Betrothal, Betrayal, and Blood

JoAnna Senger's Betrothal, Betrayal, and Blood features dark mystery fiction.EXCERPT:

Milady’s Manor:

The most famous hotel on the Central California Coast, each room decorated according to its own unique theme. Milady’s Manor puts the city of San Tobino on the map.

Detectives Vito and Karl:

“The murder weapon.” Vito cleared his throat. “The son of a bitch must have chosen the Caveman Club to stay true to the decor.”

The Caveman Club was a larger version of the cartoon club, usually held by a caveman in one hand while his other hand clutched a cavewoman’s long hair. The Club itself had been photographed by various public relations types, journalists and tourists, so Karl assumed that its existence was well known, but perhaps not its weight. Karl had never heard of anyone using the Club for vandalism or any violent purpose.

But it had been up to the task. The wood was undented by the battering although blood and bits of bone, hair, and flesh clung to its blunt, irregular end.

“There’s something wrong here,” said Karl, quietly. “This makes no sense.”

“Yeah, I’d say so,” said Vito. “Maybe three somethings wrong. This whole room is one big something wrong as far as I can tell.” Vito turned toward Karl. “What do you mean?”

“Well, they’re beaten to a pulp but nothing else in the room is even turned over. Nothing, not even on the nightstands.” Karl scanned the room. “Nothing even looks touched. How can that be?”

Hermione, the Other Waitress:

Babysitting money. That’s all I had. Fifteen hundred dollars hidden in my gym bag under a flap in the bottom. It went to school with me every day. No one ever suspected. I’m sure my brothers and sisters didn’t have a clue because they never went through my gym bag. If they had suspected anything, that’s what they would have done.

God bless babysitting money.

For that matter, God bless Volkswagen and their indestructible cars. Dad gave me his fifteen-year-old Beetle with peeling paint and some sort of mechanical problem, but it ran and still does. He was so proud, his bleary eyes were shining. He didn’t even slur his words that bad when he told me how much he loved me. Of course, by the time I was ready to leave, he had passed out. Or maybe that was another time.

Babysitting money, a VW, and I was free.


A car, my own apartment, and a job: waitress at Milady’s Manor, the most exquisite hotel I can imagine. I never thought I’d be so lucky. I can do what I want after work, arrange my furniture however I like; no one else’s clothes in my closet, no more family raves and rants, and I love it. Quiet and safe, and that’s how I like it.

Or rather, that’s how I liked it. Now these murders! And in a place like Milady’s. It’s like murder in church. Unbelievable.

Isn’t any place safe anymore?

Peaches: a Wandering Wife:

Peaches walked around the apartment that evening in a trance, scarcely noticing Halden lounging on the couch. She was still at Milady’s, her mind conjuring up new ways to make love to Jim in all those fabulous rooms. Maybe Jim would orchestrate the event, maybe she would. His charm, his face and form thrilled her. He would caress her until the private places on her body enlarged, the rest being just a vehicle to hold them. By the time he touched the aching soft wetness between her legs, she would be just this side of orgasm and ready to beg him.

Her life before Jim was no more than the weather on that first day at Milady’s: just fog and drizzle.

Halden, the Husband from Hell:

This guy was going down. If it was the last thing he did on this earth, Towers was going down. All his looks would avail him nothing, his charm would count for nothing, and the swooning females ever surrounding him would amount to nothing. Now he knew now what was going on, how it was going on, and what should happen to the Prince of Charm. He didn’t know yet how he would do it, but he’d figure it out. Figuring things out was his specialty.

You’re smarter than he is, came a dark voice from some region of his soul. He thinks he’s smart but he’s not. You are. You can take him. Do it. If he dies, it’s no loss. You can do it. Do it.

Halden listened to this dark voice, holding his breath, rapt. The voice spoke the truth. He liked that voice.

Before it was over,Jim Towers would wish he had never been born.

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Title: Betrothal, Betrayal, and Blood (Crime Novel)

Author: JoAnna Senger

Publisher: NTD

ISBN #978-1-937769-08-6

Price: $15.50

205 Pages

Rating 5-Stars

A Smooth and Entertaining Read.

In San Tobino, a small town on the Central Coast of California, the popular resort hotel, Milady’s Manor becomes the scene of gruesome murders. Leads are few in this sleepy little community, and the police are stymied. It seems the murders are set up to follow the popular rooms, different decor. The DinoWorld Room is set up as a prehistoric landscape, and then there are the Marie Antoinette Room, the Gibraltar Room, and the Lucretia Borgia Room. Each murder is enacted according to the rooms’ decor. What could be the motive, the authorities wonder?

The negatives of this book are cosmetic for the most part. There is little mystery, as we meet the killer before halfway into the book. However, even that wasn’t necessary. The title alone tells us the plot. If it didn’t, the cover would have. A broken wedding ring, with a husband and wife inserted within the circle of the ring, and a handsome stranger standing alone outside the ring’s perimeter.  If I had seen this book on a paperback spinner rack, I would have passed it by for I knew the story without opening it. And that would have been a shame.

The author’s writing is superb, and the story keeps the reader’s interest from the opening page to the final chapter. We follow the police investigators, as well as the sordid adulterous affair that leads to the gruesome murders. An added compliment to the tale is the diary entries of a witness. Another nice aspect is the inclusion of a female private detective, and I would be surprised if we don’t see her in future novels of her own series.

The plot is good, though overused in these type crime novels, but Ms. Senger’s story-telling ability, and characterization is what captures the reader throughout. I can’t help but wonder what a new title say, “Murders at Milady’s Manor,” or a simple “Murder in Room 313,” and a cover illustrating the crime scene from one of the picturesque rooms would do for the book? But with or without a cover, this novel is topnotch, and well worth the read!

Tom Johnson, Editor

Detective Mystery Stories

Betrothal, Betrayal, and Blood is a tightly woven mystery that is intriguing, intense, and irresistible. This well written and fast paced novel is entirely convincing and flows seamlessly from start to finish. From the small town vibe to the realistic characters to the believable dialogue, Senger truly knows her craft. Well done!
Lori Paris
Just finished your book – was determined not to have to put it down again before i was done – so finished it this evening! VERY good – and I’m a critical mystery-book reader!! it was interesting and neat, because figured out who ‘done it’ fairly early, but the twists were so interesting that it really didn’t matter. it STILL held my interest thru to the very end! reminds me, just about the figuring out early, of watching the old Colombo TV series mysteries – you knew who did it from the get go – but it was the STORY and the twists, and the figuring out, etc., that kept you interested all the way thru – same thing with yours. So Brava!!

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