Touched by Death by Dale Mayer-a review


TOUCHED BY DEATH is the June 2012 contemporary suspense/mystery novel by Dale Mayer.  Anthropologist Jade Hansen’s life has been a world of depression. Following a trip to Haiti (the previous year) to help victims of an earthquake, Jade returned home to the loss of almost everyone she cared about and quite possibly her mind.  When a wealthy American businessman wanted to recover the bodies of missing family members, Jade would find herself back in Haiti helping to excavate a mass grave of victims buried after the disaster.  And to the teams utter shock and horror they found more than just victims of the quake.

Along with a team of doctors and pathologists, Jade’s adventure into the heat and quake ravaged island of Haiti brought back many memories from the previous year.  Along with a suspicious feeling that they were being watched, Jade was also intrigued by the attentions of fellow American, Dane Carter.  Dane is an independent contractor helping to rebuild the local hospital, but a call from the team working the sight, would bring Dane and his construction machinery to help with the recovery. But trying to keep the discovery a secret was placing more pressure on the team then they had fully anticipated.  When the man overseeing the finances threatens to pull the team, they begin to wonder if it is all worth the cost.

The discovery within the pit amped up everyone’s morbid curiosity, but the locals were not accustomed to outsiders interfering with the dead.  Old voodoo traditions, myths and stories would surface and the local inhabitants would begin to suffer with the knowledge that the outsiders were disturbing the dead. But the bigger problem that would surface was that the authorities didn’t care. The details and information the team were unearthing were falling on deaf ears and the police were refusing to cooperate with any investigation.  People disappear all of the time and now one of the retrieval team is missing. 

Family life for most of the locals is difficult.  As one of the poorest islands, the Haitians could barely feed or clothe themselves.  And Dane’s brother had married a local woman, whose current mental health was deteriorating as the excavation continued. And to add to the already stressful situation, his brother’s extended family were giving Dane cause for concern. Something wasn’t right.

Dane and Jade’s relationship is slow to build as each is in Haiti to work.  But slowly over a few weeks, Dane gets up the nerve to ask Jade out, but life has a way of surprising everyone, when rumors about family members and missing team members are more important than one’s love life.  But a warning from a voodoo woman would put Jade on edge and Dane needing to find a way to protect the woman with whom he was falling in love especially when most of his extended family were missing or dead.

TOUCHED BY DEATH is a fascinating storyline with several twists. Although I had an idea as to the person or people responsible, I was still surprised that I was intrigued with the build up and revelations.  The storyline flows smoothly, the characters are real and I was definitely impressed with the direction of the story.

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Reviewed by Sandy



Revelation by Erica Hayes – a Review

Revelation by Erica Hayes – a Review

Revelation by Erica Hayes is the first book in her new Seven Signs series.  Below is a description of the series. This is an early review, as Revelation will not be released until October 2nd. I will do my best to not reveal any spoilers.

Description of Seven Signs:
The Seven Signs is an apocalyptic paranormal series, set in the near future against the backdrop of a twisted Biblical Apocalypse. It is urban fantasy/romance, since it’s a mixture of both, with strong dark fantasy elements but also a pivotal romance (with HEA) in each book.

In ancient Biblical prophecy, seven dreadful signs herald the End of Days—the pouring out of seven golden vials, brimming with the wrath of God. For centuries, the vials have remained hidden, lest their plagues be unleashed to destroy the world. But now, demons are hunting down the vials one by one, eager to twist that righteous wrath and bring on their own Dark Apocalypse. And only their immortal enemies can stop them—seven fierce fallen angel warriors known as the Tainted Host.

Shunned by heaven for their sins, yet chained in holy servitude, the Tainted are offered this one last hope of redemption. But virtue is a weakness when the enemy’s weapons are seduction and lies. 

It’s time to challenge the demons at their own game.

The battleground? The dark and despicable city of Babylon, USA, a hive of greed and vanity we once called New York.

