I’ve always wanted to have a hobby. One of my favorite things in the whole world is when people find something that brings them joy, and then they commit to doing it with their whole hearts. I’m often a spectator at things like Renaissance Fairs, quilt shows, bicycle rallies, ghost hunting tours, and the like because I adore seeing people unapologetically doing their thing.

…which is what makes it so difficult that I’ve never been able to find a “thing” of my own. I could cheat and say that reading is my hobby (hey, it counts!), but it’s hardly the stuff that makes for a good cozy mystery backdrop.

It’s not like I haven’t tried to find the right hobby. Last winter, I took up knitting. The winter before, it was cross stitching. There’s a sewing machine somewhere in the deep recesses of my storage closet, languishing alongside a miniature Victorian dollhouse I tried to build from one of those kits. I’ve baked (not very well). I’ve played sports (see above). I even took up jogging for a while (that one was a mistake). In the end, it turns out there’s only one thing I return to time and time again: extreme dot-to-dots.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. Dot-to-dots don’t count as a hobby, even if you put the word EXTREME in front of it. (Not even if you write it in all capital letters.) But these books have been my tried-and-true way to relax and unwind for years. Like the adult coloring book craze (which, yes, I’ve also tried), you can detach your brain and create something from nothing without any sort of skill or training. And because my mind isn’t fully engaged on the task, I can often work out tricky mystery plotting problems while I do it.

Someday, I’d like to find a more traditional—and productive—way to spend my downtime, but while there are kids in the house and books to be written, I find that this fills in the gaps just fine. Plus, I’m now amazing at drawing straight lines between two points.

 

“Don’t miss out on this first in a promising series!” —Juliet Blackwell, New York Times bestselling author

When something goes bump in the night . . . it’s most likely a plumbing problem, or something equally mundane. But fake medium Eleanor Wilde is happy to investigate and cleanse your home of spectral presences—for a fee. Hey, it’s a living . . .

Ellie has an ailing sister to care for, and working as a ghost hunter who doesn’t believe in ghosts helps cover the bills for both of them. When she’s lucky, it also pays for the occasional tropical vacation. Her brother doesn’t exactly approve, but Ellie figures she’s providing a service. On her latest job, though, she may be in for some genuine scares.

The skeptical, reserved, and very rich Nicholas Hartford III has flown her all the way to his family’s ancestral estate in England—supposedly haunted by a phantom named Xavier. Nicholas thinks it’s all just as much a crock as Ellie’s business is, but the fact remains that something is causing the flashes of light, mysterious accidents, and other apparent pranks in the chilly, eerie castle. His mother is sure that Xavier is real, and he’s willing to employ Ellie if she can get to the bottom of it and put a stop to the nonsense.

While the food and accommodations are somewhat disappointing (dorm-room furniture? Really?), Ellie is finding it an adventure to get to know this eccentric family and their houseguests, and to poke around in the nearby village for clues. But when an actual dead body appears—and subsequently disappears—at Castle Hartford, she’ll have to apply her talent for trickery and psychological insight to solve a flesh-and-blood murder.

“When a saucy pseudo-psychic is hired to rid an ancestral estate of its alleged resident ghost, things are bound to get interesting. Add to that a charming English village, an eccentric family, and a killer on the loose, and Séances are for Suckers delivers a winning blend of mystery and the paranormal, with a little humor and romance thrown in for good measure. Don’t miss out on this first in a promising series!” —Juliet Blackwell, New York Times bestselling author of the Witchcraft Mystery series

“A mystery with a haunted castle? What’s not to love? Tamara Berry weaves a fun story with likable characters and a plot that kept me guessing until the end.” —Rose Pressey, USA Today bestselling author of the Haunted Vintage Mystery series