{Mystery/Maggie Thorsen Mystery}




On the road with Murder on the Orient Espresso

by Sandra Balzo

The idea of taking somebody on vacation is usually greeted with cheers. Even jubilation. Not always so, though, when you’re a series author and that “somebody” is your protagonist.

It’s no coincidence that those of us who read series mystery enjoy the familiar settings and characters from book to book. That is, after all, the very definition of a series. I have to admit that, as a reader, I’m not all that enthusiastic about change.   For my money, you can keep your “fish out of water” plot, thank you very much. I prefer my finny friends comfortably submerged in a familiar pond.

That being the case, I’ve wondered why authors decided to send their sleuths on field trips.  Before I started writing my Maggy Thorsen Coffeehouse Mysteries, I assumed it was because the authors–not their readers–were bored and looking for a new challenge.

After seven books in the Maggy series, I’m not so sure about that. For my part, I’m quite happy keeping Maggy in the coffeehouse and the coffeehouse in Brookhills, Wisconsin. (Though I did knock it down once and move it across town.)

The problem I’ve found through the years, though, is a dearth of people to kill. Small town, small population. And getting smaller.

And so, in Murder on the Orient Espresso, I decided to have Maggy accompany her main squeeze, Sheriff Jake Pavlik, to South Florida to a mystery writers’ conference, where Pavlik is to speak.

This was not as much of a stretch for me as it was for Maggy. I now live in Fort Lauderdale and am treasurer of the Florida Chapter of Mystery Writers of America, which puts on the premier mystery writers conference in the world, Sleuthfest.

[Disclaimer: Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is unintentional and purely coincidental. Objects in mirror may be closer than they appear.]

For the record, Sleuthfest does NOT pile various warring factions of writers, reviewers and fans onto a night train into the Everglades to re-enact Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express. And if we did, we’d make damn sure the weather was good, the tracks were solid and . . . well, I can’t promise you an absence of pythons. They are becoming a bit of a nuisance down here.

But you get my point. The scenario would have been a little tougher to achieve in Brookhills. Besides, I’d been dying to give Maggy some alone-time with Sheriff Pavlik, he of the tousled dark hair and mood-ring blue eyes. Sending them away together was just the ticket–both for the relationship to develop, but also to give Pavlik a co-starring role.

I think it all works very nicely, and researching and writing Murder on the Orient Espresso was an absolute blast. I even put a diagram of the train and a cast of characters at the front of the book, like in an old-time mystery novel.  Publishers Weekly says Orient Espresso is “exciting,” and Booklist predicts this “cozy with a shot of Christie” will be a hit with my readers.

I sure hope so. And, in return, I swear I will send Maggy and Pavlik back to Brookhills posthaste for the ninth book. In the meantime, though, I hope you’ll come along with us for the ride.

I promise you it’s a wild one.

Thank you, Sandra for stopping by today!!


A bit about Sandra…..

Sandra Balzo is an award-winning author of crime fiction, including nine books in two different mystery series from Severn House–the Maggy Thorsen Coffeehouse Mysteries and Main Street Murders, set in the High Country of North Carolina.  Balzo’s books have garnered starred reviews from Kirkus and Booklist, while being recommended to readers of Janet Evanovich, Charlaine Harris, Mary Daheim, Joan Hess and Margaret Maron. A Wisconsin native, Sandy now splits her time between South Florida and North Carolina.

Find Sandy online at, Pinterest (, Facebook (www.facebook/SandraBalzoMysteries), LinkedIn (Sandra Balzo), Goodreads ( and Twitter (@SandraBalzo).


Murder on the Orient Espresso
Series: Maggy Thorsen Mysteries (Book 8)
by Sandra Balzo
Released: December 01, 2013


Wisconsin coffeehouse owner Maggy Thorsen accompanies her main squeeze, Sheriff Jake Pavlik, to South Florida, where he’s been asked to speak at a mystery-writers’ conference.  Maggy is anticipating a romantic arrival in their hotel suite, but when the opening night event turns out to be a re-enactment of Agatha Christie’s classic, Murder on the Orient Express, the couple reluctantly sets off on a night train into the Everglades.


The idea is to solve the “crime” and return, but the troupe soon finds itself embroiled in a real-life murder mystery as creepy and baffling as any work of fiction.


