Posted in Review Thursday

Book Review Thursday: Fatal Brushstroke by Sybil Johnson

It’s Book Review Thursday. Come back each week to get a peek inside what authors I love and what storylines inspire me. 

FATAL BRUSHSTROKE front under 2mbRory Anderson didn’t expect the furious barking coming from her backyard to turn her life upside down. But that’s exactly what happens when she goes outside and discovers a hand buried in her garden. That hand is attached to the body of Hester Bouquet, a local celebrity painter, and someone Rory had been avoiding. Did her suddenly missing gardener, Javier, bury Hester in Rory’s garden and leave town?

It doesn’t help Rory’s plea of innocence when she intentionally leaves out a few things when she first meets Detective Green. They aren’t that important, are they? She notices him talking to her neighbors, who all start to look at her suspiciously. And the fact that Chief Marshall has a personal vendetta against her doesn’t help her case at all.

With the help of her friend, Liz, Rory starts poking around in Hester’s life. The logical suspects appear to be the not-so-grieving widower, Julian, who seems to be a wee bit too close to another woman, Trudy, and their son, Kevin, who seems to resent his mother for some reason. Rory feels sorry for Julian’s assistant, Nora, who was very close to Hester and seemed to worship the very ground Hester walked on.

A nosy wannabe reporter,Veronica, starts stalking Rory, posting stories and pictures on her blog that make it clear (without actually printing her name) that Rory is the one and only suspect. And at Hester’s funeral, a close encounter with Chief Marshall reinforces this belief, making Rory more determined than ever to clear her name.

After inventorying Hester’s art supplies the day after the funeral, Rory becomes distracted when someone breaks into her mother’s art store, and her mother is attacked. As she cleans up the mess, Rory discovers a damning piece of evidence that she believes is going to lead her straight to the killer. But after she confronts Trudy with what she has found, she is shocked when she finds Trudy dead the next morning. Even worse, Detective Green discovers Trudy’s cell phone and a near empty pill bottle in Rory’s back seat that makes her look very, very guilty.

Undeterred, Rory and Liz keep digging into the history of all the players involved, until an innocent moment helps Rory realize who the real killer is. Can Rory and Liz trap the killer, before the killer can turn the tables and send Rory to the great beyond in a blaze of glory?

Fatal Brushstroke is a good book, and on a scale of one to five, I would give it a four. I felt that Ms. Johnson was trying too hard at the beginning to make Rory look guilty as sin, and I got a bit tired of her withholding information from Detective Green. I understand Rory’s reluctance to trust the young detective because of Chief Marshall’s influence, but it bothered me that Rory kept saying she was innocent, but didn’t do much to prove it in the eyes of the law. As a writer, I do the same thing sometimes with my characters, but I felt this was a bit extreme. Once I figured out who the killer was, I did read it to the end to make sure I was correct (I was). Things did start to pick up from about the middle of the book to the end. Overall, it is a very good mystery, and I am invested in the characters enough that I am looking forward to the next Rory mystery. I wish I was talented enough in the art department to try some of the things Ms. Johnson describes in the book, because they sound like fun projects. Well done, Ms. Johnson!

Fatal Brushstroke is available on Amazonand through IndieBound.

Posted in Promote an Author

Promote an Author Tuesday: Sybil Johnson

It’s Promote an Author Tuesday. Meet Fatal Brushstroke author Sybil Johnson! For a full review of this mystery, stop back on Thursday!

Fatal Brushstroke

FATAL BRUSHSTROKE front under 2mbA dead body in her garden and a homicide detective on her doorstep…

Computer programmer and tole-painting enthusiast Aurora (Rory) Anderson doesn’t envision finding either when she steps outside to investigate the frenzied yipping coming from her own backyard. After all, she lives in Vista Beach, a quiet California beach community where violent crime is rare and murder even rarer.

Suspicion falls on Rory when the body buried in her flowerbed turns out to be someone she knows—her tole painting teacher, Hester Bouquet. Just two weekends before, Rory attended one of Hester’s weekend painting seminars, an unpleasant experience she vowed never to repeat. As evidence piles up against Rory, she embarks on a quest to identify the killer and clear her name. Can Rory unearth the truth before she encounters her own brush with death?

About Sybil Johnson

Sybil Johnson grew up in the Pacific Northwest. Frequent trips to the library introduced her to the Land of Oz, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, Bilbo Baggins and a whole lot more. She fell in love with mysteries reading Encyclopedia Brown and Nancy Drew. In junior high, she discovered Agatha Christie.

After high school graduation, Sybil moved south to attend the University of Southern California, majoring in Computer Science. After twenty years of designing and writing code and managing programmers and software development projects, she turned to a life of crime writing.

Her short fiction has appeared in Mysterical-E, Spinetingler Magazine, King’s River Life Magazine, Crimson Dagger, and Silver Moon Magazine.

A past president of Sisters in Crime/Los Angeles, Sybil also co-chaired the 2011 California Crime Writers Conference. In her spare time, she enjoys tole painting, studying ancient languages (Ancient Egyptian and Coptic are her current areas of interest), and spending time with friends and family.

Questions with the Author

Is there a book you wish you had written? (Someone used “Harry Potter” as an example)
Dissolution by C. J. Sansom. A great historical mystery.
Aunt Dimity’s Death by Nancy Atherton. Love that book. I’ve read it several times.

What is your favorite story about your childhood that the family tells over and over?
I don’t remember this one, but I’ve heard it a number of times.
We were visiting relatives. I was young, maybe 3 or 4. My aunt made donuts. My parents, sister and I went to visit other relatives. When we got back to my aunt’s house, she’d put the donuts in a glass jar. Apparently, I was very disappointed and said, “She canned the donuts!” That’s the only story I can remember that’s been told several times.

What’s on your bucket list?
Visit Australia and New Zealand; Learn Swedish; Read all the books in my personal library I haven’t read. (The last one may be a lost cause as I keep on adding to it!)

Where would Rory go on vacation?
She’d go on a Caribbean cruise with her best friend Liz. They’d explore the ports together during the day, then Liz could dance the night away while Rory sits on the deck and looks at the stars.

What is the one thing you can’t live without? That one must have item?
lime diet Coke; must have one every day

Connect with Sybil Johnson

Twitter: SybilJohnson_200

Fatal Brushstroke is available on Amazon and through IndieBound.