Books are food for my soul! Pull up a beach chair and stick your toes in the sand as the Jersey surf rolls in and out, now open your book and let your imagination take you away.

Saturday, March 26, 2022

Weekly Book Mail: 3/20-26/2022


This Week's Book Mail

March The Book Drop 

March Harlequin Special Edition Collection

March Luv Books Box

April Romance Reveal Book Box

March Bubbles & Books Box

April Fresh Fiction Book Box

Hello Lovely Spring Book Box

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Lawn Darts & Lemonade by Steven Manchester (Book Review)


Lawn Darts & Lemonade by Steven Manchester
Book 2: Surviving The '80s Series
Publisher: Luna Bella Press
Publication Date: March 8, 2022
Format: Paperback - 336 pages
               Kindle - 1383 KB / 296 pages
ISBN: 978-1737789901
Genre: Family Life Fiction / Coming Of Age

Buy The Book:
Amazon (Free On Kindle Unlimited Program)

Buy The Series: Surviving The 80s
Book 1: Bread Bags & Bullies
Book 2: Lawn Darts & Lemonade

Book Description:

From New England's Storyteller, Steven Manchester, comes the nostalgia-filled sequel to Bread Bags & Bullies; a novel about growing up in a whacky family during the 1980s. Boom boxes, leg warmers and Rubik’s Cubes—it’s all there. A hysterical walk down memory lane!

“Steven Manchester’s Lawn Darts & Lemonade is so much fun, filled with laughter, tears, and Big Hair.” – Taylor Dayne, ’80s Recording Artist, Love Will Lead You Back

It’s the summer of 1984, a season of dodging lawn darts and chugging lemonade—or at least the discolored tap water Ma tried to disguise as lemonade.

Growing up is never easy, no matter what era you do it in. For generations, teenagers have suffered peer pressure, bullying, fear of rejection, and a sadistic obstacle course of one unexpected challenge after the next. Three brothers, Wally, Herbie, and Cockroach, learn that the past can be filled with questions—even shame and regret—while the future might be shrouded in worry and fear. But staying in the moment, now that’s where the sweet spot is.

Book Excerpt:

My Book Review:

Every once in a while an author comes along who writes novels that are so powerfully compelling, poignant, thought provoking, and nostalgic, that they pull at the heartstrings and stir the soul. For me, that author is Steven Manchester and his latest novel, Lawn Darts & Lemonade: Tackling The '80s.

In Lawn Darts & Lemonade: Tackling The 80's, the sequel to Bread Bags And Bullies: Surviving The '80s, the author transports the reader back to the delightful coming-of-age tale that follows the crazy antics of brothers: Herbie, Wally and Alphonse "Cockroach" during the summer of 1984. From playing outside and going on funny adventures, the brothers continue to learn what family is all about.

The story is told in the first person narrative by middle brother Herbie. The story begins with Herbie as an adult and a father of two boys. Pop has died and the family has gathered at Herbie and wife Donna's house for what he calls a "Redneck Shiva," where they go through Pop's things and tell stories and remember his one-liners on life lessons and advice. After everyone goes home, Herbie takes a trip down memory lane to the summer of 1984, where he and his brothers listen to Ma's advice to stay in the moment and enjoy the summer and their family.

Lawn Darts & Lemonade: Tackling The '80s is a poignant coming-of-age / family life story that will simply pull at your nostalgic heartstrings. Author Steven Manchester weaves a richly descriptive tale about what it was like growing up in the '80s. He eloquently captures the '80s nostalgia with an amazing attention to detail that easily takes the reader down memory lane.

As school comes to an end, the readers follow the boys during their summer fun! Wally gets his first real job as a dishwasher at the Oriental Pearl restaurant, Herbie has taken over Wally's paper route and will be starting high school in September, and Alphonse (Cockroach) has taken over running errands for Ma from Herbie and will be entering middle school. But before the fall season begins, the boys find themselves enjoying sleeping in late, playing outside especially with a dangerous game of lawn darts (not the way it's supposed to be played), Herbie fretting over whether Donna will go on a first date with him, drinking Ma's watered down Country Time Lemonade all summer, and most of all sharing precious moments with their family. 

