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Moonlight Can Be Deadly by Charlotte Stuart is a Mystery and Suspense Event pick #mystery #giveaway

Title: Moonlight Can Be Deadly (A Discount Detective Mystery #4)

Author: Charlotte Stuart

Genre: Mystery/female PI

Book Blurb:

A full moon re-enactment of an ancient human sacrifice ritual turns deadly.

A young woman volunteers to play the role of a maiden being sacrificed under a full moon while costumed participants chant and dance to celebrate the ritual. After the ceremony, the woman disappears and a man’s body is found on the rock altar, impaled by an antique dagger.

Single mom and Penny-wise investigator Cameron Chandler and her colleague Yuri Webster are hired to find the missing woman. But what begins as a straightforward assignment soon becomes a quagmire of dark motives and betrayals.

As the full moon wanes, Cameron confronts the murderer and must choose between doing things by the book or saving herself.


Chapter 1

Under a Full Moon

I was in a bad mood as I headed through the busy suburban shopping mall to my office. It was one of those mornings when everything was off-kilter. “No-name,” our dog, had been extra needy, following me around while I tried to organize breakfast for my kids, whining like I was depriving him of the attention and love he considered his due. Both of my two barely-teenagers were unusually irritating, grumbling because no one had done the laundry and they didn’t have anything to wear—except all of the other clothes in their closets. And my live-in mother made an appearance to let me know I was running late. In case I hadn’t figured that out.

When I finally arrived at the mall, I took a deep breath and made an effort to put what I’d endured so far this morning behind me by telling myself, “OK, this is the beginning of a good day.” Then I saw her.

My guess was that she was in her early 60s, svelte, well-dressed, with nicely coifed, light brown hair that probably wasn’t her natural color. She was sitting upright, her hands in her lap, making no attempt to stem the tears streaming down her face. I wanted to walk past without making eye contact, without acknowledging that she was in some sort of pain, but it’s not in my DNA to ignore another person’s misery. My feet involuntarily slowed down as I chalked up another notch on my off-kilter day.

“Is there anything I can do for you?” I asked as I sat down next to her on the narrow fake wood bench and handed her a Kleenex from my purse.

She turned her tear-filled eyes toward me and accepted the Kleenex. “Thank you.” She dabbed at the tears on her smooth cheeks. After a few moments of silence so profound that I thought I could hear the continuing trickle of tears, she asked, “Do you know anything about Penny-wise Investigations?” She gestured in the direction of my nearby office.

“Actually, I do. I work there.”

Her eyes opened a bit wider as she seemed to see me for the first time. I suddenly wished I’d spent more time on my drab, ash blond hair earlier. Not that I ever did much more than run a comb through it. And I was wearing a jacket that had tiny lint balls growing in random patches like a virus. Not very professional for someone whose office was in a shopping mall.

“I’m an investigator.” I still got a tingle of joy from saying those words. Not that long ago I had gone from unemployed PhD to an employed PI. The job was a bit more mundane than I’d hoped, but there had been a few moments of excitement and even a smattering of danger, so I wasn’t complaining.

“Thank you for stopping. Maybe I can ask you a few questions?”

“Sure. But you could also come inside and talk to my boss, P.W. Griffin. She can probably answer your questions better than I can, and there’s no charge for the initial consultation.”

“I’d rather talk with you first, if you don’t mind.” The tears were slowing down, leaving white flecks of salt at the corners of her eyes.

“Not at all. Start from the beginning.” I might as well hear the whole thing. I would have to explain being late to work, so I hoped she was a potential client. But if not, I would be ahead on my good Samaritan score for the day, maybe for the week or the month, depending on how long it took her to tell me her story.

“It’s my niece. I think she’s going to be sacrificed.”

“Sacrificed?” I had visions of a young girl tossed into a volcano by two shirtless men with bulging arm muscles.

“During the full moon. On a rock alter. Like some ancient cultures did for eons, or so my niece tells me.”

That seemed more like an end than a beginning to me, but I wasn’t about to quibble over the story’s structure when a human sacrifice was the topic. “I’m not sure I know when the next full moon is,” I said, trying to put her story into context.

“This coming Saturday.”

“And by ‘sacrificed’ you mean . . .?”

“She said they will drug her and that they don’t actually rip her heart out or anything like that—” She dabbed at her eyes with the Kleenex, smudging her mascara slightly.

“I would hope not.” I couldn’t think of what else to say.

“But I don’t like the idea of it. I’m afraid she’s being too trusting.”

“You think they might actually, ah, sacrifice her for real?”

The tears started flowing again like a stream that had been undammed. “I don’t know. It just doesn’t feel right to me,” she said, her voice cracking like a teenage boy’s. “But my niece is determined to go through with it.”

I handed her another Kleenex. “How do you think Penny-wise can help?”

She took a deep breath and sat up even straighter. “I want someone to be there, to make sure nothing bad happens to Tilly.”

Buy Links (including Goodreads and BookBub):

What makes your featured book a must-read?

The Moonlight Can Be Deadly plot is deadly serious, but the story is sprinkled with humor and grounded in the reality of a working mother’s world. Single mother Cameron Chandler works for Penny-wise Investigations located in an urban shopping mall. Their motto is Vigilance You can Afford, and her partner is a trivia-obsessed jokester. It’s a read you can sit back and relax with, knowing that even when things go sideways, they will right themselves in the end. A twisty story that will make you smile—a must read in our stress-filled world.

Giveaway –

Enter to win a $35 Amazon gift card:

Open Internationally.

Runs August 8 – August 21, 2023.

Winner will be drawn on August 22, 2023.

Author Biography:

Before Charlotte Stuart PhD started writing full time, she left a tenured faculty position to go commercial fishing in Alaska, spent a year sailing in the Washington and Canadian San Juans, was a partner in a management consulting group and a VP of HR and Training.

Her current passion is for writing character-driven mysteries with twisty plots that include diverse topics such as friendship and betrayal, hidden treasure, chimeras, commercial fishing, phobias, and survival groups. She has published nine mysteries since 2019 and recently received a 1st Place Series Award in the Chanticleer International Mystery & Mayhem competition for her Discount Detective Mysteries. She has won or been recognized in a number of contests, including making finals in Killer Nashville’s Silver Falchion, Reader Views, and the Eric Hoffer Awards.

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

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1 comentario

N. N. Light
N. N. Light
15 ago 2023

Thank you, Charlotte, for sharing your book in our Mystery and Suspense Bookish Event!

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