Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Guest Blog by Jennifer McAndrews and Review and Giveaway of Death Under Glass - July 15, 2015

Please welcome Jennifer McAndrews to The Qwillery. Death Under Glass, the 2nd Stained-Glass Mystery, was published on July 7th by Berkley.

This past spring I had the pleasure of attending Malice Domestic, a convention for lovers of traditional mysteries. At registration time, I checked ‘yes’ on the box asking if I would be willing to participate in a panel. Or maybe it’s more of checking yes equals requesting to be on a panel. In either case, rather than participate on a panel I was given a slot at the convention’s Author Alley -- a fifteen minute presentation by one author.

I had never actually attended an Author’s Alley presentation and nearly went into a panic when I had to provide a title and blurb. What could I tell people about my Stained Glass Mystery series that wasn’t obvious from reading Ill-Gotten Panes? What could I tell them about Death Under Glass that wouldn’t give away the ending?

I seized upon an idea -- a behind-the-scenes look, if you will, at the fictional town of Wenwood, New York and some of its citizens. Because even if a book is complete fiction, the inspiration comes from somewhere. And when you have to create a whole town, there’s no better place to start than in your own back yard. (Figuratively, of course. I don’t actually have a back yard, but that’s for a different blog post.)

The little downtown shopping street in the village of Wenwood is--no surprise--based loosely on the little shopping street in my home town. Or, more specifically, that street as it was when I was younger, with a couple of tweaks. I changed the donut shop into Grace’s luncheonette, added an antiques store, and resurrected a pharmacy that had long since closed down.

I put a walnut tree behind the grocery store. And yes, that walnut tree does--or did--exist in my everyday life, though it didn’t grow near the grocery. It grew, instead, across the street from the library but unfortunately was lost to Superstorm Sandy. So it makes me somehow happy that the tree plays such a role in Ill Gotten Panes. It’s almost like it lives on. (Yes, I became attached to a tree. What of it?)

The real-life parallels weren’t limited to that first book, though. In Death Under Glass, we meet Gabe--the former brother-in-law of main character Georgia’s best friend. In the text, Gabe is described as somewhat, um, larger than life. But in reality, the physical aspect of Gabe matches that of one of my husband’s cousins. Luckily, the cousin is a whole lot nicer than … wait. I don’t want to give anything away *wink*

But without doubt, the biggest parallel between real life and books is the character of Georgia’s grandfather. I knew when I created the character that I wanted Georgia to call him something other than “Pop” or “Grandpa” or any other common names. That was a nod to my own grandfather. I settled on Grandy, which felt awkward at first but really grew on me. Of course, he needed a given name, too, the kind of name you might find on a driver’s license. And here’s where I get a little confused…

I named the character Pete. That was my grandfather’s name. I honestly don’t remember whether I grabbed the name intentionally, or put it in as a placeholder thinking I would change it later, or whether it was a full on brain lapse. Whatever the cause, he became--and remains--Pete. And my sisters and my cousins are happy to have our Pete remembered this way. So when it came time to give Grandy’s dearly departed wife a name in Death Under Glass, the solution was obvious. Yup, she got my grandmother’s name. I would tell you what it is but… spoilers.

But regardless all of that, what I find most gratifying is the number of people who have told me I captured their home town main street perfectly. For me, that means there’s something in the pages that readers are relating to, and maybe, just maybe, they’re as comfortable in the fictional town of Wenwood as they are at home.

Then there’s--

oh, but wait. I really can’t talk about that without giving too much away.

Happy reading!

Death Under Glass
A Stained-Glass Mystery 2
Berkley, July 7, 2015
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 304 pages

In the latest novel from the author of Ill-Gotten Panes, Georgia Kelly has made a home for herself and her stained glass business in Wenwood, New York. But not everything in the sleepy Hudson River town is as transparent as it seems…

While Georgia has come to love her new hometown, her stained glass windows haven’t exactly been raking in the dough. So when her best friend, Carrie, offers her the opportunity to create a made-to-order window for Wenwood’s latest bed and breakfast, Georgia jumps at the chance.

But when Carrie’s ex-husband’s office suddenly burns to the ground and Carrie’s own office and apartment are robbed, Georgia has to put down her glass and cutter to get to the bottom of the trouble. Carrie insists she doesn’t have enemies, but Georgia is determined to do everything in her power to find out who’s targeting her friend—and why—before anyone else’s life is smashed to pieces…

Jennifer's Review

The second novel in Jennifer McAndrews’ Stained-Glass Mystery Series is entitled Death Under Glass. This installment finds Georgia Kelly settling into life in small town Wenwood, New York, making friends and pondering whether to stay with her grandpa, Pete, or attempt to rebuild her high finance life in the city. While these things percolate in her mind, Georgia uses her energy to help her new friend Carrie, who has been experiencing a string of arson and vandalism associated with her own business and that of her ex-husband. Whoever is terrorizing Carrie has gone another step, murdering her ex’s law partner, and Georgia is worried that Carrie could be next on the criminal’s list.

As are so many other heroines in a new mystery series, Georgia is at a crossroads and must soon make a decision where she wants her life to go. She is finding small town living more appealing, feeling more and more at home, making friends, and even contemplating romance. She has entered into a partnership with Carrie, who is the owner of a local antiques stop. Georgia makes custom stained glass pieces for Carrie to sell in her store and online, in exchange, Georgia makes some much needed cash and gets to practice the craft she has come to adore. Georgia presents as a courageous woman, with brazen red curls to match her fiery personality. I picture her as a grown up, modern Merida from Disney’s Brave, full of zest, but sometimes a bit misguided.

