Friday, July 25, 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

There are cozy mysteries. There are grisly mysteries. But I'd dub this one a glam mystery. Why? Because of its setting. Stepping inside the January Resort and Casino is like watching an episode of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. Tuxes, diamonds, caviar, you name it, all come together in one spectacular Las Vegas showcase that attempts to turn the unforgiving heat of the desert into a winter wonderland for the affluent, connected and good-looking. They'll have their cake and eat it too, even if it means fashioning a roaring fireplace out of ice.

But the extravagance doesn't stop there. With the International Diamond Dealers Consortium in town, anything is possible. The de Groot family has long been associated with the luxury trade, and they're about to unveil the discovery of a precious red diamond once owned by the last Russian tsar. But before that can happen the reluctant winner of a magazine contest turns up dead at a Polar Cap Pool Party. Why was she reluctant to stay at such a fabulous and exclusive hotel? Maybe it was the cause of death—death by diamond dust, to be precise.

It seems such a pretty way to die, but it's really not. Mixed with cyanide, the victim's organs were shredded internally as soon as she swallowed the lethal dosage in her comped drink. Her skin turned pink. She couldn't breath and eventually went into cardiac arrest. Dawn Chapman didn't want to go on this trip, and she shouldn't have. Because it turns out that Dawn Chapman is really Deirdre Thornhill, international jewel thief extraordinaire, not the salesperson for a family-run jewelry store in Ohio that she was passing herself off as.

There are a lot of suspects in this whodunit. There's Jimmy Scanlan, January's owner, who may or may not be covering up a shady deal gone bad. There's Jimmy's main competitor, Clive Drummond, the owner of The Florentine, who could be setting Jimmy up to take the fall and destroy his business. There are many players surrounding the diamond dealers themselves, especially the nefarious members of their security teams some of whom look and act more like stone cold killers than the threats they're supposed to be protecting their illustrious bosses from.

Stoler sets up her thriller brilliantly. It hooks the reader from the get go with its opulence and sophistication. Her distinctly imaginative setting is one that transports mystery fans right into the action, gripping them with fur-covered ice stools and poolside chalets. The January Resort and Casino is a place anyone would love to stay at, but being that it's confined to the page gives readers the added benefit of being able to leave this must-see destination alive. When it comes to faux snow, some things are better left to the imagination, especially when there's a killer on the loose.


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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