Judy Penz Sheluk releases “Past & Present: A Marketville Mystery”

My review of Judy Penz Sheluk’s Past & Present: A Marketville Mystery

By E. Michael Helms


pnp3Thirteen months after inheriting her father’s home with the strange caveat that she solve her mother’s thirty year old cold-case murder, Calamity “Callie” Barnstable has decided to put down roots in Marketville. Case finally solved,  Callie’s quit her banking job in Toronto, leased her cozy condo to a former co-worker, hired her hunky new next door neighbor to renovate her unkempt inherited domicile, and—spurred on by the success of her first case—she’s opened her own PI business: Past & Present Investigations. As the name suggests, P&P’s specialty will be solving not only present-day cases, but also cold cases from the past that have been shelved and largely forgotten.

With plans to sell her refurbished inherited house, Callie sets up shop in a Victorian home/office located in a posh Marketville neighborhood. Chantelle Marchand, Callie’s best friend and avid genealogist, signs on as partner in P&P Investigations. To round out the team, two other friends, a psychic and an antique shopkeeper come aboard as consultants.

As luck (or fate?) would have it, P&P’s first case is eerily similar to the personal one Callie has recently solved. A woman is seeking clues to find out who might have murdered her great-grandmother—and why. Callie digs in, honing the newly acquired investigative skills she learned while revealing her mother’s murderer. Meanwhile, Chantelle scours passenger lists from ships of the early twentieth century, as well as newspaper accounts of the time and other documents that hold promise in uncovering needed evidence. The discovery of a couple of old faded photographs might also hold the key to help unlock this decades’ old mystery.

There are plenty of feints, dead-ends, and red herrings throughout to keep the reader guessing while turning pages. Past & Present: A Marketville Mystery is a delightful blend of the cerebral, the psychic, and good old down-to-earth sleuthing. The interesting cast of characters and satisfying conclusion will leave the reader wanting to revisit Marketville time and again.

5 out of 5 stars!


Let’s play 20 Questions (okay, 3 or 4):


Michael: Judy, thanks for joining us at my humble blog.

Judy: My pleasure, Michael. Thank you for featuring my latest book.

Michael: I understand the publication date of September 21 has a special meaning to you. Can you elaborate?

Judy: Thanks for asking. September 21 marks the second anniversary of death of my mother, Anneliese Penz, but it’s more than that. So much of this book is inspired by documents I found inside a train case she had tucked away at the back of her closet. Things like immigration papers, photographs, postcards…I’d never seen any of them, and when I began to trace her journey, I started writing the book. It was as if she was with me every step of the way.

tarot-cardsMichael: Tarot plays a part in the first book in this series (Skeletons in the Attic) and again in Past & Present. Do you do tarot readings?

Judy: I own tarot cards…and a book on tarot…and I’ve done a ton of research, but it takes years to master. There’s another part of me that doesn’t necessarily want to know what’s going to happen. So I don’t actually read tarot, though when I’m writing and stuck, I might pick out a card and see if the message resonates.

Michael: I love the book cover for Past & Present. Did you design it?

Judy: Thank you, and no, although I worked collaboratively with Hunter Martin, who is a very talented graphic artist. I gave him a very rough sketch and he just took it from there. There was a lot of back and forth on colors, mood etc. At one time the cover was gold vs. blue-gray, and even though it looked good, it just didn’t feel right to me, and so we just kept trying different tones. I’m very happy with how it turned out.

And now, a bit about Past & Present(Sometimes the past reaches out to the present…)

It’s been thirteen months since Calamity (Callie) Barnstable inherited a house in Marketville under the condition that she search for the person who murdered her mother thirty years earlier. She solves the mystery, but what next? Unemployment? Another nine-to-five job in Toronto?

Callie decides to set down roots in Marketville, take the skills and knowledge she acquired over the past year, and start her own business: Past & Present Investigations.

It’s not long before Callie and her new business partner, best friend Chantelle Marchand, get their first client: a woman who wants to find out everything she can about her grandmother, Anneliese Prei, and how she came to a “bad end” in 1956. It sounds like a perfect first assignment. Except for one thing: Anneliese’s past winds its way into Callie’s present, and not in a manner anyone—least of all Callie—could have predicted.




About the author: An Amazon International Bestselling Author, Judy Penz Sheluk’s debut mystery novel, The Hanged Man’s Noose, the first in the Glass Dolphin Mystery series, was published in July 2015, and is also available in audiobook. The sequel, A Hole In One, was published March 2018, with audiobook to follow Fall 2018.

Skeletons in the Attic, Judy’s second novel, and the first in her Marketville Mystery series, was first published in August 2016 and re-released in December 2017. It is also available in audiobook format. The sequel, Past & Present, will be released September 2018. Judy’s short crime and literary fiction appears in several collections.

