Category Archives: Updates from Toni

Excerpts from Crooked as a Dog’s Hind Leg


Gift of the Murderer

I was glad I had saved Liz’s present for last. Maybe it would help make up for Mrs. Hamilton’s earlier abuse. “I believe this is for you,” I said, handing her the glittery gift bag.

“For me?” she said, looking pleased. “Who did this come from?”

“A good elf never tells,” I said solemnly. “Union rules.”

She smiled and opened the bag. I could see my cousin Clifford watching from where he was playing Christmas carols on his guitar. The present was from him, but he was too shy to want Liz to know that. Liz reached into the bag and pulled out a long knife, the blade smeared with something dark.

“What on earth?” she asked.

“I don’t know.” I looked over at Clifford, but he seemed as confused as I was. “I think there’s been some kind of a mistake,” I said, but was interrupted by a shriek from a few feet away.

Mrs. Hamilton had keeled over in her wheelchair, and one of the other residents pointed at her and shrieked again.

Liz dropped the knife back into the bag and thrust it toward me so she could run to Mrs. Hamilton. I was only a few steps behind her, though I didn’t know that there was anything I would be able to do.

Liz put her hand on Mrs. Hamilton’s back as if to straighten her up and then jerked her hand away. I was the only one close enough to see that her hand was covered in blood. A hole through the canvas back of the wheelchair matched the old woman’s bloody wound.

I think Liz and I realized at the same instant that the smears on that knife had to be blood, which meant that I was carrying the weapon that had been used on Mrs. Hamilton.


Marley’s Ghost

The Walters family of Walters Mill might be Scrooges for most of the year, but when it came to the Christmas party, they really did it up right: fancy decorations, an open bar, plenty of tasty refreshments, and a disk jockey to play dance music. Even though I was there with my cousin Thaddeous instead of my husband Richard, I would have had myself a good old time if I hadn’t been so concerned with trying to figure out who murdered Fannie Topper.

Instead of having fun, I was devoting my attention to the three men that could have killed her. I didn’t really expect any of them to confess, of course. The idea was to try to figure out a motive for the killing.

First I chatted with Joe Bowley over plates of ham and roast beef. He looked like a man who enjoyed his food, but didn’t mind talking while he ate. Of course I couldn’t just casually bring up the subject of a murder that happened twenty–five years ago, so I got him to discuss barbeque. I thought that it would eventually lead to Fannie Topper’s barbeque place, but no such luck. I don’t know if he avoided talking about Fannie on purpose or not, but he went on and on about Buck Overton’s in Mt. Airy, which he hadn’t even been to since before Fannie was killed.

Next I tried dancing with Bobby Plummer, and I had to admit that he was a real good dancer. He was light on his feet and smiled gallantly when I stepped on his toes. He didn’t hold me so tight the way some men try to do, which made me wonder if the rumors about him being gay were true. Maybe he was just being polite. Bobby was in much better shape than Joe, so with him, I asked about exercise. Specifically, playing baseball. I thought sure that he’d mention the championship the Walters Mill team had won all those years ago, the party afterwards, and the murder after that. Nope. He talked about NordicTrack.

Finally I sat on the edge of the hall with Pete Fredericks. Getting him to talk about death was no problem, but it wasn’t what I had in mind. It seemed that Pete was going to be leaving the mill soon to work with one of Byerly’s morticians. I learned lots about what happened to people after death, but nothing about how one particular woman came to die.

When the party ended, I didn’t know a bit more than I had before I got there. And it was only two days before Christmas.

If I had had the sense God gave a milk cow, I told myself, I would have just bought Aunt Edna a sweater or a nightgown when I drew her name that Christmas. But no, I had to get it into my head that I was going to give her something she really wanted. That meant solving a twenty–five–year–old murder and laying Marley’s ghost to rest.


The Death of Erik the Redneck

I’d known Erik Husey ever since we were in grammar school, but when I looked at the smoking mess that had been Erik and his dog, Lucky, all I could think of was that I never thought he’d be that dumb. To go out in a rowboat and set yourself on fire with a cigarette when you’re so drunk that you don’t even think to jump into the water, is just out–and–out stupid.


An Unmentionable Crime

If Sue had been anywhere else, talking to anybody else, she’d have said, “Now don’t get your panties in a bunch,” but she knew Ida would fire her on the spot if she dared say such a thing to Annabelle Lamar while working at Petticoat Junction. Especially when it was her salmon pink panties that Miz Lamar was mad about.


