what happened before the whole town goes loopy in love, or someone ends up in jail.

This story falls in between book 4, Murder and Mayhem, and Book 5, Murder and Marinade, in the Witches of Keyhole Lake Mystery Series.

Heart Attack by Terri MainHeart Attack by Terri Main:

When Smelling Roses, Watch Out for the Thorns

Strange things are happening in Armstrong City right before St. Valentine’s Day. Several women who found roses on their doorstep passed out inexplicably. Carolyn and Mike must figure out how this happened, who is doing it, and why?

A fun little mystery for the holiday of love.

 

Valentines & Victims by Donna MuseValentines & Victims by Donna Muse:

After being snowbound for much of the winter, amateur detective duo Geneva Pomolo and Iris Reeves are looking forward to a Valentine’s Day getaway with a few older friends at Bittersweet Lodge, a ski resort in the chilly foothills of southern Indiana. Both women are looking forward to a weekend of dance contests, luaus, roasted pigs, and toboggan scavenger hunts. Tensions mount when one of their friends comes down with a sudden illness. Geneva fears the worst: someone is poisoning the lodge’s guests.

The case takes a deadly swerve when Horace Weatherspoon—millionaire head of a railroad empire—dies in a toboggan accident. The old man had been deathly afraid of toboggans and Geneva knows there is malice at work: one of their fellow guests is a murderer. As Iris and Geneva begin to investigate, they uncover a trail of secrets leading back more than thirty years, and one person will kill again to keep those secrets buried.

Be My Valencrime by Amy M. ReadeBe My Valencrime by Amy M. Reade:

It’s Valentine’s Day in Juniper Junction and love is in the air. Or is that just a dark cloud?
Lilly’s shop assistant, Harry, is about to pop the question to his girlfriend, Alice Davenport. He’s got the ring, he’s planned a romantic dinner, and he’s even thought of a gracious escape if Alice says no.

The only thing missing is…Alice.

Lilly wants to do all she can to help find Alice, even if that means interfering with a police investigation. But as she begins to learn more about Harry’s sweet, unassuming girlfriend, she discovers that Alice is hiding a shocking secret that will complicate everything.

And when Lilly suffers a lapse in judgment, the consequences are swift and painful. Can she pull herself together enough to help her daughter through a tunnel of teenage angst, deal with her mother’s dementia-related wanderings, and still help Harry find his Happily Ever After?

The Valentine's Day Murders by Kendall ScottThe Valentine’s Day Murders by Kendall Scott:

It has been nine months since Constance Aberfield “retired” from her crime solving ways and she is loving every minute of it. That’s what she is telling herself anyway. Besides, with Valentine’s Day week descending upon the small town of Modest Peak, Constance is flat out too busy to even think of doing anything non-hotel related. Even if she wanted to work a case, she would not have the time.

Constance is so dedicated to her retirement in fact, that when she is alerted to a serial killer known as the St. Valentine Killer, operating in Denver, she refuses to take the case. Even Sheriff Nevil, begging for her help for a change, isn’t enough to get her back in the game. She really is done with that life.

But when the St. Valentine Killer makes his way to Modest Peak, and begins to target people close to Constance, she will have to ask herself if her self-imposed retirement is worth it. This is especially true when it becomes increasingly clear that only she possesses the skills required to put the killer behind bars once and for all.

Sweet Hearts by Connie SheltonSweet Heart by Connie Shelton:

Will there be Valentine wedding bells for Samantha Sweet and Beau Cardwell? (introduced in this mystery series opener Sweet Masterpiece) Sam’s bakery, Sweet’s Sweets is busier than ever this Valentine week, as she struggles to replicate the magical chocolate-making techniques of the enigmatic chocolatier who boosted her winter holiday sales into the stratosphere. However, candy classes take second place to a new mystery, when Sam meets a woman whose missing son’s case seems to have been dropped by the authorities. Marla Fresques learns that she is dying and needs for her son to come home and raise the daughter he left behind. Sam agrees to help, hoping that Sheriff Beau’s inside connections will bring about a quick and happy resolution.

But what about Sam’s and Beau’s own wedding plans? They may be in jeopardy when an entirely new development appears in the form of Beau’s ex-girlfriend who is determined to win him back.

With the familiar mix of mystery, romance and a touch of magic that has enchanted readers of this series, Sweet Hearts draws the reader even further into the captivating world of Samantha Sweet.

My Wicked Valentine by Lotta SmithMy Wicked Valentine by Lotta Smith:

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner… Love is in the air and so are the ghosts!

When Rick’s old friend, up-and-coming celeb psychic Brian Powers is accused of murdering an esthetician at a luxe gentlemen-only spa, Mandy’s cozy afternoon at home goes from cookie-baking to crime solving.

With baby Sophie and ghost-pal Jackie in tow, Mandy and Rick take to haunting the spa where the facials are fab and the intrigue is high-end.

Every suspect has a secret, but who’s willing to kill to keep theirs under wraps? [Seaweed wraps, that is.] Find out in this dangerously funny installment of the Manhattan Mystery series.

A Murderous Valentine by Beverley WattsA Murderous Valentine by Beverley Watts:

Admiral Charles Shackleford’s retirement isn’t going quite according to plan. Having been instrumental in improving the lives of so many (his words – others might be inclined to call it something slightly different), he’s struggling to reignite the spark in his own love life with the feisty Mabel.

Short on ideas, he decides to gatecrash his much put upon best friend Jimmy Noon’s Valentine idea and ends up in the middle of a murder mystery weekend where real murder is on someone else’s script.

As the weather closes in, the guests are stranded in a hotel harbouring an unknown killer. With no possibility of the police arriving any time soon, the Admiral and Jimmy have no option but to join forces in an attempt to uncover the Murderous Valentine.

The unstoppable duo may be not quite be Holmes and Watson, but can they catch a murderer…?

This humorous cozy mystery is the first in The Admiral Shackleford Mysteries.

The Draed Arrow by Grigor WeeksThe Dread Arrow by Grigor Weeks:

Dark Space is strange, and so are the hitmen who live there. Strap in sweetheart. Love never hurt so good.

 

 

 

 

 

Valentine's Blizzard Murder by Linnea WestValentine’s Bizzard Mystery by Linnea West:

When a minor celebrity staying at the Shady Lake Bed and Breakfast dies of an allergic reaction during a blizzard, it doesn’t seem like it could get much worse. But was it really an accident?

Jake Crawford is a D list celebrity who loves to come back to Shady Lake to be the big fish in a small pond. This time, he brought his new wife back to Shady Lake for his honeymoon and they are staying at the bed and breakfast that Tessa Schmidt helps her family run. Jake is kind of a jerk, but then a blizzard hits and he dies of an allergic reaction. It seems like things couldn’t get any worse for a Valentine’s Day weekend. But Tessa is starting to suspect that the allergic reaction isn’t the horrible accident she had assumed.

As the blizzard stretches on and on, secrets keep coming out. It seems like almost everyone has a motive to kill Jake. Can Tessa figure out who wanted to kill Jake Crawford before the killer strikes again?

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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.

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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?

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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!

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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?

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