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Looking for a fantastic series to read? Our #FridayReads pick is The Holly Swimsuit Mystery series



Looking for a fantastic series to read? Our #FridayReads pick is The Holly Swimsuit Mystery series by Susie Black


Title: Death by Sample Size

Author: Susie Black

Genre: Cozy Mystery

Publisher: The Wild Rose Press


Blurb:


The last thing swimwear sales exec Holly Schlivnik expected was to discover ruthless buying office big wig Bunny Frank’s corpse trussed up like a Thanksgiving turkey with a bikini stuffed down her throat. When Holly’s colleague is arrested for Bunny’s murder, the wise-cracking, irreverent amateur sleuth jumps into action to find the real killer. Nothing turns out the way Holly thinks it will as she matches wits with a wily murderer hellbent for revenge.


Excerpt:


When the elevator doors opened, I had to stop myself short not to step on her. There was Bunny Frank-the buying office big shot-lying diagonally across the car. Her legs were splayed out and her back was propped against the corner. Her sightless eyes were wide open and her arms reached out in a come to me baby pose. She was trussed up with shipping tape like a dressed Thanksgiving turkey ready for the oven with a bikini stuffed in her mouth. A Gotham Swimwear hangtag drooped off her lower lip like a toe tag gone lost. Naturally, I burst out laughing.


Before you label me incredibly weird or stone-cold, let me say genetics aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. If you’re lucky you inherit your Aunt Bertha’s sexy long legs or your father’s ability to add a bazillion dollar order in his head and get the total correct to the last penny. Without even breaking into a sweat, it’s easy to spout at least a million fabulous traits inheritable by the luck of the draw. Did I get those sexy long legs or the ability to add more than two plus two without a calculator? Noooooooooo. Lucky me. I inherited my Nana’s fear of death we overcompensated for with the nervous habit of laughing. A hysterical reaction? Think Bozo the clown eulogizing your favorite aunt.


I craned my neck like a tortoise and checked around. Then I clamped a fist over my mouth. Cripes, how could I possibly explain my guffaws with Bunny lying there? Disappointment was simultaneously mixed with relief when there was no one else in the parking lot. Where was security when you needed them?


I toed the elevator door open and bent over Bunny. I’d seen enough CSI episodes to know not to touch her. She was stiff as a board and I attributed the bluish tinge of her skin to the bikini crammed down her throat. I was no doctor, but I didn’t need an MD after my name to make this diagnosis. Bunny Frank was dead as the proverbial doorknob.


It was no surprise Bunny Frank had finally pushed someone beyond their limits. The only surprise was why it had taken so long. The question wasn’t who wanted Bunny Frank dead. The question was who didn’t?


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Author Biography:


Named Best US Author of the Year by N. N. Lights Book Heaven, award-winning cozy mystery author Susie Black was born in the Big Apple but now calls sunny Southern California home. Like the protagonist in her Holly Swimsuit Mystery Series, Susie is a successful apparel sales executive. Susie began telling stories as soon as she learned to talk. Now she’s telling all the stories from her garment industry experiences in humorous mysteries.


She reads, writes, and speaks Spanish, albeit with an accent that sounds like Mildred from Michigan went on a Mexican vacation and is trying to fit in with the locals. Since life without pizza and ice cream as her core food groups wouldn’t be worth living, she’s a dedicated walker to keep her girlish figure. A voracious reader, she’s also an avid stamp collector. Susie lives with a highly intelligent man and has one incredibly brainy but smart-aleck adult son who inexplicably blames his sarcasm on an inherited genetic defect.


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Title: Death by Pins and Needles

Author: Susie Black

Genre: Cozy Mystery

Publisher: The Wild Rose Press


Book Blurb:


The last thing Mermaid Swimwear sales exec Holly Schlivnik expected to find when she opened the closet door was nasty competitor Lissa Charney’s battered corpse nailed to the wall. When Holly’s colleague is wrongly arrested for Lissa’s murder, the wise-cracking, irreverent amateur sleuth sticks her nose everywhere it doesn’t belong to sniff out the real killer. Nothing turns out the way she thinks it will as Holly matches wits with a heartless killer hellbent for revenge.


