Friday, July 21, 2017

THE HIGH COUNTRY MYSTERY SERIES IN ORDER Of PUBLICATION

Book 1: MURDER IN BLACK AND WHITE


Sheriff Jeff McQuede becomes suspicious when a robber breaks into the Coal County Museum and steals only one item - a black-and-white class photograph. Under the name Jerome Slade the photographer had printed two ominous words: never graduated.  When a body is unearthed beneath the newly demolished school, McQuede realizes Slade had not left Black Mountain the night of the spring dance. McQuede soon uncovers hidden rivalries between Slade and his classmates. When he discovers that Heather Kenwell and the woman of his dreams, Loris Conner, were rivals for Slade's affection, McQuede fears finding out the truth.  Theft, blackmail, and another brutal killing lead back to photographs taken by Black Mountain's eccentric photographer, Bruce Fenton. While others see an innocent collection, McQuede sees murder in black and white.

 Murder in Black and White is a mystery following Sheriff Jeff McQuede as the most unusual burglary occurs...a riveting old-school style mystery that is as fun as it is entertaining.  - Midwest Book Review

Purchase Link: Murder in Black and White


Book 2: WHISPERS OF THE STONES


 Sheriff Jeff McQuede finds 'Bartering Bill' Garr murdered at his rural antique store. Only one item is missing -- a rare artifact believed to be the Pedro Mummy. First discovered in a cave in Wyoming, the Pedro Mummy was reported missing in the 1950s. Dr. Seth Talbot, newly arrived in town, has put out a fifteen-thousand-dollar reward for any information on the mummy, hoping that modern technology will prove his theory that a tiny race of people actually existed: one the Shoshones call the Nimerigar, or Little People. McQuede is astounded to find the mummy in the trunk of Seth Talbot's car. Talbot swears he;s being set up by rival co-workers -- Dr. Arden Reed, in particular -- who plans to benefit from his research. McQuede suspects the theft of the mummy is a red herring used to cover up the true motive for the crime. The closer he comes to the truth, the deeper McQuede is drawn into an elaborate hoax that threatens his career and places him in grave danger.

If you like a mystery with an interesting location as well as colorful characters, this is the one for you. --Reader's Favorite, Jean Brickell  

Purchase Link:  Whispers of the Stones


Book 3: STEALER OF HORSES


The famous Carlo painting Stealer of Horses sells for cash in a small Wyoming town and gallery owner Sheldon Spence gives the $200,000 to his wife, who walks over to the bank to make the deposit...and never returns.  A witness claims to have seen a frightened-looking Susan Spence in a battered old Chevy, speeding out of town. And each succeeding clue reveals a different angle on her disappearance. Sheriff Jeff McQuede begins to wonder if this is more than a simple case of kidnapping and robbery. Was Sheldon involved in Susan's disappearance? Or did Susan and a lover fake the scheme, planning to run off with the money they stole from Sheldon? The identity of a victim found shot behind the wheel of the Chevy holds the key to one ominous question: Is Susan Spence a kidnap victim-or is she part of some sinister ploy?

"A tremendous story that is on par with the best mysteries available on the market..."
Nicola Davies for Readers Favorite


Purchase Link:  Stealer of Horses   


Book 4: THE EXECUTIONER'S HOOD

An ominous black hood, a murdered judge.   When Sheriff Jeff McQuede finds Durmont's highly respected judge, Phil Grayson, bludgeoned to death in his study, a black executioner's hood shoved over his head, he faces his toughest case yet.  The judge has many enemies, including Darin Keefe, sentenced by Grayson and just released from prison. McQuede soon finds out that Keefe's case is linked to a city scandal that may involve Grayson. Seven years ago the judge's best friend, John Harwood, was believed to have taken a bribe from Keefe Construction and to have committed suicide rather than face conviction.  Had Keefe, taking the fall, left prison intent on revenge?   Or is the the judge's murder the result of a robbery gone wrong? Grayson died surrounded by his fabulous Old West outlaw collection, including a death mask, a famous Peacemaker, and other rare artifacts. The intruder could have been after some unknown item of great value.   Is the judge's murder a simple burglary gone wrong or a case of modern-day vigilante justice?


