Thursday, July 11, 2019

A Chat with Meg Miller, a Detective After my Own Heart

Meg Miller is a character created by Phyllis H. Moore

Hello and welcome to a new interview with a cozy detective. Today we're talking to Meg Miller, a lovely lady who I proudly call my friend. Tell us, Meg, what was the first investigation you ever did? What was the last? Do you expect to do more investigations in the future?

Bertha, I know you must know this feeling. I found a dead body, and she was naked. Eventually, I would learn it was someone I knew. Wouldn’t you know, I was the only one in the house, and of course I was a suspect.

For ten years I was the organizer for the Victorian homes tour during the Dickens Festival. That year, I resigned for new blood to take over. I even gave my hooped petticoat away, thinking I wouldn’t need it. However when the new organizer, a young socialite, fell ill (little did I know that was facelift) at the last minute, I had to step in. That was the reason I found myself in Darrow House just hours before the tour and happened on a nude body in the upstairs bedroom.

Needless to say, we couldn’t carry on with the tour. There was crime scene tape everywhere. It was a fiasco. Part of me wanted to solve the crime because I wanted to clear my name. However, there was a bigger crime than the murder, and I knew it had something to do with that mega-church run by some shady guys I’d gone to high school with. They objectified women, lived in lavish homes, and drove the most expensive cars. When I knew the murder and those characters could be linked, I couldn’t back away from finding out what the heck was going on. It’s all written up in A Dickens of a Crime.

The last murder investigation I was involved with was when Tom Richards and I swapped houses for the summer. He rented a cottage on the beach on Galveston Island, Texas. My friend Jean got to spend some time with me there. I called the beach in front of my cottage Pelican Beach. That’s why the situation became Pelican Beach Murder. Jean saw the woman that piqued my interest, a hippie squatting in an abandoned house across the road. I was out of my element. Everyone in that little beach town, Jamaica Beach, knew everything about the Charles family. However, I didn’t know what I didn’t know.

I’ll tell you right now, Bertha, as God is my witness, I’ve never been that scared in all my life. I was in the wrong place at the wrong time and every time I opened my mouth, the guy waved the gun and told me to shut up. I was lucky to get out of there alive. So, I don’t plan to intentionally solve a crime ever again.

However, I do have some mysteries in my own family I need to figure out. My mother died when I was young, and she left me knowing nothing about her family. I blame myself for not ever asking about them, but it wasn’t until I had my own grandchild that I realized the importance of that information. So wouldn’t you know that when an uncle died and left me an inheritance, I was floored. It opened a whole new mystery for me to sink my teeth into. That’ll be Mystery on Inheritance Ranch. I think it’ll all be solved by the fall. But, I tell you what, Bertha, nothing is as scary as looking into the faces of those who came before you and facing their flaws. I will keep solving mysteries when they present themselves, but I’m not seeking them.

From my experience, mysteries end up seeking us. I love the fact that you don't overlook the human element. To me, that's the most important thing. What’s your major strength while investigating a murder?

I think we’re close in age Bertha, so you’ll understand what I mean by “people skills.” No one talks to each other any more. They’re all glued to their electronic gadgets. Developing relationships is what I rely on. I plied the widower with cakes and casseroles. I offered to clean out his wife’s gigantic closet and donate her evening wear and furs. I attended the funeral at that disgusting mega-church with their valet parking and crystal chandeliers. In other words, I endeared myself so I could observe and listen to what they were saying about their deceased friend. I also befriended the victim’s twin step-daughters. One of them came to me for support.

Yes, I think my ability to develop relationships was my biggest asset in getting witnesses to Detective Crawford. However, all the credit goes to my cat, LaRue. If it hadn’t been for LaRue, I doubt the crime would have been solved. And another thing, and I know this sounds a little eerie. I began experiencing something that’s never happened to me before. At first it was a scent, then it was unexplained intuition. It’s so remarkable I can’t even tell you what it is. All I can say is I’m a believer now, and I trust my instincts.

I know how it is. It's amazing how much people open up when they realize you're listening to them. And what’s your major weakness while investigating a murder?

