Monday, October 1, 2018



Sometimes the past reaches out to the present . . .

It’s been thirteen months since Calamity (Callie) Barnstable inherited a house in Marketville under the condition that she search for the person who murdered her mother thirty years earlier. She solves the mystery, but what next? Unemployment? Another nine-to-five job in Toronto?

Callie decides to set down roots in Marketville, take the skills and knowledge she acquired over the past year, and start her own business: Past & Present Investigations.

It’s not long before Callie and her new business partner, best friend Chantelle Marchand, get their first client: a woman who wants to find out everything she can about her grandmother, Anneliese Prei, and how she came to a “bad end” in 1956. It sounds like a perfect first assignment. Except for one thing: Anneliese’s past winds its way into Callie’s present, and not in a manner anyone—least of all Callie—could have predicted.

Book Details

Title: Past & Present
Author: Judy Penz Sheluk

Genre: Amateur Sleuth/Cozy Mystery

Series: A Marketville Mystery, book 2

Publisher: Superior Shores Press (September 21, 2018)

Print length: 232 pages

On tour with: Great Escapes Book Tours


Calamity (Callie) Barnstable is the only child of two only children. She’s 38, single with “loser radar,” and has just started her own business: Past & Present Investigations.


Q: How did you first meet Judy?

We met when my late father left me a house in Marketville, a commuter town about 90 minutes north of Toronto, Canada, a house I had no idea existed. The condition of the inheritance was that I move into the house and find out who murdered my mother 30 years before. If that doesn’t sound creepy enough, one of the first things Judy had me do was find a skeleton in the attic . . .  among other things.

Q: Want to dish about her?

I like her, but honestly, when she gets into writing a book, she’s relentless. Sometimes I just need a break, you know?

Q: Why do you think that your life has ended up being in a book?

I’ve had a few people tell me my life could be a movie, let alone a book. It’s certainly had its share of twists and turns.

Q: Tell us about your favorite scene in the book.

Hmmm . . . I think meeting my great-grandmother, Olivia Osgoode, for the first time.

Q: Did you have a hard time convincing your author to write any particular scenes for you?

Judy hates writing anything romantic. She claims to be the least romantic person on the planet. But if you don’t want romantic, why introduce me to Royce Ashford, that’s what I want to know. Imagine one of those hunky handyman types you see on HGTV and you’ve got the idea.

Q: Tell the truth. What do you think of your fellow characters? 

I love Chantal Marchand, my best friend and business partner. I trust Shirley Harrington, our archives records specialist. And I’m learning to accept Misty Rivers, though I still don’t think she’s an actual psychic. There’s also Arabella Carpenter, who owns the Glass Dolphin antiques shop. She has her own series (the Glass Dolphin Mysteries), but she’s also a friend of mine. As for Royce, time will tell. Fingers crossed.

Q: Tell us about your best friend. Chantal is the fifth kid in a six-children family.
She’s gorgeous, a couple years past forty, but looks ten years younger, thanks to being a Pilates and fitness instructor. She’s divorced from Lance the Loser. Her specialty for Past & Present is genealogical research.

Q: What are you most afraid of? 

The next crazy thing Judy’s going to send me off to investigate. She comes up with an idea, and there’s not a minute’s thought given to how I’m going to feel about it or what sort of danger I might get into.

Q: If your story were a movie, who would play you? 

Zooey Dechanel would be a good fit. We’re born the same year and have similar features.

Q: What makes you stand out from any other characters in your genre?

Well, I don’t know if I stand out, I was raised to be humble, but I’m smart and I think things through carefully. I’m definitely not a ditz.

Q: Will you encourage Judy to write a sequel?
No encouragement needed, apparently. She’s already halfway through book three and tells me to get ready for a Summer/Fall 2019 launch. Honestly, that woman gets on a mission . . .



If you’re the sort of person who reads the dedication at the front of a book, you’ll have noticed that Past & Present has been dedicated to my mother, Anneliese Penz, who lost a lengthy battle with COPD and related health issues in September 2016. Until the very end, she was handing out bookmarks for Skeletons in the Attic and The Hanged Man’s Noose to any doctor or nurse who would take one (and I suspect she may have slipped a couple into their lab coats when they weren’t looking).

