Ruth Francisco is the author of the critically acclaimed literary mysteries Confessions of a Deathmaiden and Good Morning, Darkness, which tops today’s Buffet.

ruthRuth worked in the film industry for 15 years before selling her first novel, Confessions of a Deathmaiden, to Warner Books in 2003.

Good Morning, Darkness is a standalone mystery, a dark tale with some surprising twists. A Mexican fisherman makes a gruesome discovery on the beach not far from L.A.’s Marina del Rey. “The adroit plotting and additional fillip at the end are sufficiently compelling to qualify this as one of the year’s best mysteries,” raved Publishers Weekly.

Ruth followed up Good Morning, Darkness with her controversial third novel, The Secret Memoirs of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. She is a frequent contributor to “The Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine” and is the food columnist for “Mad Housewife Wine.”

Ruth grew up in New England and graduated from Swarthmore College. She currently lives in Florida.

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Good Morning, Darkness

Mystery, Thriller & Suspense > Psychological Thrillers
Author: Ruth Francisco

Good Morning, Darkness

Everyone is in love with Laura — the Mexican fisherman who admires her through her kitchen window as he walks in the predawn darkness to the ocean; her boyfriend, Scott, a successful real estate agent who asks her to marry him and won’t take no for an answer; the detective who instructs her in martial arts; and her lascivious boss.

Then one day Laura disappears. There is no evidence of foul play—she had quit her job and claimed to be visiting her sick mother on the East Coast. But while wandering the beach one night, the fisherman finds a woman’s severed arm. When another one turns up shortly afterward, he believes they must be Laura’s. LAPD Detective Sergeant Reggie Brooks is also wondering if Laura is alive or dead. Yet without a missing person’s report or any evidence to suggest that the arms belonged to Laura, he cannot officially investigate.

Unofficially, however, Reggie Brooks can’t stop thinking about what happened to the vanished, beautiful woman who took his martial arts classes and now haunts his dreams. Soon he is driving up and down the windswept, lonely coastal highway in search of answers. He risks his job and his marriage as his obsession deepens. And his passion will lead him to a dark, terrifying place of unthinkable acts, irrational behavior, and premeditated murder…


Sourdough Wars

Mystery > Cozy
Author: julie Smith
Sourdough Wars: A Cozy and Humorous San Francisco Mystery; Rebecca Schwartz #2 (The Rebecca Schwartz Series)

To you, it’s just a frozen lump of dough; but to some, it’s life and death…

Especially to handsome Peter Martinelli, who wants to auction off the fabled sourdough starter from his family’s famous bakery. But who’d buy a frozen hunk of flour and water? Only, it turns out, every bakery in San Francisco, a national food conglomerate, and an upstart ringer with a mysterious backer.

Someone would even kill for it. And does.

Enter lawyer sleuth Rebecca Schwartz, whose client is her own partner, glamorous Chris Nicholson, Martinelli’s main squeeze before the ill-starred auction.

Rebecca noshes her way through the case in hilariously unorthodox style, tasting some great bread along the way, but also uncovering so many ancient jealousies, long-simmering feuds, and seething resentments that she barely escapes death by doughball.

The Blue Hour

Mystery, Thriller & Suspense > Police Procedurals
Author: T. Jefferson Parker
The Blue Hour (Merci Rayborn Novels)

Tim Hess is a semi-retired homicide cop staring at his own death sentence – lung cancer. Time is running out. Thrice divorced and childless, Hess is the classic loner cop – so he’s happy to accept the difficult job offered to him: find and stop a serial killer who’s been abducting beautiful young women in Orange County.

His new partner, and boss, is the brash, ambitious Merci Rayborn. She’s unpopular and unloved by her fellow cops, but she’s also relentless, smart and principled. Hess, challenged by the investigation and by his own disease, isn’t happy about taking orders from Merci, and he certainly isn’t planning for her to fall in love with him…

A Lady in Defiance (Romance in the Rockies)

Religious Fiction > Historical
Author: Heather Blanton
A Lady in Defiance (Romance in the Rockies)

Charles McIntyre owns everything and everyone in the lawless, godless mining town of Defiance. When three good, Christian sisters from his beloved South show up stranded, alone, and offering to open a “nice” hotel, he is intrigued enough to let them stay…especially since he sees feisty middle sister Naomi as a possible conquest. But Naomi, angry with God for widowing her, wants no part of Defiance or the saloon-owning, prostitute-keeping Mr. McIntyre. It would seem however, that God has gone to elaborate lengths to bring them together. The question is, “Why?” Does God really have a plan for each and every life?

Captivated

Fantasy > Paranormal & Urban
Author: Deb Apodaca
Captivated (An Affliction Novel)

After Mindy’s childhood best friend, Dean Aiken, shuts her and everyone else out of his life, she learns to move on. Years pass and she gets used to the fact that he’s no longer a part of her life, but things begin to change…

Mindy’s new best friend, Markus Medina, witnesses Dean kill two people behind a club. Mindy has a hard time believing him, especially when he mentions that the bodies disappear. Poof! Into thin air. Markus decides he has to follow Dean around in order to get evidence that he’s been killing people, so he doesn’t sound like a nut to the police.

Despite Marcus’ crazy theories about the possibility of Dean not being human. And not to mention the fact that he’s dangerous. Mindy can’t help that she may be falling in love with him. Even after hiding their feelings for each other from the world. Dean and Mindy being together stirs up dangers that neither of them could ever imagine. When she finds out about what Dean really is and the world he tried to keep her away from…it’s already too late.