McQuede is a character that would make anybody feel safe and secure. Barry Dawson, is a good friend but you'd just want to smack him for being careless with his life. The Judge? He, like everyone else, was a mixture of good and bad--the question is, which got him killed?
 Sandra Murphy-- King's River Life Magazine


Purchase Link: The Executioner's Hood


BOOK 5: AN ICY DEATH 


 In the heart of a raging blizzard Sheriff Jeff McQuede discovers a woman frozen to death in her car. At first he believes her death to be an unfortunate accident--until he finds clues that point to cold-blooded murder. Margaret's husband, Arthur, left her in the stalled vehicle to brave the storm and manages to reach Joe Trevino's isolated ranch. The case becomes more complicated because of the recent warehouse robberies at Trevino's store. McQueede finds that Trevino is Margaret Burnell's business partner, and that she has traveled from their Casper store to conduct a company audit. In addition, Margaret has planned to meet with her only child, a run-away daughter she hasn't seen in years. Trevino, the missing daughter, and Arthur Burnell would all profit financially from Margaret's demise. Has a relentless killer tracked and sabotaged the Burnells, or did Arthur simply abandon his wife for his share of the money, leaving her to die an icy death?

I loved the setting in An Icy Death...The cold, brutal Wyoming winter is the perfect setting for a book that you want to curl up in front of the fire with and never stop reading...  I also liked the fact that no one w as ever sure that the murder was really a murder. At first, it appeared to be a tragic accident. ... Was the husband at fault? Or was this a simple act of ugly nature? Nice job!  Janelle Fila --Readers' Favorite


Purchase Link:  An Icy Death 


 BOOK 6: CRYING WOMAN BRIDGE

While returning from Professor Dawson's lecture on haunted places, the last thing Sheriff Jeff McQuede and Dawson expect to encounter is a terrified woman clinging to the railing of Mirabella's Bridge, crying for her lost baby. It looks as if Rae Harris has thrown the infant over the bridge in a fit of despair, but she claims he has been stolen by a ghostly figure she calls Mirabella. Similar to the La Llorona legend Dawson just spoke about, Mirabella was a local pioneer woman who was rumored to have drowned her infant after being abandoned by a lover. At first McQuede believes Rae was driven by madness, but he soon finds evidence that her story may be true, and the perfectly timed kidnapping of her child may be in some way related to lecture attendee and local celebrity, Jim Royce, and his vast fortune.

"My favorite book in the series" 
In a crime that mirrors the haunting legend of Mirabella, a 'crying woman' whose story is a variation of the legend of La Llorona, a babe goes missing and the distraught mother claims a ghost has stolen him away. Despite roadblock after roadblock, Sheriff McQuede doggedly pursues the truth, not believing that a legend has come to life...  Lillie Amman, Reviewer


Purchase Link:  Crying Woman Bridge 



BOOK 7: MURDER AND THE GOOD OLD BOYS' CLUB

Threatened victim, waiting grave…Sheriff McQuede is called to the cemetery by Ben Ward, a member of Durmont's Good Old Boys' Club. Ward's tombstone, where he plans someday to be buried with his first wife, is vandalized. A menacing date of death, fast approaching, has been drilled into the stone, and splotches of red paint drips over it like blood. Ben Ward and his four partners have sunk vast sums of money into a recreational community, Pleasant Valley Retreat, and this failing project has flamed anger among the investors. As the inscribed date of Ward's death draws nearer, a killer stalks the resort. McQuede must act quickly before a vandal's threats turn into reality.

"An excellent story that starts with a unused tombstone being vandalized. Murder follows as a Ponzi scheme is uncovered by the sheriff on the eve of his wedding. Fans of C.J. Box will enjoy this modern day Western series by a pair of sisters. This was a free review copy in PDF format provided by the authors. I'm looking forward to reading more books in the series as once I started the story was difficult to put down.--5 star Goodreads review-- Fredrick Danysh 


Purchase Link: Murder and the Good Old Boys' Club


A DEAL ON A HANDSHAKE:  A Collection of Seven Jeff McQuede Short Stories

In these seven mysteries Sheriff Jeff McQuede finds himself in the middle of a deal made on a handshake—where the result is murder. Set in the high county of modern-day Wyoming, the deal makers are speculators at an old-time mountain man rendezvous, traders vying over rare Native American pottery, or two family patriarchs pretending to bridge a lifetime of feuding. Throughout McQuede battles his arch-enemy Ruger, who he suspects runs a host of illegal activities, but generally manages to evade McQuede’s traps. In each of these stories McQuede, putting his own life on the line, relentlessly seeks out the dangerous men who have broken trust.


