Fresh Meat: Keeping Secrets by Cathi Stoler

Keeping Secrets by Cathi Stoler, a New York mystery featuring Laurel Imperiole and Helen McCorkendaleKeeping Secrets by Cathi Stoler is the second novel in the Laurel and Helen New York Mystery series, in which the reporter and private eye team up to help a young women in fear of her life (available November 1, 2013).

Laurel Imperiole is an investigative journalist working for Women Now magazine, headquartered in New York City. When she receives a disturbing e-mail from a reader, Anne Ellsworth, she feels duty bound to help. Anne is a lonely young woman who suspects that her fiance, David Adams, isn’t all that he seems to be. Laurel senses the opportunity to write an article on how women in relationships can tread the fine line of respecting their partners’ privacy while still protecting themselves in an age of rampant identity theft, contrasting Anne’s situation with her own.

Laurel herself has rebounded hard into a six-month relationship with the very private Matt Kuhn, whom she thinks she’s falling in love with. She believes he’ll serve as a good complement to Anne’s duplicitous fiance. With this in mind, she gives Anne solid advice on how to dissociate herself from David, but finds Matt oddly hostile to her story idea. And when Laurel later sees Matt in the city, despite his claim of being in Italy, she turns to the only person she thinks will understand her fears and, better still, know what to do about them.

This person is the redoubtable private investigator Helen McCorkendale, an older woman who happens to be dating Laurel’s father, Mike. She welcomes Laurel’s concerns as a refreshing break from the insurance investigation her old friend and ex-lover, Joe Santangelo, has asked her to help his company with. The case has led Helen unsettlingly close to the Mafia, so a simple background check seems like something quick and easy to close while she distances herself from the insurance case.

But then Anne disappears, leaving a letter in her abandoned car for Laurel, and the police get involved. This wouldn’t be so bad if the guy in charge of the investigation wasn’t Aaron Gerrard, a cop with whom Laurel had a disastrous break-up immediately before meeting Matt.

Aaron is critical of Laurel's involvement with the case, but she defends herself when he accuses her of meddling:

“Anne’s request for help really got to me,“ Laurel said. “I’ve been thinking about how easily people can be fooled, how simple it is for them to change or hide their identities. People lie every day—on job applications, to their spouses, about where they went to school. The list is endless.” The thought Aaron would include her on that list of liars flew across her mind. She shrugged it away. “I decided to do a story about it while helping her at the same time. I probably should have cleared it with [my editor] first. It will benefit our readers. I really believe that.”

Laurel is warm-hearted and impulsive, often acting without thinking things through, but always because she thinks she’s doing what’s right. Fortunately for her, Helen is more level-headed, if just as adventurous. Helen might be older and more sensible, but she’s also endearingly vain, taking umbrage at a cabbie’s polite use of the word “ma’am” in reference to her. Later, when Helen finds herself surprised in a spot of breaking and entering, she escapes first to the rooftop, then:

Helen kept low and slid on her stomach, covering her black sweater and pants with dirt. She quietly crossed the low parapet separating the two loft buildings and wiggled over to the ladder leading to its fire escape a few feet away. She sat up and slid her legs over the building’s edge, easing her way down. When she reached the fire escape, she descended slowly, taking care to avoid the building’s windows. At the second story, she reached across from her perch to a chain link fence that enclosed the building’s yard from the open space next to it. She climbed over the fence, shimmied down a few more feet, then jumped to the earth below.

She landed on the solid ground of a weed-filled vacant lot. Moving toward a corner of the fence separated from its retaining post, Helen separated it farther and eased her way through. Once she was out on Lafayette Street, she brushed herself off, straightened her clothes, and walked toward the corner. Breathing a sigh of relief, she thought, Let’s see if any old ma’am can do that.

It’s great to read a contemporary mystery with two strong female leads who are friends without being sidekicks to one another. Cathi Stoler writes about the problems faced by modern women sympathetically, but in a way that also reminds us that certain dilemmas are timeless. The burgeoning love triangle between Laurel, Matt and Aaron, for example, is echoed in Helen’s navigation of her own tricky relationships with Mike and Joe. The romances are just as colorful as the mysteries unraveled here, and just as satisfyingly resolved.

See more new releases at our Fresh Meat feature page.


To learn more or order a copy, visit:

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This Sweepstakes has ended.

Nick of Time by Cathi StolerTo enter for a chance to win a copy of  Keeping Secrets by Cathi Stoler and the novella Nick of Time, an international gambler's tale of intrigue, make sure you're a registered member of the site and simply leave a comment below.

TIP: Since only comments from registered users will be tabulated, if your user name appears in red above your comment—STOP—go log in, then try commenting again. If your user name appears in black above your comment, You’re In!

Keeping Secrets Comment Sweepstakes: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN.  A purchase does not improve your chances of winning.  Sweepstakes open to legal residents of 50 United States, D.C., and Canada (excluding Quebec), who are 18 years or older as of the date of entry.  To enter, complete the “Post a Comment” entry  at beginning at 9:30 a.m. Eastern Time (ET) October 28, 2013. Sweepstakes ends at 9:29 a.m. ET November 4, 2013. Void outside the United States and Canada and where prohibited by law.  Please see full details and official rules here. Sponsor: Macmillan, 175 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10010.