Carrie figures highly in this book, being the focus of the mystery. Carrie is still smarting from her divorce, but puts up a brave front, expanding her business and socializing. She is a loyal friend and is sweet and friendly. Georgia’s granddad, whom she calls Grandy, is a crusty but lovable old guy. He is often gruff, but still charming, and is a bit old-fashioned. Georgia has also renewed a childhood friendship with Diana, a former cheerleader who is now on the town’s police force. Diana is beautiful but has a biting personality, trying very hard to work on her anger management issues. Georgia also meets Trudy, an elegant and proper older woman who knew Georgia’s late grandmother. Trudy is opening a new bed and breakfast in town and, through Carrie, who will be furnishing the inn with classic antique pieces, commissions Georgia to create a one of a kind stained glass window to go above her front door.

We also get to know more townspeople and others that are related to the mystery. Diana’s aunt Grace is a waitress at the local diner and good naturedly spars with diner patron, Tom, who is a nice old man who is slipping towards senility, but is always ready for a good, long chin-wag. Drew Able, Pete’s attorney, is also becoming a friend and employer to Georgia, who offers to use her organizational and accounting skills to help him get his backlog of files and billing organized. Carrie’s cheating ex husband, Russ, is also an attorney and is as self-absorbed as they come, even when facing the arson of his office building, the ransacking of Carrie’s shop and apartment, and his partner’s murder; he is much more interested in keeping his new fiancée happy. Gabe is Russ’s brother and a complete toad, with the bearing of a Neanderthal and views on women that are just as dated. The reader only meets Herb, Russ’s partner, once before he is murdered, but he comes off as a very sweet and gentle man. Curtis is a volunteer fireman for the town; he has an unkempt look and is standoffish. Georgia’s romantic prospects both appear in the first book in the series. Detective Chris Nolan is slightly older, with a distinguished air and a no nonsense attitude when it comes to crime. He is well spoken and kind to Georgia, even when she exasperates him by injecting herself into his investigations. Tony Himmel, the builder tasked with revitalizing the town with a brand new marina and restaurant, is suave, handsome and confident.

The storyline moves at a good pace, neither lightning fast nor too slow. The action and excitement builds in the last few chapters to a very satisfying ending. The author goes into just enough detail on the planning and making of Georgia’s stained glass projects, keeping the descriptions easy to understand but interesting. There is a solid foundation upon which to build a series. The characters have depth and can be fleshed out with larger back stories in future installments, and the fate of Georgia’s love life still needs to be determined. Will it be the suave and sophisticated Tony or the good hearted and protective Detective? I’ll be interested to see if Georgia chooses the man I’d like to see her with and am looking forward to the next book in the series.


Ill-Gotten Panes
A Stained-Glass Mystery 1
Berkley, July 1, 2014
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 304 pages


Stained-glass aficionado Georgia Kelly packed up her city life for the quiet of small town Wenwood, New York. But the sleepy village’s peace is about to get shattered—by murder…

After a banking scandal loses Georgia her job and fiancé, she decides that a change of scenery will help piece her life back together. But escaping to her grandfather’s house in the old-fashioned, brick-making Hudson River hamlet of Wenwood, New York, turns out to be less relaxing than she expects. Not only is the close-knit community on edge about their beloved brickworks being turned into a marina to draw in tourists, one of those most opposed to the project winds up dead—cracked over the head with a famous Wenwood brick.

Georgia wouldn’t be broken up over the news except for the fact that the main suspect is the deceased’s biggest adversary—her grandfather. Now, to remove the stain from her grandy’s record, Georgia will have to figure out who in town was willing to kill to keep the renovation project alive, before someone else is permanently cut out of the picture…

About Jennifer

Jennifer McAndrews has been writing since the seventh grade and totally refuses to divulge how many years have passed since then.

After serving on the newspaper and dabbling in spectacularly bad poetry during high school, she took creative writing classes at Nassau Community College and studied the art of the essay under the tutelage of the incomparable June Jordan while at SUNY Stony Brook. In her professional life, Jennifer has worked in legal, medical, and scientific publishing, but is dedicated to fiction in her private life. She lives in the greater New York Metro area with three dogs, four cats, kids, husband, and dumbo rat called Owen.

Jennifer is currently at work on the next book in her Stained Glass Mystery series as well as the follow-up to Deadly Farce.

Website  ~   Twitter @jenmcandrews

The Giveaway

What:  One entrant will win a Mass Market Paperback copy of Death Under Glass by Jennifer McAndrews from the publisher. US ONLY

How:  Log into and follow the directions in the Rafflecopter below. Note that comments are moderated.

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 July 24, 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


  1. Looks fantastic, love the cover, hope to get a chance to read it :)

  2. This delightful book would be very enjoyable and special. Thanks for this great feature and wonderful giveaway. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

  3. I hadn't heard of this series before now, but I'm having a cozy mystery summer so I've put the first book on my wishlist.

  4. I've always been intrigued by stained glass windows and decorative pieces. My grandmother's house where I grew up had a small stained glass window over the fake fire place. I'd love to win this book though just because I enjoy a good mystery and it would find a great home in my private library.

  5. I love how you sprinkled your real life into your books. You made the small main street, the shops and the people really come alive. They remind me of my town's 'square' which is a 4 block square around the town's courthouse.

    I've thoroughly enjoyed Ill Gotten Gains and I can't wait to gobble up Death Under Glass.

  6. this series is on my Wish List......
    thank you for the giveaway............

  7. Loved the first:) Can't wait to read the second. Thank you

  8. this sounds interesting. Going to go check out the first book in the series.