Friday, August 18, 2017


You will be amazed to hear I've had to do a bit of reshuffling my schedule once again. It's just that kind of year. We've got family visiting, I've got the usual big summer music gig at the end of the month, and a looming deadline for Carina Press. So I've jumped from Blind Side to Murder Takes the High Road in order to hit that deadline.

Blind Side is still going to happen, never fear. It's just being postponed a few more weeks. In the meantime, I'm enjoying reliving memories of my trip to Scotland a couple of years back. I'm using our tour itinerary, though changing names of hotels and so forth so as to not get sued by people with no sense of humor about murder occurring under their roof.

The unofficial blurb:
Vacationing librarian Carter Matheson must solve the murder of fellow tourists when someone begins picking off members of a mystery-themed bus tour traveling through the scenic highlands and islands of Scotland.

It's pretty much a classic cozy mystery with a generous dollop of romance and sex.

Here's an unedited excerpt:

 A gust of windy rain hit the small window in the corner. It sounded—and felt—like someone had thrown ice tacks at the glass. I opened my suitcase and dug around for the least wrinkled shirt I could find, and ended up selecting a black soft-wash long sleeve crew T-shirt. I remembered enough from my country dance days to know a ceilidh was not a formal event.

The door rattled noisily in its frame as someone banged on it.

“At this point the handyman's just going to be in the way,” I grumbled.

John leaned out of the bathroom and opened the door.

Trevor stood on the landing wearing a ferocious scowl and the blue cashmere sweater I’d bought him for his thirty-ninth birthday.

 “It’s for you,” John told me.

I gave him the look that speaks volumes, as we say in the librarian biz.

Trevor, too, was giving him a look. “Do you mind?” he said.

“Yep. I do,” John replied. “I’ve got thirteen minutes left to get ready for dinner and you’re about to take up way too many of them.” He withdrew into the bathroom once more, though the door remained open.
“Fine. Whatever.” Trevor swung back to me and realigned his glare. “How dare you go around telling everybody that Vance tried to shove you in front of a car?”

There wasn’t time to stop and argue. I hastily kicked out of the blue jeans I’d been wearing all day and pulled on a clean pair of black jeans. “I never said that.”

“Bullshit, Carter. Everyone on the bus was whispering about it.”

“I can’t help what people saw.” Okay, yes, I probably could have phrased that more tactfully. Trevor’s face got redder. I said quickly, “What they think they saw.”

“You sure didn’t try to correct them.”

I pawed through my suitcase for a clean pair of socks. It wasn’t that I didn’t have plenty of clean clothes, but from the state of my suitcase, you’d think Hamish had thrown our suitcases down a cliffside before stowing them in the bus’s luggage compartment. I threw a harassed look over my shoulder. “How do you know what I did or didn’t do?”

“I know you, Carter. I know how you operate. You’re doing everything you can to ruin this trip for me.”

That got my attention. I stopped digging through my suitcase, and straightened up so fast I’m surprised I didn’t throw my back out. “Explain how I’m ruining this trip for you?”

“Every time I turn around, there you are again with that accusing stare.”

Really?” John said from the bathroom. I think both Trevor and I had forgotten he was still in there.  I certainly hadn’t thought he could hear us over the sound of running water. We both stared at him, framed in the bathroom doorway, slowly, deliberately drawing the razor across his square jaw. He scraped away another snowy drift of shaving cream and said to Trevor, “Because you’re the one who keeps showing up at our door.”

 “Our?” Trevor looked even more taken aback. “How does this involve you?”

“It’s my room. Half my room.”

I think it genuinely threw Trevor. In any event it was a second or two before he turned back to me. “Do you really want to do this here?” he asked in a tone I knew only too well.

“I don’t want to do it at all. Look, I’m not accusing Vance of anything. I don’t think he deliberately pushed me into the road. If you’d shut up about it, people would lose interest in the subject.”

“He’s right,” John said.

“Nobody asked you,” Trevor snapped.

“If you’re going to have this conversation in my room, then I have a right to express my opinion.”

It probably wasn’t funny, but somehow at that moment, it seemed funny.

Trevor opened his mouth but I cut him off.  “Okay, time out. In fact, game over. Trevor, I don’t know what to tell you. I’m not leaving the tour. And if that’s going to ruin it for you, sorry. I have every much right to be here as you do.”

“This is just more of your passive-aggressive—”

“Uh, no,” John said, rinsing off his razor. “That’s aggressive-aggressive.”

Will you keep out of it?” Trevor shouted. “This isn’t any of your business.”

The lights flickered and went out. 


  1. Muuuurdderrrrrrr in my neck of the woods!!! I love John already.

  2. Hahaaa! Groovy!

    I'm already in love with John. :-)

  3. I'm sorry that you had to reshuffle, but I'm not sorry to see this story. I love the tension! I'm looking forward to a little Scottish murder. (Not the Shakespeare variety, either) ;)

  4. Thanks for the snippet...been looking forward to this one! In the last cool picture of the night scene....are those very giant bats flapping around in the highlands night?

  5. It has been quite a while since I have attended a ceilidh....or a murder....although, if you saw Miss Butterwith dance.....

  6. Oh yesss!!! Scotland, mystery, romance and Josh's writing ~ in Scotland!!! ~ Is there anything better?! 😍

  7. Great teaser! When is it 2018?

  8. Dear Josh,

    I read your post through the unofficial blurb. That has to be it for me. Unlike many of your readers, I never read your excerpts. My longing for the finished product is too intense; I want it all, and I want it now. Better not to toy with my emotions and just wait it out. But whenever it does see the light of day, I know it will be amazing. Good luck. <3

  9. I can't wait for this. Blind Side will wait. I'm actually enjoying the anticipation. You just enjoy writing. Then we'll all be happy. Thank you for the snippet.

  10. This comment has been removed by the author.

  11. Huge fan of John already! LOL Looking forward to finding out how the non-harmonious Carter and Trevor ended up on a tour together.

  12. As long as you keep writing them, I'll keep reading them - no matter what the order they are in!

  13. I'm so happy I have the day off tomorrow so I can catch up to things! I loved the other sneak peek so much and this looks great too! I just know I'm going to like the heck out of this book!! Can't wait!!! And yes I've been to a ceilidh too. Formal it was not but going with guys is preferable. At least you get a dancing partner that way, although we did have fun. I did liked all the guys with their kilts. :) (A little stalkerish fact, you went to Scotland weeks before I moved there for my master's and I was so extremely dissapointed that I couldnt meet you some way... Better for you I believe).

  14. I am looking forward to this story! I would love to do a mystery- themed bus tour, though without a real murder, cozy or not cozy. 😄 It sounds incredibly promising. I can't wait!

  15. Hi

    This sounds awesome! I'm curious though is The Ghost had an Early Check Out still due for release in October? The first book in the series is one of my favorites.

  16. Murder, Scotland, and bus tour! Can't wait!