Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Guest Blog by Dawn Eastman and Review and Giveaway of A Fright to the Death - April 15, 2015

Please welcome Dawn Eastman to The Qwillery. A Fright to the Death, the 3rd Family Fortune Mystery, was published on April 7th.

Indulging the Muse

Writers like to amuse themselves. Particularly mystery writers. That mean grocery clerk? Victim number two in the next novel. Enjoy zip-lining? Write a murder disguised as a zip-lining accident. Like cookies? Set your novel in a bakery. Not every idea can be used, of course. For instance, I love chimpanzees but haven’t figured out how to incorporate them into a murder mystery, yet.

Sometimes an idea strikes and it just won’t let go, even if it seems impossible to fit it into the fictional world you have created. In 2010 I had the great fortune to spend several days in an Irish castle. It was beautiful. Idyllic. Serene. However, my mystery writing brain turns almost any setting into a murder scene. So, I sipped tea in the library while the original owner and his horse glowered at me from the portrait over the fireplace, and happily contemplated a murder mystery set in a secluded castle.

A few years later, I launched The Family Fortune Mystery series. It was set in Western Michigan, in a small town on the coast of Lake Michigan. There were pets, and psychics, and pet psychics. There were quirky characters, a romance or two, and murders. But there wasn’t a castle in sight.

And then I saw it. On the way to my favorite Michigan vacation spot I saw a billboard advertising a castle hotel. In Michigan. Even though I was in the middle of writing the second book in the series, Clyde Fortune and her family immediately began packing.

I delved further into the idea of American castles. It turns out, there are countless castles in the US. They might not be 800 years old, but many are surrounded by myth and legend. And a lot of them are haunted. For anyone who has read the first two books, you can imagine how excited Aunt Vi became at this news. What could be better than a haunted castle?

As the writer of this operation, I had to take control. The Fortune family couldn’t just pack up and go to a haunted castle and wait for a murder to occur. There were things to consider, logistics to arrange. Plus, I also really like knitting. If I was going to move everyone to a castle to indulge a whim, I might as well have some knitting. And just to complicate matters, I threw in a blizzard.

In A Fright to the Death, I stranded the gang in a haunted castle, in a blizzard, with no electricity or phones. And I added some exuberant knitters, just because it amused me. Not surprisingly, a murder occurred. I’m not going to tell you whether there were chimpanzees.

What is your favorite setting for a murder mystery? Do you ever imagine stories while vacationing? Would you read a story about chimpanzees who knit? I’d love to read about it in the comments below.

A Fright to the Death
Series:  A Family Fortune Mystery 3
Publisher:  Berkley, April 7, 2015
Format:  Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 304 pages
List Price:  $7.99 (print)
ISBN:  9780425264485 (print)
Review Copy:  Provided by the Publisher

From the author of Be Careful What You Witch For, here is the newest Family Fortune Mystery, starring former cop Clyde Fortune, who—snowbound with her kooky family in a creepy castle—is climbing the walls and combing the halls, looking for a cold-blooded killer…

After their flight to Mexico is cancelled, Clyde and her detective boyfriend, Mac, end up snowed in with their families at a supposedly haunted hotel. Clyde’s tarot card reading mother, Rose, is making dire predictions for the weekend, and self-proclaimed pet psychic Aunt Vi is enchanted by the legend of the hotel’s ghost—until the power goes out and a body turns up.

With a hotel full of stranded suspects, Clyde will have to draw on all her skills—both the police ones she’d rather forget and the psychic ones she’d rather ignore—to solve the bone-chilling mystery before someone else gets iced…

Qwill's Thoughts

A Fright to the Death is the 3rd novel in Dawn Eastman's Family Fortune Mysteries. Clyde and Mac are finally escaping Crystal Haven and their families for a much needed romantic vacation in Mexico when the weather interferes. They comically end up in the same hotel to which Clyde's Mom and her Aunt Vi as well as Mac's Mom have gone for a knitter's retreat. If that isn't bad enough, the hotel, which looks like a castle, is supposedly haunted. The blizzard hits. The power's out. Murder ensues. The phones don't work. The road is impassable. Since the local police can not be reached it's up to Clyde (on leave from the Ann Arbor police force) and Mac (Crystal Haven Police Detective) to solve the murder. Complicating things for Clyde and Mac is the large number of snowed-in suspects - the women at the knitter's retreat and the hotel staff. In addition, Aunt Vi wants to help Clyde and Mac solve the murder!

Eastman does a terrific job of dealing with a large number of characters while keeping the focus on Clyde, Mac and their families. Multiple people have motives for wanting to kill the murder victim. Mac and Clyde apply police techniques with a little help from Clyde's psychic abilities. She's learning to trust and use those abilities rather than run away from them. Clyde's mother and Aunt try to help by using their psychic powers try and figure out who did it. 

In addition to the well done murder mystery, there were some interesting subplots in the story that were revealed as a natural consequence of the trying to catch the murderer. In A Fright to the Death Mac and Clyde's lovely realistic relationship moves to another level - even with interfering relatives around. It was nice to see them working together for the first time. The family dynamics are very well done. While I sometimes find Aunt Vi annoying (like Clyde and Mac), I really came to like her in this novel.

