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Monday, October 14, 2013

Killer Image by Wendy Tyson (Author Guest Post / Book Review / Contest Giveaway)

In association with Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book tour event for Killer Image by author Wendy Tyson!

Author Guest Post

Killer Image
Wendy Tyson

Is Your Character Really You?

Ever read a book, turn to the back jacket and realize, a-ha, the author made the main character look just like him/her, down to the aristocratic nose and brooding, sultry expression? I have. And then I wonder: does this mean the author has imbued the character with all of his/her traits? Is the author also able to drive a race car, rappel down skyscrapers, tirelessly bed hot available babe after hot available babe, or have a witty retort for every question?


A newspaper reporter asked me recently if Allison was really me. Now, to be fair, the reporter couldn’t see me over the phone. At the time, I was wearing jeans, a black t-shirt and a pair of flip-flops. My hair was its usual mane of irascible curls and I wore no make-up. If you’ve read KILLER IMAGE, you know that other than her workout clothes, Allison always dresses like the President just might show up. And she’s blond. Did I mention that I’m a brunette?

But I suppose that doesn’t answer the question.

In many ways, we are alike. Allison is sensitive to people’s feelings, which is part of what makes her good at her job – but it’s also what drives her to create a safe, orderly life. A life in which she can keep from thinking about her past and avoid the heartache of old regrets. Like Allison, I’m sensitive to people’s feelings (although I do not have a safe and orderly life – here, chaos rules). And like Allison, I have a background in psychology, although neither of us is any longer in the field. And Allison is a control freak. Now, I won’t admit to that in public, but I will say it’s a trait my husband would swear I have, too.

While there’s a little bit of me in Allison, there’s a little bit of me in all of my characters. Like Mia, I love the countryside, animals, and enjoy growing our own vegetables. Like Vaughn, I work hard – sometimes too hard. Like Violet, I can be a dreamer, making the occasional bad choice because of a view of the world that reflects the way I wish things worked rather than the way they really do. Like Maggie, at times I want to tell The Man to take a hike. And like Midge, I value loyalty.

Someone I respect once argued that an author is limited by his or her own traits and can only create a character as good or bad as he/she is. I don’t think that’s true. While my characters may share some of my qualities/foibles, they are also imbued with characteristics I wish I had, or, in the case of Hank McBride, am glad I don’t. We, as authors, are limited by our imaginations, perhaps, and by our vision of the world and our ability to observe and understand, but I would argue that we’re not limited by our own personal characteristics. Just like my character doesn’t have to reflect the image on the back book jacket, she doesn’t have to be constrained by my failings.

Which is why Allison finds the strength and courage to go after a killer. And which is why Vaughn, who might not agree with her, has the faith to help. They show traits I wish I had. They are making choices that I – and maybe many of us – would like to believe we would make under similar circumstances.

And that’s the beauty of fiction. Good characters have flaws, but they can also show us the best of what it means to be human.

About The Author

Wendy Tyson wrote her first story at age eight and it’s been love ever since. When not writing, Wendy enjoys reading other people’s novels, traveling, hiking, and playing hooky at the beach – and if she can combine all four, even better. Originally from the Philadelphia area, Wendy has returned to her roots and lives there again with her husband, three kids and two muses, dogs Molly and Driggs. She and her husband are passionate organic gardeners and have turned their small urban lot into a micro farm.

Killer Image is Wendy’s first novel in the Allison Campbell mystery series.

Wendy has also authored The Seduction of Miriam Cross, a mystery that will be released by E-Lit Books on November 1, 2013.

Killer Image by Wendy Tyson ~ Virtual Book Tour Page: Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours

Book Review

Killer Image by Wendy Tyson
Book 1: Allison Campbell Mystery Series
Publisher: Henery Press
Publication Date: October 1, 2013
Format: Paperback - 316 pages / Kindle - 682 KB / Nook - 2 MB
ISBN: 1938383605
Genre: Mystery / Suspense / Thriller

BUY THE BOOK: Killer Image

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author / publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours.

Book Description:

As Philadelphia's premier image consultant, Allison Campbell helps others reinvent themselves, but her most successful transformation was her own after a scandal nearly ruined her. Now she moves in a world of powerful executives, wealthy, eccentric ex-wives and twisted ethics.

When Allison's latest Main Line client, the fifteen-year-old Goth daughter of a White House hopeful, is accused of the ritualistic murder of a local divorce attorney, Allison fights to prove her client's innocence when no one else will. But unraveling the truth brings specters from her own past. And in a place where image is everything, the ability to distinguish what's real from the facade may be the only thing that keeps Allison alive.