This was such a fun story, between the boys crazy antics and the wonderful nostalgia from the '80s, I was immediately transported between their New England home in Westport, Massachusetts, to my own memories growing up during the 70s-80s. The author captures the '80s in an amazing way, you can't help but laugh, smile, and remember all the nostalgia that he interwove throughout the story. From the big hair style, to fashion, to TV shows and big hair bands, to the toys, and the adults sitting in the kitchen on a Saturday night smoking cigarettes and playing cards, to Ma making Country Time Lemonade in the summer, it was like the author was a fly on my parents' wall back in the late 1970s - mid 1980s. The decades of the late '70s and '80s was such a simpler time, we didn't have the craziness of technology and social media that we have now, it was a more gentler world. I laughed when the author described the old landline phone on the kitchen wall with the long cord that stretched out into the living room, oh so many memories came flooding back, what a blast. And I would be remiss if I didn't mention how much fun it was following the boys summer fun filled with so many crazy adventures. But most of all, I appreciate their Ma's life advice: live in the present or you'll miss the precious moments of your life. Thank you, Steven Manchester for the special gift that you gave us readers, memories and nostalgia are just what today's world needs.

Lawn Darts & Lemonade: Tackling The '80s is an amazing story that is written from the heart. It is a must read that will make you laugh, stir your soul, and provide memories that will resonate with you for a very long time.


About The Author

Steven Manchester is the author of the #1 bestsellers Twelve MonthsThe Rockin' ChairPressed Pennies and Gooseberry Island; the national bestsellers, AshesThe Changing Season and Three Shoeboxes; and the multi-award winning novels, Goodnight Brian and The Thursday Night Club. His work has appeared on NBC's Today Show, CBS's The Early Show, CNN's American Morning and BET's Nightly News. Three of Steven's short stories were selected “101 Best” for Chicken Soup for the Soul series. He is a multi-produced playwright, as well as the winner of the 2017 Los Angeles Book Festival and the 2018 New York Book Festival. When not spending time with his beautiful wife, Paula, or their four children, this Massachusetts author is promoting his works or writing.

Author Website
Amazon Author Page
Apple iBooks

Saturday, March 19, 2022

The Doctor, The Hitman, And The Motorcycle Gang by Annie McCormick (Book Review)


The Doctor, The Hitman, And The Motorcycle Gang by Annie McCormick
Publisher: Camino Books
Publication Date: March 17, 2020
Format: Paperback - 192 pages
               Audiobook - 8 Hours 36 Minutes
               Kindle - 5470 KB / 218 pages
               Nook - 3 MB
ISBN: 978-1680980295
ASIN (Audibook): B08WTPCW35
ASIN (Kindle): B0844Q276Q
BNID: 2940163002795
Genre: True Crime

Buy The Book:

Book Description:

A prominent New Jersey doctor and members of a notorious outlaw motorcycle gang transform the doctor’s office into a drug ring pumping thousands of highly addictive opioid pain pills onto the streets in exchange for cash.  Everything was going smoothly until one person discovered their plan: the doctor’s wife.  When she threatened to divorce him, the doctor’s unholy alliance with his partners in crime turned deadly and the doctor hired a hitman to kill her. 

THE DOCTOR, THE HITMAN, AND THE MOTORCYCLE GANG: The True Story of One of New Jersey’s Most Notorious Murder for Hire Plots is the true story of the murder of April Kauffman, a beloved and vivacious local radio personality and veterans’ advocate who was found shot to death in the bedroom of her home in Linwood, the affluent town just outside Atlantic City, New Jersey, in May of 2012. In the months leading up to her death, she had uncovered a tangled web of deceit surrounding her husband. She feared he was trying to kill her and that he may harm her family.

Her daughter, Kim Pack, never doubted her stepfather Dr. James Kauffman was responsible somehow. Reporter Annie McCormick met Kim Pack on the first anniversary of Kim’s mother’s murder. Over the next five years, McCormick tracked the case even as few clues emerged. She continued to gather information, sorting through gossip, rumors and facts to uncover the doctor’s web of lies. Dr. Kauffman shunned the media and his stepdaughter, moving on with his life in the very same town. Meanwhile, investigators uncovered how the doctor worked with the outlaw motorcycle gang, the Pagans, to run a prescription pill mill out of his New Jersey Office. More illegal deeds would catch the attention of The FBI and DEA. The twists and turns of Dr. Kauffman’s lies and schemes would leave Kim Pack, her tight-knit New Jersey community, and even investigators shocked.

