Something Yellow by Laura Templeton

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Photo Credit: Goodreads


This book was sent to Traveling With T in exchange for a honest review.

Something Yellow

Holly has returned to her mountain home in Virgina. It is not a happy return- Holly’s mother is dying and Holly returns to help take care of her in the last months of her life. Holly is upset about her mother, but her life has changed drastically for other reasons, too. Holly has lost her job in Atlanta, she’s put her effort into work and now feels she doesn’t have much to show for all her hard work- no job, no life of her own, and no love life.

Not long after Holly returns to Virginia- a 9 year old girl is reported as missing. Holly has a sense of dread- especially when she finds out that her ex, Houston, is in town. This isn’t the first missing child in Virgina- Holly’s sister, Rachel, has never been found. And Hunter was the last person to see her. Is it just a coincidence that Houston is in town? Or is Houston being in town connected to the missing girl?

Holly, facing her mother’s death, knowing Houston is back in town and the missing girl bringing up memories of Rachel and frustration at never knowing what happened is making Holly reassess life. Reassess why she left and what her next step is. When Holly’s brother comes back- Holly is happy to have the help with their mom. Oliver, though, is distracted at times- and there is a distance between them. Is it a growing apart distance or how siblings relationships are altered after disaster?

Houston proclaims his innocence to Holly- over and over. Should Holly believe him? Has Holly been so blinded by her belief that Houston hurt Rachel that she’s missing the real story?


Traveling With T’s Thoughts:

I’ll be honest- when Laura Templeton emailed me to ask to consider SOMETHING YELLOW for review, I almost said “no”. My review schedule was stacking up, I had been in a reading slump, and I just wasn’t sure. But, I was intrigued- so I said yes. And I’m glad I did.

SOMETHING YELLOW was not perfect- however, it was a good debut. There was a plot twist that I saw coming and some other small things- some of the story was resolved a bit too easily- however, the whole package was perfectly fine.

For me, I say a definite debut worth reading- Laura Templeton has a flair for words and I’m curious to see her next work.

Enjoyable and interesting- SOMETHING YELLOW encourages you to look beyond appearances and to examine what you want in life.


*This book was sent to Traveling With T by the author in exchange for a fair and honest review. All thoughts and opinions are mine alone.


Happy Reading and Bookishly Yours,

T @ Traveling With T

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Interview with Gigi Pandian, author of PIRATE VISHNU (plus signed bookplate promo!)

Pirate Vishnu by Gigi Pandian- Henery Press

Photo Credit: Henery Press

Today, Gigi Pandian stopped by Traveling With T to talk about her latest book, PIRATE VISHNU, Jaya (her character’s) #literaryconfessions and Indiana Jones. Read on for all the details in this fun interview with Gigi. And don’t forget- after the interview, there is the info you will need to get a signed bookplate (Shut UP! I know, right?!)

Interview with Gigi Pandian, author of PIRATE VISHNU

Hi Gigi- Thanks for agreeing to be interviewed at Traveling With T!


Thanks for having me!


Can you describe Pirate Vishnu (A Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt Mystery) in 15 words or less?

A treasure map of San Francisco’s Barbary Coast leads to mystery and romance in India.


Why will readers connect to Jaya Jones? What sets her apart from other characters?

Jaya is a classic adventurer in the tradition of Elizabeth Peters’ strong-willed heroines, but she puts her own multicultural twist on the genre. She was born in India to an Indian mother and an American father, and grew up to be a professor of Indian history in San Francisco. She brings her experiences with her to her adventures, which helps her solve mysteries of the past linked to present-day crimes.


“Maneuvers a complicated love life she didn’t count on”- ooh, Jaya’s dealing with a love triangle! Do you, as the writer, know which part of the love triangle complements Jaya better? Or are you still deciding?

When I wrote Artifact, the first book in the series, I thought I had everything figured out. But my characters surprised me! They’ve taken on lives of their own and I’m not yet sure how they’re going to work things out. I can’t wait to find out.


RT Book Reviews says “Forget about Indiana Jones. Jaya Jones is swinging into action.” How does that make you feel? Indiana Jones is a pretty big pop culture icon- so being compared must be kind of cool!

It’s definitely exciting to see reviews comparing Jaya to Indiana Jones! When I was a kid, I created a cartoon strip called “Minnesota Smith” — the adventures of a female Indiana Jones. It’s surreal to have come full circle.


Is Jaya Jones based on anyone you know, Gigi?