Seven vials. Seven demon princes. Seven Tainted angels of vengeance. Tonight, the End begins…

Revelation Review:

Revelation is the first novel in Erica Hayes’ Seven Signs series, which is a dark Urban Fantasy romance. This is a futuristic story of what happens when the dark side gets it’s hands on the seven vials that have been hidden for centuries, which is supposed to bring down the holy wrath of God, and the End of Days.  In Hayes story, there are seven dark demon princes, doing their deeds for Satan; seven tainted fallen angels, who become the warriors who fight against evil, and the seven vials that mean the destruction of the world.  But in the Demon’s minds, they don’t want end of days, they want to turn earth into their own eternal hell playground.   From the start, we find that Zombies are killing humans, and are beginning to multiply, and humans are also dying from the plague.  The many demons are playing havoc, as the story starts in Babylon (old new york city), and bodies are building up in the morgue.

Dr. Morgan Sterling, is a scientist and assistant medical examiner trying desperately to find a cure for this plague.  Of course, she has no idea, that the demons are responsible for this plague.  Morgan is a hard nosed, tough doctor, who has built her life in trusting no one, and only cares about her work. 

We meet the seven tainted angels, each having been delegated out of Heaven by some various different mistakes they made.  They all report to the archangel Michael, who is portrayed in this book, as wild, arrogant and not a nice guy.  He really does not care about his tainted angels, but he makes sure they do what needs to be done to protect the humans and fight the demons.  Each of the tainted angels, want redemption and, to be able to go back to Heaven someday.  Of the seven tainted angels, Dash is the leader, with the others following him. Erica Hayes does a wonderful job creating these characters, as I thoroughly enjoyed each of these angels (not Michael). In this book, we get to know them all, see how they work together, and care about each other.

But the hero in Revelation is Luniel (Lune), who starts off becoming suspicious and brings in the other angels as he senses the vials might be missing and in the wrong hands.  Lune finds his brother at the morgue, and meets our heroine, Morgan. 

From that point on, this adventure is filled with action, violence, betrayal, and it is non stop.  Morgan, who is a disbeliever, finds herself fighting off her attraction to Lune, whom she wants to trust but cannot due to her childhood issues, and stubbornness that this is a plague that she can cure.  Lune, having been celibate for 800 years, after losing his love to the demons and hell, finds himself becoming very attracted to Morgan.  Though Morgan was stubborn in her disbelief, even seeing the wings, she at first had no choice but to help the angels try to stop the destruction; then she totally became a believer after seeing all the horrific things being done to humans. Morgan and Lune, as time goes on becomes a great romance, that developed over a short period, as each had to fight their own issues. This really was a great romance, especially with all the darkness surrounding this story. 

I really liked some of these great characters, especially our great, but fun angel warriors, such as Jaz, Jaspeth, Iria,Trillion as well as Dash.  They are all major characters that make this story fun. Throughout this dark fantasy, Hayes was able to bring in a lot of humor, wittiness to break up the tension.  As I have said, this story was filled with tense action, violence, horrible demons, and yet managed a wonderful romance.  Great start to a new series, as I cannot wait for the next book…Redemption.

Reviewed by Barb

Copy provided by Author


Susan Squires-Guest post

Susan Squires-Guest Post at The Reading Cafe

HE’S A MAGIC MAN is the second in my CHILDREN Of MERLIN series, and I could hardly wait to write Drew’s story. She’s very sure of the Tremaine destiny. Why wouldn’t she be? Her parents and her older brother came into their magic powers when they found one who shared Merlin’s magic gene and fell in love.

Characters who are sure of themselves are fun. The author has to shake their confidence, or there is no story. So I got to torture poor Drew before she got her happy ending. She gets her power when she sees a gorgeous guy on a TV show, so she chases off to the Florida Keys to find him. Things are going great. But Michael turns out to be an alcoholic still in love with his saintly dead wife. Uh, oh.

