Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy 2013!

Do you have big plans to bring in the New Year?

I've celebrated the coming in of the New Year in many different ways.

Way back when my kids were little we always celebrated with root beer floats. Even though they are grown adults, grandparents themselves, they still equate root beer floats with New Year's celebration.

One New Year, when my husband was overseas, we had a big slumber party. All the neighbors' kids stayed the night at our house while their parents went out to celebrate. What was our big treat? Of course, root beer floats.

Later,  hubby and I celebrated New Year's by going to big celebrations with friends. One year on the Sea Bee base, another in a VFW hall, and lots of house parties, some we gave. Back in the day, we loved to dance, and every party included dancing of some sort--jitterbugging being our favorite.

Today, at this stage in our lives, we're quite happy to stay home and seldom make it to the midnight hour. We do still watch the Rose Parade though. We celebrate the day by having some of our family over for my New Year's day seafood stew with lots of shrimp and crablegs served over rice.

How do you celebrate?


Sunday, December 30, 2012

An Axe to Grind, #6 in the RBPD series

Until December 30th, An Axe to Grind is only .99 cents on Kindle! 


Blurb for An Axe to Grind:

Detective Doug Milligan and his partner question suspects in the murder of a stalker including the stalker’s target, her boyfriend, father and brother, as well as the stalker’s step-father. The investigation leaves little time for Doug to see his fiancée and fellow officer, Stacey Wilbur.

Stacey handles a molestation case which involves the son of a friend. She and her mother talk wedding plans, though all must wait until Doug’s renter, Officer Gordon Butler finds another place to live.

When Doug disappears while tailing a suspect, Stacey sets out to find him, hoping she can reach him time.


Right from the start, like Meredith does with all the books in this series, the reader is instantly drawn into the world of the Rocky Bluff P.D. Gordon Butler, who is usually the butt of many jokes around the station, is flagged down by a paperboy who has just discovered one of his customers looking more than a bit worse for wear. Butler is quickly becoming one of my favorite characters in this series because you just can’t help but feel sorry for everything that he manages to step into.

Doug and Stacey’s romance, which began in the previous installment of this series, No Sanctuary, continues with great difficulty in this one. One thing I’ve always said about the Rocky Bluff P.D. series is that Meredith does an excellent job of blending the personal and professional lives of the people working in the Rocky Bluff P.D. Whether it is Doug and Stacey, Abel Navarro and his wife Maria, Ryan Strickland, the Department’s public relations officer, and his wife Barbara, or any other member of this fictional police force, the author has created characters that you easily care about, just like they were your next door neighbors.

With her masterful storytelling, Meredith includes many twists and turns to keep you guessing who the real culprit is. But what I like best about all the Rocky Bluff P.D. books is that the pace doesn’t slow down. Every new clue leads to something else, and before you know it, you’re at the end of the book and eager to read more.

I impatiently await the next book in the Rocky Bluff P.D. series by F.M. Meredith!

(reviewed by Cheryl Malandrinos for The Book Connection)

* * *

 An Axe to Grind is another winner by author, F. M. Meredith.  Ms. Meredith has been fortunate to have police for neighbors and a son-in-law who is a police officer.  With these types of contacts, it's no wonder her mysteries have a ring of truth.  She has done her homework and every detail is well researched from the blood spatters on the wall to the condition of someone who is living on the streets.

An Axe to Grind takes place in Rocky Bluff, a small community located along the Pacific Coast.  While it's obvious the main characters have been introduced in earlier novels, Ms. Meredith quickly brings the reader up to speed through dialog and action.  We are taken on a fast-paced ride as Detectives Doug Milligan and Frank Marshall follow the clues to find out who decapitated Kenneth Buchelo.

As the clever detectives interview the suspects, we find any one of them has motive and all seem to lack a suitable alibi. Kenneth was a stalker who lived in a fantasy world.  As such, his victim's family and her fiancé are all prime suspects.  Could Rachel's father, a large and easily riled man, be capable of murder?  What about her brother, Mike?  He has a history of assault.  Or, could it be Rachel's fiancé, a possessive man who clearly had a grudge against Kenneth Buchelo.

