Sunday, June 19, 2022

Five Belles Too Many by Debra H Goldstein | Blog Tour with Guest Post and Giveaway


Five Belles Too Many (A Sarah Blair Mystery) by Debra H. Goldstein

About Five Belles Too Many

Five Belles Too Many (A Sarah Blair Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
5th in the Series
Setting - Alabama
Kensington Cozies (June 28, 2022)
Mass Market Paperback ‏ : ‎ 336 pages
ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1496732235
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1496732231
Digital ASIN ‏ : ‎ B09HRCV4TN


When Sarah Blair’s mother participates in a reality show competition for brides in Wheaton, Alabama, things get a little too real as a murderer crashes the wedding party . . . 

Sometimes Sarah’s mother, Maybelle, can be higher maintenance than her Siamese cat RahRah. Maybelle and her friend, Mr. George Rogers, have been chosen to be one of five couples competing for a small-town “perfect” wedding and dream honeymoon on a Southern Belles reality show — and guess who has to be chaperone. Even more vexing, the producers have decided to put up the crew and participants at the restaurant / bed and breakfast owned by Sarah’s nemesis Jane Clark. 

But when someone turns up dead with Jane kneeling by the body with blood on her hands, she goes from being Sarah’s chief rival to the police’s chief suspect. Neither Sarah nor her twin, Chef Emily Johnson, can stand Jane — still, they don’t think she’s a murderer. The producers vow the show must go on, but to protect their mother and the other contestants, Sarah vows to find the true killer before someone else gets eliminated . . .

Includes quick and easy recipes!


About the Character Guest Post

Avoiding Cabot Cove Syndrome by Debra H. Goldstein

One of the best and worst of things writing a continuing cozy series is dealing with Cabot Cove Syndrome. The fictional syndrome, which is attributed to the television show, Murder She Wrote, describes the finding of bodies repeatedly in the small town of Cabot Cove, Maine. Because the show ran for twelve years, not to mention the books and movies it spawned, the BBC once calculated its murder rate at 1490 per million, which translated to about two percent of the residents of Cabot Cove. 

Numbers like that, if the town truly existed, would either strain reality or make one leery of ever visiting. The concept holds true when writing a continuing series. Readers want to identify with a cast of characters found in every book, but at the same time, they want the character roster to expand enough each time that the dead body and the culprit aren’t the only new faces in town. To keep the reader satisfied and coming back, the author must use different methods.

The easiest way to avoid Cabot Cove Syndrome is have the protagonist take a trip. That can work here or there, but in a cozy the small town setting itself becomes a character that readers look forward to visiting. What would Louise Penney’s books be if they didn’t, for the most part, take place in Three Pines? Rather than ignoring Cabot Cove Syndrome, I try to embrace it.

In my new book, Five Belles Too Many, I bring the big city to Wheaton, Alabama, by having a New York television show decide to shoot a perfect Southern Wedding competition segment in Wheaton. I increase the town’s population by bringing in New York crew members and four belles and their beaus from other Alabama cities to be part of the competition. To keep the hometown touch, I use minor characters that the readers have met in the four prior books either in complimentary roles or as foils. I make my main character, Sarah Blair, an integral part of the competition by having her mother, Maybelle, be one of the five finalists with Sarah forced to be Maybelle’s chaperone. 

Although the first dead body is an out-of-towner, I throw suspicion on Sarah’s greatest nemesis, a character who readers are familiar with and have come to love/hate. By building on what exists and adding a big enough cast, my goal is to use plot and characterization in a manner that the juxtaposition of out-of-towners and familiar characters keeps readers guessing and second guessing in a way that hopefully causes the Cabot Cove Syndrome to slip from their minds. 

Besides plot and characterization, I also use readers’ subconscious reactions to avoid Cabot Cove Syndrome. People are instinctively interested in reality TV, so by taking readers behind the scenes of the filming of a show and how participants interact, I let Wheaton be important for its Southern culture rather than its death count. This is done by letting the curiosity we all have respecting the magic of TV seep into our brains to the point that all of the characters become part of the community in a way that Cabot Cove Syndrome is forgotten.

When you read a book, are you struck by Cabot Cover Syndrome or does the story drive that concept away?


About Debra H. Goldstein

Judge Debra H. Goldstein is the author of Kensington’s Sarah Blair cozy mystery series, which includes One Taste Too Many, Two Bites Too Many, Three Treats Too Many, and Four Cuts Too Many. Five Belles Too Many will be published in June 2022. She also wrote Should Have Played Poker and 2012 IPPY Award winning Maze in Blue. Her short stories and novels have been finalists for the Anthony, Agatha, Derringer, and Silver Falchion awards. Debra's short works have appeared in numerous periodicals and anthologies including Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, Black Cat Mystery Magazine, and Mystery Weekly. Debra serves on the national board of Mystery Writers of America and is president of SEMWA. She previously served on the national board of Sisters and Crime and is a past president of SinC's Guppy Chapter. Find out more about Debra at .

Author Links
Instagram – debrahgoldstein

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