Judy is a member of Sisters in Crime, International Thriller Writers, the Short Mystery Fiction Society, and Crime Writers of Canada, where she serves on the Board of Directors as a representative for Toronto/Southwestern Ontario.


Find out more about Judy at http://www.judypenzsheluk.com


Find Judy at other Social Media:

Facebook: https://business.facebook.com/JudyPenzSheluk/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8602696.Judy_Penz_Sheluk

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JudyPenzSheluk

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.ca/judypenzsheluk/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/judypenzsheluk/


Past & Present: A Marketville Mystery #2

By Judy Penz Sheluk



Release Date: September 21, 2018 Print and Kindle

Pre-order Kindle on Amazon for special introductory price of $2.99 (reg. $5.99)

Buy link: http://authl.it/afj


Some Favorite Opening Lines in Mystery/Crime Novels

(Note: This appeared quite some time ago at MotiveMeansOpportunity.wordpress.com. I came across it while updating my files and thought the readers of this blog might enjoy it. No originality is claimed or presumed.  –E. Michael Helms)

Whether readers or writers, we all know the importance of that opening line. It should grab our attention and compel us to read on. Recently I was sitting at my desk struggling over the first line of a new short story I’m working on. I must’ve spent an hour writing and deleting, writing and changing, moving this phrase here, that word over there, ad nauseam. Finally I gave up, pushed my chair away from the desk. I felt like pulling out what hair I have left. It was then I noticed the five stacks of mystery/crime novels piled high to the left and right of my workspace. The lightbulb came on. I grabbed several books from a stack and began reading the first lines of each. After a couple of hours I got back to work and in a matter of minutes I had the opening line I’d struggled so hard to get. And thus was born this humble post of opening lines. Enjoy!




I never knew her in life.

–James Ellroy, The Black Dahlia


It was one hell of a night to throw away a baby.

–Julia Spencer-Fleming, In the Bleak Midwinter


Maybe it was the goddamned suit. Tailor-made Italian silk, as light and flimsy as shed snakeskin.

–James Crumley, Bordersnakes


When I finally caught up with Abraham Trahearne, he was drinking beer with an alcoholic bulldog named Fireball Roberts in a ramshackle joint just outside of Sonoma, California, drinking the heart right out of a fine spring afternoon.

–James Crumley, The Last Good Kiss


The bullets lay in a precise rank on the kitchen table, their brass casings dully reflecting sudden-death-finishthe light from the whaler’s lamp hanging in gimbals overhead: thirty-aught-six extra-velocity bullets, hand loaded and carefully crimped, deadly accurate over a range of more than a thousand yards.

–Tucker Halleran, Sudden Death Finish 


Even in the dim light of the bar, I could see the bruises.

–Jaden Terrell, Racing the Devil


I was in a deep sleep, alone aboard my houseboat, alone in the half-acre of my bed, alone in a sweaty dream of chase, fear, and monstrous predators.

–John D. MacDonald, The Dreadful Lemon Sky                                                       John D. MacDonald


We were about to give up and call it a night when somebody dropped the girl off the bridge.

–John D. MacDonald, Darker than Amber


The ambulance is still miles away when Dana awakens to the near dark of evening.

–Susan Crawford, The Pocket Wife


The headline made me sit down when I read it, that and the picture next to it and the article that spilled out over two columns underneath.

–Richard Aleas, Little Girl Lost


Duke Pachinko lay propped against the wall, a dripping red sponge where his face used to be.

–L.A. Morse, The Old Dick                                                      



I slept rather badly the first few nights after Amanda’s murder.

–Richard Vine, Soho Sins


The guy was dead as hell. He lay on the floor in his pajamas with his brains scattered all over the rug and my gun in his hand.

–Mickey Spillane, Vengeance is Mine!


At fifteen minutes past two o’clock that afternoon, Mildred Crest’s world collapsed about her in a wreckage which left her so completely dazed that her mind became numb and her reasoning faculties simply failed to function.

–Erle Stanley Gardner, The Case of the Footloose Doll


Winter came like an antichrist with a bomb.     mcbain-1

–Ed McBain, The Pusher


When the phone rang, Parker was in the garage, killing a man.

–Richard Stark, Firebreak


I was standing on my head in the middle of my office when the door opened and the best looking woman I’d seen in three weeks walked in.

–Robert Crais, Stalking the Angel                              


There you have it, a list of some of my favorite opening lines from mystery and crime novels. What are some of yours? I’d sure love to have you share, so share!  🙂


E. Michael Helms is the author of the Mac McClellan Mystery series, as well as other books ine-michael-helms-headshot other genres. He lives in the Upstate region of South Carolina in the shadows of the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains. He’s currently being harassed by Mac, Kate Bell, and other recurring characters who keep harping at him to finish his work-in-progress, Deadly Verse. Visit his website at: http://www.emichaelhelms.com/