by Kathleen Costa
This week we have a review of Death on Deadline by Joyce St. Anthony along with an interesting interview with Joyce. Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of the book, and a link to purchase it.
Death on a Deadline: A Homefront News Mystery by Joyce St. Anthony
Review by Kathleen Costa
Fun Walk Down 1940’s Lane
Irene Ingram has journalism in her DNA. Her father, whom she calls Pops, owns the Progress Herald, the local newspaper, and when she was ready, she became the home, garden, and fashion reporter. But, now, she’s also the editor-in-chief with complete editorial control since her father is somewhere in the Pacific as a war correspondent. The long-time reporters were a bit skeptical that twenty-something Irene could do the job, but she had proven herself by finding answers to a recent case involving sabotage and murder. Her secretary Peggy Reardon is also her best friend, sounding board, and confident. Irene is living back at home with her mother and teenage sister Lily who’s typically infatuated by all things Hollywood and Frank Sinatra. Her fiancé Bill Turner is away for training with the Third Armored Division, but if she gets herself again too deep in some trouble, she has her future father-in-law Chief Walter Turner for extra support.
Death on a Deadline Earns 5/5 Headlines…Entertaining & Clever!
It’s June, 1942, and war rages on in Europe. The town is preparing to do their little part by having a war bond drive during the upcoming county fair. However, the big news of the day, or more likely rumor, is that film star Clark Gable is coming to Progress. Ava Dempsey assures Irene that the information is not rumor, but it’s difficult to trust the biggest busybody in town whose beauty shop is gossip central. Ava says her sister Angela, one few even remember, is an actress herself and married to Freddie Harrison who Ava paints as a popular up and coming star. She is confident that her sister is in the know and Gable, as chairman of the Hollywood Victory Committee, will be one of the stars attending their war bond event. Well, don’t put it on the front page quite yet…
“Call me Angel, everyone does,” is adamant Clark Gable “might be coming,” but Irene is still skeptical pointing out “might” is not “definite.” Angel is pure Hollywood from her looks to her uppity demands, but Irene was right in being reticent. Clark Gable is a no show, but Angel’s own animosity is on full display when B-listed actor and cheating husband shows up…and that, unfortunately, is the final credits for him!
It’s Bees’ Knees Delightful! Joyce St. Anthony has brought WWII era drama into the world of cozy mystery with Victory Gardens and war bonds, fifty-cent lunches, front lines and the home front, and families worried about loved ones and pray Western Union passes them by. She’s added a strong female lead in Irene, a fascinating career in journalism, small town dynamics, and lots of tension to make this a “couldn’t put down” experience. The mystery is well-developed, clever, and easy to read with all the usual suspects being introduced along with their particular grudge against the victim. And he, the victim, being a less than admirable character in thought and deed, seems to have been first in line for some karma. Too many suspects would rather see the curtain literally come down on him: scorned wife, protective father, competing actor, a mistress. But, don’t overlook anyone waiting in the wings or secret grudges waiting to be exposed!
Joyce’s write style is very entertaining, descriptive with engaging dialogue, and adding to the chapter leads, a current headline was a unique walk down history; I was on Google to learn more. I love my mysteries to be of another era, and with many references to World War II, 1940’s society, and various historical figures, it was obvious Joyce did her research. Fun. Compelling. Satisfying surprise. This is definitely a book cozy fans should put on their TBR list.
Homefront News Mystery series
Front Page Murder (March 8, 2022)
For Book Clubs, check out these questions for a spirited discussion.
Death on a Deadline (November 8th, 2022)
Be a Big Joyce St. Anthony Fan!
Joyce St. Anthony is the pen name of Joyce Tremel. As a police secretary for ten years and having creative thoughts about troublesome co-workers, Joyce decided to turn to writing mysteries. As Tremel, she wrote the popular three-book Brewing Trouble Mysteries series that follows Maxine “Max” O’Hara whose dream of opening her own craft brew pub, the Allegheny Brew House, in Pittsburgh is realized. All good fun!
Interview with Joyce St Anthony:
KRL: How long have you been writing?
Joyce: As long as I can remember!
KRL: When did your first novel come out, what was it called, and would you tell us a little about it?
Joyce: My first novel was To Brew or Not to Brew. It was the first of three books in the Brewing Trouble series, published in 2015. It featured a brewer named Maxine O’Hara who is in the process of opening a brewpub when she finds the body of her assistant in the mash tun. The police think he fell in, but Max thinks otherwise so of course, she investigates on her own.
KRL: Have you always written mysteries/suspense and if not, what else have you written?
