Book review, excerpt, & giveaway: Merle, by Angela Wren

Merle coverAngela Wren

on tour September 4-15, 2017

Merle

(mystery)
Release date: July 5, 2017
at Crooked Cat Publishing
208 pages
ISBN: 978-1546811985
Website | Goodreads

 

SYNOPSIS

Jacques Forêt, a former gendarme turned investigator, delves into the murky world of commercial sabotage – a place where people lie and misrepresent, and where information is traded and used as a threat.
The Vaux organisation is losing contracts and money, and Jacques is asked to undertake an internal investigation. As he works through the complexity of all the evidence, he finds more than he bargained for, and his own life is threatened.
When a body of a woman is found, it appears to be suicide. But as the investigation takes another turn, Jacques suspects there is more to it.
Who is behind it all…and why? Will Jacques find the answer before another person ends up dead?

EXCERPT

toussaint – all saints’ day, sunday, november 1st, 10.00am

At his desk in Mende, Pelletier was reading the initial report of the previous day’s death whilst he waited for Jacques Forêt to arrive. The building was unusually silent and he was still smarting from the verbal drubbing his wife had given him for having to be at work. Very much aware that he was foregoing a chance to see how much his recently born granddaughter had changed and grown, he sighed and slumped down in his chair. Missing much of this precious time with his own children when they were young because of his work was something he now bitterly regretted.

He pushed his mind back to the scene of the crime when he heard the door of the outer office open and then click shut again. Jacques, his long navy winter coat buttoned against the day’s chill wind, strode into Pelletier’s room.

“I’ve brought coffee,” he said placing two insulated silver containers on the desk. Discarding his coat on the back of a nearby chair, he sat down and smiled. “What does the pathologist’s report say?”

“It’s only a preliminary one at the moment, so it is hurried, and it doesn’t tell me anything I don’t know already.” Pelletier pushed the thin file across the desk to his visitor.

“And you’re sure you want me to look at this?”

“Yes. I know you’re no longer on the force, Jacques, but yesterday you arrived at the scene just as I was leaving. You had a reason for being there, and I want to hear more about that. Also, I value your opinion as an ex-policeman.” Pelletier removed his rimless spectacles and began to polish the lenses with his handkerchief.

Jacques glanced through the meagre number of pages searching for the single relevant line he required.

Death by exsanguination from a knife wound to the left wrist.

“And the estimated time of death is recorded as sometime after noon on Friday…” Jacques said out loud as he looked up from the file. “Well, that fits.”

“With what?” Pelletier replaced his spectacles.

“I now work for Alain Vaux of Vaux Investigations. One of our staff has not been into the office since last Thursday, and there has been no explanation from her either. She was due in the office yesterday as well but did not turn up, nor did she make contact to let us know why she was absent.” Jacques quickly flicked through the other pages and then placed the folder on the desk.

“Ah. But that does not explain why you were in that building in Merle as I was about to leave it.”

Jacques bristled. “In part, it does. Her manager, Madeleine Cloutier, has a regular meeting on a Friday afternoon in Rodez and, if she comes into the office first, always leaves at about eleven, eleven-thirty at the latest. On Friday, she asked me to check on Aimée, her absentee team member, if she didn’t come in after lunch. At around three-thirty I called her office number and it was switched to voicemail, and when I called Aimée’s mobile immediately afterwards, it was switched off. When she didn’t come in for work yesterday, I called her again, at different times and got the same result. I decided to visit to see if she was OK.”

 

MY REVIEW

This one started out slow for me. It’s not often I say that about mystery novels, but it did. I’m not sure why; perhaps my mind wasn’t in quite the right set. And it had been so long since I’d read the previous novel, Messandrierre. But, it did pick up, and by halfway I was intrigued. Who was behind the sabotage? There are so many possibilities, so many people with motive and desire. As with the first book, I did not entirely expect the result (though one or two characters tweaked my interest there). So in that way it was satisfying.

