Canary in the Coal Mine by Charles Salzberg

Canary in a Coal Mine: An allusion to caged canaries (birds) that mining workers would carry down into the mine tunnels with them. If dangerous gases such as methane or carbon monoxide leaked into the mine, the gases would kill the canary before killing the miners, thus providing a warning to exit the tunnels immediately (source: yourdictionary.com).

“I’m a P.I. I have a license that says so. I take it out and look at it every so often, just to remind myself I actually have a profession. Profession. I say the word aloud. It’s a strange word. It makes me think of the “world’s oldest.” I’ve done pretty much everything in my life except for that, though some might not make much of a distinction between what I do and what they do. They do it on their back. I do it on my feet. That’s pretty much what sets us apart. It’s like that Sinatra song. You know the one. Puppet, pauper, pirate, poet, pawn and king.”

–Pete Fortunato

New York City—nine million people with a 24-hour nightlife, and an underbelly everyone knows is humming along, but most choose not to venture into it. Not so for Private Investigator Pete Fortunato, who makes his living searching for the bad behavior that is inevitable in such a giant metropolis. Today he is about to come into some cash and what seems to be an easy assignment when wealthy, sexy Lila Ashton appears at the door. In reality, Pete has no idea of what trials he will face. In Canary in the Coal Mine (Down and Out Books; ISBN 978-1-64396-251-1; April 2022) award-winning author Charles Salzberg introduces mystery readers to a new hard-boiled P.I. and a brand-new mystery series.

Lila Ashton’s request is simple: find my estranged husband. Easy money Pete thinks, until he finds the husband dead in Lila’s ex-lover’s run-down apartment. While Pete tends to follow his own rules and his own code, which is telling him to take the paycheck and walk away, he quickly finds that Lila Ashton is hiding something. If he doesn’t get to the bottom of it, he may join Mr. Ashton six-feet under.

Not able to wait for the Homicide Department to plod through their procedures, and with death threats at his door, Pete is going to have to step up and use all of his P.I. muscle to solve the case. Armed with Lila’s useless actor, ex-boyfriend, who is hilariously dense, Pete will literally travel miles before he gets a chance to sleep.

Fans of the Henry Swann Series, Devil in the Hole, Second Story Man, and other mysterious works from Charles Salzberg will enjoy getting to know this new gumshoe. Pete Fortunato as a P.I. committed to his case, with a strong distaste for personal physical danger, will join the ranks of other great characters in the genre, like Sam Spade and Mike Hammer. Canary in the Coal Mine is a gritty whodunnit that takes reader for a bumpy ride with an unexpected destination.

 

Canary in the Coal Mine
By Charles Salzberg
Down and Out Publishing
ISBN: 978-1-64396-251-1
Publication Date: April 2022
Price: 18.95 (Paperback) | 7.99 (eBook)

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Blood on the Bayou by Douglas J. Wood

“Another body was found in the French Quarter, throat slit. The report was void of much detail except for one fact that made Broussard’s stomach turn. The victim held a crude wooden cross in his hand and had “XXX” carved in his forehead. The reporter wrote that it was the mark of the so-called Bayou Slasher, New Orleans’s name for its latest serial killer.”

When a third murder in the French Quarter forces New Orleans police to confront the fact that they have a serial killer on their hands, Captain Raleigh Broussard puts his top detective on the case. The last two murders have led to dead ends, without any DNA evidence and only a loose connection to Voodoo to work from. While Detective Rebecca Simone and her team are investigating the third murder the killer strikes again, this time killing two victims at once. With DNA evidence finally found at the newest scene, all signs point to a local man who quickly becomes their top suspect. Between the forensic data and Voodoo trinkets found at his apartment, Simone is certain they have the right guy.

Farther north, however, it seems the FBI has been keeping close tabs on this case from their offices in Washington D.C. Enter Special Agent Christopher DiMeglio. Fearing Simone and her team have arrested an innocent man, he packs his bags and heads for uncharted territory.