Then, too, Kenneth's own foster father had words with the strange young man shortly before his death.   Oddly, the dad doesn't offer the detectives an alibi, but gets angry when pushed for his whereabouts at the time of the murder.

Underlying the search for the murderer and the weapon are subplots cleverly interwoven into the story.  Detective Milligan is engaged to Stacy Wilbur, head of Vice for Rocky Bluff PD.  They're having their own problems trying to get married since another officer, Gordon Butler, is living in Doug's house and seems to have no where to go.  Ryan Strickland, the Department's Public Relations Officer, also encounters problems at home when his wife's son discloses sexual abuse.

Read An Axe to Grind to see if the detectives find out who killed Kenneth Buchelo before the murderer can strike again.

--Reviewed by Penny Ehrenkranz
“I loved this book from the first few pages! Nothing like a good decapitation to get the vibes and imagination rolling! Doug and Stacy are trying to plan a wedding but between working their own individual cases, (both are cops) trying to nicely get Dougs friend Gordon to move out from his home so he and Stacy can live there when married, and her family really not all that into him they have their work cut out for them. Doug follows a lead on his own and winds up missing with Stacy desperatley trying to find him but could she be too late when his MG is found in a lagoon at the college campus?

This was my first book from F.M. Meredith but I hope to go back and get all the Dark Oak Mysteries and get caught up on what has happened to this point. Very easy dialogue and interesting plot lines!”–Jen’s Book Talk

* * *
(This review was one of my favorites.)

Who ever thought reading about a decapitated corpse couldn’t be funny hasn’t read, “An Axe To Grind, A Dark Oak Mystery”  by F.M. Meredith.

No, it’s not a comedy and the murder isn’t funny. I’m guessing F.M. Meredith didn’t write this to focus on the comic side.

However, author F.M. Meredith has found a way to write a gripping murder mystery while including enough light-hearted moments that the book isn’t dark and ominous. The story centers around the death of Kenneth Buchelo. When his decapitated body is found by the paperboy, detectives of the Rocky Bluff Police Department are called in. As Detectives Doug Mulligan and Frank Marshall begin their investigation, they find Buchelo lived in a fantasy world constantly telling lies about his life. In addition, they discover he’s a stalker.

While working on the case, Detective Mulligan is also trying to work on wedding plans with his fiancée Stacey Wilbur, a Vice Detective. The main obstacle in the plans is Mulligan’s house guest, Officer Gordon Butler.

Herein lies the fun part of this book. The old saying, “If it wasn’t for bad luck, I won’t have any luck at all” applies to Officer Butler. The man seems to have the worst luck and it’s never his fault. Some of the situations he gets into, you can’t help but laugh.

There are several minor stories going on in the background at the same time as the investigation, but the author ties them all together nicely. There are no lose ends nor rocky transitions from one case to the murder and back again.

The focus on the murder will keep you on the edge of your seat. There are quite a few prime suspects who have a motive for killing Buchelo including two family members of the girl he was stalking. In addition, there are several other people that make you suspect they might have motive too.

The plot is fast pace with just enough suspense to keep you guessing. The characters are likable and by the end of the book you’re wondering what case the detectives will be working on next.

“An Axe To Grind” is the sixth book in the Rocky Bluff Police Department series. This is a stand alone book that doesn’t have to be read in order. There are references to earlier incidents from the previous books, but the reader isn’t left in the dark if they haven’t read them. The references are just enough to peak your interest to make you want to read the other books.

Author F.M. Meredith has created a great group of officers in the Rocky Bluff P.D. They’ll make you feel safe and secure as they solve their latest murder mystery.

One final note. I don’t know if F.M. Meredith meant to have a humorous side to her story or not. If not, I hope this doesn’t offend her. I haven’t seen the book mentioned as a cozy or light-hearted mystery anywhere.