I traveled with my anthropologist parents a lot when I was a kid, so I invented all sorts of mysterious treasure hunts as I played in castle ruins. When I began writing a novel I wanted to capture that spirit, so Jaya was initially based on me – but she grew into her own unique personality more than I was expecting!


What is the 1 thing that Jaya would never be without?

Jaya needs her high heels – she’s only 5 feet tall.


Does Jaya have any  #literaryconfessions?

Jaya Jones #literaryconfessions

Jaya Jones has a pretty big literary confession: She tells people she doesn’t have time to read fiction, since she’s a second-year professor who doesn’t yet have tenure, but she secretly loves classic adventure novels. She doesn’t admit to herself that she loves the thrill of the treasure hunts she gets pulled into, but her favorite novels are Victorian escapist adventures like King Solomon’s Mines.

*Thanks Gigi for a great interview!


Photo Credit: Provided by Author

Gigi Pandian Bio:

Gigi Pandian is the child of cultural anthropologists from New Mexico and the southern tip of India. After being dragged around the world during her childhood, she tried to escape her fate when she left a PhD program for art school. But adventurous academic characters wouldn’t stay out of her head. Thus was born the Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt Mystery Series. The first book in the series, Artifact, was awarded a Malice Domestic Grant and named a “Best of 2012″ debut novel by Suspense Magazine. The follow-up is Pirate Vishnu. Gigi loves writing locked-room mystery short stories. Her latest, “The Hindi Houdini,” is an Agatha Award nominee for Best Short Story.

Connect with Gigi: Facebook, blog, Twitter and website.

Signed Bookplate Info:

Signed BookPlate from Gigi

Photo Credit: Provided by Author

Want a signed bookplate for your copy of PIRATE VISHNU? Order PIRATE VISHNU by February 17th and email proof of purchase to: (while supplies last). For more info, visit Gigi’s site for all the details on the signed bookplate.

Where to buy PIRATE VISHNU:

Amazon, Barnes and Noble, IndieBound, A Great Good Place for Books, & Murder By The Book.

After I’m Gone by Laura Lippman

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Photo Credit: Goodreads


This book was sent to Traveling With T in exchange for a fair and honest review.

After I’m Gone

Felix Brewer is a man with a plan- he has big dreams. Wants to have a fancy house, money and security, all the creature comforts of life. Felix is not afraid of hard work- he’s also not afraid of breaking the law and bending the rules to get ahead in life. When Felix meets Bambi- there is an instant attraction. Bambi is Felix’s idea of a perfect woman- cultured and beautiful.

Felix not only has no problem bending the law for his own gain, he also does not have a problem breaking his vows- which he does with his mistress, Julie. When the law finally catches up to Felix, he does what a man with shady business connections does- he takes the money and runs- leaving behind, Bambi, his 3 daughters and Julie. 5 women- 5 women whose lives were irrevocably changed after Felix left. Bambi also feels that Julie knew more than what she let on- and resentment builds. 10 years after Felix disappears, Julie leaves- most think to join Felix in the new life he’s made. Until Julie’s remains are found- which shines a spotlight on the day that Julie disappears.

Enter Roberto “Sandy” Sanchez- former police officer- now he works on cold cases- he has a good track record following up with the clues and finding justice- even after everyone else has given up. When Sandy begins to search for clues about Julie’s disappearance- the trail twists and turns along with Felix’s disappearance and life of crime. Felix’s daughters and his wife, Bambi, all have reason for Julie to disappear. But, years later, would any of them had the ability to make this happen? Or is there more to this story than meets the eye?

Sandy knows the truth is out there. And he knows he’s the person to find out the answers.


Traveling With T’s Thoughts:

This was my first Laura Lippman novel- and I thoroughly enjoyed AFTER I’M GONE. A man disappears, his mistress disappears 10 years later- common sense tells you the 2 are together. But common sense meet Laura Lippman- she takes a story that has been told before- and creates a story with intrigue and mystery- a story that the reader will devour.

AFTER I’M GONE is told in “current time” and flashback tales- with clues and suspects littered throughout the story. The story, while the main focus is on what happened to Julie, the subplots of how Felix came to disappear and how life without Felix shaped the women he loves lives without him make for a great addition to the storyline. As the reader follows the clues with Sandy- they must question everyone and everything.



*This book, AFTER I’M GONE, was sent to Traveling With T by William-Morrow Books in exchange for a fair and honest review.


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Hunted by Elizabeth Heiter

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Photo Credit: Goodreads


This book was sent to Traveling With T in exchange for a fair and honest review.



