House of Ashes: A Haunted Bluffs Mystery by Loretta Marion
About the Author
1st in Series
Crooked Lane Books (November 13, 2018)
Hardcover, 336 pages
Digital Details Coming Soon
A family patriarch’s dying proclamation, an enigmatic disappearance, and a century-old curse converge in the shadows of a majestic home on Cape Cod’s craggy coast.
Thirty-seven-year-old painter Cassandra Mitchell is fourth-generation to live in the majestic Battersea Bluffs, a brooding Queen Anne home originally built by her great-grandparents, Percy and Celeste Mitchell, and still standing despite tragedies that have swept the generations. Local lore has it that there was a curse placed on the family and the house is haunted, though opinions are divided on whether it's by malicious or benevolent spirits. Cassie believes the latter―but now she stands to lose her beloved home to mounting debt and the machinations of her dream-weaving ex-husband.
Salvation seems to arrive when a nomadic young couple wanders onto the property with the promise of companionship and much-needed help―until they vanish without a trace, leaving behind no clue to their identities. Cassie is devastated, but determined to discover what's happened to the young couple...even as digging into their disappearance starts to uncover family secrets of her own. Despite warnings from her childhood friend, now the local Chief of Police―as well as an FBI agent who pushes the boundaries of professionalism―Cassie can't help following the trail of clues (and eerie signals from the old house itself) to unravel the mystery. But can she do so before her family's dark curse destroys everything in its path?
About the Author
An author of fiction, Loretta Marion’s writing bridges the genres of mystery and suspense and women’s fiction, always with hints of romance and humor, sometimes delving into the psychological and paranormal. She creates strong but flawed and struggling characters as appealing as the rich atmospheric settings in which the stories take place.
Loretta is a true bibliophile and has loved reading and creating with words since she was a young girl. And that affection for the written word followed her like a shadow throughout her life as she put pen to paper crafting marketing and advertising copy, educational brochures, and newsletters. But her passion for writing fiction evolved from the unlikely world of hospice. As a volunteer, she set out to establish a Legacy Story program to honor and preserve the rich heritage of the fascinating people who were soon to leave this world. The meaningful experience inspired her to create her own interesting characters and stories. Her debut novel, The Fool's Truth, was a twisty and suspenseful mystery with whispers of romance. Her newest novel, HOUSE OF ASHES – A Haunted Bluffs Mystery, is the first in a series published by Crooked Lane Books.
Though born and raised in the Midwest, Loretta fell in love with New England and has made it the setting for much of her writing. When not whipping out words on her laptop, she is traveling, enjoying outdoor pursuits, or is curled up with a delicious new book. Loretta lives in Rhode Island with her husband, Geoffrey, and their beloved Mr. Peabody, a sweet, devoted and amusing “Corgador” (Corgi-Labrador cross). (www.LorettaMarion.com)Purchase Links - Amazon
November 1 - Readeropolis – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
November 2 - Moonlight Rendezvous – REVIEW
November 2 - A Blue Million Books – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
November 3 – fundinmental – REVIEW
November 3 – Island Confidential – SPOTLIGHT
November 4 – The Book's the Thing – REVIEW, GUEST POST
November 5 – That's What She's Reading – REVIEW, GUEST POST
November 5 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – SPOTLIGHT
November 6 – Valerie's Musings – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
November 6 – Celticlady's Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
November 7 – StoreyBook Reviews – REVIEW
November 7 – Ruff Drafts – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
November 8 – Brooke Blogs – SPOTLIGHT
November 8 – I'm All About Books – SPOTLIGHT
November 8 - Cozy Up With Kathy - REVIEW, AUTHOR INTERVIEW
November 9 – Mallory Heart's Cozies - REVIEW, CHARACTER GUEST POST
November 9 – Rosepoint Publishing – REVIEW
November 10 – Melina's Book Blog – REVIEW
November 10 – Curling Up by the Fire – REVIEW
Blog Tour Guest Post – Great Escapes Book Tour
Character Guest Post by Cassandra Mitchell, resident of Battersea Bluffs in Whale Rock, Massachusetts (Ghost written by Loretta Marion)
Don’t Fail Me Now, Nancy Drew!
I love a good mystery. It was my Granny Fi who first introduced me to the sleuthing adventures of Nancy Drew when I was a middle grader. Nancy and I had so much in common. She was a boater and I was practically raised on my father’s sailboat. Nancy also painted, and Mama had me standing at my own easel by the time I was five. No wonder I felt an immediate kinship with this fictional heroine.
