Friday, September 28, 2018

Anna Celeste Burke – A Dead Cousin is featured at the HBS Author's Spotlight Showcase

The Showcase is a special feature of the Author's Spotlight. It is designed to highlight Spotlight author's NEW releases and their soon to be released novels.

The HBS Author's Spotlight SHOWCASES Anna Celeste Burke's New Book: A Dead Cousin.

Author Anna Celeste Burke is author of the Jessica Huntington Desert Cities Mystery series.

A Dead Cousin

Jessica Huntington Desert Cities Mystery #5

Author: Anna Celeste Burke


A frantic call for help has Jessica on the run.

Taken from his home while his daughter hides upstairs, Detective Frank Fontana is gone. Jessica’s out to save him, but what if he doesn’t want to be found? Has he been abducted or is he on the run?

Even a message from Frank isn't all that clear-cut: Trust no one. Even the devil was once an angel. Is it a warning to Jessica or a confession as Frank’s partner, Detective Rikki Havens, suggests?

When a body turns up, the identity of the victim only fuels the controversy. Good cops. Bad cops. Missing money. Undercover operations that may or may not have ended. Jessica and her friends soon become entangled in a web of secrets and lies that make it hard to know who’s on which side of the law.

Is Frank a good cop gone bad or in the worst mess of his life?

Excerpt from A Dead Cousin

Chapter 1

A Frantic Phone Call 

Trouble always seems to find me when I least expect it. Is it just me or does that happen to calamity magnets everywhere? Not all trouble is created equal though, is it?

After a late night of celebrating with my Cat Pack friends, I planned to sleep in Saturday morning. Three months without a new trauma had been reason enough to celebrate, but that Mom was on the mend had added to the festive feeling. When my handsome detective friend, Frank Fontana, informed us that the law had finally caught up with my ex-husband’s despicable trophy wife the mood turned jubilant. Life behind bars would put a welcome damper on the tantrum-prone Hollywood diva’s ability to make a scene and get me unwanted media attention as the jilted ex-wife.

Frank had even more good news. The French Connection, a big undercover operation centered in and around Perris where he lives, was finally over. Frank who’d been in a funk for months was almost giddy with relief. His mood was contagious, and I’d let my guard down. I should have known better since the hallmark of life in my mid-thirties has been a blitz of improbable events. Most involved murder and mayhem, and only a few of those events could be attributed to problems for the clients in my law practice.

Anastasia, a charming standard French poodle orphaned in the wake of one of those improbable events, must have been pooped. She usually serves as my alarm clock these days. This morning, my phone woke me instead. I struggled to find it in a semi-conscious state.

“Hello,” I said in a raspy voice. “Jessica is that you?”


“It’s Evie.”

“Good morning, Evie.”

“No, it’s not!” Evie exclaimed and then began to sob. “Some men came to the house to see Dad. I was upstairs, and I heard him use our secret word that means I’m supposed to hide. They took him away.”

I gasped as I sat up and sleepiness gave way to panic—a disorder I still battle at times. My heart raced. I couldn’t breathe. Somehow, I flew into action anyway. I retrieved the jeans and t-shirt I’d worn the night before from the back of a chair near my bed where I’d tossed them. No, no, no! Not Frank! Not Evie! I shrieked inwardly. Frankie! What about Frankie?

“Where’s Frankie? Is he with you?” I asked as I dressed in record time.

“No. Frankie spent the night at a friend’s house. Dad and I were going to pick him up and take him to breakfast,” Evie replied in between sniffles.

“Tell me where he is, okay?” Evie gave me the name of Frankie’s friend and the address where he’d spent the night. I checked the time on my phone, surprised to see how early it was. Normally, it was too early to call and arrange for someone to pick up Frankie except that they must have been expecting his dad to drop by before breakfast.

“I’m on my way and I’m sending help. What’s the code word that everything’s okay?”

Evie gave it to me. I’d already composed an email to one of Frank’s colleagues, Detective Rikki Havens. Once I had that code word from Evie, I hit send. Rikki could expedite a 911 emergency dispatch sending help to Frank Fontana’s address in Perris. I warned her to be careful since there might still be a crime in progress—the kidnapping of Frank Fontana and maybe his daughter if Evie was mistaken and the abductors were still around.

“My friend, Rikki, who works with your dad will get there before me. Stay put until she gives you the code word that it’s safe to come out. I’m going to call your grandpa and grandma, too.”

“I know who Rikki is. I was going to call Grampa, but I didn’t want to give him a heart attack.” Evie’s voice broke. Rikki responded to my text immediately.