I think the main reason why it took so long to get into  is that the characters did not seem as vivid as Messandrierre’s. The townsfolk in that book seemed to have stronger personalities and were more memorable. I had a hard time remembering names in the first bit of this novel.

It is good though, and worth reading if you like mysteries, particularly the corporate espionage types.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Merle Angela Wren

Angela Wren
I’m an actor and director at a small theatre
a few miles from where I live in Yorkshire in the UK.
I did work as a project and business change manager
– very pressured and very demanding –
but I managed to escape and now I write books.
I’ve always loved stories and story telling
so it seemed a natural progression, to me, to try my hand at writing.
My first published story was in an anthology,
which was put together by the magazine ‘Ireland’s Own’ and published in 2011.
I particularly enjoy the challenge of plotting and planning different genres of work.
My short stories vary between contemporary romance, memoir, mystery and historical.
I also write comic flash-fiction
and have drafted two one-act plays that have been recorded for local radio.
My full-length stories are set in France where I like to spend as much time as possible each year.

Visit her website and her blog. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter

Buy the book on Amazon

***

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tweeting about the giveaway everyday
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[just follow the directions on the entry-form]

Global giveaway open to all
5 winners

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Spotlight & Giveaway: The Winemaker Detective Omnibus, by Jean-Pierre Alaux & Noël Balen

I’ll be reviewing it soon!

Jean-Pierre ALAUX and Noël BALEN

on Tour November 23-December 23 with

winemaker omnibus1

The Winemaker Detective:
An Omnibus

(mystery)

Release date: December 5, 2015
at Le French Book

309 pages

ISBN: 9781939474568

Website | Goodreads

SYNOPSIS

The ideal gift for mystery and wine lovers — An immersion in French countryside, gourmet attitude, and light-hearted mystery.

Two amateur sleuths gumshoe around French wine country, where money, deceit, jealousy, inheritance and greed are all the ingredients needed for crime. Master winemaker Benjamin Cooker and his sidekick Virgile Lanssien solve mysteries in vineyards with a dose of Epicurean enjoyment of fine food and beverage. Each story is a homage to wine and winemakers, as well as a mystery.

In Treachery in Bordeaux, barrels at the prestigious grand cru Moniales Haut-Brion wine estate in Bordeaux have been contaminated. Is it negligence or sabotage?

In Grand Cru Heist, Benjamin Cooker’s world gets turned upside down one night in Paris. He retreats to the region around Tours to recover. He and his assistant Virgile turn PI to solve two murders and a very particular heist.

In Nightmare in Burgundy, a dream wine tasting trip to Burgundy turns into a troubling nightmare when Cooker and his assistant stumble upon a mystery revolving around messages from another era.

This made-for-TV series is “difficult to forget and oddly addictive” (ForeWord Reviews).

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

Alaux-Balen

 

Jean-Pierre Alaux and Noël Balen,
wine lover and music lover respectively,
came up with the idea for the Winemaker Detective series
while sharing a meal,
with a bottle of Château Gaudou 1996,
a red wine from Cahors
with smooth tannins and a balanced nose.

ABOUT THE TRANSLATORS

Anne Trager loves France so much she has lived there for 27 years and just can’t seem to leave. What keeps her there is a uniquely French mix of pleasure seeking and creativity. Well, that and the wine. In 2011, she woke up one morning and said, “I just can’t stand it anymore. There are way too many good books being written in France not reaching a broader audience.” That’s when she founded Le French Book to translate some of those books into English. The company’s motto is “If we love it, we translate it,” and Anne loves crime fiction, mysteries and detective novels.
***
Sally Pane studied French at State University of New York Oswego and the Sorbonne before receiving her Masters Degree in French Literature from the University of Colorado where she wrote Camus and the Americas: A Thematic Analysis of Three Works Based on His Journaux de Voyage. Her career includes more than twenty years of translating and teaching French and Italian at Berlitz and at University of Colorado Boulder. She has worked in scientific, legal and literary translation; her literary translations include Operatic Arias; Singers Edition, and Reality and the Untheorizable by Clément Rosset, along with a number of titles in the Winemaker Detective series. She also served as the interpreter for the government cabinet of Rwanda and translated for Dian Fossey’s Digit Fund. In addition to her passion for French, she has studied Italian at Colorado University, in Rome and in Siena. She lives in Boulder, Colorado with her husband.

