Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Bloody Lessons Book Tour with M. Louisa Locke: Guest Post/Giveaway

Can it be a cozy without a cat (or a dog?)

Recently, I posted on my own blog about why my Victorian San Francisco mysteries were cozies, and one of the defining characteristics I mentioned was the inclusion of animals (which is even a sub-category of cozies in the Kindle estore). Today, while visiting Melissa over at Mochas, Mysteries, and More, I thought I would write about the role that two animals play in my works, and why I think animals are so important to cozies.

My series is set primarily in a San Francisco boarding house owned by my protagonist, the young widow Annie Fuller. Queenie, an old black cat and Dandy, a young Boston terrier rescued by Jamie, one of the boarders, are two important members of that household.

Below is a scene from Maids of Misfortune in which the reader meets these two characters for the first time. Annie has had disturbing news that morning and is sitting in the kitchen getting comfort from having Queenie in her lap when Dandy comes in to the kitchen. She and her cook, Beatrice O’Rourke, are discussing whether they can let Jamie keep him.

Dandy was a “…small bull-terrier mix, with the pugnacious, squashed–in muzzle of a dockside tough and the soulful brown eyes of an Italian poet. After sticking his non-existent nose into everything he could reach, the dog came and sat at Beatrice’s feet, thrust his skinny chest forward, cocked his head to one side, and looked up expectantly.

“Annie chuckled. ‘Well it looks as if he is a smart young thing, for he clearly knows who will cast the deciding vote. You have enough to do around here without adding the care and feeding of a dog.’

“Beatrice responded by looking significantly at the extremely alert cat in Annie’s lap. ‘It seems to me that the deciding vote must come from that old puss, for if she won’t put up with him, there will be no peace in this household. I know she is getting old and crotchety, but I won’t have her bothered, even to please the young lad.’

“As if she knew she was being spoken about the cat sat up in Annie’s lap, drew herself tall, and then sprang lightly down onto the kitchen floor. After arching slowly, she walked sedately across the floor until she stood facing the young bull terrier. He sat very still, without blinking. Annie could see that the effort he made not to bark was tremendous. Then, with a swiftness she found remarkable, the cat stretched out her right paw and lightly batted the dog on his forehead, right between his ears. Beyond emitting the smallest of yips and producing the fleeting impression that he had gone cross-eyed, the dog did not stir. The cat then stalked majestically across to her basket in the corner, circled twice, and curled up into instant sleep.

“A collective sigh of relief from both Beatrice and the dog followed this performance…”––Maids of Misfortune

This scene demonstrates two of the reasons that cozies have animals in them. They are characters that produce action in scenes that would otherwise be nothing but dialog, and they provide opportunities for comic relief, which is what helps keep cozies lighter in tone than other mystery styles. Annie’s world is coming apart at this stage in the book, but the animals provide distraction and comfort.

Throughout my series, both Queenie and Dandy play these roles. Queenie usually gets to play straight-man to Dandy, but in my most recent book, Bloody Lessons, Queenie takes the stage all by herself.

“Laura began to weep, and Annie drew her into her arms and rocked her back and forth, saying, ‘Oh my dear, I know it hurts, and it doesn’t do any good for me to tell you it will get better. But it will. Look you have gotten Queenie all upset. Ruffled her dignity.’ Annie pointed at the old cat, who had again stalked to the end of the bed and was licking her back with ferocious concentration. Laura gave a tearful chuckle.”––Bloody Lessons

Dandy also gets to play the hero, using particular attributes associated with canines. Both in my second book, Uneasy Spirits, and this most recent book, Bloody Lessons, his greater awareness of his surroundings and his instinct to protect saves humans from harm. I even made him the star of the show in my short story Dandy Detects.

I have trouble imagining my life without the chuckles and companionship that my boarder collie mix and my two cats provide and I feel that the lives of my characters are similarly enriched by their pets. Cozy mysteries are designed to make the reader feel good. They use likeable characters and humor to achieve that goal, and I think nothing does that like having a well-drawn animal or two in the story.

Can you imagine a cozy without animals?
Please leave a comment with your email address for the chance to win a print or ebook copy of Maids of Misfortune...Print Books – US only  --- E-books – International. Ends 10/10.