However, to me the humor is a part of it. It by no means takes away from the murder mystery. To me it enhances the story. Be sure to pick up a copy and read it yourself. See what you think and let me know. –Mason Canyon, Thoughts in Progress

* * *
The newest addition in the Rocky Bluff P.D. series, An Axe to Grind, is a story guaranteed to draw the reader in from the beginning and keep them hooked until the very end. Though sixth in the series, An Axe to Grind can easily be read as a stand alone. I am able to state this as a fact, simply because I have yet to read any of the other books in this series, yet had absolutely no trouble following along with the characters and understanding what was going on and why. After reading this one, however, I do plan on going back to the beginning and reading all the way through this series. This is not because I was lost at any time, but simply because I quickly came to care for the characters and greatly desire to discover their background stories. In addition to wanting to learn more about the characters, I also greatly enjoyed F.M. Meredith's writing style, the way she is able to bring the story to life and really engage the reader in every aspect and at every turn.

In An Axe to Grind, there are a couple of different story lines going on, all of which bring the characters together and, for the reader, is a bit like living within this small town and seeing and hearing what is going on with friends. The main storyline is the murder mystery of a decapitated young man who, while alive, had some serious delusional issues going on (aka, he enjoyed making up his own life, as he went along). He is found in his home, minus head, which happens to be made as a table centerpiece. The suspect list is rather long, including an adoptive father, boyfriend, father and brother of a girl the victim just happened to be stalking. As the Rocky Bluff P.D. gather clues and try to fit the pieces together, Detective Doug Milligan, one of the detectives on the case, feels as though something is missing and that things are not exactly as they seem to be. Following up on his hunch, Doug goes in search of answers, only to disappear and have his life put in grave danger. Will his fiancee Stacy, also part of the Rocky Bluff P.D., be able to find Doug before it is too late, or will she have to put behind a life with Doug and a soon to be new marriage, before it even had a chance to start?

In addition to this addicting murder mystery, there is also a case of a soccer coach, who just happens to also be a pedophile, the coming together of plans for Doug and Stacy's marriage and life together, as well as what is going on with other characters and officers of the Rocky Bluff P.D.

Author F.M. Meredith has a delightful and wonderful writing style and voice that will instantly click with readers male or female. Her writing is in-depth and really speaks of police procedure research, making her story even more authentic and enjoyable. While reading, I found myself utterly hooked and unable to place the book aside, without yearning to return. The flow of the story is smooth, believable and just plain excellent. An Axe to Grind is the perfect book to curl up with and lose yourself in for a couple of hours!

--Café of Dreams

* * *
An Axe To Grind, A Dark Oaks Mystery, by F.M. Meredith has quite a clever plot filled with delightful and interesting characters and enough suspects and plot twists to keep the reader quite engaged. The story opens up at the scene of a homicide; the victim of which the police later learn is a man who has been stalking Rachel Rivera. However, An Axe To Grind is far more than a mystery, it is a story about the families of the Rocky Bluff Police Department and how their work affects their personal lives and how their personal lives affect their work. Meredith has created an absolutely delightful cast of characters for her novel. From levelheaded to quirky and from demure to downright scary, Meredith takes the reader to Rocky Bluff and makes the reader feel as though the characters are quite real. I was extremely delighted to learn this novel is the 6th in the Rocky Bluff PD series, which means I can read backwards to learn more about Navarro, Butler, Marshall, Mulligan, Wilbur and the rest. The good news for any mystery fan is that An Axe To Grind reads well as a stand-alone book, so do not hesitate, jump in and meet the officers of the Rocky Bluff Police Department, you just may find yourself delightfully entertained for an hour or two.–Rundpenne Blog

