That Tongue of Yours

Pretoria Fountain Palermo_by archer10

Excerpt from “The Music Lesson,” No More Brothers

Wednesday, February 13, 1867

Serafina felt a stiffness in her body as she strode across the piazza with Maria. No more riding all day in a wooden cart. She smelled citrus and fresh laundry. Sidestepping a clump of women gathered around the onion seller, she rushed to keep up with her daughter.

“Hurry, we’ll be late,” Maria said.

“Slow down. The maestro will still be there.”

“Yes, but today I start a new piece.”

“The one I’ve heard you practicing? Don’t tell me: it’s a Brahms something or other.”

“How did you know?”

“Wild guess.”

Maria skipped ahead.

“His sonata for cello,” she called over her shoulder.

“But you play the piano.”

She dashed a look to Serafina. “He wrote it for cello and piano. I’m accompanying the maestro. Next time we go to see Aunt Giuseppina, I want to surprise her.”

Serafina was half listening to her daughter when a shock of red hair blocked their way.

Don Tigro flashed his magnificent teeth. “I missed your visit last week.” He nodded to Maria.

Serafina whispered in her ear. “Run to your lesson. I’ll meet you there.”

“Did you hear what I said?”

“I came to see Elisabetta, not you. She’s big and uncomfortable, I’m afraid, but that’s to be expected in the final month. I don’t doubt you’ve followed my instructions and released her from her obligations to help you entertain all your criminal friends.”

“Most of us mellow in middle age, but that tongue of yours just gets sharper.”

She tried to suppress a smile. “You’ll need to move here soon so that I may manage the birth.”

“Arrived yesterday, Betta and I. And now we are neighbors, at least for a while, and I can keep a watch on Maria’s progress. That’s why I’m here—to listen to her exquisite playing.”

Photo: Pretoria Fountain Palermo. Credit: archer10 (Flickr)

DEATH OF A SERPENT: Free August 23 & 24

Death of a SerpentFree today and tomorrow, August 23 and August 24 on AmazonAmazon UK

Excerpt from Readers Favorite Book Review:

“Anderson’s novel is quick moving and filled with twists and turns as this mystery is pondered and solved. It is easy to follow and the story flows well. I felt I was actually in Italy in 1866 as the author writes with such vivid descriptions and imagery throughout the book. Historical details with regard to dress, language, activities and landscape add so much to this story. This is an author and series not to miss if you enjoy a good mystery!” —Kristie I. for Readers Favorite

Quotes from Reviewers:

“… an author and series not to miss!”—Readers Favorite

“I was spellbound by the intrigue and the courage of Serafina as she plunged head first into this mystery.” —Susan Livingston, Reviewer

“Serafina is a great character and I loved getting to know her … She does her best and never gives up even when things start to seem hopeless.” —Katie Cody, Reviewer 

Premise

When the police do nothing to solve the murders of three prostitutes knifed to death in 1866 Sicily, a struggling widow attempts to unmask the killer, but not before uncovering burdensome truths of her own.

Synopsis:

It is six years after Unification and Sicily is in chaos. Bandits rule the hills. Waves of cholera kill thousands. The mafia begins its reign of organized terror, raping a population squeezed by conscription, crippling taxes, and corrupt officials.

At a high-class house near Palermo, three women have been knifed to death, their foreheads slashed with a strange mark, their bodies dumped on the madam’s doorstep. When the chief inspector does little to solve the case, the madam summons her lifelong friend and asks her to catch the killer.

A thirty-something widow and midwife with seven children and diminishing funds, Serafina decides she must help her friend. She plunges into the investigation, gathering evidence, following leads. She meets with relatives and friends of the deceased and discovers a thread common to all three victims.

But after a fourth victim is strangled, Serafina’s hopes for a quick resolution are dashed. Her emotional low is short-lived, however. In a defiant meeting with the don, she makes an important discovery. Convinced of the murderer’s identity, she conceives a daring plan and, with the help of her daughter, attempts to unmask the killer.

Excerpt from Chapter One, “Bella’s Body”

Sunday, October 7, 1866

Serafina Florio saw the soul leave its body, a shadow hovering over the corpse, sliding up the stucco before vanishing. “Poor woman,” she muttered. She swallowed hard.

She should have been used to death by now. Sicily was smothering in bodies. They rotted in the fields of war, swelled cholera pits, lined the streets after an uprising.

She heard Rosa’s sobs and wrapped her arms around her friend. Afternoon light freighted with the sea slashed the three figures.

The victim lay on the rear stoop facing upward, torso turned to the side. She was clothed in a traveling suit of fine wool detailed in velvet, not at all the costume of a prostitute. The coils of her chestnut hair were undone. Where were her gloves? Her hat? Her reticule?

