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Book Blitz: The Murders at Astaire Castle by Lauren Carr

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Book Blitz: The Murders at Astaire Castle by Lauren Carr

Book Blitz: The Murders at Astaire Castle by Lauren Carr The Murders at Astaire Castle by Lauren Carr
Series: Mac Faraday Mystery #5
Published by Acorn Book Services on July 19, 2013
Genres: Mystery
Pages: 286
Buy on Amazon
Add on Goodreads

Mac Faraday Meets the Wolf Man!

Never tell Mac Faraday not to do something.

In The Murders at Astaire Castle, Spencer’s police chief, David O’Callaghan, learns this lesson the hard way when he orders Mac Faraday to stay away from the south end of Spencer’s mountaintop—even though he owns the property. It doesn’t take long for Mac to find out what lies on the other side of the stone wall and locked gate, on which hangs a sign warning visitors to Keep Out!

Topping the list of the ten most haunted places in America, Astaire Castle is associated with two suicides, three mysterious disappearances, and four murders since it was built almost a century ago—and Mac Faraday owns it!

In spite of David’s warning, Mac can’t resist unlocking the gate to see the castle that supposedly hasn’t seen a living soul since his late mother had ordered it closed up after the double homicide and disappearance of Damian Wagner, a world-famous master of horror novels.

“Halloween has always been a fun time,” best-selling author Lauren Carr explains in a note at the beginning of her fifth Mac Faraday mystery. “It’s the time to break out and be someone else. As a child, I would pretend to be one of the Bobbsey Twins searching for clues to lead me to a secret treasure. If I was lucky, it was made up of chocolate. As a teenager, I was Nancy Drew. Always, when October rolled around, I craved mysteries with something extra added—something beyond the normal—something supernatural. As an author, I couldn’t resist taking this one Mac Faraday Mystery on a scary Halloween adventure.”

In this latest installment of Carr’s hit series, what starts out as a quick tour of a dusty old castle turns into another Mac Faraday adventure when Astaire Castle becomes the scene of even more murders. Mac is going to need to put all of his investigative talents to work to sort out this case that involves the strangest characters he has run into yet—including a wolf man. No, we’re not talking about Gnarly.

Book Excerpt:

Prologue

November 2002 – Astaire Castle, top of Spencer Mountain, Deep Creek Lake, Maryland

Shivering, Rafaela turned up the fan for the heater in her old Plymouth. The weather channel was calling for snow. With an eye on the storm clouds heading straight for Spencer Mountain, she picked up the speed a notch. Her car bumped along the worn road cut through the trees and rock to take her to Astaire Castle.

The notion of being trapped at the castle by a winter storm made her curse the day she had accepted the job as housekeeper at the Astaire estate. The young illegal immigrant thought her prayers had been answered by landing the job at the luxurious estate. Not only was it prestigious to work in a castle, but lucrative since Damian Wagner was paying almost twice her normal hourly wage.

What a gem to put on my housekeeping resume! To be hire by only one of the world’s most famous authors of horror books—even more famous than Robin Spencer—to clean an honest-to-goodness castle. So what if the Astaire Castle has a reputation of being haunted? I’ll be making a bundle for cleaning five days a week in the daylight. Besides, I don’t believe in no ghosts.

Rafaela regretted her decision the first time she walked into Astaire Castle.

At first, she dismissed her cleaning supplies moving from where she had left them as forgetfulness. Then there was the time she kept hearing someone whispering her name. She had looked around, but never saw anyone. Same with doors closing or opening or footsteps coming up behind her, and the old-time music and party noises in empty rooms when no one was there—she tried to tell herself that it was all her imagination.

None of that was anything compared to the Wolf Man who she had seen in the dining room mirror while she was cleaning it.

She had heard all about the Wolf Man who lived in the woods surrounding Astaire Castle. The woman with two teenagers who lived in the apartment next to hers was quick to tell her about him. Rafaela had dismissed it all as ghost stories made up by her neighbor’s kids to scare her—until she had seen him with her own two eyes.