Excerpt:


I came to with a splitting headache, trussed up the same as a rodeo calf, and tied to one of the cutting tables with a gag in my mouth. Was I out long? Maybe a few minutes; but long enough for Roddy to wrap me tight as a mummy. Remarkably, I appeared still alone, but not for long. Curious to be lashed to a cutting table and not in his truck on my way to certain death by now? Maybe he stopped to get a sample crate to stuff my body into? That must be the reason. I inhaled a deep breath through my nose and a piercing pain encircled my ribcage as the oxygen filled my lungs. My head pounded with the strength of a jackhammer while I tried to wriggle out of my bonds. The wounded shoulder ballooned to the size of a small boulder and stars flashed in front of my eyes from the pain. Roddy wrapped me from my shoulders to my shins and used strips of swimwear fabric to lash me to the cutting table. But swimwear fabric is made of spandex and nylon. It stretches if it's pulled and easily manipulated. All I needed were two free hands.


A pair of cutting shears lay tantalizingly close, but out of reach. An experienced boater same as me, Roddy used a reliable bowline knot to lash me to the cutting table. Fortunately, I honed the skills of a master knotter. To live on a houseboat safely and securely, it was a necessity. Roddy’s bowline knot was virtually impossible for an amateur to undo, but an easy one to untie, even one-handed if you knew the trick. Unfortunately, a complication arose that the nautical knotting instruction book failed to cover. The blood oozing from my wound traveled the length of my arm to my hand. My blood-sticky fingers slicked slippery as an oil patch, preventing a good enough grip on the shiny fabric to work the knot out. I stretched my fingers as far as they would go and wiped them dry on my jeans, and worked fast before more blood leaked onto my hand.


My head hurt too much to lift high enough to see my progress as I worked the knots. I depended on a sense of touch and memorization of the way the knots formed to untie them. I twisted my wrists inward as far as they turned and worked the knots with my index fingers and thumbs to loosen them from the centers outward. The left hand popped free in thirty seconds. I untied the right hand with my left. I sat up and ignored the pain and the stars flashing behind my eyes. I used the cutting shears to slit the ties binding my torso.


I craned my neck in an arc to get an updated lie of the land. Loud voices came from the direction of Annette’s office. Roddy and Annette. Arguing. Preoccupied and not concerned with me. Good news, but for how long? With some luck, a few minutes tops.


I pulled the gag out of my mouth, and as I slid off the cutting table, I nicked my wound on the sharp corner. The stars flashed again behind my eyes. Drenched in the red stuff and in agony from the pain, the throbbing wound oozed, making me woozy from the loss of blood. I shuddered, remembering Snip’s lecture on the impact on the body if it loses too much blood. I needed to staunch the bleeding and fast. I cut three-wide pieces of fabric and wrapped them tightly for maximum pressure and stretched them around the wound. I used the strips Roddy bound me to the table with to secure the bandages. Not exactly the primo first aid, but it would do for the time being. After a few minutes, the throbbing subsided noticeably. I moved without seeing stars, but taking a deep breath? Still out of the question.


Anyone with a brain runs out of the building and ditches this deadly popsicle stand. But a Mensa, I’m not. I grabbed one of the anvils by the handle off the cutting table and crept across the room. I hid behind a metal set of shelves filled with sewing supplies outside of Annette’s office. I leaned around the shelves and peered into her open door.


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Title: Death by Surfboard

Author: Susie Black

Genre: Cozy Mystery

Publisher: The Wild Rose Press


Book Blurb:


No one is more stunned than Mermaid Swimwear sales exec Holly Schlivnik when a fisherman hooks her unscrupulous colleague’s battered corpse attached to a surfboard and hauls it onto the Washington Street Pier. The coroner ruled that while Jack Tyne drowned, he “had help dying,” and Holly’s boss is wrongly arrested for the crime. To save the big cheese from a life behind bars, the wise-cracking, irreverent amateur detective dons her sleuthing hat to find Jack’s real killer. But the trail has more twists and turns than a pretzel, and nothing turns out the way Holly thinks it will as she tangles with a clever killer hellbent for revenge.