Like I mentioned, people are attached to these electronic devices. My weakness is I never remember to keep my cell phone charged. And, of all things, there’s a camera on there. Who knew? When Detective Crawford figured out I could get into the widower’s medicine cabinets and such, she made a veiled suggestion that I could take pictures instead of writing everything down. I can’t tell you the amount of time that’s saved me. I stood in that bathroom looking at my own face on that phone for a while, but finally I was snapping pictures of prescription bottles like a pro.

Yes, there’s been a learning curve with technology, but I think I’m getting there. I’m on the social media. At first, I only did it because my nephew lives in England and I live in Texas. I wanted to see the pictures of his children. After my brother told me I could be his friend on the computer (I didn’t even know what that meant), I had my daughter help me set up an account. Now, she says I’m a creeper. I do find out interesting things on those social media accounts and wouldn’t you know I’ve found murder weapons on there in photos. However, I have to remember not to comment. For heaven’s sake, there are so many new rules I don’t know about.

Well, the bottom line is I’m technologically challenged. If anyone touches the remote to my television, my heart stops. My car, television, watch, and telephone are all smarter than me and I can’t stand it, and I don’t want to read the directions. You see what I’m saying, Bertha?

Yes, I do! I'm not that skilled with technology myself. I still have a VHS movie collection, can you believe it?! Tell me, what’s your daytime occupation? How does it relate to your investigations?

Currently, I’m retired. I worked for my entire career as the head librarian in our community library. I know all of the people in county government and many people in the town because of my employment. I also know how to do research. That has come in handy. Again, I’ve had to learn to rely on the computer but I have all types of information at my fingertips.

My husband, God rest his soul, was the county attorney. I have the blessing and burden of his career, also. He’d prosecuted some of the people involved in that mega-church I mentioned before. They have a history of financial fraud that goes back to their deceased parents. Paul, that’s my husband, talks to me. I know, that’s a little eerie, but I started to listen. I don’t ignore intuition any longer, like I said before.

Another thing I do, since I’m retired, is volunteer. I have several organizations I enjoy working with. The Historical Foundation, sponsors the annual homes tour that I organized. That’s the reason I was at Darrow House. Needless to say, they were all atwitter that I found the dead body. My frequent trips to the police station during that time, it was Christmas, got me involved with the Blue Santa project. At the time, I didn’t have grandchildren, so it was fun to shop for children for Christmas. One of my favorite charities is Dress for Success, providing work clothing for women just entering the work force. That gave me the perfect excuse for helping Brian Hillard, the wealthy widower, clean out his wife’s closet to look for the murder weapon.

I may be working harder since I retired than I did when I had an 8 to 5. I bet you can identify with that, Bertha.

I surely do. I have been a housewife all my life, but ever since I started solving murders, my life turned into a roller coaster. And it makes me proud to help the police do their job. Is there anything you can do that the police can't?

I can eavesdrop and I’ve been known to do this from a closet. I don’t have to read the person their rights or obtain a search warrant. I can find evidence and then notify law enforcement so they can obtain a warrant. I can take a person a pound cake and look around the house. I wouldn’t ever want to have the restrictions of a professional.

A few times I’ve been snooping and had to hide in a nearby closet to wait for people to leave. It’s worked out just fine in a couple of instances, but once, wouldn’t you know it, the damn phone was charged and started ringing. That wasn’t a pretty scene because the guy that called me out had a gun. My heart’s never beat so fast. So, you see, the police have rules for a reason. I don’t like guns and I don’t carry one. The best thing that’s happened to me since I started paying attention to investigations is I’m not afraid to talk back any more. I can be a talker. My tongue can get me in trouble, but it can also get me out of trouble. If a person doesn’t have a gun, I will get in their face. Just ask Hal. I had to take him down a couple of pegs. How dare he try to manipulate me.

I admire law enforcement and appreciate the job they do. If I can help them in any way, I’m willing to do what I can. I don’t want to be an investigator or find any more dead bodies, but I seem to draw them to me. Mysteries of any kind beg me to solve them. Bertha, it gives me a purpose and I bet you can understand it when I say, everyone needs a purpose.

Everyone needs it, and nobody can forbid us from seeking it. Thank you for the lovely interview, Meg, and I hope to see you again soon!