In a face so still, the mouth was a rictus of surprise. There was a cut in the center of her forehead. A dark stain seeped through the bodice on the left side. One arm was flung outward, the fingers curled.

Serafina lifted the skirt just enough to reveal a layer of taffeta over lace petticoats. The taffeta, she knew, was for effect: a woman wearing a stiff underskirt crinkled when she walked, inviting eyes to turn in her direction. Noticing that the hem was damp, she closed her eyes, breathed in deep. She smelled seaweed. The woman’s boots were caked in sand. Serafina crossed herself.

“Oh, my sweet girl!” Rosa slid her eyes to the ceiling and wailed.

Serafina handed her a clean linen. “You sent for Inspector Colonna?”

Rosa nodded. “Dr. Loffredo, too. But stay here.” She buried her head on Serafina’s shoulder. “With me the longest, Bella.” She wept. “Sewed our garments, she did. Saved enough coins to follow her dream of dressmaking. Now she’s dead.”

Serafina patted Rosa’s black ringlets. She heard voices in the hall.

Swaying on splayed feet, Inspector Colonna lumbered in, holding his fedora, followed by two uniformed men and the artist.

Colonna’s good eye strayed to Rosa’s décolleté. “The body, found when?”

“This morning. My best girl lies here, snatched from life, the third one in three months.” Rosa glared at him.

Colonna opened his mouth to speak, but Dr. Loffredo appeared in the doorway carrying his satchel, accompanied by two hooded figures.

“Wait for my signal,” the doctor said to the stretcher bearers. Loffredo’s face, long and noble, creased in a half smile as he greeted the two women. His eyes gravitated to Serafina.

The two policemen stood on the stoop near the dead woman while the artist sketched. Serafina bit the inside of her cheek as Colonna bent, butt out, to the body. After a moment he rose, motioned to his men. They slouched down the stairs, stopping first to speak with Rosa’s caretaker. Serafina watched while they began their walk around the house.

The inspector’s gaze moved from Rosa, seated at her desk, to the bottle of grappa on a credenza behind her. He, Dr. Loffredo, and Serafina faced the madam.

Loffredo said, “Bella died by a single wound to the heart. Very little bleeding. Death, instantaneous.”

“Like the others?” Serafina asked.

The doctor nodded. “All three victims were killed by the same hand. Wounds almost identical. The killer wields a deadly knife, his placement of the blade, exquisite—clean, deep, accurate.”

Rosa pressed a linen to her mouth.

Serafina lowered her gaze. She should be enjoying the day with her family, but how could she leave Rosa?

Loffredo continued. “All three bodies were moved, I’d say, at least three or four hours after death: rigor mortis was broken,” he said.

Serafina saw the black hoods bear the body away.

Loffredo pointed to the stoop outside Rosa’s office door. “All three bodies were found in the same spot.”

“Deliberate, I’d say,” Serafina said.

“My dear, leave police business to us.” Colonna played with one end of his mustache. He slewed his eyes to the grappa.

Rosa said, “This time the viper bites my soul. Bella, my favorite, a friend. Her death, such a shock, so I sent for Fina to give me comfort.” She eyed Colonna. “But you could use her help. You’ve had three months to catch this killer without success. No leads, no hope, no nothing.”

Colonna’s face mottled. “It could be the work of—”

“Never! Not the work of Don Tigro. Pay him every month, I do.” Rosa poured him a grappa. “Marsala?” she asked Loffredo and Serafina.

They shook their heads.

“And the time of death?” Serafina asked.

The inspector downed his drink, opened his mouth.

“If I might answer Donna Fina’s question,” Dr. Loffredo said. “I’d say very late last night or early this morning, sometime before first light, but that’s a guess. I’m hoping the autopsy will tell me more.”

“The mark on the forehead?” Serafina asked.

Loffredo shrugged. “A spiral of some sort. The same carving appeared on the first two women. I couldn’t guess its meaning.”

“The calling card of a wild one,” Rosa said.

“The bodies of the first two victims, had they been…?” Serafina’s voice trailed off.

Loffredo shook his head. “No fresh bruises or other cuts on the bodies, other than the demon brand. No abuse of their flesh by their killer.”

“But how can you be certain?” Colonna asked. “We are dealing with fallen women.”

“My dear inspector, leave the medical business to me.”

After the men left, Rosa said, “I must bear the news to Nittù.”

“Nittù?”

“Bella’s father. Turi drives us.”

Meet Serafina, the Sicilian Sleuth

Death of a Serpent: A Serafina Florio Mystery is now available in paperback as well as ebook.  View all my books here.

Zombified Publishes Friday August 31

Zombified by Lyra McKenZOMBIFIED, the debut novel by Lyra McKen publishes Friday August 31.