“Don’t worry, sweetie. I’ll be careful. Besides, your grandpa’s a tough cop. Rikki just texted me that she’s on her way and bringing help.”

I heard a beeping sound on the line. Rikki was trying to call me. I slipped on my shoes, grabbed my purse, and headed down the hallway toward the kitchen.

Anastasia suddenly bounded my way. I gave the happy poodle a pat on the head and hollered for Bernadette. She came running from the wing of the house in which her suite is located and met me in the kitchen.

“Bernadette and I will get there as soon as we can. Don’t hang up. I want you to tell Bernadette what you told me, please, honey?”

“I will.”

“Where’s your phone?” I asked as I handed mine to Bernadette. She pulled it out of a pocket. “Keep her talking, will you?” Bernadette nodded as we completed the phone switch.

“Coffee,” Bernadette said, pointing to the pot with a mug sitting next to it.

“What’s going on, Evie?” She asked in a sweet, gentle voice. Her eyes widened as she listened to what Evie had to say. Anastasia’s leash was hanging on the back of a bar stool in the kitchen.

“Has she already been out?” I whispered as I pulled a travel mug out of the cupboard for my coffee. Bernadette nodded.

“Her breakfast, too?” Another nod. I brushed Bernadette’s sweet face with a grateful kiss. The moment I grabbed her leash, Anastasia went on alert.

“Let’s go!” I said as I took a couple of sips of coffee and then ran with Anastasia to my car in the garage.

I called Rikki on Bernadette’s phone as I put Anastasia in her harness. In two or three minutes Rikki and I had worked out a plan about what to do when she arrived at Frank Fontana’s house. I prayed with all my heart that help would get there in time and that we’d find Evie and Frank unharmed.

“This can’t be happening!” I muttered a few minutes later as I merged onto I-10 West. Bernadette didn’t say a word until she ended her call about ten minutes later. By then, I was racing at top speed and had already almost reached the San Gorgonio pass leading out of the Coachella Valley.

“You’d better slow down. I want to know what’s going on, too, but we won’t get to Perris faster if you’re in a wreck or get pulled over by the police.” A glance at the speedometer told me Bernadette was right. Pushing the speed limit’s one thing, flying at over ninety miles per hour is just plain crazy.

“Evie’s so scared,” I said, trying not to tear up at the memory of her sobbing.

“Rikki’s with her now. Evie’s tough and smart. She did just what her dad told her to do in an emergency.”

“I know.” I slowed down as I hurtled past a line of semis as though they were standing still. “Uh-oh. Too late!”

The flashing lights were almost on my bumper before I heard the siren. I pulled off the highway onto the berm. The police officer jumped out of his SUV and almost ran to my window.

“Great! This guy can’t wait to ticket me!” I moaned. Anastasia who’d been as quiet as a mouse since I’d put her into her doggie harness, whined.

“That’s what you get for driving so fast in a hot car—como alma que lleva el diablo!” I huffed at Bernadette’s chiding tone. Maybe I was driving like a soul fleeing the devil, yes, but my Bimmer convertible is a sedan, not a roadster. A rap on the window kept me from arguing with Bernadette.

“Ms. Huntington,” the officer said when I rolled my window down. I cast a puzzled glance Bernadette’s way. She shrugged. He must have run my plates before pulling me over to have my name already.


“I’ve been tailing you with my lights on for a few miles. You were moving!”

“I’m sorry. I have an emergency on my hands. If you give me a ticket, I promise I’ll cool it. I really need to get back on the road.”

“I’m not going to ticket you. Detective Havens with the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department says I’m to provide you with an escort. Let me get ahead of you. We’ll ease out onto the highway and then we’ll hit it!”

“Thank you, uh, I…” That’s all I could say before he hustled back to his car. He had the siren and lights on in seconds and was back on the highway waiting for me before I had my foot on the accelerator.

“It’s a good thing it’s Saturday and there’s not much traffic. That doesn’t look like easing it to me!” Bernadette harrumphed, giving her seat belt a little yank to make sure it was secure.

“Aw, come on, I thought sure you’d tell me God just sent us a guardian angel.”

“Let’s roll!” She exclaimed. When we edged past ninety, Bernadette crossed herself. Keeping up with the Sheriff’s deputy was harrowing, especially once we’d made the transition from I-10 to State Route 60 toward Riverside. That highway winds through a hilly pass before reaching the turnoff that leads south to Perris...