Drew thinks she can fix things, including Michael, as usual. But that turns out to be more difficult than she imagined. Along the way she encounters the mysterious adversaries of the Tremaines, the Clan. They’re looking for a lost artifact from Merlin that will intensify their power. Michael is a Finder. And they promise him the one thing he can’t refuse if he’ll join forces with them. They’ll bring his dead wife back to life.

The writing of this book was both a joy and a trial. I had never been to the Florida Keys or to the Caribbean, where much of the book takes place. Coincidentally, we were remodeling our house and had to be out for a few weeks during demolition. So we went to the Florida Keys to research locations, and eat great fish. And we hit some Caribbean islands. Of course we didn’t find an uncharted island with Merlin’s treasure on it. But our visit to Falmouth Harbor on Antigua and El Yunque Rainforest Park near San Juan in Puerto Rico gave me some great ideas for settings.


When I returned, all I had to do was finish the book in the chaos of remodeling our house. My study had turned into the storage point for our freezer, various and sundry pieces of contractor’s equipment and lots of dust, so I worked at the local library. When the scaffolding came out of the back yard in July, I worked at the table under an umbrella with my laptop plugged into the outlet with the refrigerator. Yes, our refrigerator was on the patio. Our “kitchen” was the dresser in our upstairs bedroom with a microwave, a hot plate and an electric wok on it. We were doing dishes in the only bathroom’s sink. Even now it’s hard to believe we survived.

As I finished my first draft, I had a final dark moment. My hard drive crashed. I realized I hadn’t been good about using the external drive to back up recently. But I used a cloud backup service religiously. Who would have thought the failing hard drive had left only a corrupted file on the cloud service? I lost 45 pages of the ending.

But, like Drew, I persevered. I re-created those last pages, and pushed through to finish HE’S A MAGIC MAN. The remodel is done, the marriage in tact. Life is good.


I hope you think the effort was worth it.


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He’s A Magic Man (Children of Merlin #2) by Susan Squires-a review

He’s A Magic Man (Children of Merlin #2) by Susan Squires-a review

HE’S A MAGIC MAN (Children of Merlin #2) by Susan Squires

HE’S A MAGIC MAN is the second novel (September 2012 release) in Susan Squires’ Children of Merlin series relating magic and power to the descendants of Merlin-the Tremaine family. The belief that each descendant would come into their power and magic, when they meet the one person (true mate) that will unlock their destiny, is the premise behind the Children of Merlin.

Drew Tremaine had hoped that she found the one to unlock her magic but finding out that he had a bevy of woman at his beck and call more than proved that he was not the one. But watching an episode of ‘Treasure Hunters’ Drew found herself inexplicably drawn to a man in the background of the show. Could this man be her destiny? The one? And with the questions came a vision of the future that found Drew somewhere in the Florida Keys. But she had to be careful if her family discovered that she was heading to the Sunshine state alone, looking for a stranger that she knew nothing about.

Michaelangelo (Dowser) Redmond was getting drunk and needed to stay numb to forget the past. And when a beautiful woman came looking for him in the sleaziest bar in town, he knew there would be trouble. But he never expected to find himself tied to his own bed while Drew Tremaine played nursemaid to his hangover and detox DTs. A former Delta Forcer Operator, Michael could not believe his reaction to Drew or the sexual chemistry that came between.

Dowser was psychic and has a special ability that meant he could be the ‘one’ for Drew. But Dowser’s revelations about his past dampened Drew’s excitement when she learned there was someone else.

Dowser’s latest job involved a treasure hunter named Brandon St. Claire and his girlfriend Rhiannon, and he wanted Drew along for the ride. Finding the Santa Angela would ensure a healthy pay day for Dowser, and using his psychic powers to ‘find’ made the job that much more easy. But Brandon St. Claire wanted Dowser to find something more and when he did, they promised to bring someone back from his past- a promise that he didn’t know if they could keep.

Drew and Michaels’s relationship is difficult at the start. Believing Michael is her destiny, Drew continues to nurse Michael back to health following their run-in at the bar. But as the days go by, the sexual tension increases and neither is willing to admit to their desire. And Michael is having difficulty releasing the memories from his past. And the longer the two are together, the more powerful their magic becomes.