As this was the first book my F. M. Meredith I have read, I did not know what to expect, but was eagerly anticipating a great read! I was not disappointed. As I began to read An Axe To Grind, I was immediately drawn in to the world of Detective Doug Milligan and all the rest of the great cast of characters in this book. This book is not only one about solving mysteries, but also about relationships and how work and personal lives intertwine. I realize that this book is the sixth in the Rocky Bluff P.D. Series, and yet I had no trouble reading An Axe To Grind as a stand alone novel. That said, I will definitely be looking at reading the rest of the series, as I was very impressed with the writing style of Meredith and I was very impressed that my attention was held throughout this book. I highly recommend it and give it a huge thumbs up! –A Mom After God’s Own Heart

* * *
AN AXE TO GRIND by Marilyn Meredith (From the Rocky Bluff PD series)
One reason I love these novels is because of the unique writing design. The story is told through the experiences and thoughts of several Rocky Bluff officers. Progress toward solving cases (this time the brutal murder and de-capitation of a stalker) happens as we learn what each is doing and thinking. It's somewhat
like putting a patchwork quilt together in a harmonious pattern. The multiple point of view writing works, though of course it can't be "smooth as silk." The interesting progression isabsolutely captivating. We get to know the officers quite well, including the two main ones depicted--one male, one female--who may
or may not manage to get married. Eventually. I recommend this novel to any mystery reader here, no matter
what "type" in the genre you enjoy most. It crosses many lines, I --think. AN AXE TO GRIND, by Marilyn Meredith.
-- posted on DorothyL by Radine Trees Nehring

AN AXE TO GRIND is the sixth of F. M. Meredith’s Rocky Bluff PD series.  The previous five, in order, are FINAL RESPECTS, BAD TIDINGS, FRINGE BENEFITS, SMELL OF DEATH, and NO SANCTUARY (which I reviewed on this site a year ago).

When I first heard of the series, I thought it was about a private detective named Rocky Bluff, which struck me as a hackneyed-sounding name.  I realized PD stands for ‘police department’ only when I started to read NO SANCTUARY.  Rocky Bluff is a good name for a small fictional community on the California coast.
I enjoy Meredith’s unforced prose.

Sergeant Abel Navarro is looking at a man whose head has been cut off, and he summarizes, “Including the missing head, he would be around five-foot-ten.” The arrival of Detective Frank Marshall leads to this exchange: 

“Do we know the identity of the victim?”

“Nope, haven’t touched a thing, “ Abel said, and hoped he didn’t have to.

“Know where the head is?”

“No, but I didn’t look for it either.”

The people of Rocky Bluff are as real as your neighbors.  Meredith is the American version of England’s Barbara Pym, a writer known for characterization and sketches of village life.  Of course Pym’s books are comedies of manners and Meredith’s are murder mysteries, but good characters and good stories are what make any genre work.

The plot of AN AXE TO GRIND engages the reader comfortably.  The beheaded man was a lout who had been stalking a young woman, so her protective brother, her hot-headed father  and her jealous boyfriend all make interesting suspects.

The Rocky Bluff PD books are police procedurals given depth by attention to how the officers’ personal lives are affected by their work.  Over the course of the series, there are deaths, divorces, and weddings.  Friendships are made then, in the next book, frayed.  Each book is a stand-alone, and they needn’t be read in order, although I know many mystery fans insist on doing that.  It may be a bit better to do that, but I haven’t and I’ve enjoyed the three I have read thus far.
–Reviewer, J. Michael Orenduff

Saturday, December 29, 2012

No Sanctury, #5 in the RBPD series

Until December 30th, No Sanctuary is available on Kindle for only .99 cents.

By this time I’d written No Sanctuary, I’d lost two publishers for the Rocky Bluff P.D. series. Fortunately, I’d made friends with Billie Johnson, the owner and publisher of Oak Tree Books. I’d signed a contract soon after that.

No Sanctuary Blurb:  Two churches, two ministers, two murders, one murder.


A car accident or a murder? That is the question Officer Stacey Wilbur faces when she finds a car smashed into a tree while working the night shift for the Rocky Bluffs Police Department. Stacey immediately phones Detective Doug Milligan who responds to the scene. It doesn’t take long to figure out that the victim had been shot in the head.