 

***

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5 participants will each win a copy of this book.

Be sure to follow each participant on Twitter/Facebook,
for more chances to win

Enter here

Visit each blogger on the tour:
tweeting about the giveaway everyday
of the Tour will give you 5 extra entries each time!
[just follow the directions on the entry-form]

***

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TO READ OTHER REVIEWS AND EXCERPT

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Check out the Martini Club 4 – The 1920s!

Martini Club 4 – The 1920s

Amanda McCabe, Alicia Dean, Kathy L Wheeler and Krysta Scott have a unique friendship. Yes, they are all romance writers, and at different stages in their writing careers. But every Friday night, schedules permitting, they meet at the Martini Lounge in Edmond, Oklahoma where they chitchat, plan retreats to get away and for just a general get away. Over a period of time the idea to create a series of stories where the Martini Lounge would serve as a backdrop—well, as writers, that was inevitable. So here we are with our first go at it. Welcome to 1920s New York City where four young women run away from England excited to make their own way in a new world.

All four stories are now available for the pre-order price of **$0.99** until February 26, 2015, the official release. 

 

rebel

Rebellious: Martini Club 4 Series – The 1920s

Amanda McCabe

Blurb: Can an aristocratic lady melt the cold heart of a Russian gangster?

Lady Jessica Hatton fled her high-society London debutante life for one of investigative journalism in New York—only to be relegated to the fashion pages. Searching for a juicy story leads her to Club 501, the city’s most glamorous speakeasy—and its handsome, mysterious owner, Frank Markov. But his past of war and revolution puts their hearts—and their lives—in danger…

Excerpt: “Do you smell that, Meggie?” Jessica Hatton cried as she leaned into the cold, salt spray wind, her t-strap shoes perched on the lowest rung of the ship’s railing.  She’d lost her hat, and the short strands of her hair blew into her eyes, but she didn’t care.  England was far behind them.  They had escaped.

“It smells like freedom!” she shouted, and threw up her arms.  It felt like she could fly all the way to America.

“I only smell old fish,” Meggie said.  “Now come down from there, Jess.  If you tumble into the drink, it will all be over before it even starts.”

Jessica laughed and shook her head, but she did climb down.  She spun around to see Meggie stretched out on one of the deck chairs, the glossy mink collar of her coat drawn close around her.

The sky was grey and dismal-looking, the water not as glassy-smooth as when they slid past Ireland yesterday and headed out to open sea.  Several of the passengers had retreated to their cabins, but Jessica couldn’t stand staying inside.  Not when there was so much to be seen.

“It smells like fish and freedom,” Jessica insisted.  “But we can go in now.  Maybe Charlotte and Eliza will want to play some cards or mah-jong.”

“Finally,” Meggie grumbled as she swung her feet down to the damp deck.  But her smile was broad.  Jessica knew Meggie was loving it all just as much as she was.

Bio: Amanda McCabe wrote her first romance at the age of sixteen–a vast historical epic starring all her friends as the characters, written secretly during algebra class (and her parents wondered why math was not her strongest subject…)

She’s never since used algebra, but her books have been nominated for many awards, including the RITA Award, the Romantic Times BOOK Reviews Reviewers’ Choice Award, the Booksellers Best, the National Readers Choice Award, and the Holt Medallion.  She lives in Oklahoma with a menagerie of two cats, a Pug, and a very bossy miniature Poodle, along with far too many books.

When not writing or reading, she loves taking dance classes, collecting cheesy travel souvenirs, and watching the Food Network–even though she doesn’t cook.

