Tag Archives: murder mystery

Book Blast: Questionable Minds by Fraser Sherman

Questionable Minds | Fraser Sherman

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Release Date: November 14th, 2022

Cover Design: Samantha Collins

Word Count: 90,000

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Blurb

In Victorian England, 1888, there are those who say Sir Simon Taggart is under the punishment of God.

In an England swirling with mentalist powers — levitation, mesmerism, mind-to-mind telegraphy — the baronet is unique, possessed of mental shields that render him immune to any mental assault. Even his friends think it’s a curse, cutting him off from the next step in human mental and spiritual evolution. To Simon, it’s a blessing.

Four years ago, the Guv’nor, mystery overlord of the London underworld, arranged the murder of Simon’s wife Agnes. Obsessed with finding who hired the Guv’nor, Simon works alongside Inspector Hudnall and Miss Grey in Scotland Yard’s Mentalist Investigation Department. Immunity to mental telegraphy, clairvoyance and mesmerism are an asset in his work — but they may not be enough to crack the latest case.

A mysterious killer has begun butchering Whitechapel streetwalkers. With every killing, the man newspapers call “the Ripper” grows in mental power and in the brutality of his attacks. Is murder all that’s on his mind or does he have an endgame? And what plans do the Guv’nor and his army of agents have for Simon and the Whitechapel killer?

Questionable Minds is set in a Victorian England struggling to preserve the social hierarchy while mentalism threatens to overturn it. The cast of characters includes Dr. Henry Jekyll (and yes, his friend Edward Hyde too), Jack the Ripper, and multiple other figures from history and fiction.

Warnings: Graphic violence. Victorian sexism and imperialism.

Excerpt

Simon Taggart’s plunge into the abyss happened in an instant.

Col. Moran, seated at the dining table on Simon’s left, had said something to the Duke of Falsworth about a fellow hunter Moran had known in India committing suicide. Falsworth snidely observed that given the man’s debts, hanging himself had been the only possible solution.

And suddenly Simon was standing in the drawing room again. Staring up at Agnes in her white nightgown, hanging from the ceiling with her tongue protruding, her face blackened. Rage consumed him at the memory, rage at the men who’d brought about his wife’s death. Pearson Bartlett, mesmerist. The Guvnor, who’d given Bartlett his orders. And behind them, the unknown man who’d paid to have Agnes slain.

It was the scent of mutton that snapped him back to the Montworths’ dining room, a scent rising from the porcelain serving platter levitating through the air before him. Steered by Amanda Montworth’s vril, the platter bore the roast saddle of mutton down the long dining-room table. Her grey eyes were fixed on the platter, of course, as levitators depended on sight to focus their vril. The eyes of her parents and eleven uneasy guests were also watchful as the dish approached the epergne, the massive candelabra at the table’s center. Simon knew he wasn’t the only guest imagining what a shower of spilled gravy would do to their formal black waistcoats, jackets and white gloves, or the women’s elegant dresses.

The platter clinked against the epergne and shuddered for a moment, but Amanda, brow furrowed, regained her mental grip. The platter ceased quivering, backed away and settled into the hands of one of the footmen, to be served a la russe, around the table. Amanda gasped slightly as she released control.

“There, isn’t that remarkable, Sir Simon?” Buxom Mrs. Montworth flashed a smile at Simon, the wealthiest of her guests. “I don’t know anyone with the strength of mind my Amanda has, do you? Well, not anyone who is anyone, shall we say?”

“Mother, please,” Amanda said. “This is embarrassing.”

“No, you did quite well.” Simon smiled politely, forbearing to point out that for all the money John Montworth’s ironworks brought in, in London society the Montworths were emphatically not anyone.  Amanda performing a servant’s duties only confirmed that, as the poor girl undoubtedly knew. “A strong mind is—an asset to the Empire.”

“When the turtle soup comes out, Amanda,” Mrs. Montworth went on, “I think you should levitate—”

“Oh, no, my dear Mrs. Montworth,” Simon said quickly, remembering soup spurting from a shattered tureen at another dinner he’d attended. Besides, Amanda had been embarrassed enough. “A girl as lovely and delicate as Amanda, no matter how strong her vril, should be careful not to overexert herself.” As Mrs. Montworth simpered and nodded, Amanda, who looked as delicate as one of her father’s foundry workers, smiled her thanks at Simon.

“That’s enough entertainment for this evening,” John Montworth said in his north-country accent. “Carmody?” Carmody, the butler, gestured for the footmen to resume their duties; it was a faux pas for Montworth to address a servant during dinner, but the past few minutes had utterly nonplussed the staff.

Simon considered Amanda sensible and good-hearted. It wasn’t her fault her vril manifested as a crude, physical ability, nor that her mother was as blind to the social graces as some men to colors. Fortunately, with several months before the start of the Season, the guests had few people they could gossip with—and there’d be much better gossip by January, when the Montworths presented Amanda at court.

