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In$urance to Die For (A John Smith Mystery) by Charlotte Stuart is a Stress Busting Festival pick #mystery #humorousmystery #newrelease #giveaway

Title: In$urance to Die For (A John Smith Mystery)


Author: Charlotte Stuart  


Genre: Mystery/humor


Book Blurb:


If laughter is the best medicine, John Smith belongs in everyone’s medicine cabinet


In In$urance to Die For, nondescript claims adjuster John Smith finds himself with more enemies than Harry Potter. The local crows declare war on him. His mother gives him a kitten who hates him. He ticks off the company’s art appraiser by going behind her back for a second opinion. Then there’s the scam artist and, of course, the murderer.


Add to the mix a poker game in which John’s poker buddies sign him up on a dating app, a hottie client who knows how to get what she wants, a drone spying on a neighborhood filled with secrets, an attempt to free a hostage that goes sideways, and an AHA moment that occurs just minutes too late . . . and you have a twisty plot liberally sprinkled with humor.




Chapter 1 – Crow Spite


The crow divebombed me. I screamed “scram, shoo, go away” and waved my arms like an out-of-control windmill. The malicious bird did its “caw-ca-caw” chuckle as it took another pass. At least I was wearing a baseball cap so it couldn’t pull out more hair. The chunk it took a couple days ago made me look like I was getting bald from the side of my head.


The blasted bird jabbed my cap as I opened the door on my yellow 2001 Saturn and quickly jumped inside. Then I slammed the door and made a face at my attacker as it flew off. “Damn dinosaur throwback,” I said to no one in particular. Before I’d seen the chart at the museum about how birds have evolved from carnivorous dinosaurs, I hadn’t thought much about crow ancestry. Now each time I raced from my houseboat to my car or vice versa, I felt like an extra in a Jurassic Park sequel.


Maybe I needed to start wearing a disguise when outside in the houseboat community where I lived. At least until those damn crows forgot how I’d destroyed the nest they built in the tree next to my parking spot. Bird poop can ruin paint, so I had to do something. It wasn’t until I poked the nest with a broom handle and the whole thing came tumbling down, spilling broken olive-green eggshells across the parking platform, that I regretted my action. But then it was too late. And now it wasn’t safe for me on the path to my mailbox or to and from my car.


I backed out of my narrow parking space, turned on the radio and started singing along with Beyonce while tapping the beat on my steering wheel with both hands: “I’m in the mood . . .” Tap, tap, “missing.” Tap, tap, “prescription.” I started keeping time to the music with my right foot, the Saturn jerking along, a syncopated dance step for Firestone tires. There wasn’t much traffic for once, and I was in a good mood if not the mood. Not that I was entirely sure what the song was all about.


When I reached the freeway, Beyonce quit singing and I quit tapping, although I still occasionally warbled a phrase to blot out the news that had come on at the top of the hour. I was on my way to a work assignment as a claims adjuster for Universal Heartland Liability and Casualty Assurance Company of America, Incorporated—“The Company with a Heart.”  Being a claims adjuster isn’t as exciting as you might think; I spend a lot of time on paperwork. So, getting out of the office to visit a client almost feels like a mini vacation, a road trip in my sunshine bright car.


Today I was headed out of the busy city across two bridges and an island to the other side of the lake. It would only take about forty minutes to get there, but time spent out of the office was like playing hooky. That was the one good thing about laws against driving and talking on the phone or texting—my employer didn’t expect me to work en route. Nor was I obligated to answer if they tried to get in touch; it was understood that if I was in my car, they needed to leave a message. There was nothing to do but enjoy.


Well, admittedly it wasn’t 100 percent pleasure. There were gigantic trucks whose wall-like presence made me feel like I was driving with blinders on, gas fumes seeping in through the vents, stop-and-go traffic that made me curse my manual transmission, rocks leaping out of nowhere to attack my windshield, and large potholes that could swallow a tire in one gulp. In some ways it was like being behind the wheel on an online driving simulation game where you never knew what to expect. Still, it beat sitting behind a desk staring at a mountain of paperwork.


In the year I’d been at Universal I’d focused mostly on car accident claims, a lot of fender benders, some justified by weird explanations that didn’t require much investigation. “No one should put a chicken coop that close to a busy road.” “It was foggy, or I never would have missed the turn and ended up driving into his house.” “I’d turned off my hearing aid to avoid listening to my wife talk about her relatives, so I didn’t hear the aid car.” “I wasn’t actually drinking, unless you call having a couple of glasses of wine drinking.” “I’m sure I would have noticed if I’d fallen asleep at the wheel.” “They must have just put up that telephone pole.”


I’d also handled some theft of personal property claims. According to my boss, they were the reason I was being given the opportunity to take on jewelry and painting appraisals and losses. The person who normally did that work had left the company. The opportunity to take over his assignments surprised and pleased me. It was a cozy niche with job security. Of course, I didn’t know much about jewelry or paintings—well, actually, I knew next to nothing about either. Except for my class ring and watch, I didn’t own any jewelry. And I was fairly certain nothing painted on velvet counted as insurable art. But then I hadn’t known much about cars either when I joined the company. Even if they wanted me to take some classes, I wouldn’t mind. Trinkets and pictures—that didn’t sound too complicated.


Buy Links:



Coming soon to other retailers very soon!


What’s your favorite way to combat stress?


Reading a book instead of cleaning the house. Going for a swim instead of mowing the lawn. Going for a walk in the woods instead of getting a colonoscopy. Snacking on chocolate instead of kale chips. And generally squeezing joy out of each day.


Why is your featured book a stress busting read?


John Smith is a klutz with good karma. He loses at poker, fails to attract the curvy women of his dreams, has a cat that hates him and a mother who manipulates him, and he still manages to succeed at solving crimes. Along the way, you can count on a few chortles, guffaws and snickers, and the occasional laugh out loud situation.


Giveaway –


One lucky reader will win a $20 Amazon gift card



Open internationally.


Runs May 1 – 31, 2024


Drawing will be held on June 3, 2024.


Author Biography:


Charlotte Stuart began her writing career with a PhD thesis that had the distinction of being stolen from the university library. Her current passion is for humorous mysteries with silent laugh tracks that encourage readers to smile, snicker and occasionally laugh out loud. She also has one serious mystery set in a remote Alaskan village in the late 1970s.


Her books have placed or made finals in various competitions including: 1st Place in the Chanticleer International Mystery & Mayhem Book Series Award, a Reader Views Silver, a Global Book Bronze, and finals in Foreword Indies, Killer Nashville’s Silver Falchion and Eric Hoffer Awards.

She lives and writes on Vashon Island in the Pacific Northwest, is the past president of the Puget Sound Sisters in Crime and a member of the Mystery Writers of America and the International Thriller Writers.


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Unknown member
May 19

I combat stress by meditation and relaxation. Thanks for the giveaway opportunity. Commenting under Michael Law.


May 10

I read a lot & sometimes yoga.


N. N. Light
N. N. Light
May 09

Thank you, Charlotte, for sharing your new release in our Stress Busting Book Festival!

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