Former English teacher, former legal secretary, former travel writer, former newspaper reporter. My adventure into the world of mystery fiction began when an editor asked me to write a review column for the newspaper.
I went to the library to browse the shelves, and the books that caught my eye turned out to be mysteries. It wasn't long until I began to think ... hmmmm ... maybe I could write a mystery.
Introducing Penny Mackenzie IN Absinthe of Malice -
Krill Press says:
The real pleasure for readers of "Absinthe Of Malice" isn't in racking their brains, trying to figure out "who dunnit." The REAL pleasure for readers is in the READING of the book itself! It is a campy, entertaining romp through a little California town filled with rich and interesting characters. And one in particular, Penny Mackenzie, who you can't help but root for as she puts everything on the line to solve the murder of a good friend and to maybe, just maybe, win back the love of her life for a second chance at first love.
Here's what reviewers said about Absinthe of Malice:
I loved Pat Browning's mostly cozy ABSINTHE OF MALICE
Penny Mackenzie, Lifestyle reporter for the newspaper in her small town, Pearl, California, has led an up-and-down type of life and is now back at home, living with her 70-year-old mother. Even that arrangement is an up-and-down one, as are, we soon learn,relationships, secrets, and good/evil life throughout the town. In other words, a typical small town.
Browning skillfully sucked me right into the center of everything going on in Pearl. So much so, that I felt a bit like a peeping Thomasina, or maybe a ghost or even a guardian angel, looking on and feeling emotions, but not taking part in a brewing blow-up in the lives of the town's citizens. Old secrets and wounds are about to
be exposed. (Exciting!)
Penny Mackenzie tells the story from a skillfully created first person POV, and that suits the story perfectly. While I did not identify with Penny, I certainly understood her, and rode the emotional roller coaster with her as she tries to find out who and what killed her fellow reporter and friend, Maxie.
Now that the book is finished I look back and almost feel like I have been spending time with a somewhat wayward daughter, understanding her motives, sad about the fact she doesn't understand me, worrying about her safety and false steps.
I also have a double viewpoint, as I have been inside Penny's head, seeing where she is "missing the mark" and struggling with her to understand her own feelings.
I enjoy character-driven stories, and this fits. I like well-woven plots, even complicated ones, and this fits. I appreciate good writing. This fits. I like seeing a part of the country I am not familiar with. This fits.
(I didn't know they grew cotton in California though, as an Arkansan, I have seen many fields of cotton and understood the landscape when Penny and Maxie were hiding in a cotton field.)
I hope for satisfactory solutions and endings. This fits.
So,no matter what type of mystery you prefer, I suggest you buy this book. Spend time with the fascinating citizens of Pearl as layers of carefully built up social position, guilt, sorrow, helplessness, and mis-understanding are uncovered. Wow!
Radine Trees Nehring, author of A Wedding To Die For
Penny Mackenzie is marvelous. I want more of her. As the clever, reluctant, self-effacing heroine of Pat Browning’s fast paced and engrossing tale of murder and love in a small town, she is unforgettable. Absinthe of Malice is a pleasure to read, rich with humor and unique characters in a fresh setting––nary a cliché in sight. Bravo, Ms. Browning. You’ve done it up proper.
––Robert Fate, author of the Baby Shark series
The story takes place in a small California town with enough skeletons in its closet to populate a mausoleum.
There are some great characters in newspaper reporter Penny Mackenzie (she spells it differently from my character Greg), her stylish mother who runs the local travel agency, the police chief next door, a rekindled flame from the past, and a feisty pair who rule the town thanks to a predecessor who hit a mother lode in the Klondike. (Therein lies a tale.)
The story involves some old bones found in a cotton field, a couple of current murders and lots of questions about the town's (and some of its occupants') past.
The writing is delightful. Pat Browning is a talented wordsmith, great with the short, pithy description. I like endings that link all the plot points together, and ABSINTHE OFMALICE has a totally satisfying ending.
Chester Campbell, Author of Deadly Illusions, Designed to Kill and Secret of the Scroll.
Pat Browning's ABSINTHE OF MALICE takes place in a very small town where the outside world doesn't often impose on the citizens' lives and I have to say, I've rarely read a mystery with such a profound sense of place. You can almost smell the corn growing in the farmlands out yonder and hear the crickets chirping at night.
On top of that, her heroine is wonderfully sympathetic and I was up at three a.m. today reading it because I care about her and I want to find out what happens to her.
In some places I've laughed out loud because Browning's prose is so sharp and original, although this isn't a comedy by any means. It's a beautifully crafted mystery intertwined with life in a small town as it really is.
Beth Anderson, Author of Night Sounds, Murder Online, Second Generation, Count on Me, All That Glitters, and Diamonds.
"Pearl and its history may be fictional, but ... it could easily have been taken straight from real life. Browning does an excellent job of creating a town of people whose lives have been molded by their past and that of their ancestors." -- Lorie Ham, author of "The Trouble With Tenors."