Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Alyse Carlson, Keeping Mum, Politics and a Giveaway

Note: The winner of this giveaway is Julia H. Congratulations to Julia and thanks to all who enter the giveaway.

I am excited today to welcome friend, fellow blogger and author
Alyse Carlson (aka Hart Johnson) to Thoughts in Progress as part of her virtual blog tour for her recent release, KEEPING MUM, the latest installment in her Garden Society Mystery series.

Alyse joins us to talk about an intriguing topic, ‘Do politics make you feel murderous?’ I’ll also share my thoughts on her delightful new book. Then thanks to Alyse and the lovely Danielle at Penguin, I have a copy of KEEPING MUM to giveaway. Please see the giveaway details at the end of the post.

First here’s a brief synopsis of KEEPING MUM:

Roanoke, Virginia, is home to some of the country’s most exquisite gardens, and it’s Camellia Harris’s job to promote them. But when a political fundraiser turns deadly, everyone’s a candidate for murder...
      Cam and her best friend, Annie, are planning a gala for a local Senate candidate—a murder mystery themed silent auction where the guests bid on who will be the night’s “victim.” Coordinating a beautiful display of fall flowers and planning the perfect fake crime is hard enough, but with a guest list that is a “who’s who” of the Roanoke elite, Cam has her hands full navigating the egos and grudges of her high society guests.
      When local financial tycoon Derrick Windermere is found dead next to a shattered pot of chrysanthemums, the night’s fun and games quickly turn serious. Half the guests had good reason to want Windermere dead, but only one is suspiciously missing in action—Annie’s father. Now Cam will not only have to figure out which partygoer is a killer, but find her friend’s father before all their reputations end up dragged through the mud...

Now Alyse joins us to talk politics. Welcome, Alyse.

Do Politics Make You Feel Murderous?

The posturing, the rancor, the name calling, the games... It's exhausting, isn't it? Makes a person want to scream, or throw something... or maybe kill somebody.

Now imagine you could do something about it, something short of killing someone, but maybe... make a joke of it all so at least you are laughing, and getting paid for doing it even...

That is the setup for Keeping Mum.

And I think this is one of the reasons I had so much fun writing the third in The Garden Society Mystery Series. From the beginning I had wanted to play with the idea of a Murder Mystery dinner gone wrong... very wrong. The seed had been with me for a while. It is one of my favorite features of cozy mysteries that a setup like this fits right in—because the funny irony of it just doesn't fit a darker sub-genre. So when I first signed my contract to do this series, I already knew there would come a book that began with a murder mystery dinner... in which there was an extra murder. (I mean honestly, they were just asking for it, weren't they?)

And as I thought about who should people this story (the times when a murder mystery dinner might really Keeping Mum coverbe held), the idea of a political fundraiser struck me. (Because like I said, who DOESN'T sometimes feel like murdering somebody... or several somebodies... or maybe the entire media system that keeps it in our faces 24/7... over politics?).

Cam Harris, the sleuth in The Garden Society Mystery Series and PR guru for the Roanoke Garden Society has been roped into planning a fundraiser for a local politician. Meanwhile, her best friend Annie, daughter of a former Virginia state senator, has been convinced by her father to help with the same thing. Neither wants to do it. Neither likes politics. So Annie gets this brilliant idea to poke a little fun at it in a way that still gets the job done.

And thus the Murder Mystery Dinner is born: guests are to pay a high price just to be at the prestigious who's who event, but they also get to bid on who the murder victim is in a silent auction.

Unfortunately the first body found wasn't intended to be the night's first OR second victim. And the second victim is nowhere to be found. It's a PR nightmare. Somebody is really dead... and SOMEBODY very important is MISSING... All amidst a cast of people who would like nothing better than to eliminate the competition.

Keeping Mum combines many familiar cast members from the first two books with a new set of characters and a few new Virginia locations. And while the 'behind the scenes' bit of story continues from the first two books in the series, each mystery in the series stands alone.

Alyse, thanks for joining us and sharing this look at how KEEPING MUM came to be. I can see where politics could lead to murder and Cam handles it so well.

For those not familiar with Alyse, here’s a bit of background on her.

Alyse Carlson is the pen name for Hart Johnson. Alyse writes books from her bathtub. A social scientist by day, Hart spends her evenings plotting grand conspiracies and murdering people on paper. 

For more on Alyse (aka Hart) visit her blog, connect with her on Facebook, and ‘like’ her Author Page.

Now for my thoughts on this fun read.

KEEPING MUM by Alyse Carlson

Combine a boring political fundraiser, a themed silent auction, a surprise murder and a cast of zany characters and you have the makings of an entertaining cozy mystery.

That just what author Alyse Carlson has done in the latest installment in her Garden Society Mystery series. 