Phyllis H. Moore wants to live life experiences more than once: doing it, writing about it, and reading about it. The atmosphere of the south draws her in and repels her. The characters are rich with dysfunction and redemption, real. She’s had two careers and two retirements. Both careers gave her inspiration for her novels: The Sabine Series, Sabine, Billy’s Story, Josephine’s Journals and Secrets of Dunn House, Opal’s Story, Tangled, a Southern Gothic Yarn, and The Bright Shawl, Colors of Tender Whispers, The Ember Months, Birdie & Jude, and an anthology of spooky short stories inspired by real places and events, The Bridge on Jackson Road. In 2018 she also released a new genre for her, A Dickens of a Crime, a Meg Miller Cozy Mystery. She has authored one nonfiction book, Retirement, Now What? Phyllis has been published by Caffeinated Press in the anthology, Brewed Awakenings 2, Fifteen Tales to Jolt Your Mind Awake.


Friday, June 28, 2019

A chat with Granny from Fuchsia Minnesota!

Granny is a character created by Julie Seedorf

Today we have a super special guest here at Grandma Bertha Interviews. This young lady goes by the name of Granny, and is one of the most awesome detectives you'll ever meet. Granny agreed to give me an interview, as long as I gave her one too! So be sure to check her blog for that.

Tell us, Granny, what was the first investigation you ever did? What was the last? Do you expect to do more investigations in the future?

It wasn’t an investigation per se. It was a secret. The Police Chief hired me as an undercover investigator to stop shoplifting in Fuchsia. After all, who would suspect a Granny with an umbrella to be dangerous? I even kept it a secret from my kids. They wanted to put me in the wrinkle farm, as I had a habit of being forgetful to get my man, or my woman, depending on who it was. That accidentally turned into a big kerfuffle when clerks were disappearing and I almost disappeared too. The last investigation, let’s see. It happened at the Ecstatic Emporium and you’ll have to visit Fuchsia to find out the problem. It might still be ongoing.                                                                                                  

That sounds so exciting! I've worked with the police before, but being a undercover agent is in a whole other level. What was the most difficult period in your investigation, and how did you deal with it?

My adult children don’t think old women should be lingering with dangerous criminals. I just have to be crafty and let them think I agree with them. I pull the wool over their eyes, if you know what I mean.

Yes, I do. My daughter-in-law, Lydia, thinks the same way, but I ignore her. Did you choose to become a detective? Or didn’t you have a choice?

I don’t call myself a detective, just an old amateur sleuth. I have a nosy nose. I guess you could say I had no choice. I have to follow my nose, although it does mislead me, and I end up at Delight’s Pink Percolator with yummy treats and coffee. Treats always come first with my nose.

That's why they call them treats! Do you have anyone helping you in your investigations? Tell us more about them.

My friends and neighbors have had my back. There was Sally Katilda, sadly she met her demise, but I have my neighbor, Mavis, who always thinks she is in a pretend reality television show. Then there is George. I used to keep an eye on him because he didn’t seem to know which end was up, but now he found love so I don’t have to do that anymore. Delight, who owns the Pink Percolator, Lulu who owns Lulu’s Quilt Shop and Ditty Belle who owns Persnickity’s Bookstore always seem delighted to get in the fray. Oh, and we can’t forget Pastor Henrietta. She is one of the Pastors at We Save You Christian Church. I think we might save her more than she saves us.

Tell me one thing about yourself you wouldn't want others to know.

I shop at Red Hot Momma’s Boutique. My friends know but my kids don’t.

Hope they don't read this interview then. Let's wrap it up with a special question: do you have a favorite quote?

“You’re on a need to know basis and I know what it is you need to know that you don’t know that you know.” Hermiony Vidalia Criony Fiddlestadt 

That's a good one! Thank you for your time, Granny. And to my dear readers, don't miss the interview I gave to Granny on her blog!



Julie Seedorf

A Bit About Me As An Impassioned Writer

As human beings, we are always a work in progress. From birth to death we live, hurt, laugh, cry, feel, and with all of those emotions we grow as people, as family members, and as friends. I am a dreamer and feel blessed to have the opportunity in my writing to pass those dreams on to others. I believe you are never too old to dream and to turn those dreams into a creative endeavor. I live in rural Minnesota and I am a wife, mother, and grandmother.

I have worn many hats throughout my life such as working as a waitress, nursing home activities person, office manager and finally a computer repair person eventually owning my own computer sales and repair business. I never forgot my love of writing and quit my computer business in 2012 after signing a contract with Cozy Cat Press for Granny Hooks A Crook, the first book in my Fuchsia, Minnesota Series.