Doreen Sheridan is a freelance writer living in Washington, D.C. She microblogs on Twitter @dvaleris.

Read all posts by Doreen Sheridan for Criminal Element.


  1. Shannon Baas

    Look interesting.

  2. Gordon Bingham


  3. tony parsons

    luv 2 win/read this book

  4. L L

    Nice review

  5. Starr Greenwell

    I really want to win this one.

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    like stories with tough females

  7. Karen Hester

    looks interesting

  8. Vicky Boackle

    sounds great.

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    Sounds intriquing!

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    Sounds like a great book to read! Count me in!

  11. Doris C. Losey

    sounds like a good read!

  12. patricia lambert

    sounds great thanks for the chance to win

  13. Jeanne Agee

    These books look great and are one of my favorite genre. Would love to win. Thanks for the chance.

  14. Saundra K. Warren

    sounds good

  15. Nancy Foote

    Would LOVE to win a copy.

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    Sounds good.

  17. Nancy Foote

    Would LOVE to win a copy

  18. Marie-Louise Molloy

    Want to read MORE!!

  19. lindawwww

    Another book by Cathi Stoler – I can’t wait to read it!

  20. Amanda Silverthorn

    I can’t wait to read this!

  21. Sue Farrell

    I’m interested—hope I win.

  22. Judy Robinson

    I’m new to this series, haven’t yet read the first book, but I’ll bet I will have finished it by the time the sweepstakes is over….sure hope I win! Thanks for the opportunity.

  23. Phyllis Sinclair

    I enjoy female detective stories. Hope I win.

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    Sounds intriguing…I’d love to read it!

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    does this look like the perfect read! Or what….Love it. Great book I’m sure

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    Would love to read this. Thx.

  27. Kay Gornick

    Love to win this read.

  28. Janice

    Sounds like a really good book. I’d love to win.

  29. Tina Myers

    Love the cover.. Great review!!

  30. lynette barfield

    I want a copy

  31. Rosemary Krejsa

    I would love to read Keeping Secrets. The plot sounds great. Thanks for the chance to win.

  32. patricia gibby

    sound interesting

  33. Patricia Nicklas

    Sounds like a great read! Thanks for the giveaway

  34. Patricia Mangum


  35. Karl Stenger

    I would love to read this book

  36. Pam Howell

    Sounds great. Looking forward to reading this.

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    This sounds like an interesting series. Sure would like to win the book.

  38. Angela Dyrcz

    This looks like a good one! I’d enjoy reading.

  39. Linda Knowles

    I love a good story with strong women!

  40. Michael Carter

    I’d love to win.
    Please enter me.

  41. Linda Kish

    Sounds great. Count me in, please.

  42. Kimbrell Scheunert

    This book sounds great! I would love a chance to win.

  43. Barbara Tobey

    I am eager to read this one.

  44. Irene Menge

    Interesting heroines with convoluted relationships. How could I not want to win?

  45. Anna Mills

    Her fiance isn’t all he is supposed to be. Haven’t we all been there? Need to read this!

  46. Rylene Wauda

    Young love, older love, and a mafia connection; it sounds good to me. I want to win.

  47. Judy Woodruff

    Intriguing, sounds like a great read. Thanks for the chance

  48. Deborah Dumm

    Sounds like a great book!!!!!!!

  49. Jacki Robertson

    A new author for me. Would love a chance to try her book.

  50. Barbara Bibel

    Sounds like fun!

  51. Clydia DeFreese

    I don’t know this author. I look forward to reading this…and the one before it.

  52. Laurence Coven

    I’ll have to check up on the first one in the series.

  53. Deanna Stillings

    Sounds good…please count me in!

  54. Loren Palmer

    need this 1 i’m good with secrets.

  55. Gwen Ellington

    I love reporter detectives!

  56. Donna Bruno

    I’ve not read the first book, but I look forward to burrowing into another reporter/detective series!

  57. Sheila Korman

    Thanks for the review—this sounds like a good read!

  58. Anita Yancey

    Sounds like an amazing book. I would love to read it. Thanks for this chance to win it.


    I would like to read this book.

  60. MARY Mclain

    I would like to read this book.

  61. jane

    sounds like my kind of series.

  62. Mary Hayden

    eager to read this one

  63. Bruce Hamilton

    The first book was good would love to win the second one

  64. Kelley Tackett

    This looks like a great read. Thank you for all the good picks.

  65. Joyce Benzing


  66. Allison Moyer

    Mystery, romance, strong female leads…what’s not to like!

  67. Suzanne Gonneville

    “. . . taking umbrage at a cabbie’s polite use of the word “ma’am” in reference to her.”
    I love Helen already! I have always taken umbrage when I hear some young (and sometimes older) twit call me “ma’am.” But would I climb down a building to show how “un-ma’am-ish” I am?? NOT!

  68. Vernon Luckert

    Looks like a good read – would love to win this!

  69. Joyce Mitchell

    Sounds interesting – thanks for the chance to win.

