Book Review of Shades of Murder and interview with Lauren Carr
sponsored by Virtual Book Tours
Lauren Carr has graciously allowed two giveaways for this site. One, she is giving away a copy of her book. Please leave a post responding to Lauren’s interview or the review to enter into the giveaway. Secondly, she is offering one lucky reader a chance to Name the Dead Porn Star in Dead on Ice. The details are below, but one lucky reader will get a chance to name a character in her next book. Be sure to enter both giveaways.
Shades of Murder
Question: What do you get the man with everything?
Answer: When that man is the heir of the late mystery writer Robin Spencer, retired homicide detective Mac Faraday, you get him cold case to solve.
In Shades of Murder, Mac Faraday is once again the heir to an unbelievable fortune. This time the benefactor is a stolen art collector. But this isn’t just any stolen work-of-art—it’s a masterpiece with a murder attached to it.
Ilysa Ramsay was in the midst of taking the art world by storm with her artistic genius. Hours after unveiling her latest masterpiece—she is found dead in her Deep Creek Lake studio—and her painting is nowhere to be found.
Almost a decade later, the long lost Ilysa Ramsay masterpiece has found its way into Mac Faraday’s hands and he can’t resist the urge to delve into the case.
A world away, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; former JAG lawyer Joshua Thornton agrees to do a favor for the last person he would ever expect to do a favor—a convicted serial killer.
The Favor: Solve the one murder wrongly attributed to him.
Joshua finds an unexpected ally in Cameron Gates, a spunky detective who has reason to believe the young woman known to the media only as Jane Doe, Victim Number Four, was the victim of a copycat. Together, Joshua and Cameron set out to light a flame under the cold case only to find that someone behind the scenes wants the case to remain cold, and is willing to kill to keep it that way.
Little do these detectives know that the paths of their respective cases are on a collision course when they follow the clues to bring them together in a showdown with a killer who’s got a talent for murder!
Link to Tour on Main Site -
Lauren Carr fell in love with mysteries when her mother read Perry Mason to her at bedtime. The first installment in the Joshua Thornton mysteries, A Small Case of Murder was a finalist for the Independent Publisher Book Award. A Reunion to Die For was released in hardback in June 2007. Both of these books are in re-release.
Lauren is also the author of the Mac Faraday Mysteries, which takes place in Deep Creek Lake, Maryland. The first two books in her series, It’s Murder, My Son and Old Loves Die Hard have been getting rave reviews from readers and reviewers. The next book in this series, Shades of Murder, will be released May 2012. This will be Lauren’s fifth mystery.
Lauren’s sixth book, Dead on Ice, will be released in Fall 2012. Dead on Ice will introduce a new series entitled Lovers in Crime, in which Joshua Thornton will join forces with homicide detective Cameron Gates.
The owner of Acorn Book Services, Lauren is also a publishing manager, consultant, editor, cover and layout designer, and marketing agent for independent authors. This spring, two books written by independent authors will be released through the management of Acorn Book Services.
Lauren is a popular speaker who has made appearances at schools, youth groups, and on author panels at conventions. She also passes on what she has learned in her years of writing and publishing by conducting workshops and teaching in community education classes.
She lives with her husband, son, and two dogs on a mountain in Harpers Ferry, WV.
Visit Lauren’s websites and blog at:
Mindy Wall Interview with Lauren Carr:
I appreciate your taking the time to visit with us today.
1. What inspired this particular novel/book?
I was at a different stage of my life when I wrote my first two books, A Small Case of Murder and A Reunion to Die For. Those books are more serious and heavier. They actually have a completely different tone. Former JAG lawyer, Joshua Thornton is a widower with five children. He feels clueless as a father.
The Mac Faraday mysteries are lighter and there is more humor. Mac is a homicide detective whose wife leaves him and takes everything. On the day his divorce becomes final, he inherits $270 million dollars and an estate on Deep Creek Lake.
Different strokes for different folks. I had some readers wanting me to return to Joshua Thornton. So, after some thought, I decided to include Joshua in my next Deep Creek Lake mystery.
Since Joshua and Mac don’t know each other, I had to come up with two murder mysteries that, on the surface, don’t appear to be connected, and then have there be a connection to bring them together. Coming up with this puzzle was a lot of fun.
Shades of Murder actually introduces two characters that I will use in my next book, Dead on Ice, which will come out this fall: Joshua Thornton and Cameron Gates.
2. What character was your favorite to write for in this story? Why?
For all of the Mac Faraday Mysteries, readers have loved Gnarly, Mac’s German Shepherd. Gnarly was dishonorably discharged from the United States Army. Let’s just say, he has issues. He is incredibly intelligent and has a mind of his own. He’s also a hopeless kleptomaniac.
However, for Shades of Murder, my favorite character is Cameron Gates. She’s a Pennsylvania State homicide detective and my first female detective. I put a lot of thought into her character and she went through several transformations before she came to life for me.