I take comfort in the fact that the last book my mother read was Skeletons in the Attic, the first book in this series. She was so pleased that I’d dedicated the book to my father, Anton “Toni” Penz, who succumbed to stomach cancer at the age of forty-two.

From the beginning, I planned to include two characters named Anton and Anneliese in the sequel to Skeletons, but I didn’t have a plot, let alone a plan. Quite honestly, I was stuck.

Then I discovered a small blue leather train case with cream trim, an ivory plastic handle, and brass locks at the back of my mother’s clothes closet. Inside, she’d carefully preserved documents from the past, among them her German passport issued in England in 1952, her landed immigration papers from England to Canada documenting her journey on the T.S.S. Canberra, old photographs and postcards, and some costume jewelry. The idea for Past & Present was born: the past reaching out to the present.

Although much of the historical data in these pages is based on fact, and Callie’s research often mirrored my own, this story is very much a work of fiction. I like to think my mother and father are together again, handing out bookmarks in heaven.


 From Chapter 5

“What brings you to Past & Present Investigations?”

Louisa took a sip of water. “May I rest the suitcase on the table?”

“Of course.” “Thank you.” She popped open the brass locks. Inside the case were several plastic storage bags, the kind you used at the airport to store your liquids. “I didn’t even know my mom owned this. It belonged to my maternal grandmother, not that I ever met her. My mom was raised in foster care. She aged out at sixteen, shoved out of the system without any support. The experience soured her.”

“What about your father?”

“Not in the picture. My mom got pregnant at eighteen. I don’t know whether it was a one-night stand or she fell for the wrong guy. She never elaborated. I do know that whoever he was, he didn’t contribute a dime of support. I’ve certainly never met him. Nor do I care to.”

“Did your mom ever marry?”

“Never even dated anyone again, or if she did, she certainly never brought him home. We weren’t rich, but I didn’t want for anything.” Louisa grimaced. “Well, that may not be entirely accurate. I longed for affection. My mom had a hard time displaying any emotion. Every feeling she ever had was neatly compartmentalized. Not surprising considering her upbringing and my deadbeat dad. But she did her best. We did our best.”

I wondered if Louisa had ever been married, or if she’d followed in her mother’s footsteps.

“You’re probably wondering if I ever married,” she said, reading my mind. “The answer is, yes, three times. Husband number one when I was barely legal age to tie the knot. He turned out to be a gambler. He lost our toy poodle in a poker game, if you can imagine that. Husband number two was a drinker who couldn’t hold down a job when he went to the trouble of finding one. Husband number three was a serial cheater who didn’t even try to hide his infidelity. I left him two years ago and swore off men. I earn a decent living as a credit manager. It helps that I’m bilingual, especially if I’m traveling in Quebec.” She named a national automotive glass company. I knew they owned a couple hundred windshield replacement retail stores across Canada.

“What’s in the train case that makes you want to dig into the past?”

Louisa removed one of the plastic bags, pulled out a photograph and handed it to me.

“This is my grandmother. Her name was Anneliese Prei.”

The resemblance to Louisa was uncanny. Despite the sepia tones of the old photo, it was obvious that her hair had the same honey-gold soft waves, and that her eyes were the color of milk chocolate. Even the mouth, full lipped and pouty, was identical. But it was the tilt of her nose, the slightly haughty way she held herself, which took her from look-alike to doppelgänger.

“She was beautiful. You look like her. You’re older, of course, and she has an edge about her that you don’t seem to possess, but overall, the resemblance is uncanny.”

“I always assumed that I took after my father. I certainly don’t look anything like my mom. When I saw this picture, it was as if my grandmother was calling out to me from the grave.”

© Judy Penz Sheluk 2018, reprinted with permission from the author.


Judy Penz Sheluk is the Amazon international bestselling author of the Glass Dolphin Mysteries (The Hanged Man’s Noose; A Hole in One) and the Marketville Mysteries (Skeletons in the Attic; Past & Present). Her short stories appear in several collections.

Judy is also a member of Sisters in Crime International, Sisters in Crime – Guppies, Sisters in Crime – Toronto, International Thriller Writers, Inc., the South Simcoe Arts Council, the Short Mystery Fiction Society, and Crime Writers of Canada, where she serves on the Board of Directors, representing Toronto/Southwestern Ontario.

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