Posts Tagged ‘Murder in the Junkyard’

Wednesday Special Spotlight

Shines On

The green thumb of Janis Lane bringing us her gardening tips.


Some plants will perform admirably in the summer but must be stored for winter. Dahlias are a great example. Although fairly expensive, they are certainly worth investing for their gorgeous blossoms, but the fat tubers must be dug and brought inside (cellar) for the winter. There are several ways to care for them, but important is to keep them relatively dry in storage. Perhaps wrapped in newspaper and tucked safety inside a paper bag and stored on an upper shelf away from the damp floor.

After digging, the large tuber may be separated for an abundance of new plants in the next year. Each piece should contain at least three ‘eyes.” Remove as much soil as possible before storing.

Plant out in the spring when all danger of frost has left. Dahlias are a large plant and, although bred for the cut flower market with strong stems, should be staked for protection from a destructive wind. Choices are endless from small, short border varieties to large dinner plate blossoms. Colors are vivid with many bi-colored types. The Red Ball has proven to be a prolific producer of long stemmed blooms perfect for the vase or an arrangement. Full sun seems best although half day is probably adequate. Enjoy! Nothing says Fall like a large bouquet of dahlias for your indoor pleasure.

Fall outdoors is for Mums

Plant as an annual, or if you are one of those very lucky gardeners, cover with mulch and winter over. In the spring carefully cut back until the 4th of July for a compact plant.MUMS                         Mum varieties                Zinnias, dahlias, mums.

The richness of fall color presented prominently in the Cozy Mystery, Murder in the Neighborhood, a novel which introduces the reader to Detective Kevin Fowler and the intriguing murders which infected this small town Americana. The series follows the detective, colleagues, friends, and lovers through the next three novels.


About Emma:

Emma Janis Lane writes in two genres, cozy mystery and historical Regency. She lives in Western NY where she enjoys snowy winters, delightful Springs, balmy Summers, and riotous colors in Fall. Look for information about writing and plants on her new website. Leave a comment or a gardening question and put a smile on Emma’s face.

Stay connected with Emma on Pinterest and Twitter.


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Friday Features


Janis Lane

Today we have an extra special Friday Features with Janis Lane as she is sharing two books with us. What a great deal.

Donald has read Murder in the Neighborhood and said that while the book starts slowly with a homicide investigation, the rich descriptive tapestry of the small town of Hubbard, in Western New York, in the first weeks of October keep you interested. There is a bit of reminiscing by the hero, Detective Kevin Fowler, as he begins his investigation, as there is throughout the book, but this only adds to the richness of the character and the reader’s understanding of his motivations. The book picks up momentum a few pages in with the arrival of the heroine, Miss Beverly Hampton, and continues to pick up speed to the point that you do not want to put it down. The twist and turns of their relationship along with the problem of what seems an insolvable murder, make this book by Janis Lane one you should read.

Janis is going to give us some background on the settings she has used for her Detective Kevin Fowler Mysteries books, Murder in the Neighborhood, currently released, and Murder in the Junkyard, coming soon. Without further comment we turn this over to Janis.


Thank you Catherine and Donald.

The inspiration of my Detective Kevin Fowler Mysteries was the desire to write about small town America. Taking a leisurely walk down the picturesque sidewalks in my own home town, the idea came to me for a plot. If one citizen was murdered right on their front steps in this normally safe community, how would each character react to this horrifying scene? Not only could I examine the trauma of individual neighbors, their interactions would come under scrutiny as well. Almost overnight there would be a change. Unlocked doors would be locked, children would be watched more carefully, and the police would not be hanging out in the diner eating sticky buns. Detective Kevin Fowler’s reaction to this crime was almost visceral. He was furious someone came to “his” town and upset the citizens on his watch.

Equally important was the physical setting of the story. The vivid splashes of fall leaves sparkle on the front cover of MURDER IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD. I enjoyed showcasing the beautiful flowering trees in the spring setting of MURDER IN THE JUNKYARD, the second Detective Kevin Fowler Mystery, with Brenda Bryant as she goes ‘junkn’ and finds not a treasure, but a body. Writing about small towns allowed more interaction with nature and almost became another character in my stories.



A killer is attacking respectable citizens in picturesque Hubbard, NY, and leaving corpses on their front steps in the middle of the day. Detective Fowler isn’t certain who causes him to lose the most sleep, a certain sexy reporter with bouncing curls and sparkling black eyes, or the elusive psychopath creating panic in his small-town community. Together, the detective and the reporter race to find the monster in their midst and return the town to the desirable place where people come to raise their families in peace and contentment. Can they sort through their differences to find romance even as they search for a determined stalker with murder on his mind? The clock ticks down on a man in a rage with a deadly mission.

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It was unusual to find corpses on the front steps of the homes here in Hubbard, population nine thousand, give or take a few births or deaths, or the trendy one or two foreign adoptions. There were some thefts occasionally, domestic calls, usually associated with too much alcohol, but not many homicides. None in the five years he had worked here. The town was known as a safe place to own a home and raise children in spite of slightly higher taxes than the towns surrounding it.

He noticed the screen door slightly ajar and felt his pulse quicken. Had the officers done even a perfunctorily check of the premises as they should have? What did they teach policemen at the academy these days? He quietly opened the door and entered.

Inside it was still and shadowy after the bright sun of early afternoon, and he stood, allowing his eyes to adjust. He could smell the remains of fried grease from breakfast, maybe bacon, and the lingering odor of a strong cleaning agent. The kitchen and bathroom to one side were initially all that he could see.