Throughout the novel we are aware of a secondary storyline regarding a search for a talisman-a mystical sword. And Drew’s visions were some how connected. With the continuing threat against her family and the Children of Merlin mystery, there were others  hoping to use the power for themselves and Drew’s escape to the Florida Keys had put her in more danger than she had ever thought possible and the very real possibility that she would lose Michael forever. And the entire Tremaine family was now in danger, when Michael revealed the truth behind Drew’s connection and the sword.

HE’S A MAGIC MAN is another fantastic addition to Susan Squires’ Children of Merlin series. Well written, fast paced, action packed and at times a heart breaking storyline that had me dabbing a few tears. The character development flowed easily throughout the story and in the end you loved the Tremaine’s as though they were your own family.

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Reviewed by Sandy


J.M.Stewart-Interview with the Author

J.M. Stewart – Interview with the Author




TRC:  Hi J.M. and welcome to The Reading Café. Congratulations on the release of THE PLAYBOY’S BABY.

J.M:  Thank you! It’s a pleasure to be here.

TRC:  We would like to start with some background information. Would you please tell us something about yourself?

J.M:  I’m a stay-at-home mom by trade, married for sixteen years now. We live in Washington state with our two teenage boys, and two very spoiled puppies.

TRC:  Many authors start their love of writing at an early age. What was the catalyst that sparked your love of writing?

J.M:  I’ve written down short stories since somewhere around high school. I don’t even remember what started it. But my love of writing really began about ten years ago. I had this dream. It was very vivid, and I was very drawn to it. One of those that just won’t leave you alone. It kept bugging me, demanding me to write it down, so one day I did. I fell in love with the process, and it took off from there.

TRC:  What is the name of your first novel published? Looking back, would you have made any changes to the storyline?

J.M:  Well, this is a convoluted answer at the moment, so forgive if I write you a book. lol My first novel published was titled Staking His Claim, published through The Wild Rose Press. It’s currently out of print, as I’ve gotten the rights back on it. I’m revising as we speak, with plans to find it and the sequel another home. That being said, as I revise this book, I have to almost cringe. I originally wrote it over seven years ago. I took a six year break from my writing, and when I came back, almost three years ago now, I picked this book up, and decided to take my chances by submitting it to a small press (The Wild Rose Press). Looking at it now, I’m frankly surprised they ever wanted it. lol There are general writing “no-no’s” all over the place, such as show-don’t-tell, and the story needs a lot more detail to round it out.

But…yeah. I have decided to take it in a slightly different direction. I’ve twisted the beginning a bit, but as I revise, I’m aware that there are a million other ways I could take the ending of this book. All in all though, I believe I did what I felt was best at the time for the story. So, if I could go back and do it over, I’m not sure I would.

TRC:  What challenges or difficulties have you faced as an author?

J.M:  Self-promotion. I’m naturally a very shy, very introverted person. Talking about myself is extremely difficult, so I’m having to learn to come out of my shell by a lot. I also have to remind myself not to compare myself with other writers. It plays on my self doubt. I read a terrific book and I think, “why can’t I do that?”

TRC:   THE PLAYBOY’S BABY is a romantic tale of heartbreak and love. Would you please tell us something about the premise?

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J.M:  When an accident leaves her guardian to her six month old niece, Emma Stanton must find the one man she’s spent the last eight years trying to forget. She must risk the only family she has left as she tells him he’s the baby’s father. Can she stick to her resolve and resist the playboy’s charms this time?

All wealthy nightclub owner Dillon James has been used for his name and money one too many times in his life and has no desire to risk his heart to love again. Falling for Emma as they struggle to share the duties of raising a baby has Dillon thinking that perhaps it’s time he took a chance on love.

If only he can convince Emma to take a chance on him.

TRC:  Were any of the characters or the storyline based on fact or real-life?