Bloody Lessons: A Victorian San Francisco Mystery
Cozy/Historical Mystery
3rd in Series
File Size: 144 KB
Print Length: 313 pages
Self Published


In Bloody Lessons, it’s the winter of 1880, and the teachers of San Francisco are under attack: their salaries slashed and their competency and morals questioned in a series of poison pen letters.

Annie Fuller, the reluctant clairvoyant, has been called into investigate by Nate Dawson, her lawyer beau, and the case becomes personal when they discover that Laura, Nate’s sister, may be one of the teachers targeted for attack.

In this installment in the Victorian San Francisco Mystery series, readers will find the same blend of a cozy mystery with romantic suspense, played out against the historical backdrop of late 19th century San Francisco, that they found in Maids of Misfortune and Uneasy Spirits.

If you are new to this series, you will still enjoy spending time with the lively residents of Annie Fuller’s boarding house and visiting San Francisco when Golden Gate Park was filled with horse-drawn carriages, saloon-keepers controlled politics, and kisses were stolen under gaslight.

About The Author:

M. Louisa Locke is a retired professor of U.S. and Women’s History, who has embarked on a second career as an historical fiction writer. The published books in her series of historical mysteries set in Victorian San Francisco, Maids of Misfortune, Uneasy Spirits, and Bloody Lessons, feature Annie Fuller, a boardinghouse owner and reluctant clairvoyant, and Nate Dawson, a San Francisco lawyer, who together investigate murders and other crimes, while her short stories, Dandy Detects and The Miss Moffets Mend a Marriage, give secondary characters from this series a chance to get involved in their own minor mysteries. Locke is an active member in the Alliance of Independent Authors, and a Director of the Historical Fiction Authors Cooperative.

Author Links:
Website and blog:




Purchase Link:AMAZON


Acemommy said...

I'd love to win! Sounds great!

sarah2323 at gmail dot com

Kath said...

Some of my favorite books!!

Deerwalker said...

Yes you can have a cozy without animals but it would need to have well above average writing,plot and characters in it for people to enjoy it.


Christy Maurer said...

I love this book :) I suppose it can be a cozy without a cat or dog, but life is so much better with a pet! I would love to read Maids of Misfortune since I jumped right in with Bloody Lessons in this series!

christy41970 @ gmail dot com

Unknown said...

This is a marvelous series.

I am typing with one hand because my queen cat has come and demanded attention. She graciously allows me to keep one hand for things other than giving her attention!

the moody box fan said...

I'm not a huge fan of anthropomorphized animal sleuths, but I definitely like the addition of animals or pets in a realistic way in cozies. I think their personalities can add a cheeky kind of outsider perspective. And speaking of shorts (re: Dandy) I think The Miss Moffets are my favorite characters in your books. Should you get the urge to do more short stories, I vote for them!

moodyboxfan at gmail dot com

Unknown said...

I love reading books that incorporate animals into the story because what would life be without our furry friends? When I was reading Bloody Lessons, my dog kept sticking his tiny head in front of my Kindle and trying to show his support by licking the side of it :) My email is jessicaeden78 at gmail dot com.

Unknown said...

I love reading books that incorporate animals into the story because what would life be without our furry friends? When I was reading Bloody Lessons, my dog kept sticking his tiny head in front of my Kindle and trying to show his support by licking the side of it :) My email is jessicaeden78 at gmail dot com.

Unknown said...

Book sounds fantastic. I love a book when the author uses animals in a good way. Thank you for the chance to enter this giveaway. Please enter my name.
Barbara Thompson

Sue said...

Yes, you can have cozies without animals, BUT this animal lover prefers her cozies with animals.

Unknown said...

I am glad to see that people do agree with me that cozies are better with animals! Thanks for all of you stopping by to comment. Mary Louisa

hotcha12 said...


Unknown said...

Enjoyed your post, Mary Louisa. A cozy definitely needs an animal or two!

Director, Membership Services
Association of Independent Authors (AiA)

cyn209 said...

i would love to win a print copy!!
thank you!!

cyn209 at juno dot com

Anita Yancey said...

I had not heard of this series. But this book sounds wonderful, I really like the mixture of romance and suspense, along with the fact that it is set in the 1800's. I would love to read it. Thanks for having the giveaway.