Category Archives: Mystery/Suspense


Welcome, Anneliese Vandell!

We’re excited to welcome Anneliese Vandell to the Highlighted Author. In her own words, she “…isn’t the kind of woman you want to bring home to your mother. She specializes in writing steamy erotic romance with a twist of suspense, starring alpha males who are handsome, commanding, and fiercely protective of the women they love. When she is not writing, she can most likely be found searching for the perfect New York bagel.” We are featuring her Hush Hush! series this week (books 1-3 are available). Enjoy the feature!

–Jo Grafford, Highlighted Author Co-Hostess

Hush Hush! Book #1

Hush-Hush-Cover-1Fifty Shades of Grey meets Revenge in this tantalizing new series about a young woman who’s willing to do anything in the name of vengeance. 

Something terrible happened to April Morrison when she was eleven years old. When she returns home to New Orleans fourteen years later as “Sophia,” she has only one word on her mind: revenge. She’s got her eye on Charles and Barbara Hawthorne, the crowning jewel of New Orleans’ elite and the ones responsible for turning her life upside down.

Enter Liam Hawthorne, the couple’s successful, strikingly handsome, and irresistibly dominant thirty-two year old son. When Liam makes a provocative proposal, it occurs to April that he may be just the “in” she needs. But what she doesn’t bargain for is Liam’s insatiable—and thrilling—sexual appetite. And as Liam begins to test April’s limits, she realizes that appearances are not what they seem.

Read the first chapter by clicking HERE. Add to your Goodreads TBR list by clicking HERE. Purchase on    AMAZON.

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Welcome, Morgan St. James!

A Note from Morgan

MORGANI call myself an “accidental writer,” because that wasn’t what I started out to be. Okay, I admit, I’ve reinvented myself many times, had many careers, and finally found my calling as a writer.

Back in the late 1970s I was a partner in an interior design studio in the L.A. area. A prestigious magazine at the time, Designers West, approached us about writing an article for them about a unique living room/family room floor we had designed. What exposure! Of course, we said yes.

There was a little problem, though. We were not writers. The photographers came out and took shots of us sitting on packing crates on this beautiful floor which was created from the wood in packing crates. Everything was set to go except our article.

We tried so many approaches, but wound up with piles of crumpled paper. The night before our deadline, we worked on it like demons and still nothing seemed to work. All we could think of was how embarrassing it would be to come up empty-handed. If Designers West had a blank page where our article was supposed to be we would be shunned like yesterday’s garbage!

Finally, after a few glasses of wine, an epiphany hit us. Don’t do a techie article. Do a spoof on a noir mystery. We were on fire and the story came fast and furious. We began it with “We were sitting in our studio drinking tea, when the phone rang.” We proceeded to detail a dangerous search of the waterfront and other fun stuff while actually telling how the floor was designed.The next morning we submitted it and waited for the editor to call us ranting and raving about how awful it was. All of the articles in that magazine were either industry news or “how to.”

Well, she did call, but not with the message we expected. She loved it and wanted us to write more articles for the magazine. My partner was also an actress, and not interested in writing. I was, and went on to write many more articles for them. After that, I wrote articles on all types of topics for various publications. In the mid 90s I began writing fiction with my sister, and now have 11 books in publictin (either written solo or with a co-author), over 600 published articles and don’t’ intend to slow up any time soon.

I learned a lot about the craft of writing and now give workshops on topics that baffled me in the beginning.


My releases this year were the funny crime novels Ripoff, a clever scam to embezzle millions from the Federal prison system, the second edition of the Silver Sisters Mystery, A Corpse in the Soup, written with my real sister Phyllice Bradner, wherein the Silver Sisters track a killer through the world of TV cooking shows, the novelette Getting Even, somewhat of a prequel to Ripoff, and the upcoming Izzy and Me, co-authored with Dennis N. Griffin—Gina Marion’s true story about being the daughter of Izzy Marion, “Hair Stylist to the Stars,” entertainer, and behind closed doors—an abuser..

I think you will enjoy navigating the twists and turns of A Corpse in the Soup. Identical twins, Goldie Silver, are an over-the-hill flower child with a heart of gold who owns the Silver Spoon Antique Shoppe in Juneau, Alaska and her sister Godiva Olivia DuBois, a wealthy, manipulative Beverly Hills widow who writes the syndicated advice to the lovelorn column “Ask G.O.D.” (her initials). They get unwanted help from their 80 year-old mother Flossie and Uncle Sterling, former vaudeville magicians who love to dress in disguise and can’t resist getting into the act by launching their own undercover investigation. Add the battling chefs Caesar Romano, Biff Wellington, Moishe Matsumoto and Toulouse Jankowski, and you have a recipe for murder. The Silver family does not go looking for trouble—it finds them.