Bible Belt

It took Wynette a while to find the Ten Commandments in the Bible Reverend Sweeney had left for her to read while she was in the hospital. She thought they’d be marked, but they were just stuck in with the other verses. Finally she found them in the book of Exodus. There were commandments about stealing and killing and coveting, but nothing against hitting your wife.


Old Dog Days

“When did you last see him?” Andy asked Payson Smith, but instead of answering, Payson glared at his wife Doreen.

“Around five–thirty, when I got back from Hardee’s with dinner,” Doreen said. “I cook most nights, but it was so hot that day that I hated to get the kitchen heated up.”

Andy nodded understandingly, which he’d done for so many years that it looked pretty convincing. “Five–thirty yesterday evening.”

Then Brian piped up with, “It couldn’t have been yesterday. We had Kentucky Fried Chicken yesterday, and pizza the night before that. It must have been Wednesday.” The boy smirked, pleased with himself for proving his stepmother wrong, not to mention the dig he’d gotten in about her cooking.

“Jesus Christ, Doreen!” Payson exploded. “Are you saying my dog’s been missing for three solid days and you didn’t even notice?”

“You know I never go out back,” she whined, “especially not as hot as it’s been. Maybe if we got one of those above-ground pools…” Then, probably realizing that it wasn’t a good time to bring that up, she said, “Besides, it’s Brian’s job to take Wolf his food and water. He’s the one who should have figured out he was gone.”

Payson turned his glare onto his son, and it was Doreen’s turn to smirk.

“Well?” Payson prompted.

“You know I was over at Earl’s every day,” he said, whining just like his stepmother. “She knew that.”

“Since when do you tell me where you’re going to be?” Doreen shot back.

Andy could tell this was an old argument, so he spoke over them. “Then the last time either of you saw Wolf was Wednesday night, and since Payson was gone until late Friday night, nobody noticed he was gone until this morning. Is that right?”

Doreen and Brian nodded while Payson tried to decide which one deserved to be glared at more.

Andy wouldn’t have minded glaring a little himself, but his target wasn’t handy. Deputy Mark Pope was probably still at the police station, sitting at a desk he didn’t deserve.

If Andy’s wife had been there, she’d have told him it was his own fault.


Lying-in-the-Road Death

Dan Jackson was as dead a man as I’ve ever seen, and as long as I’d been Byerly’s police chief, that was saying something. As far as I could tell, a heavy set of tires had rolled right over his head, and even though I’d known Dan my whole life, if it hadn’t been for the ID in the wallet in his hip pocket, I’d never have known it was him. I decided I’d lost my taste for watermelon for a while.

“You want me to check his other pockets?” my deputy, Belva Tucker, said, but I could tell she wasn’t thrilled by the idea.

“Don’t bother. Dr. Connelly can take care of it when he gets here.”

Belva nodded, relieved.

If I’d been a spiteful woman, I’d have made her do it because of the way she’d held back while I retrieved Dan’s wallet, which was one of the most disgusting things I’ve ever had to do. But since Belva hadn’t seen as many bodies as I had, I was willing to cut her a little slack.

“I better talk to Cole.” Belva turned to go, too, but I said, “You stay here and keep the critters away from the body.” That wasn’t spite–it was payback.

Crooked as a Dog’s Hind Leg

kelner-crookeddogsleg-1Back in 1993, I started publishing my Laura Fleming mysteries about a young woman who left home to to go to college, married a Yankee, and moved up North. On her vacations, she came back to Byerly, North Carolina to solve mysteries. (A lot of this was true about me, too, except I lived in Charlotte, NC and I never got into solving mysteries.) The series ran for eight books, all of which are still available as ebooks and Audible downloads. But those eight books don’t tell you everything that happened in Byerly.

As I was writing the series, and for a few years after, I’d go back to Byerly for short stories. There were seven all together, and they were published in magazines and anthologies that are long since out of print. A friend — and she knows who I’m talking about — kept pushing me to produce an electronic collection, but I was hesitant. I’d never done a project quite like this and, of course, I was worried that nobody would want to read the stories except the one friend. But she’s persistent, and after republishing the eight Laura Fleming novels, I decided to take a shot at collecting those Byerly stories.