Evelyn Baine is criminal profiler with the FBI. Evelyn has wanted to work with the FBI for many years- and her star is rising and she’s making quite a reputation for herself. When called in to profile the Bakersville Burier, Evelyn knows she must work hard to create a profile before too many innocent people are killed. What Evelyn does not count on is how the Bakersville Burier will change her life- and how deeply it will affect her. Continue reading

Starter House by Sonja Condit

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Photo Credit: Goodreads


This book was sent to Traveling With T in exchange for a fair and honest review.


Starter House

Lacey and Eric, a young married couple, are looking for a house. Their 2 will becoming 3 in a short few months and both Lacey and Eric desire a place of their own to raise their child, in a neighborhood that has good schools and a nice look.  Lacey, though, wants a house with character- not a square cookie-cutter house- a house with character. When Lacey sees this 1 house and finds out that it is for sale- she falls in love with the house. Eric is happy because it’s in the neighborhood they want, is in their price range, and makes Lacey happy. Too bad neither of them really listened to the real estate agent when she tried to discourage them from buying the house.

Shortly after moving in, Lacey begins having difficulty with her pregnancy- and is concerned. She and Eric begin making alternative arrangements- Lacey sleeping downstairs, her mother moving in temporarily and Lacey trying to keep stress to a minimum. Still, Lacey feels uneasy. The house, at times, has a different feel to it- not warm and welcoming; but dark and mysterious. There is a little boy  who Lacey keeps seeing… in her house. This boy, Drew, appeals to Lacey and her teacher/maternal instincts. But, slowly, she begins to pick up on things- that Drew is not what he seems.  That Drew is a jealous child and quick to anger- which Lacey finds out the hard way.

Determined to get to the bottom of what has happened in this house and the story of Drew- Lacey begins to look for clues. What she finds is dark and chilling.  Will Lacey be able to put an end to evil in the house- before she and her baby pay the ultimate price?


Traveling With T’s Thoughts:

This is Sonja Condit’s first book and while I enjoyed it- I was a bit conflicted at times. Sonja’s characters- Lacey and Eric, I did not completely connect with either. Lacey, at times, seemed like she was cracking up and Eric, was an obsessive workaholic.

The story is compared to The Thirteenth Tale and since I have not read that book, I can’t accurately say if Starter House is like that book. I was a bit worried that it would be too scary- similar to the movie, The Conjuring, but it was not super-scary. Starter House has more of a creepy vibe- and Sonja Condit does that very well.

Would I recommend? Yes. Was it perfect? No. But, Starter House kept me flipping pages because I had to know what happened in that house- and if or when it would ever end.


*Thanks to William-Morrow for sending Traveling With T STARTER HOUSE. Above thoughts and opinions are mine alone.



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The Edwin Drood Murders by Christopher Lord (A Dickens Junction Mystery)


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Photo Credit: Goodreads

Are you a Droodist? If so, you have found a book that will entertain! Not a Droodist? Still in luck- folks- because the mystery holds appeal for lovers of Dickens or not.


The Edwin Drood Murders by Christopher Lord

The Droodists have arrived in Astoria. It’s a fun filled weekend festival designed for fans of Charles Dickens work. Maybe fans is too tame of a word to describe some of these characters, though, as they are quite educated and taken with the work of Dickens. Simon, one of the hosts of the weekend and owner of Pip’s Pages, is excited about the weekend. A weekend spent with fellow Droodists- oh my! The only wrinkle in the weekend that Simon can see is that he just asked his boyfriend, Zach, to move in with him- and Zach did not immediately agree to this. Simon, though, will soon learn that there will be plenty more wrinkles in the weekend than he could ever think.

What do you get when you combine a movie star, a blogger, scholars who have opposing opinions, a family friend and a man who claims to be named Edwin Drood? A recipe for disaster…. or murder.  The conference starts out fairly well- with one scholar claiming to have absolute proof of the missing pages of Charles Dickens, The Mystery of Edwin Drood. Naturally this announcement has everyone in a-flutter; could it be after all these years that there is more to this story? Some, in the group, are a-flutter for reasons that are nefarious.

When a priceless ring and the potentially priceless artifact are missing, Simon knows there is trouble. Trouble increases ten-fold when a body is discovered. Simon must rely on his skills to help find the guilty party. Luckily for him, his partner, Zach, is also a reporter and agrees to help him- even though he is not as knowledgeable about Dickensian trivia as Simon.

Can Simon solve the mystery before anyone else is murdered? Will the potentially priceless artifact be found? And will Zach agree to move in with Simon? To find out the answers to all these and more-  read The Edwin Drood Murders by Christopher Lord.