That day she ran out of the castle. She returned only after Genevieve, Damian Wagner’s daughter, had promised that her father finish his book and be moving out of the castle by the end of the year—at which time he would pay her a handsome bonus that would give her enough money to visit her family in Brazil for Christmas.

Rafaela caught her breath when her Plymouth entered through the gate at the end of the road to pull into the front courtyard and fountain.

The fountain was off. Damian Wagner had never bothered to turn it on. He wouldn’t notice if it was. He spent his time banging away on his computer in the study on the top floor. He wouldn’t eat if it weren’t for his daughter bringing food to him.

Then there was the editor—Mr. Jansen.

He reminded Rafaela of a bird with his bony frame, high cheekbones over a pointy chin, and thick eyeglasses with his blinking eyes magnified behind them. He sounded like a squawking bird with his high-pitched voice no matter what his mood or what he was saying. Ready to pounce in anticipation of any need from Damian Wagner, he was always lurking nearby.

Damian’s daughter, Genevieve, was as charming as beautiful. She often asked Rafaela about her family in Brazil and about her life in Deep Creek Lake. For the new immigrant to America, Rafaela felt as if she was making a friend who would give her good references for more housekeeping jobs in the resort town of Spencer—more millionaire estates to clean—estates that weren’t haunted.

Rafaela pulled her car around the circular drive and parked at the bottom of the steep steps that led to the front door. When she got out of her car, the wind howled and whipped her long dark hair around her head. The wind actually seemed to want to rip her thin coat off her body. Grabbing her box of cleaning supplies, she squared her shoulders, and sucked up her nerve to go inside.

Need to make this quick. They don’t have enough money to make me stay here during that storm.

The wind yanked the heavy wooden door from her grasp to slam it against the side of the house.

“Stupid door!” Rafaela set the box inside the foyer and went outside to grab the door and pull it shut. “Mr. Wagner! Mr. Jansen! Genevieve! It’s me, Rafaela! Hope I’m not disturbing you.” She picked up the box and made her way through the foyer.

“Raf-aela …”

She stopped. With wide eyes, she peered up the staircase to the second floor balcony. “Is that you, Mr. Wagner?” She paused to listen. “Genevieve?”

“Get out. Now.”

Has to be my imagination. She reassured herself. “There’s no such thing as ghosts. There’s no such thing as ghosts,” she muttered over and over to herself while hurrying to the back of the castle.

“I don’t suppose you had any trick-or-treaters last night, did you?” she called out to ease her nerves with the sound of her own voice. “Not up here I suppose.”

She waited for an answer. She heard footsteps on the floor up above.

The smell of burnt meat came to her nose. It smelled like steak that had been left on the grill for too long.

They must have grilled steaks last night.

“Lots of little children stopped by my apartment.” Feeling braver as she rattled on, Rafaela set the box of cleaning supplies on the kitchen table and gathered together her duster and furniture polish.

Best to start in the living room. The antiques, wood, and silver takes the longest.

Admiring the decades-old priceless china encased in the china closet, she went through the dining room. With her cleaning lady’s eye, she gauged what needed to be addressed on this visit that she may have missed before. She stopped when the blotch of red on the doorframe through the kitchen caught her eye.

What’s that? Catsup?

It wasn’t until she spotted a spot on the floor that she first considered that it wasn’t a condiment, but something much more sinister. She spotted another. Bigger this time … and another.

There was a red pool in front of the kitchen door that opened out onto the back patio and deck that projected out over the rocks to provide a massive view of the valley down below. All of the drops and splatters and pools led to the common source—the fire pit outside.

She saw the flames and smoke wafting in the wind whipping around her where she stood in the open doorway. She stared at the blackened objects in the pit. What at first appeared to be a burnt log projecting out of the flames took shape.

The hand and fingers reached out to her.

The index finger was pointing at her.

Through the rapid beating of her heart, Rafaela could hear the footsteps behind her coming closer.

“Get out!”

