Thursday, October 21, 2021





Seventeen-year-old aspiring reporter Katelyn Elms is saddened and shocked by the sudden suicide of her friend Marnie Overton in her Santa Barbara home. But after the initial police investigation, Katelyn notices multiple inconsistencies that the cops overlooked—and begins to believe that Marnie was actually killed by a clever and elusive murderer.

Prompted by the insistence of Marnie’s young daughter, Katelyn launches her own investigation and quickly uncovers a disturbing number of buried secrets and lies surrounding Marnie’s final days, including mysterious relationships with a shady district attorney and a womanizing and temperamental boss. Stonewalled by a police force determined to look no deeper into Marnie’s case and unwilling to let a child relitigate the matter, Katelyn presses on with the covert assistance of the Police Chief’s son—who also happens to be the one boy whose affections she has silently pursued for the past three years.

But when her efforts turn up a second questionable suicide, a book of suspects, and a motive to kill with dark ties to a massive underground conspiracy, Katelyn finds that she herself is fast becoming a target for premature death.

Book Details 

Title: The Lethal List

Author: Fred Tippett, II

Genre: YA mystery

Series: Katelyn Elms Mysteries
, book 1
Publisher: Trinity Power Productions LLC (August 24, 2021)

Print length: 325 pages


Things you need in order to write: my desk and chair, either my laptop or a good pen and paper, free time, and (relatively) absolute silence.
Things that hamper your writing: loud noises, a lack of free time, a lack of inspiration, and writer’s block.
Things you love about writing: the ability to build worlds, histories, and even change lives with the simple power of the page. The power to elevate others, right wrongs, or just make people think twice or think differently about the world in which we’re all living.
Things you hate about writing: definitely the revision process. A book idea is beautiful—and bearing it out on the page is often a pure exercise in catharsis. But once that’s done, any good writer—and I am—can expect to spend probably months revising and editing the work, killing darlings and second-guessing the usefulness of almost every word that’s been written.

Easiest thing about being a writer: ideas for books come to me from everywhere. EVERYWHERE. The news, day-to-day life, discussions with friends and family, things that I watch or read, and even things that I write! I already have so many ideas for future books that I really could be writing interesting stories forever, and they just keep coming.

Hardest thing about being a writer: just about everything that comes after the “ideas” part. Hahaha! An idea must be outlined—then written into a first draft. That first draft must be edited probably at least another two times (optimistically with the help of a good proofreader and/or editor the second time around) before it’s anywhere close to ready. Even once the book is ready to be published, an effective author still has tons of work to do with properly advertising it and choosing the best way to do that.

Things you love about where you live: the clean air and the relatively peaceful and quiet nature of the southern suburbs.

Things that make you want to move: I’m really not a fan of the way in which many people where I live—some even in leadership—have chosen to handle, or mishandle, the recent pandemic and the safety measures that have been prescribed to ensure everyone’s best end. This is as opposed to the better ways that the pandemic has been handled in other environments.

Favorite foods: fried salmon, savory herb cauliflower rice, chicken and wild rice soup, spicy shrimp pizza, sautéed spinach, red velvet cake.

Things that make you want to throw up: baked salmon, green beans, plain baked chicken, pineapple upside down cake.

Favorite beverage: eggnog milkshake.

Something that gives you a pickle face: grapefruit.

Favorite smell: blueberry pancakes with blueberry syrup.

Something that makes you hold your nose: pork rinds.

Something you’re really good at: writing. LOL.

Something you’re really bad at: probably football.

Something you like to do: long, quiet walks—usually in scenic parts of the cities that I visit.

Something you wish you’d never done: picked up a Netflix subscription. (I did not have it for long, but still. It really was time that I could’ve spent being far more productive than I was back then.)

Last best thing you ate: blueberry waffles with salmon croquettes.

Last thing you regret eating: oatmeal without honey.

