Wine, Women & Murder! With Sophie Littlefield and Juliet Blackwell

From left: Juliet Blackwell, me, Sophie LIttlefield

Not too long ago, I bumped into Scott Montgomery – BookPeople’s most notable bookseller – while browsing the store’s expansive mystery section. When he saw me pick up Janet Evonovich’s latest book he told me that if I liked Stephanie Plum, I would LOVE Sophie Littlefield’s new series about a woman vigilante who bludgeoned her wife-beating husband with a monkey wrench. 

I snatched up the book and told him, “You had me at woman vigilante!”  Just as I expected I’m  -yet again – sucked into a new mystery series. How could I not be? Sophie is an amazing writer with a natural gift for creating characters that seem so real, they practically walk off the page! Read my review here.

So you could imagine my excitement when I found out she was stopping by  BookPeople with Juliet Blackwell, another chick lit  author who writes a fabulous witchcraft mystery series!  This time, I wasn’t able to harness the self-control to buy just one book. I may be broke for the rest of the month, but at least I’ll be thoroughly entertained with these two fabulous new novels:

A Bad Day for Scandal, by Sophie Littlefield

From Goodreads: When Prosper homegirl turned big-city businesswoman Priss Porter returns to town with a body in her trunk, she calls Stella Hardesty to dispose of it. Her uppity ways don’t convince Stella to take the job, and Priss attempts to blackmail her with a snapshot of Stella doing what she does best: curing woman-beaters by the use of force.      

Stella refuses to cooperate and goes home, only to hear later that Priss and her brother, Liman, have gone missing after calling in a disturbance. Stella is implicated when Sheriff “Goat” Jones discovers the scarf she left behind at the house. He warns her to stay local but Stella and her partner, Chrissy Shaw, go looking for Priss in Kansas City, where they discover that she runs an unusual business. When Priss herself—along with two other bodies—turns up in a pond belonging to one of Stella’s ex-clients, Stella must investigate a host of suspects, including a crooked but libidinous female judge, a coterie of jealous male escorts, and a Marxist ex-professor.

Hexes and Hemlines by Juliet Blackwell

From Goodreads: Lily gets called away from her vintage clothing store to give police a witch’s take on how the leader of a rationalist society could be murdered, surrounded by superstitions he discredited.

Evidence points to dark witchcraft. Lily’s determined to use magic of her own to find the murderer, before everyone’s luck runs out.

A Bad Day for Sorry by Sophie LIttlefield

One of my most favorite songs to “sing” at Karaoke bars (I’ll spare you the YouTube video) is “Earl Had to Die.” I just love the concept of ballsy women delivering home-style justice to wife-beating husbands. That must be why I snatched up A Bad Day for Sorry the second after I read the prologue:

Whuppin’ ass wasn’t so hard, Stella Hardesty thought as she took aim with the little Raven .25 she took off a cheating son-of-a-bitch in Kansas City last month. What was hard was making sure it stayed whupped. Especially on a day when it hit a hundred degrees before noon. And you were having hot flashes.

So begins Sophie Littlefield’s first mystery in a series about a rural Missouri sewing shop owner who moonlights as a balls-to-the-wall bounty hunter of sorts for bullying  husbands. Ever since she snuffed out her abusive husband with a wrench on her 50th birthday, she swore her days of being a victim were over. Without a husband or a relationship with her daughter,  who decided to shack up with losers just like her dad, Stella fills the empty void by preventing other women from suffering the same fate.

The mystery unfolds when Chrissy Shaw begs Stella to help her find her redneck  ex-husband, Roy Dean, who skipped town with her two-year-old son. Hot on the trail, Stella discovers the case of the missing wife beater might not be as simple as it looks. She realizes she may be in over her head when she learns of Roy’s involvement with the mob and a chop shop ring. Unable to shield Chrissy from the ugly truth, Stella teams up with the young mother who – despite her ditzy demeaner – proved to be a fearless sidekick. Sassy, brave and funny as hell, the unlikely duo make a great Thelma and Louise-esque team. On a quest to find the child, the two women are willing to face danger head-on. Not even a sadistic mob boss who dismembers his own men and throws their body parts in a burn barrel will stand in their way!

With an eccentric cast of complex characters and a hard-boiled mystery plot, this book is a departure from your typical chick lit/cozy mystery. Unlike any other leading lady – who are commonly young, leggy, slim and fashionably chic – Stella is no looker. She’s middle-aged, pudgy and unapologetically rough around the edges. After being treated like a second-class citizen  in a long, painful (literally!) marriage, she decided to give up on love altogether. But when the handsome local sherriff shows an interest in more than just her vigilante side gig, she begins to wonder if maybe, just maybe, there’s hope after all. As in most mystery series (*cough* Ranger and Morelli), both are too neurotic and stubborn to act on their desires. But that’s what keeps us reading! This exciting debut is undoubtedly the start of a very compelling series!