Sunday, January 19, 2020

The Nutcracker Conspiracy by Lauren Carr (Review, Author Interview and Giveaway!)

This is the fourth book in the Thorny Rose Mystery series. I'm hooked on all her series now. This one will be released in 10 days but can be pre-ordered. Check out my interview with Lauren Carr below and enter for a chance to win a $50 Amazon GC!

Book Details:

Book Title: The Nutcracker Conspiracy (A Thorny Rose Mystery #4) by Lauren Carr
Category: Adult Fiction, 388 pages
Genre: Mystery
Publisher: Acorn Book Services
Release date: January 30, 2020
Tour dates: Jan 20 to February 28, 2020
Content Rating: PG-13 (Lauren Carr's books are murder mysteries, so there are murders involved. Occasionally, a murder will happen on stage. There is sexual content, but always behind closed doors. Some mild swearing (a hell or a damn few and far between). No F-bombs!

Book Description:

Three years ago, the nation gasped in horror when the President of the United States barely escaped an assassination attempt that left two dead—the vice president’s wife and the attempted assassin. Even after numerous investigations proved otherwise, conspiracy theorists argue that the assassin was acting on orders from the CIA, FBI, and every federal agency within a hundred miles of the capital.

Aspiring Author Dean Conway is the last person Lieutenant Commander Murphy Thornton wants to spend his Saturday afternoon when they end up at the same wedding reception table. While their wives tend to bridesmaid duties, Murphy is trapped listening to Dean’s latest work-in-project—completing the manuscript of an investigative journalist who’d disappeared months earlier.

“She was number twelve,” Dean says.

“Twelve?” Murphy asks.

“Twelve witnesses connected to or investigating The Nutcracker shooting have died either in an accident or suicide.”

Two days later, Dean dies suddenly―but not before sending a text message to Murphy:


My Review:
Reviewed by Laura Fabiani

The Nutcracker Conspiracy is the fourth book in the Thorny Rose Mystery series. The main characters are Murphy Thornton and Jessica Faraday, but as usual, Carr includes brief appearances of characters from other series such as Mac and Archie as well as Chris Matheson. And Gnarly is back, spending time with Murphy and Jessica. Of course, he is up to no good (a matter of perspective) with his usual antics, but he saves the day on several occasions.

On the night when the daughter of the President of the USA is dancing in The Nutcracker ballet, an attempt was made on his life. Someone intervened and the president was spared but instead, the wife of the vice-president was killed. This event gave birth to The Nutcracker conspiracy. It seems that several people connected to this event end up dead. Dean Conway, an aspiring writer, claims that twelve have already died and he may be next. True to his fears, Dean gets killed and becomes the 13th victim, but alas, nothing is as it seems.

Once again, just when I think that I've figured something out, Carr throws a curveball and I'm left amazed that she can keep me guessing until the end! There are so many twists and turns my head was spinning at one point. And through all of this buildup, she injects humor, both in the form of furry friends, but also in Tristan, the tech wiz. I loved the family connections and sibling fights, the romance between our lovebirds Murphy and Jessica, and Gnarly's kleptomaniac adventures.

Once again, Carr manages to close all plotlines and bring the story to a satisfying end. By this point, I'm familiar with all the characters in all the series, and they've become like friends that I revisit every time I read one of her books. The Nutcracker Conspiracy was another fun addition to the Thorny Rose series and I look forward to the next one!

Disclosure: Thanks to the author for sending me this book for review. I was not compensated in any other way, nor told how to rate or review this product.

Buy the Book:

Pre-Order Your Copy Today!
The scheduled release date is Jan 30, 2020!

My Interview with Lauren Carr:

LCR: Thanks for joining me for this interview, Lauren! So...I've been reading your books for a few years now and every time I crack open a new release I ask myself, "What plot twist is Carr going to come up with this time?" So my question to you is, Where do you get your ideas for your mystery plots?

LC: Anywhere and everywhere. I am always on the lookout for a mystery plotline. I’m one of those people that if I’m left alone in a cafĂ© waiting for a friend and she’s late, I’ll start imagining why. If she’s late enough, I’ll have concocted an entire story in which she’s been kidnapped by terrorists mistaking her for an ambassador’s daughter. Of course, my explanation will be much more exciting than hers when she arrives to announce that she got stuck in traffic.

I don’t know if that means I’m terribly imaginative or twisted. It all depends on how you look at it.

LCR: You are the author of several series. Do you have a favorite one? How do you come up with the idea for a new series like you did for the Chris Matheson one?

LC: My favorite is the one that I am currently working on. The other day I got into an argument with a writer friend who accused me of not loving Mac Faraday anymore. That’s simply not true. I was offended. It was like a mother being told that she didn’t like one of her children anymore.