Things you’d walk a mile for: exercise (hahaha), WiFi reception, the latest novel in my favorite series.

Things that make you want to run screaming from the room: bad reality television, bad singing.

Things you always put in your books: at least one important life lesson. It may be subtly pass-coded, but it’s there in each of my books for someone who’s willing to search it out. I tend to think that when a person reads a book—even just a fiction novel—s/he should learn something.

Things you never put in your books: foul language. Call me old-fashioned, but I’m a big fan of the style of timeless authors like Agatha Christie and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Erle Stanley Gardner. I believe that a novel can be great—classic, even—without including a noticeable amount of profanity.

Things to say to an author: “I loved your book!” “I can’t wait for the next one!” “So-and-so is my new favorite character!” “I feel so inspired by your work!”

Things to say to an author if you want to be fictionally killed off in their next book: “You really didn’t handle such-and-such situation the way that I would have.” “I really think you could’ve done a better job handling so-and-so’s character arc.” “Your new book really doesn’t stand up to the quality of your best work.” “I’m so jealous because you have such an easy career.”

Favorite places you’ve been: New York, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, Atlanta.

Places you never want to go to again: Zimbabwe, Cullman, Bryn Mawr.

Favorite things to do: endurance running, walking, biking, cooking, writing.

Things you’d run through a fire wearing gasoline pants to get out of doing: dusting, fence setting.

Proudest moment: the day that I embraced fully the nature of my Christian faith.

Most embarrassing moment: announcing to others the name of my childhood crush.

Most daring thing you’ve ever done: braving a literal hurricane one night to go to the store and get groceries for my brother and parents.

Something you chickened out from doing: bungee jumping from Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe.

The last thing you did for the first time: the last major one that I can recall was becoming a certified attorney almost a year ago now. I passed the Washington, D.C., bar exam and went through quite a strenuous set of trials to become a properly registered lawyer in Washington, D.C.

Something you’ll never do again: “Test” expired milk. That one’s a no-brainer.


Fred Tippett, II, is the author of the Young Adult Mystery novels The Women in White and The Lethal List. Fred currently lives in Alabama, though he is a Washington-DC-barred attorney. He holds a Juris Doctor Degree from the University of Pennsylvania—and primarily uses his legal education to bolster the credibility of police procedural elements for his novels.

Connect with Fred:

Website  |  Blog  |  Twitter  |  Goodreads

Buy the book:


Friday, October 15, 2021



In an idyllic Colorado town, a young girl goes missing—and the trail leads into the heart and mind of a remorseless killer.

The late summer heat in Echo Valley, Colorado turns lush greenery into a tinder dry landscape. When a young girl mysteriously disappears, long buried grudges rekindle. Of the two Flores girls, Marisa was the one people pegged for trouble. Her younger sister, Lena, was the quiet daughter, dutiful and diligent—right until the moment she vanished.

Detective Jo Wyatt is convinced the eleven-year-old girl didn’t run away and that a more sinister reason lurks behind her disappearance. For Jo, the case is personal, reaching far back into her past. But as she mines Lena’s fractured family life, she unearths a cache of secrets and half-lies that paints a darker picture.

As the evidence mounts, so do the suspects, and when a witness steps forward with a shocking new revelation, Jo is forced to confront her doubts and her worst fears. Now, it's just a matter of time before the truth is revealed—or the killer makes another deadly move.

Book Details:
Title: Mercy Creek
Author: M.E. Browning
Genre: mystery
Series: A Jo Wyatt Mystery, book 2
Publish date:
Publisher: Crooked Lane Book (October 12, 2021)
Print length: 278 pages