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“‘Preciate your help, Sir Simon.” John Montworth said, clipping off the end of his cigar as a servant filled Simon’s glass. The women had left the room moments before, allowing the men a half-hour or so to indulge themselves. “Mrs. Montworth’s dreadful proud of our girl having vril, she is—I try to tell her to be more discreet but—”

“It’s been a new world these past eight years,” Simon said, savoring Montworth’s peerless port. “Too new to have all the polite niceties of psychic usage down pat.” A courteous lie; everyone knew physical manifestations of mentalist power were completely inappropriate in society.

“You mean like yourself assisting Scotland Yard?” Thin, pallid Ronald Carpenter, Duke of Falsworth, smirked and blew a plume of smoke. “A man of your impeccable pedigree, mingling with the lowest orders? Gilbert and Sullivan could make a wonderful comic opera out of it if you ask me.”

“I don’t believe I did.” Simon’s anger surged up again, but the smile beneath his thin mustache stayed coldly formal. “And there is nothing comical about the beasts who use vril to prey upon others.” Like Pearson Bartlett, who could mesmerize a woman to put a noose around her own neck. “I do my duty to England, nothing more.”

His Grace met Simon’s cold stare, then looked away with affected unconcern. Dukes far outranked baronets, but Falsworth’s title was new, and the man was still insecure. A Taggart was never insecure.

“Men like your Inspector Hudnall have my highest respect,” Moran said to Simon. As usual the colonel had stuck with whiskey instead of port. “In the jungle or the London streets, it takes a sharp man to hunt predators successfully. And who’s better suited than you, Sir Simon, to the sport of hunting mentalists?”

“Hardly sport.” Simon replied. “Unlike you, colonel, I consider hunting man-eaters a public service, not an adventure.”

“But men like that are evolutionary dead ends,” Montworth said. “Thanks to Lady Helena, all mankind—almost all—will ultimately be elevated to a higher plane.” His glance had lit upon Simon at the “almost.” “The murderers, the butchers, the Varneys of the present day will become fairytales, like ogres or Bluebeard, in the world that is to come.”

It was a typical Theosophist sentiment, but Simon found he was in no mood to argue with it.

About The Author

AUTHOR PIC - Questionable Minds - Fraser Sherman

By the time Fraser Sherman graduated college he’d lost interest in his degree field. He tried writing and discovered he liked it. Since then he’s spent ten years as a journalist, sold two dozen short stories and five film reference books. His most recent book was the self-published Undead Sexist Cliches, about the stupidity of misogynist beliefs.

Although born in England, Fraser spent most of his life in Northwest Florida. He’d be there still if he hadn’t met his dream woman and moved to Durham NC to be with her. They’ve been married 11 years and are the proud parents of two small dogs and two half-domesticated cats.

Social Media

Website: https://www.frasersherman.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/fraser.sherman

Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/bogatyr5

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4103781.Fraser_Sherman

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Fraser-A-Sherman/e/B000APPPDW

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Release Blitz: Dead Serious Case #2: Mrs Delores Abernathy by Vawn Cassidy

Dead Serious Case #2: Mrs Delores Abernathy | Vawn Cassidy

Crawshank’s Guide to the Recently Departed #2

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Release Date: October 31st, 2022

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Blurb

In the business of unfinished business…

It’s been over six months since a freak accident left pathologist Tristan Everett able to see ghosts, something he has yet to confess to his boyfriend. Instead, he now has a new calling, one he’s not entirely happy about… help the dead resolve their unfinished business so they can pass into the light, sounds simple right?

Wrong…

When the spirit of a sweet old lady follows him home he has no idea how to help her. When he finds out she’s been murdered by arsenic poisoning, a curiously outdated murder weapon, he once again finds himself tangled up in a murder investigation.

For Inspector Danny Hayes of New Scotland Yard, life couldn’t be better. After moving to London and meeting Tristan he’s ready to move their relationship to the next level, but something weird is going on with Tristan, he’s acting very strangely and with a killer on the loose he’s not taking any chances. He’s determined to discover whatever it is Tristan’s hiding from him.

Surrounded by a bunch of potentially murderous old ladies and aided by his sidekick, deceased drag queen and spirit guide in training, Dusty, Tristan must unravel the mystery of Mrs Delores Abernathy’s unfinished business and find the courage to share his deepest secret with the man he loves.

From author Wendy Saunders writing as Vawn Cassidy, comes the second book in this funny and touching paranormal MM romance/dark comedy suspense series.

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Excerpt

Shoving the shower curtain aside roughly, I let loose a rather unmanly scream as my eyes land on a strange person standing in front of the closed door of the bathroom. I grab the shower curtain as my feet slip out from under me on the wet ceramic bathtub. I roll into the shower curtain, clutching on tightly as I lose my balance and go down, sending the plastic clips pinging off in all directions like tiny missiles knocking bottles off shelves and cracking the corner of the bathroom mirror. Pain clangs through my elbow and vibrates up my arm as, cocooned in clear plastic, I slide into the bath, breathing heavily and looking like I’ve been gift wrapped by a serial killer.

“Owwww,” I croak slowly to no one in particular.

Reaching one arm over the edge of the bath, my body follows and I flop ungraciously onto the rug like a newborn baby seal. Squinting without my glasses on I can just about make out the still figure standing in front of the bathroom door clutching a handbag.