The murder case, which has received national attention, was the subject of a 20/20 episode on ABC in the spring of 2018. In THE DOCTOR, THE HITMAN, AND THE MOTORCYCLE GANG, McCormick details the twists and turns in the investigation that dragged on for years until investigators caught an unexpected break that sparked a string of arrests including the arrest of the doctor and several former members of The Pagans. Nearly six years later, authorities charged her husband, Dr. James Kauffman, with her murder. In 2018, a jury convicted a former leader of the Pagans Motorcycle Club with helping to carry out the murder. McCormick includes never before seen or heard details from the investigation through her years of covering the case and she documents the relentless search for justice by April’s family, friends, and her daughter.

Book Excerpt:

PROLOGUE                                                                                                When 35-year-old Kimberly Pack received the phone call from the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office asking her and her husband to clear their schedules for the following Tuesday, January 9, 2018, she said, “We will be there.” But the mother of two young boys did not get overly excited, or for that matter, excited at all. When asked later exactly how she felt on the day she received this call, Kim answered: “Numb.” Kim had been down this road many times before, and she was not expecting much. It was now 2018, and she assumed this was just another meeting about her mother’s unsolved murder in 2012. A newly appointed Atlantic County Prosecutor named Damon Tyner had taken office in the spring of 2017, and one of the first people he called was Kimberly Pack. The new prosecutor promised to put new resources into the dormant investigation of the murder of her mother, April Kauffman, who was 47 at the time of her death. Tyner also promised to give frequent updates, and to share whatever information he could along the way. For the first time Kim felt that someone in a position of authority was on her side, really putting forth a major effort. Still, she felt cautiously optimistic at best, as false hopes had also become a normal part of her life. The mere fact that Prosecutor Tyner had reached out when he took office felt significant; for years, she’d received few updates and met resistance whenever she made an inquiry regarding the investigation. The very day of April’s murder it took detectives hours to tell Kim that they were investigating a homicide and that her mother had not died a natural death. Kim had already figured as much by the presence of the yellow crime scene tape and the news helicopters hovering above. When the day arrived for the meeting with the Prosecutor’s Office, Kim’s husband Randy had taken off work and was in the shower getting ready for their 1 p.m. meeting when the phone rang around 11 a.m. The location of the meeting had changed from the Prosecutor’s Office in Mays Landing to the FBI field office in Northfield. The couple was asked to come as soon as possible. Kim knew this was not just another meeting. When the Packs walked into the FBI’s second floor office, they were greeted by FBI Special Agent Dan Garrabrant. Garrabrant, a twenty-year veteran of the FBI, had promised Kim that he would find the person or persons responsible for her death and see to it that they were brought to justice, no matter who they were or how long it took.                                                                                                       That day had arrived. Garrabrant ushered Kim and Randy into a spacious conference room, where the team of people responsible for untangling one of the most notorious murderfor-hire plots in New Jersey history stood. Detective Jim Scoppa from the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office, flanked by Chief Assistant Prosecutor Seth Levy and First Assistant Prosecutor Cary Shill, stood next to the team’s new leader, Prosecutor Damon Tyner. Tyner placed a hand on Kim’s shoulder, looked her in the eye and said softly, “We got ’em, we got all of them.” Every person in the room then proceeded to hug Kim, who was overcome with emotion, and shake hands with Randy, before sitting them down and sharing some of the gruesome details. Dr. James Kauffman, Kim’s stepfather, and the man she had long suspected of killing her mother, had been arrested and charged with murder. In an unforeseen twist, investigators had found that Jim, the fidgety, nervous, physically unprepossessing doctor, was heavily involved with an outlaw South Jersey biker gang in what prosecutors described as an elaborate and lucrative drug dealing scheme. Kim knew that leading up to her mother’s death, her mother had uncovered some of the truth about some of Jim’s dirty deals and his labyrinth of lies. Prosecutors say that when she found out and threatened to expose the illicit pill mill he was running out of his medical office, a contract on her life was set in motion. The months following the meeting at the FBI office in Northfield would begin what Kim hoped would be the final chapter of her years-long journey in fighting for and ultimately finding justice for her mother. But the case was far from over, and was still to bring many new and disturbing details to light. The tangled web involving the doctor, the hitman, and the motorcycle gang was about to unravel.