1.     Where is your cell phone? Backpack.

2.     Your hair? Problematic.

3.     Your workplace? Imaginarium.

4.     Your other half? Incredible.

5.     What makes you happy? Storytelling.

6.     What makes you crazy? Bullies.

7.     Your favorite food? Tacos.

8.     Your favorite beverage? Tea.

9.     Fear? Spiders.

10.  Favorite shoes? Hikers.

11.  Favorite way to relax? Read.

12.  Your mood? Optimistic.

13.  Your home away from home? Books.

14.  Where were you last night? Home.

15.  Something that you aren't? Finished.

16.  Something from your bucket list? Falconry.

17.  Wish list item? Travel.

18.  Where did you grow up? California.

19.  Last thing you did? Write.

20.  What are wearing now? Sundress.


Shadow Ridge
  Jo Wyatt Mystery, book 1

Adrift  (Mer Cavallo Mystery, book 1

Beached  (Mer Cavallo Mystery, book 2


Chapter One

Everyone had a story from that night. Some saw a man, others saw a girl, still others saw nothing at all but didn’t want to squander the opportunity to be part of something larger than themselves. To varying degrees, they were all wrong. Only two people knew the full truth.

That Saturday, visitors to the county fair clustered in the dappled shade cast by carnival rides and rested on hay bales scattered like afterthoughts between games of chance and food booths, the soles of their shoes sticky with ice cream drips and spilled sodas.

Detective Jo Wyatt stepped into the shadow of the Hall of Mirrors to watch the crowd. She grabbed the collar of her uniform and pumped it a few times in a futile attempt to push cooler air between her ballistic vest and sweat-sodden T-shirt.

The Echo Valley Fair marked the end of summer, but even now, as the relentless Colorado sun dipped, heat rose in waves around bare ankles and stroller wheels as families retreated toward the parking lots. An older crowd began to creep in, prowling the midway. The beer garden overflowed.

Within minutes the sun dropped behind the valley walls and the fairground lights flickered to life, their wan orange glow a beacon to moths confused by the strobing brightness of rides and games. Calliope music and the midway’s technopop collided in a crazed mishmash of notes so loud they echoed in Jo’s chest. She raised the volume of her radio.

The day shift officers had clocked out having handled nothing more pressing than a man locked out of his car and an allegation of unfair judging flung by the second-place winner of the bake-off. 

Jo gauged the teeming crowd of unfamiliar faces. Tonight would be different.


Carnival music was creepy, Lena decided. Each ride had its own weird tune and it all seemed to crash against her with equal force, following her no matter where she went.

The guys in the booths were louder than they had been earlier, more aggressive, calling out, trying to get her to part with her tickets. Some of the guys roamed, jumping out at people, flicking cards and making jokes she didn’t understand while smiling at her older sister.

Marisa tossed her hair. Smiled back. Sometimes they let her play for free.

“Let’s go back to the livestock pavilion,” Lena said.

“Quit being such a baby.” Marisa glanced over her shoulder at the guy running the shooting gallery booth and tossed her hair. Again.

Lena rolled her eyes and wondered how long it would be before her sister ditched her.

“Hold up a sec.” Marisa tugged at the hem of her skintight skirt and flopped down on a hay bale.

She’d been wearing pants when they’d left the house. The big purse she always carried probably hid an entire wardrobe Momma knew nothing about. Lena wondered if the missing key to grandma’s car was tucked in there too.

Marisa unzipped one of her boots and pulled up her thin sock.

Lena pointed. “What happened to the bottom of your boot?”

Her sister ran her finger along the arch. “I painted it red.”


“It makes them more valuable.”

“Since when does coloring the bottom of your shoes make them more valuable?”

Marisa’s eyes lit up in a way that happened whenever she spoke about clothes or how she was going to hit it big in Hollywood someday. “In Paris there’s this guy who designs shoes and all of them have red soles. He’s the only one allowed to do that. It’s his thing.”

“But he didn’t make those boots.”

“All the famous women wear his shoes.” She waved to someone in the crowd.

“You’re not famous and you bought them at Payless.”

“What do you know about fashion?”

“I know enough not to paint the bottom of my boots to make them look like someone else made them.”