His image was reflected in the glass pane of the door. The wild hair. The crazed eyes.

It’s the Wolf Man!

Watch the Trailer!

Giveaway!

Lauren is giving away one paperback copy, two ebook copies and three audiobooks of THE MURDERS AT ASTAIRE CASTLE!

Terms & Conditions:

  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • Six winners will be chosen via Rafflecopter.
  • This giveaway begins October 6 and ends October 31.
  • Winners will be contacted via email on Monday, November 3.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.

Good luck everyone!

ENTER TO WIN!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

About Lauren Carr

Lauren Carr is the international best-selling author of the Mac Faraday, Lovers in Crime, and Thorny Rose Mysteries—over twenty titles across three fast-paced mystery series filled with twists and turns!

Book reviewers and readers alike rave about how Lauren Carr’s seamlessly crosses genres to include mystery, suspense, romance, and humor.

Lauren is a popular speaker who has made appearances at schools, youth groups, and on author panels at conventions. She lives with her husband, son, and four dogs (including the real Gnarly) on a mountain in Harpers Ferry, WV.

A Wedding and a Killing by Lauren Carr

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A Wedding and a Killing by Lauren Carr

A Wedding and a Killing by Lauren Carr A Wedding and a Killing by Lauren Carr
Series: Mac Faraday Mystery #8
Published by Acorn Book Services on Sept 13, 2014
Source: Pump Up Your Book!
Genres: Mystery
Pages: 326
Format: eARC
Buy on Amazon or Audible
Add on Goodreads

When Mac Faraday decides to do something, there’s no stopping him … even murder!

Not wanting to wait until their big day to start their life of wedded bliss, Mac Faraday and his lady love, Archie Monday, decide to elope to the little church where his ancestors had all married—along the tranquil shore of Deep Creek Lake. However, before they can say, “I do,” the sanctuary erupts into chaos when Gnarly finds a dead body in the church office.

As they dive into the investigation, Mac and his team discover more questions than answers. What kind of person walks into a church and shoots a man for no apparent reason? How do you solve the murder of a man who has no enemies in the world? Which of the seemingly kind-hearted church members is really a cold-blooded killer?

Then, there is the all-important question, how long do Mac Faraday and his lady love have to wait to get married?

Earlier today, you got to read a bit about Mac Faraday’s life from his point of view. My first meeting with him and Archie Monday, his girlfriend was in A Wedding and a Killing. At #8 in the series, it worked fine as a stand-alone for me, although I may have enjoyed it a little more had I known the characters longer. I find that with a lot of series books, they work on their own, but they work better as a whole. I have to admit that when I saw this was touring, I decided to read it because I enjoyed Lauren Carr’s  guest post in May, “My Mother Isn’t a Psychopath, She’s a Mystery Writer,” so much. It was funny and true and gave me high hopes for her stories.

A Wedding and a Killing was a quick read and I really like Mac. He’s a good guy, a little gruff around the edges, but a hear of gold, so to speak. He’s also rich, but it’s inherited, he didn’t grow up with money and doesn’t seem to have let it take over his life. He’s a private detective who apparently works on a contract basis with the police – helps that his friend/half-brother, David O’Callaghan, is the chief. David’s focused on his job and may have a bit of an issue with wanting to be better at solving crimes than Mac is.

The mystery is interesting. Who killed Eugene, the head of the trustees, a nice, competent, well-liked man? Of course, the suspects are all church members, several of whom have their own secrets and motives. There were several clues spread around, but the actual solving of the case had a few twists and turns. Solving the case(s) is definitely a team effort, each of the main characters contributes in some way, even the dogs.

I’m not sure if this is typical of Carr’s mysteries or came up this time around because of the church setting, but I’d say this is verging on a Christian mystery. Several characters are very faithful, others questioning. I felt it was handled honestly and appropriately and never turned preachy, but I know some mystery readers like to be warned ahead of time when the mystery takes an unexpected religious turn. I also thought there was a moral stance taken when it comes to homosexuality which bothered me – the only gay man is portrayed very badly, and found in a dead in a “den of degradation.”