What DiMeglio lacks in familiarity with the culture of New Orleans, he makes up for in knowledge of serial killers. Combined with Simone’s local expertise, the two form a tentative rapport under the common goal of keeping the city safe. With doubt about their initial suspect’s guilt mounting, it’s a race against time to either prove his guilt or find the real killer. After all, if they do have the wrong man, the Bayou Slasher can, and will, strike again.

The latest thriller from Douglas J. Wood, Blood on the Bayou (Plum Bay Publishing, March 2022, ISBN: 9781734884869, Trade Paperback), showcases his ability to build a suspenseful and thought-provoking story. With a mix of complicated characters and insightful commentary on the state of policing, Wood brings the reader right into the difficult world that public servants must navigate. Dealing with pressure from the public, internal corruption and racism, and the constraints of the legal system, Wood allows for a glimpse into the frustrating conditions police often find themselves working under. Rather than shying away from difficult topics, Wood fully and rightfully explores them through the narrative of a gripping murder mystery that will leave readers dying to know what happens next.

“And how do you do that? How would you take care of the racists?’

“Another good question that haunts us every day. Education is one way. But dealing with racists under our laws is a challenge, including those among our fellow officers. Look at Guidry. He’s as racist as they come and he’s the top cop. We all too often give him and others like him embedded in society rights beyond what they deserve, even electing them to office.”

“You sound frustrated.”

“Find me a cop who isn’t.”

About the Author

Douglas J. Wood is the award-winning author of many books, both fiction and non-fiction. Blood on the Bayou is his sixth novel.  He lives in North Carolina with Carol Ann, his wife of 48 years.  They are blessed with three grown children and four adorable grandchildren.

Blood on the Bayou
By Douglas J. Wood
Plum Bay Publishing
ISBN: 9781734884869
Publication Date: March 2022

Sleepwalkers: Round One by Izzi Breigh

"Sleepwalkers: Round One" book cover. The cover features an illustration in a graphic style with hard black outlines. Three kids stand in front of the shadow of a mansion surrounded by dead trees. On the left, there is a shorter boy in shorts, a sweater, and a blue baseball cap. In the middle is a tall girl with brown hair in pigtails wearing a yellow t-shirt and jean shorts. On the right is a short boy with shaggy brown hair, a long t-shirt and pink shorts. Their image is reflected beneath them in black and white like a mirror image. They are surrounded by werewolf-like creatures in the reflection.“No one goes to the Old Sleep. Not willingly,” said the attendant.

And there it was: the Old Sleep. Ellie had heard that’s what they call it.

“Some friendly advice for you, free of charge,” said the attendant, leaning closer to Ellie’s father. “My late wife, God rest her soul, used to say, ‘Stay away from people with bad reputations. They got ‘em for a reason.’ I think the same could be said for houses.”

Welcome Izzi Breigh, a new voice in middle-grade horror whose debut novel SLEEPWALKERS: Round One (ISBN: 978-1-7379135-0-4, Somnium Publishing, February 22, 2022) will be published this Winter.  In the first book of a four-part series, it is 1986 and 11-year-old Ellie Dasher moves from her comfortable hometown in Florida to a house named “Old Sleep” in Connecticut.  Oddly, the house was left to Ellie and her younger brother Elijah.  Soon their family will find out why the children are so important to the house.

Old Sleep is every bit a classic haunted house from its creaky stairs and broken grandfather clocks to the deep family secrets that Ellie is compelled to uncover. Just as she starts to learn the history of the Dasher family home, tragedy strikes. Her brother Elijah falls ill after a horrifying ambush that both Ellie and Elijah experience while having a nightmare. How is Ellie going to make her parents believe that it was a dream that put her brother in a coma?

Fortunately, Old Sleep has a ghostly guide, and with his help, Ellie stumbles into the mysterious world of Inzien and the Sleepwalkers.  She doesn’t know who they are or what they do, but she is certain her brother has been taken to their world and is in trouble.  It’s a strange place with creatures and characters right out of the nightmares of children.  In fact, Sleepwalkers can only visit the mysterious world of Inzien while they are asleep. They are also the only ones who can help Ellie get her brother back- and the clock is ticking.

