Thursday, October 15, 2015

The Devil’s Hook by Pearl R. Meaker | Blog Tour with Excerpt, Review, Interview, Giveaway

The Blurb

Jairus Twombly's familial intuition is faltering and his new personal assistant seems to be trying to replace his wife, Amy.

On the Twombly College campus, someone is breaking into the dorm rooms of female students leaving things instead of taking things: red colored objects including a red golf ball, a red ribbon and a tiny red stuffed dog.

When a recipient of some of the red objects goes missing and is returned after being told, "You're not her," and the personal assistant turns up dead with Amy Twombly's elegant Bloodwood crochet hook in her eye, things heat up for Emory Crawford and her chemist and forensic scientist husband, Dr. Jebbin Crawford.

Emory, along with the Twombly's Nancy Drew-like daughter, Madison, once more turns to her amateur detective skills and intuition to solve the mysteries.

The Devil’s Hook by Pearl R. Meaker
Series: An Emory Crawford Mystery, #2
Genre: Cozy Mystery  
Publication Date: September 15, 2015
Publisher: Promontory Press
Paperback: 218 pages
ISBN-10: 198785716X
ISBN-13: 978-1987857160
e-Book File Size: B013TJ1YM6
Amazon  | B & N | Kobo | Indigo | Promontory PressGoodreads

The Excerpt

At about time for lunch break, we heard the upstairs door open and close followed by Tracy and Suzanne pelting down the stairs into the family room.

“Sorry we’re late, Emory,” Tracy puffed.

“Campus security is finally going to do something about it all,” Suzanne gasped out in one breath.

“What?” said the class in Greek chorus unison.

“Slow down now. Take a few deep breaths then tell us what the college is finally doing something about.”

“The red things,” Suzanne began. “The red things that have been appearing in our rooms at Mitchell dorm. It started happening in November, or thereabouts. It even took us a while before any of us said anything to each other.”

“Red things appearing, not taken?” I asked.

“Yeah,” Tracy nodded. “That’s what made it so weird. I mean, breaking in to leave something is so much stranger than breaking in to take something. You know, taking is nearly normal.”

“Totally.” Suzanne shivered at the thought. “But at least now they’re going to come to Mitchell and check out the rooms for scratch marks on the door jambs, finger prints and stuff.”

“Well, I guess we’ll be hearing more about this over our break. I’ve got lunch ready upstairs. Why don’t the rest of you go on up and help yourselves while I get Tracy and Suzanne started on crocheting their afghans.”

The group moved up the stairs, the two boys in the lead. I could hear Amy Twombly grumping as she went.

“I hope lunch is better today. Yesterday I’m positive the bread was stale and Monday the soup was over-cooked.”

I started getting the two girls settled down and learning the pattern. But my brain was not fully on the stitching. The last time something around here got left where it shouldn’t have been it was a strange dried flower arrangement on the welcome table for a conference and soon after, there was a murder.

The Review

I read a really good book recently, y'all! Let me tell you a little about it. 

The Devil’s Hook is a fun, fast-paced cozy mystery, the second book in the Emory Crawford Mystery series. (You can read my review of The Devil’s Music, Book #1 in the series, here.) The Devil's Hook is a great follow-up to The Devil's Music. No sophomore slump here, for Author Pearl R. Meaker.

Emory Crawford isn't your average cozy-mystery sleuth. She's a middle-aged housewife, mother of two grown children, and a grandmother. She doesn't go out looking for mysteries to solve.

The Devil's Hook begins with a quote from Greenshaw's Folly by Agatha Christie:
"Some commit murder, some get mixed-up in murder, others have murder thrust upon them. My Aunt Jane comes into the third category."   (Raymond West about Miss Marple)
Emory Crawford is among those who have murder thrust upon them. In The Devil's Hook, not only murder but mayhem (in the form of break-ins and kidnapping) is being thrust. These mysteries are intriguing, and held my interest throughout the book. There are twists and turns in the plot, as the surprising motives for the various mysteries are discovered.