Amazon buy link: http://amzn.com/B00RICWBC8

Contact info: http://ammandamccabe.com

 

 

ruin

Ruined: Martini Club 4 Series – The 1920s

Alicia Dean

Blurb: She vowed she’d be no man’s doxy, but fate had other plans…

After the Earl of Goodwin attempts to force himself on her, housemaid Eliza Gilbert flees England for New York, hoping to build a better life. But the land of opportunity proves as harsh as the London docks, and she finds herself in a situation more dreadful than the one she escaped.

Former boxer, Vince “The Fist” Taggart dreams of marrying, having a family, and living a quiet, peaceful life. But when a girl he’s known since childhood disappears, he heads to New York in search of her and meets Eliza, a woman with a less than honorable reputation. Inexplicably captivated, Vince can’t force himself to stay away, especially when he learns Eliza is the key to finding his missing friend.

Excerpt: Eliza lifted her gaze, then looked away when she met his eyes. They were just too…striking, too blue. “I’m afraid you’ll have to speak to Oscar. He handles all my transactions.” She could never have a normal outing with a man. A lump of regret rose in her throat. She turned and started up the stairs.

Vince caught up to her in a few steps and grabbed her arm, taking the bag from her at the same time. “That was a lousy thing to say.”

She opened her mouth to accuse him of going around Oscar so he didn’t have to pay. But that was ridiculous. He hadn’t taken what he’d paid for the first time. She lifted a hand and rubbed her forehead. His attention confused her. What was his angle? He didn’t want sex. Did he think she was hiding something about Cynthia and if he spent time with her he could draw it out? “What do you want from me?”

“A picnic.”

Bio: Alicia Dean lives in Edmond, Oklahoma. She has three grown children and a huge network of supportive friends and family. She writes mostly contemporary suspense and paranormal, but has also written in other genres, including a few vintage historicals.
Other than reading and writing, her passions are Elvis Presley, MLB, NFL (she usually works in a mention of one or all three into her stories) and watching her favorite televisions shows like Vampire Diaries, Justified, Sons of Anarchy, Haven, The Mindy Project, and Dexter (even though it has sadly ended, she will forever be a fan). Some of her favorite authors are Michael Connelly, Dennis Lehane, Lee Child, Lisa Gardner, Sharon Sala, Jordan Dane, Ridley Pearson, Joseph Finder, and Jonathan Kellerman…to name a few.

Amazon buy link: http://amzn.com/B00RICLM2I

http://aliciadean.com

http://aliciadean.com/alicias-blog/

https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100008364070487

https://twitter.com/Alicia_Dean_

http://www.pinterest.com/aliciamdean/

 

 

reck

Reckless: Martini Club 4 Series – The 1920s

Kathy L Wheeler

Blurb: Lady Margaret turned Lady Bootlegger…

Singer Margaret (Meggie) Montley needs money…fast. Her friend is in a dire situation with nowhere to turn. While Meggie is on the brink of stardom, it’s not soon enough to save her friend.

Harry Dempsey is out to avenge the deaths of his father and brother at the hands of a ruthless gangster. But trouble spirals out of control when Meggie Montley shows up the night he meets his nemesis to settle the score. Saving the impetuous woman from a crime lord might be easier than saving her from her own reckless behavior.

Excerpt: Meggie launched herself from her hiding place and threw her arms about Harry’s neck. Locked in his muscular embrace, she rested her chin on his shoulder. His arms tightened around her. “Oh, Harry. I came as fast as I could. Just as we’d planned.” The words, she’d intended to carry, came out breathless.

“Fast, huh?” The whisper was against her ear where no one else could hear, raised goose prickles over her entire body. “Guess I’ll have to do something about that.” He lifted his head. “What are you doing with my girl, Joe?”