Adding four more books to the Fuchsia Series, adding a new Brilliant, Minnesota Series and writing a column for local newspapers feeds my writing creativity.

I also dabble a bit in watercolor painting and hope to eventually add pictures to my children’s book series, Granny’s In Trouble.

Oh, and did I tell you I like to be a little bit silly.

Official website:
Twitter:  @JulieSeedorf

Sunday, June 23, 2019

A chat with Amy Stone, a detective who rocks!

Amy Stone is a character created by Cheryl F Taylor

What a busy week! I've been working on a new case, and you'll be able to read about it soon. Today, we have here Amethyst 'Amy' Stone, and for that name alone, you know this girl rocks. Tell us, Amy, how did you start in this detective life? Do you love it as much as I do, and do you plan to continue your investigations?

My first investigation, if you can call it that, was when my father's employee, Carl Schrader, was murdered at my dad's rock shop and I was a suspect – or rather the suspect. When Jackson Wolf showed up looking for a job and we started finding indications that Carl had been stealing from the shop, things got really complicated.

The last mystery I was involved in happened on a rock club field trip. Jackson and I were looking forward to a nice day out in the country, getting a tour of an old mine, and looking for some gemy wulfenite. Instead council member Hazelton, a man I despise, was assaulted, and Pete Martin, one of my dad's oldest friends, was blamed. At the same time, we found a skeleton which we thought might have been a previous owner of the mine who disappeared nearly thirty years ago.

I don't know if I'll be involved in other investigations. Tommy Kissoon, my high school boyfriend, and a current sheriff's deputy claims that I'm starting a collection of bodies which is a bunch of baloney! Still, if someone I care about is in danger, I'm going to do something.

That's very brave of you. So, you'd say that the detective life chose you?

I absolutely did not chose to be a detective! My dad, Nick Stone, broke his leg and I was just helping him run our family's rock shop, Stone's Gems and Minerals, until he was out of the rehabilitation facility. (Yes, unfortunately my father, Nick Stone, likes to play with our last name... Like when he named me Amethyst, my sister Opal, and my brother Jasper!) Dad's employee, Carl Schrader, was found murdered in the shop, and I was suspect numero uno! Of course I had to investigate!

Tell us more about your profession.

I am a geologist. I graduated from Northern Arizona University and went to work for Gila Geologic Consultants. Then my boyfriend, who also worked there, threw me under the bus when a dam project when terribly wrong because of he and his dad (the owner of GGC) cut corners. It was about that time that my dad was injured, so I decided to come home and regroup while I helped my parents.

Being a geologist and being a detective are very different things, am I right?

I honestly don't consider myself to be a detective, other than these blasted bodies keep showing up on my doorstep. Jackson Wolf, my dad's new employee at the shop, would tell you I'm just stuborn. He's probably right. I guess I'd say that I have some trust issues, and that I want to make sure that I and my friends are safe and taken care of. If that makes me a detective, so be it. I really just want to work in the rock shop, and collect minerals.

And what do you know about crime scene investigation?

I know pretty much nothing about crime scene investigation, other than what I've seen on TV or read in books – or seen at Schrader's murder. That's something that gets thrown back in my face all the time. I am a scientist, though, which helps me think through problems. I think that the scientific method applies to more than science. I come up with a hypothesis, then try to test it out. Jackson, on the other hand, works on emotion. He's the artist in the shop, being a photographer. In many ways we balance each other out.

You mentioned you have a friend in the police force. How do you deal with the authorities while doing your investigation?

Tommy Kissoon is the Mojave County sheriff's deputy I've had to deal with the most. The northern counties of Arizona cover a lot of territory, and these deputies have to do a lot of driving. Tommy is a member of the Supai nation, and he and his sister were my best friends when I was in school. I didn't realize he was a deputy until he showed up at Carl Schrader's murder. I'd like to say that makes things easier, but it doesn't, and he gets pretty frustrated with me because I won't just sit back and trust him to do his job. I'm sorry about that, but it's not going to stop me.

Do you have anyone helping you in your investigations? Tell us more about them.