My Book Review: 

In The Doctor, The Hitman, And The Motorcycle Gang, 6ABC Action News reporter / author Annie McCormick takes the reader behind the scenes of a riveting true crime story for an in depth look at a highly publicized murder case set in Atlantic County, New Jersey.

On May 10, 2012, forty-seven year old local NJ radio personality and veterans advocate April Kauffman was found dead on the floor of her bedroom by her handyman, Billy Gonzalez. What ensues is an intricate and multi-layered story of April's death, the role that her husband Dr. James Kauffman, a prominent local Endocrinologist, and the local county chapter of the Pagans Motorcycle Gang had in her murder, the lengthy investigative process by the Atlantic County Prosecutor's Office and the FBI, and the relentless determination of her daughter Kim Pack to ensure that justice is served for the murder of her mother.

The Doctor, The Hitman, And The Motorcycle Gang is a riveting story that easily draws the reader in from the start, keeping them captivated as the author weaves a thoroughly intriguing and intricate recounting of a highly publicized true crime case. I grew up in Atlantic County and remember hearing about the tragic murder of April Kauffman, and watching this case profiled on ABC's 20/20 investigative / mystery show, so when I saw that the author wrote an in depth true crime novel based on this case, it peaked my interest and I knew that I had to read it.

You can't help but get drawn into this complicated, fascinating, and multi-layered story, it is a gripping account into the tragic murder of April Kauffman, and how her doctor husband's illegal dealings with the Pagans Motorcycle Gang led to her murder, when their ten year acrimonious marriage soured and she wanted a divorce. The author provides the reader with a fascinating and richly detailed and in depth look into the back stories and lives of each participant; an extensive research of the lengthy investigative and legal process (the case sat dormant until Atlantic County Prosecutor Damon Tyner was sworn into office on March 15, 2017) by the Atlantic County Prosecutor's Office and the FBI.  

After an extensive and determined investigation into this case, the reader follows the author's thorough and very detailed accounting of a haunting tale of one woman's tragic and senseless death, and the determined pursuit of justice by her daughter and law enforcement that took six years to come to a culmination.

As I read this riveting account, I couldn't help but feel the frustration that April's daughter Kim went through to bring her mother's killers to justice. From the background into April and Jim's marriage, to Jim's narcissistic behavior, lies, and illegal drug schemes with the Pagans Motorycle Gang that led to their role in the murder for hire hit job on his wife, to the very long investigative process, the transcripts of wire tapped conversations between the suspects, and the trial transcript, the surprising twists and turns of this story will leave the reader simply stunned by the tragic and senseless death that befell April Kauffman. 

The Doctor, The Hitman, And The Motorcycle Gang is a gripping and haunting account of the tragic death of local NJ radio personality April Kauffman that is a must read for all true crime fans.


About The Author

Annie McCormick is an award-winning journalist based in Philadelphia, PA. Since 2012, Annie has worked as a general assignment reporter for ABC affiliate 6ABC Action News. She has extensively covered crime in the Philadelphia region for close to a decade. 

Annie began her career in journalism as a photo intern in The White House during The Clinton Administration. During her Senior year at Muhlenberg College she interned for The Morning Call newspaper in Allentown, PA. After graduation in 2001, she worked as freelance photojournalist for newspapers and wire services in the tri-state area including The New York Times, the Associated Press, The Philadelphia Daily News, US Weekly and Star magazines, among others. 

Annie’s television news career took her across the country, she is currently a reporter at The ABC owned and operated television station WPVI-TV in Philadelphia. 

Annie won several Associated Press awards and was Emmy nominated in both New Mexico and Pennsylvania for stories about the paranormal and crime. 

She graduated from Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA with a major in Communications and minor in Music. She is a South Jersey native and a graduate of Moorestown High School in Moorestown, NJ. 

The Doctor, The Hitman and The Motorcycle Gang is Annie's first true crime book.

Weekly Book Mail: 3/13-19/2022


This Week's Book Mail 

March Harlequin Romance and Suspense Collection

March Unplugged Book Box

Saturday, March 12, 2022

Weekly Book Mail: 3/6-12/2022


This Week's Book Mail

March Book Of The Month Club

February Just The Right Book!