The Emory Crawford Mysteries take place in Twombly, Illinois, the home of Twombly College, whose president is Jairus Twombly VI. Meaker's worldbuilding is realistic, and detailed without being too wordy. The characters are distinctive, true-to-life, and likable.

In Book #1, The Devil's Music, Emory's sleuthing was done only to assist her husband Jebbin, a forensics scientist, in his investigation following a murder. As she worked on the case, she kept thinking of Agatha Christie's Miss Marple as she worked the case, asking herself "What would Jane Marple do?"

In The Devil's Hook, Emory is more comfortable doing her sleuthing. The self-doubt I noted in The Devil's Music is gone. Emory is teaching a Crochet class at Twombly College for the optional January Term. Among her students are daughter Madison and wife Amy of the college president. Amy Twombly has a rather unique reason for taking up crochet. I enjoyed Amy's monologue as she explained it to the class on their first day. 

I agree with Author Pearl R. Meaker, in my interview below, that Madison is my new favorite character, along with Emory. Madison, a precocious 14-year-old and student at both Twombly High and Twombly College, is the perfect sidekick for Emory — Madison as Nancy Drew, and Emory as Miss Marple.  

I recommend The Devil’s Hook to all fans of Cozy Mysteries, especially cozy fans who are also Yarn Enthusiasts. (By the way, Yarn Enthusiasts, October 17, 2015 is I Love Yarn Day!) 

I really enjoyed The Devil’s Hook by Pearl R. Meaker, and grant it Four Kitties out of five!
Four out of five kitties
Note:  I received a complimentary copy of The Devil’s Hook in exchange for my honest review. 
All opinions shared are 100% my own.

Author Interview

I have a special guest returning to the studio today. Please help me welcome Pearl R. Meaker.  

Hey, Pearl! Thank you for visiting Jane Reads today.

Hi Jane. ☺ I’m glad to be on your blog again! Thanks for inviting me.

Did you have a specific inspiration for this book?

My inspiration for The Devil’s Hook was, in its initial stages, the same song that inspired The Devil’s MusicDidn’t Leave Nobody But The Baby from the movie Oh Brother, Where Art Thou? This is the version from the soundtrack album that is my favorite. If you listen closely, you will hear a strange, eerie sound in the background behind the a cappella singing – it is a musical saw.

Do you have a favorite character in this book? If so, who and why?

I do have a favorite character – introducing, in The Devil’s Hook, Madison Amethyst Twombly. Madison is the youngest daughter of Jairus and Amy Twombly. She is fourteen and a high school freshman.

I think she’s a lot of fun. She has the Twombly intuition and “touch” like her Papa, blond hair and a nice figure like her Mama, but she is very much her own person. She gets acquainted with Emory through the crochet class Emory is teaching and decides she wants to help with the sleuthing.

All my beta readers love her and said they want her in the rest of the Emory Crawford Mysteries.

What is the best part of being an author?

Creating something that people enjoy. Creating a place and its people that can take them out of their everyday life, give them a break and entertain them. Also, I can work with my cats around, in my jammies, with music I like playing in the background.

Do you prefer to write books that are in a series, or stand-alone books?

Hmm . . . not an easy question to answer.

I did write four novella/novel length fanfiction stories while I was writing stories based on The Lord of the Rings and they were all stand alone, so I do have done both types now.

Stand-alones have the benefit of not needing to keep remembering all the little details about the places and characters. With each book being new and different, that’s not an issue. That is nice and I’m dreading the day I start getting mail asking “Why is Hortense now an orange cat? Wasn’t she mostly black before?” or something like that. I often have to check my “files” in Scrivener to make sure I’m not changing things, and sometimes I’ve forgotten to write details down.

That said, I’m enjoying writing the Emory Crawford Mysteries Series because it’s fun watching my characters and the college and town of Twombly grow and develop. It’s interesting seeing how they handle each new case.
Like most things in life, each has their pluses and minuses. ☺

Can you tell us about any books you may have in the planning stage?

