Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Cathi Stoler - The Hard Way - Review & Giveaway

About the Book

Private Investigator Helen McCorkendale’s childhood friend, Jimmy Scanlan, has just opened January, the most lavish casino and hotel resort on the Las Vegas Strip. After attending the grand opening, Helen returns to New York and encourages her friend, Laurel Imperiole, Senior Editor at Women Now magazine, to create a get-away contest for readers offering a weekend at the hotel as the grand prize. The winner, Dawn Chapman, a jewelry store employee from Cincinnati, denies entering the contest and initially refuses the trip. Finally persuaded by Laurel to accept, she arrives at the hotel and nearly faints when she passes the hotel’s elite meeting rooms where the International Diamond Dealers Consortium is holding its annual meeting. She insists on returning home immediately.

Suspicious of her behavior, Jimmy visits her suite to encourage her to attend the Saturday afternoon pool party, saying she can leave on his private jet the next day. Later in the afternoon, he finds Chapman’s dead body by the pool. She’s been murdered—an unusual double poisoning by cyanide and diamond dust.

Dawn Chapman was not who she appeared to be, and therein lies a mystery. But to Helen and Laurel, the main task is to take Jimmy Scanlon off the suspect list and clear his name. Will their luck hold? Or will it be a crap shoot, as they roll the dice and do it ‘the hard way,’ going for doubles when the odds are against them. Losing may mean losing their lives.

My Review

Gamblers are a fickle lot. If there's even a hint of a suggestion that a place is jinxed, they'll up and run like nobody's business, never to return. So when a contest winner from Women Now magazine is murdered at the newly opened January Resort and Casino, all of Las Vegas holds its collective breath. Will owner Jimmy Scanlan be charged with homicide or will he simply lose his shirt? Somebody's out to get him and his most trusted friend P.I. Helen McCorkendale is determined to get to the bottom of things and save him from the slammer, as well as impending bankruptcy.

The clues start to add up, one by one. The International Diamond Dealers Consortium is holding a convention at Jimmy's casino. The victim, Dawn Chapman, was poisoned when someone laced her gin and tonic with diamond dust, a modus operandi akin to swallowing ground-up glass. Jimmy's main rival on the Strip is the owner of The Florentine, who tried to keep Jimmy from setting up shop, but failed. His security detail has ties to the consortium, but he begged off holding the convention, claiming that a movie was being shot at his casino and he couldn't accommodate their needs, making it more than suspicious that he was setting Jimmy up to take the fall.

Helen has her work cut out for her, but she's ready and willing to take on some of the richest diamond dealers in the world. They don't want their dirty secrets coming to light, but she doesn't let anything dissuade her from investigating their back room dealings. She knows that she's walking on dangerous ground, looking into the de Groot family, one of the most prestigious in the diamond trade. They recently acquired a red diamond believed to be lost after Tsar Nicholas was executed during the Russian Revolution. With its sudden reappearance, more than a few jewel thieves are looking to steal it for themselves.

Was Dawn Chapman one of those thieves? When her criminal background is revealed, Helen begins to question the motives of this supposed jewelry store worker from Cincinnati. Who was she really and how come she didn't want to visit Las Vegas? Did she cross paths with someone in Jimmy's hotel before she turned up dead? Was it someone from the consortium or another hustler who wanted her out of the picture when it came to stealing the diamond?

Stoler poses a lot of questions as her narrative thread weaves its way toward a compelling conclusion. Sometimes the good guys win, and sometimes they don't. It takes a mystery writer worthy of her salt to shake things up a bit at the end, and not give readers exactly what they're looking for, but something decidedly more off center, something better. There's nothing worse than figuring a mystery out in the opening pages, and Stoler works in enough twists and turns to keep readers guessing all the way to the final chapter for an ending many won't see coming.


The Hard Way can be purchased at:
Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords

Prices/Formats: $4.95 ebook, $14.95 paperback
Pages: 280
Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Thriller
Release: April 15, 2014
Publisher: Camel Press
ISBN: 9781603819497
Click to add to your Goodreads list.

About the Author

Cathi Stoler’s mysteries feature PI Helen McCorkendale and magazine editor, Laurel Imperiole. The Hard Way is the third book in the series. The first, Telling Lies, took on the subject of stolen Nazi art. Book 2, Keeping Secrets, delved into the subject of hidden identity. Stoler’s short stories include: “Magda,” in the Criminal Element Anthology Malfeasance Occasional: Girl Trouble, “Out of Luck,” in the Anthology, Murder New York Style: Fresh Slices, “Fatal Flaw,” a finalist for the Derringer for Best Short Story and “Money Never Sleeps” both published at Beat to A Pulp. Cathi is working on a novella, Nick of Time, which features International gambler, Nick Donahue. She is also starting a new series, Bar None, A Murder On The Rocks Mystery, with female bar owner, Jude Dillane. Cathi is a member of the New York/Tri State chapter of Sisters In Crime. She is also a member of Mystery Writers of America.

Links to connect with Cathi:
Web Site
Blog Tour Site

About the Giveaway

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