Traveling With T’s Thoughts

I have a confession: While familiar with A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, I must say that is the only work of his I am knowledgeable with. However, when the publicist contacted me about the possibility of reviewing The Edwin Drood Murders, I was intrigued- the cover, the story, the characters all had something that was calling to me. So, I let my lack of Dickens knowledge not bother me- and accepted this book.

If you are concerned you need to be a fan of Dickens to understand this book- you don’t! Next thing- this is the 2nd book in the A Dicken Junction Mystery– and while you may want to go read the first book, The  Christmas Carol Murders– again, to enjoy Edwin Drood- not necessary!

The characters- oh my- the characters. A blogger who is mildly annoying at times- but who Christopher Lord manages to give a unique voice (and a current sounding voice with use of words like hawt) to is quite memorable.  Each character has something that makes them unique and at the same time, a viable suspect in the nefarious acts. There are plenty of red herrings for the reader to examine and rule out.

The ending- when Simon gathers everyone together and reveals what he knows reminds me of those murder-mystery weekends you watch on TV (think Golden Girls or Saved By The Bell)- but I liked that. As the reader, you may have figured out a piece or 2- but it’s nice to have it all spelled out.

Recommended for fans of mystery, cozy mystery or just a good story!



*This book was provided to me by a publicist in exchange for a fair and honest review. The above thoughts and opinions are mine alone.

Interview with Jean Erhardt, author of Small Town Trouble

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Photo Credit: Author website

Today, I have Jean Erhardt at the blog today being interviewed about her book, Small Town Trouble. Jean’s book introduces readers to Kim Claypoole- an amateur sleuth who seems to have trouble following her everywhere!

Small Town Trouble synopsis (from Goodreads)

In Small Town Trouble, the first in my mystery series, you get acquainted with Kim Claypoole’s irreverent ways of dealing with the peculiar characters and events that seem to follow her around. Claypoole’s misadventures begin as she leaves her home in the Smoky Mountains to help save her kooky mother Evelyn’s from financial disaster. Setting off to assist Evelyn, AKA “The Other Scarlett O’Hara,” with her newest personal crisis, Claypoole leaves her Gatlinburg doublewide and the Little Pigeon, the restaurant that she owns with her partner and sometimes best friend Mad Ted Weber as well as a steamy love affair with TV diva Nancy Merit.

Claypoole’s savior complex leads to more trouble when she bumps into an old flame in her hometown who asks for help clearing her hapless brother of a recent murder charge. In true Claypoole fashion, she gets more than she bargained for when she gets dragged into a complicated quest to find the true killer that involves topless dancers, small-town cops, a stream of backwater character and even a meeting with the Grim Reaper. We’re never sure if Claypoole can muddle her way through the murky depths of this bizarre murder mystery before it’s too late. With biting humor and wit, Small Town Trouble will leave you guessing what’s around the next corner in the quirky world of Kim Claypoole and looking forward to her next adventure.

Interview with Jean Erhardt

Thank you so much for agreeing to be interviewed by Traveling With T!

Thank you, Tamara, for the opportunity and privilege to be here with you and your friends today.

Jean, could you describe Small Town Trouble in 20 words or less?

Small Town Trouble introduces amateur sleuth Kim Claypoole who confronts peculiar characters and deadly deeds with biting humor and moxie galore.

How did you create the character Kim Claypoole?

Claypoole basically invented herself.

If Small Town Trouble was made into a movie or TV show- do you have a dream cast in mind?

Actually, Small Town Trouble has been optioned for a movie by writer/director Mike Bizzarri who is in pursuit of funding as we speak.  Any investors out there?  I would love to see Ellen DeGeneres or Maria Bello as Claypoole.  Maybe Diane Ladd or Sissy Spacek as Claypoole’s mother.

Do you have a routine for writing? A writing  schedule? Is there a place that when you write there the ideas just seem to happen quicker?

I almost always start writing first thing in the morning.  Sometimes very early morning and continue until I’ve reached a good stopping point.  I generally write in my study at home, but I can write just about anywhere.

Does Kim Claypoole have a favorite book?

Claypoole is a Charles Portis fan.  Portis is probably best known for writing True Grit which was made into the classic John Wayne film.  Portis writes deadpan comedic novels and has a small, but devoted group of fans, many of them writers.

Most authors today don’t just write, they also use social media to connect with fans and to spread the news of their book’s release. Are you using social media to help create a fan base for your character Kim Claypoole?

For the longest time I refused to get involved with social media.  But my sister Sara seemed  to be having a lot of fun with Facebook, so I asked her to show me the ropes.  Now, I’m practically an addict.  I have a personal page, an author page and Kim Claypoole has her own fan club page.