I was fascinated by the mysteries that befell Nancy’s small town of River Heights. So much so that I’d invent my own Whale Rock mysteries. Lying on the edge of the cliffs, I’d gaze down at the crashing waves, fantasizing about how I would solve them, just like Nancy had. Of course, the Mitchell family had its own lingering mysteries, not the least of which involved a suspicious fire at Battersea Bluffs. My great-grandfather had leaped off these very cliffs, holding the charred remains of his wife while exclaiming, “I am not finished.” Maybe Granny Fi had distracted me with books so I’d not dwell on my family’s tragic history.
After I’d made my way through the Nancy Drew mysteries preserved from my Granny’s childhood, I discovered The Nancy Drew Files at the Whale Rock Public Library, one of Granny Fi’s legacies. She’d been instrumental in raising the funds to restore the crumbling, old building. I recall her saying, “Whale Rock’s future starts in the library. It’s the heart and soul of our town.” It was for me anyhow. Then during my teen years, I became hijacked by LJ Smith’s The Vampire Diaries and anything written by Christopher Pike. Perhaps it had something to do with the unsettling nature of my family home that drew me to those gruesome horror stories. It had long been rumored that Battersea Bluffs was haunted by the spirits of my infamous great-grandparents, Percival and Celeste Mitchell. Though I rarely talk about it, I can attest to the truth of that rumor. Trust me, the lingering presence of ancestral spirits can get under your skin. Especially back then when I hadn’t understood what messages they were trying to get through to me. I trusted then -and still do- that they mean me no harm, otherwise they’d have done so by now, right? Or am I simply naïve? Regardless, you’ll learn more about them and their calling card scent of burnt sugar when you read the book. I returned to reading mysteries again in my early twenties. When sorting through Granny Fi’s private library after her death, I found a treasure trove: everything written by Agatha Christie, Ngaio Marsh, Ruth Rendell and PD James. Daphne DuMaurier’s Rebecca was a favorite – I could tell by the worn cover and bent spine. Apparently, my Granny favored female mystery authors.
It was bittersweet to find bits of my Granny Fi within the pages of the books she so cherished. I’d come across one of her course gray hairs every now and again, notes she’d written to herself in the margins, a rare photograph of my grandfather - the love of her life and one of the Mitchell family tragedies. It was a rare connection, feeling her with me as I turned every page, and a gift my Granny left behind for me.
When I flipped through the pages of the book left on her bedside table, tucked in as a place marker was a delicate lace handkerchief. I brought it to my nose and nearly wept at her familiar lavender scent. I did weep when I realized it was probably the last page she’d ever read, that she died not knowing how the mystery ended.
These discovered books offered an escape, much needed after my parents died so young, and then losing Granny Fi soon afterward. This left me and my older sister, Zoe, as the only remaining Mitchells…the end of a bloodline resulting from a century’s old curse cast upon my great-grandparents. But Zoe was out on the West Coast and had no intention of ever returning to Battersea Bluffs. For some strange reason, she despised our home and the town of Whale Rock. Could it be the unsettling nature in the bones of our ancestral home? I guess you’ll have to read HOUSE OF ASHES to find out.
Knowing Granny Fi would be pleased, I donated the mysteries I could part with to the Whale Rock Library. There I discovered some extraordinary contemporary mystery authors: Elizabeth George, Tana French, Camilla Lackberg, Arnaldur Indridason. I’m also a sucker for a cozy mystery, especially those that take place in New England or near the shore. Water has been such a big part of my life and I seek it out even in my reading.
Now I’m faced with a real-life mystery, just as I’d fantasized about all those many years ago. Ashley and Vince Jacobson were two wandering souls who came into my life at a difficult time and lifted me out of a very dark place. But they are now lost to me – vanished without a trace after setting off on their bikes for a day trip to Provincetown – leaving behind their precious canine companion, Whistler. It has become clear that they are not who they told me they were, and I’m left with only haunting questions: Why would they lie to me? Who were they really? Are they in danger? I can only hope that I’ve absorbed some of the sleuthing skills of Rendell’s Inspector Wexford, Christie’s Miss Marple or Monsieur Poirot and James’ Adam Dalgliesh—because I am desperate to find out what happened to them.
HOUSE OF ASHES is a wonderful cozy mystery, set in a glorious scenic location, that strongly tugged at my heartstrings. I found myself involved with the characters--past and present--from the beginning. It was simple to care about them, which is one of the hallmarks of good fiction. Grieve when they grieve, rejoice, worry, puzzle out mysteries. The beautiful family heirloom residence, set high on the bluffs near Cape Cod, won't remain in the family unless Cassandra can construct a way to save it. But her chosen solution, appearing so serendipitously, only results in puzzlement and intrigue.
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