I expected it to be funnier, actually. The one dog, Gnarly, is a hoot, dangerous but hilarious. Aside from that though, it’s a light mystery, but not amusing. I think I’d like to get to know Mac and his friends/family a bit better. I bet they grow on you.

About Lauren Carr

Lauren Carr is the international best-selling author of the Mac Faraday, Lovers in Crime, and Thorny Rose Mysteries—over twenty titles across three fast-paced mystery series filled with twists and turns!

Book reviewers and readers alike rave about how Lauren Carr’s seamlessly crosses genres to include mystery, suspense, romance, and humor.

Lauren is a popular speaker who has made appearances at schools, youth groups, and on author panels at conventions. She lives with her husband, son, and four dogs (including the real Gnarly) on a mountain in Harpers Ferry, WV.

Meet Mac Faraday: A Character Guest Post by Lauren Carr

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Meet Mac Faraday: A Character Guest Post by Lauren Carr

Today I’m happy to welcome Mac Faraday to my blog. Mac is the detective in Lauren Carr’s new book, A Wedding and a Killing.

Meet Mac Faraday

by Lauren Carr

Archie told me that I had to write this article for some blog (What’s a blog anyway?) for a friend who loves mysteries. So, where do I start?

I guess I should start at the beginning.

It all started a few years ago. Truthfully, it started much before that, but for me, it started a few years ago.

One day, I came home from working eighteen hours on a case as a homicide detective in Washington, DC, to find that my wife of more than twenty years had thrown my stuff out in the yard. That was when I found out that she was leaving me for her lover, District Attorney Stephen Maguire. The next thing I know, I’m living in a third-floor walk-up apartment while Christine is living in the three-bedroom, two-bath home that we had built together. Through Maguire’s influence, on the day of the divorce, she got it all.

That is why I hate lawyers.

But life is ironic.

Here it is the last divorce hearing. The judge, a good buddy of Maguire, pounds the gavel to end our twenty year marriage. I’m trying to not strangle my divorce lawyer who chose then to wake up to hand me his bill, when this little silver-haired man in a ten-thousand-dollar suit comes through the crowd to grab my arm.

“Mr. Faraday? Mac Faraday? I need to talk to you.”

Seeing yet another lawyer, who had to be another friend of that skunk Maguire, I replied, “No habla English,” and ran in the other direction.

Would you believe he chased me for three blocks? I think he would have continued chasing me if I didn’t start feeling sorry for him and stopped to ask him what he wanted.  I braced for the subpoena notifying me that I was being sued for whatever.

He slipped a business card into my hand and introduced himself as Ben Willingham, the senior partner of Willingham and Associates, only the biggest law firm in DC.

This is not going to be good, I thought.

Wiping the sweat from his brow, Ben caught his breath before reaching into his briefcase. “Do you know Robin Spencer?”

“No,” I answered before remembering the name. “Famous writer. She writes murder mysteries. We met a few years ago when she interviewed me for research for a book she was writing. She was creating a new detective.”

He took a folder and a book out of his briefcase. “Do you know that she died six weeks ago?”

Sorrow overtook my anger. I had only spent one day with this woman. I had seen all of the movies based on her detective, Mickey Forsythe, a rich man whose hobby was going around solving murder mysteries in his fancy sports car. I expected to meet a glamorous woman dripping in jewels and furs. Instead, she was dressed in slacks, cracked bawdy jokes, and reminded me of one of my favorite nuns at the Catholic school I had attended when I was as a child.

“I’m sorry to hear that,” I told him. “I liked her. She was a very nice lady.”

“I’m glad to hear you say that.” Ben smiled at me. “Because you’re her heir.”

Do you know when people say that they can’t believe their ears? Well, at that moment I could not believe what I heard. I really thought that I was hearing things. This little man in a sweaty ten-thousand dollar suit was telling me something other than what I was hearing because it could not be real. It just didn’t make sense. He had to tell me four times before I believed what I was hearing.