Getting ready for publication wasn’t as easy as I’d expected. I had the original story files, but it took help from the family tech specialist — my husband Steve — to get them opened because the programs in which they were written are obsolete. After that, I had to compare them with the published versions, since the galleys back then were on actual paper, and re-make all the corrections the anthology and magazine editors made. Then I had to proofread them, along with help from the persistent friend and Femmes Charlaine and Dana. But that was all details. The real tough part was reading them again.

Folks, I was scared to death of rereading stories that were written so long ago. What if I hated them? What if I was embarrassed by them? What if I was just bored? But it turned out not to be so terrible. Okay, there are places I wish either I or previous editors had been more vicious with red pencils, and sections I’d never write like that today. I even found some out-and-out errors that I could now fix. But overall, I’m happy with the result.

“Gift of the Murderer” was my first published short story. My editor of the time, John Scognamiglio of Kensington, called one day and said, “You write short stories, don’t you?” “Yes,” I lied. Honestly, it wasn’t easy to make myself write short instead of novel-length, but I guess he liked it, because he asked for another story for an anthology the next year. “Marley’s Ghost” is an homage to Dickens, and some of the issues raised in it led me to write the novel Mad as the Dickensyears later. Those two stories are the only ones in the collection to actually include Laura Fleming and her Shakespeare-quoting husband Richard.

“The Death of Erik the Redneck” was an Agatha nominee, and features Byerly’s Chief of Police Junior Norton investigating a kind of Viking funeral. “An Unmentionable Crime” is about Sue, one of Laura’s cousins, and was inspired by admiration for women who really understand how to fit customers with bras. “Bible Belt” isn’t actually in Byerly, but is set in the neighboring town of Rocky Shoals, and characters from it show up in Byerly later on. It was published in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, and through oddities of timing and the mail service, I found out about the sale when I met editor Janet Hutchings at the Malice Domestic banquet. That story was nominated for the  Anthony and the Macavity awards.

“Old Dog Days” has Junior Norton’s father. It was originally written for a book that never happened, which just goes to show that writers never throw anything away. With “Lying-in-the-Road Death,” it was back to Junior again. I had that title floating around in my head for years before I finally wrote the story to go with it.
After all was said and done, I rather enjoyed going back to Byerly, and Crooked as a Dog’s Hind Leg will be published on September 8, 2015. I hope people will want to come back to Byerly, and maybe some newcomers will want to visit, too.

Where are they now? Available again!

Looking for a book to download to read during vacation? Curse of the Kissing Cousins and Who Killed the Pinup Queen?, the first two books of the Where are they Now? series, are once again available as ebooks, with brand new covers! Both are available from Amazon, Kobo, and iTunes. CurseKissingCousins A Killer Performance The cult classic sitcom, Kissing Cousins, lasted only a few seasons, but its cast is having an even harder time surviving. In the past three months, three Kissing Cousins costars have died under suspicious circumstances. Boston-based celebrity journalist Tilda Harper would way that’s a wicked big coincidence. As a freelance reporter for entertainment magazine Entertain Me!, Tilda already has good reason to investigate the deaths. But she’s also a fan of the show, and if the killer’s pattern holds, Tilda’s favorite actress, Mercy Ashford, will be the next to die. Tilda wants to warn her, but Mercy has been off the air—and off the grid—for decades. With the help of a super fanboy and a sexy bodyguard, Tilda must get to the bottom of the so-called curse of the Kissing Cousins. Is the killer someone tied to the show? A deranged fan? Or could it be Mercy herself? One thing’s certain: if Tilda doesn’t solve this case soon, the only Kissing Cousins reunion she’ll see…will be in the obituaries.


A Killer Figure The last thing entertainment reporter Tilda Harper expects is for one of her feature articles to suddenly become an obituary. But when the subject of an upcoming piece—former 50s pinup queen Sandra Sechrest—is brutally killed, Tilda’s story quickly develops into a murder investigation. There are few leads and many questions. Was it the work of greedy relatives? An obsessed fan? Or perhaps a jealous lover? Adding to the puzzle are the startling confidential connections between Sandra and the Hollywood stores of her day that Tilda uncovers while research a different project for Entertain Me! magazine. As Tilda focuses on the case, she unwittingly becomes a target herself. It seems someone has a secret they’ll do anything to keep, and Tilda’s getting a little too close to the truth. If she doesn’t pin down this pinup killer soon, Tilda could be the next to die.