Marisa shoved her foot into her boot and yanked the zipper closed. “You bought your boots from the co-op.” She handed Lena her cell phone.

“You should have bought yours there, too.” Lena dutifully pointed the lens at her sister.

“Take a couple this time.” Marisa leaned back on her hands and arched her back, her hair nearly brushing the hay bale, and the expression on her face pouty like the girls in the magazines she was always looking at.

Lena snapped several photos and held out the phone. “All those high heels are good for is punching holes in the ground.”

“Oh, Lena.” Marisa’s voice dropped as if she was sharing a secret. “If you ever looked up from your animals long enough, you’d see there’s so much more to the world.” Her thumbs rapidly tapped the tiny keyboard of her phone.

In the center of the midway, a carnival guy held a long-handled mallet and called out to people as they passed by. He was older—somewhere in his twenties—and wore a tank top. Green and blue tattoos covered his arms and his biceps bulged as he pointed the oversized hammer at the tower behind him. It looked like a giant thermometer with numbers running along one edge, and High Striker spelled out on the other.

“Come on, men. There’s no easier way to impress the ladies.” He grabbed the mallet and tapped the plate. “You just have to find the proper motivation if you want to get it up…” He pointed with his chin to the top of the game and paused dramatically. “There.” He craned his neck and leered at Marisa. Lena wondered if he was looking up her sister’s skirt. “What happens later is up to you.”

Never breaking eye contact, he took a mighty swing. The puck raced up the tower, setting off a rainbow of lights and whistles before it smashed into the bell at the top. He winked in their direction. “Score.”

Twenty minutes later, Marisa was gone.


Lena gave up looking for her sister and returned to the livestock pavilion. Marisa could keep her music and crowds and stupid friends.

Only a few people still wandered around the dimly lit livestock pavilion. The fireworks would start soon and most people headed for the excitement outside, a world away from the comforting sound of animals snuffling and pawing at their bedding.

Marisa was probably hanging out near the river with her friends, drinking beer. Maybe smoking a cigarette or even a joint. Doing things she didn’t think her baby sister knew about.

Lena walked through an aisle stacked with poultry and rabbit cages. The pens holding goats, swine, and sheep took up the middle. At the back of the pavilion stretched a long row of three-sided cattle stalls. The smells of straw, grain, and animals replaced the gross smell of deep-fried candy bars and churros that had clogged her throat on the midway.

Near the end of the row, Lena stopped.

“Hey there, Bluebell.” Technically, he was number twenty-four, like his ear tag said. Her father didn’t believe in naming livestock, but to her, he’d always be Bluebell—even after she sold him at the auction to be slaughtered. Just because that was his fate didn’t mean he shouldn’t have a name to be remembered by. She remembered them all.

She patted his hip and slid her hand along his spine so he wouldn’t shy as she moved into the stall. She double-checked the halter, pausing to scratch his forehead. A piece of straw swirled in his water bucket and she fished it out. The cold water cooled her hot skin.

“You did good today. Sorry I won’t be spending the night with you, but Papa got called out to Dawson’s ranch to stitch up some mare.”

He swished his tail and it struck the rail with a metallic ring.

“Don’t get yourself all riled. I’ll be back tomorrow before you know it.”

If she hadn’t been showing Bluebell this afternoon, she’d have gone with her father. Her sutures had really improved this summer and were almost as neat as his. No one would guess they’d been made by an eleven-year-old. If nothing else, she could have helped keep the horse calm.

Instead, she’d go home with Marisa and spend the night at Momma’s. She wondered if Marisa would show up before the 4-H leader called lights out in the pavilion or if Lena would have to walk to her mom’s house by herself in the dark.

She reached down and jiggled the feed pan to smooth out the grain that Bluebell had pushed to the edges.

“That’s some cow.”

The male voice startled them both and Bluebell stomped his rear hoof. Lena peered over the Hereford’s withers. At first all she saw were the tattoos. An ugly monster head with a gaping mouth and snake tongue seem to snap at her. It was the carny from the High Striker standing at the edge of the stall.