Jackson Wolf has been right beside me on all of my adventures. He moved to Copper Springs to help out his sister, Merri, whose husband recently died. He's probably one of the most unique people I've ever met. Jackson has the nack of talking to anyone about anything and there isn't a serious bone in his body. However, he's always taking care of the needy and the weak. He took custody of his sister when his parents died, so they're very close. Before moving to Copper Springs, Jackson lived in a motorhome, driving around the country taking photos. Now he's our computer guru, although he's learning a lot about gems and minerals and mining. I just wish I could figure out his real last name.

That's your next investigation right there! Thanks for stopping by, Amy! And to my dear readers, stay tuned, for I'm about to catch my next killer, and you'll be able to read all about it in a few months!

Cheryl F Taylor was raised in northeastern Michigan and pursued a degree in agriculture communications from Michigan State University. In 1986, Taylor moved to Arizona where she worked in publishing and advertising in the livestock industry, then eventually moving into teaching in 1998 after receiving a masters in education from Northern Arizona University.

Official website:

Thursday, June 13, 2019

A chat with Rita Calabrese, the italophile detective!

Buongiorno, amici miei! This is Grandma Bertha, and this Thursday I'm interviewing a detective who loves a good pasta - and who doesn't?  Not only does Rita Calabrese has the coolest name in the world, she's also a keen detective and gave us a witty interview.

Hello, Rita! People love it when I start with this question: what was your first investigation? What was the last, and do you plan to continue doing this?

My first case was the mysterious poisoning—in the hospital, no less, where you are supposed to be safe!—of football coach Jay Stiglitz. About a year later, we were celebrating the three hundredth anniversary of the founding of Acorn Hollow, when a skeleton was discovered during the unveiling on the town’s time capsule. Talk about a cold case!

I never heard that one before! So, was it your choice to become a detective? Or didn’t you have a choice?

I fell into it when Acorn Hollow’s beloved football coach was poisoned. At first, I just wanted to know what really happened, but when the police started looking at my son Vinnie, I really sprang into action! Hell hath no fury like a mama bear prodded into action!

You should see what a grandmother can do! And what’s your daytime occupation? How does it relate to your investigations?

I’m a serious, hard-bitten journalist (don’t you just love the sound of that? I do!) tackling human interest stories about Acorn Hollow’s most fascinating citizens. And some of my subjects are persons of interest in murder investigations—or know something useful!

I found my first case through a newspaper, when I was young. It's a great way to keep in touch with crime without actually getting into danger. Do you watch crime TV show and movies? What are your favorites?

I watch the Italian mystery series starring Inspector Montalbano. Luca Zingaretti is so handsome, and I love all the Sicilian scenery!

Italian horror films are the best too! I love the giallo genre. Apart from Montalbano, who do you see yourself closest to: Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot, Miss Marple or Sam Spade?

Definitely not Sherlock! I’m don’t smoke, DEFINITELY don’t do drugs, and all my friends and associates are smarter than Watson. I suppose I’m a little like a female, Italian version of Poirot, but much less vain—while he prides himself on his glorious mustache, I’m not above having a few silver roots in my jet-black hair. Some might say I resemble Miss Marple, but I’m younger (or, at least, young at heart!). Plus, I don’t just sit there with knitting needles! I pull out my notepad and pen and start firing off the questions. And if I get stuck, I fire up the oven and churn out the biscotti!

Knitting helps me think when I'm investigating. Do you have anyone helping you in your investigations? Tell us more about them.

Of course! As someone who’s dropped off more trays of homemade lasagna for my neighbors than I can count, I have lots of favors I can call in. People are always willing to tell me some pettegolezze—that’s gossip, in case you’re not Italian.

And sometimes help comes from the most unexpected sources. In this last case, I got invaluable assistance from my husband’s shady cousin, Calvino, who operates a dodgy vitamin emporium in Atlantic City. He’s a font of knowledge about all kinds of shady things, and it seems like he’s related to every Italian in the Northeast!

Grazie for the interview, Rita! And thank you, my dear readers for your support. Don't forget to check the books in the side bar. Matt's novel Sherlock Holmes and the Glad Game features the meeting of the famous detective with Pollyanna, from the classic children's books. It's making quite a bit of success, and if things continue this way, we might have an audiobook version soon. See you next week!