An Excerpt from ZOMBIFIED

“Cassie, wake up.” He stood back up over me as I sat up and rubbed my eyes.

I noticed that Ted was not with him, and he looked defeated as he sat down on the floor beside me. I crawled over to wrap my arms around him, and he looked surprised at first but then he put his arm around me and we were silent for a little while.

“We are going to have to move soon.” Brett was speaking quietly as he rubbed my arm. “He knows where we are, so when he wakes up, he may come for us. I was too late to help him.”

I did not know how long Brett had been gone, but I assumed by his tone that he had found his friend in very bad shape. It scared me that if he turned into one of them then he would know where we were. I sighed as I leaned my head on Brett’s shoulder. Something struck me as odd as I inhaled his scent. I thought that he smelled tasty.

Tasty! I was alarmed. He smelled good, but tasty was not something that should describe my crush. Something bad was happening to me, and I could keep trying to fight it, but as I glanced at my finger, I knew in the back of my mind it was only going to get worse.

He was looking at me while I was having all these thoughts, and he was too close for comfort. He smiled as he took my face in his hands and brought his lips to mine. It was everything I had hoped for in our first kiss. There were fireworks, and my whole body felt alive. I allowed him to ease me down onto the tarp and welcomed his body weight on top of me. This felt right and I wanted him all over me just like this. I had dreamed of this moment countless times and it was finally happening.

Our kisses became more urgent, and he moved one hand down to slide up my shirt. I heard a low growl come from somewhere within me. Something wasn’t right. It happened very quickly, but before I knew it, I had reared back and bitten into his chin hard. He cried out in severe pain, and tried to push me off of him, but I was latched on. I felt the skin break in my mouth, and felt my hunger as I ripped the skin away from his face. When I realized what I had done, I was horrified.

I stood back thinking of how I could remedy the situation. He sat there with blood pouring from his face and a hurt look in his eyes. All I could think of was one word: tasty. I had to get out of there. What the hell had I done? How many times had I pictured my lips near his, and I manage to get them there by biting his face off? I had to get as far away from him as possible. I ran out the entrance and into the school hall. Tears were streaming down my cheeks as I contemplated where to go. I was changing into one of those monsters.

I had literally bitten my crush’s face off!

Lyra McKen

Lyra McKen

Interview with Author Marissa Carmel

iFeelMarissa, It’s a pleasure to have you with us today and congratulations on the publication of iFEEL and the awesome reviews it’s received. Liv Christianni, your character, really intrigues me, as does the cover which I love. Tell us about Liv and the book and how you came to write it.

Thank you!! It really is more than just a cover; it represents Liv and fragility of her life in the beginning of the book. Read the rest of the interview.

Interview: Sabrynne McLain

Sabrynne McLainA few days ago, I had the privilege of interviewing Sabrynne McLain, fascinating author of the novel, WHEN RED IS BLUE.

In the bio on your website, you say that you grew up in a small town in Michigan, moved to California, then to Edinburgh in the UK. That’s quite a lot of uprooting. How do you think these moves influenced your writing?

I had a vague idea about wanting to write toward the end of grad school, but after jotting down a few paragraphs one evening and cringing at the results, the thought left my head until I was settled in Los Angeles and working for my first corporation. That was the time I realized that the business world was really just a way to pay the bills and I wanted to do something more meaningful. Read the rest of the interview.

Celebrating The Release of Mike Evers’ Second Book in the Hopfield Tales!

CELEBRATING THE RELEASE OF MIKE EVERS’ SECOND BOOK IN THE HOPFIELD TALES!

“CAMPAIGN OF THE GODS”

SYNOPSIS:

When Norse god Týr suspects his friend Thor is cheating in the phenomenal board game ‘Campaign of the Gods’ he takes matters into his own hands and searches out the only being in Asgard who can help solve his problem. But things are not what they seem… And once the forces of Hel are unleashed, only legendary Viking berserker Ivar Ragnarsson and his men can possibly save the day. They just have to work out when in history they are first – and why are the local townspeople so strange?

BE SURE TO GET YOUR COPY OF THIS NEW BOOK, AVAILABLE TODAY, AUGUST 10, 2012 AT AMAZON.COM

OUT OF THE SHADOW: An Excerpt

OUT OF THE SHADOW by J.S. WinnOUT OF THE SHADOW is available now on Amazon US, Amazon UK.

She had been dreaming…perhaps was dreaming still. But the moment David crawled into bed beside her, the dream slipped away. Becca stretched, glanced at the clock, which read 3:02, and snuggled up to the warm body besides hers. Then she caught a whiff of scent that was strangely disorienting. His hand came down over her mouth. Read the rest of the excerpt here.