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A Corpse In the Soup


Battling Chefs, Twin Sleuths, Old Magicians and MURDER! An award-winning Silver Sisters Mystery

Take several chefs with names like Caesar Romano, Biff Wellington, Moishe Matsumoto and Toulouse Jankowsky, add sleuthing silver-haired Mae West lookalike twins with a nose for trouble who are as different in personality as they are identical in appearance, a couple of octogenarian vaudeville magicians, Waldo the Wonder Dog, and a bunch of quirky characters. Season with jealousy, intrigue, and a ruthless villain. Add ingredients to an “over-the-top” TV cooking tournament and MURDER. A recipe for a fast paced, funny romp through the world of TV chefs in search of a killer.

Available now on AMAZON.

Book Trailer


5 STARS: Reviewed for Midwest Book Review,Christie Tillery French

—This fun mystery romp will keep the reader guessing while enjoying the antics of Goldie and Godiva, along with their quirky family. The characters are amusing and endearing, and even the dog Waldo has his humorous moments. The plot moves along crisply, offering plenty of red herrings, and is twisty enough to provide a good whodunit. A Corpse in the Soup, first of the Silver Sisters Mystery series written by sisters St. James and Bradner, is a refreshing addition to the mystery world 

 5 STARS: It could only happen in L.A., Martha A. Cheves, A Book and a Dish

Someone is sabotaging the cooking show of America’s favorite Chef. Food testers are coming down with food poisoning, the Baked Alaska is blowing up and the paprika is as hot as Hades. But who would do this and why?

When I was young I enjoyed playing the board game “Clue.” What made this game so much fun were the characters. So now I want to introduce you to the characters of A Corpse in the Soup. Let’s see if you can determine “who done it” in this story of colorful characters.

5 STARS: A Good, Funny Read. Reader Views

Take several chefs, add some classy – and less classy – ladies, a couple of well-aged vaudeville actors, a talking dog, a bunch of gofers and miscellaneous Hollywood characters, and add a heaping cup of jealousy, a pinch of intrigue, a smidgen of history. Garnish with incredibly funny names (Sterling Silver, Biff Wellington, Chili Pepper, Justin Thyme, Mr. Manicotti, Caesar Romano…), take a shot at the increasingly popular cooking shows and stir well. What do you get? You get a recipe for an amusing, frothy, yet not lightweight romp. The characters are lovable and believable, even when they leave you shaking your head in wonder over their antics. The story flows well and pulls you in very quickly. Although you might think quite early in the book that you know who the villain is, I would be surprised if you’d truly manage to solve this mystery before the final pages.

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Welcome, Weyman Jones!

evil_in_return_possum2We are excited to welcome Weyman Jones to the Highlighted Author. It is fascinating to read about his roots in the Cherokee nation and his quest to avenge past wrongs through his mystery/suspense stories. He intertwines one thrilling layer after another of Cherokee myths, folklore, and centuries of rich heritage. The picture to the left is a small animal skull employed as a talisman by the antagonist in his last story. Enjoy the feature and this week’s spotlighted novel Evil In Return–Jo Grafford, Highlighted Author Co-Hostess

A Note from Weyman Jones

Evil_in_Return_Book_JacketI grew up in Oklahoma with family roots into the Cherokee nation. My honors thesis at Harvard was a study of Cherokee myth and folklore, and I drew on this research for two historical novels for young people about the Cherokee. Now I write mystery/suspense novels, and my latest returns to the Cherokee.

I believe readers will understand a contemporary Cherokee who is driven to avenge, by a series of vicious murders, the wrongs done to his clansmen in the past, just as they can identify with the young woman he holds captive to entrap his next victim. Developing their ambiguous relationship was the most interesting part of writing this book, and I hope readers put it down with mixed feelings about my obsessed Cherokee.

The parts I enjoyed writing most were the settings: an empty Gold Coast mansion that once stood where my wife and I built a sunny home on Long Island, NY, and Stigler in Indian Territory, where my forbearers had an eventful life.

I’m now working on my next mystery/suspense novel in the coffee shops of Santa Barbara, California, where we now live.

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Evil In Return

EvilInReturnFrontWeyman Jones’s latest thriller is as timely as the next Middle East religious riot. It introduces a contemporary Cherokee obsessed with his ancient obligation to avenge the murder of his clansmen. He plans to display his revenge murders on YouTube to reawaken the passions of his people. He captures a young woman to help him target her estranged husband. As their relationship develops, she is faced with agonizing choices. The tension builds as both the Cherokee and his intended victim prepare for a showdown that results in consequences neither had expected.

As in his other thrillers, Jones infuses the relentless action of this story with the dilemmas faced by complex characters whose choices lead to a surprising resolution.

Purchase now on AMAZON!


“Helloooo Sam!”

She jumped out of the chair and stood in the middle of the room, fists clenched and training her head left and right like an antenna, trying to locate the sound of his voice.

“Reunion time, Sam.” Coming closer. Thump. Footsteps overhead. The kitchen.

“I know you’re in here, Sam. I saw your car outside in the driveway. You and your terrorist boyfriend, you were ready for a quick getaway?”

In the driveway? Charley must have moved it. What happened to Charley?

A door opened. Back stairs. She caught her breath. More footsteps. Walking back across the kitchen. Must have seen the door to the back steps. Didn’t come down here. Doesn’t like basements. Did he leave the door standing open?