Maureen Klovers has held numerous positions in government, including a stint as a U.S. intelligence officer, and was a political commentator on DC 101's talk radio show "Neighborhood Stuff." Ms. Klovers has traveled extensively in the United States, Europe, China, India, and Latin America. She's hiked the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, been escorted through a Bolivian prison by a German narco-trafficker, and fished for piranhas in Venezuela. She received a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations (with a focus on Latin American politics) from the College of William and Mary in 1999 and a Master's of Public Policy and Master's of Business Administration from Georgetown University in 2006. She lives with her husband, Kevin, in Arlington, Virginia.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

A chat with Abby, the Island Detective

Abby is a character created by author Sharon McGregor
Happy Thursday, guys and gals! This is Grandma Bertha with a brand new interview for you. I have heard some good news, that my biographer Matt is going on an amazing trip to Central America to write a book about the jaguars. Let's hope he doesn't get eaten by them!

Today I'm interviewing Abby, a detective who knows how to take care of herself. Tell me, Abby, what was the first investigation you ever did? What was the last? Do you expect to do more investigations in the future?

The first time I got caught up in a murder was on an Island in Lake of the Woods. My old college friend Nikki thought someone was trying to kill her and she wanted me to find out who. Turns out she was right, but I didn't believe her at first. Nikki always was a bit of a drama queen. My last investigation was because of another old college friend. When I moved back to my home town on Vancouver Island I looked up my friend Summer. She was worried about her next door neighbour Patsy and dragged me into a little housebreaking. Patsy had asked her to look after Peaches, her cat, and then disappeared into thin air. It turned out Summer had reason to be worried but not the way she thought.
Things are not always what they seem, am I right? Sometimes we just have to follow our noses. What’s your major strength while investigating a murder?

People like to talk to me. They tell me things they'd never tell the police or a licensed investigator. I must come across as non-threatening. And also I've always been curious. In college, my friends called me Abby the Cat, because I could never rest until I found an explanation for unusual situations. Of course, none of them ended in murder.
I'm like that too. People feel more comfortable talking to a nice neighbor than to a man with a badge. And what’s your major weakness while investigating a murder?

I'm not a licensed private investigator. I'm an educational textbook and curriculum writer, a very boring job, at least to others. I like it because it gives me freedom to manage my own time. Oh sorry—back to my weakness. I guess it would be that I don't have experience or the force of the law behind me. I just blunder along at my own pace.

And what led you to become a detective?

I'm not really a detective and I never intended to be one. I just get lured into these situations by friends and family. Then they turn on me and accuse me of deliberately putting myself into danger. I ask you, Is that fair? As for the future, I fully expect it's become part of a trend. In fact, my son Matthew who has recently come back to the Island to settle in Victoria has come across a puzzle that might just prove interesting. He found some pictures hidden in his new apartment—well I'd better save that for another time.

You made me curious! I hope that story is in your next book. Who do you see yourself closest to: Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot, Miss Marple or Sam Spade?

Definitely Miss Marple. My powers of deduction and attention to detail could never match Mr. Holmes and I don't have the little grey cells of M. Poirot. But, people talk to me the way they do to Miss Marple and that often gives me ideas the busy detectives might miss. Actually a detective once called me Miss Marple, but I don't think he meant it as a compliment.

She's my hero too! Let's wrap it up with a special question: tell me one thing about yourself you wouldn't want others to know.

Well, I hate to admit this, but I still have feelings for my ex-husband, Richard. After all, we were married for 25 years and most of them were good. Really, in every way but one he was the perfect husband. Richard likes women—he really likes them. But that's the part I couldn't handle so finally I divorced him. We're on good terms and I helped get him out of trouble when he was accused of murdering his fiancee. I have a boyfriend now (boyfriend is such a silly term for someone at our age, don't you think?) Anyhow, Neil is lots of fun but it's a sort of long-distance relationship and there are times I really, really miss Richard.

Thank you for being so open! It's been a pleasure to have you here, Abby, and we look forward for your next mystery.

Sharon McGregor has made her way from the prairies to the west coast to escape the winter. She now lives on beautiful Vancouver Island in British Columbia. Her Island series of cozy mysteries is set on the coast, but a piece of her heart must still remain on the prairies as her second series, the Boarding Kennel mysteries, as well as her historical romances, are set in small town Manitoba.