“It’s a steer,” she stuttered. “And my sister isn’t here.”

“Not your sister I wanted to talk to.” He swayed a bit as he moved into the stall, like when her mother drank too much wine and tried to hide it.

Lena ducked under Bluebell’s throat and came up on the other side. She looked around the pavilion, now empty of people.

“Suspect they’re all out waiting on the fireworks,” he said.

The first boom echoed through the space. Several sheep bleated their disapproval and Bluebell jerked against his halter.

“Shhhh, now.” Lena reached her hand down and scratched his chest. “All that racket’s just some stupid fireworks.”

“Nothing to worry about,” the man added. He had the same look in his eyes that Papa’s border collie got right before he cut off the escape route of a runaway cow.

A bigger boom thundered through the pavilion. Halter clips clanged against the rails as uneasy cattle shuffled in their stalls. Her own legs shook as she sidled toward Bluebell’s rear.

He matched her steps. “What’s a little thing like you doing in here all by yourself?”

“My father will be back any minute.” Her voice shook.

He smiled, baring his teeth. “I’ll be sure to introduce myself when he arrives.”

A series of explosions, sharp as gunfire, erupted outside. Somewhere a cow lowed. Several more joined in, their voices pitiful with fear.

“You’re upsetting my steer. You need to leave.”

“Oh, your cow’s just fine. I think it’s you that’s scared.”

He spoke with the same low voice that Lena used with injured animals. The one she used right before she did something she knew would hurt but had to be done.

“You’re a pretty little thing,” he crooned. “Nice and quiet.”

Her tongue stuck to the roof of her mouth. She stood frozen. A warm trickle started down her leg, and the wet spot expanded on her jeans.

He edged closer. “I like them quiet.”


Jo ran.

The suspect veered off the sidewalk and slid down the hillside toward the creek.

She plunged off the side of the embankment, sliding through dirt and duff, closing the distance. She keyed her shoulder mic. “Entering the creek, heading west toward the Animas. I need someone on the River Trail.” 

Narrow-leaf cottonwood and willows shimmered silver in the moonlight and wove a thicket of branches along the water, herding the suspect toward the cobbled stream bed.

Jo splashed into the ankle-deep water. Close enough now to almost touch.

Her lungs burned. With a final burst of speed, she lunged. Shoved his shoulder while he was mid-stride.

The man sprawled into the creek. Rolled onto his feet with a bellow. A knife in his hand.

Without thinking, she’d drawn her gun. “Drop it!”

Flashlight beams sliced the foliage. Snapping branches and crashing footsteps marked the other officers’ progress as they neared. Estes shouted Jo’s name. Her eyes never left the man standing just feet away.

“Over here!” She focused on the man’s shoulder, watching for the twitch that would telegraph his intentions. “You need to drop the knife. Now.” Her voice rose above the burble of the stream. “Or things are going to get a whole lot worse for you tonight.”

She shifted her weight to her front leg and carefully shuffled her rear foot until she found firmer footing and settled into a more stable shooting stance. “Drop the knife.” She aimed center mass. Drew a deep breath, willed her heart to slow.

The knife splashed into the creek near the bank.

“On your right.” Estes broke through the brush beside her.

“Get down on your knees,” Jo ordered. “Hands behind your head.”

“It’s my friend’s truck,” the man said.

Jo holstered her gun and moved forward while Estes covered her. She gripped his fingers and bowed the suspect backward, keeping him off balance while she searched him for weapons, then cuffed him.

“Not according to the owner.” She double-locked the cuffs while Estes radioed dispatch they had one in custody.

An explosion above the treetops made Jo flinch. Fireworks slashed the darkness and burst into balls of purple and green and dazzling white that sparkled briefly, then disappeared.


Excerpt from Mercy Creek by M.E. Browning.  Copyright 2021 by M.E. Browning. Reproduced with permission from M.E. Browning. All rights reserved.