Evolution of a Cover

Okay, we aren’t supposed to, but we all do it. We judge books by the cover. So as you might guess, there is a lot of back-and-forth and creative wrangling over every book cover.

Take, for instance, my alter ego Leigh Perry‘s upcoming Family Skeleton mystery The Skeleton Takes a Bow. We went through all kinds of ideas. First was the most obvious.


Unfortunately, it was the wrong kind of bow. Sid the Skeleton never wears pink. So we went back to the drawing board.


Very Hunger Games, and goodness knows Sid looks hungry. But this wasn’t quite the bow we were looking for, etiher. Besides, we left out the arrow. Is he going to shoot his ulna or his radius?

Back to the drawing yet again.


This time it looks a little too Titanic, and the bow of a sinking ship wasn’t quite what we were going for.

In fact the bow in the book is the kind an actor makes after a successful performance, say as Yorick in Hamlet.


We finally had the right kind of bow, but unfortunately, Sid’s skull wouldn’t stay on long enough for him to pose.

So what does the cover look like? You’ll have to check out BOLO Books on Feb. 18 to find out and see how you’d judge this book from its cover.

Goodreads Giveaway

My alter ego Leigh Perry has asked me to post that she’s got a giveaway running on Goodreads. If you’re on Goodreads, just follow that link before August 20 and enter to win an ARC (advance reader copy) of  A Skeleton in the Family along with this cuddly skeletal sock monkey:

Skeletal Sock Monkey

The link for the giveaway is HERE.

By the way, I do realize that the giveaway page has and old title and my real name instead of my pen name. I’ve got a note into Goodreads to try and get that fixed.

The Next Big Thing

Have you heard about The Next Big Thing blog hop? It’s a chance for authors to let the world know about their newest writing project, whether it’s something already published or coming soon to a bookseller near you or even just in the works. I was invited to participate by the effervesecent short story author Barb Goffman, who blogged as one of the Women of Mystery, and now I’m answering the same batch of questions here.

What is your title of your story?

My most recent short story is “Pirate Dave and the Captain’s Ghost,”, which appears in An Apple for the Creature, the fifth anthology I’ve co-edited with Charlaine Harris. Ace published it in September, just in case back-to-school sales weren’t scary enough for you.

Where did the idea come from for the story?

All my stories tend to be Frankenstein-monster-like in their creation–I sew on a piece from here, and a piece from there, and eventually there are enough pieces for a story. In this case, the initial inspiration was the anthology theme: supernatural creatures and school. You’d think that since Charlaine and I were the ones to come up with the theme, I’d already have a story in mind, but no. Apparently my editor brain is completely separate from my writer brain.

Anyway, I started with schools. Then I remembered my story “Pirate Dave’s Haunted Amusement Park”, which I wrote for a previous Charlaine-and-me anthology (Death’s Excellent Vacation). I really enjoyed the characters, and since the protagonist Joyce had only recently been turned into a werewolf, I thought she might well attend a seminar about lupine-American life. As for the Captain’s ghost, I was at my daughter Valerie’s drama class, and the teacher said he’d love to be in a story. His name is Bob, and I figured that would be easy enough to fit in. Then he said, “Can it be my nickname: Captain Bob?” That was going to be a pain, so I killed him. Not the real guy, but the character, and he became Captain Bob, the really annoying ghost.

What genre does your story fall under?

Mystery and/or urban fantasy.

What actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Nathan Fillion of Castle and Firefly for Pirate Dave. Not that he looks like Pirate Dave in any way, but (1) he can do anything and (2) I might get to meet Nathan Fillion. Nicholas Brendon of Buffy the Vampire Slayer for Captain Bob in his younger form–he’d need makeup for the older form. No idea for Joyce, the newbie werewolf. I don’t have any female actors I’m dying to meet, so that limits me.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your story?

It’s hard enough to make friends when you’re a newly turned werewolf, and having a vampiric boyfriend doesn’t help, but it’s being haunted by a cranky ghost that really keeps Joyce from blending into the pack.

Was your story self-published or represented by an agency?