Author: Anna Celeste Burke

Author Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Humor And Comedy

Website: Desert Cities Mystery
Author's Blog: Desert Cities Mystery
Twitter: @aburke59
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Facebook: Check Out Facebook

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Amazon Author Profile

Author Description: Anna Celeste Burke is an award-winning, USA Today and Wall Street Journal Bestselling Author!

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Life is an extravaganza! figuring out how to hang tough and make the most of the wild ride is the challenge.

On my way to Oahu to join the rock musician and high school drop-out I had met in San Diego and married in Tijuana, I was nabbed by the police as a runaway. When the police let me go and the rock band broke up, my husband and I had to find another way to survive. Our next stop: Disney World where we trained to be chefs, courtesy of the Walt Disney World University. A GED for my husband and many more years of education landed us in academia at The Ohio State University. Retired now from my role as a professor in social work and behavioral science, I have picked up a long-time interest in writing fiction. I'm still married to the same sweet guy and live with him in the Palm Springs area. In addition to reading and writing fiction, I enjoy painting, hiking, hanging out with my handsome husband and tending to my Siamese kitties.

An award-winning and bestselling author I enjoy snooping into life's mysteries with fun, fiction, & food—California style! My books include the Jessica Huntington Desert Cities Mystery series set in the Coachella Valley near Palm Springs, the Corsario Cove Cozy Mystery series set on California’s Central Coast, and The Georgie Shaw Cozy Mystery series set in Orange County, California--the OC. Coming soon: The Misadventures of Betsy Stark also set here in the Coachella Valley.

Author's Book List
Murder of the Maestro - Georgie Shaw Cozy Mystery #6
E-Book Available Now. Release Date 3/2/18.

Marvelous Marley World’s legendary maestro is murdered.

In good spirits at a gala marking his retirement, Dave Rollins disappears later that night. His beautiful home overlooking the Pacific Ocean is trashed—not just searched, but vandalized, too. The maestro’s old friend and boss, Max Marley, wants answers!

At the crack of dawn, Max calls Georgie Shaw and Detective Jack Wheeler distraught, demanding that they help solve the mystery of the missing maestro. When Dave Rollins’ body is found on the rocks below his Malibu cliffside estate, Georgie and Jack are pulled into another whodunit.

Who killed Dave Rollins? Did a secret from the maestro's youth catch up with him decades later? Or did a scorned woman, a jealous rival, a disturbed fan or someone else murder the maestro?

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Barnes and Noble

Murder at Sea of Passenger X - Georgie Shaw Cozy Mystery #5
Welcome aboard! Georgie Shaw and her handsome new husband, Detective Jack Wheeler, are living it up on Marvelous Marley World’s luxurious cruise ship when trouble strikes. "The screaming came in bursts followed by shouts of man overboard, just like in a movie." Who is passenger X? Did he fall or was he pushed? Does it have anything to do with the rash of jewelry thefts or the murdered man found near the spot where Passenger X went overboard?

With a killer on the loose, Georgie and Jack are soon enlisted to help solve the case. It's a non-stop scramble to unravel the mystery before Georgie's eccentric boss, "Mad" Max Marley, arrives in Tahiti demanding answers. That won't be easy since Passenger X isn't the only one with a dubious identity as the list of suspects grows.

That list includes Georgie's old friend Chef Gerard and his striking blond, blue-eyed Sous Chef, Paolo. Masters of five-star cuisine and wizards with chocolate, are they cooking up more than sumptuous feasts and banquets of desserts? How about the guy in the Perroquet suit or "Monster Marston," a standout in the fitness center?

It's all hands on deck to figure out whodunit. Even Georgie's cats get involved in the action on board this cruise that comes with a boatload of mystery!

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Barnes and Noble

A Merry Christmas Wedding Mystery - Georgie Shaw Cozy Mystery #4
The star of Marvelous Marley World's latest live-action feature film goes missing! What in the World is going on?

There’s less than a month to go before Georgie Shaw and Detective Jack Wheeler’s Christmas wedding. With Georgie’s boss “Mad Max” Marley involved, the whole affair becomes much more complicated. Determined to keep the wedding plans from being derailed, Georgie pays Max a visit on the set of Marvelous Marley World’s newest feature film, The Lonely Swan Prince. The sudden disappearance of the movie’s leading lady plunges Georgie and Jack into the middle of a mystery. Where’s the missing diva? If she didn’t vanish on her own accord whodunit and why?

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Barnes and Noble

All Hallows' Eve Heist - Georgie Shaw Cozy Mystery #3
An art heist on Halloween goes wrong.

When thieves break into Marvelous Marley World Headquarters on All Hallows' Eve, they steal Max Marley's valuable animation cels and shoot a Gallery guard.