February Mystic Box

Friday, March 11, 2022

Murder Is Not A Girl's Best Friend by Rob Bates (VBT: Book Review)

In association with Partners In Crime Vistual Book Tours, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book tour event for Murder Is Not A Girl's Best Friend by author Rob Bates!

Murder Is Not A Girl's Best Friend by Rob Bates
Book 2: The Diamond District Mystery Series
Publisher: Camel Press
Publication Date: February 8, 2022
Format: Paperback - 204 pages
               Kindle - 834 KB 
               Nook - 2 MB
ISBN: 978-1942078180
BNID: 978-1942078197
Genre: Mystery

Buy The Book:

Buy The Series: The Diamond District Mystery Series
Book 1: A Murder Is Forever
Book 2: Murder Is Not A Girl's Best Friend

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author / publisher in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours.

Book Description:

Journalist-turned-amateur-sleuth Mimi Rosen is back with her father Max for another action-packed tale of murder and intrigue in New York City’s Diamond District.

A Reverend from Africa has found a sparkling $20 million diamond that he hopes will free his continent from the scourge of blood diamonds. But this attempt to do good soon turns very bad. After the diamond is stolen and leads to a series of murders, Mimi discovers both the diamond and the Reverend have a less-than-sparkling history.

Soon, Mimi is investigating a web of secrets involving a shady billionaire, a corrupt politician, Africa’s diamond fields, offshore companies, as well as an activist, filmmaker, computer genius, and police detective who may or may not be as noble as they appear. Is the prized gem actually a blood diamond?

Book Excerpt:


Mimi Rosen felt terrible. She felt like crap. She was overcome by guilt—the kind that gets lodged in your throat and stays there. Her day at the “Social Responsibility and the Diamond Industry” conference had been draining and dispiriting, as one speaker after another grimly recited the industry’s ills. They acknowledged that conflict diamonds—which fueled civil wars in countries like the African Democratic Republic, or the ADR—were far less of a problem, and many diamond mines benefited local economies.

Then came the “but.” As Mimi’s father said, “in life, there’s always a but.”

“Beautiful gems shouldn’t have ugly histories,” thundered Brandon Walters, a human rights activist known for his scorching exposés of the ADR’s diamond industry. “This—” he aimed his finger at the screen behind him, “is how ten percent of the world’s diamonds are found.”

Up popped a photo of an African boy, who couldn’t have been older than sixteen. He was standing in a river the color of rust, wearing nothing but cut-off jeans, bending over with a strainer. Mimi could see his vertebrae under his skin, feel the sun beating down on him, sense the stress and strain on his back.

“That kid is paid two dollars a day for his labor,” Walters declared. “If you sell diamonds, this may not be your fault.” He paused for emphasis. “But it is your responsibility.”

Walters had sandy-blonde hair, high cheekbones, a perfectly trimmed goatee, a ponytail that flopped as he talked, and a South African accent was so plummy it sounded affected. He looked to be in his mid-twenties but had the bearing and confidence of someone ten years older. Unlike the other activists, who delivered their speeches in whispery monotones with their eyes glued to the podium, Walters planted his feet firmly at the center of the stage and stood on it like he owned it. He peppered his talk with splashes of theater, dropping his voice to signal despair, or cranking it up to roar disapproval.

Mimi didn’t want to close her eyes to his message, but knew she might have to, to preserve her sanity. Diamonds were now how she made her living. She had been working at her father’s company for over a year—a fact she sometimes found hard to believe. She occasionally dreamed of again working as a reporter—the only thing in life she had ever wanted to be. But journalism had become an industry that people escaped from, rather than to.

She had hoped the conference would inspire her. She had even convinced her father, Max, to come. Instead, the sessions made her feel depressed and sorry for herself—which didn’t feel right, as she was hearing about extreme poverty in a plush New York City auditorium with the air conditioning cranked, while the summer sun broiled the streets outside.

She also knew the industry’s problems weren’t so easy to fix. When Mimi started working at her dad’s company, Max seemed intrigued by her idea of a socially-responsible diamond brand. She was excited to help change the industry.