He heard a creak, then froze. Was someone in here? He immediately gripped the butt of his semi-automatic as he strode purposefully forward and peered around the corner into the short hall on the left. He kept his gun cocked and ready to fire. One flick of the safety and he could pull the trigger. The extra speed might be the difference between life and death. The message was ingrained into his memory by the instructors at the academy, and he automatically positioned his body to give his right arm plenty of room to operate.

A young woman competently filling a pair of gray slacks and a blue sweater was backing out of a bedroom with her hand still on the door. She was slightly built but of medium height with a thick mop of curly brown hair cut just at jaw line. A tiny waist and the snug slacks accented a firm, rounded bottom that strained and rippled the material as she stepped backwards from the room.

He thought he had seen those hips someplace before, but he waited patiently for the intruder to turn around. Would she recognize him outlined against the light? She finally did and gave a visible start and squeak of surprise.

“Miss Hampton,” he greeted keeping his voice quiet and noncommittal. He nodded with raised eyebrows, as he leaned against the doorjamb with his arms crossed in front of him waiting for her explanation. Her cheeks reddened slightly as she came toward him. He had never known such a rounded woman before. Everything about her made him think of succulent apples. She wasn’t fat. Just curvy round. He tried not to look down at her chest, which he knew would bring thoughts of Delicious to mind. He was slightly acquainted with Beverly Louise Hampton and more than a little wary. His attraction to her had his automatic defense mechanisms clicking, one by one, firmly into place.

“Hey, Detective Fowler,” she said warily by way of greeting. “I came in the back door from behind. I parked my car over on the next street because I knew the short cut through the yards. Used to ride my bike through here to get to school,” she babbled. “I guessed you would have all the official vehicles out front. I said hello to the police earlier,” she added, winding down and giving him a slightly apprehensive look. He knew she knew she shouldn’t be here.



Back Cover Blurb: Detective Kevin Fowler is furious that low life has targeted his town where people live in blissful safety. Brenda Bryant is out junkn’ for good things when she stumbles over the grotesque body of a man beloved by no one. Suspense heats up when large sums of money are found in two different places. Drug money is suspected and Brenda targeted by someone who wants the money returned. Detective Fowler faces surprise after surprise as he peels back the surface of Hubbard, New York and deals with its shocking underbelly. Meanwhile romance infiltrates the group of friends with a wedding in the making.

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Faint odors of rotting garbage wafted past her nose invading the Western New York spring air. Closing her eyes, she sighed, then resolutely opened them and started to pull herself up, a move which slightly shifted the dresser. To her horrified eyes, a white human hand flopped from behind her, landing almost in her lap.

Slowly the hand moved and was followed by a shoulder and then a head full of gray hair with a forehead marred by a jagged, bloody hole. A stench followed, and she stopped breathing for a second trying to avoid it. She wanted to scream, but the sound stuck in her throat, which felt like rope was tightening around it. Beads of sweat rappelled in streams down her face, stinging her eyes and blurring her vision, while her stomach gave a querulous lurch. She swallowed rapidly. I will not throw up. I will not throw up.


She heard Tom calling out to her and, struggling for control, she stood up. Unable to keep her eyes averted from the horror at her feet, she glanced down at the greenish-white face and recognized the identity of the corpse, on the way to becoming something not quite human in the spring temperature. A cloud of flies descended and settled on the body.

Brenda took two steps back, her shoulders shaking in an involuntary shudder. Good gracious! Had Tom gone into collecting dead bodies? The man had lost all sense of reality. Even as the thought crossed her mind that Tom was involved, she dismissed it. He was a gentle giant. Never would she believe he could shoot anyone. She doubted he even owned a gun?

“I’m over here, Tom.” Now what? she thought, trying to quell her rebellious middle. Should she call the police or should she tell Tom he had to do it? She had a premonition this was not going to end well for her trash-collecting friend. Hardly anything ever did. Detective Kevin Fowler was a good man, but he wouldn’t let sentiment interfere with his job. Best he be the one to investigate. She trusted him to be fair.

She glanced back at the body sprawled amidst the collection of Tom’s good things. How had anyone managed to put it there? The thought came to her unbidden that only Tom could have accomplished the task, and she shook her head, hoping to clear her thinking. Tom was closer now, looking at her quizzically. Brenda had gone to school with him, but even she was often startled by the size of this big bear of a man with a not so large IQ. She made an instant, swift decision to let Detective Kevin Fowler handle explaining everything to Tom. A rotting corpse seemed a job for an expert.

“Thanks,” she said almost casually. “Did you put the dresser in the back of my truck?”

Tom nodded vigorously, his hands clasped tightly in front of him.

“I won’t be wasting any more of your time. Thanks again for sharing your treasures.” She carefully picked her way back through the acre of trash, which used to be the backyard of Little Tom’s parents, and continued down the driveway with Tom at her side. He was telling her something, but she couldn’t force her mind to concentrate on what he was saying. It was something about the town board and his constant battle to keep his property as he wished.

She climbed into her truck and drove slowly down the heavily treed street of older homes, her mind attempting to compute the information that had shocked her to the core.



Janis Lane lives with her patient hubby adjacent to a small town in Western NY on a few acres where she writes her stories in idyllic peace. She has a deep love of nature and spends much time outside in the garden. Regency Romance is a second genre for her writings, but more Detective Kevin Fowler Cozy Mysteries are certainly in her future.


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