M.E. BROWNING served twenty-two years in law enforcement and retired as a captain before turning to a life of crime fiction. Writing as Micki Browning, she penned the Agatha-nominated and award-winning Mer Cavallo mysteries, and her short stories and nonfiction have appeared in anthologies, diving and mystery magazines, and textbooks. As M.E. Browning, she writes the Jo Wyatt Mysteries. The first in the series, Shadow Ridge, won the Colorado Book Award for Mystery and the silver medal in the popular fiction category of the Florida Book Awards. Mercy Creek launches in October 2021.

Connect with the author:
Website   |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Goodreads

Buy the book:

Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble  |  Penguin Randhom House  

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Saturday, October 2, 2021




21st-century journalist Olivia Watson thinks traveling back in time to 1934 to attend a Halloween party with her friend Detective Steven Blackwell will be a lot of fun. And it is . . . until she witnesses the head of the Shipley Five-and-Dime empire murdered, and fears the killer saw her face.

The smart move is to return to the safety of the present, but Olivia possesses a secret and is about to defy the unwritten rules of time-travel. She convinces Steven to let her stay in his time and help unravel the motives behind the murder, even if it means risking her own life to save another.

When Steven delves into the investigation, he discovers how a bitter relationship, a chance encounter, and a fateful decision converged to set the stage for murder. In a maze full of unreliable clues and misdirection, dark secrets refuse to stay buried and forgotten ghosts won’t fade away. Steven is reminded that old sins cast long shadows.

Can Steven catch the killer before time runs out for Olivia?


Book Details:

Title: Death Rang the Bell

Author’s name: Carol Pouliot

Genre: traditional police procedural 

Series: The Blackwell and Watson Time-Travel Mysteries, book 3

Publisher: Level Best Books (September 21, 2021)

Print length: 350 pages


A few of your favorite things: photographs from my trips overseas. I’ve visited five continents so far but still have a long list of countries where I want to go. I’m planning a trip on the Orient Express with a friend. That’s the #1 thing on my bucket list. I can’t wait!!
Things you need to throw out: magazines that have piled up. I always think I’ll want to look at some of the decorating again.

Things you need in order to write: an organized desk, comfortable chair, and quiet. I live in the country surrounded by trees so it’s the ideal setting. I love writing when it’s raining or snowing. It’s the perfect atmosphere to write mysteries!
Things that hamper your writing: stress. I have a hard time focusing and being creative when I’m weighed down with stress.

Things you love about writing: absolutely everything! I love coming up with the characters, the challenge of plotting the crimes, shaping the rough draft−adding layers and historical details, and finally talking about the books with readers who loved them.
Things you hate about writing: nothing.
Easiest thing about being a writer: coming up with ideas.

Hardest thing about being a writer: getting the word out about my books.

Things you love about where you live: I live on 10 acres of woods in the country in Upstate New York. I love watching the more than thirty different kinds of birds at my feeders, the deer, foxes, and chipmunks. Fall and winter are my favorite seasons and the views outside my window are spectacular.
Things that make you want to move: the summers are getting hotter. I’m not sure how far north I’d have to go to escape the heat though. Quebec, anyone??

Things you never want to run out of: coffee, fresh fruit and veggies, sparking water, and my favorite red wine.
Things you wish you’d never bought: an armchair in my living room. I liked it at the time but I’m really over it.
Words that describe you: strong, determined, independent, creative.
Words that describe you but you wish they didn’t: controlling.
Favorite song: “Love Bites” by Def Leppard
Music that makes your ears bleed: any and all folk music.
Favorite beverage: espresso.

Something that gives you a pickle face: white wine.
Something you’re really good at: being a loyal, dependable friend.

Something you’re really bad at: knowing when to back off from trying to “fix” something and just be quiet and listen. But . . . I’m working on it!