When the Roanoke Garden Society has to plan a fundraiser for a local Senate candidate, Cam Harris and her best friend, Annie, decide to make it a fun night by organizing a murder mystery themed silent auction. The ‘who’s who’ of the Roanoke elite will get to bid on who is ‘murdered.’

However, before the bidding gets underway, local financial tycoon Derrick Windermere is discovered dead. There are a lot of suspects among the high society guests, but the prime suspect is too close to home for Cam’s comfort. With the society’s reputation on the line and time running out, Cam has to undercover the real killer before another victim turns up.

Carlson has created likable and realistic characters readers can relate to. They are well-balanced with strengths, as well as flaws. The secondary characters add charm and depth to the story.

Carlson’s eye for detail and rich descriptions places the reader in the middle of the setting. The beautiful locations come to life on the pages through Carlson’s vibrant depictions. 

KEEPING MUM moves at a steady pace with a good blend of suspense, intrigue, romance and humor woven around the murder. The twists and turns throughout the book will keep you guessing until the end.

While this is the third installment in the Garden Society Mystery series, it can be read on its own. New readers won’t be left in the dark and returning fans can catch up with favorite characters.

Colorful characters, a beautiful setting, a fun theme and a gutsy protagonist makes this an enticing cozy mystery to read. 

Keeping Mum by Alyse Carlson, Garden Society Mystery Book #3, Berkley Prime Crime, @2014, ISBN: 978-0425252062, Paperback, 304 Pages 

FTC Full Disclosure - This book was sent to me by the publisher as part of the author blog tour in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review.


This giveaway is for one print copy of KEEPING MUM. The giveaway is open to residents of the U.S. only.

To enter this giveaway, just answer the question below in the comments. Be sure to include a valid email address with your comment, if one is not available in your profile. “Have you ever participated a murder mystery game before?”

If you wish not to be entered in the contest, just say ‘Not entering’ and then comment all you’d like. I don’t want to discourage someone from commenting just because they don’t want to enter the contest.

The deadline for entering the contest will be 8 p.m. (EST) on Saturday, March 15. The winner will be selected by Random.Org and I will notify the winner by email with the subject line ‘Thoughts in Progress Keeping Mum.’ The winner will have 72 hours to respond to the email with their mailing information or to notify me they’ve already won the book elsewhere. If there isn’t a response in 72 hours, a new winner will be selected.

BTW if you’d like extra entries in the giveaway, tweet about the giveaway (return and share the link), share it on Facebook (return and share the link) and pin it on Pinterest (return and share the link). 

Thanks so much for dropping by and spending a bit of time with us. Remember, answer the following question for a chance to win a copy of KEEPING MUM. Have you ever participated a murder mystery game before?”


  1. Alyse (Hart), thanks again for joining us today. I enjoyed your fun look at politics. :) Wishing you much success.

  2. No I have never participated in one. I love the series.

  3. Hey Hart! My favorite advocate for world naked domination.
    A murder mystery dinner is the perfect place and making it a political fundraiser is funny.
    Yes, I have been to several murder mystery dinners. (But I already have Hart's book downloaded on my iPad, so I'm good.)
    Congratulations and keep rocking the tour, Hart!

  4. Yes. I once attended a murder mystery weekend at the historic Gibson Inn in Appalachicola, FL. It was a lot of fun.

    lag110 at mchsi dot com

  5. I've been at two dinner parties where a murder mystery was part of the program. It was great fun.I love the premise of Keeping Mum. Great idea!

  6. I have never participated in a murder mystery. Sounds great. thanks. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

  7. Hi Mason! Long time, huh? Hi Hart!

    I've never participated in the murder mystery. I do think it would be fun though.

  8. it sounds interesting but I never did participate in a murder mystery weekend. elliotbencan(at)hotmail(dot)com

  9. Mason-thank you so much for hosting me! I've been to a couple, but the actual participating is hard for this socially awkward girl... still, I love WATCHING!

  10. I'd love to participate in a murder mystery. What a nice cover! Bright and sunny.

  11. You only murder people on paper?Have you considered .... hmmmm, better not.

    Anyway, good luck to you and Keeping Mum.

  12. My son and dil love a certain mystery dinner theater and we've joined him there a couple times. Always fun. Keeping Mum looks like a fun read.

  13. No, I haven't ever been a part of a murder mystery party, but they kind of sound fun! Keeping Mum looks like a book I'd like to read, thanks for the chance to win!

  14. I read the first two installments of Hart's / Alyse Carlson's cozies and found them very fun and twisty. I already have my copy of Keeping Mum and of course I'm looking forward to more good times.

  15. I have never been a part of a murder mystery party but it sounds like fun!




  19. A group of us tried in college, but one of the participants got a little too involved in the drinking part of his character's personality and the game had to come to an early end. :-(


I'd love to hear your thoughts on today's post. Thanks for dropping by.