J.M:  Well, most of my heroes and heroines have a lot of me in them. And I did realize recently that part of the storyline came from something my grandmother used to do. In the book, Emma and Dillon agree to share custody, but Emma still lives and works in Helena, which is an hour and a half drive from Hastings. I don’t want to give away too many details, but…it’s a long drive and Emma doesn’t want to commute every day. So, they compromise. Emma goes to the city for the week, then comes back on the weekends. In fact, it’s during the first time she does, that they make a sexy little bet. 😉

I’m getting ahead of myself. I’ve realized lately that this dynamic, of Emma coming back to Hastings on the weekends, is something I saw as a child. My whole family grew up in New York City. Eventually, my grandparents got tired of the city and bought a house in Pennsylvania, but my grandmother still worked in New York. So, she’d drive to the city for the week, then come home to Grandpa on the weekends.

Emma is also my grandmother’s name, though that’s where the similarities stop.

But, in general, in this book, pretty much everything is fictional. The characters took off with this one.

TRC:  If you could virtually cast the storyline using models and actors, with whom would you cast the characters in The Playboy’s Baby?

J.M:  Ah, now this one I have thought about. I always go looking for pictures of characters. This was a fun question!

Emma Stanton–Debra Messing

Dillon—romance novel cover model Jimmy Thomas with short hair. He’s exactly how I see Dillon.

Logan James (Dillon’s brother) –Eddie Cibrian

Camille James (Dillon’s mother)– Kathy Bates

Ethan James (Dillon’s father) — Walter Matthau

TRC:  Many authors bounce ideas with other authors and family. With whom do you bounce ideas?

J.M:  My critique partner. She loves bouncing ideas back and forth and I always find brainstorming with her tremendously helpful.

TRC:  Writer’s Block is a very real phenomenon. How do you handle the stress and anxiety of writer’s block?

J.M:  Oh, I can attest for that. lol I had a six year long bout of it. Though, to be fair, part of that block came from the stresses in my life I was having at the time. But… I’ve learned over the years not to let it get to me. It worries me for a few days, then I force myself to back off. I take it to mean that I need to go do something else for a while. usually a couple days or even a week of devouring other people’s books does the trick. Sometimes writer’s block just means that I’m burned out.

Sometimes it can mean that I’ve taken a story in the wrong direction and what I need to do is back track, find out where I veered off course, and change directions and it opens me up again.

TRC:  On what are you currently working?

J.M:  I am currently writing the sequel to The Playboy’s Baby, involving Dillon’s brother, Logan. I’m having trouble getting into this one so far, but it’s got a working title of Blind Date, which is the premise for the story. It’s an older woman, younger man, set up on a blind date by mutual friends.

TRC:  Would you like to add anything else?

J.M:  I welcome contact with readers. I’d love to know what they think of the story.


Favorite Food
Does coffee count?! lol I love Chinese and Italian is always a comfort food.

Favorite Dessert
chocolate brownies.

Favorite TV Show
Bones, also Supernatural

Favorite Movie
This one’s hard, as I don’t have just one favorite. The Color Purple, The Green Mile, City of Angels, Grease (1 and 2)

Last Movie you Saw

Dark or Milk Chocolate
Depends on my mood, but in general, dark.

Do you have any pets
Two dogs, a lab/shepherd mix and Chihuahua/French bulldog mix.

TRC:  Thank you Joanne for taking the time to answer our questions. We look forward to your future novels and books.

J.M:  Thank you very much for having me!

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The Playboy’s Baby by J.M.Stewart-a review

The Playboy’s Baby by J.M. Stewart-a review


THE PLAYBOY’S BABY is the August 2012 ebook release by author J.M. Stewart. A poignant tale that could very well be a reflection of many of today’s family dynamics, The Playboy’s Baby is a contemporary romance storyline that takes a look at one woman’s struggle to keep her family together after two tragic deaths in a matter of a few years.