It's the end of date night for Georgie Shaw and Detective Jack Wheeler when they're both summoned to the scene. Gunshots fired in the tunnels beneath Marvelous Marley World signal more trouble as trigger-happy thieves head for the theme park. With the Halloween Hullabaloo-Boo in full swing, the pressure's on to catch the culprits before they can get away with their cache of stolen treats or unleash dirty tricks on unsuspecting park guests.

A message from the grave has everyone stumped. That's not all. Figuring out whodunit could take a little extra work. The park is packed, and everyone's in costume, including the bad guys. Will Jack and Georgie nab the faux-furred fiends before they can wreak more havoc or escape?

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Barnes and Noble

Love Notes in the Key of Sea - Georgie Shaw Cozy Mystery #2
Georgie Shaw and Detective Jack Wheeler have a second chance at love—despite the fact they met during the investigation of a Murder at Catmmando Mountain. Decades earlier, Georgie lost the love of her life in an attack on the beach that left one man dead and two others missing including her fiancé, Danny Farrell. When Georgie returns to Corsario Cove, more than memories haunt her as a song Danny wrote just for her echoes in the air: Love Notes in the Key of Sea. Who else, other than she and Danny could know that song? A new mystery brought Georgie and Jack together, will an old one drive them apart?

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Barnes and Noble

Murder at Catmmando Mountain - Georgie Shaw Cozy Mystery #1
USA Today Bestselling author, Anna Celeste Burke, brings you murder, mayhem, and a second chance at love! Mystery, food, and a Siamese cat named after Miles Davis, too.

It's not easy doing Public Relations for Catmmando Tom, a famous cartoon cat. When they find a dead body at the foot of Catmmando Mountain in Marvelous Marley World's Arcadia theme park it's a PR nightmare! Still, Georgie Shaw loves working at the "Cat Factory," but when someone frames her for murder more than her job is at stake. Who's out to get Georgie? Can she and the handsome detective, Jack Wheeler, figure it out before there's more trouble at Marvelous Marley World? Whodunit? Get your copy of this fun fast-paced novella to find out!


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Barnes and Noble

Cowabunga Christmas - Corsario Cove Cozy Mystery #1
"Are you telling me we have a dead Santa on our hands?"

It’s a Cowabunga Christmas in Corsario Cove for newlyweds, Kim and Brien. Surf’s up at the exclusive resort they’ve chosen as their honeymoon destination. The Sanctuary Resort and Spa at Corsario Cove has everything: a spectacular location with scenic views of the Pacific Ocean, luxurious accommodations, 5-star cuisine, spa services, and a staff that aims to anticipate and meet your every need.

A romantic midnight swim in the Club Level terrace pool changes everything when an unexpected guest drops in wearing a Santa Suit with a couple bullet holes in it! Who killed Santa? Kim and Brien are soon swept up in murder and mayhem trying to unravel the mystery.

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Barnes and Noble

A Dead Daughter - Jessica Huntington Desert Cities Mystery Book 3
Murder and mayhem take Jessica Huntington to new heights when Libby Van Der Woert wants to meet at the top of the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. The disturbed daughter of Jessica’s wealthy clients, Libby says she has information about her friend, Shannon Donnelly. Another mixed-up daughter of the rich and famous, no one has heard from Shannon Donnelly in over a week. Trouble begins the moment Jessica greets Libby in the Mt. San Jacinto Wilderness. Wild, manic, and sure she’s being followed, Libby’s got a gun. All hell breaks loose when Libby’s Beverly Hills shrink shows up with a gun of his own.

What’s up with the missing and misguided daughters of wealth and privilege in Dr. Carr’s care? Jessica and her friends go toe-to-toe with more well-heeled heels in A DEAD DAUGHTER. Getting to the bottom of things Jessica-Huntington-style, sets off a whirlwind tour of fashionable enclaves, upscale rehab clinics, shops, restaurants and other haute hangouts. Behind all the glitz and glam: secrets, lies, corporate wheeling and dealing. How can Jessica and her friends outwit and outlive ‘la crème de la crud’ wreaking havoc from Palm Springs to Beverly Hills?

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Barnes and Noble

Love a Foot Above the Ground
We should all have a Bernadette in our lives... Set in California and Mexico in the 1960s this tale evokes a simpler, more innocent time and place. A story of love, loss, and resilience in the face of a haunting mystery.