Journey of Honor

Romance > Westerns
Author: Jaclyn M. Hawkes
Journey of Honor A love story

Disowned, she came to America anyway. Attacked and left pregnant by a vicious mob, she still pressed on. Finally, in spite of being accused of theft by the vilest of her attackers, Giselle tries to remain as upbeat and uncomplaining as a prairie wildflower as she travels on to Zion.

Thoroughly disillusioned with the ugliness and cruelty of slavery in the South, Trace Grayson leaves his young medical career to go west, hoping to leave bigotry and hatred behind. He begins taking goods by teamster train to sell in the territories. However, this fourth time across, in July of 1848, he’s stuck in St. Joseph, Missouri, waiting for enough wagons to join the train so that they can leave.

Mad Money

Mystery > Women Sleuths
Author: Linda L. Richards
Mad Money (Madeline Carter)

When her best friend is killed in front of her at the New York City brokerage where they both work, Madeline Carter quits her job and aims for a safer life on the warm coast. But life has a way of interrupting the best laid plans and it isn’t long before Madeline’s quiet new life of day trading in the Malibu hills is interrupted by kidnapping, murder and a run-in with a corporate psychopath.

Summer on the Mountain

Romantic Comedy
Author: Rosemarie Naramore
Summer on the Mountain

When artist Summer Windham is offered the chance to vacation at her boss, Gwendolyn’s, mountain cabin, she’s delighted. There’s a catch, however. Gwendolyn wants her to paint a landscape to gift to her husband. Although Summer is experiencing “painter’s” block, she agrees to give it a go.

On the mountaintop, she meets her boss’s ruggedly handsome forest ranger son, and the two immediately clash. He’s convinced his mother is playing matchmaker and he simply doesn’t have the time to be bothered. Or, does he?

Talented

Teen & Young Adult > Romance
Author: Sophie Davis
Talented

When Talia Lyons was just a child, her parents were murdered before her eyes. Unable to accept their fate, Talia trains to become one of the country’s deadliest assassins in order to kill the man responsible. Luckily, she was born with a gift- the ability to read and influence the minds of others. At sixteen, Talia’s poised to graduate from a school for the Talented, where she learned to control her abilities. Now there is only one obstacle standing between her and the retribution she craves… the feelings and distractions of a normal teenage girl.

The Queen Gene

Horror > Ghosts
Author: Jennifer Coburn
The Queen Gene

After selling her home in the suburbs, Lucy Klein decides to pursue her lifelong dream of starting an arts community in the Berkshire Mountains. She envisions a creative oasis where struggling painters, sculptors and musicians visit from around the world. But the dream soon becomes a nightmare when the artists arrive and not a single one can create anything — except trouble, that is.

To make matters worse, Lucy’s ultra-high-maintenance mother, Anjoli is singularly focused on finding a holistic cure for her teacup Chihuahua’s obsessive compulsive, hair-pulling disorder. Rebirthing, acupuncture and white light therapy just aren’t helping poor little Paz. But Anjoli soon has new problems to contend with, like the NYU sorority house going up across the street from her.

Awakened

Fantasy > Superhero
Author: Ednah Walters
Awakened (Paranormal romance, YA fantasy) (The Guardian Legacy)

Most teens turn sixteen and get the license to drive, but Lil Falcon gets the license to kill demons. Orphaned as a child and raised by an eccentric grandfather, Lil is concerned with surviving high school and is unaware that she’s a Guardian-a being with super powers charged with killing demons and protecting humanity. When she meets Bran, a mysterious boy with amazing abilities, his psi energy unlocks her latent powers. But Bran has a secret that can ruin their growing relationship, and the truth she discovers may destroy everything she believes in unless she finds the right balance between love and sacrifice.

Jesus Is No Joke

Biographies & Memoirs > Religious
Author: Heidi Hollis
Jesus Is No Joke: A True Story Of An Unlikely Witness Who Saw Jesus

Once a skeptic of “Holy Encounters,” Heidi Hollis shares her true story of four unexpected journeys with Jesus, which led her deep into the reality of His Presence among us today. Hollis shares how Jesus and His angels revealed glimpses of Heaven and Hell, even healing her physically of an incurable disease, leaving her with the utmost passion to share His inspiration with the world!

As humanly as possible and lacking a religious tongue, Hollis pours out her raw emotions with all of the errors, yet new understandings, which came with meeting someone she highly misunderstood when she heard claims of Jesus appearing to people around the world today.

Firecracker

Fantasy > Paranormal & Urban
Author: Charles R. Verhey
Firecracker

A team of eccentric psychics who assist local authorities with difficult cases has reluctantly hired Aideen Cassidy, a timid pyrokinetic who has managed to accidentally burn to rubble every building she’s ever worked in. “It takes some real power and talent to melt a slushy machine.” Now, after months of scraping by on the last of her savings and spending every day terrified of her own gifts, she’s being given the chance to prove her worth. To be accepted for who and what she is.

But there’s more happening behind the scenes than anyone realizes, and Aideen soon finds herself caught in a conspiracy of evil monsters and dangerous assassins that dates back over six hundred years.

All she wanted to do was fit in. Now the lives of her new friends depend on her talents for fiery destruction…
… See the rest of today’s Editor’s Picks here on page 2