Purchase Link: A Deal on a Handshake


All of our books are available on Kindle, Kindle Unlimited, and as paperbacks through Amazon. 

Look for the eight book in the series, RAPID RIVER HOAX, coming this fall!


Friday, May 5, 2017

Fiction Genres Explained--Part One: The Romantic Suspense and the Mystery Romance


The classic mystery novel may or may not contain romance.  If it does, the romance is usually a minor sideline and not an integral part of the story.  However, for mystery readers who enjoy a stronger romantic thread blended in with the mystery, there are two types of books that contain both romance and mystery.

Romantic Suspense

In a romantic suspense novel, about half of the story is devoted to romance and the other half to mystery.  The hero or heroine is often a suspect in a mystery or murder case. Gothic romances and other books where the heroine is being stalked or is jeopardy are good examples of the romantic suspense. 

The famous novel Rebecca could be considered a romantic suspense because the mystery centers around whether or not the hero is guilty of murdering his first wife...and is his second wife in danger?  A good part of the novel  revolves around the relationship between the hero and the heroine, and romance plays a strong, major role in the plot.

Mystery Romance

Just as a romantic suspense is heavy on the romance, a mystery romance is more of a mystery with a touch of romance. In this type of book, romance plays a stronger role than in a classic mystery, but is not as strong as a romantic suspense.  Less than half of the book is devoted to romance. The mystery is the strongest element in the story and it is never overshadowed by the romance. 

There really isn’t a lot of difference between the two.  In fact, on online lists the romantic suspense and mystery romance are almost interchangeable.  However, from a publishing perspective, the romantic suspense or books that are heavy on the romance angle are much more likely to be categorized as a romance than a mystery romance, which remains firmly in the mystery genre.

My sister and I enjoy reading and writing romantic suspense and mystery romance.  We started out writing gothics and romantic suspense before we moved on to mystery romance and writing a traditional mystery series.  Many of our first novels were published by Avalon Books.  Below are three of our mystery romance titles.  For a limited time read Path of the Jaguar for 99 cents.








                     Click on link to order Flames  of Deceit 




                        Click on link to order The Vanished Lady 



                  SPECIAL PRICE!  Click on link to order   Path of the Jaguar for only 99c.



Sunday, March 19, 2017

How Soon Should a Murder Occur in a Mystery Novel?


How soon a murder should take place in a mystery novel depends on the type of novel being written.  In some mysteries, the murder occurs on the very first page or chapter, in others not until chapter six, and in still others…not at all.

The Traditional Mystery

In a traditional or Agatha Christie type novel, the murder usually occurs very early. Sometimes the book opens with a murder on the first page.  Traditionally the murder should take place in the first chapter unless there is some strong reason why it must be delayed.   If there is going to be a murder in the book, as a rule of thumb, it should at least happen before chapter six.  This is because the crime must be introduced early enough to center the book around it.

 It is important that the murder occur early in this type of book, for this kind of novel centers around “whodunit”.  The victim is already dead and the detective must sort through suspects and clues to find out who killed the victim. 


The Suspense or Thriller

A suspense or thriller may start with a threat rather than a murder.  This may be a missing person, a kidnapping, or other threat of some kind.  The murder may occur much later in the book.

 In this type of book, the intended victim may not be the person who winds up getting killed.  Or in some instances the villain is thwarted before anyone gets killed.  But quite a bit of excitement is generated through chases and narrow misses.


The No-Murder Mystery

Some mysteries center around a crime other than murder.  These books may involve a theft instead, such as the stealing of a bag of diamonds or some other treasure.  The mystery revolves around who took the valuables, and not who committed murder.

Another instance of a mystery where no actual murder may occur is in the case of a kidnapped pet or some such crime that doesn’t involve a human victim.  The pet is usually returned safely, and the mystery is solved without undue violence.




There is no set answer as to when a murder should take place in a mystery.  The genres have blended so that a murder in the first chapter is not always the norm.  No matter what the sub-genre, a mystery must start with some kind of action to draw the reader in.  If not a murder, it is essential that an event such as a theft, missing person, or other exciting event must be introduced in the first chapter. 

For more writing tips, check out our nonfiction books on writing and writing mysteries.