Mrs Abernathy, I realise with a groan of resignation. What is it with ghosts? First Dusty and now the old lady. What part of the bathroom is off limits do they not understand? Is nothing sacred anymore?

I’m about to open my mouth when the bathroom door swings open and Danny strides in, passing straight through Mrs Abernathy and making her disappear into a thin vaporous mist.

“I heard a crash.” Danny’s eyes land on me sprawled out on the floor. “You okay?” His brow quirks as he takes in the assortment of displaced bottles and small plastic shower curtain clips everywhere.

“Slight shower malfunction.” I release a winded breath. “A little help, please.”

He strides toward me and effortlessly scoops me off the floor. His hands are gentle, his eyes filled with concern.

“Did you hurt yourself?” He frowns. “Maybe we should get you looked at, you might have a concussion.”

“I’m fine,” I manage.

“We could call 111.” He turns me slowly, peeling me out of the shower curtain like he’s un-bandaging The Mummy in a Lon Chaney movie.

“I wouldn’t even call 111 for advice on how to remove a splinter.” I wrinkle my nose. “Honestly, I’m fine.”

He wraps the towel around me, pinning my arms to my sides as he drops a kiss on my nose. “Be more careful, I have plans for this gorgeous body later.” He smiles, kissing my lips softly.

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Start The Series

Dead Serious Case #1: Miz Dusty Le Frey

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Blurb

Tristan Everett had always preferred the company of the dead because they were quiet and didn’t talk back. As a slightly awkward introvert working as a pathologist at the Hackney Public Mortuary suited him just fine. That is, until a freak accident with a rogue ice cube and suddenly he can see ghosts. No longer content to just lie on the table and let him figure out how they died, they’re now peering over his shoulder critiquing his work and confessing their most lascivious sins before skipping off merrily into the afterlife.

Just when he thought his life couldn’t get any weirder, London’s most infamous drag queen, Miz Dusty Le Frey, is wheeled in with a toe tag and she’s not prepared to go quietly into the light. Not only is she furious at the prospect of spending eternity in last season’s gold lamé, she’s determined that he help her solve her murder.

Suddenly Tristan finds himself thrown into a world of sequins and fake eyelashes, and worse still, he may have developed a crush on Scotland Yard’s brand new drool-worthy detective, Inspector Danny Hayes, who’s been assigned to Dusty’s murder. Oh, and the killer now wants him dead too…

All he ever wanted was a simple life but suddenly he’s juggling work, a deliciously sexy detective, a stubborn ghost and a relentless murderer… and things have just gotten dead serious….

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About the Author

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Vawn Cassidy is the MM pen name of British author Wendy Saunders, she lives in the UK with her husband and children. She loves all things MM and is an avid reader herself.

As Vawn Cassidy she writes Paranormal/Dark Comedy/Mystery and Contemporary Romance and more recently is branching out into Historical & Supernatural MM/LGBTQ+ Fiction with her upcoming London Gothic series.

She also has an insane love of Lego and pop culture.

Social Media

Website: www.vawncassidy.com

Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/VawnCassidyAuthor

Facebook Group: www.facebook.com/group/cassidysbayboys

Instagram: www.instagram.com/vawncassidyauthor

Twitter: www.twitter.com/VawnCassidy

Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/vawncassidy

Bookbub: www.bookbub.com/profile/vawn-cassidy

Amazon: www.amazon.com/~/e/B098XMW7M1

Giveaway

To celebrate the release of Dead Serious 2, Vawn is giving away a signed paperback of Crawshanks Guide to the Recently Deceased Book #2

A Rafflecopter Giveaway

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IG Sized DS2 Out Now

A triumphant second entry in this ghostly romance mystery series

62685184._SY475_Dead Serious Case #2 Mrs Delores Abernathy by Vawn Cassidy

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed the first book in this series but I absolutely LOVED this one!

Tris and Danny are now completely in love with each other, things are going along nicely, with just little hiccups along the way as they deal with whether or not they’re rushing into things having said the I love yous and spending nearly all their available time together.

The wonderful Dusty, of Drag Queen murder fame in book one, is now back as Tris’ spirit guide and she’s as outrageously fabulous as ever and on hand to help when something a little bit odd happens at the care home where Martin, Tris’ father, is being looked after.

With another murder to investigate, another sweet little old lady ghost hanging round with unfinished business, and the occasional accidental spiritual displacement to deal with, this book romps along at a cracking pace without ever feeling like the story is being rushed.

There were so many moments I was chuckling like a hyena to myself, others I got a wee bit teary as the narrative pulls on all the heart strings at times, and ultimately I was cheering my head off as the gang all comes together to try and work out what’s gone on.

Even the ginormous! (not quite cliff hanger-y) type big reveal at the end could spoil my enjoyment of this book.

It’s not really a cliffhanger as such, this story is all wrapped up by the end, but it’s a big massive lead in to what’s going to go down in Book Three and that cannot come soon enough.

Loved it. Also intrigued by two new characters we’re introduced to in this book who I won’t reveal.

PS: This would make an utterly fabulous TV show!

#ARC kindly received from the author via GRR Tours in return for an honest and unbiased review

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