by Kathleen Costa
This week we have a review of the latest Nick & Nora Mystery by T.C. LoTempio, along with an interesting interview with T.C. (Toni). Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of the book, and a link to purchase it from Amazon.
Murder Faux Paws: Nick & Nora Mystery #5 By T.C. LoTempio
“Jill” of All Trades
Nora Charles is a “Jill” of all trades. She returned to her hometown Crùz, California, to run her inherited sandwich shop, Hot Bread, and after having written a provocative column for the Chicago Tribune, she now freelances for Noir, a true-crime online magazine, but instead of just reporting on crime, she has too often found herself right in the middle. Her first case (Meow If It’s Murder) led to PI Nick Atkins going MIA, and in his absence, his black and white tuxedo feline lovingly attached himself to Nora. The roly-poly cat, dubbed Nick for his previous owner, also belonged to a magician which explains the cat’s fascination with Scrabble tiles and strangely enough how they provide some ingenious clues. In Nora’s world, there’s a new age best friend, an FBI boyfriend, a maybe “triangle” friend, an editor, a mixologist, detectives and private investigators, and a “pushy” sister who has just returned home.
Murder Faux Paws Earns 5/5 Scrabble Tiles…Engaging Cozy!
The niggling feeling that he is being watched is made worse by the storm. He made it back to his office only to find it a mess with drawers and cabinets open and papers all over the floor. He quickly made two phone calls, disappointed he could only leave messages. Then a sharp pain, a shadow in the doorway, and a threat. He refuses to comply…Whip is dead.
“Being a PI is no cakewalk. No siree.” — Claymore Jarvis; Murder Faux Paws
Nora Charles is using her participation in a private investigator course as research for an article she’s writing for Noir, but the substitute teacher, PI Claymore Jarvis, offers a cryptic comment about one day needing her help. He knew PI Don “Whip” Jennings, and despite the evidence, he never bought the idea of suicide. His friend had been working on a very sensitive investigation, but even that the police found no evidence. Nora’s intrigued, and she knows one person who might provide some insights…the deceased’s assistant Ruby Scott. But before she could reach out to her friend, she enters the café, “Ruby. It’s nice to see you.” After they have an enlightening reunion, Nora is more intrigued than ever about checking into Whip’s demise. Surprisingly her luck just keeps on coming when Claymore Jarvis walks in and dangles more insights hoping Nora will be interested in helping him. But her luck runs out. Jarvis heads out to the street, Nora sees someone come out of the shadows, and soon she hears a “Thunk!” and loud screaming. Claymore Jarvis is dead.
Meow-velous! I am not always eager to join in with books that focus heavily on four-legged sidekicks, but T.C. Lotempio has made me a fan! The Nick and Nora dynamic is entertaining and realistic, if you know cats, and I really enjoyed the premise of insights, verifications, or clues being discovered due to the cat’s fascination with Scrabble tiles. The multiple murder mystery had the right amount of suspense with curious photographs, an encrypted note, and quotes from Shakespeare along with a few close gun shots, a circumstantial-at-best arrest, political shenanigans, and serious federal significance. The thrill never quieted culminating with a perilous conclusion. Additionally, the issues with boyfriends, exes on break, unrequited romance, and a sister vs sister dynamic were fascinating side stories that helped to support a strong community and close group of characters. And Nick, the cat? His own story is still a mystery, but his impact is significant. Totally enjoyable!
Recipe! I am so much a fan of recipes with my cozy, especially when they are linked to the story. Straight from the Recipe Book of Nora Charles…Fischbrötchen (German Fish Sandwich), for roast beef lovers the Jimmy Caan sandwich or the Kevin Costner, or The Wolverine with cube steak. I loved the names!
Alert! A sneak peek of the sixth Nick and Nora Mystery book is available, A Purr Before Dying. Oh, can’t wait!
Be a Big T.C. Lotempio Fan!
National best selling author Toni Lotempio’s Nick and Nora Mystery series debuted March 14 2017. She also writes the Cat Rescue Series and the Urban Tails Pet Shop Mysteries. Just like many of us, her lifelong love of mysteries began at the age of ten when she was introduced to her first Nancy Drew mystery, The Secret in the Old Attic.
Interview with T.C. LoTempio:
KRL: How long have you been writing?
Toni: It seems like I’ve been writing my whole life, but only seriously since 2007.
KRL: When did your first novel come out, what was it called, and would you tell us a little about it?
Toni: My first traditionally published novel was the first Nick and Nora mystery, Meow If It’s Murder, by Penguin. In it we meet Nora Charles, an ex-true crime reporter who has returned to her hometown of Cruz, California to take over her late mother’s sandwich shop. Along the way she meets a tubby black and white tuxedo cat whom she names Nick. Nick has an uncanny way of spelling out clues with his favorite toy, Scrabble tiles, that aid Nora in solving a mystery.