Still, it did not make sense.

“Robin Spencer has left you her entire estate,” he explained. “Roughly, it is valued at two-hundred-and-seventy million dollars.”

“Why me?” I found my voice to ask. “I barely knew her.”

“You were adopted … as a baby.”

I nodded. As numb as I felt, even that was so far in the past I barely remembered that I had been adopted. As a child, it had been a big deal. My adoptive parents wanted to me know that they had chosen me. I was wanted. Otherwise, my childhood was so normal, as normal as it can be for the son of an engineer who chucked engineering in favor of being an underpaid homicide detective.

“You are Robin Spencer’s son,” Ben Willingham announced. “She was only seventeen years old when she had you. Her parents, your grandparents, being socially prominent and wealthy, kept your birth a secret and had you put up for adoption. Robin never forgot you. She hunted you down, got a sample of your DNA while interviewing you a few years ago, confirmed that you were her son, and made you her beneficiary. She left you everything.”

He handed me the folder and book, which it turned out to be Robin Spencer’s journal. “Congratulations, Mac Faraday, you are now a very rich man.” He leaned in to whisper to me, “And your EX-wife has no right to any of it. I saw to that.” 

Ben then uttered the same evil chuckle that I think they teach lawyers in law school. Don’t get me wrong. I like Ben. I think it’s because he now works for me.

So, that is how it all began.

Robin, my mother, explained the circumstances of my birth in her journal, even giving me the name of my birth father, who was now deceased.

Patrick O’Callaghan and Robin were teenaged lovers. He had graduated from high school and went off to the police academy when she got pregnant. They wanted to get married, but her parents refused to permit it and sent my mother away to have me in secret.

Years later, after she had become a best-selling mystery author, Robin returned to Spencer where my father was now the chief of police, and married to another woman. He also had another son, David, my half-brother.

Yep, I have a brother. He’s working in law enforcement, too. Now that I know it runs in the blood, I don’t feel so weird. I always wanted a brother and now I had one. I also had a mansion on the shore of Deep Creek Lake in Spencer, Maryland, named after my ancestors.

So, with my newfound wealth, I retired from the police force, packed up my few belongings, and headed out to my new home on Deep Creek Lake.

That was where I met Archie Monday. Who’s Archie Monday? She was my mother’s research assistant and editor. She came with the house. It’s complicated, but not anymore. We’re getting married.

I also met Gnarly, another part of my inheritance. My mother’s German shepherd seems to think that the estate is his and he’s only letting me live here. That’s complicated, too. Even after all these years, it’s still complicated.

How was I to know that my move into the life of the rich and famous went launch a roller coaster ride of murder and mayhem? But you know what … I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

About A Wedding and a Killing

When Mac Faraday decides to do something, there’s no stopping him … even murder!

Not wanting to wait until their big day to start their life of wedded bliss, Mac Faraday and his lady love, Archie Monday, decide to elope to the little church where his ancestors had all married—along the tranquil shore of Deep Creek Lake. However, before they can say, “I do,” the sanctuary erupts into chaos when Gnarly finds a dead body in the church office.

As they dive into the investigation, Mac and his team discover more questions than answers. What kind of person walks into a church and shoots a man for no apparent reason? How do you solve the murder of a man who has no enemies in the world? Which of the seemingly kind-hearted church members is really a cold-blooded killer?

Then, there is the all-important question, how long do Mac Faraday and his lady love have to wait to get married?

Come back later today to see my review.

 

About Lauren Carr

Lauren Carr is the international best-selling author of the Mac Faraday, Lovers in Crime, and Thorny Rose Mysteries—over twenty titles across three fast-paced mystery series filled with twists and turns!

Book reviewers and readers alike rave about how Lauren Carr’s seamlessly crosses genres to include mystery, suspense, romance, and humor.

Lauren is a popular speaker who has made appearances at schools, youth groups, and on author panels at conventions. She lives with her husband, son, and four dogs (including the real Gnarly) on a mountain in Harpers Ferry, WV.

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