  70. Marilyn Russell

    A lot of balls are in the air in this mix of relationships and criminal activity. Sounds like a fun read.

  71. Cairine Stade

    Now that it is getting colder and we are inside more it’s time to read a good mystery! This one sounds interesting!

  72. Nancy Pate

    I like that Helen is older and adventurous–being a reader of a certain age!

  73. Sally

    I think I admire Helen already! The idea of two women teaming up sounds good to me, hope I win a copy. Will also look for Cathi Stoler’s first book.

  74. Brooke Bumgardner

    Sounds like a fun & interesting read! I love novellas, too.

  75. Kimberly Mayberry

    This book sounds fantastic! I would love to win it!


    I need a good bedtime book.

  77. Susan Mahaffey

    This looks great! I would like to read this novel. It is usually a male reporter and a male cop or p.i. I would like to see the “female” view and discover a new author I want to read.

  78. Brenda Tucker

    Helen sounds so cool – I want to win, thanks.

  79. MaryC

    Going to check out book 1 – thanks for the chance to win book 2!

  80. Patty wright

    Both are right up my alley

  81. Cindi Hoppes

    This author is new to me and the summation of the plot and charactersintrigue me very much…
    Many thanks, Cindi

  82. Tiffany Duncan

    This sounds good but the cover is kind of awful.

  83. Judith Barnes


  84. Dan Carr

    I’d like to read this one. Pick me!

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    I would love to read this book

  86. Kris Kaminski

    I’m in, one way or another

  87. Mary Ann Woods

    Sounds like a book I would enjoy!

  88. Melissa Keith

    [b]Ssshhhh….I won’t tell if I win this book because I can keep a secret. Harmf! I get a lot of disturbing e-mails. This book sounds groovy. I wanna read it. Ssshhhhh………[/b]



  90. PL

    Great! Another Cathi Stoler mystery! I hope I win. (If not, I’ll buy. I’m very interested in the story and would like to have a good read like this on hand!!!)

  91. Pat Murphy

    Sounds like something I would like to read. The journalist sounds a lot like the woman asking for help. Want to find out close I am.

  92. Barbara

    Female detectives — great!

  93. Julie Halek

    I can’t wait to dive in!

  94. Sonia Grgas

    Sounds good, count me in!

  95. Julie Link

    Would love to win this and read it – thank you for the opportunity.

  96. Jeffrey Malis

    Thanks for the chance!

  97. Karen Terry

    Sounds interesting.

  98. Lori Myers

    Sounds like a fun mystery!

  99. Heather Martin

    This is a book almost any woman can relate to. Defiantly was just put on the must read list.

  100. Kelli Jo Calvert

    Sounds like a fun read!

  101. John Misiak

    Two for one. A great deal!!!!

  102. Florry M. D.

    I love mystery books! Would like to win & read this one!

  103. Lynn Marler

    Hope I win; thanks for the chance!

  104. Lisa Garrett

    I am intrigued!

  105. vicki wurgler

    sounds good – love to read it

  106. Linda Peters

    another great read for the winter months, thanks


    Looks good!

  108. Cathy s.

    How super interesting and page turning this book sounds!

  109. Dorothy Hayes

    The plot is intriguing. I’d love to read this!

  110. Jaydee Dusenberry

    Want this!

  111. Marisa Young

    Sounds interesting – would like to read.

  112. Heather Deluna

    secrets are pretty darn hard to keep…

  113. Debra Kidle

    Sounds exciting and suspenseful!

  114. David Kidle

    Shh, I want to win this…

  115. Felicia

    This book really sounds like an awesome read, thank you for the giveaway

  116. Karen Barnett

    Sounds intriguing!

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    Looks great!

  118. Crystal Blackburn

    I would love to win this book!

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    The book sounds extremely interesting and should be an excellent read

  120. Daniel Morrell

    sounds like a fun one!

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    needed a gift idea


  122. Cheryl Greenleaf

    My father would love this!

  123. Ed Nemmers

    I would like to read the work of Cathi Stoler!

  124. cassandra mccann

    I would love this

  125. JoAnn White

    Want to read this! Sounds good.

  126. kathy pease

    Thank you for the great giveaway please count me in 🙂

  127. Michele Carvalho

    I want to win.

  128. Buddy Garrett

    I would love to read it. It sounds great,

  129. Wayne Lecoy

    I am entering your giveaway.
    It would be great to win a copy of
    Keeping Secrets by Cathi Stoler.
    Thank you for having this giveaway!!!!!!

  130. Gianna

    Thanks for the giveaway!

  131. Lisa Pecora

    This seems interesting!

  132. Tim Moss

    Looks good.

  133. Mihaela Day

    looks interesting 🙂 I hope to win

  134. Daniel Vice

    This would be great

  135. Susan Smoaks

    thank you for the chance to win!

  136. Patricia Hill

    love to win

  137. Heather Cowley

    Scary, scary! Are people really who they say they are? Yikes.

  138. Phoenix

    I like to read books that focus on women’s friendships.

  139. barbara stenby

    I love mysteries like ols Sam Spade novels & such this looks like it could be up there in the future classics.

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