Whether wearing my editor hat or my author hat, I’m published by Penguin and represented by the JABberwocky Agency.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

About three weeks, or a bit more if you count sitting-staring-at-the-wall time.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Favorably or not? I’d love to be compared to Charlaine’s Sookie Stackhouse series, but I’m not holding my breath. I tend to compare it more to the movie The Ghost and Mrs. Muir.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

Deadlines! Seriously, part of the deal of the anthologies is that I contribute a story. So once the school theme was set, I had to be inspired.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Speaking of the whole anthology, and not just my story, we all know how scary school can be. Adding a vampire, demon, or werewolf isn’t that much of a stretch. Even if my story doesn’t sound like your favorite class, check out this honor roll of contributors: Charlaine Harris, Ilona AndrewsAmber BensonRhys BowenMike Carey, Donald Harstad, Steve HockensmithNancy HolderFaith HunterMarjorie M. LiuJonathan Maberry, and Thomas E. Sniegoski. Talk about the cool kid’s table in the cafeteria!

Thanks again to Barb Goffman for inviting to participate in this blog hop. You can read her blog hop post here.

To keep the hop going, here is another author who’ll be blogging next week about his next big thing: Stephen P. Kelner, who is working on a 10th century Viking mystery! (Yes, that last name does sound familiar, doesn’t it?) Steve will be guest blogging right here. 

Spitballing for Fun and Profit

A while back, I was invited to contribute an essay and exercise for a book on writing mysteries. I wrote the piece, but ultimately retrieved it from the book’s editor because of a disagreement over terms. So I thought it would be fun to put it here instead.


In his books on screenwriting, William Goldman (author of the scripts for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Princes Bride, and Misery, among others) refers to spitballing as a way to improve a script. It’s a form of brainstorming where you throw out random ideas and see what sticks. Though I don’t write screenplays, I’ve found that spitballing works just as well for revising novels and short stories.

A couple of years ago, I was writing a mystery story where I already had the plot (a teenager accuses another kid of breaking a school tradition), a setting (a high school), a protagonist (a teacher fresh out of college), and the twist to provide the reveal (I’m not telling you that!). I liked the idea, but every time I sat down to write the story, I got bored. Now, if the writer is bored, it’s a pretty good sign that the reader is going to be even more bored–obviously something was wrong.

So I tried spitballing, which is to say I started changing elements at random. First I tried moving the setting to a college or a big city high school or a futuristic high school. None of those worked with the other elements. Now I really liked the plot, and I needed the twist to go with, so all that left to play with was protagonist. Sure enough, she was the boring part.

I tried making her older, but that destroyed a sub-plot of her feeling intimidated by the school’s principal. Then I made her male, but that didn’t do anything. Finally, I made her a student instead of a teacher, and the plot structure was stronger and the emotional payoff was higher. Moreover, I could hear the character’s voice, which is key for me. From that point on, “Kangaroo Court” was a pleasure to write, and it sold to Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine.

That’s why I use spitballing.

It’s worked for me time and time again. It can be as simple as changing a gender. A teenaged werewolf was boring when she was a girl conflicted about turning furry every month, but great fun as a boy who loved being the biggest monster on the block (“Keeping Watch Over His Flock” in Wolfsbane and Mistletoe). An earnest young zombie raiser didn’t work for one story, and neither did the old crotchety one, but when I made her less earnest and more snarky, the pieces came together (“In Brightest Day” in Home Improvement: Undead Edition).

Now the examples I’ve given are all dealing with characters, because that tends to be the place where spitballing really works for me, but the technique works just as well with changing other aspects.

The thing to remember about spitballing is to let yourself go wild. Pick the craziest settings you can think of, the quirkiest characters, the most outrageous voices. Not only will you come up with ideas that had never occurred to you before, but in rejecting some of those ideas, you’ll discover which parts of a story are the most important to you.


  1. Pick a story or novel that just isn’t working.
  2. Write down the key elements of the piece: setting, protagonist, time frame, reveal, and so on.
  3. Decide which ones can be changed. (Obviously if you’re writing something in a series or to specific requirements, you won’t have quite as much freedom to play around.)
  4. Pick one of those spitball targets, and go crazy. For a character, try switching the gender, age, race, personality, hobbies, even the name. For a setting, change from historical to present, present to futuristic, city to country, small town to Navy base, college to nursery school, office to fast food restaurant.
  5. Now imagine the ripple of changes that would result from that change.  Would the resulting story be better?  Would it have more pizzazz, stronger suspense, or a more powerful emotional punch?
  6. If the answer is an enthusiastic YES!, go ahead and revise your story.  If not, pick another aspect and start spitballing again.
  7. Repeat until you’ve got a story you’re going to enjoy writing, and that the rest of us are going to enjoy reading.