I’ll admit, I’m enamored with Chris Matheson because that series is new and fresh to me. I was not looking for a fourth series when I created the Chris Matheson Cold Case mysteries. The inspiration for that struck me while watching a documentary on Netflix about a group of former students banding together to investigate their teacher’s murder, which was a fifty-year-old cold case. Each student brought their own talents to the group. From there, Chris Matheson and the Geezer Squad was born.

Each series lends itself to particular types of mysteries. For example, The Nutcracker Conspiracy could never be set in Deep Creek Lake. The plotline alone is built for the Thorny Rose Mysteries, set in a Washington DC backdrop.

Likewise, the plot for Came Upon a Midnight Murder, the next Mac Faraday, would not do well in the Washington DC metropolis. Now that I’m working on the fourteenth Mac Faraday, I’m in love with Mac again.

LCR: What is the hardest thing about writing a series? The easiest?

LC: Carrying the continuity from one book to the next is by far the hardest. My characters have become like old friends who reveal a bit of themselves in each book. Oftentimes while writing, I will need to hunt through previous books in the series to double-check something so that a sharp-minded reader won’t email to say, “That isn’t what he said in Kill and Run!”

For example, in The Nutcracker Conspiracy, there is a scene where Jessica is upset after her best friend Amy is hospitalized when her husband is killed. Traumatized, Jessica thinks back to when she’d lost a friend in a motorcycle accident in high school. In the middle of writing that scene, I had to stop and go hunting through Kill and Run to refresh my memory about Jessica’s friend and her death.

The easiest part is the dialogue. Writing the exchanges between the characters is fun and easy for me. I think it’s because, after numerous books, they have become like real people to me. Their conversations come naturally. That is fun and weird and twisted all at the same time because I know they’re not real people.

LCR: How do you research information for your novels?

LC: I do a lot of searching on the internet. We’ve come a long way, baby! I was cleaning out my library a few months ago and found the stack of books on forensics, private investigation, how to try a murder, and other technical research books written specifically for murder mystery writers. I had bought those books back in the ’90s.

Nowadays, you can jump on the internet to search for anything. But I don’t just look up in one place. There is a ton of false information on the internet. I triple check to make sure the same information is in multiple places before I go with it.

I’m also a big fan of the Discovery Channel. I like to watch true crime shows to find out how real cases were investigated and the true-life obstacles that the investigators had to get over and around to solve a case.

LCR: How does being an author today differ from being one ten years ago?

LC: Being an author today is tremendous! We have doors open today that were closed and locked before. My first book came out in 2004. That was A Small Case of Murder. Back then, it was hammered into writers’ heads that you were not a real author unless you were traditionally published by one of the big publishers in New York. To publish your book any other way meant you were stupid or desperate or both.

I had worked for over ten years in the federal printing house in publishing government documents. I knew all about layout and editing. I knew everything about publishing. For some reason, I did not realize that I could apply my professional skills toward publishing my novels. It wasn’t until my third book, the first installment in the Mac Faraday mysteries It’s Murder, My Son, that I had this uh-huh moment where I realized, “I have the knowledge. I have the skills. I have the technology. I can do this myself.” It was one of those smack your palm against your forehead moments.

In 2011, I turned down multiple offers to traditionally publish It’s Murder, My Son. It made it up to #1 in mysteries on Amazon. That couldn’t have happened 20 years ago.

LCR: If you could travel back in time, where would you go and why?

LC: The wild west. I love horses. I’d be like Annie Oakley—riding fast horses and shooting whiskey bottles up in the air.

LCR: Thank you so much, Lauren!

Meet the Author:

Lauren Carr is the international best-selling author of the Mac Faraday, Lovers in Crime, Chris Matheson Cold Case, and Thorny Rose Mysteries—over twenty-five titles across three fast-paced mystery series filled with twists and turns!

Book reviewers and readers alike rave about how Lauren Carr’s seamlessly crosses genres to include mystery, suspense, crime fiction, police procedurals, romance, and humor.

​A popular speaker, Lauren is also the owner of Acorn Book Service, the umbrella under which falls iRead Book Tours. She lives with her husband and two spoiled rotten German Shepherds on a mountain in Harpers Ferry, WV.

​Connect with the author: Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Instagram

Enter the Giveaway!
Ends March 6, 2020

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  1. Thank you so much, Laura, for the wonderful review and the fun interview! As always, it is a pleasure to be on the Library of Clean Reads. Here's wishing everyone luck in the giveaway for the $50 Amazon Gift Card.

    1. Looking forward to your next one! Thanks for stopping by. :-)

  2. i'll be sharing this one too. i do see several familiar books and was lucky enough to win the beijing memorandum and killer resolutions. looking forward to reading them
    sherry @ fundinmental


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