Available in U.S. December 1st!


Murder on the Orient Espresso

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So set back and enjoy your visit with author, P.M. Terrell!!




I’ve noticed something interesting since I introduced the characters of Dylan Maguire in my Black Swamp Mysteries series and Ryan O’Clery in The Tempest Murders. I can be talking about the books and my audience is listening politely, but as soon as I mention that they’re Irish, their eyes get wide and they don’t need to hear anything else. They want the books.


Just what is it about the Irish that we love so much?


Ancestors on both sides of my family were from Ireland. My father’s family was from what is now Northern Ireland, having arrived on America’s shores long before the Emerald Isle was divided into two countries. They all had jet black hair and vivid green eyes. My mother’s family, however, was filled with red-heads. It turned out that when the Vikings came south and raided Ireland, many of them remained and became more Irish than the Irish. It was the Vikings who brought the red hair to Ireland, so those towns and villages on the east coast were more likely to have red-heads since those were the landing sites of the Vikings. Those on the far west coast were more isolated and were more likely to have black or dark brown hair.


I learned from my mother that the Irish are a happy lot. “The luck of the Irish” is actually tongue-in-cheek because anyone who knows the Irish know they tend to have the worst luck of just about anybody. But they are incredibly resilient. They live in a country where it rains almost constantly and yet they’re the first to point out how green everything is, how fresh the air smells, and what a wonderful day they’re having. When I developed the character of Dylan Maguire, I gave him the personality of the happy Irishman; the one who is always ready for an ale and a laugh and a bit of craic (conversation). Conversation, as it turns out, is another character trait of the Irish. It’s said if you ever kiss the Blarney Stone, you’ll be given the gift of gab. But you won’t find many Irish kissing it, because if they did they might never shut up.


I learned from my father that the Irish can also be fierce defenders of their families and homes. Both Dylan Maguire and Ryan O’Clery are very strong, very capable and as it turns out, able to kill when the situation warrants it. They would both rather be passionately in love and having a romping good time but when CIA operative Dylan Maguire or Detective Ryan O’Clery are at work, they are all work. Physically fit and robust, no one could be more serious about keeping their families safe.


But let’s face it. One reason we love the Irish is because of their awesome accents. In a recent survey, the Scottish have the number 1 most admired accent in the world followed by the Irish and then the Australians. They have a lilt to their voices that make them easy to listen to; it’s sexy, it’s melodious and we just can’t get enough of it.


So tell me, what do you like most about an Irish character?

Thank you, for stopping by today, P.M. !


The Tempest Murders

P.M.-TerrellAbout the Author:

P.M. Terrell is the award-winning, internationally acclaimed author of more than 18 books in 4 genres. A full-time author since 2002, she previously opened and operated two computer companies in the Washington, DC area. Her specialties were in the areas of computer crime and computer intelligence and her clients included the Secret Service, CIA and Department of Defense as well as local law enforcement. Computer and spy technology are two themes that recur throughout her books. She is the co-founder of The Book ‘Em Foundation, whose mission is to raise awareness of the link between high illiteracy rates and high crime rates. And she founded the annual Book ‘Em North Carolina Writers Conference and Book Fair which takes place each February. She is also an animal advocate and helped to start the New Leash on Life program in which dogs destined for euthanasia are rescued and paired with prison inmates in Robeson County, North Carolina, who train them. The dogs are then adopted into loving homes.


About the Book:

Detective Ryan O’Clery has always had dreams of a beautiful woman he’d loved and lost but when he discovers his ancestor’s journals from his native Ireland, he realizes his dreams are really the other man’s memories.


Now he is working a series of murders in North Carolina that are eerily similar to cases Rian Kelly was working when his soul mate was murdered during one of Ireland’s most horrific storms, in which the Atlantic Ocean swept over the island all the way to the Irish Sea.


As Hurricane Irene barrels toward the North Carolina coastline, Ryan discovers the serial killer’s real target is a reporter who bears a striking resemblance to the woman of his dreams—a woman with whom Ryan O’Clery is falling deeply in love.


Is history destined to repeat itself? Or can Ryan save Cathleen Reilly from a killer intent on destroying everything he ever loved?


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