Then the project ran into roadblocks. She never quite determined what a “good” diamond was. What if it was unearthed by one of the diggers Brandon Walters talked about, who earned two dollars a day? Human rights activists condemned that as exploitive. Yet, they also admitted those workers had few other sources of income and would be far worse off if the industry vanished. They didn’t want to kill the business; they wanted to reform it. Mimi wasn’t an expert on any of this—and even those who were didn’t always agree.

Mimi spent many nights and weekends researching these issues, and ended up frustrated, as the answers she sought just weren’t there.

When her project began losing money, her father started losing patience. Mimi hoped that dragging her father to this conference would reignite his interest. Nope.

“These people act like everything is our fault. All minerals have issues.” Like many in the diamond business, Max believed his industry was unfairly picked on. He fixed his yarmulke on his bald head, so it stayed bobby pinned to one of his side-tufts of hair. “I haven’t done anything wrong. I’m only trying to pay my rent.”

Max spent most of the conference with his arms crossed, his face toggling between bored and annoyed. If he had a phone, he’d probably spend the day staring at it. But he didn’t, which was another issue.

Following Walters’ talk, he leaned over to Mimi. “I should call Channah for my messages.”

Mimi gave him her mobile and a dirty look. He had already borrowed her phone six times that day. She considered lecturing her father to get over his stupid aversion to buying a cell phone, so he didn’t constantly pester the receptionist to see who called. But she’d also done that six times that day.

Besides, she was intrigued by the day’s final speaker.

Abraham Boasberg grabbed the crowd’s attention the moment he stepped on stage. “I believe there is a reason that God put diamonds in the poor countries and made rich countries desire them,” he bellowed, puffing out his barrel chest. “And I’m going to prove it.”

Mimi sat up and thought, who was this guy?

She soon found out. Boasberg was six feet tall, stocky, bearded, with a bright red yarmulke capping a salt-and-pepper mop of curly hair. He worked in the diamond business, and his words came fast and forceful. Like Brandon Walters, he seemed to savor being the center of attention. He had a mike clipped to his suit and prowled the stage like a panther. His presence filled the auditorium.

“This whole conference, we have heard about the problems of our trade. They are real. The people who dig diamonds are part of our industry. They deserve to be treated fairly.

“But we must do more than just complain,” he declared, holding up his index finger. “We need solutions!

“What if diamonds, which once helped rip the African Democratic Republic apart, could put it back together? What if they built new roads, schools, and hospitals?” He stopped and took a breath, his chest heaving. “What if diamonds became symbols of hope?”

Max returned to his seat and handed Mimi back her phone. She was so entranced with Boasberg, she barely noticed.

“A few months ago,” Boasberg proclaimed, “a local Reverend in the African Democratic Republic found a one-hundred-and-seventeen-carat piece of rough on his property. It has since been cut into a sixty- six-carat piece of polished, about the size of a marble. It has been graded D Flawless, the highest grade a diamond can get. It’s the most valuable diamond ever found in the ADR. It’s worth twenty million. Easy.”

A giant triangular gem appeared on the screen behind him, gleaming like a sparkly pyramid.

Max’s eyebrows shot up. This guy was talking diamond talk, a language he understood.

“But that is more than a beautiful diamond.” Boasberg declared, sweat beading on his forehead. “That is the future.”

“Here’s what usually happens with diamonds in the ADR. In most cases, miners hand them over to their supporter, who’s basically their boss who pays their bupkis. Or, if they’re freelance, they’ll sell them to a local dealer, who pays them far below market value. The miners don’t know how much the diamonds are worth, and they’re usually hungry and just want a quick buck.

“And since the ADR has no money to police its borders, most dealers smuggle diamonds out of the country to avoid taxes. As a result, the ADR gains little from what comes out of its soil. Its resources are being systematically looted.

“When I met Reverend Kamora, I told him, consumers are turning away from diamonds because they believe they don’t help countries like yours. That further hurts your people. Now, instead of working for two dollars a day, they’ll do the same work for even less.

“But what if we can flip the script? What if this diamond helps your country? And what if we let people know that? That will increase its value. It’s documented that people will pay extra for products that do good, like Fair Trade Coffee. It’s the same reason kosher food is more expensive. It’s held to a higher standard.

“If we get more money for this diamond, soon every gem from the ADR will be sold this way. We’ll do an end run around the dealers who have robbed the country blind. We’ll turn ADR diamonds into a force for good.” He pivoted to the screen. “Let’s talk about this gorgeous gemstone.