Book Excerpt:

Allison rang the McBrides’ doorbell at ten o’clock, on the dot. It was another chilly day, with just a sliver of sun attempting to break through the relentless cloud cover. As much as she liked her pin-striped Dolce & Gabbana skirt, Allison wished she’d traded it for a nice, warm wool pants suit. She pulled her coat tighter and waited for someone to answer.

The old house loomed over her like something out of a Gothic novel. The main structure, a hulking stone rectangle shrouded in ivy, was flanked on either side by one-story additions. A driveway stopped just feet before the main entrance and then wound around the side of the house, coming to a halt at the entrance of a three-car garage. Stone lions guarded the double front doors, which were painted black. Oversized brass knockers, each emblazoned with a lion’s head, perched on the doors’ centers. The overall effect was elegant, in a haunting, antiquated way.

Allison glanced around. The entire street was lined with these estates, separated by acres and enough stylistic differences to make each one unique. But make no bones about it, Allison thought, this home in this neighborhood was not purchased on a congressman’s salary. Someone in the McBride family was bleeding money.

A stout, pasty-faced woman in her sixties opened the door. She wore a perfectly-starched gray and white maid’s uniform that covered a thick body and rigid shoulders. Her iron-colored hair had been pulled into a tight bun. Not one hair escaped. Her mouth was pursed in a wrinkled frown.

Allison introduced herself. “I’m here to meet Maggie.”

The woman cocked her head to the side. “Please, come in.”

Allison stepped through the door into a large center hall. The room was lined with paintings, one after the other, only inches apart. Colorful abstracts, watery impressionists. It reminded Allison of the display at the Barnes Museum, where paintings were grouped by theme or color rather than era or artist. Allison didn’t have time to ponder the incongruity of these modern paintings—or the unusual presentation—in an otherwise staunchly traditional home before Sunny walked in.

“Thank you, Udele,” Sunny said to the iron-haired lady. “Ms. Campbell, the congressman and I are so happy you came. He couldn’t be here today, he’s on his way to Washington for government business, but I’ll introduce you to Maggie. This way, please.”

Allison followed Sunny through the center hall and up a set of stairs. Sunny wore jeans today, faded and low-slung, with a red sweater that set off the highlights in her hair. No makeup, but even without it she was stunning. Allison found herself wondering what it would be like to have her for a mother. Could you ever measure up? Halfway up the steps, Sunny turned suddenly and asked if Allison would like coffee. It seemed an afterthought and Allison declined. They continued toward the second level.

More paintings lined the upstairs hallway. One, an abstract portrait of a nude woman, her arms and legs swirling off into magenta obsolescence, struck Allison as particularly sad and sensual. It was then that she noticed the “SM” painted in the corner of the canvas.

“Did you paint these, Sunny?

Sunny took a moment before responding. When she did, her voice was hoarse. “I was an art major, once upon a time. Before the girls came along.”

“They’re lovely.”

Sunny mumbled a thank you and continued her trek toward Maggie’s room. Allison stole another glance at the nude. It was a self-portrait. She had no concrete reason to think that—there were no identifying marks, and the only thing that made it apparent the painting was of a woman at all was the milky hourglass of the torso. But somehow Allison knew. And in that moment she also knew that Sunny McBride, Gypsy wife of a rich and powerful congressman, was a very unhappy woman.

Sunny rapped on the door three times. “Maggie, let us in. Ms. Campbell is here to meet you.”

Allison tensed. Sunny seemed too tentative, like a hand-shy dog who’d endured one too many swats with the newspaper. Allison had no current experience with children, but she knew this much anxiety on a parent’s face meant Maggie was no Laura Ingalls.

Sunny knocked again. “Maggie, come on. Daddy’s not here. It’s just Allison Campbell and me. Open up.” Sunny turned to Allison with an apologetic smile and said, “Maggie had a fight with Hank last night before he left. They don’t always see eye-to-eye.”

Understatement of the year? The Cleavers were looking more and more like the Munsters.

Sunny pulled a key out of her pocket. “Last chance, Maggie.”

Allison started to protest, to tell Sunny this was a mistake, when the door swung open into blackness.

Sunny leaned toward Allison and said, “I’ll leave you two to get acquainted. It’s better that way. There’s a buzzer at the top of the steps, on the wall. When you’re finished, press it and Udele will find me.” She touched Allison’s arm hesitantly. “She’s a nice girl, really. She’s just misunderstood. And has no self-esteem. You’ll see, Allison.” That desperation in her eyes again. “I think you’re just what she needs.”