30 year old Emma Stanton is a single mother and not by choice. Raising her sister Janey’s daughter Annie since the motorcycle accident that took her life one month earlier, Emma dreaded returning to her home town of Hastings Montana. Finding a letter written to Annie’s father, Emma knew that to return home and confront bad-boy Dillon James would force old memories to the surface. But Annie needed her father and Dillon was the man. And the animosity between Dillon and Emma would only add further hurt to a woman already in pain.

Dillon James lived the life of a care-free playboy. Descended from power and money, Dillon is a single 26year old night club owner surrounded by beautiful women and money skimming employees. But the sight of his childhood friend’s sister Emma, as she entered the bar, stirred up old desires he had long thought buried and gone. Dillon had always had a crush on Janey’s older sister Emma, but Emma had move away shortly after her mother died and it had been 8 years since he last saw the object of his dreams. But the message she brings to Dillon is both blessed and sad, when she reveals that he has a daughter that he knew nothing about.

The relationship between Emma and Dillon is tense. Thinking she will lose her niece and remaining family member to Dillon and his wealthy family, Emma is nervous and anxious about their intentions. Janey was never one of their favorite people, and with the unwelcome surprise of a grandchild, Emma must stay strong for the child she has grown to love as her own. And Dillon’s surprising acceptance of his daughter, aids Emma’s resolves when it comes time to leave Annie behind.

Dillon’s reputation as a badass and playboy had preceded him all of his life, but sometimes the façade is just that-a façade. Emma has always been under the mistaken belief that Dillon was Janey’s partner in crime, but Dillon reveals, that his relationship with Janey was strictly friendship and one of guardian and protector that had crossed the line  one night. And when he declares that he will never be relationship material, Emma knows that her growing love for Dillon will never be returned. And her past experiences will only add to her negative self-image when Dillon’s rejection forces her to take a stand and move on with her life.

There are many heartbreaking moments when Dillon’s actions negate his words. Tender and loving one moment, and then heart crushingly cold when he wants nothing but friendship the next day. But an empty bed is almost as painful as an empty heart, when the person with whom you have fallen in love, is a constant reminder of how alone you truly are.

THE PLAYBOY’S BABY is a heartwarming and sweet story of rejection and love. JM Stewart takes the reader on a roller coaster of emotions that will give you the warm fuzzies one moment then leave you in tears the next. The sex scenes are sensual without the use of vulgar descriptive narrations and the character development is forthright and real. The Playboy’s Baby is a quick read for a lazy afternoon with a glass of wine and romance on the mind.

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Reviewed by Sandy


All Hallows Moon by S.M. Reine-a review

ALL HALLOWS MOON (Seasons of the Moon #2) by S.M. Reine

ALL HALLOWS MOON is the second instalment in S.M Reine’s young adult Seasons of the Moon series focusing on a young bitten female werewolf and the hunters trying to take her down. This storyline is not your typical werewolf scenario-there are no glittery or easy transitions from human to wolf, but one fraught with pain, suffering, blood and loss of humanity. Rylie is a 15 year old high school student who, while away at summer camp, fought to save the life of a friend, but ended up bitten by a werewolf hoping to repopulate his decimated pack. Rylie must now endure the monthly moon shifts alone knowing that the one person who could take her life, is the one person she was willing to give up her humanity to save.

Rylie went to live with her late father’s sister, a woman she has not seen in a very long time. Aunt Gwyneth owned a working farm, and the family thought it was best if Rylie learned discipline while doing manual labor. Thinking the young teen was acting out rebelliously Rylie would find herself in trouble at school, at home and with friends. But what people did not know was that Rylie was affected by the changes of the moon, and every day life became a challenge when your inner wolf wants nothing more than to sate a need for blood and meat.

Rylie’s changes left her with no humanity. Waking up with no memory of the nights events, Rylie would discover that her wolf had devoured local livestock at a frenetic pace. The kills were drawing attention and soon the werewolf hunters would be searching for what could only be described as a killer. Although she has never killed a human, Rylie always worried that she may not be able to control the beast. But when the hunters come calling, her wolf perceives a threat and she fights to protect her life. Only this time, one of the hunters is determined to kill Rylie in human form regardless of the hunter’s code.