“Let’s not play games, Sam.” His voice was fainter. Going upstairs? “You know I’m not going to leave until I find you.” She looked up at the brass horn in the ceiling. If he was searching the bedroom, would she hear him down the tube? Charley must have brought him here. How else could he find the place? So the connection at the airport, that must have worked. But then . . . she could think of only one possibility.

“Your friend and I came to an understanding, Sam.” Voice still distant. “Met at the airport and talked about what he needed. Turns out I just had to look into that camera he’s got down there in the boat house and say what a shitty deal the Cherokee got.” Closer again. Coming back downstairs. “Now he’s got the disc to show the people back home, and he’s on his way to his next gig. Told me to come up here and explain things to you.”

Deep breaths. Keep grounded. She stared at the Queen of Hearts, glowering from the wall.

“Your friend, he said you and I can come to an understanding too. He gave me a message for you. Don’t you want to hear it, Sam?”

If he came in here he wouldn’t be pushing a cart like Charley had been. He’d probably stand in the hall, shove the door wide open and look around first.

“I guess you could be hiding out in the woods somewhere.”

YES! She almost said it out loud. Lots of places to hide out there. Go check out that boxwood labyrinth.

“Doesn’t seem likely. Why would you hide when your car is right there in the driveway?”

Not right overhead in the kitchen. Maybe in that dark room with all the bearded guys in the gilt frames.

“I think you’re here somewhere. Within the sound of my beloved voice.”

A scrape across the floor. He moved a chair? He’s sitting down?

“This old house doesn’t have many closets to hide in, but it has a lot of rooms. If you make me find you, Sam, I’m going to be pissed. We’d both be better off if you just come out now so we can have a little talk.”

Floorboard creak. Walking around, looking?

“Is this hide and seek, Sam? Like you used to play with Amy? Look, Sam, I know that Amy’s your hangup. Your idea about me is all wrong, but never mind. Let’s talk about what you want. If supervised visitation has to be the deal, well, I could accept that. So just come out and let’s talk.”

Long silence. Maybe he’s out in the foyer where his steps wouldn’t sound on the terrazzo.

“Come on, Sam, let’s be grownups.” Closer now. “I’m going to find you, so let’s not play games.”

Back in the kitchen?

“You wouldn’t try to sneak out on me, would you Sam? Make a run for it? I guess what I have to do is figure out how to search the rooms and still keep an eye on the doors.”

Not down here. No way to see the doors from down here. Please God, or Charley’s Nunnehi or anybody else up there who’s listening: please don’t let him come down here.

“Maybe I can lock the doors from the inside. I suppose you could—”


Without consciously moving she found herself crouched in the corner, staring around with trapped-animal eyes. The clamor was everywhere. She raised her hands to her ears. Then she remembered: Seth. The alarm clock. Charley’s time lock. She heard the latch scrape as it lifted. The door exhaled open and drifted ajar.

Knees wobbling, she stood and stumbled to the door. Peered out. Dark hall, with a rectangle of light spilling down the steps at the far end. The CLANG-CLANG-CLANG-CLANG! bounced around the bare walls like an echo chamber. A rickety end table outside the door. She edged out as if onto quicksand, grabbed the clock off the table and snapped the twine running up to some kind of an eye-screw in the ceiling as she jammed the alarm button down.

Sudden silence, as loud as the alarm had been.

“Is that you, Sam? Your alarm clock? You just waking up down there?”

Four doors along the hall, all closed. What had Charley said? Closets. And one for something else, she couldn’t remember what. Footsteps. She saw his feet coming down the steps at the end of the hall. Without thinking she backed into her cell—familiar territory—and pulled the door closed.

“If you’ve set off some kind of an alarm to draw me down here while you get away . . .”

So this is it. In a moment he’d kick open the door. Check out the room and then step inside. He’d expect her to be scared and helpless. Stepping carefully, as if he might hear her, she went into the bathroom.

“These doors seem to be locked. You wouldn’t have a key, would you Sam?”

There it was. The pantyhose was stretched, but the lump of lead was still in the toe. She wadded up a grip and let the rest trail behind as she went back into the bedroom.

“Furnace room is open. You couldn’t climb up that coal chute, could you? Maybe, but I doubt it.”

She looked up at the light bulb in the ceiling. Unscrew it? No time. Hide behind the door? No. Face him. She planted her feet on the sun in the rag rug with her hands behind her, pantyhose puddling out of the way at her feet. She thought of Charley discovering the skull of the raccoon or whatever it was. A shot of calm that makes you into something different.

Something scraped outside the door. “What’s this little antique table doing down here in the basement? And what’s—oh, I see. This must be the alarm clock I heard . . . Light’s coming from under the door, Sam. Game’s up. You going to come out so we can talk?”

She actually felt a smile. He didn’t want to come into this claustrophobic little room.

“You going to make me come in after you?”

She hefted the pantyhose behind her, testing the stretch.


The door slammed open against the wall. He was a murky silhouette in the dark hall until he stepped into the doorframe. She recognized that cool smile, and then she saw the bloody khakis—and the big knife.

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