Sunny disappeared down the hall, and Allison squinted into the room. Once her eyes adjusted to the dimness, she saw the reason for the darkness. All the windows were covered with black curtains, and the walls were painted black. Even the bedspread was black. And there, on the bed, was a tiny figure dressed entirely in black.



“Mind if I come in?”


“Have it your way.” Allison turned to leave and, out of the corner of her eye, saw Maggie stand up.

“Fine. Come in.”

Allison stepped inside. She looked around for a place to sit. A chair, painted black, sat next to a desk, painted black, but books and papers were stacked on its seat. The room looked surprisingly neat. It was smaller than Allison would have expected, but other than the stack of books, orderly. A black dresser sat against the wall between two windows. On its surface stood candles, a dozen or so bottles of various sizes, and an incense holder. A computer had been placed on the desk amid neat piles of books and papers and what looked like a strobe light, its silvery fish scales reflecting the narrow slices of light that seeped around black curtains. Another stack of books tilted precariously next to the bed.

Allison took this all in during the space of a second. Then her eyes were drawn to Maggie. A tiny pudge ball of a girl, Maggie sat on her bed with her arms wrapped around her knees. Allison saw black-stockinged legs, the ruffle of a black skirt, a black shirt with a torn collar, spiky black hair. All she could see of Maggie’s face were her eyes, which looked to be encircled in black crayon. Everything was the flat black of matte paint or cheap hair color: no texture, no highlights, no depth. Allison sighed. If I take this job, she thought, I’ll certainly have my work cut out for me.


No response.

“Maggie, can I sit?”

Still no answer.

“No games, Maggie.”

“No games, Allison. I don’t want you here.”

Touché, sweetheart, I’m not so sure I want to be here. “I just want to talk.”

“I don’t need another shrink.”

“I’m not a shrink, Maggie.”

“A therapist.”

“Nope, I’m not a therapist.”

She sat a little straighter. “Then what are you?”

“I’m an image consultant. Your parents want to hire me to help you get yourself together.”

For a second the girl on the bed didn’t speak or move. Then she let out a laugh like a witch’s cackle, long and loud and mean. It took Allison a second to regain her composure. “Something funny, Maggie?”

Maggie rolled around on her bed for a second, clutching her gut as though she couldn’t contain the guffaws. “This is…the best...yet. an...idiot.”


She stopped laughing. “Don’t ‘Maggie’ me. He is an idiot. An image consultant? Know how many people they’ve made me see? There was Dr. Schuman, the bald-headed pedophile, Dr. Turner, the three-hundred-year-old psychologist who smelled like moth balls and said I was developmentally delayed, Dr. Lee, the neuro-acupuncturist, whatever the hell that is. Oh, yeah, there was also the hypnotist, two psychiatrists, and the dude in New York who decided I needed a blood-letting. With leeches. I said no way to that one. Want me to keep going?”

Maggie stood up and flicked on the strobe light. A pulsating glow reflected bands of color across the black walls. Allison watched stripes dance their way across Maggie’s features. A pretty child lay under the sneer and the hideous makeup. Maggie had a round face and pale skin, but also her mother’s wild eyes and soft, full mouth. Someday, Allison thought, with a dash of luck and a few ounces of guidance, Maggie could be a beauty.

“Well, I’m not here to psychoanalyze you. And I promise—no blood-letting.” When Maggie didn’t respond, Allison said, “What do you say, Maggie? Shall we at least give it a go?”

“No effing way.”

Allison turned to leave.

“Wow, you quit with the least resistance,” Maggie said.

“I told you. No games.”

“Fine, leave.” She slumped a little. “Tell my mother I’m oppositional. Go ahead.” The high pitch of her voice betrayed her brave front. Allison heard fear.

“What do you get out of this, Maggie? Do you just enjoy making your folks angry?”

“I’ll never do what they want.”

“Because you disagree with them?”

“Because I’m not so easily controlled.”

Allison met her angry glare. “Don’t you think automatically doing the opposite of what people want you to do is just as pathetic?”

Maggie jutted a round chin up defiantly. “How so?”

“Think about it, Maggie. When you follow everyone’s command, you don’t have to think, right? You become a sheep. When you automatically do the opposite of what they tell you, you don’t have to think either. You end up in the same place.”

She shook her head. “Nice try.”

“Hey, look, I have no idea what this little routine between you and your folks is. You don’t want to cooperate? Fine by me. I wish you the best.”

Allison reached for the doorknob.

Maggie ran to block her exit. “Wait.”

This close, Maggie smelled of strawberry shampoo and patchouli. A strange mix, Allison thought, the trappings of a teen caught between childhood and the need to assert her independence. Not so atypical, no matter how Hank had painted her.

Allison said, “Tell me why I should stay.”