KRL: Have you always written mysteries/suspense and if not, what else have you written?
Toni: I actually started out writing paranormal romantic suspense and I self-published several books under Toni Lotempio. Under T.C. Lotempio, I’ve written three cozy mystery series: The Nick and Nora mysteries, published first by Penguin and now by Beyond the Page, the Cat Rescue mysteries, published by Crooked Lane, and the Urban Tails Pet Shop mysteries published by Beyond the Page.
KRL: What brought you to choose the setting and characters in your latest book/series?
Toni: The characters of Nick and Nora Charles were inspired by my cat, Rocco. I was watching the Thin Man on Turner and he jumped onto my lap which got me to wondering: what would happen if Nick Charles were killed and came back as a cat? That was the original concept for the Nick and Nora series which Penguin changed LOL. I set the series in California because even though I’ve lived most of my life on the East Coast, in my heart I was always a California girl.
KRL: Do you write to entertain or is there something more you want the readers to experience from your work?
Toni: It’s for pure entertainment. No hidden messages!
KRL: Do you have a schedule for your writing or just work whenever you can?
Toni: When I was working a full-time job, I had a definite writing schedule which is more flexible now that I’m retired. I do try to put in three hours every day.
KRL: What is your ideal time to write?
Toni: I try to write most every day between 9-12 in the morning.
KRL: Do you outline? If not, do you have some other interesting way that you keep track of what’s going on, or what needs to happen in your book when you are writing it?
Toni: When I first started out, I was a ‘pantser’ but that faded quickly because I’d be writing with no direction whatsoever. Now I do an outline, but I admit I rarely adhere strictly to them.
KRL: Did you find it difficult to get published in the beginning?
Toni: OMG yes! I could paper the entire White House with all my rejection slips!
KRL: Do you have a great rejection/critique or acceptance story you’d like to share?
Toni: The novel that my agent signed me for has yet to be published LOL. Believe it or not, it is a paranormal mystery. He sold my very first cozy, Meow If It’s Murder. In the original MS, Nick the cat talked because he was the reincarnation of a PI who was murdered. Berkley, however, did not like the talking cat so I had to rewrite the entire MS, and give Nick’s dialogue to a new character I created. Then they bought the book!
KRL: Most interesting book signing story-in a bookstore or other venue?
Toni: At Book Expo America. One guy asked me to “write something witty.” So of course, I drew a blank and I wrote “Something Witty. TC Lotempio”
KRL: LOL What are your future writing goals?
Toni: If sales are good and Beyond the Page wants, I’d like to continue the Nick and Nora series and also the Pet Shop series. I would also love to sell my “paranormals” and at least one of the three other cozy series my agent has.
KRL: Who are your writing heroes?
Toni: Stephen King, John Saul, JD Robb, Erle Stanley Gardner, Laura Childs…and too many other authors to name.
KRL: What kind of research do you do?
Toni: I use Google and the Internet when I need to research any facts.
KRL: What do you like to read?
Toni: Cozy mysteries, of course…and I’m also a big biography and true crime fan.
KRL: What are your favorite TV shows or movies?
Toni: I watch mostly reruns – right now I’m binging DALLAS on IMBD TV. I enjoy watching The Masked Singer, Dancing with the Stars, Grey’s Anatomy, Big Sky, and Call me Kat. But mostly I end up watching reruns of shows like Frasier or the Nanny. My favorite movies are Music and Lyrics, Gone with the Wind, and I just love The Thorn Birds!
KRL: I love The Thorn Birds! Have you any advice for aspiring or beginning writers?
Toni: Just keep at it, if you are really serious about having a career. Writing is a career where rejection is commonplace. Don’t let it discourage you. I was 58 before my first book was traditionally published.
KRL: What is something people would be surprised to know about you?
Toni: That I have an extensive collection of antique children’s series books which include the original Nancy Drews, Judy Bolton, Dana Girls, Vicki Barr and Connie Blair complete series.
Toni: Absolutely! A tubby tuxedo, ROCCO (who has his own blog, www.catsbooksmorecats.blogspot.com) and his brother, a gold and white tabby, Maxx.
KRL: Is there anything you would like to add?
Toni: Just that I appreciate all the support the Nick and Nora fans have given us – you are the reason this series continues!
To enter to win either an ebook or print copy of Murder Faux Paws (winner’s choice), simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “faux paws,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen May 7, 2022. US only, and must be 18 or older to enter. If you enter via email please include your mailing address in case you win. BE SURE TO STATE IF YOU WANT PRINT OR EBOOK. You can read our privacy statement here if you like.
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