We wanted to call it the Hope Diamond. That name was taken.” A few members of the audience tittered.

“We’re calling it the Hope for Humanity Diamond. Four weeks from now, we’ll auction it from my office, live on the Internet. We want the whole world to watch. We’ll even sell it in a beautiful box produced with locally mined gold.” On screen, a glittering yellow box appeared. The diamond sat inside it, perched like a king on a throne.

“What celebrity wouldn’t want to wear a diamond called the Hope for Humanity?” Boasberg asked. “It will make them look glamorous and morally superior.”

The audience laughed.

“This diamond—” he exclaimed as spit flew out of his mouth, “will transform a continent.” He stretched out his arms, revealing pit stains the size of pancakes.

“So many conferences talk about Africa, but you never hear from people who actually live there. And so, I’ve flown in the Reverend who found the diamond, to talk about what it can do for his country. Reverend Kamora, can you come here, please?”

The auditorium grew quiet as small middle-aged Reverend Kamora shuffled to the front. He walked slowly, gripping the guardrail as he climbed the stairs to the stage. When he finally arrived at the microphone, Mimi could barely hear him; his voice was low and delicate, with the soft cadence of a bell.

“For years,” he began, “blood diamonds were a curse on my country. Things happened that were hard to describe. They haunt us still.” He paused, as he momentarily got choked up.

“The African Democratic Republic has known two decades of peace, but not one minute of prosperity. Like many people in my country, I dig for diamonds for extra money. It’s hard work. I don’t make much from it. But I have no choice.

“Many people who work in my country’s diamond fields don’t understand why people in the rich countries buy diamonds. Some believe they are magic. And when I found this gem in a riverbed, sparkling in the sun, I thought God had blessed me with a bit of magic.

“But God’s real gift came when I met Mr. Boasberg. He told me that we could hold an auction for this diamond, receive a better price for it, and ensure the proceeds benefit the people of my country.

“I hope you tune into the auction of the Hope for Humanity Diamond four weeks from today. Together, we can change my country’s diamonds from a curse to a blessing. That will really be magic.”

After a tough day, Mimi felt a smidgen of optimism. When Reverend Kamora finished speaking, her eyes were filled with tears. She peered at her father. He was asleep.

After Reverend Kamora toddled from the stage, Boasberg bounded back to answer questions.

A man approached the microphone in the middle of the audience. “Mr. Boasberg,” he asked, “what are you getting out of this?”

“Nothing,” Boasberg smiled. “I’m not even taking a commission. I see this as the way forward for the business that I love, and a country I care about.”

“Mr. Boasberg,” a second person asked, “how do we know the money will go where you say it will?”

“Our accounts will be posted online and completely transparent.

We’ll account for every penny.”

On it went, Boasberg swatting back every question with the grace of a tennis pro. Maybe it was the journalist in her, but Mimi was growing skeptical. Boasberg’s almost-Messianic tone struck her as too good to be true.

Just then, she heard a familiar voice at the microphone. It was Brandon Walters, the activist who spoke earlier.

“Mr. Boasberg, I’m intrigued by your new initiative,” he said. Mimi braced herself for the “but.”

“But when you talk about dealers who’ve robbed the country blind, you didn’t mention you were once partners with the worst offender.”

Boasberg’s nostrils flared. He looked down at Walters like he wanted to kill him.

The young activist plucked the mic from its stand and spun around to address the audience.

“For those unaware, Mr. Boasberg used to own a company with Morris Novak. During the civil war in the African Democratic Republic, Morris Novak was one of the biggest dealers in blood diamonds. He remains a significant player in the industry, though his main business today is money laundering. Diamonds are kind of a sideline.

“For years, I’ve sought to expose Morris Novak’s corruption. In response, he has repeatedly threatened to sue me. Our friend Mr. Boasberg could help by supplying information about Novak’s business dealings. He won’t.”

He circled back to Boasberg. “So, while it’s admirable you want to play a role in the ADR’s future, maybe first, you should come clean about your past.”

There was a smattering of applause.

Throughout Walters’ speech, Boasberg appeared ready to erupt, and when it ended, that’s what he did. “First of all,” he boomed, “you are correct, Morris Novak is my former partner. Let me emphasize former. I haven’t worked with him in six years. Is that long enough for you?