Jean- when you are not writing your own books- who are some of your favorite authors to read?

I adore Kinky Friedman.  I enjoy and greatly admire Robert B. Parker, John D. MacDonald, James Crumley, Joy Williams, Jim Harrison, Ann Beattie, Hunter S. Thompson, Lee Smith, Carolyn Forche, Rita Mae Brown, Stephen King, Armistead Maupin and (yes!) Charles Portis.  Some of the writers I’ve more recently come to admire are Joyce Thompson, Mark Spencer, Josh Goldfaden, David Gates and Lily Gardner.

If Kim Claypoole could be best friends with a character from another book series- who would she pick? And why?

It would definitely be Kinky Friedman.  Friedman’s mystery novels feature a fictionalized version of himself as, you guessed it, Kinky Friedman. He goes about solving crimes largely in New York City, dishing out wit, wisdom and charm along the way, not unlike Kim Claypoole.  Claypoole and Kinky share similarly somewhat jaded, yet cautiously optimistic views of life, love and the human race in general. And they both enjoy a good cigar!



jean erhardt

Photo Credit: Author Website




Liked Jean’s interview? Read more about Jean by visiting her website or Facebook page. And if you enjoyed Small Town Trouble, the next Kim Claypoole book will release in Spring 2014!

Once We Were Brothers by Ronald H. Balson (+ giveaway!)

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Photo Credit: Goodreads


Would you ever forget a man’s face that was connected to the most horrifying experience of your life? What happens if you see his face later- years later, after he’s become wealthy, after he’s become the toast of the town? Do you confront him for past sins? Or not? And if you choose to confront, will anyone believe you? This is the story of Once We Were Brothers.

Ben Solomon one night goes to a ritzy Chicago event- an event where the toast of town of Chicago, Elliot Rosenzweig, will be attending. Ben is there for a specific reason- but not a reason that anyone could guess. He brings a gun and confronts Elliot- letting the world know that the man standing in front of them is an impostor. He’s a monster. He’s a Nazi. But the people of Chicago cannot understand that the man they love could ever have been a man like Ben claims.

Enter Catherine. Ben, because of pulling a gun on an esteemed Chicago man, needs a lawyer, and Catherine’s friend, Liam, persuades her to talk to Ben. Catherine agrees because Liam is her friend and because Liam has stood by her side in previous times- but is not sure she could help Ben- even if there is proof that Elliot is Otto Piatek as Ben claims. Ben begins to slowly tell Catherine his story- his story of his life in Poland, life before the Nazi’s came to town. Life back when he and Otto were brothers and had each other’s back. As Catherine hears more of the story- she becomes involved in Ben’s life. And begins to question if the man could be right- if Elliot and Otto could be the same person?

Catherine knows that if she’s to help Ben take on his claim- she’s in for the fight of her life. Until, though, events begin to happen at work- she had no idea how far people will go to silence her, to silence Ben and to protect Elliot from even the hint of scandal. With the cards stacked against Catherine and Ben, and the stakes rising- can they find the smoking gun to show everyone that Elliot and Otto are the same person? Or, has time and age taken a toll on Ben’s memory?

Once We Were Brothers is a mystery, love story, tale of intrigue and a look at how dirty politics, greed, and corruption can ruin places it’s allowed to fester. But Once We Were Brothers is so much more. It’s a cautionary tale, it’s a tale of warning to people, it’s an account of how life was for many people during a dark time in history. Ben’s story is compelling- and a must read for fans of historical fiction.


Traveling With T’s Thoughts

This book, Once We Were Brothers, is a book that you must read. A mystery, a tale of the Holocaust, a love story, pain and heartbreak, and so much more- Once We Were Brothers has something for everyone. Ben’s story- from how life was before the Holocaust, how he and Otto were not only friends, they were brothers- and then the changes in Otto- are compelling and heartbreaking. Reading Ben’s story of the vicious cruelty that was suffered is a story that will stick with you long after the last page of Once We Were Brothers is turned.  But even more- the mystery will stay with you- is Elliot really Otto? Or did Ben accuse the wrong man?


Giveaway details:

Simply comment on this post for a chance to win Once We Were Brothers! The Giveaway is US only and will run from December 13- December 20th. Winner will be notified by email on December 21’st.


Here is an excerpt of Once We Were Brothers:





Chicago, Illinois, September 2004

BEN SOLOMON STOOD BEFORE his bathroom mirror fumbling with his bow tie. He was eighty-three years old and getting dressed for Judgment Day. Years had come and gone since he had last worn his tuxedo, but then, Judgment Day was a black tie affair.