“Because if you leave, they’ll lock me up. Daddy already told me the next step is boarding school. Somewhere far away.”

“So they did tell you about me.”

Maggie looked down at her black combat boots and shuffled her feet like a schoolgirl waiting in the cafeteria line. “Not exactly. My mother said my last chance was on her way over.”

Great. Allison leaned against the door. She didn’t want to be this kid’s last chance. She didn’t want to be anyone’s last chance. She took another look at Maggie. This was not an abused teen, like Violet. This was not a girl who had no one else to turn to. This was a spoiled, alienated teenager in need of a firm hand and some self-esteem. And that’s what Allison did well. Her mind flashed to Hank McBride at their first meeting, at the cold way he’d referred to his own daughter as a misfit. Allison swore under her breath. Get a grip, Al, she thought. You’ve dealt with the worst the Main Line has to offer. You can handle this kid.

When Maggie refused to look at her, Allison touched her chin, gently, and pulled it forward so Maggie would meet her eyes. “Seems each of us has something at stake. Shall we give it a go? What do you say, Maggie?”

Maggie’s momentary panic seemed to have evaporated, replaced with cocky defiance. She gave Allison an appraising glance, head to toe and back up again, one that echoed Hank’s mannerisms the day before.

“I say you’re stuck-up and in it for yourself. But because I have no other choice, I’ll do it. You should know now, though, that I’ll never be like you. I like who I am and I won’t let my father change that.”

“Fair enough.” Allison could feel the tension in her shoulders snake down her spine. She thought of Hank’s smile, the way he dominated his wife, not so different from the way her own father had ruled their household. “Clearly we both have a challenge ahead of us.”

My Book Review:

In her debut novel Killer Image, author Wendy Tyson weaves a riveting multi-faceted tale of mystery and romance interwoven with a psychological thriller twist, that keeps the reader sitting on the edge of their seat. Set in the ritzy Main Line section of Philadelphia, this fast paced story follows the investigative adventure of Allison Campbell, an image consultant turned amateur sleuth, as she tries to clear her teen client, Maggie McBride, who has been accused of the ritualistic murder of a local divorce attorney.

Killer Image is filled with an intriguing cast of characters who all have skeletons in their closet, haunting pasts and long held secrets; mix in some dysfunctional family drama and a subtle romance; and enough clues and suspenseful twists and turns, and you have a gripping tale that will keep the reader drawn in and guessing how the the murder mystery will be solved. The author draws upon her hometown knowledge to provide a richly detailed description of Philadelphia's Main Line and surrounding areas as the backdrop to this intricate and edgy storyline that has many layers and takes the reader on one heck of a thrill ride.

Killer Image is an entertaining mystery that is hard to put down and will leave the reader wanting to follow Allison's next adventure.

Killer Image is the first book in the Allison Campbell Mystery series.


Virtual Book Tour Contest Giveaway

Win A $20 Amazon Gift Card

Contest Dates: Sept 30 - Oct 21

Everyone who leaves a comment on Killer Image by Wendy Tyson ~ Virtual Book Tour Page: Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours will be entered to win a $20 Amazon gift card! Anyone who purchases their copy of Killer Image before October 21 and sends their receipt to, will get five bonus entries.

Virtual Book Tour Schedule

Tour Schedule:

September 30 – Into the Land of Books – Q&A & Excerpt
October 4 – Author and Readers Book Corner – Guest Post
October 4 - Authors and Readers Book Corner- Excerpt 
October 8 – Nana Prah’s Blog – Guest Post
October 9- Melissa’s Mochas, Mysteries and More – Guest Post
October 10 – Storm Goddess Book Reviews – Review & Excerpt
October 14 – Jersey Girl Book Reviews – Review, Guest Post & Excerpt
October 15 – Literary Chanteuse – Excerpt
October 16 – Brooke Blogs – Review& Guest Post 
October 17 – Karma For Life Chick – Review
October 18 – Mrs. Mommy Booknerd’s Book Reviews – Guest Post
October 21 – Chick Lit Plus – Review


  1. Replies
    1. I really enjoyed reading this book, stayed up late to finish it. Thank you for the opportunity to host the virtual book tour event.

  2. Thanks to both of you! Kathleen, thank you for the thoughtful review and spot on your blog today! Samantha - thank you for the terrific tour! Glad you both enjoyed KILLER IMAGE!

    1. Hi Wendy! I love mysteries/thrillers with intriguing charatcers that keep me engaged. Killer Image certainly did keep me turning the pages. Bonus was that your a local author and I loved the richly detailed descriptions of Philly. I'm looking forward to reading the next book in the series, and hopefully your next virtual book tour event. :)