Excerpt:

As he picked up his fishing pole and took another restorative gulp of java, a strong yank on the rod almost pulled Pop out of the chair. Siggie barked when Pop cursed out loud as the old guy spilled hot coffee on the front of his T-shirt. The rod practically bent in half as Pop set the coffee cup under the chair and used his free hand to try to regain control of the line. The old man’s voice shook. “I hope whatever I caught doesn’t snap the old rod in two. I’d hate having to replace it.” Pop’s false teeth clacked as he smiled at the memory.” I’ve fished with this rod since the time I wore short pants. They don’t make ‘em this sturdy anymore.”


The old man gripped the fishing rod tightly in two gnarled hands. He leaned back in the chair and braced his feet against the wooden pier rail and prepared to do battle. The seasoned fisherman slowly let out some line to ease the pressure on both him and the fish. Pop pinched his squint and let out a groan from the strain of fighting the monster he’d hooked. He pulled in and released a few lengths of the nylon line several times. “The fish is getting tired.” He laughed a gravelly laugh. “Good thing. I am too. I’m not as young as I used to be. Hooked something huge; a great white shark or Moby Dick’s great, great-grandson.” As he reeled the catch in, the old man glanced at the plastic pail and snorted. “I’m gonna need a much bigger bucket.”


Despite the cool onshore wind blowing in hard from the ocean, Pop used the sleeve of his windbreaker to swipe at the perspiration pouring from the old man’s scalp line and drenching his face. Exertion colored his neck to the same shade as an eggplant.


As the old man cranked the spinner and slowly hauled the catch in, short, chubby, alabaster-skinned Andy sauntered across the pier. Andy stood next to Pop and mumbled good morning. Andy leaned over the railing to check the catching progress and yelled. “Holy mackerel! Old man, you’ve hooked you a surfer!”


Pop and I gave Andy a pitying you must be crazy or something glance. Pop summoned a burst of energy, hauled the rod over his left shoulder, and gave an enormous tug on the line. My eyes bugged as the battered, wet-suited body of Jack Tyne, still attached by his surf leash to his surfboard, flopped unceremoniously onto the pier. Pop, Andy, and I stared at one another. As long-time pier locals, we’d seen a lot of crazy things, but nothing compared to this. We inched closer to the crumpled body hopelessly entangled in the fishing line for any sign of life. Andy cautiously toed his faded deck shoe against the left leg of the prone body. “Is the guy dead?”


Nearsighted, the old man squinted into the sun and shrugged. Pop bent closer for a better look. Siggie rested his head on Pop’s arm as the old man studied Jack’s pummeled face. “He reminds me a bit of the guy who surfs every morning. Gets to the beach at the same time as me.”


Andy blinked his confusion. “Which guy?”


Pop said, “The middle-aged guy and the hot blond stacked chick usually wrapped around him on the beach. You’ve seen them around. They’re the ones making out like a couple of horny teenagers or taking photos of one another on their phones. Sometimes she stands next to me and takes pictures of the idiot daredevil surfers coming in through the pier pilings.” Pop jerked his chin at Jack. “Another one of those hotshot morons.”


Andy glanced at Jack’s ravaged face. “No way to tell now. Besides, I never got close enough to see the guy. What about you?”


Pop said, “I mighta, but Mebbe not.” Pop took his cap off and scratched the crown of his head. “Hard to remember the brand of cereal I ate for breakfast most days, let alone some surfer and his groupie chick.”


I pointed at Jack. “This guy works at the same company I do.” Pop and Andy looked at me surprised, as though they’d forgotten me standing right next to them. “And the woman you’re describing is someone who works with us too. Did either of you guys see them this morning?”

Pop shook his head no.


Andy’s double-chin quivered with the gyrations of a bowl of Jell-o as he jerked it towards the end of the pier. “Not him, but on my way to the pier, I passed a woman walking east on Washington who might be the chick Pop described.”