“Second, who the hell cares? This is old news. The problem with you non-government organizations, you NGOs, is you’re always pointing fingers. Maybe if you stop the holier-than-thou B.S., you could help do something good.”

Walters seemed to relish this reaction. “I’m just saying,” he shot back, “that given your history, and that of certain of your, shall we say, ‘associates,’ you’re an unlikely savior for the ADR.”

This sent Boasberg into a fury. The bickering grew so loud, even Max woke up.

The moderator—a middle-aged woman with silvering hair wrapped in a bun—hurried to the stage and declared question time was over.

“Thank you, Mr. Boasberg for that inspiring presentation,” she said, with a jittery squeak. “The conference organizers would like to present you this humanitarian award for your efforts.”

The award was likely pre-arranged and came off as awkward with Walters’ question hanging in the air. The moderator rushed through her praise of Boasberg, while he impatiently fingered the marble statue. When she finished, he stormed off the stage.

The moderator gamely tried to end the meeting on an upbeat note, saying it had many “impactful takeaways” and “urgent calls to action,” and reminding everyone to attend the post-conference cocktails in the next room. No one listened. They were digesting that final spectacle.

So was Mimi. Walters’ question had transformed Boasberg from a passionate plain speaker to another defensive diamond dealer, like her dad. Maybe he was too good to be true.


Excerpt from Murder is Not a Girl's Best Friend by Rob Bates. Copyright 2022 by Rob Bates. Reproduced with permission from Rob Bates. All rights reserved.

My Book Review:

In Murder Is Not A Girl's Best Friend, book two of The Diamond District Mystery Series, author Rob Bates transports the reader to New York City's Diamond District located on 47th Street between Fifth and Six Avenues, for another intriguing mystery story that will keep the reader guessing and turning the pages.

Just when Mimi Rosen thinks she won't be pulled into another murder investigation, she finds herself once again putting on her amateur sleuth hat, and finds out that Murder Is Not A Girl's Best Friend

Mimi Rosen is a journalist turned amateur sleuth, who for the past year has worked as the bookkeeper at her father's gem store, Max Rosen Diamond Company. When Abraham Boasberg, a prominent diamond dealer is murdered in his office and a rare and valuable 66 carat polished diamond with a D Flawless grade goes missing, Brandon Walters, a human rights activist who exposes the diamond industry's dark business is accused and arrested for his murder and the stolen diamond. Mimi is requested to help with Brandon's defense, and to investigate the murder case, and find the valuable diamond. 

What looks like a classic murder case is anything but that when Mimi starts to dig into the diamond industry. The more Mimi digs into the diamond dealing business and the diamond industry, the more she finds out about corruption within the industry, and she is warned to leave it alone, but she is determined to reveal the truth and find the murderer, and hopefully locate the diamond as well. 

Author Rob Bates weaves a slow-building and suspenseful tale that follows Mimi's investigation to uncover the truth behind the murder of the diamond dealer and the location of the diamond. I loved reading this action-packed story. Mimi's observations and digging during the investigation kept me intrigued as she slowly put the pieces of the mystery puzzle together. 

The reader will be easily drawn into this richly descriptive plot that will keep them guessing as long hidden secrets, family dramas, a growing list of possible suspects, motives, and clues are uncovered, while leaving the reader completely shocked by the surprise ending. 

I would be remiss if I didn't mention how much I enjoyed the author's rich description of New York City's Diamond District, and I was fascinated by the background into the Jewish culture and community, who are the mainstay of the diamond industry on 47th Street.

I look forward to hopefully reading more of Mimi's amateur sleuth investigative adventures in The Diamond District Mystery Series.

Murder Is Not A Girl's Best Friend has enough drama, tension, action, dark secrets, intrigue, and unexpected twists and turns that will take the reader on one heck of a thrilling roller coaster ride.


About The Author

Rob Bates has written about the diamond industry for over 25 years. He is currently the news director of JCK, the leading publication in the jewelry industry, which just celebrated its 150th anniversary. He has won 12 editorial awards, and been quoted as an industry authority in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and on National Public Radio. He is also a comedy writer and performer, whose work has appeared on Saturday Night Live’s Weekend Update segment,, and McSweeneys He has also written for Time Out New York, New York Newsday, and He lives in Manhattan with his wife and son.

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