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Barnes and Noble

A Dead Sister - Jessica Huntington Desert Cities Mystery #2
“The worst kind of truth is better than the best lie, Jessica.” Jessica Huntington hopes Bernadette is right as she races headlong into trouble to discover the truth about the death of a high school friend, Kelly Fontana. Found in a Palm Springs hotel parking lot, the auburn-haired beauty with the voice of an angel and a streak of wild, died in a hit-and-run. Ruled an accident, the case soon grew cold.

Now, fourteen years later, Kelly’s handsome cousin, Detective Frank Fontana, has disturbing news. A lowlife meth addict has come forward as an eyewitness and swears, “It weren’t no accident! It was on purpose!” Things soon heat up. Not just the cold case, but the relationship between Jessica and Frank. Sleuthing Jessica Huntington style brings her face-to-face with the rich and famous as she seeks justice for Kelly. High living has its absurd moments as Jessica’s search takes her from Palm Springs to Beverly Hills, Hollywood, haute shops, spas, eateries and a Vault Top 100 LA law firm.

Who killed Kelly Fontana? The answer is buried beneath lies, drugs, sex and secrets that reveal a seamier side of wealth and celebrity. What will it cost Jessica and her friends to confront the worst kind of truth? "

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Barnes and Noble

A Dead Husband - Jessica Huntington Desert Cities Mystery Book 1
"My first day as a sleuth was more Stephanie Plum than Miss Marple." Jessica Huntington, amateur sleuth with a shopping jones and a black AMEX card, finds out money can’t buy happiness, or save your neck. Her well-planned life in shambles, she’s hiding out near Palm Springs. When her best friend’s husband is murdered, Jessica and her friends are soon stalked by scoundrels in pantyhose, stilettos, Bruno Maglis, and Armani suits. Roger Stone had something that got him killed. What was it and what will they do to get it back?

Even in a desert paradise life is full of surprises, like A DEAD HUSBAND.

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Barnes and Noble

Heinous Habits - Corsario Cove Cozy Mystery #3
An intriguing package arrives with a mysterious message from a monk at the Benedictine Monastery perched high above Corsario Cove. That package and an all-expense paid second honeymoon lure newlyweds Kim & Brien back to the luxurious Sanctuary Resort & Spa. Troubled monks seem to be everywhere--at the resort, the surfer village near the beach, and in the nearby town of San Albinus. "God is not pleased," cries a hooded figure from a "cavern of forgotten dreams." Arson, kidnapping, and murder soon shove Kim and Brien in over their heads. What's going on? Are the mad monks in Corsario Cove crazy or crazy like a fox? Come, join Kim and Brien, Detective Mitchum, and the enigmatic new resident of Sanctuary Grove, Bede Greco, as they try to make sense of it all.

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Barnes and Noble

A Body on Fitzgerald's Bluff
When Miriam Webster moves into the Hemingway Cottage in the Seaview Cottages active adult community, she brings a few secrets with her.

Can she keep them after she and her spirited Dalmatian, Domino, discover the body of a beautiful young woman on Fitzgerald’s Bluff?

The mystery takes a quick detour when Miriam and her friends return to Fitzgerald’s Bluff with Deputy Sheriff Darnell Devers in tow. The dead woman’s gone, but not for long. Where the body turns up is only one of the surprising twists the mystery takes for Miriam and her new friends.

Convinced that the local Deputy Sheriff isn’t up to the task of finding a killer on the loose, Miriam and her gang of Grand Old Lady Detectives [G.O.L.D.] set out to discover the truth about A Body on Fitzgerald’s Bluff. Can they solve the case without becoming the killer’s next victim?

Lily's Homecoming Under Fire - Calla Lily Mystery #1
Someone in California’s wine country wants Lily dead.

When Lily Callahan returns home to California’s wine country, sparks fly amid a hail of bullets as she and U.S. Marshall Austin Jennings take cover.

Who wants Lily dead? Why?

Money, fame, and love may all come into play when Lily and Marshal Jennings try to find out who’s behind the attempt on Lily’s life. The trouble begins soon after beloved Aunt Lettie dies and leaves her estate to Lily—maybe it’s about the money.

Or, is life imitating art? Lily’s trouble-making character in a long-running TV soap was recently killed by a paid hitman. Is a crazed fan trying to end Lily’s life as well as her acting career? Did her agent borrow a page from the script after Lily dismissed him?

Lily’s surprised to find an old flame waiting for her when she returns home. Has he reached the point that if he can’t have her, nobody can? If it’s about an old love that’s become dangerous, the new one that propels Lily and Austin into each other’s arms won’t help.

Life in small town California wine country is a tangled vine of mystery, suspense, and intrigue.

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