There are so many women detectives in books and on television now. Years ago, when female detectives first emerged in mysteries, writers set out to break the stereotype by making their female detective tough. Almost every female detective you see on television is able to single-handedly take down male opponents. Now, the tough woman detective has become the stereotype.
I wanted to get away from that. Cameron is unique and quirky. She’s only as tough as she needs to be to make it believable for her to hold a position of a homicide detective. She’s not super woman. She was turned down for a promotion because her superiors think she’s crazy. Co-workers betray her for purely political reasons; but, instead of whining and crying about it, she shrugs it off and even expects it. She refuses to forget the victims who she works for. But she also has a vulnerable side that Joshua sees in her that makes them a good team.
3. Which was your favorite scene to write?
It is not romantic scenes, I’ll tell you that. Nothing against romance books, but writing a love scene is hard.
My favorite scenes are comedy. I crack myself up when I’m writing a humorous scene, especially dialogue. It is fun to play with words or meanings. There is more to writing a humorous dialogue than just writing an exchange that is batted back and forth. I love to find just the right word to create the right timing and image.
4. What was the hardest thing about writing this story?
Since I was going back to Joshua Thornton, my first protagonist in the Joshua Thornton Mysteries, I had to really think about him and where he would be in his life now. It’s been five years since I had written A Reunion to Die For. Not only am I in a different place, so is Joshua. His children are leaving the nest. He’s got more independence and is ready for some romance in his life. He’s not the same protagonist that he was when I wrote A Small Case of Murder. He’s ready to lighten up now, which I’ve done myself.
5. What Are Your Writing Quirks & Must-Haves To Write?
My dogs, Ziggy (Australian Shepherd) and Beagle Bailey follow me and my laptop everywhere. My muses are always at my feet while I’m writing. They are my muses.
6. What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I migrate. Depending on what is happening, you can find me anywhere in the house writing. In the morning, when I’m drinking my coffee, I’ll be in the bedroom with my laptop. Later on, I’ll move into my writing studio. If it’s a cold day, I’ll be in front of the fireplace. And my muses will follow me everywhere during the migration.
7. Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
Now that I have become a publishing manager and publisher with my company Acorn Book Services, I spend my day helping other authors and love it.
My day will start out about seven o’clock with answering e-mails and social media. After a couple of hours and two pots of coffee, I have to turn off the e-mail, which is very distracting, and work on my authors’ books. This can be anything from editing to layout design to proofing. Some days it is marketing with writing press releases or sending out queries to reviewers. At about four o’clock, it is time to get dinner started for my family. By eight o’clock, it is time to start working on my books. I will write until about eleven o’clock. I also reserve the weekend for my books.
Between all of that, we squeeze in taking dogs out, bringing them in, doing laundry, cleaning up the kitchen, taking out the garbage, and nagging my son to do his chores.
8. As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A mystery writer! Dreams do come true.
9. When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I believe writers are born. They are always writing. My earliest memories are rewriting the Bobbsey Twins after reading it. Instead of looking for a lost bracelet, they were hunting down a kidnapper.
10. Where do you find your Inspirations?
Everywhere. Someone can be late for an appointment and I’ll be thinking, “Supposed she was kidnapped and murdered by the garbage man, who ended up being a long lost uncle and she’s the only living heir …” Or maybe I’ll overhear someone talking in the booth behind me while waiting for my husband to meet for lunch. They may be gossiping about a co-worker, but in my writer’s mind, I’ll twist and turn it around until I come up with a dead body found in the lunchroom at Petco.
11. What do you like to read? Who is your favorite author?
Murder mysteries are at the top of the list. My favorite author right now is Tess Gerritsen.
12. Please let readers know where they can connect with you and purchase your books...
My website: http://mysterylady.net/
My blog: http://literarywealth.wordpress.com/
My Goodreads author page: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/900970.Lauren_Carr
Other: Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/lauren.carr.984991
Is your book in Print, ebook or both?
All of the above! Print: $14.99/ebook: $2.99
13. Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Giveaway: A copy of Shades of Murder (print (US only) or e-book, winner’s choice.
Contest: For this book tour, I am holding a contest for readers to name the female porn star found in the freezer.
(This is going to be such fun!)
Name the Dead Porn Star in Dead on Ice:
(This is going to be such fun!)
Name the Dead Porn Star in Dead on Ice:
Dead on Ice is the first installment of my new series: Lovers In Crime. Taking place in the Chester, WV/Pittsburgh area, Lovers in Crime revolves around the budding romance of Small Town WV Prosecutor Joshua Thornton and Pennsylvania State Police Homicide Detective Cameron Gates.
In Dead on Ice, Cameron Gates is tasked with solving the murder of a missing porn star. The case has a personal connection to Joshua because the star’s mummified body is found in an abandoned freezer in his cousin’s basement. It doesn’t take long for their investigation to reveal that the risqué Hollywood legend’s roots were buried in their small rural town, something that she had kept off her show business bio. She should have kept it off her road map, too. Because when this starlet came running home from the mob in 1985, it proved to be a fatal homecoming.