Web page and blog:
Twitter: @sharonmcgr
Instagram: mcgregor6547
Abby's mysteries Island Charms and Murder at The Island Spa are available at
Murder on Quadra Island coming soon from Whimsical Publications. Book four is in final writing stages.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

A Chat with Pepper Reece, the Spice Shop Detective

Pepper Rice was created by author Lesilie Budewitz

Today's guest is Pepper Reece, owner of the Seattle Spice Shop. I'm doing this interview with a cold beer in my hand, to refresh my throat. So, Pepper, how did you start in this detective business? What was your latest investigation, and do you plan to continue doing that kind of work?

One morning, not quite a year ago, I walked through the Pike Place Market to my shop, Seattle Spice, and found the body of a homeless man I knew only as Doc lying on the sidewalk outside my shop. I had no intention of investigating – I was married to a cop for 13 years – but when the homicide detectives arrested one of my employees, well, I just had to get involved. And I’m so glad I did. (For more on that little adventure, see Assault & Pepper, the first Spice Shop mystery.) And then, just a couple of months ago, a woman I’d known when I was a child turned up dead in her pottery studio. I can’t blame the witnesses for letting the detectives know they’d seen her arguing with my own mother. And you can’t blame me for getting involved, can you? (That tale is told in Killing Thyme.)

I suppose I have to admit my first investigation was figuring out what my now-ex husband was up to when I nearly tripped over him and a meter maid (I can’t bring myself to say “parking enforcement officer”) practically plugging each other’s meters in a downtown restaurant on a night when he’d told me he was working late. But we’ll save that sorry story for another time.

What’s your major strength while investigating a murder?

Tenacity. I don’t quit.

What’s your major weakness while investigating a murder?

Tenacity. I don’t quit.

Tell me a little more about that spice shop.

I own and operate Seattle Spice in the Pike Place Market. Honestly, when I left my husband, then lost my job as an HR manager in a major Seattle law firm, all within months of turning 40, I did not expect to find solace in bay leaves. Best thing that ever happened to me. So far, my investigations have involved people I’ve known through the shop or the Market, or my friends and family.

 I love spicy food, so I might pay a visit to your shop some day! Is there something you feel you can do better than the police?

Listen. Talk to people who aren’t interested in talking with the police. See connections they don’t see, because they don’t know this community and how people in the Market and in the food business work and think.

Are you a fan of crime novels? What are your favorites?

A year or so ago, I found a stash of Brother Cadfael novels by Ellis Peters in a box my parents stashed in my storage unit when they moved to Costa Rica. Now I am HOOKED. I read other historical mysteries, too, and quite a few culinary mysteries – we even sell them in the Spice Shop. Readers find them as tasty as I do!

Do you watch crime TV show and movies? What are your favorites?

Not much. I ADORE food movies, though!

My favorite food movie are The Stuff and Attack of the Killer Tomatoes. But I don't think that's the kind you mean. Who do you see yourself closest to: Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot, Miss Marple or Sam Spade?

Brother Cadfael. I often ask myself “What would Cadfael do?”

How do you deal with the authorities while doing your investigation? 

I bite my tongue a lot. Maybe not enough. And feed them coffee cake and cookies.

Would you ever do something against the law to help your investigation? 

Grandma. Seriously. You think I would admit it?

Almost got you there! Thank you for stopping by, now go catch a murderer!


Leslie Budewitz blends her passion for food, great mysteries, and the Northwest in two cozy mystery series. CHAI ANOTHER DAY, her fourth Spice Shop Mystery, set in Seattle’s Pike Place Market, is due on June 11. DEATH AL DENTE, first in the Food Lovers' Village Mysteries, set in Jewel Bay, Montana, won the 2013 Agatha Award for Best First Novel. A past president of Sisters in Crime, she lives and cooks in NW Montana. 

More about her books, including excerpts and where to find them, here:

Thursday, May 23, 2019

A Chat With Olive Peroni, the Cold Cream Detective

Olive Peroni was created by Barbara Silkstone in The Cold Cream Murders

Hello, guys and gals! Sorry for not posting an interview last week, but life sometimes gets on the way. My guest today is a bit of a smartass, but that's a good quality in a detective. Her name is Olive Peroni, a family therapist from New York City who recently moved down to Florida and discovered her grandmother had left her the Peroni family secret recipe for miracle cold cream. 