The heart-pounding first installment, SLEEPWALKERS: Round One is a frightening thrill ride that fans of Lemony Snicket and Neil Gaiman will be eager to discover.  With all manner of strange folk, hostile monsters, and odd foods, the land of the sleepwalkers is a place that dreams are made of. But Ellie Dasher is learning that some dreams have sharp teeth and, yes, they do bite.

About the Author

Izzi Breigh, raised by a family of peacocks, grew up on a rutabaga farm. She now resides in a small cottage made entirely of pinecones. Izzi enjoys knitting shirts for starfish, rooms without corners, and peddling time. Her day job is filling hourglasses with precisely the right amount of sand, which she sells for 2 copper pennies every Saturday at her local flea market. Hide and seek is her favorite sport and though she has repeatedly spotted Waldo, she has yet to figure out where in the world is Carmen Sandiego.

SLEEPWALKERS: Round One
By Izzi Breigh
Somnium Publishing
Publication Date: February 2022
ISBN (paperback): 978-1-7379135-0-4
ISBN (eBook): 978-1-7379135-1-1
Original Trade Paperback / eBook
Price: $19.99 /  $9.99 MSRP
Pages: 332

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Kayla: A Modern-Day Princess A Little Magic by Deedee Cummings

A colorful book cover in watercolors. The titles reads "Kayla: A Modern-day Princess A Little Magic". A young black woman in a pink and purple ball gown sits on a crescent moon over a blue background with spotlights and stars behind her.Kayla always had a plan. The problem was a lot of other people had a plan for Kayla too. But as a Modern-Day Princess Kayla has grown into an independent young woman. Why do people do that? Plan your life for you and tell you what they think you should be?”

Kayla is a girl with a plan- her mom taught her from a young age to always start the day with a plan, because a plan gives you hope. The first of the Kayla: A Modern-Day Princess books followed her journey and struggles as a young, modern-day princess trying to navigate lessons in friendships, fairness, and self-confidence. As one reviewer said, “She’s an inspiration to all young girls who believe in their dreams!”. 

In the fifth and final book of the series, Kayla: A Modern-Day Princess: A Little Magic (Make A Way Media, 10/21/21, 978-1-951218-29-4 , Paperback), Kayla has been following her own plan for success. Having gone off to college, she returns home to share some “big news” with her parents. She meets up with her old friend Tommie, and together the two of them reminisce about some of their struggles and their successes- shared, old, and new. The childhood friends part ways after catching up and Kayla goes to meet her parents and share her news. However, Kayla’s mother has been busy as well. She has her own expectations for what the big news could be! 

Plans are great, but sometimes two people have plans that clash. Can Kayla and her mom reconcile their misunderstanding? How will Kayla handle her mother’s expectations and her own desire to follow her dreams and find her own path? 

With beautiful, eye-catching illustrations, the Kayla series as a whole tells an inspiring story that’s inspired by the true life of Broadway actress Kayla Pecchioni. The series will spark important conversations between children and parents about diversity, speaking up, and pursuing your dreams even when it feels like the world is against you.

About the Author

Deedee Cummings is an accomplished therapist, attorney, author, and mom. She is the founder of Make A Way Media, a company that specializes in promoting positive messaging and diverse media and the non-profit organization, It Pays to Read, which literally pays kids to read as a way to promote literacy and a lifelong love of reading. The Kayla series was created to inspire all children to develop a plan and pursue their dreams, even in the face of adversity. Deedee Cummings is creating the stories and representation she wished she’d had to read to her children as they grew up. Her mission is for children to see a world through books that reflects and celebrates the diversity of the world we all live in. 

Kayla: A Modern-Day Princess
Book 5: A Little Magic
By Deedee Cummings
Illustrated by Charlene Mosley
Make A Way Media
Publication Date: October 21, 2021
Paperback ISBN/Price: 978-1-951218-29-4
Pages: 60

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