He uttered a Polish phrase to the man in the mirror and reached into his pocket to reexamine his pricey ticket.

Lyric Opera of Chicago. Opening Night Gala, September 26, 2004. La Forza del Destino. Main Floor, Aisle 2, Row kk, Seat 103—a seat he did not intend to occupy. Truth be told, he didn’t care much for opera. The ticket had set him back five hundred dollars, a goodly sum for a pensioner.

He pulled back the cuff of his shirtsleeve to check the time on his watch, a silver-band Citizen given to him when he retired from the Chicago Park District eight years ago. Four thirty—still two hours until the doors would open. He walked into his living room.

The windows of his modest one-bedroom apartment faced east, toward Lake Michigan and the row of condominium towers that stretched north in a line from the Loop to Thorndale Avenue like a stand of Midwest corn. The late-afternoon sun laid a track of shadows across Lake Shore Drive and onto the lush grass of the Waveland Golf Course, where he’d worked as a starter for almost fifty years. To his right, in the mirrored calm of Belmont Harbor, the luxury cruisers rested comfortably in their slips. He lingered. How he loved that view. He conceded that he might be looking at it for the last time.

Once more he checked his appearance in the mirror. He asked Hannah if he looked all right. Was he dapper? He wished she were there to answer.

Underneath his sweaters, in the bottom drawer of his bureau, lay a cardboard cigar box. Setting the box on the bureau top, he lifted the lid and removed a German P08 Luger, World War II vintage, in mint condition, purchased at an antique gun show for $1,250. Another hit to his savings account. He stuffed the pistol in his belt beneath his cummerbund.

Five o’clock. Time to walk to the corner, flag a southbound taxi, and join up with the glitterati at the “undisputed jewel of the social season.”



IN HIS DRESSING ROOM on the second story of his Winnetka mansion, a generous four-acre estate set high on a bluff overlooking the lake, Elliot Rosenzweig stood fumbling with his cuff links. “Jennifer,” he called out, “would you come help me, please?”

The young medical student, sparkling in her formal evening gown, breezed into the master suite and to the side of her grandfather, who was grappling with his French cuffs.

“Popi, we’re going to be late if we don’t hurry.”

He watched her hands easily fasten the gold links. So supple, so young. Soon to be a surgeon’s hands, he thought.

“There,” she said.

Beaming with profound adoration, he kissed her on the forehead. “I’m so proud of you,” he said.

“For fastening your cuffs?”

“For being my angel.”

“I love you, too, Popi.” She twirled and headed for the closet door.

“That’s a beautiful dress,” he called after her. “I like it.”

“You should,” she said over her shoulder, “it cost you a fortune. Nonna bought it for me at Giselle’s. It’s an original. Is Nonna going tonight?”

“No, I’m afraid not. She has another one of her headaches.” He winked. “She hates these public events.”

Jennifer lifted his Armani jacket from the hanger and held it for him as he slipped his arms through the sleeves. Smiling, she gave a short tug on his lapels and took a step back.

“You look very handsome tonight.” She kissed him on his cheek. “Now we need to go. All our friends are waiting.”

Together, hand in hand, they joined the rest of their entourage under the pink stone portico where the group filed into two limousines that would carry them downtown to the Civic Opera House. The iron security gates parted and the white limousines glided forward onto Sheridan Road and toward Chicago’s Loop.



FESTIVAL BANNERS HUNG FROM the art deco columns of the Civic Opera House’s mezzanine and multicolored buntings looped from the balustrades, all gaily surrounding the opera celebrants gathered in the foyer below. Costumed servers carried champagne and hors d’oeuvres on silver platters. In the corner, a subgroup of the Lyric Orchestra played selections from Rossini overtures.

Raising her voice to be heard above the din of conversations, Jennifer asked, “How many years have you been coming to opening night, Popi?” She smiled as she accepted a canapé from an Elizabethan palace guard.

“Since 1958, angel. Although in those days they didn’t pay so much attention to me.”

“You mean you weren’t a Platinum Grand Benefactor?”

“I always gave what I could to support the arts, but…” His answer was interrupted by the approach of Chicago’s mayor and first lady, who were being shuttled about by Lyric’s artistic director.

“It’s nice to see you again, Elliot. You’re looking well.”

“Thank you, Mr. Mayor. I think you know my granddaughter, Jennifer,” he answered in the noisy hall. “It always brightens my day to see you and Edith.” Rosenzweig flashed a congenial smile as he warmly took the hand of Chicago’s first lady.