The Devil’s Flood, working title for book #3, is in the works. It should be further along in the planning and writing than it is, but, it isn’t. Rest assured it will happen and on time for release fall of 2016. ☺

The past and present of the town of Twombly and surrounding Golden County meet in two flood years bound together by mystery and murder. Add to that  –  moonshine. The old illegal liquor business is alive and well in the area, and it’s getting into the hands of underage citizens. Will Emory and Madison, with help from Jebbin, AnnaMay and others, be able to deal with the dirt and mire and solve the cases?

What books by other authors have influenced your life?   

All the mysteries of Agatha Christie. I trace my love of the cozy mystery genre to finding her books early in my life and finding I loved “who-done-its.” I doubt I’d be writing cozy mysteries now if it weren’t for that early start with Hercule Poirot and Miss Jane Marple.  

The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien. It really showed me how real the worlds in books could be. I’ve never lost my love of this masterpiece.

Which writer would you consider to be a mentor to you?

Agatha Christie and Tolkien both. Tolkien in part because of all the fanfiction I wrote based on his work. Trying to have my stories feel like his stories did a lot to help my writing, I’m sure.

What are you currently reading?   

The Devil’s Trumpet by Mary Rosenblum. Available as an ebook on Amazon.

This book in paperback has been out of print for a while, but Mary was able to release it new as an ebook, and I’m so glad she did. There are four books in the series and they are all excellent.

Do you have any hobbies other than reading?

Gobs! I don’t get to do as much with them now as writing and promoting my books takes most of my time, but I relax going out and taking photos of everything and anything – birds and nature mostly. I do try to still do some of the many handcrafts I enjoy. Knitting, crocheting, embroidery, needlepoint, origami and others. Also, I still play bluegrass fiddle. 

Are there any new authors who have captured your interest?

It’s weird but it seems most every time I think I’ve found a “new” author, they are only new to me when actually they have written several books already.   :-(

A new author whose work I like, breaking onto the sci-fi scene, (not my usual mystery reading) is Yuan Jur. He’s put out a short story, Quall Assassin Crossfire (ebook only) that’s on Amazon and other places as well. It is a lead up to the first novel in his Citadel 7 series – Enemy of Existence – which releases October 6th. So if anyone here likes sci-fi as well as mysteries, or knows a sci-fi fan, Yuan Jur and Citadel 7 is a series you want to check into.

If you could have a dinner party and invite four authors, living or dead, in any genre, who would you invite, and why?

Agatha Christie, J.R.R. Tolkien, Mary Rosenblum, Yuan Jur.   

I don’t know if they’d mix well but I’d get to meet some great authors.  ;-)  I’d like Christie and Tolkien to be in the midst of their writing careers, when they were still actively growing their worlds and characters. Get them before it had all grown old hat and see if they were anything like I am, here in the same place.

What four items do you always have in your fridge or pantry?

Milk. Eggs. Potato Chips. Ice cream.   

Is there anything else you would like my readers to know?

Thank you all for stopping by today. I really enjoy the chance to meet some of you and share answers to some questions you may have been wanting to ask. I appreciate your interest in The Devil’s Music and The Devil’s Hook and hope you have – or will – enjoy reading them. That is what I write for, to bring readers an entertaining break from their everyday lives.

The Author

About Pearl R. Meaker

Pearl R. Meaker is an upper-middle-aged, short, pudgy homemaker, mother, and grandmother who in 2002 became a writer. Initially writing fanfiction she soon tried original fiction at the encouragement of her regular readers. She has been a life-long lover of mystery stories and automatically went to that genre for her first book, The Devil’s Music

She and her husband of nearly 40 years live in central Illinois. They both love bluegrass music, playing fiddle and banjo and singing. Pearl also does many crafts —  when she’s not reading or writing — knitting, crochet, origami, needlepoint, and cross-stitch among them. She also enjoys birding and photography and is a former fencer. 

Find her on the web at

The Giveaway

Pearl will award a $25 Amazon/BN gift card 
to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

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