Joey’s hands flew into the air, indicating his surrender. “Sorry, Dempsey. Had no idea she was anyone’s quiff—”

Meggie’s cheeks burned, and she stiffened at the insult. Harry’s one arm gripped her closer. The other shot up, jerking her body like a rag doll. She couldn’t see Harry’s face with her own now buried in his neck, but she felt the corded muscles contract.  

Bio: Kathy L Wheeler (also known as Kae Elle Wheeler) writes both Contemporary and Historical Romance. She was born in Presque Isle, Maine.  How she ended up in Texas, then Oklahoma is as much a mystery to her as anyone. She graduated from the University of Central Oklahoma with a BA in Management Information Systems and a minor in Vocal Music.

She is published through The Wild Rose Press. She loves to travel.  Ports of call include a three week stint in Europe covering Madrid, Barcelona, Avignon, Paris, Koln, Amsterdam and London.  Other exciting places she’s visited are Grand Cayman, Puerta Vallerta, Mexico, Vancouver, Canada, and roaming from one romance writing conference to another nationwide.  You may have met her in Seattle, Dallas, San Francisco, San Diego, New York or Atlanta.  She is a member of the Oklahoma RWA Chapter, Dara, and The Beau Monde. Kathy lives with her musically talented husband in Edmond, Oklahoma. They have one grown daughter and one bossy cat, Carly!

Amazon buy link: http://amzn.com/B00RICW0G0

Contact info: kathy@klwheeler.com

http://kathylwheeler.com

http://kathylwheeler.blogspot.com

http://facebook.com/kathylwheeler

http://twitter.com/kathylwheeler

http://pinterest.com/kathylwheeler

 

 

 

run

Runaway: Martini Club 4 Series – The 1920s

Krysta Scott

Blurb: Can she prove her innocence before more than her dreams are destroyed?

After escaping an arranged marriage, Lady Charlotte Leighton lands on a new shore, determined to realize her dream of opening her own bakery. But her plans are shattered when her former fiancé follows her to New York. Now, she finds herself in a fight for her freedom.

Haunted by a string of failures, Detective Felix Noble is determined to solve his latest case. But his efforts to find a murderer are jeopardized by a forbidden attraction to his number one suspect. While he’s certain Charlotte Leighton is keeping secrets, instinct tells him she’s not the murderess he first believed.

Excerpt: Long thin fingers curled around a glass and lifted it from the tray. Charli followed the direction of the drink. Derrick Chaunce, or as the local duffs referred to him, “Slick”, grinned, exposing yellowed teeth.

“You … You…” Her throat closed. The rest of her diatribe wouldn’t budge.

He winked. His thin hair slicked back in the latest fashion exaggerated the gaunt cheekbones and sunken eyes, tinging him with an unhealthy, dilapidated look. He gulped the whiskey. A bit of the amber liquid escaped through the gap in his teeth and down his chin. Her stomach lurched.

“Thank you, sweet cakes. Put it on my tab.” He skulked off.

Charli whirled around. How did the bounder get past Tiny? Ira fumed about customers who ran up a high tab without reconciling at the end of the night. Now she would have to explain yet another charge added to Slick’s mounting debt. She sighed and rolled her eyes to the heavens. The customer was always right. Even when they were wrong.

Bio: Krysta Scott is a family law attorney in her false life. After years of writing and winning contests, she is now taking the plunge into publishing. A fan of sci-fi and dark stories surrounding people in crisis, she also enjoys way too much TV including Vampire Diaries, Breaking Bad, and Sherlock. Runaway is her breakout story.

Amazon buy link: http://amzn.com/B00RIFHGPC

Contact info: http://krystascottauthor.com

Alyssa’s Note:
I’ll be reviewing all four novellas in the near future, and they are fantastic! I hope you’ll check them out :-)

30% Friday Flash rebate on ARe!

For the 27th of June, ARe is offering a 30% Flash Rebate on Incentive Eligible titles site wide (those with the little crown symbol on the book detail page). 

All of my books are eligible:

 

are-flash