“Quite an event, the Lyric opening, thanks to you and the board,” said Mayor Burton. “The city owes you a great deal, Elliot. You’re a priceless resource.”

“Maybe not so priceless, John.” And the two of them laughed.

While they continued to exchange flatteries, Ben Solomon quietly wound his way through the crowd toward the Grand Benefactor. He was oblivious to the music. He heard no conversations. He saw only his target. Making his way across the floor, he declined a flute of champagne from a seventeenth-century Italian peasant girl and felt for the Luger in his belt. The Lyric quartet pizzicatoed through the delightful strains of La Gazza Ladra.

He paused until the mayor and his wife had moved on to the next grouping and walked directly to Rosenzweig, his heart pounding like a pile driver.

“What did you do with all that jewelry?” he said inches from Rosenzweig’s face.

“Excuse me, sir?” said the esteemed donor with a smile, unsure if this was part of a staged repertoire. Perhaps an opera joke?

But there was no sign of frivolity. “Just curious,” Solomon said. “I asked you what you did with the jewelry—you know, the watches, diamond bracelets, wedding bands. You had a whole chest full. Don’t you remember?”

Rosenzweig looked to his granddaughter and shrugged.

“I’m afraid I don’t know what you’re talking about, sir.”

In a flash, Solomon drew the polished Luger and pressed the barrel hard against Rosenzweig’s forehead. A woman screamed. The crowd immediately backpedaled into a large ring.

“Popi!” screamed Jennifer.

“Recognize this gun, Otto? Should be real familiar to a Nazi officer,” Solomon said, waving the crowd away with his left arm. “Look at me, Otto. It’s Ben Solomon. Here we are, together again, just like when we were kids. Never thought you’d see me again, did you, Hauptscharführer Piatek?”

Rosenzweig held up his hands in conciliation. The room was silent except for the words he delivered, slowly and evenly.

“You’ve made a mistake, sir. My name is Elliot Rosenzweig. It’s not Otto. Or Piatek. I’ve never been a Nazi. In fact, sir, I am a camp survivor.”

Very slowly, he held out his left arm. “Jennifer, undo my cuff link and roll up my sleeve.”

As she did, his forearm displayed the blackened tattoo: A93554.

The gunman considered the offering, and then sneered. “You’re a lying Nazi murderer and I can see the fear in your eyes, Hauptscharführer. Scream and cry and beg, Otto, like the innocent women and children who cowered before you. Mothers and fathers and grandparents. People who never hurt a soul. And the babies. All the children.” He gestured wildly to the stunned crowd. “Tell them who you really are. Look at them all. They’re listening. The masquerade is finished.”

From out of nowhere, Solomon was blindsided and knocked to the marble floor. The gun slid along the tiles and came to rest against the staircase. Tackled by a Chicago Bears linebacker in formal attire, Solomon lay curled on the floor, weeping, his head shuttered in his forearms.

As he was pulled to his feet by security guards, Solomon screamed, “He’s a Nazi. He’s a murderer. He’s Otto Piatek. He’s Otto Piatek.” The screams melted into sobs as they led the old man away. “He’s Otto Piatek.”



Copyright © 2010, 2013 by Ronald H. Balson

Interview with LynDee Walker, author of Buried Leads (EWD Tour 2) + Giveaway!

buried leads

Photo Credit: Escape With Dollycas

Today at Traveling With T, LynDee Walker, author of Buried Leads is being interviewed about her book, why Buried Leads isn’t a cozy-mystery, and favorite actress to play Nichelle!

I’m the last stop on the Buried Leads tour sponsored by Escape With Dollycas– but be sure and check out the other blogs that hosted LynDee!

Want to win an awesome swag pack? Simply comment on this post- and you are entered to win! Need more giveaway? Oh ok, twist my arm! Here is the kick-butt Rafflecopter giveaway: Cool Gift Package- Including a 25 buck gift certificate to Bookstore of Winner’s choice! (I know! Shut UP!) See below for rules of giveaway!

Interview with LynDee Walker

LynDee- thank you for stopping by Traveling With T!

Thanks so much for having me! I’m excited to be here.

Can you describe Buried Leads in 15 words or less?

Apparently not. But I got it to 16.

Sassy reporter sees scoop when dead lobbyist turns up in woods. Plus sexy guys, great shoes.

Is the main character, Nichelle, based on you, LynDee?

Sort of. Nichelle has my work ethic, and I used to be a journalist. But she’s sassier, and she can run in those amazing shoes. I tend to think of things I should have said in a situation hours or days later, and I can barely walk in stilettos.