Joyce: I don’t think I could write anything else. I tried to plot a romance once, but I kept wanting to kill off a character.
Joyce: My latest series is the historical Homefront News Mysteries. The books are set in 1942 in a small town in Pennsylvania. I’ve always loved the WWII era and wanted to write something set back then.
KRL: What brought you to choose setting and characters in your latest book/series?
KRL: Do you write to entertain or is there something more you want the readers to experience from your work?
Joyce: Mostly to entertain, but I also want readers to learn something, especially with the historical series. I wouldn’t want to waste all that research, lol.
KRL: Do you have a schedule for your writing or just work whenever you can?
Joyce: I’m usually at my desk all morning unless I have errands to run or something like that. I’ll break for a few hours mid-day because there’s always housework, yardwork, or laundry to do. Then I might work another hour until it’s time to make dinner.
KRL: What is your ideal time to write?
Joyce: I don’t really have one. With deadlines, I’ve learned to write at any time of day or night.
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?
Joyce: I write a synopsis – usually 4 or 5 pages before I start writing. It’s just a general roadmap because the stories always change as I write and get to know the characters better. And sometimes the characters drive the story, and I don’t have a say in the matter.
KRL: Did you find it difficult to get published in the beginning?
Joyce: Ha! Absolutely! My first published novel was the fourth or fifth book I’d written. I lost count of how many agents I’ve queried over the years. Well over two hundred is my best guess. I don’t understand writers who send out ten queries, get rejected, and quit. Either you want to be an author, or you don’t. If you do, you don’t quit. You keep writing and keep submitting.
KRL: Do you have a great rejection/critique or acceptance story you’d like to share?
Joyce: The only thing I can remember is one rejection that only said, “I thought it would be better.”
KRL: Ouch! Most interesting book signing story-in a bookstore or other venue?
Joyce: This past summer I was invited to be the guest author at an author’s tea at the Rosemary House in Mechanicsburg, PA. It was a lot of fun. The caterer put a lot of thought into the menu, matching food up with things in the book, Front Page Murder. They had a “Victory Garden Salad,” “It’s a Mystery Chicken Salad,” “The Sleuth’s Cucumber and Mint” sandwich, “World War II Ration Chocolate Cake,” etc. They were very creative.
KRL: What are your future writing goals?
Joyce: I’m hoping to get an offer to write another Homefront News book, and I’m currently working on the first Cider House Mystery book.
KRL: What kind of research do you do?
Joyce: For the Brewing Trouble books, I got to hang out in breweries and learn to brew beer. The samples were a bonus. The same with my new Cider House series. The research for the Homefront News books was really interesting, but not as much fun. I did a lot of reading, checking dates, newspaper headlines, weather reports, etc.
KRL: What do you like to read?
Joyce: I mostly read mysteries, especially historical ones. I love anything set in the 1940s.
KRL: What are your favorite TV shows or movies?
Joyce: Most of the things we watch are older shows. Monk is always a favorite. The Mentalist was great. CSI is fun to revisit. And I can’t forget Downton Abbey. For newer shows I like Chicago PD, Blue Bloods, and CSI-Vegas. My current favorite is Miss Scarlet & The Duke on PBS. We don’t watch many movies, unless they’re old ones like The Sting, or even older like Casablanca. We rewatch the Band of Brothers miniseries at least once a year.
KRL: Have you any advice for aspiring or beginning writers?
Joyce: The best way to learn to write is to read a lot of books in your chosen genre. Read the book for fun the first time around, then read it again and study it. You’ll learn what works and what doesn’t, and how a book is structured. After that, start writing and learn the craft as you write. Chances are the first book you write is not going to sell. Put it aside and start another. Repeat as often as necessary. Don’t give up.
KRL: What is something people would be surprised to know about you?
Joyce: I have a second-degree black belt in Taekwondo. I’m about twenty years out of practice though.
KRL: Do you have any pets?
Joyce: Two cats named Hops and Lager. Hops looks just like the cat on the cover of my Brewing Trouble books. As soon as I saw her in the shelter, I knew she was coming home with us. Lager is an orange and white short hair. He and Hops were friends, so he had to come along.
KRL: Is there anything you would like to add?
Joyce: Just to thank you for the interview. This was a lot of fun.
KRL: Thank you for chatting with us. Website? Twitter? Facebook? Instagram?
To enter to win a copy of Death on a Deadline, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “deadline,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen November 26, 2022. U.S. residents only, and you must be 18 or older to enter. If entering via email please include your mailing address in case you win, it will be deleted after the contest. You can read our privacy statement here if you like.
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