ALL HALLOWS MOON is an interesting look at a werewolf storyline. The heroine is your typical 15 year old teen, although more rebellious than most, due to her ‘wolf’ acting out aggressively towards perceived threats. One wrong look could produce a growl of displeasure and therefore her number of friends is limited because of her attitude and personality quirks-even her family sent her away because they were unable to handle the mood swings and aggression. Rylie’s relationship with one of hunters throws a major wrench into the storyline, when his family is willing to kill the werewolf, knowing he has fallen in love with the girl underneath. I did have a problem with the Rylie’s attitude. Yes, I know she was struggling with the assault that left her a werewolf and the painful and gut wrenching monthly changes-but the girl just never let up-the entire story was built on the attitude of a 15 year old who perceived everything as a slight against her. Sometimes it was a little too much.

Reviewed by Sandy


IMITATION OF DEATH (Nikki Harper Mysteries #2) by Cheryl Crane

IMITATION OF DEATH (Nikki Harper Mysteries #2) by Cheryl Crane

IMITATION OF DEATH is the second novel (August 2012 release) in Cheryl Crane’s Nikki Harper Mystery series. Cheryl Crane is the daughter of screen legend Lana Turner and brings much of her ‘inside Hollywood’ style into her storylines.

The Nikki Harper series focuses on the mother daughter duo of world famous screen actress Victoria Bordeaux and her amateur investigator daughter Nicolette ‘Nikki’ Harper.  The pair can be found at the scene of some pretty infamous crimes.  But when their neighbor’s troubled son, Eddie Bernard is found murdered, Nikki takes it upon herself to prove the Jorge Delgado, her childhood friend, is not the guilty party. The problem, the murder weapon is a pair of garden shears owned by Victoria’s gardener Jorge, and witnesses had seen them arguing the day before on the Bernard’s property.  Jorge had threatened to kill Eddie Bernard.

Cheryl Crane weaves old time Hollywood magic with current day problems and contemporary icons.  Drugs, illegal immigrants, actors in the closet and back stabbing wanna-bes are nothing new in Hollywood, but Cheryl adds references from today’s popular culture ala The Food Network, Dancing with the Stars, Housewives of Wherever Crap (I quote) and Entertainment Tonight blending the old with the new including product placement without the visuals.  I can’t but help picturing Lana Turner as the elegant screen actress Victoria Bordeaux. And poor Nicolette is besieged with people asking about her mother at every turn-someone always wants an autograph.

We are introduced to the grieving neighbors including father Abe Bernard and his current and ex-wife Ginny and Melinda, as well as an assortment of extended family and assistants, all with a different story to tell.  And Victoria’s side is not without some troubles of their own.  But Eddie Bernard had led a drug and alcohol induced life of one trouble after another.  He had just been released from, yet another, rehab when the unfortunate ‘accident’ had occurred.  He was an embarrassment to his family, and someone was willing to stop him permanently. But when a Mexican gardener is accused of killing a wealthy white boy, the police had all but signed Jorge’s death warrant.

As the story develops, the finger pointing and accusations worsen especially when Eddie’s history reveals how deep he was into the drug scene.  The further Nikki digs, the more she is certain that someone from Eddie’s life of drugs was responsible for his death.  Illicit homosexual affairs, cocaine abuse and blackmail were all part of  Eddie’s past, but it would be someone close to Eddie that was pushed one incident too far.

IMITATION OF DEATH reads like a who’s who of Hollywood.   The characters are all fictitious but the storyline could very well have come from any number of true hidden family secrets amongst the rich and famous.  At times the number of suspects on Nikki’s list was as large as a small village, but Eddie had made quite a number of enemies in his short life on earth.  Cheryl Crane hides the identity of the murderer until the very end and then you look back and say…..”ah, I should have seen that coming”. 

Copy supplied by Goodreads Firstreads

Reviewed by Sandy