Should readers read the first book, Front Page Fatality, before Buried Leads? Can the books stand on their own- or are they better read in order?

They definitely don’t have to be read in order. Each of my mysteries is written to be a stand-alone, but there are some storylines that arc through all the books. So readers won’t find any spoilers in BURIED LEADS that would prevent them from reading FRONT PAGE FATALITY later, but they’ll get to know Nichelle and her friends better if they read the books in order.

Is the Headlines in High Heels a typical cozy-like mystery or does it have a harder edge than most cozy books?

I think it’s definitely edgier. I would personally call my books traditional mysteries with humor and some cozy elements. There is some spicy language and a touch of romance mixed into the mystery.

When FRONT PAGE FATALITY first launched in January, I actually spent a lot of time waving my arms and going “it’s not a cozy!” But I’ve found that I don’t care so much what people call the books, as long as they’re reading and enjoying them.

If Headlines in High Heels was made into a TV series or movie- do you have ideas for dream cast?

Oh, goodness! This question is so hard for me, because the characters look like themselves to me, not like actors. But in the interest of not copping out, I’ll say I like Anne Hathaway or Natalie Portman for Nichelle. Or maybe Alexis Bledel. What I’d really like is a time machine and a 28-year-old Lauren Graham, because she’s closest to how I picture Nichelle.

I think Trevor Donovan would make an excellent Grant Parker. Joey could be played by Christian Bale, if he could hit the accent. Kerri Russell would be good as Jenna. Christina Ricci could be Shelby Taylor, and I would (selfishly, perhaps) love to see Channing Tatum or Paul Walker as Kyle Miller.

What’s next in the world of writing, LynDee? Are you working on another book?

Always! I just turned the third Headlines in High Heels novel, SMALL TOWN SPIN, over to my lovely editor. Nichelle is investigating a suspicious string of what the local cops are calling suicides in a bitty little town on the Virginia coast. It’ll be out in April 2014. Before that, there’s a Nichelle novella in the anthology HEARTACHE MOTEL, which will be on sale everywhere Dec. 10. She gets locked in Graceland at Christmas. It’s fun!

Plus, I’m working this fall on revising a women’s fiction/magical realism novel I love, that has nothing to do with Nichelle. I hope to have news about that to share soon.

And I’m sure I’ll be starting the fourth Nichelle novel somewhere in there. I have the plot worked out in my head, and I can’t wait to get into it!

lyndee walker

Photo Credit: Escape With Dollycas

LynDee Walker grew up in the land of stifling heat and amazing food most people call Texas, and wanted to be Lois Lane from the time she could say the words “press conference.” An award-winning journalist, she traded cops and deadlines for burp cloths and onesies when her oldest child was born. Writing the Headlines in Heels mysteries gives her the best of both worlds. Her debut novel, Front Page Fatality (A Nichelle Clarke Headlines in Heels Mystery), is an amazon new humor #1 bestseller. LynDee adores her family, her readers, and enchiladas. She often works out tricky plot points while walking off the enchiladas. She lives in Richmond, Virginia, where she is working on her next novel. You can visit her online at

Find LynDee on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest!

*Giveaway is open to US only (sorry!). For swag pack, comment for a chance to win. For Rafflecopter giveaway, visit the Buried Leads tour home page! Giveaway ends November 2nd.

Giveaway: The Night is Forever by Heather Graham

the night is forever

Photo Credit: Goodreads


Thanks to Harlequin books, I have a copy of The Night is Forever to give away to a lucky commenter!

Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

What happened here, on a historic ranch outside Nashville, during the Civil War? And what’s happening now?

Olivia Gordon works at the Horse Farm, a facility that assists patients with mental and physical recovery; her specialty is animal therapy. She’s always loved her job, always felt safe ;until now.

People are dying, starting with the facility’s founder, whose body is discovered in a ravine on the property and site of a massacre in 1862. And before every death, Liv sees a horse and rider, wearing a soldier’s garb, in the night sky. Warning? Omen? Or clue?

Liv calls in her cousin Malachi and his Krewe, an FBI unit of paranormal investigators, to discover the truth. New Krewe member Dustin Blake knows they need Liv’s involvement in the case, yet he’s worried about her safety. Because he and Liv quickly become more than colleagues and he doesn’t want to lose her to the endless night.

Want to win this book? Comment below (please leave your email- you may use the AT and DOT). The giveaway runs from October 25th-October 30th at 11:59pmEST. Winner will be announced October 31st. Giveaway is open to US/Canada!