There are all sorts of fun knitting touches in the novel. The yarn bombing contest is especially enjoyable and amusing.  Eastman does not rush the story and the pacing is just right, even with everyone's nerves jangled because of the murderer in their midst. This is a real whodunit with red herrings and false starts. I was surprised when the murderer was revealed!

A Fright to the Death is a wonderful addition to the Family Fortune Mysteries with an exceptional ensemble cast of characters, a creepy setting and an intriguing mystery.

About Dawn

When I was ten years old, my two favorite things were climbing trees and reading. As a bonus, I discovered if I combined the two, I could hide from my mother when she wanted me to clean my room. Nancy Drew and I spent many afternoons solving crimes and avoiding chores. Eventually, I moved on to Hercule Poirot, Sherlock Holmes, and Stephanie Plum. I improved my housework-dodging ploys.

After many years in Michigan, I now live in Iowa with my husband, son and daughter. When I'm not writing or chauffeuring kids, I keep busy catering to the whims of a bossy bichon-shih tzu mix who wants to rule the world.

Website  ~  Facebook  ~  Twitter @DawnAEastman

The Giveaway

What:  One entrant will win a Mass Market Paperback copy of A Fright to the Death by Dawn Eastman from the publisher. US ONLY

How:  Log into and follow the directions in the Rafflecopter below.

Who and When:  The contest is open to all humans on the planet earth with a US mailing address. Contest ends at 11:59 PM US Eastern Time on April 25, 2015. Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years old or older to enter.

*Giveaway rules and duration are subject to change.*

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Pall in the Family
A Family Fortune Mystery 1
Berkley, August 6, 2013
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 304 pages

The aptly named Crystal Haven is the destination for tourists seeking psychics, séances, and the promise of contacting the spirit world. In this small western Michigan town, everyone knows the Fortune family. Rose is gifted with tarot card readings. Her sister, Vi, is a self-proclaimed pet psychic. And Rose’s daughter Clyde is…

A cop. A cop on leave from Ann Arbor, more specifically, who’s come home to kooky Crystal Haven to reevaluate her life. Mom and Aunt Vi can’t wait for Clyde to finally embrace her own psychic gifts and join the family business. Clyde would prefer the low-stress lifestyle of a dog walker and the low-key company of her nephew, Seth.

But when a local psychic is killed, leaving behind a traumatized Shih Tzu, it seems to be in the cards for Clyde to get involved. With her old flame Mac leading the investigation, that may prove awkward. Whether she uses her skills as a cop or her long-denied psychic abilities, it’s up to Clyde to divine a killer’s identity before someone else suffers more misfortune.

Be Careful What You Witch For
A Family Fortune Mystery 2
Berkley, July 1, 2014
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 304 pages

Leaving a traumatic police career behind, Clyde Fortune has returned to her seemingly quiet hometown of Crystal Haven, Michigan. In spite of the psychic powers of its residents, there’s no telling what trouble is brewing in this burg…

The highlight of this year's fall festival in Crystal Haven is a bonfire with a witch’s cauldron resting over it. Clyde’s best friend, Diana, leads a ritual to divine the future, but it seems no one foresees that one of their own will drop dead—or that Diana will be a prime suspect.

Clyde already has her hands full with her eccentric family, runaway nephew, and burgeoning secret romance with a hunky homicide detective. But after another coven member is attacked, Clyde suspects there’s a witch hunt afoot and focuses her psychic and sleuthing skills to clear her friend’s name and catch a killer.


  1. Replies
    1. I agree! If it's in England, Scotland, or Ireland, I'm there! Do you have any favorite series set in England? I like the Rhys Bowen ones, Maisie Dobbs series, and Anne Cleeves. Plus all the mysteries on BBC.

      Thank you for stopping by!

  2. Actually, one of my favorite mystery set ups is this style. Whether an island, snowed in or a 'locked room' type of deal, I like how much more difficult that small pool of suspects is. Thanks for the chance to win.

  3. Locked room mysteries are a lot of fun! I found it more difficult to write because you really have to keep track of where all the characters are. But it was a fun, new challenge.

  4. Chimpanzees that knit seems a little far fetched to me---how about gorillas that knit--that I would try as a cozy mystery.

    1. I'll think about this gorilla angle...
      My mother once made a sweater that she said would only fit an orangutan because the sleeves grew so much.

  5. might read a book about chimpanzees that knit

    1. :) I might have to give this some serious consideration.

  6. I always make up stories in my head while on vacation, especially if I see a HOT guy!!! LOL!!!!

    1. LOL! You have to entertain yourself somehow while waiting for your plane, or train...Sounds like your stories are more romance than murder!

  7. Since I love chimpanzees, I would definitely read a book about chimpanzees who knit. dwelchert at yahoo dot com

    1. I love chimps as well. How fun would it be to try to teach them to knit? They'd probably use the needles to hunt for bugs.

  8. I think a story about chimps who knit would be so much fun! I wonder what kind of things they would think about knitting?

  9. I love small town settings, with quirky characters.