Welcome to my blog, Olive! Now, tell me, how did you start in this business? What's your most recent investigation, and do you plan to continue doing this in the future?

I morphed into a crime solver within a few days of moving to Starfish Cove, a quiet seaside community located on the west coast of Florida. Hours after meeting Lizzy Kelly my world topsy-turvyed into one astonishment after another. The combination of our energies nudged me to take my foot off the brakes and swerve into the bumper car lane of life.

Speaking of cars, in my first investigation Lizzy and I discovered the thumping noise in her car trunk was not mechanical—it turned out to be a body—one familiar to Lizzy. I fell back on my schooling as a psychologist to unveil the killer, but not before a second person bit the dust in a most unusual manner.

My most recent investigation was the demise of Lizzy’s father. Grams found him dangling by his feet from the chandelier in his penthouse apartment. Grams was determined to solve the case—it was stressful. At ninety-four, she shouldn’t be hot-footing it around like she does.

Book 4 in the series is underway. I’ve had to lock Grams in her room to keep her from helping me. I can hear her now—picking the lock with a bobby pin.

Don't underestimate her, Olive! Old people are full of surprises. And I bet you have your weaknesess too, right?

I can’t stand to get my face wet. Don’t laugh! Imagine tracking down killers while living in a beachside community where people deliberately get their faces wet on purpose—go out on boats—dive in the water. It’s awful!

And what’s your daytime occupation? Does it help your investigations?

When I discovered Nonna left me her secret Italian recipe for miracle cold cream, I went into partnership with Lizzy. It was one of those crazy things that happens before you give it much thought.

We brew and sell miracle creams that help sooth the complexions of ladies who spend too much time in the sun. So far, it’s Lizzy’s eccentric friends and family who have needed investigating.

I'd love to hear more about this Lizzy, and the other people helping you in your investigations.

My new business partner, Lizzy Kelly is my helper. She’s a popular figure in Starfish Cove. Lizzy is like capturing a sunbeam in a bottle. She’s taught me that it’s okay to giggle even while tripping over a body. Lizzy’s pushing thirty, dresses like one of Charlie’s Angels in retro clothes and impossibly high wedgie heels. It was months before I realized she was a good five inches shorter than me.

She adores her rescue pet, WonderDog. The mixed breed hound looks like a child’s crayon drawing of The Big Bad Wolf, with Brillo-pad hair, white whiskers and a hero’s heart. He has saved our lives more than once. WonderDog’s best buddy is my white foundling kitten, Puff.

Grams Dingler, Lizzy’s grandmother, provides unwanted help. She almost always wears colorful
retro outfits with matching orthopedic shoes. Big as minute, she wears a fedora with a note stuck in the hatband that reads—REPORTER. She works for the Silverfish Gazette. The local gossip and coupon newspaper’s slogan is—“Catch the news before it crawls away.”

Would you ever do something against the law to help your investigation?

That’s a rhetorical question—right?

You'd be surpised with the answers I get to that question! Who do you see yourself closest to: Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot, Miss Marple or Sam Spade?

I’m a dry land Sam Spade with a smattering of Nancy Drew.

Do you know anything about the psychology of the criminal mind?

Hello… I’m a psychologist.

Duh! And what about the authorities? How do you deal with them while doing your investigation?

Pretend like I’m paying attention. Nod when required. Then do it my own way.

That's how I do it too. I love it when I show them I was right all the time. What gives you the most satisfaction about investigating a case?

When I discover my instincts were right. Also it pleases me to find justice for the victim.

What was the most difficult period in your investigations?

In my second case —Smokey Eyes—I accidently fell clinging to the side of a sailboat. I got my face wet with icky marina water!

That must have been a nightmare for you! Thank you for stopping by, and please see a shrink about that wet face thing. But, in all honesty, I'll make sure to check your cases, they sound like a lot of fun!

See you all next week, with a new interview!


Barbara Silkstone's most current series is COLD CREAM MURDERS ~ GLOSSY LIPS, SMOKEY EYES, and coming soon: SOAP ON A ROPE. This series will have at least 6 books when complete. The adventures take place in the imaginary burg of Starfish Cove, Florida ~ a place near and dear to Silkstone's hometown of Redington Beach on the Gulf of Mexico just north of St. Petersburg, Florida. 

Twitter: @barbsilkstone