The Winner must come up with both the Stage Name and the porn starlet’s Real Name. Send an e-mail to me (firstname.lastname@example.org). Put: Dead on Ice Porn Star in the Subject Line of the e-mail. You must supply your contact information in the e-mail. The contest will run from June 1-July 30. I will select the winning names and winner. The Winner will receive a gift basket with print copies of all the Deep Creek Lake Mysteries (autographed), Lovers in Crime Coffee Mug, and an autographed copy of Dead on Ice when it is released in the Fall.
Thank you so much for chatting with us today.
Mac was still reading the first letter. “It’s a bunch of legal mumbo jumbo. This guy, Archibald Poole, died. He had left this to Robin Spencer. In the event of her death preceding his, it was to be passed on to her next of kin. Since that’s me, I get it.”
Archie stopped snipping. “Archibald Poole?”
Gnarly stopped sniffing.
“Did you know him?” He was breaking through the seal of the white envelope addressed to Robin.
“Creepy old man. One of those eccentric rich guys. He didn’t make it all on the up and up. I think Robin remained friends with him because he was good material for her books. He lived in a big mansion up on top of a mountain in southern West Virginia.”
Mac was only half paying attention. “He left Robin a painting.”
With one end unsealed, Archie peered inside the box to see that the contents were wrapped in brown paper and padding.
Sitting on the top step leading down into the dining room, Mac read the letter out loud:
If you are reading this, then I’m dead and you are now observing my gift to you. So, what do you leave to the girl who has everything? When that girl is Robin Spencer, it’s a mystery.
You will find that I have left you an Ilysa Ramsay painting. That alone makes it worth a fortune. But, ah, my dear Robin, this is not just any Ilysa Ramsay painting. It is her lost painting.
You will recall that Ilysa Ramsay was brutally murdered on your own Deep Creek Lake in the early hours of Labor Day in 2004. At the same time, her last painting was stolen from her studio where her dead body was discovered. She had unveiled what she had declared to be her masterpiece to her family and friends the same evening that she was murdered.
Grasping the frame wrapped in packaging, Archie tugged at the painting to pull it out of the box while Mac continued reading:
Everyone in the art world has been searching for Ilysa Ramsay’s last work of art. With only a handful of people having seen it; and no photographs taken of it before its theft; its value is priceless.
As my good luck would have it, a month after her murder, my guy called me. He had been contacted by a fence representing someone claiming to have the painting and wanting to unload it. Being familiar with Ilysa Ramsay’s work, I was able to authenticate it. Also, I had seen reports from witnesses who had described it as a self-portrait of Ilysa.
As I write this letter, Ilysa’s murder has yet to be solved. Nor do I know who had stolen the painting. It was sold to me by a third party.
And so, my dear lovely Robin, I leave this task to you. Here is the painting that the art world has been searching for, for years, and a mystery of who stole it, along with who killed its lovely artist. Enjoy, as I know you will!
My Love, Archibald Poole
Her yellow suit droopy, Archie slapped her hat down on the dining room table, and ripped through the padding to reveal the painting of a red-haired woman lying across a lounge with a red and green clover pattern. She was dressed in an emerald gown with a ruby red choker stretched across her throat. Ruby red jewels spilled down her throat toward the bodice.
Gnarly sat on the floor at Mac’s feet to gaze at the painting.
They studied the image together.
“Just what I always wanted,” Mac said. “A stolen priceless painting with a dead body attached to it.”
Have you ever had one of those moments where you had put down a book to do something and when you came back to it you were completely lost? That happened to me while I was reading this book. You see there are two murders, but one story. Two investigations, leading … well I’m not telling you that, you’ll have to read for yourself. Anyway I had to run an errand right when the story shifted from the first murder to the second murder and I got a wee bit confused since the murder I came back to was not the one I left, and neither was the investigator. Anyway, I sorted that out quickly and got back on track.
There are a LOT of people in this story, but the main people are easy to keep track of once you get into the flow of the story. The story is fast paced, angst ridden, has touches of romance and whimsy, hard-boiled detective work, with just the right amount of humor to off-set the drama. I quickly got very involved with the investigations and the investigators. I worried that they would mess it up, but thankfully they eventually figured it out… and I was totally wrong anyway. It’s a good thing I’m not a detective. I love CSI, NCIS, Criminal Minds, etc. but I always get the ending wrong. Occasionally I get the right bad guy, but then again even a broken clock is right twice a day.
This book is totally worth reading. I really came to care for the people in the story, and the animals were a hoot. There is Gnarly, the kleptomaniac, toll-bridge operating, dishonorably discharged dog who rules his house, and then there is Irving, the milk drinking, skunk look-a-like, Main Coon cat. And that’s just the pets, wait until you meet the people.
I give this book 4.5 out of 5 clouds. A good read!
This product or book may have been distributed for review; this in no way affects my opinions or reviews.