Anthology Release Day–Times Two

Though I spent most of the day at home with two sick kids, out in the great wide publishing world, I had two anthology releases today: one expected and one surprise.

First up was the trade paperback release of Crimes by Moonlight, the MWA-sponsored anthology edited by the fabulous Charlaine Harris.

The stories are all mysteries with a supernatural or paranormal twist. My story is “Taking the Long View,” which is the second mystery featuring my vampire couple Mark and Stella. (They were first introduced in “How Stella Got Her Grave Back,” which appeared in Many Bloody Returns.) I’m delighted to be in a collection with so many amazing writers. Just check out this list of contributors:

Now that release has been scheduled for some time. The other anthology I’m in as of today came about much more quickly. On March 1, the amazing Carla Coupe asked if I’d be interested in contributing a story to an electronic anthology she was putting together for Wildside Press. Since she wanted a previously published story, on March 8 I sent her a couple that had been published in anthologies that were no longer in print. She accepted one of them on March 9, and sent along a contract. And now, just over a month later, The Mystery Megapack: 25 Modern and Classic Tales by Masters has already been released.

I didn’t know it was going to be out today until Google Alerts alerted me, and I certainly didn’t know my name was going to be on the cover.

My story is “Security Blanket,” about a volunteer security manager at a science fiction convention who isn’t sure she’s up to the job. When one of the other security volunteers dies, it’s up to Regina to find out what happened. (It was originally published in Riptide: Crime Stories by New England Writers, published by Level Best Book.)

Once again, I’m keeping some excellent company. The other contributors are:

Yes, I know that’s only 22 names, but one of the authors has 3 stories in the anthology, and then there’s me.

While it’s always fun to be in a collection with contemporary writers I admire, I find it amazingly cool to be in the same collection as the creators of Zorro, Father Brown, Fu Manchu, and Jules de Grandin.

So while I’m at home trying to keep sick children happy, my stories are out there doing my job for me. What more can a writer–or mother–ask for?

Doing the Dance of Joy!

So it’s a gray, rainy day in Massachusetts, and my younger daughter is home sick, and my husband is traveling, and I started the day feeling mighty glum. Then I got an e-mail from the amazing Joanne Sinchuk at the almost-as-amazing mystery bookstore Murder on the Beach. The store had just posted its bestseller list from March, and if you go to the very bottom of the trade/mass market list, there I am! Well technically, my book is there, but you get the idea.

Here’s the whole glorious list:

1. Live Wire by Harlan Coben, Putnam, 27.95
2. Someone’s Watching by Sharon Potts, Oceanview, 25.95
3. Night Vision by Randy Wayne White, Putnam, 25.95
4. Electric Barracuda by Tim Dorsey, Harper-Collins, 24.99
5. Bringing Adam Home by Les Standiford, Harper-Collins, 24.99
6. Devil Wind by Deborah Shlian and Linda Reid, Oceanview, 25.95
7. Silent Mercy by Linda Fairstein, Putnam, 26.95
8. Delirious by Daniel Palmer, Kensington, 25.00
9. Heartbeat Away by Michael Palmer, St. Martins, 27.99
10. Free Range Institution by Michael Haskins, Five Star, 25.95

Trade/Mass Market

1. In Their Blood by Sharon Potts, Oceanview, 15.00
2. Angel’s Verdict by Mary Stanton, Berkley, 7.99
3. Reckless by Andrew Gross, Harper-Collins, 9.99
4. Illegal by Paul Levine, Random House, 7.99
5. Caught by Harlan Coben, Berkley, 9.99
6. Hell Gate by Linda Fairstein, Berkley, 9.99
7. Murder on the High Seas by Carol Cope, Berkley, 7.99
8. Money to Burn by James Grippando, Harper-Collins, 9.99
9. The Teaberry Strangler by Laura Childs, Berkley, 7.99
10. Blast from the Past by Toni Kelner, Berkley, 6.99

Amazingly, the day now looks a whole lot brighter!