The victim is identified as Mallory Cookmeyer, wife of a prominent local minister. Rev. Paul Cookmeyer is shocked to hear of his wife’s death but can offer no suggestions as to who might want her dead. As Doug and Stacey and the other detectives work the case they find that there are a number of suspects including Paul Cookmeyer, his secretary, Ms Danfelt, the choir director, a minister of another church as well as that minister’s wife. When it is revealed that Mallory was pregnant, the case becomes even more complicated.

Stacey and Doug work together but are also romantically involved. Their relationship has not progressed rapidly since Stacey has a young son to rush home too and since they both work different shifts, their hours make dating difficult.

No Sanctuary is a good mystery with a bit of a surprise ending. Peeks into the lives of some of the other officers in the department make for interesting reading. Stacey leaves the investigation for a brief stint as an undercover officer, which adds another dimension to the story.


 * * *
Riveting, fast-paced, and filled with twists and turns, No Sanctuary by F.M. Meredith is a crime fiction reader's dream.

Officer Stacey Wilbur is the first on the scene of a one-car accident. A green Toyota has smashed into an oak tree and the female driver is dead. But it soon becomes obvious that the accident is a cover up for murder.

The victim is the wife of a popular local minister, and her preacher husband soon becomes the most likely suspect. Gossip in town tells of trouble in their marriage, but as Stacey and Doug start putting pieces together, they find several other likely suspects who could have wanted Mallory Cookmeyer dead.

Called away from the case to work on a special assignment, Stacey is faced with decisions that will impact her career and her budding romance with Doug Milligan, and most likely, put her in harm’s way.

When we last heard from Stacey Wilbur in Smell of Death, she had broken her long-standing rule of never dating anyone she works with and entered into a relationship with Doug. This gives an already strong character even more depth. A widow, she has been caring for her son Davey with the help of her parents, while trying to juggle a challenging and dangerous career. Having lost her husband in the line of duty, a relationship with Doug offers similar dangers, but it's really their difficult work schedules that make nurturing their relationship tough on Doug and Stacey.

One of the things that Meredith does best with the Rocky Bluff P.D. series is show not only the official side to her characters, but also how working in law enforcement impacts these people's lives--not just the members of the police force, but also their families. I could easily see these books being turned into a television crime series.

Meredith is also wise in making each one truly a stand-alone book. These stories focus on different members of the Rocky Bluff P.D. These aren't just Stacey's stories; they are Doug's, Gordon Butler's, Abel Navarro's, Rick Strickland's, and others who are or were part of the Rocky Bluff P.D.

There are many twists and turns in No Sanctuary, as the reader is led to believe it might be the husband, but then it might be someone on his staff or someone from the church. And this mystery propels the story forward to an exciting and satisfying conclusion.

* * *
As with Smell of Death--which we reviewed here--Meredith breaks up all the seriousness with a bit of humor. This time it is mostly brought on by Officer Gordon Butler who rents a room from Doug and who happens to walk in on Doug and Stacey at the worst times. In addition, the banter between Doug and Stacey about the outfit she chooses for her special assignment lightens things up and makes the reader want to see more of these two together in the future.

A fast and suspense-filled read for crime lovers. Pick up a copy of No Sanctuary today!–Cheryl Malandrinos, The Book Connection

* * *

"F.M. Meredith’s novel reads like a “who done it” Agatha Christie novel with murder, mystery, intrigue and plenty of suspects. The small town of Rocky Bluff has a hard time coming to grips with the murder of the local pastor’s wife. It registers a shock for all townspeople and even more baffling for the Rocky Bluff Police Department who can’t seem to come up with any leads even though there are a lot of suspects. Secondary to the main story is a second crime taking place that the main character Officer Stacy Wilbur must handle delicately for all those involved. As a police officer, she often has to make quick decisions—usually they are the right ones, but sometimes she finds herself in a situation that will take all of her abilities to figure out an escape route.