Things you always put in your books: references to art and artists, a foreign location, and either music or literature. I love adding layers.

Things you never put in your books: sex, violence, vulgar language.

Favorite places you’ve been: France, England, Egypt, Turkey.

Places you never want to go to again: Mexico, the Caribbean.

Things that make you happy: walking around a foreign city.

Things that drive you crazy: getting there. I remember when air travel was exciting and fun. Now, it’s miserable.

Most daring thing you’ve ever done: I moved to France by myself when I was 23. I didn’t know which school I’d be teaching in, had no place to live, and, of course, computers and cell phones didn’t exist yet. I felt completely cut off from my family. I didn’t have any extra money to even consider calling home at the astronomical long distance rates.

Something you chickened out from doing: I did gymnastics from 8th grade to junior year in college. The even parallel bars were my main equipment. There was a particular dismount that terrified me. I always chickened out at the last moment.



Chapter 1

Hot coffee spilled over the rim and burned her hand. Lillian wanted to cry. At nine in the morning, she’d been on her feet since six and had seven long hours to go. She didn’t know how much longer she’d be able to keep it up. She was constantly exhausted and the struggle to breathe was worsening; some days it was nearly unbearable. She knew the disease was going to overpower her, and that moment was coming soon.

Lillian slid around some tables and set a heaping plate of eggs and bacon, potatoes, and toast in front of Arnie McCormack, then topped off his cup from the pot in her other hand. McCormack lowered his newspaper and leered, pinching her behind as she stepped away. Rude bastard. She’d like to pour the scalding coffee over his head and dump his breakfast right in his lap.

The only thing that kept her going every day was the thought of her beautiful little boy. Well, not so little anymore. He was growing up fast, nine years old in January. She managed a smile and wiped away a tear before it became a flood. Best not to think too much about things. Especially money. Lillian knew if she didn’t get the money somehow, she’d never see her son grow into a man.

And what about her letter? It had been four weeks since she’d mailed it. Surely he should have written back by now. She hadn’t been unreasonable, hadn’t asked for much, only enough to pay for treatment at the Little Red Cottage in Saranac Lake.

Dr. Trudeau’s Little Red Cottage. It sounded like heaven. Lillian had heard wonderful things about people being cured there. Imagine, cured! The thought made her dizzy.

Lillian returned to the lunch counter, using the backs of chairs for support. When she arrived at the griddle, she was breathing hard.

Tomorrow, she thought, if I don’t get an answer tomorrow, I’ll send another letter.


Chapter 2

The Three Witches of Macbeth were doing a swell job. Annie, Molly, and Lilly led the parade of pirates, sailors, and fairy princesses through Knightsbridge, picking up ghosts, goblins, and a mummy along the way. Crowds of families followed the costumed children down Victoria Avenue to the entrance of The Elks Club, where, from the top of the staircase, The Three Witches hissed, “Double, double toil and trouble; fire burn and caldron bubble.”

Molly cried out, “Beware, all ye who enter here.” Then she thumped a tall gnarled staff on the stone step, and Annie and Lilly grasped the thick iron rings with both hands and heaved. As the massive oak doors creaked open, the masquerading children flew up the stairs and into the community room, awash with the scents of apples and cinnamon.

Carved pumpkins flickered in the semi-darkened room, revealing white cobweb-filled corners and big black spiders and bats hanging so low that adults had to duck. Seeing colorful bags piled on black-draped tables, one little boy jumped up and down, clapping his hands in glee. A girl grabbed her friend’s hand, and they did a little dance, and three teenagers slapped each other on the back. A Halloween treat awaited each of them. Eager to explore, the kids fanned out.

“Ooh! I feel like I’m ten again,” said Olivia, shaking the black-and-orange tin noise maker. “Why didn’t we wear costumes?”

Steven gave her a look. “What if I had to rush out for an emergency?” he asked.    

“You could’ve dressed like a cop.” She smirked.