Since Jack hadn’t so much as twitched, Pop angled his leathery face closer to Jack’s pasty grayish kisser to see if he was as dead as he looked. Pop leaned in and passed a hand over Jack’s mouth. Pop took a breath, and Siggie barked when the old man jumped back as though he’d been burned by a cattle prod. The sickening stench wafting out from Jack Tyne’s wetsuit could easily fell an entire herd. The old man gagged as his eyes followed a wavy line of caked yellowy vomit haloed around Jack’s blue lips, chin, and the stub of a beard. Pop dragged his eyes past Jack’s ravaged face to the watery streams of greenish-brown crap leaking out of the sleeves and legs of the torn wetsuit. Pop jumped a helluva lot faster than you’d expect a guy his age ought to as the liquidy turds slowly coursed onto the deck of the pier.


Andy playfully poked his elbow in the old man’s ribs and joked. “Whatssamatta? The guy’s breath that bad?”


The old man pointed a crooked index finger at Jack’s pummeled body. “Poor bastard doesn’t have any breath at all. He’s dead as a doornail.”


Naturally, I burst out laughing.


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Title: Death by Cutting Table

Author: Susie Black

Genre: Cozy Mystery

Publisher: The Wild Rose Press


Book Blurb:


There wasn’t an honest bone in Mermaid Swimwear CEO Butch Oldham’s body. He was an equal opportunity scoundrel who screwed anyone and everyone in his wake. So, the question wasn’t who wanted the bastard dead. The question was, who didn’t? After Mermaid Swimwear sales exec Holly Schlivnik finds colleague Queenie Levine standing over Oldham’s bloody corpse nailed to a fabric cutting table with a big honkin’ pair of cutting shears plunged deep into his chest, the cops soon find Queenie’s hidden blood-soaked sweater, discover her stormy relationship with the victim, and her public threats to make Butch pay for destroying Mermaid by stealing it blind. When Queenie is arrested for Butch’s murder, the wise-cracking, irreverent amateur sleuth jumps into action to flesh out the real killer. But the trail has more twists and turns than a slinky, and nothing turns out the way Holly thinks it will as she tangles with a clever killer hellbent for revenge.


Excerpt:


I cracked open the forward door and stuck my head out. I scoped a one-eighty around the dock. The street lights were on, as well as the lights at the top of the gangplank. A half-dozen apartments were also lit. A single light shined inside a cabin cruiser two boats from mine. My boat seemed to be the only thing in the marina with no power.


This isn’t the first time I’d been the only one with no power. When I first bought the boat, I learned the hard way don’t let the coffee maker, microwave oven, and television run at the same time or the circuits overload. But in the middle of the night with no appliances running or an electrical storm to cause a power outage? The blood froze in my veins. The answer isn’t inside the boat. I hoisted myself over the forward deck onto the dock with my heart in my throat.


A faint hint of smoke wafted from the breaker box and power outlet as I reached the end of the dock. I yanked the damaged plug out of the outlet and threw it in the water. I blasted the dock power outlet and breaker box with the fire extinguisher and pulled the other end of the power cord out of my boat power outlet. Eight minutes after my nine-one-one call, the cavalry arrived in force and all hell broke loose.


****


The psychedelic light shows of the emergency vehicles flashing strobe bubbles created an eerie specter as they bounced off the walls of the apartment buildings across from the marina. While the firemen examined the breaker box, two LA County Deputy Sheriffs kept my dock neighbors at a distance from my houseboat now swathed with yellow crime scene tape.


After the Deputy Sheriffs arrived, Antonio, the security guard, called the Dockmaster to bring her up to speed. Twenty minutes later, Dock Mistress Audrey Camarillo showed up at my slip to consult with me and the first responders.


A fireman squatted in front of the breaker box and electric outlet. “See this?” Siggie sidled over next to the fireman and the nosy parker hound rested his head on the guy’s shoulder for a closer look. The fireman laughed and gave my curious canine a howdy-do scratch behind the ears.


The fireman pointed to the marine power cable connected from the outlet to my boat. The interior guts of the marine cable are covered by a protective rubber encasement. The cable was slit open, exposing the wiring inside mid-cable to the prongs of the tampered plug. Several strips of aluminum foil anchored in place by a fistful of pennies laid on the dock adjacent to the breaker box.