As Officer Stacy Wilbur does her best to balance life between her son and work she has a hard time dealing with her apparent interest in Detective Doug Milligan, of which she vowed she would not let happen. In the end she makes a decision that is better for the benefit of her son and herself.

Apart from the fact that No Sanctuary involves a murder, a suicide and cheating spouses it deserves a PG 13 rating. It’s refreshing to read a book that can illustrate police work without gruesome violence, annoying car chases and snappy, clichéd comments. " Rebecca Camarena, The Real Hollywood.

* * *
“What grabbed me most about this book and makes me want to go back and read the other Rocky Bluff tales is the fabulous cast of characters that Meredith has developed for the reader to get to know. As a writer she has a way of putting the reader in the character's shoes so that they feel like they are part of the very intriguing storyline that plays out.

I know just when I thought I had figured it out I was surprised to find I was wrong and cheering for the lead character Stacey as she came to the dramatic conclusions.
If you are a mystery buff this is a must read series to look for.” –Review by The Library at the End of the Universe
 * * *
Three ½ Paws

F. M. Meredith’s Rocky Bluff series set in California falls somewhere between police procedural and the character importance and lighter reading more typical of the cozy. Police officer Stacey Wilbur has a five year old son and lives with her parents. Her love interest is homicide detective Doug, who shares a house with another cop Gordon. Gordon’s enthusiasm for the job leads him to funny encounters and provides comic relief. Sgt. Abel Navarro deals with his own home situation. The varied family life of each officer adds a lot of interest to the story.

Stacey finds a car that has hit a tree. Inside, a woman's body that is eventually recognized as the wife of a local clergyman. She has been shot. Investigation turns to a second minister and wife. Are these couples swingers or is something else involved here?

Other crimes are being investigated as well, and as a result of her work on a special investigation, Stacey is offered a promotion. Meredith offers an interesting look at police work from the viewpoint of the individuals involved.   Shirley - RAM at Books Bytes

Hail, fellow readers!

Before you pick up a book by F.M. Meredith, do yourself a favor—reserve time for an uninterrupted read. Once you start reading, you won’t want to stop.  No matter the topic, this author has an undeniable gift for hooking readers from page one and not letting go until its conclusion.  No Sanctuary delivers well-developed characters and an intriguing plot with a surprising twist at the end. Congratulations, F.M. Meredith, on another winner.  No Sanctuary qualifies as a fast and satisfying read.  Loved it! -- Karen Kavanagh, former Co-president of Sisters in Crime-CCC

Subject: SMELL OF DEATH by F. M. (Marilyn) Meredith

WOW, what a fabulous book! In the very beginning I wondered if I was going to enjoy this book as much as I have Marilyn's other novels, but before long I was absolutely gripped by the unique plot and didn't want to put it down to work, eat, or sleep. Truly.

The main character is Officer Stacey Wilbur. But other officers in the department are along for the ride and a thrilling ride it is. The books slips easily from one to another of the men working in the RBPD, letting each tell his story (Stacey seems to be the only female officer) and bringing family members and situations into the plot. Point of view moves smoothly from life to life as we learn the problems and joys--at home and at work--that the several officers face. They are working on several cases, and we go back and forth from one to another, making progress, experiencing frustrations, and always digging and digging for clues and answers. It’s like the world's best ride-along!

I became involved with each of the men and their families--not to mention Stacey and her growing relationship with Detective Doug Milligan--and felt I understood very well much of what a law enforcement career involves. It goes right along with and helps verify all I have learned from my law officer friends and my own research into the life of Henry King, (from the "To Die For" series) now retired from the Kansas City Police Department. My next series novel is set partly in two police departments, Van Buren, AR (small town) and Kansas City (very large department) so this was a wonderful return to all that I enjoyed discovering while writing that story.

Anyone who has the slightest interest in anything to do with police work will love SMELL OF DEATH by F. M. Meredith. As you can tell, I sure did.

I can't recommend this book highly enough. Give it a few pages and you'll be hooked like I was.

–Radine Trees Nehring

To buy No Sanctuary:
Available in paper or on Kindle.