“Hi, Steven.” Decked out in an eye patch and pirate gear, Jimmy Bourgogne appeared from behind Olivia, swept off his hat, and gave a courtly bow, bending low to the floor. “Miss Watson.”

“Jimmy, you look fantastic,” exclaimed Olivia. “I didn’t recognize you with that mustache and goatee.”

“Congratulations, Jimmy. You fellas did a swell job,” Steven said.

“Thanks, but the credit really goes to Leon here.”

A slender young man with light brown hair joined them. He sported a plaid shirt with a tin sheriff’s badge pinned over his heart, red kerchief around his neck, and holster holding a toy gun attached to a leather belt.

“Hi, Leon.” Steven extended his hand. “This is my friend Olivia Watson. Olivia, Leon Quigg is my mailman.”

“Nice to meet you, Miss Watson.” Leon said, nodding as he doffed his cowboy hat.

“I’m glad to meet you, too. This is a wonderful party.”

Jean Bigelow sidled up to Olivia, yelling amidst the racket. “You made it!”

“Jean! Isn’t this swell?” Olivia chuckled to herself. Liz and Sophie would crack up hearing her talk like a real 1934 person.

After several months, acting like she belonged here had become second nature, but Olivia Watson didn’t belong here. She lived in 2014 and only visited 1934 from time to time.

This week Olivia was spending several days in Steven’s time. No passport, no suitcase, no plane ticket required. All it took was a simple step across the threshold of her bedroom door into Steven’s Depression-era house−simple but the key to her recently discovered ability to time travel.

“What are you reading tonight?” Olivia asked the librarian.

“Edgar Allan Poe. ‘The Cask of Amontillado.’”

“That’s the one where the guy gets walled up, isn’t it?”

Jean nodded. “I’ve been practicing creepy voices for days.”

“Well, you look the part. I love your cape, very 19th-century.” Olivia touched a fold of Jean’s costume. “Ooh, velvet. I wish I’d worn that.” 

The organizers had packed the evening full of entertainment. Steven and Olivia watched a magician pull pennies out of children’s ears and a rabbit out of his top hat, and wondered how he made the mayor’s watch disappear. The kids bobbed for apples, the water sloshing out of the metal washtub soaking the floor. The younger children played Pin-the-Tail-on-the-Donkey and Drop-the-Handkerchief, while the older ones played charades and told ghost stories.

At seven thirty, the kids crowded along the row of tables where members of the Elks handed out treats. Noses in their black-and-orange bags exploring the treasures within, they moved to the far end to select their favorite soda, handing the tall glass bottles of Hires Root Beer, Orange Crush, and Coca-Cola to Jimmy Bou and Leon Quigg, who were armed with metal bottle openers.

The evening culminated with story telling. The village librarian led the young children into a side room, spooky picture books in hand. The older ones gathered behind the curtain on the shadow-filled stage where Jean Bigelow waited in flickering candlelight. When they’d settled in a circle on the floor, Olivia among them, the librarian cleared her throat and began.

“The thousand injuries of Fortunato I had borne as I best could; but when he ventured upon insult, I vowed revenge....”


Excerpt from Death Rang the Bell by Carol Pouliot.  Copyright 2021 by Carol Pouliot. Reproduced with permission from Carol Pouliot. All rights reserved.


A Francophile at age 11, Carol Pouliot dreamed of getting her passport and going to Paris. After a Master’s degree in French at Stony Brook University, she headed to Marseille, France for her first teaching job. She taught French and Spanish for over 30 years in Upstate New York. She also founded an agency that provided translations in over 24 languages. Carol is the author of The Blackwell and Watson Time-Travel Mysteries, which include Doorway to Murder (#1), Threshold of Deceit (# 2), Death Rang the Bell (#3), and the upcoming RSVP to Murder (#4). When not writing, Carol can be found reaching for her passport and packing a suitcase for her next adventure. Sign up for Carol’s newsletter.

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