The fireman said, “Whoever did this is no amateur. They knew exactly what they were doing. If they hadn’t been interrupted, they would’ve jammed the pennies in the breakers and wrapped the breakers with the aluminum foil. The breaker would’ve blown and ignited a fire. With the rubber-coated power cable serving as a connector, the fiberglass boat would’ve burned to a crisp in a matter of minutes.” He stroked his gloved hand across Siggie’s head. “It’s a darned good thing Ms. Schlivnik’s dog scared them off.” He turned a one-eighty around the basin. “With all the gasoline-powered motors, they came within a hair of blowing up the dock and burning this entire basin to ashes.” The fireman shoved his helmet to the crown of his head and whistled through a gap in his front teeth. “Somebody wanted Ms. Schlivnik dead. They came mighty close to succeeding.”


The Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department detective turned to me and asked, “Any idea who is responsible?”


I motioned to the gate above the gangplank. “That’s a security gate. You need a key to get into the basins. Every tenant has a key to the gate and their key works on every gate in the marina. I’m not saying boaters don’t let outsiders in, because we all do. But this time of night, I doubt if a boater is still out, and if someone was, they certainly wouldn’t let a stranger in.”


Audrey shrank back in horror. “You’re saying one of our tenants is responsible?”


I nodded. “Yeah, and I’ve got a pretty good idea which one. She was aboard her boat last night.”


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Title: Rag Lady

Author: Susie Black

Genre: Women’s Fiction

Publisher: The Wild Rose Press


Book Blurb:


Recent college graduate Holly Schlivnik dreams of being a writer, but fate has other plans. A family crisis throws her into an improbable situation and her life will never be the same. Determined to make her own luck when things don’t happen the way she plans, the irrepressible young woman takes a sledge hammer to the glass ceiling and shatters it to smithereens. The wise-cracking, irreverent transplanted Californian takes you on a raucous, rollicking rollercoaster ride of her hysterical adventures as a ladies’ apparel sales rep traveling in the deep South as she ends up finding herself along the way.


Excerpt:


“To tell you the truth, the problem is, I kinda like Dad’s offer.” I squirmed in my chair. “But I don’t wanna make a mistake. I will screw my life up if I make the wrong choice. I’m trying to imagine myself doing the job Dad does. The adventuresome part of me says it’s cool. No school, no exams, no tedious papers to compose. I’d be experiencing life instead of reading about it. And getting paid to do it. But the realistic part of me says, are you nuts? Schlepping those heavy garment bags all over the place? And what kind of a life would I have traveling all the time? I don’t trust myself to make the right decision, and I’m driving myself crazy. I want someone else to decide, and tell me which way to go.”


Nana looked over her glasses and clucked her tongue. “Well, too bad, kiddo. Life doesn’t work that way. Let me tell you something. And the sooner you learn it, the easier your life will be. Man plans, and God laughs.”


I looked at Nana like she’d spoken in Sanskrit. “Meaning?”


Nana answered in the same indulgent tone she used when I was a toddler. “It means plan all you want, but most of the time, your plans don’t mean a hill of beans. To use your vernacular, shit happens. You’re going along singing a song, confident life is a well-planned party. But the truth is, the road to life from birth to death isn’t paved in a straight line. It’s paved with hills and valleys, U-turns, and unexpected curves. And trust me. Nothing usually works out the way you think it will. To really live life and not merely exist taking up space, you must love a good mystery, love a good adventure, and love a good challenge. Kiddo, nothing in life is as constant as change. Keep your head on a swivel, and explore all your options. Look behind you for a sense of history, to the sides for a sense of proportion, and most important, remember God screwed our heads on facing forward for a reason. To look ahead to the future. To make good decisions, you can’t be afraid to make a mistake. You will learn more from your failures than from your successes. Regret is the worst human emotion because it is the one we can usually do nothing about. Always be yourself, don’t live your life for someone else, or in terms of someone else. Trust your gut, and believe in yourself.”


When she finished, I asked, “So, what should I do?”


Nana waved that gnarled index finger at me again and smiled. “Nice try, kiddo. It’s not important what I think. It’s only important what you think. So?”


In a moment of clarity, I looked Nana in the eye and made my decision.


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Special Giveaway:


Free copy of Susie Black’s Swimwear Fit Guide


1件のコメント


N. N. Light
N. N. Light
2023年11月10日

Thank you, Susie, for sharing your series with us! I love this series so much.

いいね!
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